He couldn't hear the dogs over the engine's roar, but he knew the searchers were behind him, knew the net was closing fast. More, he knew he didn't have much more time left before he lapsed unconscious again. He'd lost blood, and God only knew what was going on inside him. Every inhalation was like breathing flames; every exhalation a study in misery.
He needed a place to crash and he needed it fast.
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After that, he thought, glancing in the rearview mirror and seeing piercing green eyes in a stern face, short black hair, and nothing familiar about any of it, I'm going to need some answers. Knowing he was already on borrowed time, he hit the gas and sent the truck thundering downhill. There wasn't any road or track, but he got lucky—or else he knew the way—and didn't hit any big ditches or deadfalls.
Within ten minutes, he came to a fire-access road. Instinct—or something more? A few minutes later, he bypassed a larger road, then took a barely visible dirt trail that paralleled the main access road. The not-quite-a-road was bumpy, jolting him back against the seat and wringing curses from him every time he hit his injured shoulder.
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But the pain kept him conscious, kept him moving. And when he hit a paved road, it reminded him he needed to get someplace he could hide, where he'd be safe when he collapsed. Animalistic instinct had him turning east. He passed street signs he recognized on some level, but it wasn't until he passed a big billboard that said Welcome to Bear Claw Creek that he knew he was in Colorado, and then only because the sign said so. His hands were starting to shake, warning him that his body was hitting the end of its reserves.
But he still had enough sense to ditch the truck at the back of a commuter lot, where it might not be noticed for a while, and hide the keys in the wheel well. Then he searched the vehicle for anything that might clue him in on what the hell was going on—or, failing that, who the hell he was. All he came up with was a lightweight waterproof jacket wedged beneath the passenger's seat, but that was something, anyway. Though the fading day was still warm with late summer sun, he pulled on the navy blue jacket so if anyone saw him, they wouldn't get a look at his back. A guy wearing dirty jeans and a jacket might be forgotten.
A guy bleeding from a bullet wound in his shoulder, not so much. Cursing under his breath, using the swearwords to let him know he was still up and moving, even as the gray-brown of encroaching unconsciousness narrowed his vision to a tunnel, he stagger-stepped through the commuter car lot and across the main road. Cutting over a couple of streets on legs that were rapidly turning to rubber, he homed in on a corner lot, where a neat stone-faced house sat well back from the road, all but lost behind wild flowering hedges and a rambler-covered picket fence. It wasn't the relative concealment offered by the big lot and the landscaping that had him turning up the driveway, though.
It was the sense of safety.
This wasn't his house, he knew somehow, but whose ever it was, instinct said they would shelter him, help him. Without conscious thought, he reached into the brass, wall-mounted mailbox beside the door, found a small latch and toggled the false bottom, which opened to reveal a spare key. He was too far gone to wonder how he'd known to do that, too out of it to remember whose house this was. It was all he could do to let himself in and relock the door once he was through.
Excerpt: INTERNAL AFFAIRS, Jessica Andersen
Dropping the key into his pocket, he dragged himself through a pin-neat kitchen that was painted cream and moss with sunny yellow accents and soft, feminine curtains. He found a notepad beside the phone and scrawled a quick message. His hands were shaking; his whole body was shaking, and where it wasn't shaking it had shut down completely. He couldn't feel his feet, couldn't feel much of anything except the pain and the dizziness that warned he was seconds away from passing out.
Finally, unable to hold it off any longer, he let the gray-brown win, let it wash over his vision and suck him down into the blackness. He was barely aware of staggering into the next room and falling, hardly felt the pain of landing face-first on a carpeted floor. He knew only that, for the moment at least, he was safe.
It wasn't just that her coffeemaker had finally gone belly-up. She'd known it was on its last legs, after all, and simply kept forgetting to upgrade. Sort of like how she kept forgetting to replace her anemic windshield wipers because they only annoyed her when it was raining. Or how she hadn't yet gotten around to having the maintenance crew that served the Bear Claw ME's office fix her office door, which stuck half the time and randomly popped open the other half.
No, it wasn't those petty, mundane, normal irritations that had her amber-colored eyes narrowed with frustration as she worked her way through her sixth autopsy of the day, dictating her notes into the voice-activated minirecorder clipped to the lapel of the blue lab coat she wore over neatly tailored, feminine pants and a soft blue-green shirt that accented the golden highlights in her shoulder-length, honey-colored hair.
clublavoute.ca/wanes-para-conocer-gente.php No, what annoyed her was the memo she'd gotten from Acting Mayor Proudfoot's people, turning down yet another request to hire new staff, even though she'd only proposed to replace two of the three people she'd lost over the past year—two to the terrorist attacks that had gripped the city in the wake of a nearby jailbreak, one to the FBI's training program. What annoyed her further was the knowledge that she was going to have to work yet another twelve-hour day to catch up with the backlog. In the event that an item is being returned due to an error on our part, a prepaid return label will be supplied via email upon request.
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