That wasn’t great news, because Jared had a real good aim. We fired some shots back and forth as I took in the angles around me, looking for fresh cover. I didn’t pop out of the same place each time, hoping the unpredictability would keep me in the game – and that it would make the bugger frustrated. Sometimes I’d peek out of the top left, sometimes the low right, and so on and so on. At one point, I stuck my head out on my right, and then dived to my left and fired. But the trick didn’t work because he was too bloody fast. Fucking Pagori speed.
My focus flew to David as he stood upright with his gun held high and a blob of paint on his mask. Crap. I nearly had a sodding heart attack when Salem appeared beside me. I jabbed him with my gun. “You little shit.”
“Look.” He pointed at the ‘B and B’. I looked in time to watch Butch hurrying inside it, while Chico covered him by pinning Denny in place with pellets. Meanwhile, Salem was shooting crazily at Stuart, who was squatted behind a car beside the ‘B and B’. Had Salem not pinned him in place like that, Stuart would have been inside that building at the same time as Butch.
“We need to cover Butch as he runs with the crate,” I told Salem as I reloaded. I had every confidence that Butch would get the crate in a matter of seconds. I was right. As soon as he appeared in the doorway, Salem launched a smoke grenade. Butch waited only until it exploded before he sprinted out of the building. He hadn’t taken his gun with him, trusting that those of us left – me, Salem, and Chico – would cover him as he ran. We did.
It took the other team a few seconds before they realised what was happening and started firing at him. Salem, Chico, and I ran backwards, exchanging shots with Jared, Denny, and Magda. Although the other team had now redoubled their efforts, so had we.
Unfortunately, though, it wasn’t long before Jared picked off Chico – the f**ker. Pissing me off even more, Magda almost took me out. Time to get rid of the bitch. A well-aimed shot to the head eliminated her from the game. But – fuck it all! – a well-aimed shot from Jared took Salem out of the game no more than a second later. It seemed only natural to then turn on my fiancé, who at the same time turned on me, and we eliminated each other simultaneously. He dived on me then, knocking me to the ground and lounging on top of me, laughing.
Chuckling myself, I turned my head to watch Butch, ready to yell in victory as he reached base camp – something he was literally seconds away from doing. Although Denny was chasing after him, his shots were going wide and it looked like we had definitely won. But then Max – who I’d forgotten was only out of the game temporarily – appeared from around the corner of the last street and shot Butch right in the head.
Growling, Butch halted and dropped the crate at his feet.
Jared and his team started cheering and clapping, but Evan tsked. “Until you get the crate to your own base camp, you haven’t won, guys.”
Shrugging and laughing, Max and Denny both walked toward the crate. Startling all of us, there was a loud battle cry and Fletcher came charging out of our base camp, firing a series of pellets that seemed to go in every direction. Miraculously, some of his totally inaccurate shots caught Max and Denny’s masks.
Cheers rang out from my team.
“Fletcher, put the crate in our base!” I shouted.
Nodding, he dragged it into the small building and then came back out, mask off, grinning like a Cheshire cat. As the cheers rose in volume, he adjusted his glasses and curtseyed.
Maybe it was childish, but I whipped off my mask and laughed in Jared’s face. “How do you like that?”
He removed his own mask, appearing stunned. “How did I forget about Fletcher?”
I’d forgotten about him, too. But I wasn’t about to tell Jared that. I smiled, joining my hands around his neck when he kissed me. “All part of the strategy.”
He kissed me again. “Well played. But I will win you at the next game.”
I gave him a sympathetic look. “I’ll allow you to have your fantasies. I sure hadn’t thought that wearing a mankini would be one of them, though.”
His smile was quickly replaced by a scowl.
I began teasing him about the mankini again when we woke the next evening – even going as far as to call him Borat. That got me a punishment in the form of him pinning me down and shagging me until I came so hard I saw stars – ha, like that was a deterrent. We were lying in the bed, still reverberating with the aftershocks, when I noticed that he was staring. He did that a lot, never feeling uncomfortable as if it was totally normal to just stare at someone. I playfully snapped, “What?”
He flashed me an innocent smile that quickly turned roguish. “I like looking at you. I like looking at you, knowing I know this body better than even you do. Like knowing you belong to me.” His kiss captured and muffled my ‘I belong to myself, thank you very much’. When he pulled back, he had the oddest expression on his face. “That’s not you touching my leg, is it?”
I looked down the bed to see that Dexter had made his way from the living area to the bedroom and was now slithering his way up the bed. I giggled. “Maybe he’s starting to warm up to you.”
“More like he’s jealous that I’m touching you,” grumbled Jared.
Yeah, Dexter often hissed at Jared, not yet comfortable with him.
“I’d appreciate it if you moved him away from me. He’s heading in a direction that I’m not happy about.”
Smiling, I gently coaxed Dexter over to me. He came easily. “Only I get to bite that part of you.”
A devilish grin took over his face. I’d just joined my lips to his when we heard two distinct beeps. And we knew just which mobile phone was beeping. Swallowing hard, Jared retrieved Leon’s mobile phone from the kitchen drawer and brought it to the bed. “It’s from ‘Del’.”
This was what we’d been waiting for. This was what we’d been stressing over since meeting Jude. This was also something that was going to cause a humungous argument between Jared and me. “I’m not staying behind.”
“There is no way you’re going on this assignment, Sam.”
“Oh I think you’ll find I am.”
“Oh I think you’ll find you’re not.”
And on and on it went.
A full hour. I’d spent a full hour trying to make the homicidal bitch listen to me, trying to make her see reason. What had she done the entire time? Smiled indulgently at me, much like a parent would at a teenager having a tantrum. “Sam, you can’t expect me to be okay with you going out there helpless.”