“So you joined up with Armond—to bring him to justice or maybe to pad your retirement funds? Why, Agent Sherwood? Why did you do this?”
Sherwood turned away from the man on the bed. “I got greedy and saw an opportunity too good to pass up.”
Josie wondered what made a person take such a risk. “So you’re the one who’s been helping Armond along all these years, protecting him, warning him. But you tried to pin some of that on Connor, since he kept getting closer and closer to the truth.”
“The truth,” Sherwood replied with a snarl, “is so well hidden no one could find it.” He pointed to Armond. “This man knows where he hid the truth—the fact of the matter is that truth is much bigger than any petty deals I had with Armond. But he’s too stupid to tell me or anyone else— even the amazing Connor Randall.”
“And that’s the only reason you’re keeping him alive. You’re afraid if he dies, someone will find what he’s hidden and you’ll be exposed.”
Sherwood’s chuckle echoed over the still room. “Everyone is looking for something, Gilbert.”
“The garage fire—did you set that?”
“No,” Sherwood admitted. “I think Little Lou panicked on that one. His mother is so afraid we’ll all go to jail, she tried to tear down the place so she could find the hidden evidence.”
“You’re right on one thing,” Josie said, her gaze on Armond. “Everyone is looking for the proof of the criminal activities you and Armond have been involved in for years now.” She turned from the man on the bed and stared straight into Sherwood’s cold brown eyes. “And you’d better hope none of us found it.”
“You’d better hope your boyfriend brings me what I want,” Sherwood shouted. “Or I’ll kill you and this old man before Randall ever gets to tell you goodbye.”
“Sir, he refuses to give us the...uh...item. He insists on coming out there to meet you.”
Connor sat in the backseat of the blacked-out SUV, praying Sherwood wouldn’t have him executed on the spot. His real backpack had everything he might need to save Josie but he’d left it with Mama Joe’s backup men. The only thing he had on him now was the tiny SIM card that would hopefully clear his name and tell the world the truth about who had been helping Sherwood for years now. He had the real card stashed in a safe place on his person and he’d put the fake one in the coin around his neck to use as a decoy. The empty backpack would also serve as a decoy.
“I can kill him,” the big man offered on an enthusiast note.
Connor waited two heartbeats, then blurted, “I have what he wants, but I want to give it to him in person. And only after I see that Josie is alive and unharmed.”
The man repeated his statement into the phone. “Fine. We’re on our way.” He put the phone down and turned to Connor. “Good news, sunshine. You get to live for a little while longer.”
“Nice,” Connor retorted, sarcasm hiding the urgency of the situation. He only wanted to live long enough to get Josie out of there. But if things worked out the way he hoped, they’d walk out together.
Sherwood would kill all of them. Of that he had no doubt. He’d kill them and make it look as if Connor had been the silent partner who’d mowed them all down then got himself shot in the cross fire.
What would his sister, Deidre, think about that?
He couldn’t let them do this to Deidre. Or Josie. Josie didn’t deserve this, and she sure didn’t deserve to die just because he’d made one too many mistakes.
But he promised himself and God that getting involved with Armond would be his last mistake.
* * *
Josie sat by Armond’s dingy bed, wondering what Sherwood planned to do with them. He’d left her here with Armond, but he’d warned her that he had cameras on them. Armond was asleep and cuffed to the bed, so she didn’t see how Sherwood expected her to try anything. If she’d heard right, Connor was on his way here. But why? Why hadn’t he gone to the FBI and reported Sherwood?
When she thought about that scenario, though, she could understand why Connor hadn’t sought help from the authorities. A high-up, well-respected FBI agent versus a confidential informant who had a shady past. Which one would she believe if she didn’t know the truth?