Beyond Twilight (Page 11)
She shivered uncontrollably as Ramsey pulled her through the gates, along the path, right through the front door. He knew what she must be thinking. That he'd lost his mind, or that he'd decided to turn her over to DPI after all. It amazed him that she didn't argue with him, just came along, completely trusting a man who'd given her nothing but reasons not to.
Sensing her turmoil, he gave her hand a reassuring squeeze as he closed the door behind them. “It's gonna be all right, Cuyler. This is the safest place we could be right now. The last place they'd think to look for us. And you can bet Fuller and his men won't be back here as long as they think they're on our trail.”
She bit her lip, her gaze scanning the living room. The place looked like the home of a wealthy, tasteless individual. Not a branch office for a government agency. But then, that was the whole idea. DPI's anonymity was vital to its success.
Ramsey armed the security device, then began fiddling with the buttons, programming a new entry code, one Fuller wouldn't know. Cuyler walked slowly away from him, and he heard her exhausted sigh. Fortunately, though, her wounds had healed with the daytime rest. Her wrists were no longer cut and bruised. The purple mark on her face had vanished, and her cut lip had healed.
But some wounds were tougher to heal than others. And he still felt her pain, the one he'd caused himself. He a nave to find a way to remedy that soon, or he'd lose her. He wasn't sure they could get out of this alive, but if they did, and if they went their separate ways the way Cuyler seemed to have decided they must he was going to hurt for a very long time.
He paused in punching buttons, to slant her a glance. “Cuyler, you're wrung out, Why don't you go upstairs, take a nice hot bath, relax for a while?”
She blinked slowly, and he knew she was tempted by the suggestion. “No, Ramsey.
Two sets of eyes are better than one. Suppose I go up there and a swarm of agents kick the door in?”
“I don't think that's likely to happen anytime soon.”
He finished punching in the new entry code. No one would open this door, or the front gate, without him knowing about it. Then he turned to her again, saw the uncertainty in her eyes. “Go on, Cuyler. Ask me.”
“Ask you what?” Her chin lifted a little, and he saw her trying to mask her doubts.
“Why I brought you here,” he said softly. He ran one hand over the side of her face, cupped her cheek. God, her skin was soft. “Not to give you up, Cuyler. If they want you, they'll have to go through me.”
She bit her lower lip, nodding, but he knew she wasn't as sure of that as he was.
“You don't believe it?”
“I…” She shook her head, paced away from him. “How can I believe you'd lay your life on the line to protect someone you still see as some kind of inferior species?”
“I know. That isn't what you meant to say.” She shook her head, turning to face him again, her gaze steady, strong. “But it's how you feel.”
He shook his head slowly. “You're wrong, Cuyler. There's nothing inferior about you.”
“Just the rest of my kind, right, Ramsey? So what does that make me? An exception? A freak?”
He lifted his hands, palms up, struggling to find words that would convince her how wrong she was, but she gave him a single glance that told him it would do no good. She wouldn't listen. He let his hands fall to his sides, sighing in defeat.
“So, why did you bring me here?”
Ramsey closed his eyes, tried to find some patience. It would take time to get her to trust him again. She'd believed so strongly in him before, and his fall from grace must have been a damaging one. But not fatal. “Come here. I'll show you.”
He took her hand in his and laced his fingers with hers. Such a small hand, silky soft, steady now, despite her fears. He thought about the way that hand had felt tangled in his hair, those fingertips sinking into his shoulders. He glanced down at her, caught her staring up at him, but she looked away fast. He cleared his throat and pulled her with him to the door at the far end of the room. When he stepped through, he waved an arm at the equipment that covered every inch of the counters that lined the room. Computers, faxes, phones, radios, an entire bank of video screens, each showing a steady view of a different room within this house.
He heard the air escape her in a rush, heard her murmured exclamation. Ignoring it, he moved forward, snapping on the police band receiver, and then the more sophisticated radio. The one DPI used to keep in touch. He listened for a minute, heard nothing but static. Then he sank into a chair and flicked on a computer.
“What are you doing?”
He glanced sideways at her, but his attention shot right back to the screen.
“I'll know everything they do, every move they make from here on in, Cuyler.
We'll figure a safe way out of here before morning. Meanwhile, this system is a direct link to the main one in White Plains. I'd like to see what they have on me, find out why Fuller's been doubting my loyalty.”
He heard her move, then turned to see her leaning against a wall, chewing her lower lip. “There's not much you can do here, really. I'll be on top of things.
Take that bath.”
Cuyler bathed. She didn't do as Ramsey had suggested, though, and lounge around in steaming water for hours. She made it quick and efficient. Then she scoured the house for extra clothes, finding none. She made do with the jeans and sweater she'd been wearing. After she'd towel dried her hair, she wandered back down to the first floor, located the kitchen, and brewed a pot of coffee.
With a cup in her hand, she went back to the room, tapped once, and walked in.
Ramsey's face did a lousy job of hiding his emotions, and the look it wore made her heart trip over itself. He faced her when he heard her come in, tried to mask his bewildered expression, but still failed miserably.
She crossed to where he sat, pressed the mug into his hand. “How bad is it?”
He licked his lips, lowering his eyes. “Pretty bad.”
He glanced at the screen in front of him. It showed a spider web of lines that looked like a map, with little red lights glowing at intervals. He pointed to one of them. “These are the roadblocks. There's not one route out of here they haven't plugged tight. They're checking every vehicle that passes.”
