Cale didn’t like this plan. Not when a woman’s life was in the balance. “We don’t know how much time Chevalier has,” Cale snapped, unable to hold back his anger. Just letting a woman stay in a killer’s hands? No. That wasn’t the way he worked. “We’re here, we can—”
“Another team is already en route. And the Executioner… I know how he works,” Mercer muttered. “He’ll be leaving the country ASAP.”
All the more reason for them to hunt him, then.
“Get Cassidy back here, Cale, and that’s an order.” There was a whip of command in the words. “Cassidy is the mission. Bring her back. Stay with her, and get her back to D.C. in one piece.”
So much for the full briefing that he’d wanted.
Bodyguard duty was continuing, and Genevieve Chevalier—she was just going to be left on her own?
He ended the call and fought to calm the fury that was growing in him. He hadn’t agreed to join the EOD so he could stand back while a woman was tortured and killed.
“Cale…you heard the director.” Logan was studying him worriedly.
Yes, he’d heard the director.
Jaw locking, Cale gritted his teeth. “Are we just going to leave Genevieve here?”
Cassidy wouldn’t want that. He already knew just what kind of fight he’d have on his hands as soon as he tried to force her from Rio.
His gaze guarded, Logan said, “We follow orders.”
Right. That was what good soldiers did.
Only…they weren’t still in the military.
A plan began to form in his head. Protecting Cassidy was Mercer’s stated priority. And as he protected Cassidy, both Logan and Gunner were supposed to have his back.
So where Cassidy went…
We all go.
A grim smile pulled at his lips. Maybe Cassidy would get the help she wanted from him, after all.
And she didn’t even have to seduce him in order to get it.
Huh. That was a pity.
* * *
WHEN CALE CAME out of the back room he had a backpack thrown over his shoulder. Cassidy noted the bulge of his weapon under his arm.
She jumped to her feet. “You talked to Mercer.” Genevieve is gone. It’s happening again. I have to help her!
A curt nod from Cale. “It looks like you’ve got yourself an escort back to the U.S.”
She hadn’t even realized the denial had come from her until she heard his clipped response. “We can’t leave! We have to help Genevieve!”
“A ransom demand hasn’t been given to her family yet,” Logan said. Cassidy thought she saw a flash of sympathy in his eyes, but that flash vanished too quickly for her to be certain.
“How do you know that they haven’t made contact?” Cassidy fired back, desperate. “They could have—”
“The EOD knows. Mercer assured us that he’s keeping tabs on the situation.”
“No, he’s keeping tabs on me.” There was plenty of bitterness in her voice.
“Because you’re an asset?” Cale had taken a few more steps toward her.
Cassidy flinched. “Is that what I am?” It figured that Mercer had pulled the old asset card. He’d used that before. Her trick of blending truth and lies? She’d learned it from him. Learned it before she’d even learned how to drive a car.
Some lessons were taught early, and you never forgot them.
“According to Mercer—” it was Logan talking again—the other agent, Gunner, hadn’t spoken to her at all while the others had been gone “—you’re an important asset that has to be escorted back to D.C., pronto.”
This couldn’t be happening. One of that bunch had to be sane. “You’re all going to escort me away while Genevieve dies? While she’s tortured?” If they wouldn’t help her, she’d have to help herself—and Genevieve. “Look, those guys—the Executioner’s men—they want me. They came to that ballroom looking for me.” Cale had been right there when they’d shouted her name.
“What they wanted was to kill you hours ago. That was a bullet that came your way in the alley,” Cale said, his hand tightening on the strap of his pack. “Not an abduction attempt.”
The guy was missing the obvious. She gave a little growl of her own as she tried to explain what he should know. “They tried to kill you, not me. I saved your hide, cowboy.” And she still hadn’t received any gratitude for that.
Logan slanted what could have been an amused glance Cale’s way.
What? Now Gunner speaks?
She ignored him and focused completely on Cale. “I saved you, so now you owe me. Help me find Genevieve—or at least, just, please, give me my own fighting chance to save her.” Get out of my way and let me help my friend.
But he wasn’t showing any signs of giving in to her. “I have my orders.”
Her shoulders slumped. Cale was just like the others. A robot, following all of Mercer’s commands without question. Even if it meant that an innocent woman died.
Cassidy wasn’t like that. She wasn’t a robot, and she didn’t care how angry Mercer became. After all, what was he going to do to her? Send his agents to control her life? Keep her locked up? Secluded?
Been there, done that. Over and over again.
The other agents weren’t helping her. Cale wasn’t helping. So it was up to her to get the job done.
Maybe the fact that they were all underestimating her… Maybe that would be her trump card. She just had to wait for the perfect moment….
Cassidy let her shoulders sag a little more as if she truly were defeated. “When do we leave?” Her voice came out soft, sad. She was being careful not to let that telling hitch—as Cale called it—slip out.
What? She’d sure have to act fast.
“We’ll head to the airport right now,” Cale continued in his getting-it-done voice. She decided she hated that voice as he added, “You’ll be back in D.C. by nightfall.”
Her thoughts raced. “I don’t have my passport. We’ll have to go back to my room and get it.”
The Executioner’s men might still be watching her hotel. They’d better be watching.
Because she needed them to find her.
And take her.
She had to hurt Cale in order for her escape to work. She didn’t want to hurt him, but there was no choice. Sometimes, you had to play dirty in this world.