As the woman stepped under a streetlamp, Gray realized his mistake. It wasn't the same woman from the auction. Her hair was longer. Her face more gaunt.
An older sibling to the pair.
Gray swung away.
He expected Fiona to be halfway down the alley. She was only five yards back, straddling a rust-scarred lime green Vespa scooter.
"What are you—?"
"Getting us a ride." She had her purse open and dropped a screwdriver back into it.
Gray hurried to her side. "There's no time to hot-wire it."
Fiona glanced over a shoulder at him, while her fingers blindly fiddled with a nest of ignition wires. She twisted two, and the engine coughed, whined, and caught.
She was good—but there were limits to trust.
Gray waved her back. "I'll drive."
Fiona shrugged and slid onto the backseat. Gray mounted the bike, rolled it off its kickstand, and gunned the engine. Keeping the headlamp off, he took off down the dark alley. Or rather puttered.
"C'mon," he urged.
"Pop it into second," Fiona said. "Skip past third. You have to goose the crap out of these old ones."
"I don't need a backseat driver."
Still, Gray obeyed, popping the clutch and shifting. The scooter jumped like a startled filly. They sped faster down the alley, zigzagging around stacks of trashcans.
Sirens screamed behind them. Gray glanced back. A fire engine roared past the entrance to the alley, lights blazing, responding to the explosion. Before Gray turned back around, a dark figure strode into view, limned against the brighter streetlights.
He eked out a bit more power, swerving around a tall construction bin, putting it between him and the woman. If he stuck to the wall, he had a straight shot out of the alley from here.
At the other end, the far street glowed like a beacon.
It was their only chance.
Focused forward, he watched a second dark figure step into view and stop. A passing car's headlights turned his blond hair silver. Yet another sibling. The man wore a long black duster. He parted the trench coat and raised a shotgun.
The woman must have radioed him, setting up this ambush.
"Hold tight!" Gray called.
As the man lifted the gun one-armed, Gray noted the sling around his other arm, bandaged from wrist to elbow. Though his face was in shadows, Gray knew who blocked their escape.
It was the man who had murdered Grette Neal.
He still bore Bertal's bite wounds, bandaged now.
The shotgun pointed at Gray.
Gray twisted the scooter's handles and sent the bike into a smoking skid, tilted sideways, aiming for the man.
The shotgun exploded with a muffled blast, accompanied by a splintering crash as a fist of pellets struck a neighboring doorway.
Fiona yelped in fright.
But that was the man's only shot. He dove out of the way of the sliding bike. Once clear of the dark alley, Gray swung the bike out of its skid with a kick of the throttle and a scream of rubber on cement. He manhandled the scooter up and into traffic, earning a savage blast of a horn from a disgruntled Audi driver.
Gray headed away.
Fiona loosened her grip.
Gray maneuvered around the slower cars, gaining speed as the road sloped steeply downward. At the bottom, the avenue dead-ended into a tree-lined cross street. Gray braked for the sharp turn. The bike refused to obey. He glanced down. A cable bounced alongside the scooter's back tire.
The brake cable.
His skid-out must have dislodged it.
"Slow down!" Fiona yelled in his ear.
"Brake's out!" he called back. "Hang on!"
Gray choked out the engine, then fought to lose the bike's momentum by swerving and skidding, like a downhill skier. He dragged the rear tire alongside one curb, rubber smoking.
They reached the corner, going too fast.
Gray slewed the scooter on its side, metal scraping up fiery sparks. The bike slid across the intersection, passing in front of a flat-paneled truck. Horns blared. Brakes squealed.
Then they hit the far curb.
The bike flipped. Gray and Fiona flew.
A hedgerow broke the worst of their collision, but they still ended up rolling across the sidewalk and landing at the foot of a brick wall. Gaining his feet, Gray moved to Fiona's side.
"Are you all right?"
She stood up, more angry than hurt. "I paid two hundred euros for this skirt." Her dress had a long rip up one side. She clutched it closed with one hand and bent down to retrieve her purse.
Gray's Armani suit fared even worse. One knee was ripped out, and the right side of his jacket looked like it had been scoured with a wire brush. But besides a few scrapes and abrasions, they were unharmed.
Traffic flowed past the site of their accident.
Fiona headed away. "Vespas crash around here all the time. And they're stolen just as often. Ownership of a scooter in Copenhagen is a general term. Need one? Grab one. Leave it behind for the next guy. No one really cares."
But somebody did.
A fresh squeal of tires drew their attention. A black sedan swung into the street two blocks back. It sped in their direction. It was too dark to identify the driver or passengers. Headlights speared toward them.
Gray hurried Fiona along the tree-lined sidewalk, seeking the deeper shadows. A tall brick wall framed this side of the street. No buildings, no alleys. Just a stretch of high wall. From beyond rose a merry twinkle of flutes and strings.
Behind them, the sedan slowed beside the crashed Vespa, searching.
No question their escape by scooter had been reported.
"Over here," Fiona said.
Hooking her purse over a shoulder, she led him to a shadowy park bench and climbed on it—then using the seat back as a boost, she leaped up and grabbed one of the tree limbs overhead. She kicked up, hooking her legs over the branch.
"What are you doing?"
"Street kids do this all the time. Free admission."
Hand over hand, she followed the thick branch as it angled over the brick wall. She dropped on the far side and vanished.
The sedan began to drift up the street again.
With no choice, Gray followed Fiona's example. He mounted the bench and jumped up. Music wafted over the wall, scintillating and magical in the dark night. Once hanging upside down, he craned over the wall.
Beyond lay a wonderland of glowing lanterns, miniature palaces, and twirling amusements.
The turn-of-the-century amusement park lay nestled in the heart of Copenhagen. From this height, Gray spotted the park's central lake. Its mirrored surface reflected thousands of lanterns and lights. Spreading outward, flower-lined paths led to lamplit pavilions, wooden roller coasters, carousels, and Ferris wheels. The old park was less a technocratic Disney and more an intimate neighborhood park.