Eli bursts through the door. “A bunch of unmarked, black vehicles just pulled up to the front door. We need to move. Now!”
Before I even process Eli’s words, Theo’s up, grabbing the backpacks and my hand Then we’re running. Down the hall and three flights of stairs. Out the back door.
I start to flee into the parking lot, but Theo holds tight to my hand as he drags me against the building. We race along the perimeter, Theo in front, me in the middle and Eli in back, until we get to the corner, where Theo stops dead. Flattening himself to the building, he peers around the edge. “Damn! There are four of them at the truck—including that jerk from your house, Pandora.”
The information has me reeling, as there’s only one “jerk” Theo saw at my house—Mackaray. “That means they’re Homeland Security,” I tell them. “What are we going to do now?”
“The only thing we can do,” Eli says, heading back the way we came.
Theo and I exchange frantic looks, but we follow him. If he’s got a plan to get us out of this, I’m more than willing to go along. It looks like Theo is as well.
We get to the other edge of the building and after checking to make sure it’s safe, Eli slips around it. “What are you doing?” Theo hisses. “You’re getting us closer to them—“
Eli creeps all the way to the front edge of the building and I follow him, even though I’m also beginning to doubt his sanity. We wait, plastered against the building, as eight agents stand around staring at the window we broke earlier. Guns come out and then most of them are slipping through the same hole we used to get in.
I want to run now, while they’re inside, but Theo holds me steady against the building, his hand around my wrist. “What are we waiting for?” I hiss, and Eli grins at me. It’s a wicked, wild thing, filled with a strange elation I don’t understand.
“Grand Theft Auto, anyone? For the second time?” He grabs my free hand and we’re running again, straight toward the Homeland Security vehicles instead of away from them.
“Get in!” he yells, yanking open the driver’s door of the first one.
I don’t let myself think as Theo and I pile into the back. Eli’s pulling out before we even get the door closed, flooring it as he drives right past the agents going over our truck.
It’s not the brightest move, but it’s the only one we’ve got.
Sure enough, our escape doesn’t go unnoticed. “Get down,” Eli yells, and Theo shoves me face first onto the seat, covering me with his body. Shots ring out and the back windshield, right where I’d been sitting, shatters.
“Shit!” Eli swerves back and forth.
“Hit the gas!” Theo yells.
“I’ve got the thing floored,” Eli shouts back. “Just shut up so I can concentrate.”
The next few minutes pass in a blaze of absolute terror. I can’t see anything—Theo has me completely covered—but I can hear plenty and that makes everything worse.
Sirens sound as the remaining Homeland Security guys come after us, shots ringing out as they pursue us through the empty business park.
“Where’s the road, where’s the road?” Eli mumbles to himself as he sends us careening around a corner so fast the SUV takes it on two wheels.
“Up ahead, half a mile,” Theo tells him.
“We’re not going to make it that far. It’s only a matter of time before they hit a tire.” He yanks the car to the left around another corner and Theo loses his balance, pancakes me.
I can’t breathe with him crushing my rib cage and my face pressed completely into the seat and I struggle against him.
“Sorry, Pandora,” he says a minute later as he pushes himself up.
“No problem,” I answer before I realize how absurd we sound. Nothing like manners in the middle of a life or death crisis.
We hit the main road just as more shots ring out. They hit the side of the car, slamming into the metal.
“How are we going to get out of this?” I whisper to Theo, afraid of distracting Eli.
“I don’t know.” His hands are clenched and I know it’s hard for him to sit back here with me, leaving our fate in Eli’s hands. But Eli’s doing a good job, taking turns at breakneck speed, dodging back and forth among the few cars that are on the road.
Homeland Security is still behind us—I can hear their sirens—but they don’t seem as close. Eli whips around another corner and hits the brakes, hard, as he strings together every curse word I’ve ever heard in the most imaginative way possible. We've driven straight into a mob of angry people.