Authors: Sam Sisavath
2016 Sam Sisavath
All rights reserved.
his is a work of fiction
. Names, characters, organizations, places, events, and incidents are either products of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously.
of this book may be reproduced, or stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording, or otherwise, without express written permission of the publisher.
by Road To Babylon Media LLC
by Rebecca Frank
Editing by Jennifer Jensen & Wendy Chan
f she’s looking
for you, you’re already in trouble.
Every year, tens of thousands of young girls go missing around the world. Some go voluntarily, but others are taken against their will and forced into a life worse than death.
When a teenager vanishes and the authorities have given up, her mother asks Allie Krycek for help. For Allie, it’s not just another bad guy to take down. This one hits too close to home. Maybe a little too close.
Years ago, Allie’s own little sister vanished, and she couldn’t do anything to stop it. This time, things are different. This time, things
The only things stopping Allie are two seasoned professionals, a hidden criminal organization, and a whole lot of empty miles, with danger around every turn. All she has to do is get to the end of the line…alive.
sixty-two and balding, with a paunch he had probably developed after retiring from the state police, and she was going to have to shoot him. She didn’t want to do it, but there was no other choice. They were watching her. More specifically,
was watching her. One wrong move and she would never make it out of the diner alive. In this case, the “wrong move” was not
pulling the trigger.
So Allie shot the ex-cop.
He hadn’t seen her standing in the door that connected the back hallway with the kitchen when he sneaked out of the bathroom. The tail of his well-worn dress shirt was draped unsightly over the back of his waist, and her shot hit him in the thigh. He let out a surprised grunt and stumbled forward a couple of steps before his legs—first the right, where her bullet had hit, then the left—buckled under him.
Despite the extra pounds and years, Hank proved to be surprisingly spry and stuck out both hands to stop his face from slamming into the grime-caked floor. Unfortunately that also meant letting go of the black snub-nose revolver clutched in his right hand, and the gun skidded loudly across the diner.
Stay down. Stay the hell down
, she thought, even as Hank looked up, spotted his lost weapon, and made the first signs to crawl toward it—
She fired into the tile about six inches from the side of Hank’s head—heard someone gasp somewhere in the diner—and the old man flinched and stopped moving completely. For now, anyway. Before he could change his mind, Allie hurried forward and shoved her knee into the small of his back. Another almost-annoyed grunt from the ex-cop as she shoved the blunt, cold muzzle of the Sig Sauer P250 against his exposed neck.
,” she hissed through clenched teeth.
Hank’s arms went stiff and his eyes stared at the hole she had put into the floor next to his head. Even if he had decided to turn completely around to get a look at her, he would have only seen an all-white cheap party mask with holes for her eyes, nostrils, and mouth.
“Problem?” a voice asked.
She glanced up at the speaker. Black dress slacks, white dress shirt, black blazer, and a plain black tie. Like her, a white mask covered his face as he watched her from across the diner—he’d been watching her since they stepped inside the place—while holding a Glock on two beefy truckers sitting in a booth. Their wallets and whatever money they had in their pockets were spread out on the table. There were also two sets of car keys and, of all things, Magnum condoms.
“No problem,” she said.
“Looks like a problem to me,” a second man in a mask said. He appeared from behind the counter and stepped on Hank’s lost revolver before kicking it under one of the booths across the room. He was dressed identical to the first man, and they could have passed for twins if not for the foot height difference. “Heroes get dead, right?” he said, directing it at her.
“No,” she said.
“No,” she said again.
The second man exchanged a look with the first.
“You wanted pocket change, you got it,” Allie said. “Murder wasn’t on my to-do list today.”
“You already shot him,” the second man said. “Finish it.”
“And I said
The tall man in the suit chuckled, the sound muffled by the mask over his face. “Fine. Grab his phone.”
Allie rifled through Hank’s pockets but came up empty. “He doesn’t have one.”
“Everyone has a cell phone,” the short man in the suit said.
“She already looked,” Tall Suit said. “Time to go, anyway. Oh, someone grab me a piece of that pie off the counter, please?” He turned and, using his gun hand, swept the money, car keys, and condoms off the table and into a plastic grocery bag. A second already-tied bag sat on the floor nearby, and he snatched it up.
