Authors: Capri Montgomery
“Who are you?” The deep timbers of rage were unmistakable.
“You don’t need to know that part,” Drake kept his own voice level, deadly, but level. “The only thing you need to know is that if you don’t put that can down and take six paces back from it I will shoot you dead.”
“That’s against the law.”
Drake shrugged. “So is arson.”
“It’s not arson,” he said so seriously, so innocently as if he really didn’t see what he was doing was wrong. “It’s art. It’s my masterpiece and he keeps putting it out.” He looked at the house. “Why does he keep putting it out? They’re supposed to burn you know? Fires are supposed to burn bright.”
“Look you sick little bastard. Eve is in that house and if you think I’m going to let you hurt her you have another thing coming.”
“She’s in there?” He looked to the house. “She can’t be in there. She can’t photograph my art if she’s in there. Oh my,” he shook his head. “Maybe I should come back tomorrow.”
“Or not at all,” Drake looked over the man in front of him. To look at him most people would probably think he was harmless. Clearly they would be wrong in their assessment. “Now, down on the ground and six paces back or I swear to God your next breath will be the last breath you take.”
The trembling fool sat the can on the ground, but he didn’t step back. “I…I need my fire,” he said. “There must be art tonight. This city deserves to burn you know. They’re all so mean, but not her,” he looked toward the house. “She’s nice. She understands my art. She was so nice to me.”
“Step back.” He saw him pull a match from his pocket and he didn’t hesitate to take the shot. He put one solid round into the guy’s kneecap, and another into his shoulder. “Next time I give you a chance to surrender without any new holes in you,” he walked over to where the man now lay whining from the pain; “take it.”
The back porch lights came on and before he could take another breath Adam and Eve were opening the sliding glass doors.
“What on earth?” Eve stepped out onto the patio.
“Call the cops. I’ve just got your Palm Coast Arsonist,” he said.
“Rusty? Rusty Davis? Why would you…how could you...?” Eve shook her head, dumbstruck at the recent turn of events.
“You know him?” Adam pulled her closer to him.
“He’s the mayor’s assistant.”
“I’m an artist,” he said. “I am the Michelangelo of fires. Not some stupid Palm Coast Arsonist. Be sure they get my name right in your paper, will you Eve? I must be preserved.”
“Why would you do this, Rusty? You could have killed people.”
“They were all mean to me,” he sobbed. “I grew up here and they were all mean because we were poor. I went away and I came back with a degree, but that didn’t stop them. I came back with money, but I was never good enough. There was never enough money to be one of them. My fires, they were the only thing I had that made me better than them. You’ll be sure they get it right won’t you, Eve? You’ll be sure that they know who I am. I am the keeper of this hell. I am the Michelangelo of fire. I am,” he grinned through his pain. “I am the Dark Angel of Hell.”
“One of you actually do plan on calling the cops don’t you?” Drake snapped.
“No need,” Adam assured him. “My neighbors already have. Nothing gets by in this neighborhood without Betty Henkel and the neighborhood watch being aware.”
He could already hear the sirens. If the cops were now on their way, now would be a good time to pull out his government identification. It didn’t exactly support what branch he worked for, but that didn’t matter so long as he didn’t get his behind shot in this little town.
Drake secured his weapon the moment he heard the police cars come to a screeching halt out front. Smart move because the officers didn’t waste time getting around back with their weapons already set to discharge.
“Palm Coast Arsonist,” Adam pointed to Rusty.
The cops looked at him as if to say, “who are you, and where’s the gun?”
“Secret agent man,” Eve added. “He’s here on my behalf. He just happened to catch Rusty before he could set fire to this place.”
Seemingly satisfied with the answer the cops treaded with more measured ease around Drake. Good, he would hate to have to kill one of them in an effort to save himself. There was no mistake about it; if he had to he would take any one of them out.
“Well at least I got one bad guy tonight,” he mumbled.
“He got away?”
“He got away,” he placed a firm hand on Eve’s arm. “I’m sorry.”
“Better luck next time,” she sighed. “This has to stop, Drake. Thomas must be close because if he weren’t then I don’t think they would have come after me.”
“I think you’re right. And that’s making me worry more about you than ever. It’s no secret that you’re Thomas’ heart. He would die if anything happened to you.”
“So when does it end?” She shook her head. “When does Thomas finally get to move on with his life?”
“When we get Sabian,” Drake didn’t see the need to sugarcoat the circumstances. Eve was young, but she had more life experience than most people her age. She had watched Thomas pull back from near death and she understood, maybe now more than ever, just how much Thomas would never be able to move on until he found justice.
“I need to call your brother,” he said. “Let him know you’re safe and give him a progress report on the Sabian situation.”
“Let me call him? I have something I need to tell him.”
From the look she gave Adam, Drake was sure that something had to do with wedding bells. He smiled, “go ahead. I’m sure he’d rather hear your voice than mine anyway.” He could call Thomas later and update him on the rest of what he had discovered.
Drake waited until Eve had gone inside before he turned to Adam, and in his deadly serious tone he said, “You hurt her and I’ll kill you myself.”
