Chapter 15

August 22, 2011 at 10:36 pm (The Job)

“I’ve got two names for you.”

Petrillo finally called her back after three hours spent waiting in her cheap hotel room. She’d used the time to complete her latest disguise. She’d picked up a couple of things earlier, as she’d worked her way toward the university. She didn’t want to use another male disguise. The facial hair made her hot and uncomfortable. She’d opted for a New Age hippie, of sorts. A long purple skirt skimmed her ankles, but she’d slit the sides to mid thigh in case she had to run. She’d strapped a knife to her thigh. The skirt barely kept it out of sight.

She wore a white tank top and pulled a black tunic over it. The tunic had a deep V in the front, allowing her easy access to the weapons she carried in her double shoulder holster. The long sleeves covered the handmade holsters she had created to carry extra magazines for her guns. There was no way she could pass through airport security like this, but she had to get safely to the airport, first. Adding a long wig, floppy hat and cheek pads to change the shape of her face, Parker was satisfied with her appearance.

“It’s the best I could do,” Petrillo said.

“No problem,” Parker assured him. “What are the names and where are they now?”

“Roderick Yoh,” Petrillo explained, “flew out of Dulles, changed planes at Heathrow and carried on to Charles de Gaulle. He’s staying at the Hotel Saint-Honoré in Paris.”

“And the other guy?” Parker asked, making a mental note of the salient details for Yoh.

“Phil Boonstra also left Dulles, but he headed for Hawaii. After a short layover, he got on another plane headed for Rarotonga. He’s staying at the Paradise Inn on the northern coast.”

“Any chance Leland’s men have this information?’

Petrillo laughed in her ear. “Not a bloody chance in hell.”

“I’ll take Yoh first, since he’s closest.” Hanging up, she collected her belongings and tucked them back into her bag. With her appearance suitably altered, she exited her room and left the hotel via a side entrance. A quick glance in either direction showed that she was alone. She didn’t think that would last. The bald guy was out there, somewhere.

The Metro station was two blocks away, to the south. Taking a right out of the side entrance and a left at the first street, Parker headed north. A quick search on her phone showed that the next flight out left in five hours. She had too much time to kill in a city that was on the lookout for her.

Simon watched her leave and allowed her to turn the corner and head north before moving from his position. Her disguise was good, but he was expecting them now. A quick glance would fool most people. A longer look likely wouldn’t hold up. Turning the same corner, he spotted her up ahead. She’d picked up her pace, so he increased his own and closed the distance by half after two blocks. He hadn’t bothered to disguise himself. If she looked back, she would spot him.

Parker didn’t look back. She assumed he was there, but if he was willing to keep his distance, she would carry on with her plan. Right this minute, her plan included getting a bite to eat. Her grumbling stomach reminded her that it had been several hours since she’d had any food and then it had only been a granola bar. Turning the corner, she looked ahead to the few restaurants lining the canal and almost stepped right over the man in her path. She recognized him instantly. The image Petrillo had sent her back in London was bang on. Seth stood stock still. He gave her a cursory glance, dismissing her instantly. Offering him a mumbled apology while keeping her floppy hat tipped down, Parker edged around him and continued on.

She wanted to break into a run, but didn’t. She wanted to jump into the canal and swim to safety, but didn’t. Instead, with the sweat beading on her forehead, she kept her back to him as she worked her way across the little bridge spanning the canal. The building across the way had large windows, offering her the perfect view of Seth as he stood near the corner looking at his phone. She watched as the bald guy came around the corner and walked directly past Seth without seeing him. And she watched Seth’s head snap up as he took in the bald guy. When Seth started looking ahead of the bald guy, she knew she was fucked. Somehow, Seth had managed to place her in the same location as the bald guy. Recognizing him gave her away, too.

She broke into a dead run, ducking and weaving her way through the light crowd of people.

Simon watched her and wondered if he’d finally spooked her. Ducking to the side to watch her progress, he felt the bullet whiz past his right ear. Simon dropped to the ground, rolled and came up on one knee with his gun up, tracking the threat behind him. He spotted the gunner as he ran down the canal road. The shot at Simon had been a throw away. Leaping to his feet, Simon tucked his gun against his leg and bolted after the shooter.

