Push through the door and run for the car. You don’t have any choice.
Shouting came from the main room, then Painter appeared at the end of the hallway. He had his gun out, pointing at Crouse. The big man kept his own weapon on Puck, hands steady.
“The girl can go,” Crouse said, jerking his head toward me. “She’s not part of this.”
Painter’s eyes caught mine, and he nodded sharply. Britney Spears’s voice burst out through the sound system, perky and happy and so out of place I wanted to smash my head against the wall.
Smash my head . . .
In brackets right next to the door was a nice big, shiny red fire extinguisher. Suddenly I knew exactly what to do. I reached for it, popping it free as I held Painter’s gaze. His eyes stayed blank, revealing nothing. I slid out of my heels silently, lifted the metal canister over my head and raised it high.
The noise it made when I cracked Crouse over the head was loud enough that not even the music drowned it out. Puck exploded into motion, rolling to the side and jumping to his feet. Damned good thing, too, because Crouse’s gun went off, punching a hole right where he’d been only seconds earlier.
That never happened in the movies.
Of course, in the movies Crouse would have been knocked instantly unconscious, which also didn’t happen. He was pretty damned wobbly, though, so when Puck tackled him and grabbed for his gun, it wasn’t exactly a fair fight.
Then it was all over.
Crouse stood unsteadily in the center of the hallway, hands raised.
“Out with the others,” Puck growled at him. The big bouncer glanced at me one last time, and then to my shock he winked.
What the hell was that about?
Apparently Puck wondered the same thing, because I saw him studying us closely. Great. Just what I needed.
“Get out while you can, girlie,” Crouse said again, then he started lumbering down the hallway. “Men like us are no good for you.”
“Take her out to the van,” Painter snapped at Puck. “Something’s wrong here. Maybe she’s in on it.”
Puck nodded, catching my arm with hard, unforgiving fingers. Bright sun hit as we opened the door, stepping out of the dark underworld of the club into the clean, fresh air.
“You have a lot to explain,” he said, shoving me into the van. I fell down hard, and then he was handcuffing me to a rail mounted on the side of the rig.
Well. So much for stripping.
We drove in silence, following the van that held Jamie Callaghan and his buddies. Boonie sat up front with the prospect, while Painter and I covered the back. Becca huddled against one side, shivering. I kept expecting her to cry or beg or show some kind of emotion.
She didn’t even look at me—totally lost in her own world.
Why the hell had she been in that club? None of it made sense. The worst-case scenario was that she’d been working for the Callaghans, but it didn’t add up for a lot of reasons, not least of which was the fact that she’d tried to kill a man to save me.
(Had to admit—the image of Becca in her bra and panties fighting was gonna feature heavily in my future fantasy life. Felt the stir of a hard-on every time I thought about it.)
Sexy wasn’t a defense, though. I needed to face reality. If there was the slightest chance she was spying for the Callaghans, blood would flow. Was it possible? No. Becca was a local girl, zero connections to them. Not only that, if she’d been working at the Vegas Belles regularly instead of going to school, I’d have known about it. We didn’t have the place under 24/7 surveillance, but we had our spies inside. They’d given us a list of employees.
She wasn’t on it.
According to Maryse, she’d only been in there once before. She’d told me right before we dropped her off, and the woman had no reason to lie.
The van swayed as we turned off the highway and onto the gravel road to the Armory. The old National Guard fortress belonged to the Reapers, serving as a clubhouse, flophouse, and makeshift prison. They owned the land for miles around it, too.
Jamie Callaghan was going to have a very unpleasant night.
Thankfully this wasn’t my problem—my part of the raid was done. As soon as we unloaded I planned to throw Becca onto my bike and take her home to get some answers. I glanced at her again and revised my plans. Get her some clothes first. Then throw her on my bike. Maybe I should fuck her, too. Yeah. That was a plan. After that, though, I’d definitely be getting some answers. The van stopped and we slid the doors open. Painter and I hopped out, slamming the doors behind us.
Boonie walked over to me, frowning.
“You gonna leave her in there?” he asked lightly.
“No, but figured I should check in before taking off,” I said. “You feel like this needs to be club business? Otherwise I plan to treat it like a personal issue.”
“The bouncer had a thing for her,” Painter chimed in. “But I don’t think he even knew her name. Just thought she was pretty and Maryse backs that up. Becca was only there to make a quick buck—no reason to get the club involved.”
“I’ll talk to Pic about it, but I tend to agree,” he said. “This is your problem, Puck. Any idea why she’d want to get a job stripping? Can’t wrap my head around it.”
“Puck, can I talk to you?” a woman’s voice called. I looked up to see London, Picnic Hayes’s old lady, walking toward me. The others were “escorting” Callaghan and his men out of the other van right in front of her, but she didn’t pay any attention. Instead she frowned at me.