We join a half-dozen people near the exit, all staring at the sheets of rain coming down outside. I cut Chris a hopeful look.

“I don’t suppose you have an umbrella under that jacket of yours?”


“’Fraid not,” he replies, shrugging out of his jacket to wrap the heavy weight around me. “Let me pull the car as close to the door as I can get it. Watch for me at the curb, but it’s still a pretty good run.”

An image of me slipping and falling lat on my face is not a pleasant one, and I take of his coat, wishing I hadn’t left mine with Rey. “No, it’s too heavy for me to run in. Really. I’m no Grace Kelly, Chris. I will fall. I’d rather just leave now with you.” I shiver and hug myself. “I want out of this place.”

“I’m parked too far away. Wait for me. I’ll come back to the door with something to cover you up.”

“Fine. If you want to play Mr. Good Guy. I’ll wait. But please hurry. I don’t want Bernard cornering me again.”

Chris shoves an arm back in his coat, and the prickling sensations on my neck return. Uneasily, I glance around the lobby, and I’m instantly drawn to the proile of a man leaning against a nearby wall. He glances up and I gasp with shock at the familiar face. The man straightens instantly, preparing to bolt, and I grab Chris’s shirt. “It’s the pickpocket from the airport. He’s here.”

“Where?”

I point.

My pickpocket has dashed for the door in a full sprint.

Chris turns to me, hands solidly planted on my shoulders. “Stay here. And I mean stay here, Sara.” Then he runs for the door.

Sixteen

I’m running before Chris is even outside. There’s no way I’m staying inside when he’s chasing a criminal who could easily be armed.

Shoving my way past the doors, struggling to slide my purse across my chest, I burst outside, and I might as well have been sprayed in the face with a ire hose for the ierceness of the cold rain attacking me. Shoving my soaked hair from my face, I desperately scan for Chris, and ind him in a hard run to my left. Instantly I am in motion, wishing my thin silk blouse was warmer and my heels lower. Wishing even more that I dared have my phone ready in case I need to call for help, without the downpour ruining it.

When I am a half a block from the embassy, Chris is another half block ahead of me, and the rain is torture. I swipe the water clinging to my face, as if that will really help. I blink again and panic when I can’t ind Chris. One minute he was in front of me, the next he is out of sight. Panic assails me, and my heart jackhammers. Thunder crashes above me and I nearly jump out of my skin, but I keep running.

At the end of the street I scan wildly in all directions and cut left, the path without a street to cross and the logical choice, praying it’s the right one. I’m another block down, doubting I’ve chosen correctly, when a swinging gate catches my attention and instinct stops me in my tracks.

Cutting around the corner, I see a small, deserted court-yard and gasp as I discover Chris and the pickpocket in a physical scramble. My ingers curl around the metal gate and I barely contain a scream as Chris is shoved against the wall and punched in the face. A second later, the pickpocket is against the same wall and I watch as Chris throws a blow himself, followed by another. And he does it with his painting hand.

I don’t think; I just act, running toward them. I have to save his hand. “No!”

“Get back, Sara!” Chris shouts at me, and I cringe as my distracting him results in him getting a knee in the gut. Chris punches the guy again.

“Your hand!” I scream, closing the distance between us, and latching on to his elbow. “You’re going to hurt your hand!”

Chris curses and holds of a kick from the other man.

“Damn it, Sara, back away!” He punches the guy again, and this time the man slumps.

Chris leans in close to the other man and says something I can’t hear, let alone understand. The man’s reply is muled, a near growl. Chris knees him in the gut and the man starts talking. When he stops, Chris releases him, grabbing me and pulling me behind him.

The stranger darts of through the gates and Chris whirls on me, his ingers digging into my shoulders, rain plastering his hair onto his face. “Wait means wait, damn it!”

Blood rushes in my ears. “Your hand. Let me see your hand.”

His expression is pure fury unleashed, and instead of showing me his hand, he grabs mine and pulls me back onto the sidewalk and into a mad dash. Two briskly covered blocks later, we rush into a bar, rain dripping of our clothes and forming puddles on the hardwood loors. Chris doesn’t look at me. He doesn’t have to. Anger crackles of him, and I have the distinct impression he’s barely contained.

He asks the big guy at the door, “Toilette?”

We receive a inger point and a one-word reply, and we’re on the move again, my hand still irmly in Chris’s. The adrenaline readying me for our soon-to-come confrontation is all that keeps my aching feet and chilled body in motion down a light of stairs to a tiny hallway with one door at the end.

Chris shoves open the bathroom door, and drags me inside with him. A second later I’m in a space barely big enough for one, and Chris is locking the door. Another second later, and I’m pressed against the wall. For once, his big body is pressed against me and I’m not wet from arousal.

“What part of ‘wait’ did you not understand?” he growls at me.

“Someone had to call for help if you got into trouble.”

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