After fumbling in Lazlo’s pockets for the key to the shed, Dylan opened it quickly, starting a count inside his head, thinking that if he’d timed this correctly, he’d get the boy out and both of them away, and if he didn’t, he’d be joining Memo in that shed by morning.
He toggled the light switch. “Memo.”
Not a sound.
“Memo, it’s me.” Dylan made his way to the cot and put a gentle hand on the boy’s arm. “You have to come with me, there’s no time to waste.”
“My name is William.”
“Argue with me later. I figure we have about three minutes before neither of our names will matter except in the obituaries. Come with me.”
“I can’t, man. I can barely even move.”
“You have to. I didn’t do this to leave you here.”
“If I pick you up, it’s just going to hurt you more. Don’t make me do that.”
William tried to roll over and it was obviously agony for him. Dylan’s heart sank. “Here, let me help.”
William bit his lip. Dylan didn’t ask this time, he just took William’s arm, pulled it over his shoulder, gave him a moment to get used to that, then hauled him to his feet. “No time to be gentle. It’s either this or a fireman’s carry.”
“This.” William groaned. “You sadist.”
“Yeah, well.” Dylan didn’t disagree. Once they left the shed behind he hugged the perimeter, scraping his arms on the rough bushes where the ambient lighting from the street and the moon didn’t penetrate the shadows. “Next time kidnap a nicer guy.”
They made it unseen to the row of cars belonging to the guards. Dylan ducked behind the last one, Andreas’s nondescript Honda sedan. He held William steady, close and quiet, even though he stank like raw sewage. It took all of Dylan’s concentration to keep William from falling over onto the ground while he unlocked the car with the key to avoid illuminating the headlights. He helped William in and made his way around to the driver’s side, getting in quickly, praying the dome lights wouldn’t give them away.
“Now, we wait,” he told the boy.
“What are we waiting for?”
Dylan chewed his fingernail. Did he set it high enough? He’d scorched and burned microwave popcorn before, filling the house with acrid smoke when he wasn’t even trying. He’d been so sure that it would work, but as seconds ticked by he doubted himself, and his heart started to sink heavily. What if he just brought more suffering to the kid?
Nothing happened, and Dylan was ready to start the process of hauling the kid back when sirens filled the air and the front floodlights blinked to life, bathing the entire house in blinding white light.
In the commotion no one noticed that Andreas’s car started. Smoke had already begun to fill the first floor as the two remaining guards pulled the front doors open. Protocol required that Yves’s men search for him inside the house, while Andreas checked to make sure the fire department received the alarm. Andreas was supposed to open the gate for emergency vehicles when they arrived, but Dylan hoped he would be sleeping quietly, draped over his monitors, as blissfully unaware of everything as the three temazepam capsules Dylan had emptied into his coffee could make him.
His plan was for the two men inside the house to split up, one looking for him, and the other for Lazlo, to see why he hadn’t responded. That left Dylan and William with only a brief window of time to make it to the guardhouse, open the gate, and then leave without being seen.
He approached the guardhouse cautiously, pulling up right alongside it. If Andreas hadn’t drunk his coffee, or if the drugs hadn’t taken effect yet, there’d be hell to pay. If one of the guards looked out front or found Lazlo too soon…
Sick dread covered Dylan with sweat.
A quick glance found Andreas slumped in his chair. Dylan put the Honda in park and jumped out to activate the remote.
It seemed like the massive wrought-iron gate took hours to open, sliding slowly on the track while Dylan’s heart clattered in his throat. It wasn’t hard to imagine what punishment Yves would mete out to a lover who betrayed him. If he were spotted now, it would be nearly impossible to get away.
A low groan came from William, reminding him why he had to try.
“Fasten your seat belt, Memo.”
“William.” Awkwardly, the kid did as he was told.
“Remind me when we’re not about to die.”
When the gate finally opened enough for them to slip out, Dylan glanced in the rearview mirror.
I’m leaving. I’m really leaving Yves. There was no time for grief. If he thought about what he was doing, he’d surely freeze in his tracks. He punched the accelerator and worked the manual transmission.
William shifted to look behind. “No pressure, but we should probably go faster.”
“What?” Dylan sure felt pressured. He pelted out of his driveway and headed east. “What do you mean, no pressure?”
“I mean about my name. No pressure to remember.”
Dylan shook his head. “I’m lucky to remember my name right now. Much less how to drive a manual transmission. It’ll come back to me—like riding a bicycle.” Dylan winced when the transmission gears made a telltale grinding sound, then tried to shift again.
“I hope that means you know how to ride a bicycle…”
“Yeah.” Dylan made a sharp right turn and it threw Memo into him.
“What happens now?”
“I don’t know. I only thought this far ahead.”
William accepted this, or else he was in too much pain to argue.
Dylan’s heart stopped racing when he’d driven several miles and as far as he could tell no one followed them. He wet his dry lips and slowed down. They’d made it. He didn’t want to say it out loud, he didn’t have the nerve to count on it, but it was entirely possible he’d gotten away with it.
While they were stopped at a red light, he glanced over at William and allowed himself to hope. The kid looked like he’d been hit by a train. Dylan cursed. The real work—the hard part—was just beginning. He had to keep William safe until he healed, and that meant they needed a place to hide where Yves couldn’t find them.
If such a place existed.