Page 20 of Forced Alliance

“We’re in a lot of trouble already,” he said, staring out the hotel window. “What happens to Armond now?”

“After the FBI moves in and explains he’s going into protective custody or possibly jail unless he’ll cooperate?”

“Yeah, after that.”

“He’ll either turn and agree to testify against some of his enemies or his mysterious partner or...he’ll be charged with transporting illegal and stolen goods into the country. He knows the risks, but he was willing to talk to us before this happened.” She checked the door again. “He’ll be a little aggravated with us, too.”

“Tough choices,” Connor said. “But then the boys down at headquarters like to give out such ultimatums.”

She propped on a nearby desk. “Is that how you came to be a part of our happy family?”

“More or less. I didn’t have a lot of options.”

“You can tell me about it all later,” she said as she got up and stretched. “Let’s go talk to Armond and tell him we have to leave him here so we can do some footwork.”

“He won’t be happy.”

Josie texted a message to Sherwood and then waited while another undercover agent checked the hallway. Sherwood had placed his people all over the hotel.

“We can’t guarantee his happiness, but if he wants our help, he’ll agree. The man is running scared, and now we’ve found some evidence that could incriminate him.”

“And of course, after we leave, the FBI will bully him into this deal based on that evidence. Makes you wonder who planted it.”

She whirled from the door to answer another text, then went to the adjoining room. “Beaux, we’re going to bring in another guard to make sure both of you are safe.” When Armond lifted his head, about to protest, she said, “Don’t even think about running, Mr. Armond. Two incidents in one night are enough to be sure someone is gunning for you. The guard will keep watch, and you need to stay right here for the next few hours.”

Beaux nodded and patted his gun. “I won’t let anybody near him.” Then he sent a frowning glance toward his boss. “And I won’t let him leave.”

Armond’s scowl grew wider. “Beaux, I’m still in charge.”

“Not right now,” Josie retorted. “That is, if you want to stay alive.”

Josie walked back through the doorway between them and Armond and made sure she was out of earshot. Leaning in, she looked up at Connor. “They’re in the building. It’s time for us to sneak out.” Then she frowned at Connor. “Hey, Randall, by the way, you seem to be wavering between loyalty to Armond and your duty to the FBI. So whose side are you really on?”

“Mine,” he said with a shrug. Then he grabbed his wrinkled tux jacket and followed her out of the room. When she saw their relief guard coming toward them, Josie waited until the man went into the room she’d just left.

“We’re clear,” she told Connor. “Let’s get out of here.”

They’d made it to the back elevator down the hall and around the corner. Josie signaled to the guard waiting there to go down the hallway toward Armond’s room. A couple of minutes later, the elevator doors opened and Josie stepped in, Connor right behind her. Then they heard shouting followed by gunshots.

“That sounded close to Armond’s room.” Josie drew her weapon. “Stay with me,” she said on a hiss to Connor. She motioned him back around the corner.

“Where would I go?” he asked, his voice near her right ear. When he put his hand on her arm in a protective stance, she shook her head. “I’m going to get us out of this.”

“And I’m going to make sure you stay alive.”

In spite of the unnecessary gesture, she felt a little rip in her doubt of the man. He did have a way of being old-fashioned and debonair, even in a crisis. But right now, she needed him to stay behind her and follow her directions.

When more gunshots rang out, Connor stepped forward. “This isn’t good. They’ve found Armond, Josie. We need to get out of here.”

So he was only worried about his own sorry hide.

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