He was alert and ready, unhurried and unworried. If he had known that I only had one bullet left, he would have worried even less.
I bellied forward in the direction Raven had gone. The ground sloped away gently toward the valley below. Someone, probably the gunman, took a shot at the moving grass but I never heard the bullet sing. I crawled into moisture and turned with it, following an inch deep seep until it tumbled over a lip of rock, and I tumbled over with it. I sensed motion behind me, rolled over, and brought the Tokarev up.
It was Raven.
She was crouched down behind the low bank, with her muddy knees driven deep into the loam. She wore loose, light pants and shirt, some kind of silk jogging outfit, with a windbreaker and a band to tie back her hair. She had muddy elbows and knees, and a dark smear of mud across her cheek. Her eyes were wide with fear.
Then puzzlement. Then the fear disappeared as she recognized me.
She gave a little yelp and fell forward into my arms. She was breathing heavily, perhaps crying a little. She buried her face in my neck, holding me tightly. I could feel her body trembling, and then she pressed her face upward and I had the sweet taste of her mouth on mine.
I pushed her off, although it was the last thing I wanted to do. She shook her head in wonder and said, “Where did you come from. Why . . . ; what . . .”
I grinned at her and shook my head. “Later. Now get down.”
Susyn and her dark companion were out there somewhere, and I had only one bullet. Things didn’t look good, but the electric charge that had passed between Raven and me was worth more than adrenaline. There was no way I was going to die now. I had more important things to do.
Before sticking my head up, I listened hard and heard a strange, penetrating sound. Susyn’s voice. Susyn’s death lament for her brother, the fourth and last, all dead by violence. Two of them dead at my hands.
I looked over the grassy rim. Susyn was kneeling with Alan’s lax and bloody head against her breast, rocking back and forth, crying out with a high and rhythmic keening. It set my hair on end. The dark man was crouched beside her, unmoved. If I had had two bullets, I would have spent one on him.
I slid back and motioned to Raven to follow. We went downslope on knees and elbows, but within three hundred meters, the seep tumbled over the verge of a grassy cliff. It was a steep, green and lovely drop, but the grass and mosses did not disguise the granite beneath. We could go no further in that direction.
I looked back. Susyn and her man were coming our way, walking fast and separating as they came. Susyn’s path was carrying her away to the left. The Levantine was coming directly toward us.
I eased down. He had been looking to his left. A quick movement on my part would have caught his eye. Raven put her hand on my ankle and I shook my head. I motioned her back upstream and whispered, “Get twenty feet away and draw his attention the moment you see him.”
She moved away without protest. I checked the Tokarev briefly. Seconds. I had only seconds to wait – seconds to live or die.
I heard Raven draw a sharp breath as the stranger came into sight. He turned toward her, raising his revolver, but in that same moment he had sensed the trap and begun to turn back downslope. I raised the Tokarev two handed, in classic Weaver stance, and brought the sights to bear on his face. more tomorrow