DARK BLISS (Dangerous Games,) (6 page)

BOOK: DARK BLISS (Dangerous Games,)
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Drop it, Rory.

I closed my eyes but couldn’t get back to sleep. The night was silent. Everyone had finally gone to bed and my sonorous neighbor must have rolled on his side. I was thirsty. There was a vending machine downstairs with cold cans of oversweet Mexican sodas. Rock had given me a wad of money at the drugstore and told me to keep the change. I put on my clothes and sandals, grabbed some coins and slipped outside on quiet little cat feet. Rock would never know.

I
padded to the stairs, then headed to the vending machine near the office. It was a long walk and it got longer. Only a thin sliver of moon was out and the street level was dark with shadows. The unbroken line of parked trucks made it narrow and a little creepy. I began to wonder if this was a good idea, but thirst made me press on.

I reached the machine,
put in my coins and selected a can of orange Fanta. It rolled out with a clank that sounded loud in the silent night. As I started back to my room, a pair of headlights pulled into the parking lot. A police car drove past and stopped in front of the office. The nearness of the police was reassuring. I headed down the walk, which was just as dark as before but now not quite so creepy.

I
was almost at the stairs when I heard footsteps, coming down fast. Suddenly nervous again, I flattened myself against the wall, concealed in the shadows. A moment later, a tall figure appeared at the base of the stairs, looking left and right. Looking for something. What?

F
or me. I suddenly realized it was Rock and stepped out from the wall. “I’m right here.”

He
spun around, startled. I had a brief, sneaky thrill at having ambushed him.

Then I heard
the icy anger in his voice. “I told you not to go outside!”

“I didn’t go far, just to get a drink.”

“It was stupid. This place is not safe. What if someone grabbed you?”

“I’d yell for the police.”

“This isn’t a joke.”

“I’m not joking. The police are here.”

The ice left his voice. “What?”

“A police car just drove up. They went to the—”

“Hush!”
he suddenly whispered, putting his hand to my mouth.

I heard a pair of voices,
speaking in low tones but growing louder. Rock stepped back into the shadows, pulling me with him, an arm around my waist, his hand over my mouth. I began to see how easy it would have been to seize and silence me. You’d think I would have learned something from this morning. Mr. Paranoid had a point, except no one had grabbed me but him.

Two policemen rounded a corner about
fifty yards away. They cut across the parking lot, heading toward our section of the motel. A minute later and I saw them at the far end of the walk, coming directly toward us. Wasn’t there
anyone
that Rock trusted? What did we have to fear from a pair of Mexican cops? I didn’t know why they’d shown up but they clearly weren’t here to rob or rape. What’s more, they’d see us when they got near and assume he’d attacked me. This was not going to end well.

They were coming closer, still
talking. Rock’s grip on me tightened.
“Shhh,”
he whispered in my ear. I realized I’d been rescued by a madman. What was he going to do when the police saw us and drew their guns? Not give up quietly, I knew that much. Even outnumbered and unarmed, Rock was dangerous. I began to wonder if he was drawn to danger, even sought it, excited by the prospect of violence. Was this the same man who only hours before laughed while a child clung to him like a monkey? Rock didn’t simply have different sides; he had multiple personalities.

The two policemen
were only a few yards away now, close enough I could see their features. One was ruddy-cheeked, the other sallow with a prominent nose. Any moment they’d spot us.

The sallow one abruptly
raised his hand and pointed, but not at us, at something farther off.
“Ahí está la moto.”

“Vamos a echar un vistazo,”
said the other.

Their pace quickened and they walked past, so close I could have reached out and touched
them. A moment later, Rock let go of me. He stepped out of the shadows so I could see him and put his finger to his lips, gesturing upstairs. I saw no sense in this game-playing but I was ready to do anything to keep from being shot by a rattled cop.

We tiptoed up. Rock gestured for us to get against the wall, back in the shadows. As I did, I glanced down and saw the police
men about thirty feet distant, standing beside Rock’s motorcycle, one of them jotting in a notebook. I had no idea what that was about but I found it alarming. Were they looking for us? Why?

We’d gotten out of one dilemma only to be in another.
The clerk must have given them our room number. They’d be coming upstairs in a minute. Where did we go now?

After what seemed hours
I saw them crossing the parking lot, headed back toward their car. What was going on?

“They’re going to radio for
back-up,” Rock whispered.

“Why?” I whispered back. “What do the police want with us?”

“The two men I killed, seems they were cops. That’s what these guys were talking about.”

“They were kidnappers!”

