He focused back on her, the hard set of her features, and made a snap decision. It meant breaking his cover, but he was willing to pay the consequence to get Nina out of here. “If you want to live, come with me now.” Grabbing her arm, he turned them and began leading her down the hall.
She was stiff at first, so stiff he tightened his grip, then she relented, jaw tense.
He dragged her through one of the side doorways just as more security agents rushed in through another. Zack glanced around the brick courtyard. They were already locking the estate down. His car was parked out on the road but they’d already closed the main gate.
He released her arm but snagged her hand to make it look like they were a couple, and held on tight in case she had other ideas. Once they were clear, he was going to get some answers. “We’re gonna have to scale the wall.”
She didn’t say a word, just hurried toward it with him. Twenty feet from the eight-foot-high structure, she broke free of his grip with a practiced move that took him off guard, and ran toward it. He watched, stunned, as she jumped up to catch the top, then nimbly swung over it and dropped down on the other side like a pro. Zack quickly followed suit, half-expecting to have to chase after her when he landed.
But she was standing there scanning the road instead. “We’re clear, but we need to hurry.”
The contrast between this tough, capable woman and the one he’d thought he’d been falling in love with was jarring. Just who the hell was she, really? Not the flight attendant she’d pretended to be when they’d met in St. Petersburg all those months ago, that much was clear.
And he was really, really concerned that she might be a whole lot worse.
“This way.” He grabbed her arm again, his mind still reeling, and hurried them to his car. Cops had been stationed near the mansion for extra security. They were just coming down the road as he pulled away from the curb and got them away from the estate. But he wanted answers, and he couldn’t hold back for another second.
“Who are you?” he demanded, a sinking feeling taking hold in his gut.
The night they’d met in St. Petersburg he’d been posing as an American businessman trying to get in with an arms dealer. He’d seen her sitting at the hotel bar in that tight skirt suit uniform, and her welcoming smile had made his brain short-circuit. Her cover story had checked out, and he’d been so sure the attraction was mutual that he’d invited her to be his date to an event with the arms dealer the following night.
Throughout all their time together she’d never done or said anything to make him suspicious that she wasn’t who she claimed to be. Not once, for that entire three-day weekend they’d been glued to each other, and then every time they’d met afterward over the next seven weeks.
Until he’d woken alone in that Moscow hotel the last time and found the note she’d left, leaving him bewildered and crushed.
Now it all made a horrible kind of sense, and he was a fucking idiot for ever falling for her ruse.
“My name’s Eden,” she said quietly.
He shot her a sideways glance as he sped down the darkened street. She looked the same as Nina had, but there was a hard edge to her now that hadn’t been there before. He had no idea if she was telling the truth or not, but he’d be a fucking idiot to trust one word that came out of her mouth. A mouth he’d known intimately not too long ago, and still dreamed about it moving over his skin.
“Did you kill Terzi?” He couldn’t believe he was asking that, but it was impossible to ignore the evidence before him. Because this was the second time the man he’d been trying to gain the trust of had died of probable poisoning while she was around.
She didn’t respond. And that was all the answer he needed.
Goddammit. He bit down hard to stifle the expletive that threatened to burst out of his mouth. She’d used him to get an intro to her previous target. Had made him think she felt something for him. But he’d been a means to an end, nothing more, and now she’d just fucked-up a five-month-long sting to nail Terzi and his inner circle.
But then why spend all that time with him after the job was done in St. Petersburg? Why pretend she’d felt something for him for so long? Unless she’d been hoping to kill someone else he was connected to, and when she decided he was no longer of use, she’d ghosted on him.
“Who are you, really?” he ground out, pissed off at himself as much as her.
Her gaze was fixed on the side mirror as he drove. “Just drop me off at the next street.”
“No way. I have to take you in.” His CIA contacts would want to question her—right after he did.
She snorted. “That’s not happening.”
Anger punched through him, surprising him with its force. “Oh, it’s happening.” He turned right at the next light and sped through the light traffic. He wanted to get her some place safe so they could talk in private, find out what the hell was going on and who she was working for. “In the meantime, you need to explain what—”
He broke off at the sound of the door opening, gaped in astonishment as Nina/Eden dove out onto the road and rolled away from the car.
“Jesus Christ!” He hammered the brake, wrenched his gaze up to the rearview mirror as “Eden” rolled to a stop on the pavement behind him, then popped up like a seasoned stuntwoman and darted for the sidewalk.
Zack threw the car into park and jumped out to chase her. He bounded over a hedge and tore after her, his shoes pounding against the pavement. Just as he rounded the corner he caught a flash of her as she veered from the sidewalk back toward the road, then lost sight of her in the traffic waiting at the light.
Cursing under his breath, he searched frantically left and right as traffic passed by. Where the hell was she? She couldn’t have gone far.
He glanced back at his vehicle—
Just in time to see her hop into it and drive away.
Swearing, Zack whipped around and raced after her, urgency screaming through him. He couldn’t lose her. Not after all this time, not after what she’d done. But his efforts were useless. Within seconds she’d blown past him and had vanished from sight.
“You gotta be shitting me,” he muttered, pulling out his cell phone to report it, even as he knew it was a waste of time. By the time anyone located his car, she would be long gone.
Cross, Kaylea. Toxic Vengeance (Vengeance Series Book 4). Kaylea Cross Inc. Kindle Locations (166-215). Kindle Edition.