Authors: Lisa Mondello
Well, maybe he'd get a shower. He should. If he had any chance of getting close to Cash's sister, Sonny, he'd do better not to offend her with a rank smell.
The woman knew where her brother was. Gil was sure of it. And now she was on the run.
He'd been watching her every move for the past three weeks. He'd been right to follow her down to Colombia. Her brother was an agent with the DEA who'd turned, probably when the smell of money got too good.
It happened for a lot of reasons that Gil didn't really care about. Montgomery got his hand caught in the cookie jar and would have to pay his due. He'd given Cash's sister some room, sure that she was going to lead Gil right to his bounty. But for some reason, she'd holed up in a hotel room, barely leaving except to get food at the market.
Vacation? No way. Not in that low-class hotel. Who came down here and hid out in a place like that unless they were up to something? The woman was a computer geek, not a novelist who needed “space.”
He'd gone to her hotel room this morning only to find it empty. And now she was boarding a plane back to the States.
Nope. Not going to happen. Not if Gil could help it. If Cash Montgomery was here in Colombia, Sonny was going to help Gil find him.
The whole time he'd been watching her hotel room, something had nagged at him. He'd heard of informants hanging around at the market under the pretense of being legitimate vendors. “Here's your oranges,
and oh, by the way your brother is hidingâ¦”
Maybe. Maybe not. Gil was the proud owner of an overactive imagination. His creativeâbut criticalâthinking had gotten him far in his quests for justice. He'd earned the respect of his peers many times over when he brought a criminal back in the final hourâand earned pretty big rewards, too. Marco, one of the members of the small team he worked with to capture fugitives, was still talking about the payout on the job they did in San Juan as if Bill Gates had died and left all his money to Team Gil.
Yeah, okay. The bounty had been big, but it wasn't enough to retire on. The Cash Montgomery bounty would bring in a lot more than San Juan.
Gil chuckled at the irony of the fugitive's name, wondering just how much cash Cash was worth. In some ways, he hated thinking in terms of money, but it was necessary if he was ever going to leave bounty hunting behind. He wasn't retiring anytime soon, but finding Cash Montgomery was at least going to pay for a well-deserved vacation on some tropical island. A nice breezy cabana was just the ticket. Maybe he'd even rent one of those catamarans and go scuba diving for sunken treasure.
He was good at what he did but was in serious need of down timeâhe'd been chasing criminals for far too long.
Gil watched the women's room door, waiting for movement. He'd seen Sonny Montgomery go into the bathroom fifteen minutes ago. She'd probably been told to stay out of sight until her flight. If he were helping her to lay low, that's what he'd tell her to do.
The clock on the wall let him know her flight to the United States was going to start boarding in about fifteen minutes, but she hadn't even gone through security yet. He saw that there was virtually no one in lineâshe'd make it through security quickly. By his calculations, she should be showing her face any second now in order to make her flight with no time to spare.
He gave her points for that, too. She'd been coached well by someone who knew how to stay covert. He'd have to move fast if he planned on stopping her.
“Whoa,” he said, pushing his sunglasses up to see if his eyes were playing tricks on him as she emerged from the bathroom.
Gil had expected Sonny to come out of the bathroom wearing the same poncho he'd seen her in all week. He'd almost missed her when she emerged wearing a very American jacket and blue jeans. Strapped around her front was a baby carrier, complete with a baby in tow. The only thing missing from this happy homemaker picture was a husband.
Words crackled in Spanish over the loudspeaker above his head, announcing the flight was about to board. His Spanish was good, but not as good as his cohorts, Cooper and Marcoâhe usually let them handle interpretation. But he'd heard the same announcement with different destinations for the past hour and after the second time, he figured out what it was saying. What else did he have to do while staking out the bathroom?
As Sonny walked by him, she kept her eyes fixed straight ahead and her body rigid. Even when he came up alongside her, she didn't so much as twitch.
Bad move. Even a cursory glance would have been more natural. It was less suspicious to anyone who might be watching.
“Cute kid,” he said, grabbing her lightly by the arm. “Why don't we take a stroll over to the window so we can have a nice private conversation?”
Her face was stricken, filled with the panic of a trapped animal as she pulled her arm away from him. “I don't have any money. Nothing valuable. Please let go of me.”
“Not a chance, lady.”
“If you don't leave me alone, I'll scream.”
“You don't really want to do that. You see those guards over there? Mikey Machine Gun and Sammy Soldier are looking a little bored with nothing to do but watch all the nice tourists go by hour after hour. I'm sure they'll be only too happy to take some time out of their busy schedules to ask how you acquired a baby on your little visit down here to their fine country.”
Her face drained of blood and turned a stark white. “Please don't do this. I beg of you. You don't know what you're doing.”
“Wrong. I know exactly what I'm doing, Ms. Montgomery.” Her eyes widened with the use of her name. Although he'd been sure, confirmation that he'd been tailing the right woman was nice. He'd hate to find out he'd wasted all this time tailing the wrong girl.
With his hand still on her arm, he gave a quick glance to the soldiers, who were indeed more than a little curious at their sudden interaction.
“Act like you know me,” he said in a low voice.
He didn't really need the Colombian police interfering in his business, either. That would only complicate matters since he was way out of his jurisdiction. They had their own kind of law down here and they didn't always care about what was deemed legal in the U.S.
Of course, Sonny Montgomery didn't need to know that.
