Читать онлайн "Before The Killing Starts" автора Harper James - RuLit - Страница 9


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Evan hit the horn again and the truck started to crawl forward. The two guys broke into a run. Evan inched the car after it, his palms slick on the wheel. The truck made it to the end of the street and stopped, waiting for a break in the traffic.

Too late.

Evan's door flew open and the guy who'd helped him in the bar leaned in and tried to pull the keys out of the ignition. Evan knocked his hand away. Then the passenger door opened and the other guy threw himself into the passenger seat, his gun trained on Evan's chest. The first guy stepped back and motioned for Evan to get out. In front of him the Fedex truck started moving again, made a right and was gone. The street ahead was clear, but the truck might as well have still been parked in front of him for all the good it did him. There was no way he could drive off without getting shot.

Evan climbed slowly out of his car and wiped his hand on the side of his pants, his heart banging away in his chest. The second guy came around the front of the car and stood behind him. He was trapped between them. He took a closer look at the guy in front of him. He was heavyset and a couple of doors down from good looking with a bandit's mustache and the sort of eyes you didn't want to catch if you knew what was good for you.

'Thanks for stopping that guy in the bar,' Evan said and grinned nervously.

'No problem,' the guy said and grinned back, not so nervously.

'I don't suppose you've chased me because I forgot to say thanks,' Evan said hopefully.

The guy dropped his eyes and worked a small, sad smile onto his face. 'It was quite rude,' he said, 'but, you're right, there is something else.'

Evan nodded. 'I thought so.'

'Why are you asking about Dixie?'

'Why don't you tell me who you are first?'

The guy smiled. 'Sure. I'm Juan and this is José,' he said with a sweep of his arm towards his friend. José gave a slight nod of his head.

Evan looked past Juan to where their car was parked. Juan saw him looking and shook his head. 'Don't be silly.' He needn't have worried. Evan wasn't about to put himself at risk. He'd already done more for Ellie than she deserved. He wasn't thinking of making a run for it anyway; he just wanted to get a look at their license number.

'So, now you know who we are, why are you looking for Dixie?'

'A client asked me to try to find him.'

Juan nodded. 'What are you? Some kind of investigator?'

Evan nodded back.

'So who's your client?'

'You probably wouldn't know them.'

Juan smiled again. 'Try me. I know a lot of people.'

'His name's John Thomas.'

Juan cocked his head at that, his eyes diminishing to slits as he gave it some thought. 'You're right—I never heard of him. If he exists that is.'

He nodded to José standing behind Evan who stepped up and slammed the barrel of his gun into the side of Evan's head. Evan let out an involuntary gasp and staggered sideways against one of the parked cars. A trickle of blood wound its way down the side of his face.

Wrong answer, obviously.

'Let's try another one,' Juan said as if nothing had happened. 'Why does this John Thomas want to find Dixie?'

Damn. Evan knew another bang on the head was on its way whatever he said. Should he make something up? The truth—that he didn't know—was guaranteed to annoy them.

'He didn't say,' Evan said, glancing round at José behind him. 'That's the truth, by the way. Said I didn't need to know.'

There must have been something about the resignation is his voice that stopped them from hitting him immediately. Juan cocked his head to one side again and studied Evan's face, trying to make up his mind whether further motivation was called for. It didn't take long. He nodded and José obliged with another clout on Evan's ear.

'That might teach you to take a fuller brief from your client,' Juan said. He grinned again and José chuckled.

'Thanks for the advice.'

Juan gave a no-problem flick of the hand. 'My pleasure.'

He didn't say anything more for a moment. Maybe he was all out of questions.

'Well, if that's it, I think I'll run along now,' Evan said, and gestured with his chin towards his car.

José stepped forward and drew his arm back to give him another whack when a noise in the distance made them all freeze. The sound of police sirens. The delivery driver must have called it in. Evan managed to keep the grin off his face but Juan saw it in his eyes nonetheless.

Juan gave a small shrug and pointed directly at Evan's face. 'You're a lucky man. If I were you, I'd drop this.'

The sound of the sirens was quite close now. They couldn't be more than a block away. It didn't seem to worry him.

'Tell your client that you couldn't find Dixie. Give him his money back. Whatever. Just drop it,' he said and patted Evan's face a couple of times.

Then the two of them turned and jogged back to their car. They reversed out into the main street and drove off just as the first police cruiser pulled across the other end of the street. Evan got another look at their license plate then turned towards the police and raised his hands above his head.

The police didn't take long with him. With the delivery driver's story to back him up, he managed to convince them it had been a mugging that went wrong. They probably didn't believe him but they let him go anyway, which was the main thing, with a promise to come in and give a full statement in the next couple of days.

As soon as they'd gone Evan got back in his car and made a couple of calls.

Chapter 10

Ellie rested her head on the steering wheel and tried to think what to do next.

She'd followed Evan to Kelly's bar and waited in her car to see what happened. She didn't know what she'd expected but it seemed like Evan must have stirred things up in there. She'd watched him back out through the door, ass first, before jamming a pool cue through the handles. A couple of seconds after that the doors had bulged outwards, the cue had snapped and two beaners had come rushing out and chased after him. She'd felt an adrenal spike of fear quickly followed by a sweaty giddiness as relief flooded her body. Thank God she'd sent Evan in there. To think she might have just walked in herself, straight into their hands.

Evan had made it to his car and taken off, making the two guys double back for theirs. She'd lost sight of them all after that.

Her phone rang. She fished it out of her bag—it was Evan.

Looks like he must have got away from them.

'Where are you?' he asked without bothering to say hello. He sounded pissed, but that was hardly surprising—not that she was supposed to know anything about it.

'What's wrong?' she said, trying hard to get the right balance between concern and surprise.

'I'll tell you when I see you,' he snapped. 'Where are you?'

She had no idea where he might be and she didn't want him to know that she'd followed him. In the phone she could hear a siren in the background wherever he was. Then she heard it faintly through her window. She wound it down and listened. The two sounds were perfectly synchronized; they had to be the same, That meant he was still somewhere nearby. How far did a siren carry? Two blocks? Three? She had no idea. She turned away from the window, towards the sidewalk, and hunched over the passenger seat as if she'd dropped something on the floor.

'Ellie?' He made no effort to conceal his irritation.

'I'm . . . at my hotel. Why?'

'What's that noise? I can hear sirens. Are you sure?'

She felt a rush of panic. 'Of course I'm sure. I've got the window open. Hang on a sec.' She wound the car window up. 'There, is that better?'

'Okay' He didn't sound convinced. 'Stay there. I'm coming over. We need to talk.'

'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.



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