SIXTEEN

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As promised, a two-chapter weekend!!!!! 

Virginia lowered the Steiners from her eyes to get her bearings. The men she had been watching from the edge of the overpass—the selected finish line Mark had chosen for their race months ago—looked like toys without the help of the binoculars. Parked cars were gathered behind one of the rows of warehouses, on the south side of the lot, well hidden from the main gate. She counted up the men scattered among them, the two leaning on their vehicles, the four huddled in conversation, the three sitting together in the rear car, the one twirling his keys as he talked on a cell phone.

There were ten, waiting.

For her.

She scanned the lot one more time. Walt was nowhere in sight. Were they hiding him in one of those units?

Looking over at Jack's pride and joy, the black, mid-seventies Mustang Cobra parked on the shoulder of the road, she wondered how she was going to get in without being seen. The open gate was a little too cheese-in-a-mousetrap for her liking.

Deciding to do a drive by, she got back in her car.

There was a rear gate to the lot. She stopped to check it but it was locked up tight.

On her second pass, she spotted a small section of fence along the north end of the lot in dire need of repair. The barbed wire hung down as if it had been tampered with. She parked her car on the street and pulled leather gloves and bolt cutters from the trunk. Managing to clear a small section, she was over the fence and into a squat within minutes.

She was distressingly close to the spot where Simon had lain, bleeding.

Concentrate, she thought. Shaking off the memory, she took a look around. Clear. After a quick jog across the deserted back lot, she had her back plastered to the siding, ears straining to pick up on any voiced alarms in the vicinity. But all was quiet except for her own ragged breathing, her chest pumping in complaint, more from the heightened sense of foreboding than any aerobic activity.

One rear bay door was up, five units away from where she was standing. Having come this far, there were no other options. She had to find Walt. She drew her gun, letting it lead the way as she slid along the wall. She was prepared to bolt if any of the other doors started to rise. But to where? The only place to run to was the open door.

She'd just have to take her chances if it came to that.

A constant beep-beep-beep-whirff started up from somewhere within the open unit, the racket growing louder with each step she took. At the entrance she stopped and dragged in a deep breath before whipping off her cap and peeking inside. A man on a forklift was depositing the third of three pallets by the far wall. It must have been a recent delivery, the payloads still wrapped in tarps and heavy cord. The front door was up as well, allowing her to see out to the road and the warehouses on the other side of it. Judging by her position, the men she had been watching earlier were right behind those units. Luckily, none of those doors were open.

The driver parked the forklift by the front door and left.

Shoving her cap back in place, she moved in, sticking to the shelves stacked floor to ceiling along the back wall. Machine parts and other odds and ends filled the spaces, all of them covered with a heavy layer of dust, making her wonder how often they were accessed. Perhaps it was all window dressing for the more lucrative shipments being stored—they came and went on a much quicker schedule no doubt.

Crouching down she made her way to a pile of crates further in and checked behind it. Clear. Turning her back against the wood, she slid down to her haunches and tried to steady her breathing. She needed to get across the road without being seen. How the hell are you going to do that? she asked herself. You can't just run across it. And the only thing here is—

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