Authors: LR Potter
A small part of her… a part she tried to keep at bay, wondered if Alex was right and her mother was already dead. What would she do then? But no, she couldn’t think that way. If her mother was indeed dead, everything she’d done up to this point - including losing Alex - would have been for nothing. She struggled to sit up and brushed her long, dark hair away from her face. She really needed a shower and to eat.
She glanced out the window to ensure Cash hadn’t planted any uncover officers at her house, but she didn’t see any. She padded down the hall to the kitchen and picked up her phone. She clicked onto her voicemail and as she suspected, there were multiple messages from Cash, and surprisingly only one from Alex. His message had been clipped -
. That he was angry was obvious. There was nothing she could do about that. This was for the best. Maybe one day he would forgive her. She huffed out a deep sigh. Why were things always so complicated?
The shower did a lot to buoyant her fledgling spirits, as did a bowl of tomato soup. As the sun set behind the rock-wall encasing the swimming pool in the backyard, she decided she’d set off the next morning to where Miguel supposedly was. She’d stake out the location for a day or so, then decide what to do from there. A little after midnight, she left a message on Jacob Roundtree’s phone in his office downtown, telling him she was taking some personal time. That she’d probably get fired for this, she had no doubt. But it was a risk she was willing to take.
Alex rose early the next morning, and couldn’t help checking his cellphone for any missed messages, but there were none. He’d considered calling Cash once more, but Cash had promised to call, so he resisted. Instead, he placed a call to Rush Drayton, his boss, and the real reason he was currently in
PUERTO VALLARTA. It took him nearly the full morning to submerge himself into his work, and whole blocks of time would pass when he’d not think of her at all. He lived for those stress-free blocks of time.
Sal Monoco, the project foreman met him once more at the jobsite and together they went and talked with the suppliers they were having problems with. Supplier after supplier would take them through vast warehouses containing an abundance of materials that would remain undelivered as the threat of violence against their companies loomed large over them. Who exactly posed the threat, they either weren’t saying or didn’t know.
A familiar thread of conversation flowed from each company. Men dressed in black with ski-masks would appear whenever they attempted to deliver materials to the jobsite and would force the driver’s, at gunpoint, to turn back.
So far, no one had actually been harmed, the reason being, no one had yet to defy the gunmen. That was about to change… Alex was going to ensure it did.
Of all the distributors, only Spartacus Aluminum, a small ‘mom and pop’ company, whose owners were tired of being bullied by people who refused to show their faces, would agree to assist with Alex’s sting operation. Alex promised Jose Gonzalez, the company’s owner, that he’d be in touch in the next few days once he’d set up things on his end.
He was driving back to the hotel when his cellphone vibrated in his pocket. Withdrawing it, his heart involuntarily kicked up a notch when he saw Cash’s number light up the screen.
“Masters,” he answered.
“Alex, it’s me.
I still haven’t found her. She hasn’t called you, has she?”
Alex exhaled silently as he rubbed a hand against his aching temple. “No, I’ve heard nothing… but I didn’t really expect to. She knew I’d demand she wait.”
“I was surprised to find you’d checked out of the hotel,” Cash said, rebuke lacing his words.
“I had business to attend to. You can always reach me on my cell.”
“She’s hurting, you know… has been hurting for a long time,” Cash said quietly.
Alex clenched his jaw to stay his emotions
as guilt stabbed at him. He wasn’t getting caught back up in the life of Devon Montanez. “Call me when you have news,” he said before disconnecting the line. Alex wished he could disconnect his thoughts as easily.
With a heavy si
gh, he scrolled through his phone and punched in a number he’d not used in a while. Feelings of disloyalty nagged at him, but he overrode them. The phone rang three times before being answered. “Well, as I live and breathe… Alex Masters,” Jacob Roundtree said from the other end of the line. “To what do I owe the pleasure?”
“Hey, Jay. We’ve got a
problem,” Alex said in a no non-sense tone.
“Devon supposedly found out where Miguel and her mother are and has gone after them,” Alex replied.
Silence met his words for several long minutes. Finally, Jacob said, “I thought she was still in the hospital. I wasn’t aware they’d release her.”
“They didn’t… she just left.”
“How’d she find out where they’re at?” Jacob asked.
The phrasing of Jacob’s question stunned Alex. After a moment, he said with quiet fury, “You’ve known all along where they are, haven’t you?”
“What?” Of course not…” he began before Alex cut him off.
“You, bastard! You’ve known and didn’t tell Devon. You knew once she found her mother, she’d be out of the I.D.E.A.”
“That’s not necessarily true,” Jacob protested.
“If anything happens to her, I swear I’ll hunt you down. You better make this right Jacob! You better find her before she gets hurt. Did he have anything to do with the bombing the other day?”
“How would I know that?” Jacob snapped.
“I don’t know… maybe the same way you know where he is and haven’t gone after him. He’s a murderer, as well as someone who already tried to kill a CIA agent. How come you haven’t already gone after him?”
He could hear Jacob inhale deeply on the other end of the line. “Things… things are complicated.”
“Well, they’re about to get even more complicated if anything happens to her. She found some kind of information in the house that blew up. You better get… you know what, just tell me where he is and I’ll go myself!” Alex said as fury rose up inside him.
“You know I can’t do that,” Jacob replied softly.
“She’s really messed up, Jay. You’ve got to do something. She’s too weak to handle him right now,” Alex hated the near begging quality of his voice.
Silence met his words. Finally, Jacob said quietly, “I’ll do what I can.”