“They don’t know that. They think something’s fishy all right, but at the moment all they care about is finding a cop killer.”

“How did they know to look here?”

“They didn’t. There’s police all over the state doing the same thing.”


All right, but how did they know to look for
us
?”


Must have been a watcher at the hotel after all, which means a gang. Bad news.”

“B
ut that was once we were inside. How did they know to look for a motorcycle?”

‘I doubt they did. The description is a tall, tough-looking guy—not much to go on there—and an American woman with red hair. I was stupid
to let the clerk see you. They know about the bike
now
. The cop with the notebook was writing down my license plate. In a little while, they’ll have a name to go with the description.”

“But why would this gang
give our description to the police?”

“Payback. There’s no better way to get shot than to kill a cop, whatever the circums
tances. Go to your room and get whatever you need, fast. Stay there until I knock.”

I
went to my room, grabbed my purse, threw my extra clothes in a pillowcase and sat on my bed, waiting for his knock. The thought occurred that
I
wasn’t a cop killer and didn’t look like one. Leaving with Rock was foolhardy, just a way to put myself in more danger. I’d do better to go to the office and give myself up. I’d probably have to spend some time in jail but at least I wouldn’t get shot. They’d question me about Rock but I had little to tell them except for his name, which they’d soon have anyway. The court would let me get in touch with the American consul, who would contact Richard. Before the day was over, I’d be represented by a high-powered Mexican attorney, charges would be eventually dropped and I’d be on my way home.

And Rock? The man saved my life and then put it right back in danger. Being with him was exciting in mor
e than one way, too much so. He might be a swashbuckling soldier of fortune but I was a demure college student with a bright future that involved nothing more exciting than marriage, children and maybe running a foundation endowed from the family fortune.

Never were
two roads more clearly marked. I was grateful to Rock but I owed him nothing and could do him no good by staying with him, in fact only be a burden. Telling the police what happened would reduce his chances of getting shot. In fact, if I could only convince him to go with me and give himself up, we’d
both
be free by this time tomorrow. All I had to do was convince to drop his paranoia.

Fat chance.

I heard a soft, persistent rapping but it wasn’t at my door. After a moment there was a voice, sleepy and annoyed – a trucker, I supposed. Then I heard Rock’s voice, low and urgent. A short exchange followed and the voices grew faint. Rock must have gone into the man’s room. What for? Why was he wasting precious time?

If I was going to take action
, now was the moment, while he was occupied. If I ran, I could be at the stairs in thirty seconds and out of sight a moment later. There was absolutely no reason to linger.

So why
was
I lingering? What was so hard about leaving Rock?

I stood and
walked to the door. I turned the doorknob. Now or never.

 

Midnight Escape

 

R
ock
shoved money in the trucker’s hand. They shook and he left for his room. He quickly gathered his things, walked out, scanned the parking lot, then opened the door to Rory’s room. She was sitting on the bed. “Let’s go,” he told her. She rose and joined him outside. He gestured at the stairs and they hurried down. He pointed, “This way.”

She didn’t move. “Your motorcycle is
this
way,” she said, pointing in the opposite direction.

God, women! Never just trust and go along
. There’s always a discussion. “We’re not taking the bike.”


Why not?”

“They’ll be looking for it. We wouldn’t get fifty miles.”

“But we’re only miles from Hermosillo, aren’t we?”


About sixty but the consulate won’t be open for hours. Even if we make the city, we’ll have to dodge the local cops. The minute one spots my bike, it’s Game Over.”

“We can—”

“No more talking! Come on.”

They walked quickly, shielded from view by the row of parked trucks.
Finally he turned and made his way between two vehicles, Rory following. He scanned the empty lot one last time and pointed to a separate lot reserved for eighteen-wheelers, the behemoths of the trucking world. The big trucks were nearly two hundred feet away with no cover between them and the motel. He grabbed her hand and they ran.

The tall bright sodium lights of the parking lot made them visible for any eyes to see.
Any moment he expected to hear shouts of
“Alto, alto!”
It took forever to cross, like they were caught in one of those dreams where you run but at a maddening crawl. Once safe in the shadows of the eighteen-wheelers, he knew they’d actually done in less than a minute – though without her he could have done it thirty seconds.

B
ut then she was the reason he was doing this, wasn’t she? If not for her, he’d get on his bike and take his chances; he’d been in tougher spots. The thing was he hadn’t the right to make her share the risk.

