stairwell. The hunter-talent didn’t see her at first. Moonlight and neon glinted on the small pistol in his hand.

“Hi,” Isabella said. She waved.

He turned toward her with preternatural speed, gun elevated.

“Got her,” he called over his shoulder.

His companion emerged from the same opening. He, too, gripped a gun.

“Did you really think we wouldn’t find you?” the first man said. “You’re coming with us.”

“I’m a little busy at the moment,” Isabella said.

“No shit,” the second man said. “So are we. Wasted over a week trying to find you. The boss is not happy.”

He moved forward and seized Isabella’s arm.

The contact acted like a psychic electrical contact, making it possible for her to pulse energy directly into his aura.

She got a focus and sent out a small blast of disruptive psi.

“Get lost,” she said softly.

The gunman went still for a few seconds. Then he turned and started to walk toward the edge of the roof.

His companion stared. “What the hell? Hey, Rawlins, where are you going?”

Isabella took a step toward the stairwell doorway.

“Don’t move,” the man snarled. He lunged forward, grabbed her wrist and turned back to his companion. “Rawlins, have you gone crazy? Come back here.”

Rawlins continued toward the edge of the roof as though captivated by the clusters of lights sprinkled across the desert.

“Rawlins,” the second man shouted. He sounded on the verge of panic. “You’re gonna go off the damn roof, man. Come back.” He put the barrel of the pistol against Isabella’s head. “What did you do to him, you little bitch?”

“I just told him to get lost,” she said. She got the fix and pulsed energy into his aura. “Same thing I’m telling you. Take a hike.”

The gunman froze for a beat or two and then he lowered the gun. She took the weapon from his unresisting hand. He turned and started to follow Rawlins toward the edge of the mall roof.

“Oh, good grief,” Isabella said. “I’ll admit, I’m tempted to let you both walk off this roof, but it would probably cause more trouble than it’s worth.”

She put down the gun, hurried forward and stepped in front of Rawlins. She touched him lightly. “Wrong way. Come with me.”

He stopped obediently, his face a complete blank. She took the gun from him and set it down. Then she took his wrist in one hand and grabbed the other man’s arm. She guided them both toward the stairwell. When they reached the doorway, she urged them inside.

“Go down the stairs, leave the building and keep walking,” she ordered. “Cross the streets only at the crosswalks. Wait for the green light.”

Sometimes the hypnotic suggestions worked; sometimes they didn’t.

Rawlins started down the stairs. The second man followed.

There was no way to know how long the trancelike state would last. She simply did not have enough practical experience. It was an aspect of her talent that did not allow for a great deal of experimentation. But with luck she would have time to get out of the mall and disappear. Again.

She went back to where Sandra sat, took hold of her wrist and pulsed a little energy.

Sandra blinked and came back to her senses.

“I know you,” she said, frowning. “You’re the nutcase who thinks people are trying to kill her.”

“Right, let’s go.” Isabella guided her toward another stairwell. “I hate to rush you, but I’m in a hurry here.”

“I’m not going anywhere with you. You’re crazy.”

“Hey, I’m not the one who was about to jump off the roof.”

“I’m not crazy,” Sandra said, annoyed. “I’m depressed.”

“Whatever, you’re coming with me.”

“Where are you taking me?”

“To the nearest hospital emergency room. You can explain everything to someone who will know what to do. I’m not a shrink.”

Sandra paused at the doorway of the stairwell. She looked back out at the edge of the roof.

“I don’t want to jump anymore.”

“Glad to hear that.” Isabella drew her down into the stairwell.

“But if you hadn’t come along when you did, I wouldn’t have had a chance to change my mind.”

“Always a good idea to give yourself time to reconsider the really big decisions.”

“I’ve been planning to jump for weeks and suddenly I changed my mind.” Sandra frowned. “Why would I do that?”

“Because you’re smart and stronger than you think.”

“No, it was something about you that made me decide not to jump. Something in the atmosphere around you.”

“You’re the one who made the call. Don’t ever forget that.”

They went down the stairs to the parking garage. Isabella stuffed Sandra into the beat-up junker she had bought for cash ten days earlier and drove to the hospital. She escorted Sandra into the emergency room and stayed with her until an orderly came to take her into a treatment room.

Sandra paused in the doorway and looked back. “Will I see you again, Annie?”

“No,” Isabella said.

“Are you an angel?”

“Nope, just a garden-variety conspiracy theorist who thinks some people are out to silence her.”

Sandra studied her intently. “I remember the footsteps on the emergency stairs. I remember you telling me to stay quiet and not move. And I saw a gun lying on the mall roof. Be careful, Annie.”

“Thanks,” Isabella said. She smiled. “I will. You do the same, okay?”

“Okay,” Sandra said.

She followed the orderly down a white corridor.

Isabella went back outside to the hospital parking lot. She would have to leave the car behind. They had found her at the mall. She had to assume they had a description of the junker.

She opened the trunk, took out the small backpack she kept inside and closed the lid. She slung the strap of the pack over one shoulder and walked through the garage toward the street.

She knew where she was going now. The events of the evening had left her no choice. To get to her destination she would use the one form of transportation that did not leave a paper or computer trail.

She would hitchhike to Scargill Cove.


This is the perfect case for me to cut my teeth on here at Jones & Jones,” Isabella said. “You know that as well as I do. You’re just being difficult, Mr. Jones.”

“I’m told that’s a good working description of what I do,” Fallon said. “Evidently I have some expertise in being difficult. And stop calling me Mr. Jones. The name is Fallon, damn it. You didn’t start with the Mr. Jones thing until you went to work here. When you were pouring coffee for me at the Sunshine, it was Fallon.”

“All right.” Isabella paused a beat and then she smiled. “Fallon. Now, about my new case.”

As always her smile and her energy seemed to light up the whole office. He had been struggling to

Вы читаете In Too Deep
Добавить отзыв


Вы можете отметить интересные вам фрагменты текста, которые будут доступны по уникальной ссылке в адресной строке браузера.

Отметить Добавить цитату