Beckham didn’t try to slow her down as she took the stairs two and three at a time, barreled out of both doors, and into the open. The cold hit her like a two-by-four. They hadn’t been upstairs that long and somehow the temperature had already taken a nosedive.
“Harrington left a note,” Beckham said once they were in the SUV and far enough away from the safe house.
Reyna steeled herself for it.
“It said ‘I’m watching.’ It was written in blood near one of the bodies. I think he’d had the building monitored.”
Beckham nodded as he glanced hastily at the rearview mirror. “I don’t want to get away only to bring him onto our doorstep.”
Reyna craned around to look through the back window. But she didn’t see anything that seemed out of the ordinary.
“Do you think Harrington would suspect where we’re staying?”
“Honestly?” Beckham asked. “No. I couldn’t even believe it as I was following your trail. I never thought Washington would step foot in that house again. Let alone bring other people. He kicked us all out and didn’t even let us take a single thing with us that wasn’t already on our person. That’s why my room is still full of papers. There’s no reason for Harrington to suspect Washington’s mansion.”
Still, Beckham meandered them through the city for a full twenty minutes before angling toward the other safe house. Better safe than sorry.
“I don’t know if I should be more uneasy because no one has followed us or if someone had. At least with the latter we would know,” Beckham said. “But we’ve wasted enough time. We need to get to the others.”
Beckham continued to check the rearview mirror often all the way across town. The tension was thick. It only made Reyna more nervous when he finally pulled over and killed the engine.
“Stay close to me,” Beckham told her.
She nodded. No argument there.
Reyna jumped out of the passenger seat and fingered the guns strapped to her thighs and ones hidden in holsters against her ribs. Her new security blanket.
As they approached the house, Beckham nodded his head toward an alleyway. They found a back set of stairs around the corner and Beckham moved forward first, keeping himself in front of her.
He paused on the threshold, preparing himself for what was to come. Putting away the Beckham who made jokes about teaching her to drive, pulling out the animal. She could feel the shift and the stillness that resonated. She loved both feelings. How easily he could become the person he needed to be. She tuned in to his calm and it seemed to radiate through her. She took a deep breath and tethered herself to it.
Beckham snuck a quick look back at her in surprise. As if he’d read what had just happened. She flashed him a grin. She was composed again. Composed and ready.
He could see it. Feel it. Sense it.
Beckham burst through the door without warning and barged into the house. They entered a scant kitchen where two girls who couldn’t be older than fifteen had their heads buried in the refrigerator. They took one look at Beckham, screamed, and then ran for the living room.
Reyna would have laughed if their fear wasn’t so genuine. Beckham was imposing and these girls had just been ousted from their house. Perhaps a little more tact would have been better.
When they entered the living room, Meghan had both girls by the arms. “What do you think you’re doing down here? We told you to stay in your room until we have this all sorted.”
“We were hungry,” the blond girl complained.
“We sent someone out for provisions. Now go back to your rooms and stay there until we come get you,” Meghan commanded. Then her eyes swept over to Reyna and Beckham. They warred between relief and frustration. “Thanks for scaring the girls.”
Reyna frowned. “You seem all right. Why didn’t you respond to our calls?”
Tye was seated in the corner. “Radio is messed up. Sorry. The safe houses sometimes mess with them.”
“Drew and Laura?” she asked, looking at Meghan.
She shook her head once. Reyna sagged. Still no Drew and Laura. She didn’t even want to think about the possibilities. One more house at least.
“Where is he?”
Tye nodded his head toward what appeared to be a closet under the stairs. “We restrained him and kept him out of the way until you got here. We didn’t want him to get any funny ideas.”
“That was smart. Do you know how he weaseled his way in?”
Meghan and Tye shook their heads.
“Let’s find out, shall we?” Beckham asked, wrenching open the closet door.
Everett sat on the floor of the dark closet like a trussed-up turkey. His hands and legs were tied. A gag was in his mouth and he had a black eye. He arched his eyebrows when he saw Beckham standing in the doorway. If he could have spoken, she knew some smart-ass remark would have flown from his mouth. Beckham reached in and hauled him up with one hand. He dumped him like a sack of potatoes into a chair. Then yanked the gag from his mouth.