“You’ll call me?” Alex pressed.
Again, he replied, “I’ll do what I can.”
After a nearly sleepless night, Alex dressed and made a few calls before heading down for breakfast.
Worry weighted his shoulders. He was standing by the hostess station, scrolling through his phone messages, as he waited to be seated, when he felt a hand land lightly on his forearm. “Alex?” a soft feminine voice asked.
He turned his head and encountered the kind eyes of Dr. Ensley Ingram. Confusion knit his eyebrows and he smiled tentatively. “I’m sorry. Are you here for me?”
Laughter bubbled up from her. “No, silly. PUERTO VALLARTA is part of my circuit with Doctors Without Borders. I didn’t realize you’d left Mexico City. How’s your friend?”
Alex rolled his head. “Better, I think.”
“Good, I’m glad. How long are you in PUERTO VALLARTA for?” she asked.
“I’m not quite sure, how about you?”
“I’m here through the summer, then its back to New York for me,” she said a little disheartened.
Alex took in her innate beauty and gentle nature
, feeling somewhat comforted from just being in her presence. “Would you like to join me for breakfast?”
“I’d love that,” she exclaimed.
“After you,” he said with a small smile when the hostess came to seat him. As he followed the petite blonde to the table, a pit began to form in his stomach, for some reason, guilt clawed in his belly. As much as he
things to be normal… as much as he wanted to be
normal - and single… he just didn’t. What was wrong with him? Here was a woman who obviously was attracted to him and he knew from experience he could have her throughout his time in Mexico… but somehow it
… wrong. She wasn’t Devon. He heaved a huge sigh as his chest tightened.
Sunlight flooded Devon’s bedroom, filtered somewhat by the curtains. She opened eyes that felt gritty from a poor night’s sleep and her shoulder ached.
Rising from her bed, she mentally began to prepare herself for what the day would bring. She brushed her teeth as the coffee filtered through the machine. She unwrapped her shoulder and worried about how weak it felt. While it made her feel vulnerable, she knew she couldn’t afford to leave it bound and totally useless. She dressed in navy cargo pants and a navy T-shirt. She was panting against the pain in her shoulder by the time she’d finished lacing up her combat boots.
She was pouring coffee into a cup when she happened to glance through the window looking out over the pool area in the backyard. There sitting at the patio,
his legs extended out and his ankles crossed, casually drinking from a Starbucks cup was Cash Devlin.
So much for avoiding him
, she thought as she exhaled deeply.
After adding creamer
to her coffee, she slid open the door and moved to sit down across from him as he eyed speculatively. After taking a long drink from his cup, he said, “About time you got up. I thought you were going to sleep the day away.”
She sipped from her own cup. “Why are you here?”
“I think I could ask you that same question. Why are you here and not in the hospital as you should be?” he asked smoothly.
She blinked slowly. “You spoke to Alex,” she guessed.
He nodded. “Several times. He can be a real pain in the ass. Why you put up with him is beyond me.”
“Are you here to stop me?” she asked, her lips grim.
He sighed deeply. “If only I could. But no.”
“Are you going to tell Jacob?” she asked.
He snorted before taking another swallow. “As if…”
She sat back and gazed out across the smooth, blue surface of the water in the pool. “What if she’s not there?”
“But what if she is? What’s the big plan for getting your mom away from Munoz?” he asked.
“I don’t know,” she replied quietly.
He stared at her for a long moment. “So, let me get this straight… you left the hospital when you weren’t supposed to; you’re injured; you don’t know what you’re walking into; and you have no plan for whatever you find when you get there. Does that about sum it up?”
Looking away from him, but not really caring what he thought of her actions. “Yep.”
“And the reason you’ve avoided and ignored my calls would be…” he said with a wave of his hand.
“Because you’d try to stop me or try to change my mind.”
“Well, yeah,” he replied, scorn lacing his words. “But I’m still your partner.”
“I know,” she replied.
With a shake of his head, he removed the lid from his cup and took a long drink of the cooled coffee. “So… when do we start this great adventure of ours?”
“You’re coming with me?” she asked incredulously.
“Of course… I’m your partner,” he replied, as if her question was asinine.
It took them nearly four hours to drive to the address she’d gotten from the house. The area was just as isolated as she’d assumed it would be. They drove past the turn off for a house that sat far back down the lane. The white adobe structure looked stark against the rolling orange clay hills surrounding it. They continued past until they’d crested a rise in the road before turning off and parking the car behind a huge bush. They walked back they way they’d just come before settling down on their bellies, binoculars raised as they scanned the house and surrounding area.
“The place looks…
deserted,” Cash said softly.
“It makes no sense. I know him.
Miguel would have guards posted,” she said.
“Maybe this isn’t where he is… maybe the people at the house were wrong.”
“I want to get a closer look,” she said, rising to her feet but keeping her body crouched. Pain slashed across shoulder and she grimaced.
f course you do,” Cash murmured, taking in her sharp intake of pain, as he rose to a similar stance.
Together, they moved closer, slowly and smoothly, working as a cohesive unit, from years of practice. They made it all the way to
a low-built stone wall surrounding the house without seeing anyone. Finally, Devon stood to her full height and stood with her hands resting on her hips as she looked around at the empty courtyard. “Do you think I was wrong? That this isn’t where Miguel was?” she asked dejectedly.
Cash stood as well
and sighed. “It did seem a little convenient, don’t you think? You finding the address in a house which was an obvious set-up? What was the point?”