Against the Heart(28)

By: Kat Martin

Ian looked over at his father, waited for his reaction.

Daniel leaned back in his chair. "If this were Seattle where you knew people you trusted, I’d be inclined to call the cops. As it is, we’d be running blind. Bandini might find out, do something stupid. I think Meri’s right. We should handle this ourselves."

"How we going to deliver the money?" Ian asked. "We can’t send Meri in there with guys like these. There’s no way to know what they might do."

"I’m taking him the money. If I don’t go, there’s no way he’ll let Lily go."

Ian’s jaw went tight, though from the start he had known there was no keeping Meri out of this, not with her daughter’s life at stake. "Fine, you can make the drop. But you do exactly what I tell you."

He could see that didn’t sit well by the subtle squaring of Meri’s shoulders.

"This is what I do, sweetheart," Ian reminded her. "You need to listen to me on this."

Her eyes connected with his. "You’re right. I’ll do whatever you say." She bit her lip. "There’s something else you need to know."

Ian cast her a frustrated, what-else-haven’t-you-told-me glance? "Go on."

"Joey isn’t alone. He called me from Portland. I have a girlfriend there. That’s where I was headed when I left L.A. Joey figured it out and got there first. I talked to Pam after the call. Joey hit her, forced her to give him my cell number. He mentioned he was traveling with this friend of his, Bart Kowalski. Joey calls him Ski. Joey’s a real creep, but Ski’s big and he’s bad. He’s dangerous, Ian. Just thinking about him with Lily...." She broke off, blinking back tears, swallowed and glanced away.

Ian’s gaze swung to his father. "How’s your weapons and ammo situation? You still got our hunting rifles in the gun safe?"

Daniel nodded. "Remington 308 and a Winchester .30-30 locked up out in the garage. Haven’t been used in years. Need to get them out and get them cleaned."


"All we need. I’ve also got my sidearm, Smith and Wesson .44. It’s locked in the drawer next to my bed. And you got your Glock, right? That’s still your weapon of choice?"

Ian nodded.

Meri’s face went pale. "You aren’t going to kill them, are you?"

Ian grunted. "Much as that idea holds a certain appeal, that isn’t the plan. Getting Lily back safely is the objective. But this is kidnapping, Meri. Joey and his buddy aren’t getting away with it. Once Lily’s safe, we’ll be taking the men into custody, turning them over to the police."

"But the guns--"

"If these guys aren’t armed, we won’t have to use them. If Joey or his buddy starts shooting, that’s a different story." Ian’s hard gaze zeroed in on her. "You don’t still have a thing for this guy, do you?"

Hysterical laughter burst from Meri’s throat. "I never had a thing for Joey. He was good-looking and I was lonely. That night I thought, you know, other women do this kind of thing, why can’t I?" She shook her head. "One stupid night. That’s all it was. I’ve been paying for it ever since."

Ian stood up from the table. He gently squeezed Meri’s shoulder. "You’re done paying, Meri. And so is Lily. This is about to be over. Make sure your phone’s turned on." He glanced at his father. "Come on Dad, let’s go."

Ian and Daniel spent the rest of the afternoon cleaning, checking, and loading their weapons. They poured five gallons of gas into Meri’s car from the can his dad kept in the barn, and continued planning their strategy.

Daniel Brodie was a former Marine. He might be a little out of shape, but he was gun-savvy and he was smart. Ian trusted his dad to back him up when the time came.

And he had a hole card up his sleeve. What his dad had said about knowing someone on the Spokane PD had reminded him of a detective named Gray Hawkins he had worked with in Seattle. Family problems had forced Gray to move to Spokane. He’d been on the job here a couple of years.

Ian phoned him, told him he and his father were going into a situation that might require some backup and asked his friend to help.