Home > City of the Lost (Casey Duncan #1)(11)

City of the Lost (Casey Duncan #1)(11)
Author: Kelley Armstrong

I tear around the corner. He glances over his shoulder, still unhurried, even the pound of footfalls not enough to concern him. He’s twenty feet away, under a flickering street light, and he frowns as he sees me.

“Everything okay?” he calls, his voice echoing in the darkness.

I slow to a walk. “I just decided I want a milkshake instead of the burger and Coke.”

“You did keep my number, right?”

“I needed the exercise.”

He chuckles. “I planned to give you that after I got back.”

I laugh. He’s waiting under the light, and I’m walking over, the gap closing. Ten feet, nine …

Movement flickers in the shadows. I don’t wait to see what it is. I charge, yelling, “Kurt!”

He turns, and it seems in slow motion. A gun rises. I shout. I hit Kurt in the side, and a gun fires, and he goes down, and I don’t know which comes first—the shot or the fall. Then he’s hitting the ground, and I’m twisting and there’s a guy there. The same one I saw in the parking garage. Not Ricci. A dark-haired stranger. Holding a gun on us.

“Present from Mr. Saratori,” he says.

He lifts the gun. I don’t think. I don’t need to. I’m already in motion, grabbing his wrist and wrenching, the gun clattering onto the pavement. A hiss of surprise. The thug turns, his fist swinging. Then the gun appears, seeming to rise from the sidewalk on its own.

No, not on its own. Kurt’s pointing the gun at the thug. His face is ashen. There’s blood on his shirt. The guy twists, pulling me into the line of fire. And I’m thinking I’m dead. Except Kurt isn’t me. He doesn’t react like me. The gun never fires. He just points it, and the guy breaks free and runs. Kurt shoots, but it’s deliberately wide. A warning. Keep running, asshole.

I reach for the gun to go after the thug. Then I see Kurt. See his white face. See the blood on his shirt. The hole ripped through it, blood gushing. He slaps a hand to the hole, as if that will stop the blood.

He hands me the gun. “Go get him.”

His voice is weak, his eyelids flickering. He’s going into shock. I push him gently down onto the sidewalk.

“You need to go—” he begins.

“He’s gone.”

“You can still—”

“No.”

I grab my phone.

“Don’t.” He wobbles to his feet. “Whatever this is, you don’t want to get involved.”

“This isn’t about you. That was for me.”

He hesitates, but then shakes his head. “I don’t care. I don’t want you getting in trouble. I know a guy. Comes by the bar. A doctor. He lost his licence, but—”

“Hell, no,” I say. “I’m getting you proper medical—”

He teeters, his eyes starting to roll up. I break his fall as he topples. Then I dial 911.

Seven

I’m at the hospital, beside Kurt’s bed. I paid to upgrade him to a private room, and he’s sleeping now. He’s been in and out of consciousness since the ambulance came, first from shock and blood loss, now from painkillers and exhaustion.

Leo Saratori has found me. My game of Russian roulette with therapists is over. The bullet has slid into the chamber.

Four days ago, I confessed to a new therapist; today, Saratori catches up with me. That’s no coincidence. She looked up the details and found my story. She told someone, maybe the detective in charge, who’ll get a big payout from Saratori if he tells him first.

However it happened, I made a mistake. Many mistakes.

I’d mentioned Kurt to the therapist—no name, just that I was seeing a bartender. Saratori’s thug had been stalking me and followed me to the bar. He got his boss to run Kurt’s name and learned of his gang affiliations. Then he called to make sure he was talking to the right guy.

I’ve misjudged Leo Saratori. He knows that perfect revenge is not dumping my body in the river—it’s making me live with the guilt of knowing I got my lover killed.

But Kurt was alive. Thank God, Kurt was alive.

The doctor has assured us Kurt will be fine. The bullet went through, did some muscle damage, missed everything critical. Forty-eight-hours-in-a-hospital serious, not permanent-injury-or-death serious.

While Kurt is sleeping, I make some calls. First to Diana to tell her to take a cab to work in the morning. She doesn’t pick up. Not surprising, given it’s 4 a.m. Then I phone my work and Kurt’s to say we won’t be in today. I’m hanging up from the last when his eyelids move. After a few flutters of indecision, his eyes open.

“Hey,” he says.

“Hey.”

He clears his throat. I hand him water, and he sips it, then says, “Those are some damn fine drugs. You’ll need to refresh my memory: did I piss someone off or did you?”

“Me. I’m so sorry. I saw the same guy tailing me the day before last, but I mistook him for another detective. Otherwise, I’d never have—”

He takes my hand and tugs me over, shifting on the bed to make room for me. When I resist, he says, “If I have to tackle you, I’ll be stuck in this bed even longer.”

I sit. He keeps hold of my hand and my gaze.

“I’m okay,” he says.

“No, you’re not. You were shot, and that’s my fault.”

“Bullshit. It’s the fault of the asshole who shot me.”

“That’s not—”

His hand goes to my mouth. “Stop. Shit happens. Doesn’t matter what side of the law you’re on.”

   
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