Page 53 of Forced Alliance

Josie let out a sigh and then grunted out her frustration. “Okay, all right. We’ll talk about all of it on the way into town after we’ve searched every inch of this place. Let’s hope we find something to give us a clue and let’s hope this vehicle will crank.”

Connor opened the rickety old door and set it back against some shrub oaks. Inside the dark interior, Josie heard a scuffling.

“Rats or nutria,” Connor warned. “Nasty creatures.”

“Thanks for telling me that,” she replied with a grimace. “What else could be in here?”

He tapped the dirt floors with the rickety limb. “Snakes, of course. Spiders.”

The vehicle was covered in a heavy gray canvas. Connor tossed her the stick and then pulled the cover off the car.

She let out a gasp this time. “A ’63 Camaro.”

“A Z-28, at that.”

“Can you drive this thing?”

“Of course I can. Armond let me take it for a spin back when we got so buddy-buddy.”

“Let’s search it first.”

While they checked over the car, she wondered just how buddy-buddy he and Armond had gotten. Armond had called on Connor to help him out of a big jam, but that had been more like a summons—as in flesh owed him. She really wanted to figure out the dynamics of that relationship. It sure seemed mighty convenient that Connor had been on the scene just in time to help Armond. Coincidence or part of the plan? This case didn’t make a bit of sense, and her gut kept reminding her that Connor was still caught between two worlds. Which route would he really take when push came to shove?

After a half hour or so, Connor came around to the driver’s side. “Nothing. This car is clean as a whistle, if you ignore the pollen and dust.”

Josie leaned in one more time. “Just an old necklace.”

Connor looked at the gold coin dangling on an old chain over the rearview mirror. “Yeah. I don’t remember that being there, but Armond has a thing for gold.”

“I noticed that in his furnishings.”

“Let’s go.” He got in and waited for her. “I’ll check out the coin later.”

Josie slid into the low black leather seat. “Does it have gas?”

“We’ll see.”

Connor did a little hot-wiring and cranked the car. The engine purred like a contented tiger. “Plenty of fuel. He kept it full and usually he’d sneak out about once a week and give it a spin around the country roads. Said this was his guilty pleasure. We laughed a lot that day.” He shrugged. “Armond’s son hates him. I guess I made up for that.”

“You really like the old man, don’t you?”

“I do,” he admitted. Looking over his shoulder, he backed out of the old garage. “But not enough to become his made man. Once, I would have jumped at the chance, but that changed when I realized my sister was afraid of me.”

“What made her so afraid?”

He kept his gaze on the dirt lane. “She works for Princess Lara Kincade, and last year things kind of came to a head when Deidre saw me back in New Orleans. She was afraid I’d followed them from Europe to steal the Benoits. She almost quit her job, she was so afraid.”

He stopped at the road out and turned to gaze at Josie, his eyes burning with remorse. “I’ll never forget the look on my sister’s face when she confronted me. It was the same look she had when we were little and I had to leave her behind.”

Well, that was certainly a new revelation. Something inside Josie’s heart melted away, leaving her standing in quicksand. “You love your sister more than you love Armond and a life of crime?”

“Yes. Deidre’s taught me about faith and love—unconditional love.” He shook his head. “Look, we don’t have time for a devotional but just know this, Josie. You can trust me. You have to trust me.”

“I do. I will,” she said, still not sure. And because she couldn’t deal with his raw honesty right now, she added, “Can I trust you to get me back to New Orleans without getting a speeding ticket?”

“Absolutely,” he said on a grin. “I know all the back roads.”

“A muscle car,” she said, shaking her head. “Criminals can be so eclectic about things.”

Lenora Worth Books | Suspense Books |