Skin Page 51

“Go,” he said.

“Come with me.”

“Go. Now.” He gave her a push and pulled the window closed, his face set. “Run.”

And she ran.

Frost covered the pickup’s windshield and windows. She threw the door open and dived in, fumbling in her pocket for the keys. The tip of the key wouldn’t go into the damn ignition. Her hands were trembling. Her blood pounded behind her ears. She could do this. In went the key, finally, and she twisted it hard. The engine roared to life. She jammed her foot on the clutch and threw it into gear, flipped on the windshield wipers to clear the frost. Her foot hit the accelerator and the pickup’s wheels spun on the slick surface. Then it took off, thundering toward the double gates, bound with chains and rope in the absence of a padlock. If Nick said the truck would take them out then it would. And it did. The front of the vehicle crashed into the metal frames and sent them flying. The bone-rattling shriek of metal scraping against metal came from beneath the vehicle, then half of the gate lay on the road in her rear-view mirror.

From behind her came the first gunshots. The popping of a pistol, followed by the boom of something bigger.

“Nick.”

They’d kill him. No. She couldn’t do this.

She slammed on the brakes and the car skidded to a halt, smoke rising from the abused front tires. Nope, she couldn’t do it. She couldn’t leave him again. Driving away and leaving him alone to deal with those two bastards just wasn’t in her.

She’d tucked her gun in beside her. Seatbelt on. She spun the wheel hard, cracked plastic digging into her palms. Time to go. The pickup flew back down the road toward the ugly little house. More shots were fired and Justin ran out of the house, into the yard. Violence beat inside her. The least the bastard deserved was a bullet.

Driving and shooting at the same time always looked simple in movies. Her hand searched for the weapon she’d put beside her on the carseat. Bullets shattered the windshield not far from her head. The vehicle swerved wildly and she clutched at the wheel, trying to get it back under control. A headlight blew. Everything was out of control. She screamed and screamed.

Through the broken glass she could just make out the figure of Justin with his gun pointed at her. Her weapon rattled around on the floor now, beyond her reach. More bullets punched holes through the glass and she ducked. Justin had a grim smile on his ugly face.

He wanted to kill her.

That was fine. She wanted to kill him too.

Her foot pressed down on the pedal and the truck flew, actually going airborne for a moment when she misjudged the entrance to the driveway and jumped the gutter. The return to earth came with an almighty crash. Her teeth clattered, her brain rattled. With one hand on the wheel she sunk down in her seat and bore down on the bastard.

A bullet skimmed her ear. It was the noise of its passing that alerted her. She barely felt any pain.

Justin made no move to get out of her path. Still too drunk and stoned or whatever, she had no idea. And then he was out of time. She tried to brake too late. Nothing seemed to work right. The truck ploughed into him, punching him into the wall of the house. Inertia threw her forwards and pain filled her chest. Bricks and mortar flew.

CHAPTER TWENTY-FOUR

Pete was waiting for Nick when he opened the bedroom door. The man sat on the dodgy old single lounge chair smoking a cigarette, yawning and rubbing his eyes. A shotgun sat across his lap. Justin had passed out facedown on the floor, not too far from the front door. The air stank of smoke from the fire, the cigarette, and the weed. It suffocated him. It felt like his heart and lungs had shriveled up inside his chest. But he wasn’t done yet. His pistol sat tucked into in the back of his belt, fully loaded.

“Hey,” said Pete with a slow smirk, looking past him for signs of Ros, no doubt.

“Hey.”

Letting her go had been the hardest thing he’d ever done. Cutting off his hand would have hurt less. She needed to get away clean. And someone needed to finish these bastards. Beneath all the pain he felt strangely calm, knowing this was finally it. He didn’t kid himself. The likelihood of him walking away from this was next to non-existent.

With a dumb-ass grin Pete waved him forward. “How’d it go? Talking to her?”

He smiled back calmly.

Pete’s fingers slid lovingly over the barrel of the shottie. He didn’t doubt the threat. Sooner or later Pete and Justin would decide to get rid of him. Their playing nice was never really believable. That Pete hadn’t yet tired of Justin and taken his bowie knife to him came as a bit of a surprise. Pete had a nasty temper, and the only person he’d ever really been afraid of was Emmet.

Outside, the truck engine turned over.

“Stop her!” Pete screamed, his lips drawn back, exposing yellowed clenched teeth. He looked like a f**king animal, letting loose a roar that should have shook the building. To his left, Justin jumped up, making a dive for the gun on the coffee table.

Nick drew his weapon and fired. The bullets punched into the wall behind Pete’s head as the man threw himself aside, toppling the shoddy chair. Pete fell onto the carpet and rolled onto his back, unharmed.

Justin scrambled for the front door.

The front gates clanged and squealed as Roslyn crashed into them, tearing them apart. They were too late. She’d gotten out. The relief nearly staggered him.

With a snarl Pete pulled up the shotgun. Boom. Nick dived back through the bedroom door as the hallway erupted into smoke and noise. His ears rang. Boom. Again the shotgun discharged. The wide open bedroom door exploded into a mass of splinters, a big hole in its middle that continued into the wall behind it. Dust filled the air.

Nick rolled onto his back, pulling up his weapon, but too late. Screaming his heart out, Pete charged through the door and fell on top of him. The man straddled him and fists pounded into his ribs. Pete’s furious, bright-red face was beyond recognition. Nick blocked as many of the punches as possible, clawing at the f**ker's face, trying to push him back. A sledgehammer of a hit landed below his ribs. Pain cramped Nick’s guts as he fought to get the leverage to throw Pete off him. His legs flailed uselessly.

Out of the corner of his eye he spied the silver of Pete’s bowie knife flying at his face. He grabbed the man’s wrist with both hands, muscles straining. Pete snapped and growled, spraying his face with hot, wet spit.

Fuck, he could hear gunshots outside. Justin shooting at Ros. Please let her be gone by now.

Pete put his weight behind the blade. The wickedly sharp point of the knife pressed down, only an inch or two from Nick’s eye. He pushed back, moving the knife a bare hand’s length from his face. He couldn’t move him. Not enough to count. A lunatic’s grin curled Pete’s lips.

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