Cold in the Shadows

By: Toni Anderson

“Why not?” she croaked.

Jesus. “You know why not.” Was she really gonna continue the charade?

Her features twisted as she pressed the T-shirt against her side. Her face looked clammy, her skin pale. “If you don’t take me to the hospital, I’ll bleed to death.”

“If I take you to the hospital you’ll be dead before sun up.”

“They’re not that bad.”

He frowned and concentrated on the road ahead of him. Did she mean the cartel? Or the doctors? His fingers tightened on the steering wheel. Was she so confident in her ability to handle the drug smugglers even after an attempted hit? Did she have dirt on them? Maybe she was fucking one of them—she was attractive enough, but Hector Sanchez didn’t freelance. If he’d tried to kill Audrey Lockhart it was at his lord and master’s bidding. Raoul Gómez—the brother of Manuel Gómez who was serving life in a California federal prison—was an evil sonofabitch and had no qualms about murdering women and children to maintain his iron grip on his organization. Killion wasn’t getting on that rat-bastard’s radar until he’d figured out who’d ordered the hit on the VP because that was his mission. And his mission was paramount, even if his methods were a little unorthodox, if not downright illegal. Nothing was going to sidetrack him from his purpose.

Audrey Lockhart could help him. In fact, she was probably the only one who could help him figure out the truth. He needed her alive.

She cried out as he rumbled over a pothole, but things were going to get a hell of a lot bumpier from here on out. He had few options. He could take her to the embassy in Bogota, but then this fracas became official. Considering cartels owned half the cops and politicians in South America, the diplomats might decide that releasing Lockhart into the custody of local authorities to face the justice system here was more expedient than protecting her rights as an American citizen. And no way could he reveal classified information about the importance of this mission even to other CIA agents, hell, not even to his boss. In theory, he was due to head back to HQ in a couple of weeks to receive his next assignment, which in all likelihood would be a temporary duty overseas—TDY. In reality, his current mission was going to take a while.

Aside from himself, the president, and a handful of Lincoln Frazer’s FBI BAU-4 team, no one knew Burger had been murdered. Official reports were the guy had suffered a heart attack and the nation had grieved for the elder statesman. Killion didn’t know how many bad guys knew about the assassination plot, but at least one person did and he’d bet his government pension she was bleeding out in his backseat.

He gritted his jaw as he realized something else. Lockhart could not be allowed to talk. Ever. If the world discovered Burger’s murder had been covered up, the man’s life and actions would be put under the microscope. Burger had been up to his eyeballs in dirty deals and international terror plots. The fact they’d deceived the public about his murder would be the least of their problems. World War III was likely if the truth got out.

Thoughts raced through his mind as he assessed options. Plan A had been making sure the assassin knew the vigilante organization—The Gateway Project—was now defunct. Frazer’s people had been monitoring Audrey’s communications to see who she contacted and where she went, hoping to backtrack to the mastermind behind Burger’s murder. Killion glanced at the woman in the backseat who was panting heavily while gripping the knife in her side.

Time for Plan B.

He drove a few more miles and then swung west. Over the last twenty years the drug situation in Colombia had changed. Nowadays it operated on the same principles as a terror network with small groups only knowing about their piece of the operation. That way, if they were arrested, they couldn’t sink the entire cartel. Farmers cultivated small plots of coca in dense forest regions, easier to hide from spotter planes and government officials. Marxist rebels still controlled large swathes of land that were no-go areas. Colombia might be opening up to the tourist trade, but so was Mexico, and anyone who didn’t think that was a dangerous place to visit outside the hotel resorts had their head up their ass.

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