Gone Duck #5 (Romantic Suspense)

BOOK: Gone Duck #5 (Romantic Suspense)




By L.L.







Lesli Muir





Gone Duck: 5
© 2015 L.Lytle


All rights

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embodied in critical articles and reviews. Thank you for respecting the hard
work of this author.

This ebook is a work
of fiction. The names, characters, places, and incidents are products of the
writer's imagination or have been used fictitiously and are not to be construed
as real. Any resemblance to persons, living or dead, actual events, locales or
organizations is entirely coincidental.

A little reminder of how the last
episode ended…

stood at the door and watched out the peep hole. The Beanie Boys neared. One
looked back and nudged his friend, and the two of them continued past the door.
She was tempted to open it and hail them inside, but she hesitated. Maybe
something had scared them off. Maybe Lacrosse was already there!

The toilet flushed and Shawn came out of the
bathroom and washed his hands. When the water shut off, she waved to get his
attention and pressed a finger to her lips, then whispered what she’d seen.

He pulled his gun and braced himself against
the edge of the wall, the barrel pointed at the hook latch. She looked through
the hole again. Doors opened. Feet pounded. Men shouted, all beyond the range
of the peep hole.

“Next!” a man shouted, and four men in SWAT
uniforms shuffled to the door across the hall, two on each side. A man in a
suit and tie stepped up to the door and slipped a card in and out of the lock.
He turned the handle, then jumped back as the officers poured into the room.

In a whisper, she told Shawn what was

“Get back,” he hissed. “Get on the floor on the
far side of the beds. Put your hands behind your head. Whatever you do, don’t
resist. Go. Now.”

She backed away, but she couldn’t just run and
leave him to face four armed men. He might shoot one, but the other three would
shoot him to bits!

“Wait!” she whispered. “Put the gun to my head.
Use me as a hostage. That will at least buy a minute or two until they realize
we’re together, right?”

He shook his head quickly.

“Bullshit.” She stepped in front of him and
turned her back. “Do it, damn it!”

She heard him suck air between his teeth just
before his arm came around her middle. He pulled her against him and stepped
backward into the room. They were six or seven feet from the door.




Macey held her breath. Shawn’s arm tightened. They
might die in the next minute, but at least they were together. A silly,
romantic thought, but it was the only thing that kept her from freaking out and
embarrassing them both.

“Not this one,” a man said. “An old man was in
here. The paramedics just took him away a few minutes ago. There was no one
else in the room.”

“You are certain?” It sounded like Lacrosse

“I was just in there. I was still here when they

“Very well. Next!”

Shawn’s grip remained. He had to be as shocked as
she was. Lacrosse had just been at their door—seven feet away—and the man had
moved on!

She gasped. “Couldn’t you just kiss Dave right
now?” It was difficult to breathe with Shawn holding her tight and adrenaline
filling every cell of her body.

Shawn removed his arm, then turned her. “I’d
rather kiss you,” he grumbled and pulled her roughly against him. But instead
of bending to reach her lips, he lifted her up to meet his. She caught the
flash of his smile before their lips met, and she supposed he was enjoying a little
adrenaline rush of his own. After a long, luxurious kiss, he lowered her to the
floor again and they exchanged a wide smile understood only by the recently

They moved to the door and listened to the routine
repeating its way down the hall. Lacrosse’s shout of “Next!” eventually stopped

“I wonder if Dave’s friends will be back.”

Knuckles rapped on the door three times, scaring
the crap out of them both. Shawn looked through the peep hole, then frowned at

“What?” she whispered.

“I know one of them.”

Her stomach sank with the weight of pure dread. If
Shawn knew the guy, it could mean one of two things. Either he was a former man
of Lacrosse, like Dave and Shawn, or he was a current one.

The knock came again, only softer.

She shrugged, leaving the decision up to Shawn.

“If we want to see Dorothy Jean again, we have
little choice,” he whispered.

She nodded and stood back. He opened the door and
let the two men inside.

The tall one, who had first been following her to
the park, nodded at Shawn. “Parker.”


