Who was the real con man here now?
Armond must have decided he couldn’t do it anymore. He’d called the one person he felt he could trust—Connor.
Had he wanted Connor and Josie to find this? Or maybe he’d hoped his son would find it and give up the goods on Sherwood. This had to have been what Vanessa and Lou had been so eager to find that night of the garage fire. But did they want to help Louis or just destroy his will and maybe what would be his confession?
Connor carefully took the tiny card out of the coin and stored it in a safe place in his backpack. Then he replaced the card with an old one from one of his phones. It would look like the real deal long enough to buy him some time.
By the time Sherwood figured out he’d been duped, Connor hoped to be on his way out of the country with Josie. He didn’t stop to think about whether she’d be willing to go with him or not. He just headed out on instincts and hope.
Right now, he had to get to the park and make the switch.
* * *
“Can I see Armond now?”
Josie wondered where Sherwood was taking her. He’d hinted they might go for a little ride. Would it be her last ride or was he moving her to throw off Connor?
“Sure,” her corrupt supervisor retorted. “You’ll get to see everybody before this is over.”
“Everybody? What do you mean?”
“You ask way too many questions, Gilbert. Should have left you in Dallas.”
“Why did you hire me?” she asked, thinking he’d used her mistakes against her.
Sherwood took her down a long hallway. “I figured you had a grudge against the Connor Randall type, considering your old man was one of the most notorious white-collar criminals in the Lone Star State.”
“Why don’t we leave my father out of this?”
“Still eats at you, doesn’t it? You with your perfect scores and stellar performance. Your crooked daddy’s the driving force behind your code of honor. But even your strong sense of duty didn’t keep you from messing up in Dallas, did it?”
Josie allowed him to shove her along, but she noted each hall crossing and exit sign as they went. The lighting system was low and weak but she could tell this place was like a maze. A musky gray maze she might not ever escape.
“What? No comeback, Gilbert? I’m disappointed in you.”
“You thought you could just dole out petty assignments to me, give me enough cases to keep me hopping while you kept right on working with Armond. But you misjudged all of us. You probably enjoyed shoving me toward Connor.”
“Oh, yeah. I knew he’d charm his way into your straitlaced system. Was I wrong on that?”
“He’s a charmer, that’s for sure,” Josie retorted, remembering Connor’s kisses. “But he’s nobody’s fool. He’s got you figured out, so I’d say you’re the one who should be worried right now.”
“Shut up,” Sherwood said, his voice rasping like a burning wire against her skin. “Just shut up. You’ll see the real Connor Randall. Finally.”
“I hope so,” Josie said. She hoped she’d see Connor again. She prayed he’d stay safe and stay smart.
When Sherwood opened a door, she fully expected to find Connor there waiting for her. But the man lying bloody and tied to the bed wasn’t Connor.
Louis Armond moaned and opened his eyes. “Who’s there?”
Sherwood laughed. “Hey, Armond, since you were so willing to double-cross me, I brought you some company. To take on the journey with you when I throw you into the swamp.”
Armond moaned again and glanced up. When he saw Josie, he pulled at his restraints. “Where’s my son? What have they done with my son?”
* * *
Connor waited by the carousel, checking his watch to make sure he was on time. His heart ticked off the seconds, every one precious until he had Josie in his arms again.
Imagine him falling for an FBI agent? He shook his head as memories swirled and twirled like the painted horses going around and around on the carousel. Children’s laughter echoed around the musical ride, reminding Connor of things he’d tried to forget.
He’d never planned on falling in love. Who’d want a man like him anyway? He was damaged, broken, bitter and ruthless.