When Mike told Adrienne they were relocating her to a different safe house, her world fell apart.
“Why? What’s wrong with this one?”
“The buzz is out that Nick knows about it. So we’re taking you somewhere else. I’m sorry, Adrienne, but witness protection is going to have to talk to you.” He held up a hand when she opened her mouth to speak. “It could be temporary, but it needs to happen as long as Nick is still out on the streets. Just listen to what they have to say.”
Her leg muscles twitched, refusing to hold her upright much longer. Heat flooded her, her mouth souring like rotting fruit. Her skin itched, as if the rotting fruit drew flies. She swallowed, but the tang lingered.
She couldn’t afford to get too comfortable. Anywhere. Best this way, because she was getting too comfortable here.
“Zan’s going with you,” Mike said. “At least for now.”
At that moment, the man they’d been speaking of, the one she’d been fantasizing about for the last few days, walked in and gave her a shaky smile. The tension in her body released, a dreadful giddiness overtaking her. Her knees almost buckled, but she reached for the wall and held her ground.
Stupid that his presence reassured her.
“I might be joining witness protection with you.” The snarl is his voice indicated he was not pleased.
They gave her an hour to get ready, told her they could get her more things later so not to bother with many clothes. Great news, considering how much she hated the clothes they’d given her—including the flimsy flip-flops she had to traipse around in—but she still ended up an overstuffed piece of luggage by the time she was done. Mostly because of Tonka’s things.
“Leave the cat. He’s better off here.” Mike stood in the doorway, a scowl etched across his face as Adrienne tangled with Tonka, a hefty purse, and her luggage. She searched for the cat carrier. It was around here somewhere, and she couldn’t take Tonka out without it.
As if Mike’s mere presence wasn’t enough, Meagan acted as a buffer between Adrienne and the door, as if they weren’t about to let her go until she abided by their command and handed over the cat.
Adrienne held Tonka tighter, only to get protesting mewls. “No. He’s coming with me.”
“Let’s get you to a safe place first. Then we’ll get the cat to you.”
“There’s no reason for him to stay.”
“You’ll be taking a circuitous route. It won’t be comfortable for you, much less a cat. You could be in danger of losing him then. He’ll be safe here.”
“Why can’t we fly?”
“You will, eventually.”
“Tonka will be fine right here,” Zan said. “Meagan is a cat lover.”
Adrienne eyed Meagan, studying her for any love written across her features. The agents enjoyed doting on Tonka, but nobody would care for her cat as much as she did.
How could she abandon him? Didn’t they realize he was the reason she’d stayed sane all these years?
“Come on, you see how Meagan has been with Tonka. She’s not going to let anything harm that cat.” Zan nudged her. “Mike doesn’t want to admit it, but he’s a cat lover, too. The only harm Tonka will see is choosing which of the two humans will spoil him the most.”
“You’ll have Tonka in a couple days,” Mike promised. “Three tops.”
“We need to get going,” Zan said.
Adrienne dropped her luggage and cuddled Tonka closer, who purred as she whispered words of endearment. She hated to let him go but had to admit he’d be in good company. The entire crew would spoil him rotten.
Meagan opened her arms and took Tonka, digging her hands under his neck and finding his sweet spot. He ignored Adrienne as she walked out the door, and tears gummed her eyelids as her chest constricted with an aching need to burst open and release all her anxieties.
She’d lost too much over the past few days, but she had to reassure herself she’d see him again soon.
“Hold up,” Mike shouted as Zan led Adrienne to their escape car. “I don’t want you taking that car.”
Zan stopped and turned to face Mike. “Why not? What’s the problem?”
“They might be on the lookout for it. Agent Brock is going to take it as a diversion. We have you in the van.” He pointed to an old gray Chevy cargo van.
Zan’s shoulders slumped. “Are you kidding me? A head’s up would have been nice. And if we need to run away from anyone, that’ll be impossible.”
“You’d be surprised. This van has nice mods under the hood.”
Zan nodded. “Hmm okay. I’d love to see it, but we don’t have time.”
“I’ll catch up with you later. Be safe.”
Heat spooled down Adrienne’s spine when Zan palmed her lower back and steered her to the van. From the corner of her eye, she watched three agents get in the car they were supposed to take. Zan muttered under his breath, something about not feeling safe in a stupid van no matter what was under the hood.
“Look, I know you’re worried about Tonka.” Zan settled in the driver’s seat and pushed the key in the ignition. “Everything is going to be okay.”
“What happened? Why the sudden move? Was someone followed or something?”
Zan turned the ignition and slammed his hands on the steering wheel when it didn’t start. He’d kept the door open, maybe to bolt out and chastise Mike for his decision.
“There’s a buzz out on the street that Nick is looking for us, and might have found us.”
She clutched her stomach, fear spreading to every part of her body. It took three tries to get the van started, and Zan was pounding his fists, opening the door, and cursing by the time it roared to life.
“I can’t believe Mike wants me to take this stupid fucking machine,” he muttered atop a slew of other curses.
As he shut the door, resigned to his fate, a loud explosion blasted the area.