Page 67 of Forced Alliance


“Or I might have to put a bullet through Special Agent Josie Gilbert’s pretty head.”

* * *

Josie sat in a dark room, the only sound the drumming of her pulse in her ears. They’d put a blindfold over her eyes so she couldn’t see where they were going, but she’s sniffed the odors of decay and dampness when they’d hauled her out of the SUV. She thought she’d heard the rocking of a boat hitting a dock, but once they were inside the building, everything went silent. Were they somewhere in the swamp?

The door opened with a creak and a groan. Industrial, maybe? An old warehouse or maybe even a barge on the water.

Sherwood lifted the blindfold away. “How you doing, kid?”

Josie lifted her head in stubborn defiance. She wouldn’t go down easy. “I’m fine, sir. Why all the intrigue?”

His chair scraped across concrete. Then he let out a long sigh. “I think you know the answer to that.”

“Not really. What I know is that I was trying to do my job and I followed orders to bring in Louis Armond.”

“Yep, you did do that. But then something went wrong and you had to go all rogue on me with the dashing Connor Randall.”

“Rogue?” Josie wanted to scream. “We did not go rogue. We went on the run because someone was also after us and you told us to stay hidden. Whoever shot Lewanna also wants Armond and the two of us dead.”

She didn’t add that she’d pretty much figured out who that someone was. But she had to ask. “Did you instruct me to stay hidden so you could get to Armond?”

“You’re a smart woman. What do you think?”

Josie didn’t know what to think at this point. “None of this makes any sense to me, sir. I trusted you and I trusted Connor. That’s part of my job—to put my trust in my superiors and to put my trust in my informants. I tried to do that. What did I miss?”

“What did you miss?” Sherwood’s voice grew louder with each word. “You missed an opportunity to take down Louis Armond. You had him, Gilbert. Had him right there, ready to turn. But you blew it by helping Connor to hide the old man.”

“We did everything to save him so he could talk to us,” she countered. “We brought him to you—”

Josie stopped, sucked in a breath. “We brought him right to you.”

“Now you’re beginning to see things in a whole new light. You did do the right thing, Gilbert. But I can’t get past some of the things you and Randall didn’t do.”

Josie wanted to play dumb, but her fate was sealed. No one would ever find her. She knew it and she accepted it but she wouldn’t give in to it. “Did you set up the explosion and that bogus evidence in Armond’s bedroom and the shoot-out at the hotel?”


She could see his smug smile. Knowing he’d betrayed her and the organization they’d both pledged to serve, Josie felt sick to her stomach. “Was it that important that you bring down Armond? Sir, we had him. You said it yourself. You could have taken him in and locked him up.”

Tapping his fingers on the table, Sherwood moved closer. “And for how long? Until he lawyers up and gets away with murder again?”

“Murder?” Josie’s heart pumped so fast, she thought she’d pass out. “What do you mean, murder?”

The room went deadly still. Then Sherwood hissed another breath. “You don’t need to worry about that, Gilbert.”

“Then why am I here?”

“You’re here because you got too close.”

“To Connor, to Armond, or to the truth?”

“The truth has always been right there,” Sherwood replied. “It took me a long time to piece it all together, but I had it all figured out. Then two things happened. Instead of killing him, Armond developed a fondness for Connor Randall and...then you showed up.”

“So Connor and I have to pay for that?”

“Not pay so much as suffer. You both got in the way of something I need. But I’ve found a way to get rid of Randall—finally.”

Josie couldn’t imagine what that might be unless he planned to kill Connor. But then her head started spinning with what she knew about this case.

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