Parker zigzagged through the streets, trying to keep some distance between her and Seth. She worked her way south, toward the Metro, with no intention of actually using it. Seth was too willing to shoot in public places and Parker didn’t need all of that potential collateral damage on her conscience. A quick glance over her shoulder showed the bald guy about a block behind her, but no sign of Seth. If Seth had branched off and gone an alternate route, there was no telling which path would lead her to safety and which would take her straight into his sights.

Taking her chances, she ducked down a narrow garden path and jumped a fence behind one of the many sex shops. Crossing the small yard and jumping the next fence, Parker bent over and ran to the edge of the canal road. Scanning the buildings and the roads as best she could, Parker headed east. She’d noticed a car rental agency on her trek in from the university. If she could get to a car, she could get out of Amsterdam quickly.

Parker rounded a corner and almost slammed into a wall of tourists. There was some sort of demonstration going on in front of a cannabis shop and the public were packed like sardines in the small area between the shops and the canal. Parker turned right and headed for a narrow canal bridge. A few feet shy of the bridge, she felt the burn of a bullet as it dug into her outer thigh. Changing direction again before Seth could improve his aim, Parker leaped the short wall of the bridge and dove into the canal.

With a deep breath she managed to swim a fair distance before she risked coming up for air. Still, she wisely kept to the edge of the canal and waited for a passing water taxi to block her from the opposite side. Swimming over to the side of the taxi, she grabbed onto one of the rubber buoys strung along the side. As the taxi picked up speed, it dragged her along down the canal, away from Seth. Keeping most of her body under the water, she attempted to spot her hitter. She’d completely forgotten about the bald guy until she saw him standing mid-span of the bridge she’d just jumped from. As she watched, he spotted her next to the boat. He stared her dead in the eyes and casually turned his head to the left and up.

Parker turned her head to look behind her, following his gaze up to the roof of a nearby building. The instant she saw him she made a horrible realization. The bullet she’d taken had come from in front of her, not behind her as she’d assumed. He knew exactly where she was and had a perfect view of her. All the time she’d been running through the city and he’d probably headed straight for a loftier vantage point.

Parker let go of the buoy and dove under the water. A high velocity sniper round fired from such a relatively close distance would penetrate far into the water. It took her only a few seconds to determine that that wasn’t Seth’s goal. The metallic pinging off the taxi slowly pulling away from her was followed by a tremendous whooshing sound. Underwater, the force of the blast pushed her backward through the water almost fifty feet. It forced what little air she had left out of her lungs. Clawing her way to the surface, Parker gulped down a breath and submerged once again. Remaining close to the surface, she could vaguely make out Seth’s shape still on top of the building. He was searching the water for her, but due to the flaming wreckage on the surface, he couldn’t see her.

Gas and oil spewed forth from the taxi’s tanks. The flames of the boat quickly ignited the liquid, sending a scalding wall of fire down upon the surface of the water. The taxi had been filled with tourists. Some were floating face down in the water. Others were screaming and crying as they tried to paddle their way to shore. Bystanders were crawling down the sides of the canal in an effort to help those who still lived. Sirens screamed as the police and emergency vehicles converged on the scene.

Parker swam back under the narrow bridge to the far side and scrambled up the side of the canal. A hand reached out to help when she started to slip. She took it before checking who the offer was from. She stared into the bald guy’s eyes.

“Let’s move, before he sees you,” Simon urged her, half-dragging her out of the canal. He held onto her hand as he moved swiftly through the crowds.

Now that Parker was out of the water she recognized two things. One, she was freezing. It was sunny out, but the temperature was too mild for running around town completely sodden. And two, her thigh was really starting to hurt. She hoped the bullet hadn’t been more than just a flesh wound. When she stumbled for the second time, Simon slowed his pace a little. Noticing the slight grimace on her face, he checked his pace even more.

“Are you hit?” he demanded.

“Outer left thigh. Flesh wound.”

“Do you know that or are you assuming?”

“Assuming,” she admitted.

Simon pulled her into a tight alley and pushed her up against the wall. Bending down in front of her, he pushed her skirt up her thighs until he could see the damage. “Hold this up,” he said, handing her the fistful of skirt. Prodding the edges of the wound, he confirmed that the bullet has passed through, but it was a little more than just a flesh wound. It needed to be cleaned and stitched and the blood hadn’t clotted yet.

