Kit jerked as her cell phone rang again. “You should check that. If it’s one of the guards and I don’t answer this time, they’ll get suspicious.”
Grabbing the phone, Becca swiped to answer. “Hi, Butch,” she said, her voice bubbly and cheerful. “Kit’s in the ladies’ room, but she told me to answer if you or Casey called. Is someone at the gate?”
A short pause.
“Oh, okay, I’ll tell her. Do you want her to call you back?” Another pause. “All right. Bye.” Hanging up with a smug smile, Becca said, “I could’ve been an actress, you know. A really good one. But I make other people pretty instead. I made you the prettiest of all.”
“You did.” Kit had managed to keep Becca calm over the past two hours by reminiscing over their friendship, though all the memories were now forever tainted. “What did Butch want?”
“Oh.” Becca waved her gun. “He said the exterminator you called to take care of the sparrow’s nest in your rain gutter came by to say he’d forgotten his ladder extension thingie or something like that, so he’d be back in three hours after another job.” Becca made a face. “You gonna kill the birds? That’s kinda cold, Kit.”
Kit’s heart thumped, her face threatening to flush. Because no sparrow had made a nest in the rain gutter of the house, and if one had, Kit certainly wouldn’t exterminate it. She did, however, have a lover who’d written what was her favorite song of all time, despite its haunting sadness.
A car engine sounded on the drive not long afterward, drawing steadily closer. It stopped, a door was shut. The front door opened within seconds. “Kit!”
“Answer him.” Becca pointed the gun at Kit’s face on that low-voiced command. “Or I’ll mess you up until you won’t need makeup to play a horror villain.”
Kit didn’t care about her face. She cared about Noah’s life. Hoping that she’d read things right, that Noah wasn’t about to walk into an ambush, she said, “In here!”
“I’m going around the back!” Noah called out. “I got you some plants. I’ll off-load them in the garden.”
Kit rubbed her hands on her thighs, realizing Noah was trying to get her out of this room with its limited access routes. “I should go back there to meet him.”
“You’re with your friend. No reason for him to get suspicious.”
Kit thought fast. “I never sit in here with anyone who visits. I’m always either in the kitchen or in the garden.”
“You could be showing me stuff from your closet, or I could be doing your makeup.”
Shrugging, Kit went for another Oscar nomination. “Sure, I guess. Only, the bedroom’s before this room, so when he doesn’t see us in there and he sees the broken bowl in the kitchen…”
That seemed to decide Becca. “Get up.” She nudged at Kit with her gun. “Stay in front. Do or say anything stupid and I’ll blow your brains out.”
“I thought we were friends.”
“We are, but you need to prove your loyalty to me by not warning that piece of shit who thought he could take you from me.”
Kit’s hands fisted, the urge to plant one in Becca’s face increasingly strong. “I won’t. We’ve talked. You know you mean too much to me, my career means too much to me, for me to throw it all away.”
“Good. Now we just have to finish—”
Kit dropped to the floor the instant she was outside the doorway. She heard a scream, heard the thunder of the gun going off, smelled gunpowder in the air as something slammed to the ground.
Terrified Becca had made good on her threats and shot Noah, she turned to find Noah and Butch had pinned the other woman to the floor. They must’ve both been in the corridor, on opposite sides of the door.
“Are you hurt?” she asked, looking from one to the other. “Noah, Butch!”
Taking a zip tie from his inner coat pocket, Butch put it around a screaming Becca’s wrists while Noah held her down.
“We’re good,” Noah said at the same time. “Your ceiling will need a little repair work though.”
She looked up, saw the hole. Relief was a cool river crashing over her. “Hope the sparrow is safe.”
Noah grinned. “Tough things, sparrows. They can survive just about anything.” Releasing Becca once she was contained, he came over and tugged Kit up and into his arms.
“You were fucking amazing.” He squeezed her tight. “The plan was for me to haul you out of the way so Butch could take her down, but then you did that drop and we could both focus on her.”