"You just said five minutes," said Jeffries.
"Clock's running," said Mouse. "I'd hurry up."
Jeffries leveled a piercing glare at Mouse.
She shrugged it off.
He leveled the same glare at me, the muscles of his jaw clenching and unclenching.
No one moved.
Checked the clock.
"Three minutes," I said.
Glanced at Jeffries's muscle. Their brows glistened with sweat.
Then a door slammed somewhere above, followed by running footsteps.
A moment later, Rachel appeared at the bend halfway down the staircase and her eyes went wide. "Kat! Mouse!"
Jeffries whirled and craned his head up toward Rachel. "Rachel! Get out of here."
Then Rachel was running down the staircase, across the foyer, and up to me and Mouse.
"Stay behind us," I said.
She nodded and took a step back.
So did Mouse.
The two muscle glanced at Jeffries.
He didn't moved but stared at us and emotions battled across his features.
"Thank you, Mr. Jeffries," I said. "You've been very cooperative."
Jeffries snarled. "You're gonna pay for this."
"You already paid us," said Mouse. "Remember?"
"Fuck you!" he said.
Mouse wagged a finger at him. "Temper temper."
Jeffries lunged toward us.
And Bonnie was out and leveled at his head.
He skidded to a stop.
Then the two muscle reached for their sidearms.
Fabric rustled and snapped, and each muscle sprouted a pair of slim throwing knives in the upper arm. They staggered back, yelping in pain, and clutching their arms.
"Better," I said. Then pulled my phone out of my jacket pocket and dialed.
Fast Eddie answered on the first ring. "Yeah?"
"Me," I said.
"Got it," he said and hung up.
I put the phone back in my pocket. Looked at the two muscle.
They looked away, faces twisted in pain.
Turned to Jeffries. "Good-bye, Mr. Jeffries," I said and started walking backwards toward the front door, keeping myself between Jeffries and Rachel, Bonnie still aimed at his head.
Jeffries watched us, a feral expression on his face.
"This isn't over," he said through gritted teeth.
"Yes, it is," I said.
He stabbed a finger at us. "You walk out that door, Rachel, and that's it. You're through."
"I walked out that door a long time ago, Dad," said Rachel.
And the three of us went through the front door, closed it behind us, and made for the Shelby.
After making sure no one from the Jeffries house was following us, I drove back to the Red Dog.
Halfway there, my phone chriped.
"Did you get it for us?" I said.
"I did," Specs replied in his reedy tenor. "Whole shebang. And you owe me big."
"You wanted a rush job," said Specs. "That's a rush job."
"Christ," I said.
"And you're good for it, right? I told my guy you were good for it. Please tell me you're good for it. I hope to hell you're good for it."
"I'm good for it."
"Thank god. And where the hell have you been keeping that kind of money?"
"Like hell you have a bank account."
"Bank of Revell," I said.
"Oh. Well, that's different."
"How'd it get to be so much?" I said. "Last time it was less than that."
"Last time was a different guy," said Specs. "And he owed me a favor. This guy doesn't."
"Okay okay. So how long will it be?"
I checked my optic clock.
Still enough time.
"Fine," I said. "We'll be at the usual spot."
"I'll bring it by," said Specs and hung up.
"So how much?" said Mouse.
"It's fine," I said.
"How much was what?" said Rachel.
"Full IDs," said Mouse.
"What?" said Rachel.
"Don't worry about it," I said.
"How much?" said Mouse. "I heard you say something about big."
"Okay okay," I said. "Five."
"Five what?" said Mouse.
"Five million," I said.
"Oh, shit!" said Rachel.
"And you fronted that?" said Mouse. "We're not a fucking charity, Kat. No offense, Rachel."
"None taken," said Rachel. "She's right. That's too much. I need to pay you back for that."
"You're a smart girl," said Mouse.
"I can pay in installments," said Rachel. "Will that work?"
"Listen to the girl," said Mouse.
"You can pay back five million credits?" I said.
"I'll figure something out," said Rachel. "I'm a smart girl."
"That's the spirit," Mouse said.
"Fine," I said. "Installments. We'll work it all out back at the Red Dog."
"Good," said Rachel, and she put a hand on my shoulder. "And thank you for coming to get me. Both of you."
"It's what we do," I said.
She squeezed my shoulder, then I heard her settle back into her seat.
"Her dad and the Alliance?" I said.
"Only if she misses a payment," said Mouse, closing the Red Dog's back door.
We were back at the bar, standing in the rear hallway. Rachel had gone ahead to the back office where Joshua had been staying.
I leaned against the nearest wall and hooked my thumbs into my gear belt. "You're probably right."
"I am," said Mouse.
"Don't get a big head."
"We're still a business. Can't be giving everything away."
"I know, I know."
"I mean, we've got expenses to consider. Ammo. Cleaning supplies. Mod maintenance. Gear upgrades and replacement. Food."
"I knew you were going to bring up food."
"I told you--there's no way in hell I'm eating kibble."
"Where's your sense of adventure?" I said.
"Don't make me hurt you," said Mouse.
NEXT TIME: "In the Name of the Father"