"Stop." Jack made a cross with his two index fingers. "Gabe's safe. I rescued him."
Lola's lower lip trembled but she nodded her head. She trusted Jack. She believed in him. Hadn't he kept her safe, too? Hadn't he rescued her?
He pushed out of his chair and reached across the counter to grab her hand. "Hold on a little longer, Lola. Now let's get ready to pick up that computer, and if everything goes as planned, we can give the formula to Colonel Scripps and let him and the CIA handle it from there."
If everything goes as planned. Had anything gone as planned yet? When she'd been rudely accosted by Jack in her car, she'd hoped he would regain his memory quickly and send Gabe back home. Instead, she'd been terrorized, found a dead body, and had fallen for the most dangerous sort of man...one who couldn't commit.
An hour later, she and Jack pushed through the front door of the computer shop. The bell on the door jangled when Jack closed it, and the sound lingered in the silence.
"Hello?" Lola clung to the strap of her purse and nestled closer to Jack. "Anyone here?"
Jack shot her a glance, his brows drawn over his nose.
She didn't want to admit to him she half-expected to find a dead body behind the counter. When a live person poked his head out from the back, she jumped.
"Be right with you."
"Are you okay?" Jack hung an arm around her shoulders and gave her a quick squeeze.
She whispered. "Don't tell me I'm the only one happy to see that guy alive."
"I don't blame you for being on edge, but it's almost over."
"Who are you trying to convince?"
The shop owner came from the back with a laptop tucked under his arm. He set it on the counter and tapped the top. "Everything from the old hard drive is on here. Like I mentioned when you dropped it off, the password is intact and you'll need it to access the folder that contains the old files."
"We're good." Jack pulled a wad of cash out of his pocket. "How much do we owe you?"
Jack had insisted on paying for everything out of the million-dollar retainer she'd given him when he took the job. He figured it was all related to the case. She didn't care. The money had come from her father's ill-gotten gains--maybe that was why the mission had been plagued with bad luck from the get-go.
Jack paid the bill and Lola held the door open for him as he carried the new computer outside.
On the drive back to the house, it felt as if the laptop were burning a hole in the trunk of her car. Could it really be this easy to end the nightmare of the past week?
When they got back to the house, Jack powered on the computer while Lola retrieved Gabe's letter from the wall safe behind a portrait of her parents. She slapped the piece of paper on the table next to the new laptop.
"Is this thing up and running?"
"Almost." He shifted his chair to the side. "Do you want to do the honors?"
"That's okay. I'll read it off to you."
Jack clicked open the folder from Gabe's damaged computer, and a password-protected log-in screen appeared. Lola read off the password in Jack's letter and held her breath as Jack typed it into the spaces.
Several seconds later the folder opened, displaying a list of numbered files. Lola poked her finger at the screen. "It's that one."
Jack clicked open the file, displaying several pages of complex calculations along with notes on trials. Gabe had been working on this for quite a while.
Jack scrolled through the entire document. The last page contained a tree of symbols and numbers. He twisted his mouth into a frown. "Does that look right?"
Peering at the screen, Lola nodded. "The symbols represent a chemical composition of the final vaccine. If Gabe claims this combination will slow down that virus, I believe him."
Jack whistled. "Smart guy, your brother. What's next, a cure for the common cold?"
"I think he'll be happy if this formula can just slow down the progression of the virus in children. It's like any flu vaccine--doesn't cure you but lessens the symptoms."
Jack closed the file and opened the receptacle for the CD. "Do you have a disc? A flash drive?"
"Better yet, I have both." She held up her finger as she scrambled for her briefcase on the floor by the front door.