“Uh, that way, but that’s only for staff.”
I stepped aside and removed my gun. “Geoff, get Kit out of here. I’ll stall them.”
“No!” Kit cried. “I’m not leaving you.”
“Now’s not the time to be stubborn.” But I knew he wouldn’t leave. “Geoff, get him out of here.”
The man swept Kit off his feet and set off toward the exit. I cocked the gun. Shrieks erupted from the three men and two women in the kitchen.
“Get out of here,” I told them. “Unless you want to be caught in the crossfire.”
They didn’t need to be told twice. They ran toward the door through which Geoff had disappeared with Kit just as the door to the restaurant banged open and one of the tattooed guys barged in. I upended a metal table, ducked behind it, and using it as a shield, pulled the trigger and pumped two bullets into the guy’s chest.
Bullets whizzed past me and bounced off metal. I kept hidden without returning useless fire when the coward shooting kept out of sight. The firing stopped, and cautious footsteps neared.
I aimed and fired, hitting the other Latino in the gut three times.
“Fuck! He’s armed. Fall back.” Someone fired back inside the kitchen before retreating. I didn’t wait to see how many more would be coming. I half ran, half crouched toward the exit. The police would show up anyway. If the diner had a security camera in the establishment, we were fucked.
I burst through the door and hurried around the diner to the front where we’d parked. Gunshots rat-tat-tatted, and tires squealed on the pavement. Three cars hightailed it out of the parking lot, one right behind the other. Fuck, they must have had other men waiting outside.
My blood froze. Geoff’s car was still where he’d parked it. The engine throttled the sound of disaster.
“Geoff!” I rushed toward the car and flung the driver’s door open. Geoff lay back against the seat, blood trickling from his lips and the front of his shirt soaked in blood. “Where’s Kit, Geoff?”
“I’m sorry,” he wheezed. “I tried, but they were waiting.”
“They took him?”
“I’m sorry I couldn’t protect him.”
A crowd had gathered around the parking lot. “He’s hurt,” I cried, stepping away from the car. “Somebody call an ambulance.”
Praying that help reached Geoff in time, I ran toward my car and jumped in. I had to save Kit. If they took him away, I wouldn’t see him again. The Grimaldos weren’t known for mercy. They would make sure his death was a slow and excruciating one. I’d rather put a bullet in Kit myself out of love than let him face that kind of torture.
I peeled out of the parking lot, stomping on the gas. They had a head start, but I had everything to lose today. I would fight to rescue him with my last breath. As I gained in on the three vehicles, they split up into three different directions at a junction.
No time to think, no time to calculate, no time to decide. I followed the car going left. Please let it be the right car. It had to be. Fate wouldn’t be so cruel after putting Kit and me together, would it?
We were off the main road now. Traffic was light, giving me the perfect opportunity to gain on the other vehicle. No matter how hard I tried, I couldn’t overtake him, though.
Heart heavy, I said a prayer to whatever deity listened these days. I removed my Glock. Keeping my foot steady on the gas pedal, I leaned my arm out the side window and fired several times at one of the back wheels.
Bang. The tire blew out. The car lurched, spun to the left, and landed off the road in a ditch.
I slowed down, keeping my eyes firmly on the car for movement, and stopped. I parked my car at the side of the road and got out, my gun trained in front of me. The door on the driver’s side opened. I fired a shot, which pinged off the metal.
“Throw your weapons out.”
A gun sailed through the air and landed on the ground with a clatter.
“I’m sure that’s not everything.”
A knife followed, and another.