No Exit

By: Lena Diaz

He popped open the glove box and grabbed his SIG Sauer 9 millimeter, a gun he hadn’t even considered that he’d need today. Instead of getting out the driver’s side, where he had no cover, he maneuvered his long legs over the gearshift in the middle console and slid out the passenger side. Ducking to keep the engine block between him and Ramsey, he scrambled to the front bumper. He fired two quick warning shots up in the air. Ramsey’s dark ski mask swiveled toward him.

“Drop your weapon.” Jace straightened, keeping his gun trained slightly to the left of Ramsey’s body, hoping the other man would come to his senses and stop this madness.

Without lowering his gun, Ramsey looked back toward Melissa.

“Drop your weapon.” This time Jace aimed his SIG dead center at the other man’s chest.

Ramsey suddenly swung his pistol lightning fast toward him. Jace swore and dove beside his car. A deep-­throated boom echoed through the trees. Metal pinged against the hood scoop, and a small hole opened up in the right fender.

Son of a bitch!

Another round plowed into the asphalt inches from where Jace had been standing. He glanced at Melissa in the ditch about twenty feet away. Her face was ghost white, and even from this distance, he could tell she was shaking. He crept toward the front bumper, staying low as he peered around his car back toward the center of the road.

Ramsey was gone. The van’s side door slammed closed. Jace ran out onto the road just as the engine cranked to life. Seconds later, the tires squealed, and the van took off.

Jace debated shooting out the tires to give his associate a taste of what he’d just dished out to Melissa Cardenas. But no matter how pissed off Jace was, he didn’t want to risk killing the man just because he’d made a stupid decision. He’d save his anger for later, when he confronted Ramsey over what had just happened. Instead, he fired several rounds harmlessly over the top of the vehicle into the pine trees in case Melissa was watching. The van raced around a curve and disappeared.

He uttered a few choice words about Ramsey’s parentage and turned to check on Melissa. But the sound of another engine had him whirling around. A black limo was barreling down on him. He cursed and dove out of the way, the limo’s wheels narrowly missing him as it screeched to a halt, rocking on its springs.

Jace groaned. He knew every line on that car, every shiny piece of chrome, even the small ding on the front passenger door. That limo was in EXIT’s parking lot every day, the same parking lot where he’d spent countless hours watching Melissa coming and going. And he knew exactly why the driver had just tried to run him down—­because the passenger in the back of that car wouldn’t tolerate a man standing in the middle of the road with a gun when his daughter’s car was in a ditch just a few feet away. That limo belonged to Melissa’s father, the CEO of EXIT—­Cyprian Cardenas.

Daddy dearest had just unwittingly come to his daughter’s rescue—­which meant Jace’s plan to act as her white knight was nixed, pretty much guaranteeing this already-­screwed-­up mission would end in complete failure. Jace needed time with Melissa, alone, to gain her trust, to manipulate her into offering him the type of job that would give him the access he needed. Without that time, without that trust, he had no leverage.

And Cyprian’s hypersuspicious nature, especially knowing that several of his enforcers had recently gone rogue, turning against their former employer, was already on high alert around strangers. Which doubly applied to someone like Jace—­a former Navy SEAL who’d spent the past few years in the civilian sector as a bodyguard.

Yeah, he was pretty much screwed.

He did the only thing he could at this point: he stayed in character, determined to follow the fake scenario through and see if he could pull out a miracle. He jumped to his feet and positioned himself in front of the wrecked Jag as if to protect the driver from this newest threat—­pretending that he didn’t know that Cyprian and Melissa were related.

The rear doors on the limo flew open. Two ridiculously large, muscle-­bound men in black suits got out, aiming equally large guns at him.

Ah, hell.

“Drop your weapon!” one of them yelled.

Jace weighed the odds. These guys were probably used to intimidating ­people with their size alone. They wouldn’t expect him to put up any resistance. He could drop to the ground and probably shoot both of them before they fired a single round. No. Scratch that. He couldn’t risk a firefight with a maybe innocent woman in the kill zone. He reluctantly pitched his SIG onto the road.

The men headed toward him while their boss stepped out of the car. And behind him, his two assistants got out, Sebastian and Tarek. Great. It was a highway reunion   of everyone Jace had been investigating as part of figuring out how to manipulate his way into EXIT. This was bound to go well.

The assistants didn’t bother to join the fray, choosing instead to remain by the car. Their boss pulled a black trench coat over his gray suit and surveyed the situation like a king overseeing his domain. His brow furrowed when he looked toward the Jaguar in the ditch.

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