“Who has house duty?” she snapped into the link.
No one answered.
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“Cassie, did you see anyone when you came up here?” Sherra asked her quietly, moving to the French doors and peeking past the curtains to the yard outside.
“No.” Cassie was holding her teddy bear closer now. “I didn’t see anyone, Sherra.”
“Do you know how to hide, Cassie?” Sherra asked her, feeling the familiar rise of danger edging up her spine.
Cassie’s eyes widened in sudden fear. Her lower lip trembled. “I want my momma,” she suddenly whispered, a breath of sound that showed the little girl knew well the dangers that could be moving outside their room. “Momma doesn’t leave me alone.”
Shit. No one was moving outside. Where the hell were the guards?
“Okay.” Sherra turned back to the little girl. “Do you know how to be quiet? No matter what?”
Cassie nodded fiercely.
“I want you to stay right behind me, Cassie. And don’t say a word. Don’t make a sound unless I tell you to. We’re going to go to Merinus’ room. Okay?”
Cassie nodded quickly.
Moving to the door, Sherra pulled the gun free of her holster and peeked out carefully. All the doors were closed, the guard normally on duty at the end of the hall absent. Damn. Damn. She glanced behind her at the kid. She was pale, trembling and moving with damned near every shift of Sherra’s body.
“Okay, nice and quiet,” Sherra whispered as she eased the door open. She stepped out into the hallway, checked it quickly then pulled Cassie from the bedroom and moved stealthily for the second wing of the upstairs bedrooms where Callan and Merinus’ suite was located. Pausing at the turn in the hall, she flattened Cassie against the wall then checked it as well. No one. Fuck. Where the hell were they?
Moving carefully down the carpeted hall, her senses razor-sharp, she moved for Merinus’ room. She was no more than three doors from it when the new scent slammed into her head. Alien. Foreign. Waiting
She stopped. There were two doors between her and Merinus’ room and one of them could possibly be opened just enough to allow anyone hiding in the room to see her pass by. Sherra moved for the door beside her. Turning the knob she eased it open and pressed Cassie inside before following her. Closing it just as silently, she indicated silence to the little girl as she moved to the wide window on the other side of the room.
Looking out, she breathed a sigh of relief as she caught sight of two guards moving along the perimeters of the house grounds. Opening the curtains wide she slowly lifted the window, praying she wasn’t giving her position away to the enemy two doors down.
She was within a second of gaining their attention when she saw them go down. First one, then the other. Her eyes widened. No sound was made, but within a second they had fallen, dead or unconscious, she wasn’t certain.
Fuck. Fuck. Looking around frantically she dragged Cassie to the closet on the other side of the room.
“You stay here.” She pushed the tearful child into the small room. “I mean it, Cassie. No one will know but me where you are hidden. You don’t move. Do you hear me?”
She kept her lips at Cassie’s ear, her heart breaking as the little girl shook and shuddered, though she nodded her head quickly.
“Stay,” she ordered her again before backing away and closing the door slowly. Whoever was waiting in the room up the hall had somehow managed to take out the communications link and/or the communications personnel and was quietly waiting. For what?
She moved back to the door and opened it slowly, peering down the hall but seeing nothing that would immediately raise her suspicions. She stepped from the room, flattening herself against the wall, weapon held ready, watching intently.
A second later Merinus’ doorknob turned. Aiming her weapon, Sherra watched coldly as it opened and the other woman stood framed in the doorway, shock widening her eyes at the gun Sherra had leveled at her. Just as quickly, the door closed, then locked.
Smart. Sherra smiled with cold determination. At least the other woman was safe. That was all that mattered. She could almost feel the waves of fury pouring from the other room now. Whoever was in there had seen Merinus’ escape back into her room as well.
A second later three loud reports sounded from Merinus’ room. The gunshots were a clear signal to any Breed within hearing distance. The bastard might have taken out the guards in the house, and those on the grounds, but there was no way he could have gotten them all. She heard a curse, soft, filled with menace, and aimed her gun at the approximate height to severely wound rather than kill. There was only two ways out of that room, the window or the door. But she wasn’t expecting what stepped from the room.
Roni came first, closely followed by the chauffeur/nurse who had come in with the Lawrences several
days before. There was a smug victorious smile on the man’s face as he held the gun to Roni’s temple and kept her carefully in front of him.
“Very lucky,” he grunted. “But not quite good enough.”
He faced Sherra with malicious contempt.
“So where’s the kid? She wasn’t in her room or with her guard.”
Sherra kept her expression cold and her gun ready. “If I knew, I wouldn’t tell you.”
His beady eyes glittered with fury. “Drop the gun or I’ll kill her.”
Sherra shook her head as she allowed a mocking smile to curl her lips. “No way. And if you kill her, you’ll fall in the next second.”
He wasn’t nervous. He was cold, calculating. He had Roni by the hair, a tenuous grip at best, his gun at her temple. Sherra’s eyes met Roni’s. She could see the resignation in the other woman’s eyes. Somehow he had taken out their men. Sherra wasn’t certain how he could have managed to do it, but he had.
“Well, we could consider it a standoff.” He smiled slowly, like a viper preparing to strike. “You think that warning is going to get help here in time? I made sure your boys were out for several more hours. The best.” He grunted sarcastically. “They were easy, Sherra.”
Sherra shrugged lightly. “Seems you forgot about me, though. I’m not so easy.”
Her gaze met Roni’s. The other woman moved her eyes up to indicate the hand holding her hair, then quickly looked to the floor. God, could she pull it off? She did it again, frantically. Up, then down. Was she going to drop?