Will watched Mercy dance about the little cantina around the corner from their hotel. She had slung back three shots already, and their lunch had not even arrived.
They could have probably made it to Torreon, but he had insisted they stop, get something to eat, and spend the night in a hotel. The posh chain ones were out of the question since they would require a credit card and ID. But he had managed to find a decent one. Well, it had a good bed and clean sheets. But the best part was the walk-in shower room.
Their journey across the border had been surprisingly easy. It had taken them less than two hours to reach the remote section of the border that he planned to use to cross the Rio Grande into Mexico.
He had not been sure what to expect with the increased tensions along the border. His information was a couple of years old, and he had feared that vigilantes on one or both sides would now patrol this section. But it had been clear.
The river was relatively shallow at that point. So, they had ridden the Duchess straight across. Of course, his boots had gotten a bit waterlogged in the process. They were still a bit damp, but they had dried out enough overnight for him to wear them now.
That damned magic bag of Mercy’s had come in handy. He had no idea how much money was in it, but she had paid for the hotel with some of the cash. The older woman who answered the bell in the middle of the night had looked at their dirty clothes skeptically. Until Mercy spoke to her in near-perfect Spanish. The large tip she insisted on leaving, for the woman’s trouble, had helped too.
They had both been so tired that all they did was strip and fall into bed. Mercy had set the alarm on her phone for ten. They needed to get their bodies back on a day schedule. As odd as it sounded, there had been something reassuring about waking up next to Mercy, hot, sticky, and with morning breath. It added an element of ‘normal’ to a relationship that had begun as anything but.
She had rushed to the bathroom with that magic bag and come back wet, clean, and with minty breath. Will had to admit he was a bit disappointed. He wanted her just as she was, not feeling like she had to do any of that stuff for him. But when she smiled and said, “Your turn,” he had returned the courtesy.
He had made his shower incredibly quick. Thankfully, the shower gel she left was not some sweet-smelling shit. But what to do about a toothbrush was a problem. He had stared at the man in the mirror, contemplating how just a couple of days ago, such things had not mattered, because he had not planned on living long enough to care.
Now, living was all that mattered. Getting them into Torreon and Diego Garcia’s compound, finding his cousin, and getting all three of them out alive. But he knew the chances of that was infinitesimally small. So, he wanted to cram as much living with this woman into whatever time he did have. Then his priority was getting Mercy and Bebe, if they managed to find her, out alive.
He had ended up using his finger and the toothpaste that Mercy had also left by the sink to at least freshen his morning breath. He had been afraid that she would be dressed and ready to go but was pleasantly surprised to find her naked on top of the sheet. His cock had come to immediate attention the moment he saw her fingers between her legs. He had smiled and said, “Here, let me help with that.”
He had spent the next hour with his face buried between those sweet thighs. He had lost count of her orgasms. But he craved those pleading whimpers and moans that she emitted. Finally, he had given into them, sliding up her body sinuously slowly until he buried his cock in her well-prepared depths.
Hell, sitting in this almost full cantina, his cock half-hardened at the memory. When they had come together, it was nearly an out of body experience; it felt so good. It had taken several moments for either of them to find the strength to move.
Then, she was back to that bouncy, bubbly personality that he knew covered her insecurity and fears. That was why she was tossing back those tequila shots too. He was afraid, also. Fearful of losing her.
Will played over their options in his mind one more time as he lifted the bottle of beer. His eyes never left her, chatting away with a couple of guys at the bar. The men could not take their eyes off her in those tight jeans and t-shirt that stretched across her magnificent tits.
Maybe he should be jealous, but he watched how she acted with them, like one of the guys. And if they dared to come on to her, she shot them down in a friendly way. How many other men had she done that too? He still was humbled by her words, that he made her feel things more deeply than Mr. Darcy.
He wanted so badly to have a real future with this woman. To grow old with her the way his grandparents had. Even to have children with her. Fuck, they should have bought condoms in that little Pharmacia where they got his toothbrush and body lotion. Sure, maybe it was closing the barn door after the horse got out, but perhaps not.
Not that he would not love for her to have their child. But now was not the best time. He did not want to leave her to the life of a single mother, the same way she had been raised. And he sure as hell did not the added complication of worrying about losing his baby as well as the woman he loved. They would stop there again on the way back to the hotel. He would make certain.
She laughed at something one of the men said as she tossed back yet another shot, then licked the salt from the back of her hand, and made that funny face as she sucked the lime. She looked in his direction and smiled, saying something to the men, then walking towards their table in the corner.
She took a seat and smiled as she thanked the waitress for their food. She waited until the woman left then whispered as she raised her fork, “Those men work for Diego.”
Why that surprised Will he was not sure. This town just a few miles from the border, would have people from several of the cartels. But the idea of her being so near men like that bothered him.
What bothered him more was that he had not gotten the sense of evil from them. Was that because they were just mules, doing whatever they could to support their families? Or was it that he had been so distracted by her that it had overridden his special senses? That was something they could not afford.