Shorty made a noise that sounded like a snort in her direction before hurrying back to the counter. “One more minute and we’ll be out of your hair, folks. Everyone remain where you are.” He swiped the tabletop with his arm, sweeping wallets, money, and jewelry into another plastic bag.
Allie stood up from Hank—glimpsed his head turning slightly, trying to spy her face—and hurried out of the hallway. She passed a half dozen men and women, and two kids that couldn’t have been more than six, all either crouched next to their chairs or huddled in their booths with their hands over their heads. One of the kids—a girl—looked up as she passed, big brown eyes full of curiosity.
At the counter, Allie opened the display case with the apple pies, then nodded at the waitress crouched on the other side doing everything possible to stay hidden behind the chipped wood and steel barrier between them.
“Hey,” Allie said.
The waitress ignored her.
“Hey,” Allie said again, louder this time. “I need this to go.”
The waitress reluctantly met her gaze. “What?”
“The pie,” Allie said. “You got a box or something?”
The waitress stood up on slightly wobbly legs and grabbed a plastic see-through container from a shelf and slid it across the counter. Allie put one of the pieces of pie inside and snapped the lid shut. She could feel the woman watching her the entire time, probably trying to remember everything about her: the black leather jacket; her long, black hair in a ponytail; the gun in her hand…
“Spoon,” Allie said.
“What?” the waitress said. Her name tag read:
“I need a spoon, Rita.”
“Hurry the fuck up,” Shorty snapped. He was already at the door, with Tall Suit outside, moving through the parking lot.
Allie ignored him and said to the waitress, “Spoon, Rita.”
“Spoon,” Rita repeated, and turned left, then right, before finding the shelf with the utensils. She grabbed one of the spoons and held it out to Allie, as if she were afraid it might burn her hand if she didn’t get rid of it fast enough.
Allie took it. “Thanks.”
“O-okay,” Rita said.
Allie nodded toward the back hallway, where Hank would be if she could see him over the counter. “Get him something to stop the bleeding when we’re gone.”
Rita nodded nervously.
Allie walked at a fast clip across the diner, passing scared couples and families doing their best not to look up at her. A couple of the men did sneak a look, including one of the two truckers in the booth. She glanced toward the back, at Hank. He was still on the floor staring after her. Blood pooled under his right leg, but if he was in pain, he was doing a very good job of not letting it show.
“Took your sweet time,” Shorty said, holding the door open for her.
“The man wanted pie,” she said, and stepped out into the parking lot.
Tall Suit was already in the front passenger seat of the white Nissan waiting for them. Allie climbed into the back while Shorty slipped in behind the wheel, throwing his plastic bag, already tied at the handles, over his shoulder and into the backseat with her. It landed with a
against the pile next to Allie, where she had deposited her own bundle alongside Tall Suit’s. There were more than just wallets and money in the bags; there were also all the cell phones they had taken from the diner’s patrons.
“Any day now,” Tall Suit said.
The diner’s customers were slowly starting to get up from the floor, a few of them rushing over to where Hank lay in the back hallway. Allie saw Rita, the waitress, putting a towel against Hank’s leg, and she had to fight against her own sigh of relief. If nothing else, they wouldn’t be able to add murder to her list of crimes.
Right. Because shooting an ex-cop in the process of an armed robbery of a diner full of innocent people isn’t already going to get you life—or close—in prison.
“Hold your horses,” Shorty was saying in the front seat as he slipped on his seatbelt. “Driving protocol, dude. You know, it wouldn’t kill you to drive once or twice.”
“But you’re so good at it,” Tall Suit said.
“Flattery will only get you in my pants.”
Shorty finally reversed out of the gravel parking lot before turning onto the interstate road. Allie glanced out the rear windshield and back at the diner, watching as more people began running around inside the building. She wondered how long it would take them to realize no one had a cell phone and that the only two landlines had been cut.
She turned back around and settled in her seat, then stripped off the mask. She sucked in fresh air and ran gloved hands through her hair. Like the past few hours, wide-open farmland blurred by on both sides of them, with only the massive mountain peaks in the distance to break the monotony. At least they had left the gray and dry desert behind, and her hair thanked her for the change of scenery.
Not that her appearance was something she was worried about at the moment. No, there were more important things to occupy her mind as she watched the endless parade of green fields and red barns. Traffic consisted of the occasional family in a minivan, RV, or obvious rentals, with semis hauling everything from car parts to other cars to food dominating the lanes on both sides of them.