“I hurt her and I’ll load the gun for you,” he said. Drake laughed. He had clear recollection of memory uttering those words himself once. He patted Adam on the arm. “I’m going home,” he said. “I miss my wife.”
“What about that?”
Drake took a look back in the direction of Adam’s attention. “That’s their mess now. I’ve done my part. If they need me…well, hell, I guess I’ll have to let them know who they can reach to get in contact with me. But I am not,” he stated emphatically, “coming back down here this month.” Geneva had been a trooper. She never once complained that he spent so much time away from home, or from her, but he missed her. He was going home. All that he could do was done here. For now, what he had done would have to be enough.
he made a beautiful bride,” Drake complimented Thomas. Eve had been sure that he was the one to walk her down the aisle. Nobody could mistake how close the two were, but if anybody had any doubts, they wouldn’t after today. Watching the two of them made him wish he had a little sister of his own.
“I can’t believe how fast they pulled this off.”
“Five months,” Drake commented. “Some people do it in less time than that.”
“Yeah, but they’re still so…”
“Newly in love? Don’t worry, Thomas. He’s a good man. I checked him out, and he’s clean.”
Thomas laughed. “Yeah. I checked him out too. I did a full background check of astronomical proportions. I never overlook anything when it comes to my baby sister. The second she told me they were getting married I stepped up my research methods on Adam. Good guy,” he added. “She loves him, but I really wish she had waited longer.”
“Until she was eighty,” he laughed. “That’s my baby sister out there.”
He watched Thomas watch Eve circulate the reception hall, greeting guests and thanking them for attending. He had such love in his eyes, such admiration and respect.
“I hope you won’t mind if I cut out early. Geneva wants to get back. She’s trying to get her fool brother to accept some help.” Harrison was only her half brother, but since she found out of their relation to each other they had grown closer. She treated him like she would have a brother she grew up with her entire life. He could understand that. Mike was only his half brother, but it felt like they had a deeper bond than just sharing the same father. They were brothers at heart, and would die for each other if need be.
“What’s going on, Drake? You know I’ll help if I can.”
“Some nutcase has been stalking him. It’s nothing deadly—yet, but the letters are getting crazier. Zenya went through something similar and look where that led. I think knowing what her cousin went through makes Geneva more concerned. Letters can turn deadly. Somebody broke into Harrison’s house and stole a few personal items. Clearly this is escalating and he’s too fool stubborn to accept help. He’s turned down every bodyguard we’ve suggested.”
“Ah,” Thomas nodded. “I have somebody. And trust me; he won’t turn her down.”
“Her? Are we talking Angel of Death here?” She might go by a different name now, but they would always think of her as her code name.
“The one and only.”
“She lives in Hawaii. Harrison is in D.C., getting ready to head out to Arizona for a couple months while his opera finishes up the last round here in the states. He’s not going to be stationary until he clears the last state they’re scheduled to have the opera in.”
“She’s the best, Drake. And I trust her with my life. Let me call her. I can’t promise anything, but she might be willing to uproot for a few months. She can also get you information that might help you figure out who the whack job stalker is.”
“It would make Geneva happy,” he nodded. It would put her at ease at least.” Recently she had been talking about putting her own tour on hold just to go stay by Harrison’s side. As if he wanted his wife putting herself in danger for a man who didn’t seem to care if he caught a bullet—or something worse. No way did Drake want to risk Geneva on this.
“I’ll call her and then I’ll get back to you.” Thomas quickly changed the subject as Eve approached.
“You two aren’t talking business are you?” She smiled at both of them.
“We’re talking beautiful brides,” Thomas assured her.
“Right,” she said disbelievingly. “Are you going to dance with me again, Thomas or am I going to have to wait all night?”
“I’m going to dance with my little sister,” he twisted a tendril of her spiral curls in his finger. “I can’t believe you’re going to be all the way out in California. It’s so far.”
“I’ll be okay. I’ll have Adam. And you can come visit me anytime.”
“Yeah,” he mumbled. Drake could tell Thomas was not set at ease with the “come visit,” statement.
“And we’ll be back often anyway. Adam has to get through the training program, but once things are set he wants to get back to see his family in Vermont. And of course we’re going to come see you.”
“You better,” he said sternly. “Otherwise I’ll hunt you down.”
She laughed. “I don’t doubt that you would.” She took his hand in her hand. “Look, Adam’s busy with his brothers, talking about God only knows what; come dance with me.” She tugged on his hand. “Excuse us, Drake?”
“Of course,” he smiled as he watched the two head off onto the dance floor. The two of them shared a bond that could never be broken. He admired that bond from a far. He made it his mission, from that day forth, to make sure none of Sabian’s men got as close to Eve again as they had this time. He was working hard trying to track down Sabian and his gang, and now he was going to step up his pursuit. This was the one thing he could do for his friend, the one thing he could do to ensure that Thomas had a chance at the happiness he deserved. God help him, he was going to find Sabian. One way or another he was going to find him.
About the Author
Capri Montgomery is the bestselling author of books including Ride A Cowboy, Across the Lake, The Thirteenth Floor, 1965, The Admiral’s Daughter, and The Geneva Project. She enjoys nature—unless the insects are biting her, traveling, old movies, art, photography and music.
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