Bitter Bite(Elemental Assassin #14)(69) by Jennifer Estep
Bria drove down the hill to the covered bridge. She reached for the switch to flip on her sirens and blue lights, but I grabbed her hand.
“Don’t,” I said. “Santos might have someone watching the museum to make sure that the cops stay here. I don’t think that anyone noticed us hurrying outside, but a car leaving with sirens and flashing lights might tip him off. If Santos and Deirdre realize that we’re on to them, they’ll grab what they can from the bank, execute Finn and anyone else inside, and leave before we get there. We need to be smart about this. Not go rushing in blindly.”
Bria’s mouth tightened, but she dropped her hand from the switch. “What do you suggest?”
“Just drive away from the museum at a normal speed. Once we’re a couple of miles away, hit the gas. And let me make some calls in the meantime.”
Bria nodded, her hands tightening on the steering wheel. “If that bitch has hurt him, if she has mussed so much as one hair on his head, I will strangle her with my bare fucking hands.”
“Not if I get to her first,” I promised, my voice as dark as hers. “Not if I get to her first.”
* * *
While Bria drove, I made another round of calls. I finally got through to Silvio, who’d been talking to someone, digging up more dirt on Deirdre. I told him what was going on, where I wanted him to meet us, and, most important, what I needed him to bring me.
I’d just hung up with the vampire when Owen called. I told him the same things I’d told Silvio, and he promised to meet us ASAP.
I debated calling Jo-Jo and Sophia, but I decided not to. If Deirdre and Santos were holed up in the bank, then stealth was the best option—the only option. The more people I brought in to help Bria and me, the more chance there was for one of us to be spotted before we rescued Finn.
Bria drove to the downtown loop in record time. Most of the office buildings and skyscrapers were closed on the weekend, with their corporate drones safely ensconced in the suburbs, so the area was largely a ghost town. First Trust of Ashland was also closed, making it the perfect time for Deirdre, Santos, and their crew to rob the bank. Since it was Saturday morning, they could take as long as they needed to crack the cash cages behind the tellers’ counter in the lobby, along with Big Bertha, the basement vault where the real payday was. The thieves could easily make off with hundreds of millions in cash, jewels, and more. At one fell swoop, Deirdre could pay back her investors, shore up her charity foundation, and have plenty left over for her champagne bubble baths. Once again, I had to admire the cleverness of her plan.
“How do you want to play this?” Bria asked when we were three blocks away from the bank.
“Drive by the bank at a normal speed. Not too slow. We want it to seem like we’re just another car, cruising through downtown on our way to somewhere else.”
Bria nodded and made the turn.
The block that housed First Trust was as deserted as all the rest, and I didn’t spot so much as a bum digging through trash cans on a side street. What I did see was an armored truck sitting outside the bank entrance. A couple of guys were grabbing boxes from the back of the truck and passing them over to several giants, who were all wearing the gray uniforms of the bank’s security guards.
Including Rodrigo Santos.
The giant had his gray cap pulled down low on his forehead and his arms crossed over his chest as he supervised the jewelry exchange, but I still recognized him. My heart sank. If Santos was out here on the sidewalk, acting as the head guard, then that meant he already had control of the bank. I wondered how many guards—legitimate guards—might be inside. Probably a skeleton crew, since it was a Saturday.
Bria cruised past the armored truck. Santos stared at our car, and I leaned my elbow up in the window, hiding my face from him. The light at the end of the block winked to red, and Bria made the appropriate stop. She looked in the rearview mirror, while I did the same in the passenger’s-side one.
The armored-truck guards finished handing over the boxes of jewelry, then closed the back doors on their truck, got inside, and pulled away from the curb. Santos watched the truck drive off, then went into the bank with the rest of his crew, leaving one man outside to stand guard. Santos might have control of the bank, but he wasn’t taking any chances, and storming in through the front was out. That would only end up getting Finn and every other innocent person inside killed.
“Now where to?” Bria muttered as the light turned green.
“Go around the block. There’s a garage on the back side of the bank. Drive in there, and park on the top level.”
Bria did as I asked. Three minutes later, we were in the garage, which was as deserted as the rest of downtown.
She killed the engine, then looked at me. “Now what?”
“What was the protocol for transferring the jewelry? How was it supposed to work? How many guards were supposed to be at the bank? Lay it all out for me.”
Bria drew in a breath. “An armored truck with three guards was supposed to drive the jewelry from the museum to the bank and unload it out front, just like we saw. The bank was supposed to have at least half a dozen guards waiting inside to take the jewelry from the lobby down to the basement vault.”
She bit her lip. “Finn was supposed to be at the bank too, running point on everything. He wanted to be sure that nothing went wrong with Deirdre’s exhibit. Or if it did, that at least the jewelry would be secure in the vault.”
Another reason Deirdre had needed him, so he could let her into the bank this morning.
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