Ty raised one eyebrow and smiled crookedly. He took the can with a grateful “Thank you.”
“Oh God, really?” Julian blurted from the back seat. “He’s going to twitch himself through the moon roof.”
“Shut up,” Ty and Zane said simultaneously.
In the rearview mirror, Ty saw Julian reach sideways and touch Cameron’s knee. It was all the contact they could manage.
“This should prove to be a long night,” Julian said a moment later. “Perhaps the rest of us could be treated to coffee instead of Agent Grady’s Red Bull-fueled spurts of nervous energy?”
“Coffee sounds good,” Zane said.
“Me too,” Cameron added.
“We’ll find a McDonald’s after we get out of the city,” Ty said. He wanted to deny the request just for the hell of it, but he couldn’t think of a good reason.
After an uneventful ride on the Chicago Skyway and over an hour later, Ty pulled off at the innocuous exit to Portage, Indiana. It took a few turns and a couple of miles to find the McDonald’s, but soon the four of them had their rest stop and their coffee—Julian and Cameron having to make do with their hands still handcuffed. Ty had a cup of hot chocolate with molten properties, and they were on their way back to the highway.
It was two thirty in the morning, but Ty figured he could go another couple of hours on a can of Red Bull before they would need to stop at a hotel for a rest, since Zane had to be as tired as he was. Traveling at night would be quicker and less conspicuous, and the more the two in the back slept during this trip, the better.
The first thing Ty had done after borrowing the sedan was dismantle the active GPS locator; therefore, the GPS unit on the dash was silent and dark as well. They were using an off-brand portable GPS Zane had bought at the pharmacy for directions for their cross-country trek.
“Follow the yellow brick road,” Zane murmured as the GPS unit chirped directions at them in a woman’s voice, telling him how to get back to the toll road.
“I think I love her,” Ty said as he petted the GPS attached to the dash with a suction cup.
“Until she talks back,” Zane said as he settled back in his seat. They were coming up on the bridge they’d crossed less than ten minutes before. Close to the highway.
“That’s what I like about her. She’s bossy,” Ty said with a smirk as he glanced sideways at Zane.
“Like that dominatrix you interrogated last month.”
Ty whistled to keep himself from laughing.
“I feel like I need a psychology degree to be here,” Julian muttered from the back seat.
“I don’t know. They’re kind of entertaining,” Cameron said.
“Our definitions of entertaining vary wildly.”
“You certainly do have authority issues,” Zane drawled to Ty before taking a sip of coffee, ignoring Julian’s and Cameron’s asides.
Ty glanced at Zane and smiled. He was about to respond when he felt a hand come up from behind him, between the seat and door at his side. He shouted as he realized it was Julian reaching for the child-lock button on the door, but before he could grab for him to stop him, his seat belt jerked tight, pinning him to the seat and tightening over his throat. Scalding hot coffee poured over his shoulder onto his chest and lap, and the car swerved across the bridge as Ty slammed on the brakes.
“What the hell?” Zane held his sloshing coffee out in front of him and braced his free hand on the dash as the car fishtailed across the bridge before coming to a stop just feet from the guardrail.
Ty shouted as he fought to get his seat belt undone while pawing at his shirt front. He heard the back door open and struggled with simultaneously trying to get his own door open and trying to get the scalding material of his shirt off his skin.
Zane was out of his door, and the next thing Ty heard was a gunshot, a spray of concrete, and a scream from Cameron, who had been about to climb out of the back seat to follow Julian.
“Son of a b***h!” Ty finally rolled out of the car. He stripped his shirt off and wiped at his chest with it as he rounded the car and took in the carnage. God, he sort of hoped Zane had shot the Irish b*****d.
What he saw was Zane with his gun drawn and trained on Julian, who looked like he had stopped and frozen in midstride. Small chunks of asphalt lay scattered at his feet.
“Back in the car, Cross,” Zane said in absolute monotone.
Ty cleared his throat and swiped at his cooling belt buckle with the coffee-soaked T-shirt. The frigid air hit his damp skin, and he began to shiver.
Julian held his hands up toward Zane and moved back to the car. “No need to get combative, now.”
“Yeah, keep talking with the Irish accent. Makes it easier to shoot you.”
Ty stepped over and grabbed Julian, slamming him against the side of the car. He secured the handcuffs Julian had picked, making them tight enough to leave bruises if they were left on long. They would need something more, because the man was obviously too slick for a single pair of restraints. He searched Julian thoroughly, finally finding the last sliver of metal he had missed on his initial search. Once he was satisfied Julian wouldn’t be escaping again, Ty gripped him by the back of his neck, helping him into the car with a not so gentle shove after Cameron scooted back inside. He banged the man’s head on the top of the door, muttering a careless apology as he shoved him inside and slammed the door behind him.
He looked over the top of the sedan at Zane. “You okay?”
Zane’s jerky movements as he holstered his gun spoke volumes. He took a breath and twitched. “Yeah,” he said after a long moment, though Ty knew it was partially a lie. “You?”
“Burned my ni**les,” Ty said, not able to say it without smiling.
Zane gave him a whisper of a smile, and the tension in his jaw and shoulders relaxed. “Open the trunk. I’ve got something that might help that.”
Ty looked at him dubiously, wondering what Zane might have bought at a Walgreens that would help burned ni**les—and why—but he decided not to ask. “Let’s stop for the night, okay? Just stop and regroup, figure out a better way to keep Cross tied down. We’ll tackle this s**t in the morning.”
“What about Burns?”
“Priority in this mission was low profile, not speed. He made that very clear. I think it’s a good call to stop.”
Zane nodded, and Ty leaned into the car to pop the trunk like he’d been asked. He looked over the seat at the two men in the back. “A for effort,” he told them. Cameron looked a little pale, so maybe now he knew they meant business. To this point he’d been treating them like they might be just as cute and cuddly as the hired killer he called his lover.