“What did they say?”
“Nothing much. I just mentioned that we were headed to Torreon. That I had family there, the Garcias. When I mentioned Diego by name, Rico, the younger one, just laughed, but Juan suggested I be more careful about the things I said. Damn, I’m hungry.” She dug into the carne asada, alternating it with the carnitas.
“You weren’t joking when you said you liked your meat.”
Will almost choked on his taco when Mercy’s hand disappeared under the table and gripped his cock through the tight leather pants. “Oh, I most definitely like the taste of meat. I think it is my turn to sample some when we get back to the hotel. So, hurry up and finish your food, City Boy.”
He was in no mood to argue with such wisdom. He was shoveling the last taco into his mouth when he noticed the older man that Mercy had been talking with looking at them as he spoke softly to the younger one.
Will’s head throbbed. His vision blurred, and they were in the alley where he had parked the Duchess. Both men were there, too. There was blood. But he did not see whose. Mercy was calling his name.
“Will! Will, are you okay?”
He shook his head, trying to clear whatever fog remained. He had gotten used to his knowings. But this was nothing like that. Hell, it was probably just his imagination. Or his fears were working overtime. Still, in this situation, better to be safe than sorry.
“Are you almost done? We should head back to the hotel. Get some more rest.”
Mercy frowned, “I thought we’d go to that little market we saw in the square. Maybe buy you some new clothes or something.”
He shook his head as that sense of foreboding increased, “I don’t think that’s such a good idea right now.” Maybe they should forget spending another night at the hotel? Hell, perhaps, they should turn around, head back across that border and north into Canada.
But as much as he wanted to keep his woman safe, he knew they wouldn’t. They couldn’t. Any life they built like that would be marred by self-loathing for having chosen personal safety over Bebe’s life and the lives of others.
Instead, he watched as the two men left the cantina. Mercy finished off the bits of the asada. Will could not have forced anything past the lump in his throat if his life depended upon it. Something was not right. He could feel it.
Just not the way he was used to. And whether it was because this was something new or some other crazy reason, he did not like the weird zing of power he felt coursing through his body. It felt uncomfortable. Like his whole body was as tight and irritating as those leather pants when he had a hard-on. As if something wanted or needed to break right through his skin. That alone was terrifying as fuck.
Mercy nodded as she finished chewing the last bite of meat. It had begun to taste like burnt rubber the moment she saw that blank stare come over Will’s face. She had sensed something was off with the two men from the moment she approached the bar to order the beers.
At first, she had dismissed it as her writer’s imagination. Not every Mexican was involved with cartels and crime. Most were as hardworking as those north of the border. They wanted the same things that Mama had: a roof over their family’s heads, foods in their children’s bellies, and to be safe from bad people. She figured that was the same the world over.
But the moment that younger one, Rico, had saddled up next to her, brushing against her shoulder and invading her personal space, nausea had welled up in the bit of her stomach. It was all she could manage to fight it down, smile, and scoot over a bit, out of his reach.
He had bought that first round of shots. And the next two. Mercy was glad that she had always been able to hold her liquor.
Well, except that first time when she and Jack were ten and had snuck a couple of beers out of the back storeroom at the casino without his grandfather or Laura finding out. They had hidden them for a couple of days, then gone back to drink them. They had both thrown up later. Of course, they had gotten into real trouble when it smelled like alcohol.
Thankfully, she had learned to hold her liquor in college. She could usually drink most of the guys under the table. This time was no exception, but she had the good sense not to let these men know that. Instead, she had giggled like some silly girl. She had even stumbled a bit for good measure. That was probably why Juan had not taken her remarks about Diego Garcia more seriously.
Or had he? She had noticed the two men texting on their phones, looking over at her and Will, and whispering before they had left the bar. Was something up?
She reached for the backpack that sat at her feet under the table. She patted the front pocket. The feel of hard steel was reassuring. Though, she worried a bit. This shooting men was not as easy as it seemed. Looking at the doorway, Mercy had the premonition that she had better learn. “Let’s go.”
As they walked out of the cantina, she could almost feel eyes upon them. Or was that paranoia? Her damned writer’s brain? Whatever it was, she stuck close to Will’s side as they walked a couple of blocks back to the hotel.
He was as quiet as she was, though. Did he sense something, too? Or maybe he was just looking forward to her second attempt at a blow job?
As they passed the alley where the Duchess was parked, Mercy thought she saw shadows, some movement. She put her hand on Will’s arm and stopped. He looked over at her as she motioned with her head towards his motorcycle.
He shook his head, “You stay here. You hear me?” There was an urgency in his voice that was chilling.
Mercy wanted to argue with him, but something about his tone made her stop. He was the one with training, after all. She was the one who had only managed to wing the ‘good’ sheriff. So, reluctantly she nodded as he slipped down the alley, keeping to the shadows.
