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There was wailing and sobbing behind her as Eve leaned into the teeth of the wind, braced her midriff on the window ledge, and held out a hand to Roarke.
"Reach up. Grab hold of me. Roarke!"
He knew he was slipping. Blood was dripping down his arm, through his fingers. He'd faced death before, was no stranger to the sensation of knowing this breath, this one breath, could be the last you drew.
But he'd be d.a.m.ned if it would. Not when his woman was watching him with terrified eyes, calling to him, risking her life to save his. He set his teeth, gave his injured arm his weight. Pain swam sickly into his head, into his gut as he reached up to her.
And her hand gripped his, firm and strong.
Eve rammed the toes of her boots into the wall for purchase, and muscles screaming, held out her other hand. "I'll pull you in. Give me your other hand.
I'll pull you in. Hurry."
When her fingers closed over his, slipped once as the blood slickened them, his vision grayed. Then she was locking her hand over his wrist, hauling up. He bore down, pulled his body up, an inch, then two. He saw the sweat run down her face, into her eyes. Concentrated on her eyes.
Then his arm was on the window ledge, braced there. With one last heave he was tumbling in on top of her. "G.o.d. Roarke. G.o.d."
"Time!" He rolled free, all but fell on the last explosive. The readout showed forty-five seconds. "Get out, Eve." He said it coolly as he began to work. "Get it down." She fought to get breath back in her body. "Get it down."
"There won't be time." Battered, b.l.o.o.d.y, Clarissa dragged herself to her feet.
"We die here. All of us. Both men I loved, martyrs to the cause."
"f.u.c.k your cause." Eve yanked her communicator. "Keep this area clear.
Keep it clear. There's a hot one left. Working now." She shut it down as shouts and orders buzzed through. "Live or die," she said, looking into Clarissa's eyes. "You still lose."
"Die," she said. "My way."
Screaming her father's name, she leaped through the window.
"Jesus Christ." Eve wanted to sag to her knees, but braced against the device. "Kill this thing, will you?"
"I'm working on it." But his fingers were slippery, his system screaming to shut down from loss of blood. The readout clicked down twenty-six seconds, twenty-five, twenty-four.
"It's going to be close." He shut off the pain, as he'd learned to do as a child.
Get through, get by. Survive. "Start out. I'll be behind you."
"Don't waste your breath." She moved to his side. Seventeen, sixteen, fifteen. Laid a hand on his shoulder. Unified them. Lights from a circling copter speared through the windows, lighted his face. Doomed angel, with a mouth of a poet, the eyes of a warrior. She'd had a year with him, and it had changed everything.
"I love you, Roarke."
His answer was a grunt, and it nearly made her smile. She took her gaze from his face, looked down at the readout. Nine, eight, seven... The hand on his shoulder tightened. She held her breath.
"Would you mind repeating that, Lieutenant?"
She whooshed out her breath, stared down at the readout. "You killed it."
"With four seconds to spare. Not bad." He pulled her against him with his good arm. Those wild warrior's eyes were brilliant on hers. "Kiss me, Eve."
She let out a whoop of laughter and ignoring the circling lights, the shouts from bull horns, the incessant beep of her communicator, crushed his mouth with hers. "We're alive."
"And staying that way." He buried his face in her hair. "By the way, thanks for the lift."
"Any time." In joy, she threw her arms around him, squeezed, then leaped back when he yelped. "What? Oh G.o.d, your arm. Looks bad." "Bad enough." He wiped blood from his face, then hers. "But it'll hold."
"Uh-uh." She tore his sleeve, frowned at the wound, and quickly bound it up.
"This time I get to drag your a.s.s to a health center, pal." She staggered, shaking her head as he grabbed her.
"We'll get a big bed. Are you hit?"
"No, crash city." Her mind went on float and she giggled. "I got my four to six out of the G.o.dd.a.m.n chemicals though. I'm okay. I've just got to lie down really, really soon."
But she hooked her arm around his waist, turned. Together they looked out over the water, toward the city lights that flashed and blinked against the dark. "Some view, huh?"
His arm came around her. It was debatable who was holding whom upright.
"Yeah, it's a killer. Let's go home, Eve."
"Okay." She pulled out her communicator as they hobbled toward the doorway. "This is Dallas, Lieutenant Eve. We're secure here." "Lieutenant."
Whitney's voice came through as a mild buzzing as fatigue washed over her.
Even the echo of adrenaline had faded. "Report?"
"Ah..." She shook her head, but didn't quite clear it. "The explosives are down, E and B teams can dispose. The Bransons took a leap. We'll need body removal to sc.r.a.pe up what's left of them. Sir... Roarke's injured. I'm transporting him to a health center."
"Is his condition serious?"
They teetered on the stairs, shifted grips, and continued down. Eve had to swallow down a chuckle. "Oh, we're pretty much a mess here, Commander, thanks, but we'll hold. Do me a favor, will you?"
On the miniscreen, Whitney's brows drew together in surprise. "Yes?"
"Will you tag Peabody and McNab and Feeney? Tell them we're okay here.
Mostly okay, anyhow. They worry, and I'm feeling a little too flaked to triangulate our status. Oh, and tell Peabody to go get Zeke and maybe get him drunk or something. He'll handle what went down here better that way."
She swayed as they came to the entrance level, shot Roarke a puzzled look as he shook with laughter. "Um, sorry, Commander, I think we're running into some interference on this channel."
Obligingly, Roarke took the communicator and shut it down. "There, before you ask your superior to join the drunken revelry."
"Jesus, I can't believe I said that." She stepped out into the teeth of the wind, winced against the brilliant spin of lights from landing copters. She rubbed a hand over her face as the teams began to leap out and race toward the statue. "Let's get out of here before I say something else stupid."
By the time they dragged each other into the jet-copter, she wanted nothing more than to curl up in a corner, any corner, and sleep for a week.
Yawning, she turned her head and looked at Roarke as he took the controls.
He was b.l.o.o.d.y, torn, and gorgeous. Through the fatigue, the worry, she grinned.
"Roarke? Nice working with you."
His eyes glinted wild and blue and his grin flashed in return as the jets roared to life. "My pleasure, Lieutenant. As always."