“Pretend you know me,” he insisted quietly. Then in a louder voice he said, “Baby, I'm only a little late getting here. I told you I was sorry about last night. You don't have to be so angry with me. No harm done.”
The light in her eyes flared. “What are you doing?”
He lowered his voice, his lips barely moving. “If you don't want to be detained and questioned by these officers for hours on end, follow my lead.”
She shook her head. “No. I won't go with you.”
“Sweetie, don't be sore and leave. Our vacation isn't even over yet. Let's have some fun.”
His heart rate kicked up a notch when he noticed their little altercation was indeed stirring real interest from the gun boys. Sammy Soldier's finger had already moved into position on that bad-looking gun strapped around his shoulder.
“You don't have any idea of what you're doing,” she whispered, her voice cracking. “I need to get on that plane right now.”
“And I need to find your brother. You remember him, right? Cash? He needs to come clean or he'll owe my boss a cool million when he finally shows his face.”
He hadn't expected her reaction. Panic, yes. Defiance, most definitely. Her brother was on the run and everything he'd uncovered about Sonny Montgomery was that she was tight with her family. He hadn't expected her wide-eyed expression ofâ¦hope?
“Do you know where Cash is?” she asked desperately.
He shook off the feeling that looking into her big deep blue eyes gave him. They were the color of the ocean with little flecks of green and gold that sparkled unlike anything he'd ever seen. She'd changed her hairâcurled it somehow, making it more sophisticated than the pulled-back style she'd favored these past few days. Or maybe it was just the heat and humidity.
He laughed, mostly to pull his gaze away from the slight tilt of her nose and the intense way her eyes were now peering at him.
“Tell me. You know where he is. Tell me where I can find my brother.”
Sonny couldn't believe the break. Okay, it was the absolute
time for her to be just standing there in the middle of the airport, but if this man knew anything about Cash, she had to find out. Dylan could use the information to find him. She hated that she hadn't had any contact with Dylan since she'd come down to Colombiaâshe had no idea if he'd succeeded in finding Cash on his own.
They called her flight again. She glanced at the security checkpoint. Lucia had specifically told her to book this flight at this time because there would be less of a wait in the security line. If this man didn't get out of her way fast, she wouldn't make it in time to board her flight.
The voice on the loudspeaker spoke in Spanish first and then English. “Last call for all passengers boarding flight 1031 for Miami, Florida.”
“I have to get on that plane,” she said. “Please, tell me what you know now. I need to go.”
“You're not going anywhere. I need
where your brother is.” The man tightened his grip on her arm.
Her heart plummeted to the floor. He didn't know. And now, she was wasting precious time by standing here with him.
She quashed her disappointment as Ellie stirred in her carrier. She was probably hungry. But until they were in the air, Sonny wouldn't be able to do anything to satisfy her.
“Let go of me,” she said. “Can't you see you're upsetting my baby?”
baby? Right.” The man muttered something harsh under his breath as he eyed the guards. “Terrific. We have company.”
One of the guards was approaching them. His gun looked old and dusty, but deadly just the same. She knew there was little tolerance for Americans in Colombia. The government wanted their money and tourism, but there were stories of people coming for vacation and vanishing into thin air.
It was a miracle that they'd been able to find the baby at all. But if word got out that Ellie was the baby taken from Eduardo Sanchez's estate, Sonny was as good as deadâand no one back home would be the wiser.
At first, she'd questioned whether the baby in her arms was really Cash's daughter. Cash had been so secretive about his life leading up to the time of his arrest and disappearance. It had been a surprise for Sonny's whole family to find out that Cash had secretly married and had a baby girl who had been abducted by Eduardo Sanchez. After the shock had worn off, they all knew what they had to do. They had to rescue both Cash and Ellie.
Even with all the information they'd been able to find about Eduardo Sanchez, there were many times during the long wait in that dingy hotel room in Monteria that Sonny fought with the notion she might be kidnapping a baby from her rightful parents. The thought of bringing pain to someone else was too much to bear.
But once Sonny had gotten over the shock of Lucia's death and pushed the poncho off the basket with the sleeping baby inside, she knew. One look at the child and she saw her mother. This baby was a Montgomery through and through, and Sonny knew there was no turning back. She had to make sure Ellie made it back to the United States. Back to Cash and his wife, Serena.
The guard's voice was commanding as he yelled at them in Spanish.
“I'm sorry. We were just leaving,” the stranger said, turning his attention away from her but keeping his hand firmly in place on her arm.
The guard looked vicious as he shouted at them again. It was hard to keep up with the fast-paced Colombian dialect but Sonny got the gist of it. He wanted them to state their business. She could talk to themâtell them that this man was keeping her from getting on her planeâbut would they just detain her further while sorting it all out?
And what about the baby? She really didn't want them to ask any questions about Ellie.
Oh, Lord, please help me through this. Help me figure out how to get past this man and the guards. I need to get on that plane.
If the stranger wanted to be reckless, she'd let him trip over his own feet. After all, the man had caused the scene in the first place. But he seemed content to play innocent civilian, which only angered the guard further. A vein jumped on the guard's bright-red neck, making her heart stop. That was enough for Sonny to step in.
“Excuse me. My Spanish is a little rusty,” she said. Then she told the guard in Spanish that she was all right and it was all just a misunderstanding.
He seemed to consider her words, then told them to move along or they'd be arrested. She knew that getting arrested would ruin everything for her and the baby.