After a few minutes of silence and only the wind banging against her windows for company, Allie remembered the pie in her lap.
“Reese,” she said, and leaned forward between the two front seats with the plastic container and the spoon on top of it.
The man in the front passenger seat took the box from her, glancing briefly up at the rearview mirror as he did so. It was just a moment—maybe not even half a second—as they locked eyes. She wished she could have said she had become used to the way he scrutinized her—after all, he had been doing it since she climbed into the car—but it still managed to unnerve her.
“Thanks,” Reese said.
“Why apple pie?” she asked.
“When in Rome…”
“Apple pies aren’t actually that common with American meals.”
She shook her head.
Reese opened the case and cut out a piece with the spoon. “Dwight told me everyone ate apple pie in America.”
Dwight grinned. “I haven’t had apple pie in years. Not since college. And that was just once.”
“So you lied?” Reese said. Allie couldn’t tell if he was genuinely hurt or playing along.
“I didn’t know you were so gullible,” Dwight said, and reached down and turned on the radio. Country music filled the car. Something about a horse…
“It’s called trust, Dwight.”
“Call it whatever you want, dude. Still makes you a dumbass.”
Reese ignored him and ate another piece. “You did good back there,” he said. It was meant for her, even though he hadn’t turned around when he said it.
“You sound surprised,” Allie said.
He shrugged. “You never know how people will react their first time in a pressure situation.”
“This is hardly my first time.”
“First time with us seeing you in action.”
“She should have shot the old fart,” Dwight said. “He was probably a cop.”
“He was in his sixties,” Allie said.
“How many sixty-year-old cops do you know?”
“Out here in boondocksville? A fuck lot, that’s how many.”
“Even if he were a cop, that’s an even better reason not to kill him.”
“She’s got a point,” Reese said.
“And shooting him in the leg is better?” Dwight said.
Reese chuckled. “Dwight’s got a point too.”
“Like I said, I’m not adding a dead body to my list of crimes today just to make you two happy,” Allie said.
“We’ll see about that,” Dwight said.
She didn’t respond, and eventually Dwight began to slow down before turning off the interstate and into a wooded area. A rusted-over sign with “RV Park”-something stenciled across it flashed by to their right, and the road was bumpy as soon as they turned onto it. Dwight slowed down again as he entered what once upon a time was a park, but the grounds had since been swallowed up by grass and foliage, making it almost indistinguishable from the surrounding woods.
A white semitrailer, no different than all the ones she had been seeing since they hit the road, loomed in front of them next to a Ford four-door. It would have been easy to think the vehicles had been abandoned here, but Allie knew better.
Two men appeared out from behind the trees to their left as they approached. She spied bulges along the men’s jackets—barely noticeable if you weren’t looking for them or didn’t know what they meant.
Dwight parked a good twenty yards behind the semi, and they climbed out just in time to hear the wail of police sirens in the distance. Still very far off, but getting closer.
“That was smart, taking their cell phones,” Allie said to Reese.
“It wasn’t our first time, either,” Reese said.
“So you’re the brains of this operation.”
“Was there ever any doubt?”
“Kiss my ass,” Dwight said, and walked on ahead of them.
Reese led her to the sedan while the two men who had stepped out of the woods joined Dwight at the back of the semi.
“The old man in the diner,” Reese said. “Juliet would have gone for the back of the head.”
“I’m not Juliet,” Allie said.
“No, you’re not.”
At the Ford now, she narrowed her eyes across the roof at him. “If you still have any doubts about me, maybe we should put it out there now, Reese. Otherwise, you’re just wasting both of our time.”
“Doubts?” He shrugged. “I always have doubts. But Juliet recommended you…”
“Yeah, she did.”
“Then again, people make mistakes. Even Juliet.”
“Then you should take it up with her.”
He nodded. “I’ll do that, first chance I get.”
from nearby, as Dwight threw open the semi’s back doors with the help of the two men.
“Why are they opening the trailer here?” she asked.
“Just to make sure the assets made it to us fully intact,” Reese said. “Wouldn’t want to get blamed for damaged goods on delivery, right?”
It took Allie a few seconds to make out the small, round faces peering out of the darkness inside the parked transport at Dwight and the other two. They were seemingly drawn forward by the blinding sunlight like moths to a flame, slowly and (justifiably) afraid of what awaited them.