Saving poughkeepsie, p.4
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       Saving Poughkeepsie, p.4
 

           Debra Anastasia
“Sir, we’re in process here. If you’ll excuse us…” The first holstered his weapon and approached her carefully.

  He pulled her hands behind her and grabbed his handcuffs. Ryan grabbed his cell phone from his pocket and dialed Kathy, the receptionist at the station. Eve’s weapons were removed.

  “Hey, cutie,” she answered. “I’m headed out the door. What’s up?”

  “What’s your badge number, partner?” Ryan wasn’t above getting physical, but after staring for a moment, the man rattled off a number. Ryan repeated it to Kathy and asked her to run it. It was wrong, the way these guys were going about things. “What’re the charges?” he asked them as he waited.

  “This is our case, and now is not the time.” The second man pulled Eve to her feet.

  Ryan stared into her eyes as Kathy told him what he already knew: “There’s no record of that number. You need some backup, baby?”

  “Okay, sorry. I know you were leaving. Thanks for your help on that.” Ryan hung up on her and turned to the men.

  “I apologize—just jittery lately. You guys need any help bringing her in?”

  “No, we’re good. Thanks, though.”

  Ryan had no choice but to watch as they pulled Eve along and tossed her in the back of the car in a way very unlike what any real cop would do. He hated his powerlessness, but it didn’t seem safe to escalate the situation here—too much potential collateral damage in the coffee shop behind him.

  One fake cop jumped into the driver’s seat, and the second slipped in next to Eve in the backseat as she righted herself. She slumped again, as if she’d been hit or shot, as the car pulled away, lights and sirens blazing, and Ryan was already running toward his truck.

  3

  Catch

  E ve fought through the chemically induced fog. After the first two gunshots she was able to get her eyes to stay open. Her handcuffs were too tight and her wrists were on fire. The wounds from the last time she was bound that way—courtesy of Rodolfo Vitullo—made the burning a hundred times worse.

  Her feet were still free, but her mind was blurry. She was in a cop car.

  No, wait. It wasn’t a police vehicle. It was missing all the telltale signs of belonging to the government. The man nearest her shouted directions to the driver. She focused on that.

  “Get in the tunnel! Fuck, he’s coming on the opposite side. He’s trying to get even with us on the left.”

  “Shit. He nicked that car—nope still coming. Jesus.”

  “Shoot out his fucking tires!”

  “I’m trying. He’s swerving. This asshole is good. Tapped another car. Jesus, he just jumped the median!”

  “I saw him. I saw him.”

  The man next to her dropped his gun and leveled another at whoever was chasing them. And then her foggy brain knew who it was: Ryan. Ryan knew these men weren’t cops.

  “Okay, keep it steady, I gotta aim. I’mma blow his head off.”

  Eve tried to time her kick, but her coordination was sloppy. She managed to swing her body around and brace against the car door. She kicked him in the ribs twice before getting a solid shot at his jaw.

  The man’s shots went wild, and she worked her legs like pistons, hitting him in every soft spot he had. The driver made eye contact with her in the rearview mirror and said nothing, swerving to get her off balance.

  Something rammed their car from the rear, metal grinding on metal until the driver slammed on the brakes. Eve tumbled to the floor, smooshed and off balance.

  She took a breath and settled herself. From her awkward place on the floor, she worked on her arms. The yoga she favored helped her slide her hands from behind her back under her feet like a jump rope. As she crawled back to the seat, she had her bound hands in front of her. The man in the rear seat with her was coming around as the driver swerved from one lane to another, sending crap flying all over the car. A screwdriver rolled past her foot, and in an instant she had it.

  The driver aimed his gun wildly over his head, barely missing her face as the back window of the car shattered, sprinkling crumbled glass everywhere. She kept track of both guns while bitch-slapping the closer gunman with her screwdriver-studded fist. Finally, when he’d dropped his gun a fraction, she inserted the shaft of her weapon into his temple. He fell, boneless and dead to the floor.

  The car was slammed from the back again, and screeches and sparks flew everywhere as the bumpers entangled and locked together. One glance out the window told Eve they were doing at least ninety miles an hour. Cars were pulling to the side of the road and spinning out of control.

