Page 21 of Forced Alliance

“I have to go back,” she said, pushing him away. “My boss could be in that room.”

“With Armond and whoever’s shooting at him,” Connor said, dragging her away from the area where the gunfire continued. “Josie, I’m serious. Sherwood is probably already dead. They’ll ambush you.”

Josie felt a solid need to defend her boss and the other agents who’d been working with them. She didn’t have time to explain this to Connor. “I can’t let my coworkers get mowed down.”

The shots ended, and Connor tugged her into another open meeting room. “Shh. We’ll figure something out.”

“Let me go,” she said, her mind on getting to her people. She’d started this whole thing by agreeing to help him. She had to see it through to the end, no matter what. “I have to—”

When a door down the hall burst open, Connor put a finger to his mouth. “Wait.”

He pushed her behind him and peeked out the sliver of an opening in the door. Then he quickly shut the door, turned off the light and glanced at the balcony across the room. “Three of them and they’re dressed for combat. We have to get out of here. Now.”

Josie’s shock changed to an automatic survival mode. “The windows?”

“Let’s see. And hurry.”

She followed Connor without hesitation now. Whatever he’d seen had put him into action. He tugged her into a circular alcove window covered with heavy curtains. “Stay still while I try to open this window.”

Josie did as he asked, but she put her mind to work so she wouldn’t panic. They were in a secluded luxury hotel. The meeting rooms were all on the second floor near the guests’ rooms and they each had a balcony to the street below. This was the only other way out. They’d chosen this hotel for its discretion and this floor for easy access to the street and parking garage.

With guards at each elevator and every door, how had anyone gotten in here?

Connor tugged at the heavy glass doors. “Not sure they’re made to open. We don’t have much time.”

Josie heard the door from the hallway open. “We have to go now, Connor.”

Connor grunted and let out a breath. “It’s not budging.”

Too late. She pulled him behind the curtain and held him close. “Don’t breathe.”

Connor covered her, his arms stretching to make both of them as tight and still as possible within the foot or so of the circular space. The air grew hot with tension. A cold sweat crawled like a clinging spider down her spine. Josie could hear footsteps, someone moving through the room. She watched through the haze of the heavy floral drapery and saw the silhouette of the lone gunman moving toward the curtain. She held her gun ready, her silent breath matching Connor’s. One foot, another foot. She needed to breathe, to find some cool air. One more move and the gunman would be right on them.

And she couldn’t hold her breath much longer.

The man stopped and stared. When his phone went off, Josie felt Connor shift close, saw the warning in his eyes. She wanted to gulp fresh air, but she couldn’t. She had to stay still and crushed against Connor. He had her against the small alcove seat and he covered her like a shield. Unnecessary, but comforting, she thought in a wild, runaway logic that blocked her apprehension.

The lone man standing two feet away said something into the phone. Then he turned and stomped out of the room.

Josie sank into Connor. He pulled her tight against him and held her there, both of them taking deep breaths. “Are you all right?” he asked, his hand on her hair.

“No, I’m not all right,” she said on a sharp inhale. “I’m sweating and I’m tired and I left a perfectly good pizza on the seat of my car last night.”

Connor chuckled and let her go. “Could we run by your car and get it on the way out of here?”

Josie tugged the curtain open and pushed at her damp hair and then tried to put the feel of being in his arms out of her mind. “I’d like nothing better, but my car might be their next target.”

He followed her into the shadows of the room and then turned back to the big sliding window. “We’d better try to get out this way. I don’t trust the stairs or the elevators right now.”

Tags: Lenora Worth Suspense