“So we can't get out by car. We can go on foot.”
“They have choppers up, scanning the ground for us. And the dogs are working the woods. Cuyler, I don't think-“
The front door slammed and both of them went stiff, whirling toward the sound.
“You don't think at all, Bachman. That's part of the problem.”
The deep voice was one Ramsey had heard before. He recognized it, and rose slowly.
The dark form filled the doorway, nodding once to Ramsey. “Hello again, Agent Bachman.”
Ramsey tried to swallow, but found his throat blocked by a brick of hatred. This man was a killer, a killer Ramsey had been sent to bring in. But he'd failed.
“Aren't you glad to see me, Bachman? Thought you'd be overjoyed, after chasing me all those months, trying to capture me for your bosses at DPI.”
Ramsey took a single step forward. “You killed two women, you bastard. And you-“
Damien glared at him, his black eyes glittering with unconcealed dislike. “I killed one man. A vampire. The one responsible for the two murders you were sent to investigate.”
“Liar!” Ramsey lunged toward him, only to have Cuyler leap in front of him, her palms flat to his chest.
“It's true, Ramsey! There were witnesses. I've read the whole account, and he's telling you the truth.”
Ramsey glanced down at her, then at the man he'd spent months trying to capture, the man who'd made a beautiful young woman into a creature like himself.
Damien blinked and held his gaze. Some of the fury left the vampire's eyes. “She was dying,” he said simply. “I loved her, Bachman. I couldn't just stand by and let her go.”
Ramsey narrowed his eyes and shook his head.
“Check your precious DPI files, if you don't believe me.” Damien lowered his head and paced in a small circle. “They know now it wasn't me who murdered those two. They know it was Anthar, the vampire I killed. Yet the hunt for me continues.” He stood still, shot Ramsey a glare. “Go on, check. You have the information at your fingertips. Or are you afraid of what you'll find?”
Ramsey blinked twice, and stared at him, stunned speechless. “Anthar?” he finally managed. He glanced toward Cuyler, and she nodded confirmation. Sighing hard, Ramsey sank back into his chair. He closed his eyes. “All right. I believe you.”
Cuyler sighed in relief, but Damien only cocked his brows in surprise. “You don't need to see the proof?”
“No.” Ramsey shook his head slowly. “No. I've found quite a few surprises in my own DPI files. Enough to show me what they're really about.” He shook his head, meeting Cuyler's gaze. “You were right all along. I just wish I'd believed you sooner.”
Cuyler blinked moisture away from her eyes, and faced Damien. If she looked a bit awed, Ramsey figured it was natural. She was in the same room with the man reputed to be the oldest of all of them, the first. “Why are you here?” she asked him.
“To get you out.”
“But how did you know-“
“No time for that, child. You must come with me now.” He took her hand and tugged her toward the doorway.
She pulled free. “I'm not leaving him.”
Damien's eyes took on a feral gleam. “He's not worth your devotion, Cuyler. He's one of them, those same bastards who make our very existence a game of hide-and-seek. The ones who see to it we never know peace. If they've turned on him now, then all the better. Poetic justice, if you ask me.”
“I didn't ask you!”
His glare grew sharper still.
“They had me, Damien. He got me out. He risked his life to do it.”
“Too little, too late. What good did it do? He's one of them, Cuyler! Leave him here and be rid of him for good.”
“Damn you with your us-and-them mentality! Don't you see that's exactly the bigotry that got us to this point in the first place! Damien, your way of thinking is just as twisted as DPI's. Can't you see that?”
Ramsey touched her shoulder, his hands squeezing gently, but his gaze remained on Damien. “Can you get her out?”
“There's no doubt.”
“No!” She twisted her head to stare into Ramsey's eyes just before he slammed them shut.
“Go with him, Cuyler.”
“I won't! Dammit, I won't!”
“There's no time to argue,” Damien said softly, though his eyes had lost some of their anger, and a frown that might have been one of confusion had taken up residence between his brows. “Have you noticed the radio silence, Ramsey? The sudden stop in all radio contact?”
Ramsey opened his eyes and turned slowly to stare at the computer screen that glowed like an all-seeing oracle.
“They knew the second you turned it on and began accessing information,” Damien said softly. “They're probably already on their-“
A bullhorn-enhanced voice apparently shattered the slight grip Cuyler had on her composure. She screamed at the first words, but Ramsey still heard them.
“Bachman, we have the house surrounded. There's no way out. Give yourselves up.”
Ramsey lowered his head. “Can you still get her out, Damien?”
“If we can get to the roof,” Damien replied, cutting her off.
She threw her arms around Ramsey's neck. “No! I won't do it. I love you-“
The bullhorn-enhanced voice came again. “We'll give you ten minutes, Bachman.
Then we come in shooting.”
The sharpshooter in the tallest pine tree whistled, and when he had Fuller's attention, he whispered loudly, “There's a third person in there, Fuller. A man, tall, very dark complexion.”
“How the hell-” Fuller nodded, and hurried toward the DPI van, glancing as he did at the miniature dish on the top. “Can you get this thing up and operational? I need to hear what's being said inside.”
The technician only held up one hand for patience, adjusting his headset and fiddling with dials. Finally he nodded and smiled. He handed the headset to Fuller, who held it up to one ear. Then his eyes widened, and he smiled.
“It's him!” He shook his head slowly. “We've hit the damn jackpot this time, fellas. Get me a line to Bachman. It's time to make a deal.”