  And then she locked her gaze on Ryan’s. It was his truck directly behind them. His front windshield was shattered, so she couldn’t miss his determined face.

  Her screwdriver was so deep in the dead man there was no retrieving it now. The driver aimed his gun over his head again, trying for her. Eve used her handcuffs to pin his hand to the headrest, applying as much force as she could.

  She wanted him to let go of his gun, but a wave of blurriness washed over her. The fucking drug they’d injected into her was rearing its head. The pain of the gunshot was ice combined with lightning. She screamed.

  “Take that, bitch!”

  The blurriness got worse, and time seemed to be getting slower as she peered over the seat. The driver was headed right for one of the scariest turns in Poughkeepsie. The flimsy guardrail would be barely a hindrance for a car traveling this fast. The view was stunning as the Hudson River rippled hundreds of feet below the edge of the road.

  Move. In that moment, her mind told her she had one chance. Judging from the searing center of her pain, she’d been hit in the abdomen. That was bad news anyway, but damned if she was going to let her almost-dead body tempt Ryan into following this car off the cliff.

  She crawled over the backseat, out the broken back window, and onto the trunk. It was stupid. Her blood poured out of her, making the smooth metal ridiculously slippery and hard to stay on.

  The driving asshole began swerving again, trying to escape from Ryan. She used her bound hands as her anchor, pulling herself to the tippy edge. A quick jerk to the right had the car almost on two wheels. The fucker was headed for the cliff.

  Seconds. That’s all she had left, but the reckless maneuver had unhooked the cars, and Ryan now fell behind.

  At least I can jump and he’ll stop his truck. It occurred to her that Ryan would then run over her, and he would hate that. But she felt another bullet fly close to her head. Come on. Come on. Ryan could drive the shit out of a vehicle. The high-speed techniques cops mastered made him the far better driver. Her eyesight was going gray at the edges. Just have to hang on until he gets a little closer.

  Ryan saw what she had in mind, and he shook his head the whole time while he peeled the rest of his windshield out of the way. It was now or never.

  With a silent prayer for help from Mouse, Eve threw herself toward Ryan’s truck.

  She couldn’t leap far enough. The gap between cars and the asphalt below was about to be her grave when Ryan literally caught her with his hood. She rolled onto the vehicle and felt his strong arm grab hers.

  He pulled her into the cab while executing a hairpin turn, then let go of her once she was inside to work the shift pedal and the gearshift.

  They came to a blistering stop.

  “Shit!” Ryan yelled. As he pulled her into the passenger seat from the floor of the truck, he gaped at her bloody stomach. Behind him an explosion lit the truck’s interior orange, and he covered her with his body.

  She used the last of her strength to hug him now that he was against her. She tried to talk, but her voice wouldn’t work. She ignored the searing pain to smile at him, but after that there was only black.

  Beckett pulled into the Maryland hospital’s parking lot five hours after he’d left Poughkeepsie and feeling off. Something wasn’t right, but damned if he could figure it out. He called Eve and it went straight to voice mail.

  Though she hadn’t said it
, he knew she’d shied away from seeing baby John because her own scars still hadn’t healed, would never actually heal. Regret swelled up as Beckett’s brain reminded him again that her life was painful because of him. With Herculean effort, he shook it off and refused to be anything but joyful on his brother’s big day.

  He met Chaos in the lobby, and the man walked him through the visiting process so he could see Chery before the baby-meeting event. When he entered her room, she was dressed and seemed poised to leave.

  “Hey, pretty. How you holding up?” Beckett embraced her gently.

  “I’m all right. Tough stuff, though—this thing.” She didn’t seem to know where to put her hands.

  “You still sure this is what you want?” Beckett sat on the empty hospital bed.

  She nodded. “But I feel like I’m torn up on the inside. It hurts so much.” Her eyes filled, and Chaos beat Beckett to her side, rubbing her back. “But it’s the right thing. He can have a clean slate. He deserves it.” She shrugged as Chaos handed her a tissue.

