"Listen to me," I said. "I'm worried about the two dead men over there."
She gave me a look that made me think she was concerned I'd had too big a knock to the head and said, "They're dead."
"I'm aware of that. I mean I'm worried that whoever sent them is going to expect to hear from them sometime soon. If they don't, they're going to know something is wrong and send someone else in after them."
Her eyes narrowed slightly. "You think?"
"Yes, I think. Have you searched the bodies? I doubt they'd have anything on them to identify them, but they might have cell phones."
I was taking a risk by mentioning this. Even though she'd taken the gun from me, she hadn't actually searched me yet, and was unaware of the cell phone in my own back pocket. Miraculously, it hadn't fallen from my pocket when I'd tumbled down the stairs. I was supposed to have used it to take a photograph of Verity after I'd killed her-proven to her father she was dead via a picture of her with a bullet hole in her forehead-but obviously that hadn't happened yet. The other two men weren't the only ones who would soon be getting messages questioning what was happening.
"We don't get any coverage down here," she replied.
"So if someone has been trying to get hold of them, they'd know something was off."
Her lips pressed together, her nostrils flaring.
I continued. "What about strange vehicles parked close by? They must have traveled here in something. They wouldn't use a cab, and wouldn't have parked too nearby, so I'd look at least a couple of blocks from here."
"You're just trying to get me out of the house."
"I'm not, I swear."
"So why help me, if you were sent here to kill me anyway?"
"Because if the friends of those guys turn up here, I'm as good as dead as well."
She exhaled a sigh, standing there with her hands on her hips, looking between me and the pile under the dust sheet.
A sudden bell chimed through the house, slightly distant as we were in the cellar. Vee straightened and turned toward the stairs. It rang again, insistent.
"s.h.i.+t," she swore.
"Are you going to get it?"
It rang again, and then again.
"If you are," I continued, "be careful." I flicked my eyes toward the pile of bodies.
"They're hardly likely to ring the bell," she said, and I knew she was talking about whoever might be following up on the location of those two.
"Just be careful."
"Since when do you give a s.h.i.+t about my safety?"
She gave a small growl, and the sound did strange things to my groin, and then she bent and s.n.a.t.c.hed up the roll of tape from the floor and tore off a length with her teeth. With two quick strides, she closed the gap between us, and then she leaned in and slapped it across my mouth. She was so close, the scent of her shower gel washed over me, and the swell of her cleavage was tantalizingly near. If I had
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