The guy’s gaze passed over her like she was just
another piece of furniture in the room. “I can’t believe you’re still here.” He
bent his head back. “You couldn’t have hidden in the ceiling. So how did
Lacrosse not see you? They’ve moved up to the fourth floor, by the way.

Shawn explained what had happened.

Kofford laughed. “You’ve got some dumb luck, man.”

“Yeah, I know. Can we get on with this, or what?”

Shawn hadn’t looked her way since the Beanie Boys
had arrived. She figured he didn’t want them to know he gave a crap whether she
lived or died, so she folded her arms to keep from accidentally reaching out
for him if she got nervous.

Kofford nodded, then exchanged a look with the
other guy—a look she didn’t care for.

“Lacrosse has men at every exit,” the second man
said. “We’re going to split you two up, but just to get out of the building.
There is no way they’d let both of you walk past them. Oh.” He reached into his
pocket and Shawn tensed. “Here’s a nose for you. And some contacts. Kofford
will wait while you get them on. I’ll take the lady now.”

Her head started shaking on its own. “No.”

Shawn closed his eyes for a second, then nodded
his head. “Go ahead. We’ll be right behind you.” He gave her shoulder a
squeeze, then went to the vanity mirror and started unwrapping the little
package the guy had given him. “Next time you see me,” he said, “you won’t even
recognize me. So be warned.” His reflection gave her a meaningful look, but she
had no idea what that actual meaning was.

“Yeah. Okay.” She could think of nothing
intelligent to say. “See ya.”

“See ya.” He turned his attention to the nose.

Kofford sat on the bed with a bounce. The other
guy took hold of her upper arm and opened the door.

She pulled out of his grasp. “Don’t touch me,” she

“Fine. But if we’re holding hands, they’ll look
less seriously at you.”

She huffed out a breath and grabbed his hand.

He rolled his eyes and looked down the hallway in
both directions before leading her to the left. When the door closed behind
her, she felt like a lifeline had just been cut, and she was left to trust some
short dude with a five o’clock shadow that only grew in patches, even though he
had to be thirty years old.

They took the elevator. It was empty.

“I wish I had some sunglasses,” she said aloud.

Patchy shook his head. “No, you don’t. They make
anyone look suspicious.”

She really didn’t want to admit he was right, so
she tried not to speak to him at all.

After they passed the mezzanine level, he nudged
her. “We’re going to walk straight out the front door like we’ve got somewhere
to go, but all day to get there.”

The doors opened. Her heart jumped when one of
Lacrosse’s goons, whom she recognized from her own apartment, stood there with
a phone to his ear. She couldn’t see his eyes because of his sunglasses.

Patchy gave her a smirk, then pulled her forward.

“Pardon us, mate,” he said, stepping around the
goon and guiding her along behind him.

The goon turned to look at her and smiled. She
sucked her top lip into her mouth, hoping it distorted her face enough to make
him doubt. Then she realized he was watching Patchy and not her. The Aussie
accent must have amused him.

She hoped, when he closed his eyes that night,
he’d see her face and realize what he’d done. But hopefully, not until then.

She followed Patchy like an obedient dog but only
because it would draw attention to them if she recoiled from him like she
wanted to. His all-day-to-get-there plan seemed to be working. Few faces turned
their way as they made it past the grand fountain and ever closer to the exit.
Her imagination got a little carried away with movie scenes where a character
was released from prison just to be shot outside the gates. And she realized
the gross, cold slick of sweat between hers and Patchy’s hands was probably
coming from her.

The doorman stood before the revolving door and
pointed his arm to the right. “Sorry, folks. This one’s out of order at the
moment. You can exit right over there, if you will.”

Patchy steered her toward a single door where
another of Lacrosse’s goons stood in a long black coat holding several pages in
his hands. She sucked in her top lip again and pulled hard on it. She could see
the tip of her nose lower, and held it that way.

The goon looked at Patchy first, then consulted
two of his papers. He then narrowed his eyes at Macey. She narrowed hers back.
He glanced at his last page, then waved them past.

She didn’t let go of her lip until they’d crossed
the street. Her mouth ached like she’d been punched in the mouth, but she was
pretty sure she’d just saved her own butt with the little trick.