  “I can’t imagine. All I know is you’re fucking brave as fuck,” Beckett said.

  Chery laughed a little. “You’re a goddamn poet.”

  “Where’s Vere?”

  Chaos answered. “She’s at the day facility. We’re getting her as soon as Chery’s got her walking papers.”

  “That’s cool. How’s the dog working out?”

  Beckett got the full story of Vere’s birthday party and how much she’d loved the gift he’d sent. The dog, rescued from death row and now named Rufus, had arrived by limo, complete with tons of food and more toys than he’d ever need.

  Soon enough the nurse came in with a clipboard, so Beckett gave Chery a hug and shook Chaos’s hand. After asking a few questions, he was directed to a room clear on the other side of the maternity ward.

  Inside, Fairy Princess was feeding baby John and beaming.

  “Now that’s a fucking sight. How beautiful you are.” Beckett leaned against the doorframe.

  “You hitting on my wife?” Cole pounded Beckett on the shoulder.

  “Every chance I get. She’s a sweet piece of woman.” He grabbed his brother up in a hard hug. “Congratulations, Daddy. You guys getting to know each other?”

  Cole held up his arm for the shake. “It’s amazing. He’s just…an answer to prayers. Less than twenty-four hours in, and my whole world has changed.”

  The handshake got a third arm as Blake entered and joined in. This was magic for Beckett, pure and simple. The world slowed down, and his cares melted away as he looked from face to face. He loved these men so fiercely, it’d probably scare them if they knew how much.

  Livia came in behind Blake and busted through the boys, passing Kellan to Beckett and Emme’s hand to Cole.

  “Rude.” Beckett teased her.

  She shot him a look as she knelt in front of her new nephew in her sister’s arms. “Oh, Kyle…” was as far as she got before both women were crying.

  Beckett knew he wasn’t the only man now looking around the room, trying to avoid tearing up himself.

  Emme pulled on Cole’s hand. “Why are they crying?”

  Her uncle bent down. “Well, sometimes when all your dreams come true? The best you can do is cry. It’s happy, not sad.”

  Beckett laughed as Kellan put his little hand in his mouth.

  Blake patted his shoulder. “Careful, he loves to feed people.”

  He was about to reply that Kellan took after Uncle Cole when the boy stuffed a wet cracker in his mouth.

  As he gagged it down, Beckett tried not to hurt the kid’s feelings. “Yummy.”

  Kyle passed John to Livia and snickered. “Looks like you loved it, hot shot.”

  “Pipe down, sweet ass—” he noted the children and quickly covered “—ociated banker?”

  Kyle hugged her niece, stole her nephew from Beckett’s arms, and pointed at her son. “Look at that, big guy. You have some company.”

  Everyone started talking at once, and the kids got down to playing with the toys Blake pulled out of their bag. Pictures were taken in every possible combination.

  Cole sheepishly asked Blake if he would come double-check the car seat just to be sure it was in right, and Beckett followed, leaving the women and children in the hospital room.

  “Thanks so much for coming to see us. Means the world.” Cole was every inch the proud papa. “I feel so alive when we all get to be in the same place.”

  “Couldn’t be anywhere else, brother.” Beckett slapped Cole’s back as they stepped off the elevator and headed out to find the car.

  “I had it parked in a reserved spot and totally forgot about it,” Cole explained with a laugh. “This morning I got out here just as the doctor was waiting to pull in. He was pissed until I explained I was out of my mind.” He opened the back door of his old-man car, and Blake checked the seat, showing him how the belt fastened and where it should sit on the baby’s chest.

  “I’ll text you a picture of my handiwork before we leave,” Cole promised. He and Blake slipped into daddy talk as Beckett checked his phone. Three text messages rolled in as soon as he opened it.

  They were from a douchebag with bad fucking news. Word had it that Eve had been arrested. Beckett looked up, and as if the messages brought the man forth, John McHugh and Kathy approached them from across the parking lot.

  After hearty congratulations, Beckett asked John for a moment. To his credit, the man squelched a look of distain and stepped aside with him.