He wondered briefly if he would have done better to leave her at the motel, tell her to go to the office and surrender. At least she’d be in no danger of getting shot.
Once she was at a police station, she could contact the American consulate. After that, she’d be safe and eventually free to return home. What bothered him was what might happen between arrest and arraignment. These were state police who would take her to the nearest town with a jail for female prisoners. That could be a long drive. It was unlikely these two cops were dirty but word of her capture would spread fast, maybe to unfriendly ears.

That branding business bothered him.
This hadn’t been any ordinary snatch. Maybe somebody wasn’t after an American girl, however pretty. Maybe they wanted
her
, Aurora Constable. Not for her money though. Then for what? Who the hell gives an order to brand a woman? Only a crazy man. He made himself stop thinking about it. He had more pressing concerns.

There
were more than a dozen eighteen-wheelers. He roamed among them till he found one with big red letters that said
Riviera Transporte.
“This is it,” he told her.

“Can you drive
that?”

“If I need to, but I don’t need to.”

“Hola!”
came a shout, as the trucker came into view.


Hola
, Juanito,” said Rock. Juanito was a short man with a Zapata mustache and  muscles everywhere but his bulging stomach. He unlocked the cab and gestured for them to get in. Rock climbed metal drop-down stairs and held out a hand to help Rory up. Juanito got in on the driver’s side and pulled a curtain on a compartment above and behind the seat.

“What’s that?” said Rory.

“Sleeping compartment, where you and I will be.”

She sto
od and peered in. “Can’t we just sit up front?”

“Not unless you want to shave your head. That hair’s a giveaway
and your scarf doesn’t hide it. Let’s go. Leave your purse on the floor and get in.”

She
crawled in until only her shoes dangled outside the compartment; a moment later they disappeared as well.


Ewww!”

“What’s the matter?”

“It’s smelly.”

“Lo siento,”
said Juanito with a shrug and a grin.

“What did he say?”

“Said he’s sorry. Move over. Here I come.”

“There’s not room!”

“We’ll have to make room. Juanito wants me out of sight too. He could go to prison for this.”

Rock wriggled into the space. It was
tight all right, designed for one sleeper, not two, especially when the second was as big as himself.

They heard the truck start
. A metal divider rose like a power window from a slot in the side of the sleeper. “What’s that?” she said with alarm. “Is he going to shut us in here?”


No, it only goes partway up. If the driver has to brake in a hurry, it keeps whoever’s up here from flying out. They use the sleeper if there’s a two-man team, cuts the downtime.”

The truck began to move. Rock found the curtain cord and pulle
d it shut, cutting out the light from the parking lot.

“Hay una almohada,”
said Juanito.

“What did he say?”

“Said there’s a pillow.” Rock felt something soft between them. “Here.”

“Thank you.…
Ewww
.”

Rock didn’t ask what was wrong and she didn’t say. He wondered if rich girls had more sensitive noses than other females. More sheltered probably, used to perfumes and
orchids and French cooking. Thank God he’d only have her on his hands for another day or so.

They lay on their backs. He was too
tall, had to bend his knees. The ceiling was low, not even room enough to sit up, at least for him; maybe she could. He dug the phone out of his pocket, scrolled for a name and hit it. No answer of course, not at this time of night. He left a message.
“Hola Tío,
soy
yo. Llámame cuando te levantes. Estoy en problemas y necesito tu ayuda.”
He put the phone away.

“What was that about?”

“I called Tío Luis, told him I needed his help. He’s an early riser. I’ll hear from him in a couple of hours.”

“B
y then we’ll be in Hermosillo.”

“We’re not going to Hermosillo. Not just yet.”

“We aren’t?” she exclaimed unhappily. “Why not?”


Juanito can’t take us. It’s not on his route and he can’t afford to detour, got a schedule to meet. This is his livelihood. I can’t pay him enough to risk that.”


He’ll risk prison but not his job?”

“It’s a manhood thing
.” He shifted slightly. No matter how he positioned his body, they kept touching. Not that he minded touching her. The problem was he liked it too much, especially his cock, alert as a bird dog sniffing quail. “Lose your job and you’re a loser. Go to jail for a friend, you’re a man.”

“The two of you are that kind of friend?”

“I’m half-Mexican, spent a lot of my life here. I know how to bond with these guys. They’re mostly poor, don’t have much. But they have their manhood. That counts for a lot.”

She turned onto her side. He could feel the soft prod of a breast a
gainst his right arm.

“Did you expect something like this? Is that why you were up
late with him and the others?”

“I didn’t expect anything like this
or we wouldn’t have been there, but yeah, I made a point of spending time with them. When you’re in-country, it’s smart to get to know the locals, let them get to know you.”

