We were sitting inside the Shelby, watching the townhouse and the entrance to the cul-de-sac.
"Maybe," I said. "Or her roommate."
"We could go back and bust down the door," said Mouse, grinning.
"No finesse," I said. "Murphy would be horrified."
"It's an option," she said.
A moment later, a dark blue ToyoHonda compact went past us, turned into the cul-de-sac, and pulled to the curb in front of the townhouse. A blond twentysomething male dressed in a gray t-shirt and khaki pants got out of the car, went to the trunk, popped it open, and pulled out four filled plastic bags and set them on the ground.
Then the townhouse door opened and a slender brunette in her early twenties wearing a ballcap and a BCU sweatshirt came out, went to Gray Shirt, took two of the bags, and the two of them went back inside the townhouse.
I dug the photoprint out of my jacket and looked at it again.
The brunette was Rachel Jeffries.
"Bingo," I said, pulled out the phone Jeffries had given me, and dialed.
Jeffries answered on the second ring. "You found her."
"We did," I said. "Where are we taking her?"
As he rattled off an address, I felt Mouse tap me on the arm and gesture toward the street.
A gray mid-sized ChrysFord sedan pulled to the curb diagonally from us. The driver was a twentysomething male with short, curly hair and a long face. He craned his head toward the cul-de-sac.
What the hell--?
"Did you get that?" said Jeffries.
"Hold on, Jeffries," I said. "Did you double-hire this job and not tell us? Because that's a breach of contract."
"What are you talking about?" he said.
"We're the only ones you called for this, right?" I said.
"Right," he said. "Why?"
"There's another interested party," I said, "and they're sitting outside your daughter's townhouse."
"Do something," Jeffries said.
"I will," I said. "But I'm doubling our fee."
"Fine," he said. "Whatever it takes. Just get her back."
"You got it," I said and hung up.
The sedan's driver got out of the car and jogged toward Rachel's townhouse.
"Go," I said to Mouse.
We were out of the Shelby the moment the sedan driver reached the townhouse door and knocked, halfway to the townhouse when the door opened.
And Gray Shirt stepped out and slugged the driver.
The driver staggered back and crumpled.
I bolted forward, vaulted the driver's limp form, reached the door just as it closed.
A swift crack of my boot and the door flew open, bits of wood splintering near the jamb and lockset.
At the same time, the Twins, Bonnie and Clyde--my pair of Colt-Springfield M2001 .45-caliber high-capacity pistols--leaped into my hands, tracking.
The three figures in the foyer leaped back, narrowly avoiding getting smacked by the door, and gaped at us, saucer-eyed. Rachel, in the BCU sweatshirt and ballcap pulled low over her face. Next to her was Gray Shirt. Then a petite redhead in jeans and untucked long-sleeved checkered shirt.
A pair of tightly packed backpacks and a black and red duffle bag sat at their feet.
"Hi, folks," I said, the Twins trained at them. "Let's chat."
* * *
Rachel Jeffries sat straight-backed on the edge of the cream-colored sofa, hands folded in her lap, and glaring at me through slitted eyes. Next to her slouched Gray Shirt, Joshua, arms folded across his chest, looking sullen. Rachel's redheaded roommate, Claire, sat at the far end of the couch, legs crossed, arm propped on her knee, and chewing on her thumbnail.
The driver, Isaac, was sprawled out in a nearby armchair, still out cold.
Mouse stood off to one side.
I stood in front of the trio, arms folded across my chest, the Twins back in my shoulder rig.
Rachel said: "I'm not going back. You can't make me."
"I'm gonna suggest making this all go easy," I said, "and just come along with us."
"Be difficult," said Mouse. "More fun that way."
I shot her a look.
"Killjoy," said Mouse.
"No," said Rachel. "I'm not going. Arrest me for whatever you want. But I'm not going back home."
"We're not arresting you," I said.
"Aren't you cops?" said Joshua.
Mouse snorted a laugh. "We're better than those idiots."
"Then what the hell are you?" said Rachel.
"You're edgerunners, aren't you," said Claire, a twinkle in her eyes.
"Close enough," I said.
Claire snapped her fingers. "I knew it!" She turned to Rachel and Joshua. "Justine Hollister did this segment on Eye 12 about them a couple of months ago and--"
Rachel shot Claire a look.
Claire stopped talking in mid-sentence. Her mouth hung open for a moment, then closed, and she went back to biting her thumbnail.
Rachel turned to me. "Edgerunners. So, what--like bounty hunters?"
"Among other things," I said. "Your father hired us to find you. Take you back."
"And then what?"
"That's it?" said Rachel.
Rachel fixed me with narrowed eyes for a long moment. Then her eyes went wide and a smile crept across her face.
"No way," said Mouse, stepping up next to me. "I don't like that look. That look spells trouble."
"I want to hire you two," said Rachel. "Starting right after you take me home. And I can pay."
Mouse slapped me across the shoulder with the back of her hand. "See? I told you. Trouble."
(to be continued...)
"Ties That Bind"
Part 1 | Part 3
Part 1 | Part 3