mine-Page 80

Yahweh. Odin.

I removed the plastic cover on the steering column and yanked out the access panels. A roil of electrical wires appeared. I grabbed the blue wires leading to the battery, ignition, and starter.

Loki. Buddha.

I started the car. The engine roared. The owner had loved the vehicle and had taken good care of it.

Thank you.

Keeping the headlights off, I checked around me. If Meridian had Zola in the parking lot, then he had a car he would be leaving in. And if I was Baptiste, I would have Meridian bring Zola to me.

I considered the options for them to do the exchange. Baptiste hadn’t wanted Zola dead yet. There was something he needed. I had to believe that was why he’d kept her alive. Zola still held some importance. She would be safe until we met next.

But where would they do the exchange?

If I was Baptiste, I would know that Meridian couldn’t be trusted around Zola too long.

My gut kicked in.

I whispered to myself, “You didn’t leave, did you? You drove around.”

He knew I would be in one parking lot, searching for him. That gave Baptiste enough time to drive over to this lot and meet Meridian.

Come on. Where are you?

Another car started off in the distance.

I prayed for a switch. Meridian was a sick motherfucker. I’d only let him stay because Baptiste promised to watch him. That, he did.

Now I see why you had him come, Baptiste.

A screech of tires on asphalt came next. Then, a burst of floodlights danced in the dark.

There you go!

I spotted the same vehicle Baptiste had driven off in.

My adrenaline spiked at the pursuit.

Zola wasn’t completely gone from me. I still had a chance to get her. The car I’d stolen wasn’t an automatic. Going fast through the gears, I backed up out of the parking light and sped Baptiste’s way. The huge exhaust echoed.

Baptiste rounded the corner and hit the main road.

I stayed behind him but tried not to make it obvious. If Zola hadn’t been in the car, I would’ve run it the fuck over. For now, I had to play it safe.

Soon, Baptiste was out on the highway.

Following, I pushed on the gas, passing others, but remaining no more than one car behind, always keeping Baptiste’s backlights as my guide.

I won’t let you hurt her.

32

Good Help Is Hard to Find

Baptiste

I kept the duct tape on Zola’s mouth because I knew she would try to talk me out of it, and I needed to keep my mind focused.

She sat in the back seat. Her body trembled. Tears spilled from her eyes.

“I’m sorry, Zola, but you’ll understand later.” Letting out a long breath, I gripped the steering wheel and focused on my breaths. “That’s a beautiful gown, by the way. Sorry about the blood drops.”

Blood had been smeared on my hands too. I would have to wash it away before we entered the airport.

Meridian hadn’t followed my plan. All he was supposed to do was bring Zola outside and wait for me to pick her up. Then his debt to me would be done. Instead, he had Zola in the back seat of his car. Meridian’s right hand had been touching her thigh. He’d had her dress yanked up over her head, legs spread apart, and a plastic bag over her head.

What is wrong with him? Now the devil has called him home.

I didn’t have time to ask questions or further explore what Meridian had planned, so I stuck a knife into him, entering from the back and letting the point stick out his chest. Blood sprayed onto her gown.

I’d yanked off the plastic bag.

She spotted my face and screamed.

And then I’d duct-taped her mouth, finished tying her up, and carried her over to my car.

What else could I do?

Back in the car and speeding down the highway, I glanced at her in the rearview mirror.

“Are you okay?” I asked.

She widened her eyes.

“I’m really sorry about, Meridian.” I cleared my throat. “That’s the reason why I don’t work with psychos. And don’t worry about his spirit following you. I have his hair. I’ll burn it when we get to the airport.”

Zola tried to speak under the duct tape.

“Shhh.” I returned my view on the road. “This will all be over soon. We just have to get to Jamaica.”

Zola tried to make some sort of noise as if to talk to me.

“No. No.” I waved her away. “I’ve been planning this since the day Nakita died. If it wasn’t for Hunter being so goddamn stubborn, I wouldn’t have had to involve you.”

I passed a car, switched into another lane, and checked the cars behind me.

Is he there? Did he see my message? Does he know she’s gone?

33

Suicidal U-turn

Hunter

I hurtled round the bend, controlling the car with an easy sway.

He’s heading to the airport.

It was the direction and message that clued me in.