The touch of her breast was driving him crazy. He pulled
up his arm and put his hand behind his head.

“In-country?”

“Army slang from the Vietnam era. We’re not really in-country, not that way, but it helps to think like that when you’re on a mission.”

“This is a mission?”

“Yes and no. It’s something I intend to finish and it’s not without risks. Close enough.”

“So where
are
we going?”

She shifted and now the top of her head was touching the underside of the arm he’d raised. It was warm in the sleeper and he cou
ld smell the clean, floral scent of her shampoo. He pulled the curtain open a little to admit cool air from the cab. Through the opening he could see headlights as they cut through the night.


We’re going to a truck stop just outside a town called Cosalo, about thirty miles from here.”

“Is that safe? Won’t the police check there like they did here?”

“Doubt it. When I said ‘truck stop,’ I didn’t mean a motel, just a truckers’ café. Anyway, we won’t be there long. I’ve got enough money left to hire someone to take us to a garage in Cosalo. Old friend of mine runs it. He’ll let us lay low until our ride comes.”

There was just enough light from the cab that he could see her face turned toward his, the mane of red hair
tumbling over her shoulders. He liked the way she bit her lip when she was pondering something, like a schoolgirl worrying out a homework problem
. “Nice girl, little young maybe,”
Art had said. Not that young, in her twenties at least. And he wasn’t that old, not even out of his thirties yet.… For Christ’s sake, Rock. Drop it.

“Then where do we go?”

“To
my
town, Parajito. It’s a village really, but pretty and safe, about three hours from Cosalo. I’ve got friends there, lots of them.”

“But won’t they look for you
there?” She raised herself on one elbow. Her breasts pushed out her t-shirt, soft bulges dimly lit by light from an occasional headlight. The thought came that if he could see the bulge in her shirt, she could see the bulge in his pants. He crooked his knee as much as the ceiling permitted. “Once they look up your license plate, they’ll have your name and address.”

“They’ll have my name right enough. The address I put down is just a mail drop
in another town. Mexican government has no idea where I live – damn few people do.” Several curls of red hair had fallen in her face. She tucked them behind her ear with a small, elegant hand. Red fingernails, a couple chipped from her ordeal. He hoped that would be the worst thing she’d take away from it. Hard to say. Sometimes post-trauma stress didn’t show for months. He ought to know. “That’s not to say they can’t find me one way or another, but not right away.”

“All right
, but how do I get to Hermosillo?”

“I can borrow a car or truck but I’m thinking we need to take precautions.”

“What kind of precautions?”

“Your hair
—“

“I’m not cutting it!”

Her eyebrows knitted together and her eyes narrowed. Cute when she got angry. It took all his willpower not to reach out and pull her to him. What would she look like then? Angry, mouth glowering?
“Let me go!”
Fearful, mouth open in surprise?
“What are you doing?”
Responsive, mouth puckered for a kiss?
“Hmmm!”

Stop it, Rock.

“Wouldn’t ask you to. You can dye it though.”

“Ugh! What about a wig?”

“No wig stores around… Wait a
minute.”
Of course! Lola!
“How’d you like to be a blonde?”

She screwed up her face in a “tastes yucky” expression,
then shrugged. “I guess I could stand it for a day or two.”

“I know someone who’ll loan us one.
As for me, I don’t disguise so easy but I can get someone else to drive while I hunker down. One way or another, we’ll get you to the consulate in the next couple of days.”

“What about your motorcycle?”

“What about it?”

“Can you get it back?”

“In theory. The cops will impound it and if I clear myself, it’s mine again. Unless of course between now and then it gets lost somehow. Been known to happen.”

“I can clear you. I
will
once I get to the consulate. We’ll get a lawyer and I’ll come forward.”

“That would be good but I won’t hold
you to it. Wouldn’t blame you if you never wanted to set foot in Mexico again.”

She shook her head emphatically,
red hair tumbling in her face again. “That won’t happen. I like the people. I like the color and the vitality here. In the US, everything gets smoothed out. Here, everything is more… more itself.”

“D
on’t think I follow.”

She closed her eyes briefly to concentrate and he studied her long
, dark lashes. She opened them and tilted her head slightly, thinking it through. “Everything is more extreme here. Happy people are happier. Sad people are sadder. The bad guys are badder. And the good guys, well…” She smiled. “They’re gooder…
way
gooder.”

BOOK: DARK BLISS (Dangerous Games,)
5.09Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
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