King's Ransom (Tall, Dark & Dangerous #13) - Suzanne Brockmann Page 0,1

Johnston. The man’s brown eyes met his in the rearview.

“We’ve got some granite quarries in the area,” Johnston said in his curiously accent-free voice. Most of the locals in this part of New England sported heavy accents, but he didn’t. “Maybe they’re blasting again.”

On a Sunday? That was clearly bullshit—that, and the fact that Thomas’s own device, a military-grade dual-mode satellite phone, wasn’t able to get a cell connection either made him say, “Pull over as soon as you safely can.”

“Oh, God, please, no.” Tasha groaned.

“My cell’s out, too,” he informed her.

“We’re in the middle of nowhere,” she pointed out. “Service is spotty.”

“Which is why we need to stop and make sure I still have satellite access.”

She was from a career-military family—her uncle was an admiral who’d come up from the Teams—and she knew as well as any Navy SEAL that a SAT phone needed a direct line-of-sight to the satellite. That was close to impossible do in a moving vehicle, in the mountains.

Still, she rolled her eyes. “Thomas, come on, this is Maine, not Afghanistan. And you’re really only here because Uncle Alan is overprotective and probably a little insane—”

Thomas cut her off. “Why I’m here is irrelevant. I’m here. You’ve gotta let me do my job.”

She exhaled her exasperation heavily. “Unless the noise we heard was your satellite crashing to earth—hashtag, it wasn’t—”

“Look, I’m just following protocol.” Which meant that Thomas now had to confirm he still had access to communication.

“Again,” she said, “this is Maine, not—”

“I’m aware of that, thanks.”

“And if you can’t get through...?”

“We’ll need to find a landline,” he informed her.

“We’ll find a landline if we keep going,” Tash said. “At the ski lodge.”

“We’ll find one sooner, at that gas station we passed,” Thomas said.

“That was nearly an hour ago!” Tasha wasn’t happy.

He leaned forward as the driver passed a patch of open shoulder that would’ve been a perfect place to stop. “Something like that would’ve been good,” he told the man.

But the driver’s eyes were now glued to the road as the SUV’s engine worked to take them farther up the mountainside. They were actually accelerating. Clearly, the man didn’t want to piss off Tasha.

But Tasha wasn’t in charge. Thomas added volume plus some SEAL lieutenant to his voice. “Pull off. Over there.”

But the driver again sailed past another wide patch of gravel at the side of the road.

At that point he was more annoyed than concerned, and he checked his phone to see if cell service had returned.

Tasha, meanwhile, kept arguing as the driver finally slowed. “Going all the way back to that gas station will add two more hours to this trip. We’re nearly halfway there.” But then her voice changed. “What is that?”

It was then that Thomas had looked up to see the roadblock.

He knew instantly it was not the police—neither local nor state. There were no flashing lights, and the men in the road were wearing faux-military combat gear.

And suddenly, it all seemed appropriately connected and sinister: the conveniently out-of-commission helicopters plus the sound of that massive explosion they’d just heard.

Not again!

“Turn around! Do it! Now! Don’t stop!” he’d shouted, but Johnston stopped at the roadblock anyway.

Inside job. Thomas had thought it then. The driver was in on whatever this was—a kidnapping. And he still thought it now.

Johnston had gotten out of the SUV fast, popping open the locks, hands in the air.

Thomas already had his sidearm in his hands but he holstered it—no way would it be an effective weapon—because the team blocking the road with a big red truck and an extra-large white van was made up of six men in body armor, all holding AR-15s.

Before he could say more to Tasha than, “Don’t let them separate us, but if they do, I promise, I’ll find you!” the armed men immediately pulled open the back doors and dragged both of them out onto the road, on two opposite sides of the SUV.

“Don’t you touch her! Don’t you hurt her!” Thomas shouted, his hands high in the air, even as he was shoved roughly away from the vehicle, away from where they were pulling Tasha.

“Thomas!” he heard her scream, and yeah, one of the two men who were herding him toward the side of the road looked at him then and raised his weapon, and Thomas knew it was over.

He was dead.

But he wasn’t going down without a fight so he went for his sidearm, but never got to it.

Which was when Tasha screamed again, “No!” and the world Copyright 2016 - 2024