Then we hogtied Isaac with zipties and a length of rope, gagged him with an old bandana, then deposited him in the trunk of the sedan. Joshua parked it back on the street then joined us in the Shelby.
"He's gonna be ticked off when he wakes up," Joshua said.
"Y'think?" said Mouse, grinning from ear to ear.
Claire stood outside the car and leaned down toward the side window. "What about me?"
"Don't be here," I said. "At least not for a few days."
She nodded. "Gotcha. My folks live in Oakwood."
"If you run into any trouble because of this," I said, "go to the Red Dog bar on Garner. Ask for Revell. He'll get in touch with us."
Worry crossed Claire's face. "You think there'll be trouble?"
"Just in case," I said.
Claire frowned but nodded. "Okay." Then she turned and ran back into the townhouse.
I looked at Rachel. "You ready to do this?"
I put the Shelby into gear, made a U-turn out of the cul-de-sac, and drove off.
* * *
The Jeffries family lived in a two-story mansion on two acres of walled and gated property in the San Marino Hills just east of the city proper.
A dark-suited muscle greeted the three of us--me, Mouse, and Rachel--at the door and ushered us to a dimly-lit office done in mahogany and dark red velvet.
Jeffries stood in front of a large ornate desk. Shapes stood in the shadows at the corners of the room behind and to either side of the desk.
As we walked inside, Jeffries looked directly at Rachel, smiled, and spread his arms wide.
"You're home," he said. "Your mom and I were worried sick."
Rachel stopped halfway inside the room, folded her arms across her chest, and turned away from him.
Jeffries's smile faltered. He lowered his arms, cleared his throat, and turned to me and Mouse. "You came through," he said.
"You had doubts?" I said.
A tiny smile flashed across his face. "No." He turned to the muscle who had led us to the office. "James, would you show Rachel to her room."
"Yes, Mr. Jeffries," said James.
I watched as James stepped up next to Rachel and inclined his head at her.
Rachel glared at him, then at her father, then spun on her heels and stormed out the door. James followed.
Turned back to Jeffries. He gave a sigh and shrugged. "Kids," he said. "What're you gonna do, right?"
"The rest of our fee," I said.
"Of course." Jeffries held up a hand, palm up, and made a gesture with his fingers.
One of the shadows in the corner to our right moved toward Jeffries and placed a cred'chip in his upraised palm and melted back into the darkness. Jeffries stepped forward and extended his hand toward me.
"Double," he said. "As agreed."
I reached out, picked up the 'chip, and passed it to Mouse. She pulled a 'reader from inside her black leather trenchcoat and swiped the 'chip
"Good?" I said.
"Good," said Mouse.
Jeffries smiled. "You had doubts?"
"I did," I said, then turned and walked out of the office.
* * *
Rachel was standing just outside the front doors as we came out.
"We still have a deal, right?" she said.
"We do," I said, not stopping.
"Good," she said and fell in step with us.
A moment later, we piled into the Shelby--Rachel and Joshua in the back seat, Mouse up front with me.
Mouse said," How'd you manage to get out?"
"Kitchen stop," said Rachel. "And when James wasn't looking, I clocked him over the head with a cast-iron frying pan."
Mouse grinned. "Good girl."
"Remind me not to piss you off," said Joshua.
"Good boy," I said.
* * *
We were just driving out of the main gates when Mouse said, "Here we go."
I glanced at the rearview. Spotted a pair of cars heading toward us.
Heard the gate guard call out, "Hey! You in the car!"
And I stomped on the gas.
The Shelby lurched forward, fishtailed onto the main street, and we roared up the road, tires squealing, turning east onto El Cerrito Avenue, the main road that snaked through the middle of the estates on the Hills.
Five seconds later, the two cars swerved onto the same road and raced after us.
"How are you two back there?" I said.
"Squished," said Joshua.
"We're fine," said Rachel.
"Stay down," I said and glanced over at Mouse.
She was racking the charging handle of an H&K MP5 submachinegun.
"Ready?" I said.
She nodded. "I am. Hope they are."
"Just in case they get too close," I said. "First thing--we need to lose them. Rachel."
"Yeah," said Rachel.
"Quickest way out," I said.
"Hang a left up ahead," she said.
I turned the wheel, the Shelby fishtailing across the intersection. Then the wheels caught and we rocketed forward.
"Go till you can't," said Rachel, "then turn right. That's San Marino Road. It'll take us around everything and toward the freeway."
"The 610?" I said.
"Yeah," said Rachel.
Glanced at the rearview.
But I knew they weren't far behind.
I turned my attention back to the road.
The Shelby raced along the slightly winding road for half a mile, the trees on either side zipping past in a blur of green and brown.
Then the road ended in a T-intersection and a guardrail.
Beyond, the ground sloped away, giving us a view of the Bay City skyline.
A view of Southside, to be exact.
A hand shot out from between the seats, pointing out toward the windshield.
"That's San Marino," said Rachel.
Took the turn tight, the rear wheels shuddering across the pavement.
Then we were roaring north along San Marino Road. Trees flashed past on our right. On our left, the rooftops of Southside seemed to slither past.
"Tail," said Mouse.
Checked the rearview.
Car. Dark sedan. Slewing onto San Marino.
There'd been two.
Where the hell was the other one?
"How far do we have?" I said.
"Mile and a half," said Rachel.
"Gaining," said Mouse.
Closer than before.
"Go," I said to Mouse.
"Gone," she said and rolled down her window.
Air roared into the car.
I stomped the accelerator and the Shelby leaped forward.
(to be continued...)