He dialed Darius’s number and hoped like
hell his friend would pick up. Marco had no idea where in the world Darius was, and therefore, had no idea what time zone he was in, or if he even had a phone.
The call forwarded and started to ring. On the second ring, Darius picked up. “Yes?”
Thank goodness. “Hey, D, it’s me. I have a situation, and I think you can help me. Can you talk right now?”
A pause, then Darius said, “Okay, now I can. Make it quick.”
Did Darius sound a little annoyed? Marco put aside that concern. “Did Vanessa work for someone called the Collector?”
“Yes, but how did you find that out?”
“The Collector is after Cam, and I sort of coerced one of Vanessa’s former colleagues—a shadow-shifter named Jorge—to help me rescue Cam. Can Vanessa tell me anything about Jorge, or about the Collector for that matter, that might help?”
Darius’s voice was distant, as if he’d lowered the phone from his head, and said, “Nessa, what can you tell Marco about Jorge the shadow-shifter?”
There was some mumbling, and then a female voice came on the line. “Watch your back. The Collector has no conscience whatsoever, and has a habit of using someone and then discarding them. Jorge is as good as a dead man.”
“What about weaknesses? Or holes in her security?”
“Believe it or not, she never confided all of her evil plans in detail.”
Marco resisted a sigh. “Tell me specifics, Vanessa. I know you were after Camilla back in the States, and I need information to help free her.”
“Oh, her. She’s been marked for retrieval for a while. The Collector really wants Melini for some reason, so I wouldn’t get your hopes up.”
“Yeah, well she hasn’t had to deal with me.”
Vanessa laughed. “Yeah, I’m sure a pretty boy like you can take down a woman with an army at her disposal.”
Marco took a deep breath to rein in his temper, or he might say something he regretted. Whether he liked it or not, Vanessa had information he might need again in the future. “Can you at least tell me if it’s true that this Collector uses hostages to force members of her army to act?”
There was a beat of silence, and then she answered, “Yes.”
For a second, Marco believed she sounded sad. But he brushed it off. He didn’t have a lot of time. “Put Darius back on the phone.”
Her usual attitude returned. “Fine with me.”
There was some mumbling again before Darius said, “I think she likes you.”
“Yeah, whatever. Listen, if Jorge is telling the truth, then Richard Ekstrom is taking Cam to a marina in Campeche. Can you reach out to our contacts there, and have them put together a retrieval kit? I want to pick it up at the usual location in about three hours.”
“Sure. But do you really think you can take him on alone?”
“You know what I can do, Darius.”
While it wasn’t obvious, he and Darius had more in common than most people realized.
“Yeah, I know, but I wanted to check and make sure. Just because we’re on different missions doesn’t mean I don’t consider us on the same team anymore.”
Marco had yearned for years for missions of his own, but he was starting to realize how much he’d enjoyed working as part of a team. “Okay, I need to go. I’ll call you if I need you.”
“FYI, don’t call within the next few hours, because I won’t be able to pick up.”
He wondered what his friend was up to, but if Darius wasn’t telling him details, there was a reason.
Besides, he had more than enough to worry about. “Okay.” And he clicked off the phone.