Though it was just after noon and the sun shone brightly in the sky, the three-story buildings lining the streets made the narrow passageway appear much darker. Not quite like night, closer to twilight or dusk. It was enough though to hamper her view. She was tempted to follow him down the path.
But she did not have the chance. A hand roughly gripped her arm, and something hard poked into her side. If that were not bad enough, the rancid breath that smelled like a mixture of raw sewage and a vat of MD 20/20 sent her stomach spiraling towards disaster once more.
Rico leaned even closer and licked the side of her face, “Miss me, chica?”
It was instinctual. Mercy gave no thought to what happened next. She did not have the time to wonder if that was a gun pressed into her back, or if would this man pull the trigger. No thought at all went into leaning forward and emptying her stomach of its lunch. It had tasted so much better going down.
She did not even notice that most of it ended up on the man’s shiny snakeskin boots. But she could not help but feel the pain that sliced through her cheek as Rico backhanded her.
Mercy stumbled backward and fell against the hard ground. She was careful to keep a tight hold on her backpack, though. It was like déjà vu, all over again, as she slipped her fingers into that front pocket and flipped the safety off her Smith & Wesson .380 EZ.
“You’ll pay for that, puta.”
“Paràle con tus pendejadas,” another voice came from the shadows. A moment later, Mercy saw Juan push Will towards them. The man held a gun in his hand pointed at Will’s back.
Will’s eyes met hers. It was like some funny unspoken communication. But Mercy knew just what to do. The moment that Juan stepped closer to Will, Mercy pulled the gun. She did not hesitate this time. She pointed it at Rico’s knee cap and fired.
Will burst into action at the same time, his booted foot connecting with the other man’s jaw. And once again, he dropped like that bag of horse shit at Willard’s Feed & Seed. This time Mercy did not miss. Her bullet shattered Rico’s lower leg. She never had much of a stomach for blood, but since it was already empty, there was no point in dry heaving.
Will reached down and picked up the gun that Juan had been holding. He pointed it at Rico as he approached the man who was writhing on the dirt passageway. The blood was spurting from the wound, and she fought another wave of nausea.
“Give me one good reason I should not kill you both right now?”
Rico whimpered and rolled over to look up at Will, “Por favor, please…”
Will nodded his head towards her, “Toss me one of your t-shirts.”
She reached into the bag and pulled out the dirty one she had worn yesterday and threw it to Will.
“Keep your gun on him while I use this to stop the bleeding. Shot him if he moves at all.” He knelt on the ground beside the man. “Hand me your fucking phone. And unlock it.”
Whether the man was in too much pain or feared for his life, he followed Will’s instructions. Will quickly wound up her shirt and applied it as a tourniquet just above Rico’s injured knee.
Mercy’s hand trembled a bit as she realized he would never walk the same. At best, the young man would limp for the rest of his life, if he did not lose the leg altogether, or even die from blood loss. Damn, this shit was harder than those paper targets had been. She wondered if the man had a wife or girlfriend? Children? Parents who depended upon him?
Once he thought it was secure enough, Will stood up. He took a photograph of Rico’s leg and another one of Juan lying unconscious on the ground. His jaw was purple and swollen. It even looked to be at a bit of an odd angle.
Mercy kept the gun trained on Rico though the man looked too weak to do much of anything. She looked around for the weapon that he had held in his hand. It took her a moment to find it hidden in the shadows a few feet from the man. She relaxed a bit when she saw that it was well out of his reach.
Will seemed to be emersed in that phone. “What are you doing? Shouldn’t we get the hell out of here?”
He nodded, “Yeah, just give me a minute.”
“What’s so damned important?”
He smiled at her as he looked up. “I was just sending your big brother a message. Letting him know that little sister was on her way.”
Mercy shook her head, “Is that a good idea? Don’t we need the element of surprise?”
“I’m betting we lost that when these two were texting in the cantina. But if we don’t have that on our side, I’m thinking a bit of braggadocio may work in our favor.”
“So, what did you say?”
“I just told Diego that you had already run into three of his ‘friends’, and you weren’t impressed with how he treated familia. I included the pics of these two for good measure. And mentioned that we would be seeing him shortly.”
“I hope you know what you’re doing.”
“I do, too, sweetheart.” He climbed onto the Duchess and started the engine, “We should get out of here before the policia arrive.”
Mercy walked over and picked up Rico’s gun, sticking it in the backpack. Then she climbed on the back of the motorcycle behind Will, wrapping her arms about his mid-section.
The moment she leaned her head against his back, a calm spread over her. Not merely did her brain quiet, her heart that had been racing slowed. Her breathing became more steady, even the trembling stopped.
She had no idea what was happening to her. First, that weird second sense about these two, now this. But she would deal with that shit later. Right now, she just wanted to enjoy this tranquility with Will in her arms.
If she was going to die, she wanted to live every single moment she had. Instead of just surviving like she had until the moment, her dark knight rode up on his shining Ducati Scrambler 1100. Damn, the man had good taste. Except in music, but his Country Girl would fix that.