Episode 11: All Fall Down
Evie Raines wanted to believe in miracles, but it was hard to contemplate that Tony Wolfe was still alive. Maybe his lackof a heart beat had been her own imagination. Maybe taking a pulse was not her forte, but she could have sworn…
“You all right?” Tony asked her. “I don’t think that dude will be coming back any time soon.”
She took a deep breath and shook off the sense of relief mixed with sheer terror. Evie folded herself into his arms and gave him a big bear hug.
“Woah, girl What’s the matter with you?”
“Nothing,” Evie said. “I’m just glad you’re okay.”
“Girl, sometimes you are just weird,” Tony said.
“I thought…” She started to tell him her fears, but she was afraid he wouldn’t understand. After all, he already thought she was an odd ball. “Never mind. It doesn’t matter what I thought. Let’s try and contact Nigel. Maybe he can help us.”
Evie pulled a pink cell phone out of her purse and set a quick text message to Nigel and Paul Thomas.
Tony eyed the colorful phone. “Pink, huh? I didn’t think that was your color.”
“Some tech guy at the Foundation gave it to me so I could contact Mac, Nigel or Paul just in case one of us, namely you, got into trouble. They programmed in the numbers and everything.”
Tony seemed a bit miffed by this. “They didn’t give me a phone. I mean, I am your older brother.”
“Maybe they just realize girls are more technically savvy than guys,” she teased.
“It’s more like they know you’ll get yourself in trouble and need to call mommy for assistance.”
“You’re just cranky. I know you don’t mean the mean things you say.”
The two of them started walking back to the cab when the engine of the vehicle fired up.
“What the heck,” Tony mumbled. “Somebody’s stealing our ride!” He ran toward the car but the wheels spun making a huge squeal.
“They’re getting away!” Evie yelled.
The cab went to the end of the block did a one-eighty and began speeding toward them. The man in the car, the same one with the strange tattoo, looked at her with regret then leveled a gun at her. Tony tackled Evie as the man discharged his weapon. The bullet came within inches of hitting them both.
She landed hard on the pavement, the grit biting into her back.
“You know that guy?” Tony asked watching the cab’s taillights disappear.
“No,” she choked out. “Not really.”
“Well, he seems to know you.”
Mackenzie Gray was about to break down the door of the hotel where Teryl was keeping Nigel. His gun was raised and at the ready when Nikki Carpenter unexpectedly appeared at his side. Mac chastised himself for keeping all his focus forward. In the old days, Nikki would never have been able to get the jump on him. He sighed heavily and looked at her.
“What do you want, Nikki?”
She handed Mac a cell phone. “Paul wants to talk to you.”
Mac eyed the door he had been about to storm. Dammit, he hated being interrupted. He grunted and fell back to a more neutral position.
“What?!” he bit out in a clipped tone.
“We’ve got a problem,” Paul said cryptically.
“Don’t we all? I was this close to extracting Nigel from Teryl when you interrupted me.”
“Sorry,” he said. “We have a few assets someone needs to get out of a jam.”
“Not really in a position to help out at this point, but…” Mac eyed Nikki. She shook her head back and forth as if anticipating what Mac was about to suggest. “Why don’t you send Nikki. She’s free right now.”
Mac handed her the phone back and growled, “Don’t ever do that to me again. I don’t appreciate being interrupted.”
Nikki scowled and grabbed the phone from him. As she listened, she knew their paths were about to diverge, she going her way and he going his.
“I understand,” she told Paul before hanging up. “I have to go.
“Leave me the car,” Mac said it as a request but it was really an order. Nikki knew that.
“Paul’s sending me an agent who recently completed a long overseas mission. I should be fine. The car’s all yours.”
“Thanks.” Mac didn’t bother saying goodbye. There were no goodbyes in this business.
Nigel Bennett wasn’t the bravest man in the business, but he knew when to take advantage of an opportunity. While he was alone and both Teryl and John were otherwise engaged, Nigel managed to jimmy the lock of the balcony door. Their terrace was only a couple of floors up, and Nigel thought he would handle a few stories. But once he made his way to the edge, he realized exactly how high up a few stories could be.
“Good Lord,” Nigel whispered peering over the balcony railing and staring down at the massive area of hard concrete that made up the parking lot.
“I must be out of my bloody mind,” Nigel whispered to himself. Teryl had taken most of his clothes. All he had on were his skivvies. And that too was a bit perplexing since it was mighty clod outside, too cold to be running around in a pair of boxer shorts.
He watched as Nikki walked down the stairs and out to the road. He knew he couldn’t shout at her, it might reveal to Teryl his escape plan. Maybe if he was lucky, he could climb to another balcony and make his way out through another person’s room. It was worth a try.
Nigel climbed over the railing of Teryl’s balcony and got his footing against the hard concrete of the adjacent balcony which was a few feet away. He'd have to jump to span the distance and hope like hell the railing was strong enough to steady him when he got there.
Nigel froze when he heard Teryl whispering his name from inside the hotel suite. "Nigel," she cooed. "Nigel baby. Come to mama."