  “I just got intel saying Eve has been arrested. You know what for?” Beckett’s mind was going a million miles an hour. There’d been no movement, no threats for months. Why now? Though, of all things, getting picked up by the cops was one of the safer options for Eve.

  Confusion crossed McHugh’s face. “Really? I think your intel is shit. Let me find out.” He stepped aside and pulled out his cell phone.

  Beckett noticed Kathy waiting, within earshot. “You know anything? Everyone knows the receptionists are really the brains of the place.” He moved closer to her as McHugh shot him a dirty look.

  “No…Eve’s father is a friend of mine, so I think that would perk up my ears. But…” She bit her lip.

  He urged her to continue.

  “Just before we left—weirdest thing—I think one of our officers was investigating a possible impersonation of a police officer. I’m sure it’s just a coincidence.”

  McHugh rejoined the conversation with a stern face. “Ms. Eve Hartt is not being detained, nor is there any indication she has had contact with our force. I guess your shit intel was just shit. But if you hear anything further, let me know. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have a grandson to meet.” He held out his hand to Kathy, who gave Beckett a shrug.

  Beckett hated the scenario that had just played out in his head. Grabbing up Eve was damn hard. She’d be looking every which way for someone out of the ordinary, like usual. But if they had badges, she might be forced to go with them. This could’ve been the most perfectly executed kidnapping ever.

  Fuck.

  Though he’d driven five hours and spent a mere forty-five minutes with his new nephew, after Beckett talked with McHugh, he left one hospital and wound up going straight to another. It had been a hurried good-bye with his brothers, but Beckett had a bad feeling. And sure enough, Morales had texted with the news that Eve had lost something like half her blood volume halfway through his five-hour trip back to New York—which made him shrink it to more like a three-hour-and-forty-five-minute trip. Poughkeepsie General had surely hoped he’d never return, but here he was: sitting in the waiting room holding his head.

  Ryan launched colorful curses at him every few minutes.

  “Dingleberried cocksucker…Twat waffle…Anus junkie…Clit fungus…Rectum warhorse.”

  The hours passed slowly. Eve was on the operating table, and the only thing keeping him from losing his mind was the fact that her own father, the best surgeon around, was piecing her abdomen b
ack together.

  At some point, he didn’t even know how long ago now, the nurse had come out to tell them the drug in her system was complicating the surgery and preventing her blood from clotting. He was lucky he knew anything at all. Ryan had unwillingly filled him in with more details about her injuries about an hour after he arrived so he’d stop bothering the nurses. Beckett had then told the fancy dog spa where G was currently vacationing that he would be there at least another day.

  Beckett began rocking in the plastic chair. If he lost her now, he’d not be able to live. He would drive off a cliff—maybe the same one the fucker who shot her did. And then he’d be able to spend his time in hell beating the fuck out of the man who’d hurt Eve. It had to be Rodolfo. Though why he would try to pick her up now was a mystery—one Beckett intended to solve. The man was such a calculating bastard. Or Sevan, if he had a wild thought, might have made a play for Eve as well. It could be time to get that fucker under his direct gaze to make sure he wasn’t coming up with any actionable ideas. He might prove useful whether Eve lived or not. God, let her live.

  “Sperm biter…Jizz fondler…Mucus Dumpster.”

  “How bad was it?” Beckett finally just had to make conversation with the ass gobbler, Ryan, or kill him. And he was the only one that really knew what the hell had happened.

  Ryan sat across from him in the beige waiting room. “For shit. The worst. In the gut and then the sheer amount of blood…I’ve never seen so much blood. And I’ve been to murder scenes.”

  “She’s tough, though.” Beckett folded his hands together.

  “That’s for fucking sure. She took a guy out then wrestled with the driver. Plus she was toasted on whatever they gave her and had a GSW to the torso. Then she jumped from their trunk to my hood at, like, ninety miles an hour. I shit my pants a little, I’m not ashamed to say.” Ryan stood and began to pace.

  “I want to shit in your pants too after hearing that fucking story.” Beckett held his head as nausea rolled through him.

  “When are they going to get done, for fuck’s sake?” Ryan kicked a chair.

 
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