Читать онлайн "Before The Killing Starts" автора Harper James - RuLit - Страница 10


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'You can't,' she said, the words bursting out of her mouth a little too quickly. She didn't know if he was two or three blocks closer or further away than she was? He might get there first.  'I'm just about to go out.' It sounded so lame in her ears. He was bound to be suspicious now. But it seemed his annoyance was getting in the way.

'Ellie,' he snapped, almost shouted, 'this is important . . .'

'What do you need to say that you can't say over the phone anyway? If it's that important, tell me now. If not, it can wait.'

She allowed herself a gotcha smile. There wasn't a lot he could say to that. On the other end of the line she heard him take a couple of deep breaths. Take as many as you like.


'Yeah, I'm here.' That was more like it. There was a satisfying amount of defeat in his voice. 'What time will you be back?'

She relaxed a little.

'Why don't you come over around six?' she said in an encouraging tone, like she was offering him the last slice of pie.

'Okay. See you then.'

The phone went dead. He really was pissed. With any luck he'd have calmed down by the time he came over—another reason not to meet him straight away. She didn't want to be on the receiving end of all that testosterone. She dropped the phone back in her bag and straightened up. She better get back to the hotel just in case he went there anyway, the suspicious prick. A movement registered in the periphery of her vision. She turned and looked out the window and her hand flew to her mouth, an involuntary shriek escaping through her fingers.

Chapter 11

'Talk about a lucky break,' Juan said to José, shaking his head as he backed the car out of the narrow side street. There was a screech of tires and a long, indignant blast on a horn as the car they'd backed out in front of made an emergency stop. He raised his arm lazily and gave the driver the finger in the rear-view mirror as he straightened up. Asshole shouldn't have been driving so fast in the first place.

'So what are we going to do now?' José said.

The car behind jerked into life, pulled around them and drew up alongside. A large guy with a very red face waved his fist and shouted abuse at them through the window. Specks of spittle spattered the glass.

José leaned forward in his seat and the two of them turned to see what all the fuss was about. Oddly enough, the guy had a quick change of attitude. Something about the sight of the two of them staring back at him, their dark eyes predatory and mischievous, made him remember what a hurry he'd been in. He stopped shouting like somebody had pulled the plug, snapped his eyes front and did his best to put his foot through the floor. The car shot forward and disappeared down the road.

'How about we go after that asshole,' José said. 'He called you a wetback.'

Juan turned towards him and wagged his finger as if to say: liar, liar, pants on fire.

'How d'you know. You couldn't hear him.'

José grinned. 'I read his lips.' He mouthed the word a couple of times putting the emphasis on the 'w' and the 'b'. 'You can see it a mile off.'

Juan laughed. 'Yeah, if you're looking for it. Anyway, we haven't got time—we've got to get back to the bar.'

José twisted in the seat and pulled his head back to get a good look at his partner; make sure there wasn't something he was missing.

'What for? The guy's not going to go back there—not ever. Not if he's got any sense.'

'Doesn't matter,' Juan said. He had that smug look on his face that José always wanted to punch; the one that said that's why I'm the dog who eats first. 'He left his card with the guy behind the bar. If it's not already in the trash, I'm sure he'll be happy to give it to us.'

José grinned back at him. 'Don't you just love it when people make it easy for you?'

But Juan wasn't listening to him any more. They were almost back at the bar and he'd been looking for somewhere to park when his head had snapped around like somebody had slapped him.

'What is it?' José said, trying to follow his eyes.

'It's her!'

'Who?' José said, craning his neck to try to see what his partner was so excited about.

'It's that bitch Ellie. I can't believe it. She's sitting right there in her car across from the bar. Look, there.' He leaned across José and pointed. 'She's hunched over but you can see it's her. It looks like she's on the phone.'

'So what's she doing there?'

'I reckon she must be the guy's client. She sent him after Dixie and then followed him.'

'Like she doesn't trust him, you mean? Maybe it's him she's on the phone to.'

'Doesn't matter. Here's what we're going to do.'

Juan carried on past Ellie's car and stopped for a second to let José out. Then he made a U-turn and drove back the way he'd come while José doubled back on the sidewalk. About ten cars behind her, he made another U-turn and drove slowly forward timing it perfectly so that he pulled up alongside her, boxing her in between the parked cars in front and behind her, just as José got to the passenger door.

He pulled gently to a stop and looked across at her through her driver's window. She was turned away from him, hunched over and talking on the phone. She finished her call, dropped the phone in her bag and sat upright. Then she turned and looked straight at him. She let out a startled shriek as he gave her a massive grin and José climbed into the passenger seat.

Chapter 12

Ellie twisted round at the sound of the passenger door opening, and saw José's greasy face leering at her. Her bag was sitting on the passenger seat. She made a dive for it, but she was way too slow. She got a hand on the strap but José wrenched it out of her grip, dropped into the seat and started rooting through it. A couple of seconds later he pulled out a Kahr P380. The five-inch long pocket pistol almost disappeared in his large hand.

'Nice toy,' he said with a grin. He dropped the gun in his pocket and carried on digging through the bag. Next out was a can of pepper spray. That went in the pocket too.

Behind her, Juan opened the driver's door and leaned in and grabbed her by the collar of her jacket.

'Out you get,' he said, and hauled her out of the car. José leaned across and pulled the door shut behind her.

 Juan looped his arm round her neck and they shuffled backwards in the narrow space between the two cars like some strange dance move. He tightened his thick forearm across her throat, choking her. The more she struggled, the tighter he clamped it. Her head snapped from side to side as she tried to see if anyone was watching, but there was nobody around to help.

She bent her head forwards and threw it sharply backwards but he moved easily out of the way. He clamped his other hand over her mouth and nose, holding her head into his body, squashing her nose against her face, cutting off her air—but not the stale smell of cigarettes on his fingers. How is that possible? The callused skin of his palm on her flesh made her shudder. His mouth was less than an inch away from her face; she could feel his mustache like a hairy spider's leg and smell his lunch on his breath. In her mind she imagined little brown pieces of refried bean caught in the gaps between his teeth and her stomach gave a salty, burping lurch. She grabbed the hand over her mouth and tried to work her fingers under it, clawing with her nails in an attempt to prise it away. He just squeezed tighter.

But she'd achieved something at least—with no hands left to open the car door he called for José to stop picking his nose and get his sorry ass around this side of the car and get the door open. He hadn't expected her to struggle so violently. Thinking about it now, he should have pulled up next to her facing the other way—it would have made much easier to get her from one car to the other.



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