He had no time to waste. It was now or never. He really couldn't see himself as Teryl's love slave. He preferred the kind of girl he could take home to meet his mother. Not to mention, Tery was one of the bad guys, a relationship with her would never work.
His mind moved to the face of Raven, the unfortunate girl Teryl had captured earlier. He wondered if she was safe. Her face was the last thing on his mind when he jumped.
Nikki Carpenter's mind was totally focused on this stupid situation. When had her partnership with Mac become so one-sided? She thought she could do the job. What had changed?
She dialed up Paul, her boss, on the tiny Foundation-issued phone. It was packed with so many gadgets she was surprised it still managed to function as a real cell phone.
"What in the heck is going on, Paul?" Nikki asked as she searched the streets for an alternative way to get to the other side of town. "Mac is acting oddly toward me. It's almost like he doesn't trust that I can do my job."
Paul knew something like this would happen eventually. Mac was a loner type. He didn't easily acclimate to partnership. But his cooperation with Nikki on past missions was the closest he'd ever come to true partnership.
"Didn't Mac tell you?" Paul asked.
"Tell me what?," she said. "I'm tired of all this secrecy. I should be in the loop on this."
"The hole the hacker made in the system..." Paul started, clearing his throat. "He made off with a few names. Deep cover operatives. And many who hadn't been covert in years. Your name was on that list, Nikki. In his own way, I think he's trying to protect you."
"He sure has a funny way of showing it," she said with a sigh. "I thought I'd proven my abilities long ago.
"It's not about your abilities. Mac cares about you, Nikki," Paul said. "Right before he left Teresa died in his arms. Being with her was the closest he'd ever come to being in love. That ripped him apart. He's in pain and he wants to keep everyone else he loves safe from a similar fate."
"Teresa knew what we signed up for," Nikki said. "And I didn't come into this job with blinders on either."
"Try telling that to Mac. Just give him some space and try and keep yourself out of trouble. I really don't think I could handle Mac melting down on me."
"All right," she sighed, relenting to her boss' wishes. "I'll give him some space. "What asset do you want me to keep an eye on?"
"I have a deep cover agent coming your way. He can relate the details," Paul said.
"Cryptic as always," Nikki sighed, as Paul ended the conversation.
She sat on the steps of the hotel and wondered what it would be like to have a normal job like everyone else. It would definitely be quite a change from this.
A cab approached flashing its headlights using the pre-determined signal Paul had indicated would be her contact.
Nikki leaned her head in the window and gasped in surprise.
"Can I give you a lift, little lady?" the man said with a winning smile.
Nikki entered the vehicle and the cab sped away making a u-turn throwing gravel onto the steps of the hotel.
"You look good, Nik," the man said, his smile widening.
"I thought you were dead," she said deadpan. To say she was shocked to see him would be the understatement of the year.
"Nearly was a couple of times," James Carpenter said. "Somehow managed to eek out a few more years."
Nikki wiped at the quick tear that gathered beneath her lashes. Her heart was beating so fast she could feel it inside her head.
"You okay, Nik?" James asked with concern.
He pulled the cab onto a lonely side road and turned toward Nikki. She was pale and he could detect a faint odor of alcohol on her breath.
"Don't fait on me. You know how I hate it when you faint. That act you pulled at our wedding had my parents talking for years."
"You're alive?" she croaked out. It felt like she was staring at a fantasy. She'd dreamed of him being alive so many times that she couldn't remember the countless dreams when she'd conjured him.
"Of course, I'm..." It was then James realized what had happened. The Foundation didn't tell her he was deep undercover. They told her that her husband had died. "Oh, God, Nik" He gathered her into his arms and squeezed tightly. It felt so good to have her in his arms again.
"I'm so sorry," he said. "I didn't know."
"You don't know what it was like, believing you were dead. I lost it. I think I spent a month straight in the gym working out my demons."
She looked at his face and cupped a hand to his cheek.
"Still so handsome..." Tears dripped down her cheeks.
"Don't cry for me, Nik. I'm here and I'm never leaving you again."
They didn't have to talk after that. She kissed him like a thirsty woman who hadn't had a drink in days. Mission be damned. This is all she cared about. All she wanted. Five years. He'd been dead for five years. And now he was here.
"I would love to strip off all your clothes and show you exactly how much I've missed you but we have some kids to save." James tried to get the words out but the reunion with Nikki was like an aphrodisiac. The attraction between them was too strong. Nature had the reigns now.
"Right here. Right now," she demanded. "I need you."
James wanted to say no. There was a mission to complete. He'd never let personal business interfere with the job before. But he couldn't say no. He'd been dreaming of her for years. This wasn't exactly the most appropriate place for a reunion, but his mind and body could care less.
His hands slid up her body beneath her shirt as she straddled him. It was in that moment he realized she had somehow managed to shed her jeans and underwear. He groaned as she slid into place on top him. It didn't matter that they were making love in an old rusted out cab in the middle of nowhere. This was what he had longed for.