Page 18 of Forced Alliance

“What do you think?” Connor asked Josie.

She sniffed around like a hound dog, her pert nose up in the air. “I think someone called in a bomb.”

“I got that,” he said, glad she had a dry wit when needed.

“I also think Armond was right. Someone wants him dead.”

She got in front of Armond’s face. “We need to get you out of here. Now.”

Beaux nodded. “I’m trying to persuade him.”

She examined Armond with a quick frisking and a hand on his pulse. “You’re confused and in shock, but you’re alive. If you’d been in this bed asleep—”

Beaux gave her a fearful stare. “Sir, she’s right. You’re not safe here.”

“Let’s move, people,” Connor called. Josie was taking notes on her phone. Or so she pretended. He figured she was calling this in to her boss. He poked her on the elbow and then called out, “Leave this the way you found it. The sooner we leave the better.”

Josie gave him an overbearing frown but nodded.

Everyone went into action. Connor watched the lieutenants coming and going, but he also watched Josie. She studied each of the guards with such intensity her expression sizzled just like the drapes.

“What are you doing?” he whispered.

“Trying to find out which one of these men might want their boss dead,” she replied. Then she turned to him. “Armond was right about this, and I think he might be right about something else.”

“And what’s that?”

“You could be next.”

Connor shook his head. “I don’t plan on that.”

“You were his right-hand man for a long time, Connor. And he found out you were working for the FBI that whole time. That means someone thinks he could turn, too, since he was associated with you. Somebody is running scared, and they’re taking names and going into action. First, his mistress, and now an attack on him. They know. They know the FBI has talked to him. His wife and son are in danger, too.”

“I was careful,” Connor retorted. “Very careful. But then, I’ve made a lot of enemies myself.” He still wondered why Armond had let him live. Perhaps his reputation for being charming had impressed the old man.

“You know how that works. If they want you, they will find you,” she said, her tone low and husky. “We need to get both of you out of here and into a safe house. Preferably by splitting you apart.”

Connor paced while the worker bees took care of business.

“I don’t get this. I witness the murder of his girlfriend, and he forces me to help and forces me to make this go away. And now he’s running for his life. He could have killed me right there on the street, but he got in the car with me.”

“Maybe he was in shock, as we saw when we got here, or he took the first way out that came along. But whatever his motives, you’re in this thing now. These people could already know that you and I are involved in covering this up. They’ll come after us next.”

Connor touched a hand to her arm. “You’re in as much danger as I am.”

“Possibly. Which is why we have to work together to find out who’s behind this. And we start with his missing wife and that absent grown son.”

“Do you think—”

“Just trying to cover all the bases.”

She moved away and punched her phone.

This operation had gone from a cover-up to an official FBI investigation. Not just FBI. Make that the sheriff’s department, an ATF team, the state police and the FBI. When something this big happened to a man like Louis Armond, everyone in law enforcement would want a piece of the action. And once again, Connor was in the thick of things. How could he possibly get out of this jam?

Maybe with Josie’s help, if he could convince her to trust him.

He glanced from Louis Armond to the woman talking quietly on the phone. He had to protect Josie, whether she liked it or not. He’d brought her in on this, thinking they could both benefit from it.

Now he’d put her in danger.

The same way he’d put his sister in danger so many times.

He heard the sirens in the background and knew what he had to do. “Josie, we need to get out of here.”