They walked half a block, then turned into the gap
that led to the parking lot for Hotel Lusso. The same black van with tinted
windows waited for them, the side door open wide.

She pulled her hand from Patchy’s grip. “Wow. I
guess tinted windows are about as inconspicuous as sunglasses.”

He snorted and tried to put his hand on her back,
probably so he could keep steering her around. But she stepped to the side and

“Look, dude. You are going to have to stop
touching me. It’s not like I’m here against my will, okay? So just back off.”

“Better put your hands in your pockets, Gammon.”
Dave emerged from the far side of the van. “Unless you want to lose a finger or

Macey smiled, relieved to see a friendly, familiar
face, even if it belonged to a guy she couldn’t quite trust.

She held up her hand and wrinkled her nose. “He
made me hold his hand.” She wiggled the offended fingers like they might never
work correctly again. Since Dave was always gung ho to save people, she figured
playing the wounded bird would raise his defenses on her behalf.

He stepped up to her and examined the fingers,
along with her pouting lower lip. “We can’t have that now, can we?”

“I don’t like your friends,” she whispered.

“I know. But they’re…useful. And right now, I need

She nodded and didn’t bother pulling her hand from
his. “Are they out yet?”


She tapped her ear, then pointed to his where the
earpiece had been. “Shawn and the other guy. Are they out yet?”

“Ah, no. Not yet.” He pretended to think. “How
about we get you to Dorothy, so the two of you can wait for him together?”

“How about we don't?” She smiled and waited for
his next trick. The moment she'd left Shawn behind, she'd stopped expecting to
see him again. She'd anticipated the sound of gunshots before she and Patchy
ever reached the elevator. And she had every reason to expect either the goon
of the two goons they passed would have grabbed her. It was an actual miracle
they hadn’t.

But there she was, chatting with Dave, still
reasonably free. Everything now was just a bonus. But it was always hard to
know what to do with extra time. Like an extra day on vacation when you've
already seen all the sights and there's nothing much left to do but eat and
wait for time to pass.

But she could still pester Dave. Make it hard for
him to harm her, but make it hell on him for leaving Shawn to Lacrosse, which
she was pretty sure he had. It was a wonder, really, that he even cared to get
her out of the hotel. He had Dorothy Jean, the golden goose. What did he really
need her for?

Then she had it.

To hurt Shawn. He knew she meant something to him.
He wanted them apart. Not out of jealousy. Just a guy thing. A competition. And
Dave had fixed the game. He'd outnumbered his old friend and stolen something
he valued.

Which made her even more determined to make him
wish he hadn't.

Of course she'd go along with him, eventually, in
order to get to Dorothy Jean and protect her as best she could. But first…

He closed one eye against the brightness of the
sun and glanced at the waiting vehicle. “Would you care to sit in the van,
babe? We may be waiting a while.”

“Nope,” she said cheerfully. “I'm fine. Too much
sitting around the hotel already, you know?” She looked around the parking lot.
“In fact, I think I'll stretch my legs a little while we wait.”

With her backpack still secured behind her, she
jogged back to the street, knowing it was probably giving Dave a heart attack
to watch her. When she hit the sidewalk, she turned, ran across the opening,
then back into the parking lot to jog around the perimeter.

He watched every step, as did Patchy, or Gammon,
or whatever his name was. She imagined there was probably another Beanie Boy in
the van watching her too.

The black wig bounced on her head and slipped
loose. She reached up and yanked it off without missing a step. But she wasn't
stupid enough to go all the way to the street with her own light hair either,
not with the whole city looking for the hundred thousand dollars on her head,
so she cut straight across the driveway the second time around. She could
almost hear Dave and the Boys sigh with relief.

It was a pathetically small parking lot, and she’d
been tragically out of shape before Hot Neighbor ever blew threw her wall. Two
full circuits around and she was winded. But with all those eyes on her, she
wasn't about to give up already. So she pushed herself by trying to imagine
Lacrosse was right behind her. On the straight-aways, she ran as fast as she
could. She had to watch her step as she came up on the driveway again, so she
didn't accidentally dash out in front of a car, though. She peeked around the
edge of the building...

And screamed.

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