“I have the supplies with me to do this properly, but we can’t take the time right now.” Simon pulled several bandages from his pack and handed them to Parker. Tearing the edge off a packet of Quik-Clot, he poured the powder onto the wound.

Parker sucked in a harsh breath as the powder cauterized the wound. Leaning her head against the building, she took slow, careful breaths. Tilting her head toward the entrance to the alley, she spotted several tourists staring at them and pointing. Parker tossed her skirt over Simon’s head. “We’ve got a bunch of gawkers. Best if they just think we’re having sex in the street.”

“I’m game if you are,” was Simon’s slightly muffled response.

His warm breath on her inner thigh sent an involuntary shiver up her spine. “I like to at least know a guy’s name first.”

“Name’s are a dime a dozen in this business, you know that. But call me Simon.”

Parker enjoyed the feel of his long fingers as they caressed her inner thigh. When it didn’t appear as though he intended to stop, she clamped her thighs together. “Let’s not forget about Seth, OK?”

“That his name?” Simon asked, his attention back on her wound. He reached out from beneath her skirt and requested the bandages. Unraveling one, he began wrapping it around her thigh.

“It’s his agency name.” Which meant it wasn’t the name he’d been born with.

Simon flipped the skirt back over his head and stood up. Leaning into her, he trailed a hand up the side of her hip. His lips brushed the side of her face before he turned his attention to the gawkers. Frowning at them, he pulled away from Parker, slipped his arm around her waist and led her down the alley.

“I bet they’re sad the show is over,” Parker said.

“Over for them, maybe.” Simon gave her waist a little squeeze before refocusing his attention on their surroundings. “Where were you headed?”

“I was going to kill some time before the next flight to Paris. Now I’m thinking I might just rent a car and drive there.”

“When’s the flight?” Simon steered them out of the alley and down another canal road, heading steadily away from the commotion.

“Another four hours.”

“Too long. The car is a better idea.”

Parker pulled out her cell phone and Googled the nearest rental agencies. Giving Simon the directions, they were on the road inside of thirty minutes. Simon used one of his IDs to rent the car which, he said, gave him the option of driving. He opted in, so Parker lounged in the passenger seat. Plugging their destination into the GPS unit, Simon swiftly maneouvered his way out of the city.

“My contact at the agency says you’re a hitter.”

Simon briefly glanced at her before returning his attention to the road. “I am.”

“So why didn’t you kill me back there?”

He shrugged. “I decided not to take the job.”

“You’ve been with me since London. You only decided now?”

“I’ve been evaluating you and the job. You’ve been set up to take a fall and I find it intriguing that you’re not giving up.”

“If I gave up, I’d be dead.”

“Not if you knew how to hide properly.”

“For the rest of my life?” Parker demanded.

“No, nothing at the agency ever lasts that long. This mess will blow over in a month or two and then you could resurface.”

“In case you missed it, I have more than one hitter after me. Just because you’ve decided not to do the job doesn’t mean Seth hasn’t.”

“True. He proved that quite well this afternoon. He’s a case, that one,” Simon muttered.

Parker silently agreed. Seth hadn’t given a shit about any of the people on that water taxi. He’d wanted her dead and he’d made one hell of an attempt at it. She wondered if he knew that he’d missed. Would he remain in Amsterdam until the bodies were all indentified? More than likely, he’d figure a way into the morgue to view them himself.

Could she go into hiding? Almost immediately, Parker dismissed the idea. She would spend the entire time looking over her shoulder. At least her hunt for Donovan would keep her mind occupied.

As if reading her thoughts, Simon asked why she’d chosen Paris. She explained what Petrillo had found out about the two names Donovan had access to from his CIA days.

“Hiding, is he?” Simon smirked at her.

Parker rolled her eyes. “Yes, he’s hiding.”

“What are you going to do with him when you find him?”

“Get him safely to the next board meeting so Leland can’t vote in his absence.”

“You do know that it’s significantly more difficult to keep someone alive than it is to kill them?”

“I like a challenge.”

“Well, then I hope you also like company.”

Parker refused to acknowledge the brief flare of relief at his words. She was confident in her abilities, but an extra pair of experienced eyes never hurt.

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