Sergio flashed her a big smile. "Hola, doctore. Estoy bien. Trabajando tarde?"
"Si, I'm working a little late. Can you walk me to my car? Or at least watch me? I'm on this level."
"No problema." He took two steps toward the door leading to the parking structure and held it open for her. "Where's your car?"
"It's in the second aisle, two from the end. If you could just walk me to the end of the aisle that would be great."
The soles of her sneakers squeaked on the smooth surface of the parking garage. Sergio's solid presence beside her was comforting. When they reached her car's aisle, she put her hand on Sergio's arm. "This is good. Gracias."
Lola beeped her remote. Grabbing the handle of her car door, she turned and waved at Sergio, who was still stationed at the end of the aisle. She tossed her purse into the passenger seat and dropped onto the leather on the driver's side.
She clicked her locks, and almost immediately a frisson of fear spiraled up her spine. Then a hand clamped over her mouth from behind and a husky voice rasped in her ear, "I need your help."
The woman's soft lips parted beneath the loose clasp of his hand, her lipstick sticking to his palm. He clicked the safety of his unloaded weapon in case she got any ideas about laying on the horn. Her hands grasped the steering wheel, her knuckles white against the black leather.
God, he felt like the slime of the earth, but he needed to take her by surprise so she couldn't warn anyone, couldn't warn his enemies. Her bottle-green eyes, wide above his hand clamped over the bottom half of her face, met his gaze in the rearview mirror.
"I'm sorry. I need information from you. I'm not going to hurt you."
Air escaped noisily from her nose and her hot breath condensed on his palm. He cupped his hand, giving her space to breathe. "I'll remove my hand from your mouth if you promise not to scream. Can you promise me that?"
She nodded, and dark strands of hair that had escaped from her ponytail tickled the back of his hand. He slid his fingers across her soft cheek and held his breath.
Crying out, she scrabbled for the door handle and he cinched her upper arm with his fingers. "I'm Jack Coburn."
The utterance of his name had a powerful effect on her. She fell back against her seat and jerked her head around to face him. "Y-you're Jack Coburn? Prove it."
Out of all the passports and IDs in the black duffel bag, not one had his name printed on it. But he had something better. He reached into the inside pocket of his jacket and withdrew the crumpled letter. He held it out to her, and she snatched it from his hand.
She smoothed out the single sheet of paper against the steering wheel, and Jack coiled his muscles in case she went for the horn. She didn't.
Her brow creased as she scanned the letter. "I wrote this...to Jack Coburn. But I've never met him before, so how do I know you're Jack?"
He lifted his shoulders, the gun dangling from his fingers, the barrel pointing to the floor of the car. "I don't know how to prove it to you. I got it straight from an Afghan boy, but I couldn't bring him with me as a character reference."
The woman, Lola, curled her slim fingers around the sheet of paper, crumpling it into familiar lines. "What are you talking about? You need someone else to tell you who you are?"
Okay, time to play the pity card, and maybe she won't scream bloody murder and escape from the car.
Massaging his temple, he dropped his eyelids, peering at her through slits. "Yes, I do. You see, Lola Famosa--" the name rolled off his tongue "--I can't remember a damned thing about myself or what I was doing in Afghanistan, but I'm pretty sure it had something to do with you and this guy Gabriel you wrote about in your letter."
Was Gabriel her husband? Jack studied Lola's profile with its firm chin at odds with the pert nose, and the long black lashes that blinked in confusion. If so, Gabriel was one lucky guy...or not. Where the hell was Gabriel, anyway?
She swung around suddenly and jabbed her finger in his chest. "Are you putting me on? What are you doing here? Why did you choose this method--" she waved her hands around the interior of the car "--to contact me? Once you located me, you couldn't leave me a note at the hospital? You had to go skulking around the morgue?"