The Immortal Who Loved Me(Argeneau, book 21)(3) by Lynsay Sands
Sherry’s heart leapt at the sight. Like the girl, they were also fast. Too fast. She would never outrun them. And she was just holding Stephanie back.
“Go!” she shouted, shaking her arm in an effort to break the girl’s hold. “I’m just slowing you down. Leave me and run!”
Stephanie glanced toward the men gaining on them, looked forward again, and then did just that. She released her hold on Sherry and charged for the mouth of the alley.
Sherry was glad she had. It was what she’d told her to do, and at the same time being suddenly on her own with those hyenas nipping at her heels was heart-stoppingly terrifying. Despite her fear, or more likely because of it, Sherry managed to put on a little more speed herself, but it was like trying to outrun a sports car. Impossible. Sherry’s only hope was that they’d bypass her to chase after the girl.
The moment she had the thought, Sherry began to worry that they would do just that. She couldn’t leave the girl to their less than tender mercies without at least trying to slow them down or stop them. That thought in mind, she glanced around for something to help with the effort. The only thing ahead of her in the narrow alley was a pair of garbage Dumpsters.
“Work with what you have,” she breathed, and changed direction, angling toward the large blue metal bins. Would she have time to grab one to push toward the men? Would she be strong enough? Did garbage Dumpsters have locks on their wheels, and if they did, were the wheels locked on these Dumpsters?
Sherry never got the answer to those questions because that’s when the gunshot rang out. She was sure she felt the bullet whiz past her ear, it was so close. At first she thought her pursuers were shooting either at her or the girl. It made her squint at the mouth of the alley some twenty feet ahead as she sought out the girl to see if she was all right. Her eyes widened incredulously when she spotted Stephanie in a shooter’s stance, gun pointed her way while a police officer stood beside her seeming oblivious to what was happening.
Even as she saw that, several more gunshots sounded. This time, though, Sherry heard a grunt from close behind her. She glanced over her shoulder, shocked to see the leader only three or four steps away, his arm extended, hand reaching for her. His fingers actually brushed the cloth of her blouse even as he began to tumble toward the ground.
There were three holes in his chest, Sherry saw as he fell, and his followers were skidding to a halt to help him. With the hope that she might get out of this after all, Sherry turned and ran like crazy. All she was thinking was that if she got to Stephanie and the officer before one of the men gave chase again, she would be all right.
When Sherry reached Stephanie, the girl had lowered the weapon and was putting it back in the officer’s holster, saying, “This never happened. You never saw us and you really should patrol farther up the road and stay away from here until the alley is empty.”
Stephanie snapped the officer’s holster closed on the gun as she finished speaking, and then the officer immediately turned and started up the road.
“What—?” Sherry began with amazement and then snapped her mouth closed as Stephanie grabbed her hand and began to run again, dragging her away from the alley mouth. Since Sherry was more than happy to get away from their pursuers, she went willingly, doing her best to keep up. But as soon as they reached the end of the street and had rounded the corner, she tugged at Stephanie’s hand and gasped, “Wait . . . Stop . . . I can’t . . . run any . . . more.”
“We can’t stop,” Stephanie said firmly, dragging her up the road, though slowing to a jog at least. “Leo will be after us as soon as he recovers.”
“That guy . . . you shot?” she gasped with amazement, still tugging on Stephanie’s hand. Even a jog was too much for her labored lungs at the moment, and her words were breathless and choppy as she said, “He isn’t . . . recovering . . . anytime soon. He has . . . three bullets . . . in his chest. His next stop . . . is the . . . hospital.”
“He won’t need a hospital,” Stephanie assured her, not the least winded. She glanced around grimly as they reached the end of the short street, and then suddenly pulled Sherry across the road toward a small pizza place on the opposite corner.
“Kid . . . he’ll need a . . . hospital,” Sherry assured her wearily, but allowed Stephanie to usher her into the restaurant. She even followed docilely as the girl dragged her to the tables along the side between the counter and the windowless wall until they reached the last table, one not likely to be seen from the street.
“Can I use your iPhone?” Stephanie asked as Sherry dropped to sit in a booth with her back to the front of the shop.
Sherry grimaced and wheezed, “I don’t have it. Or my purse either,” she added with a frown.
“Just catch your breath. I’ll get you a drink,” Stephanie said, and as quickly as that was gone.
Sherry pushed her hair back from her sweaty face, then closed her eyes on a sigh. The last few moments played through her head like cut scenes from a film; that poor woman slitting her own throat, the chair crashing through the window, the leader of the small gang of hoodlums reaching for her even as he fell from his wounds . . . his eyes, glowing and alien.
Sherry shook her head and covered her own eyes briefly, pressing on them in an effort to blot out the images. She wondered where her nice boring safe life had gone . . . and why she was sitting in a pizzeria like a well-behaved child when she should be calling the police, going back to check on her people and customers, and—
Sherry raised her head and sat back abruptly as Stephanie set a soda and a slice of pizza on the table in front of her. Sherry’s gaze slid from the two items to the identical items in front of Stephanie as the girl slid into the booth across from her.
“I didn’t know what you like so I got you a deluxe slice and Coke,” Stephanie explained, picking up her slice of pizza to chomp into the end of it.
Sherry gaped as she watched the girl chew and swallow with relish, and then asked with amazement, “How can you eat?”
“I’m hungry,” the girl said simply. “You should eat too.”
“I don’t eat carbs . . . or drink them. Coke is nothing but syrupy water,” Sherry said automatically, and then realizing how stupid those words were under the circumstances, she shook her head. “I don’t understand how you can act like this is all just—”
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