The rock outcrop was a jumble of sharp-edged boulders, rocks, and shale, with ocotillo and Spanish dagger growing from every crevice that held dirt. Here and there were lechugilla, looking like miniature agave, their thorns hard and sharp as sewing needles. Sotol grew lower down, where the cracks held more soil, and small patches of needle grass and prickly pear clung to life in other places.
Anda used them for cover as she scaled the side of the ridge near the cleft. She crouched behind a large boulder and watched the Sheriff approach. Behind him, and coming fast, was Hunter. Anda’s heart beat faster as she watched the rushing mob of armed men racing behind them both. The men, led by the animal Barbosas - she saw them crossing an open space - were maybe six or seven minutes behind Hunter, and were coming at a fast pace.
Rockman stopped at the cleft and looked back, but the brush screened Hunter. Anda was sure he could hear the mob though, because she could. He passed through the notch and eased down the twelve-foot riverbank. A yellow raft was tied to a bush below him.
Anda glanced at Hunter, who was fifty yards from the notch and running flat out. The Tarahumara eased from the boulder and loped to the river. She was thirty feet from the Sheriff when Hunter stopped on the top of the bank and looked down at Wayne as he dropped a canvas duffel bag on the grass and started to untie the raft.
“Wayne!” Hunter said. She was streaming sweat and breathing hard. Her legs felt like rubber. Rockman went on like he hadn’t heard her. “Dammit Wayne, turn around!”
Rockman coiled the rope, tossed it into the front of the raft and put in one foot.
Anda couldn’t understand English, but she knew the situation was charged, and that Hunter was angry. She picked up a rock and moved low through the brush and grass to get closer.
Jesse and Johnny stopped for a quick breather and Elvis joined them. In the silence they heard a voice in the distance, a woman’s voice, yell something like, ‘Wait’. Jesse looked at his brother wide-eyed. They knew that voice. It was that damn female Border Patrol Agent. Jesse yelled to the mob, “It’s La Tejana! Let’s go!” They ran toward the cleft in the rocks like a pack of wolves.
Hunter thought fast and said, “I saw the picture of us; of me, you, and Angie,” Wayne stopped and turned to face her. His look shocked Hunter. He was dirty, unshaven, and his pale eyes seemed to glow from under the hat brim. The man radiated danger. Hunter felt her heart speed up and she had to swallow before saying, “You owe me some answers.”
He looked up at her, twelve feet above him on the grassy bluff. She looked frightened, and angry, and beautiful, and brave. He didn’t say anything, just waited.
Hunter said, “You had El Lobo’s gun. Why didn’t you turn it in and help me?”
Rockman said, “He’d been my partner. I figured without the gun, you’d be slapped down and would quit pushing so hard on everything.”
“His partner? You were in on drug smuggling?”
“I needed money.”
“For what? Damn Wayne, for what?”
“I was going to use it, bring the town to its knees for what it did to Angie. But you couldn’t stop getting in the middle of everything. So I did a few things to slow you down, but you just wouldn’t quit. So I branched out, got with Colonel Godoy.”
Hunter’s mind was reeling, “For how long?”
“A year, little over. Then he got worried and greedy, and I found out he was going to take all the money and run.”
“Mora was holding the money, wasn’t he?”
Rockman nodded. “So I went after Godoy, and I knew there wasn’t much time. I had to catch him before he left Outlaw Road with the money.”
“So you came there after him, not to save me.”
Rockman looked at her a long moment.
He said, “I could have waited until after he hung you, but I wouldn’t have that happen. Not to you.”
Hunter almost cried, but held it back and said, “Then you came back and tortured Mora for the combination to the safe. Why? Because he was going to leave with the money?”
Rockman’s silence answered her question. They both looked at the cleft as voices were heard coming closer. Rockman reached down for the duffel bag and Hunter said, “Don’t do it, Wayne.”
When Rockman straightened up, his demeanor changed. His expression was flat, his eyes focused on Hunter. “I’m going. You try to stop me and I’ll kill you.”
The words slapped her, and she felt fear shoot adrenaline through her. Hunter’s voice broke, “I…can’t let you.”