Page 36 of Forced Alliance

“Very funny.” He marched toward her with a predatory stare, then took her back in his arms. “One more kiss for the road, then I’ll behave until we’re done with all this mess.”

Josie tried to back away, but Connor swooped in and held her in an embrace so he could do a repeat of their first kiss. She tried to move but her legs locked on her. The only thing she could do was sigh and go with it.


Until they heard someone tapping at the door.

Connor pulled away and put a finger to his lips.

She nodded, got her head together and made sure her weapon was secure. “Hold back and see what happens.”

Connor glanced around. “The door to the adjoining room is locked. No escape unless you want to rappel eight floors down.”

“Not on my bucket list,” she replied. His room was across the hall, but that wouldn’t help them now. “Let’s give them the element of surprise.”

Connor quickly unplugged a lamp and moved toward the door. “I’ll surprise ’em all right.”

The intruder stopped knocking but Josie heard a click. A key card? She waited in the bathroom while Connor positioned himself around the corner by a small love seat.

The door slid open in a slow creak. Josie waited just long enough to get her foot against the door. “Hold it right there.”

Connor didn’t wait. He came barreling around the corner and rammed the upended lamp right toward the startled man standing there with his mouth open.

The lamp made contact and the big man went down and moaned. “It’s me. It’s me.”

“Beaux?” Josie still held her gun high, but she took her foot off the door and helped Connor pull the man into the room. “What do you think you’re doing?”

Connor was inches away, but he let go of his grip on the lamp and took a deep breath. “Why are you breaking into this room?”

Beaux held up his beefy hands. “I had to come. Mr. Armond is awake but he’s pretending to not be awake. They’ve moved him, but I got to him in the hospital and he wanted me to find y’all and warn you.”

“What?” Josie shot a glance toward Connor. “Get in here, Beaux. And don’t make me regret letting you live.”

Beaux clomped toward the sofa and plopped down, his beefy hand on his head. He was sweating and nervous. “I didn’t know what else to do. I followed y’all and I bribed a bellman to give me a master key. And I’m trying to be discreet.”

As discreet as a burly giant of a man could be, Josie decided. And he was lying. “Beaux, that dog won’t hunt. What are you talking about?”

Beaux’s big eyes widened. “What do you mean?”

“How did you find us?” Connor asked.

“The FBI has been after all of us,” Beaux explained. “They keep waiting for Mr. A. to wake up. He’s in and out but he’s playing possum on talking. He knows they found something out at the house and he believes he’s been set up. He’s afraid the killer will come back, too.”

“What happened in that room at the other hotel?” Josie asked.

Beaux shrugged. “We had a knock at the door, and I thought it was the guard you told me was coming. When I opened the door, the guard showed me a badge and a gun and told me to take a break. So I went down to the cafeteria, but something didn’t feel right. When I got back, all sorts of people were in the hallway, so I hid near the ice machine.”

“They were there to take Mr. Armond into custody,” Connor explained. “What happened after that?”

“Before I could warn Mr. Armond, another group of men came in and started shooting. I hung back and watched. They shot up the place.” He showed them a cut on the side of his head. “When things quieted down, I hurried back, but everyone was gone and I...I thought Mr. A. was dead. I ain’t proud, but I bolted when I heard someone else coming.”

Sherwood had told Josie that Beaux had gotten away.

“So you’ve been in hiding since?”

“Yes.” He rubbed his head. “I watched and waited and disguised myself, then I finally asked around and found where they were holding Mr. A. in a private room at that big hospital near the Garden District. I only got to see him for a couple of minutes. He warned me to get away.” He rubbed his head. “I saw them taking him out of the hospital, but I don’t know what they did with him. I had to stay out of sight so I could find y’all.”

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