“What time is it?” he asked, noticing the room was still pretty dark but she was woke.
“Everything’s fine,” she replied, offering a soothing rub on his chest.
“You sure? You not trying to sneak away again, are you?” he jokingly questioned.
“No, not at all. I’m actually looking forward to our fresh start,” she lied, not only to put his mind at ease but trying to convince herself that her love for California could be easily forgotten.
Bree kissed her on the forehead and nodded. A fresh start was exactly what they needed. But right now he needed at least another hour of sleep. Closing his eyes, once more he slipped back into a comfortable snooze.
The sound of shattering glass jolted them awake as a hail of gunfire abruptly came crashing through the windows. China screamed at the top of her lungs. Bree reacted quickly, grabbing her out of harm’s way, rolling off the bed and taking cover. A fusillade of shots ripped through the mattress, headboard, and sheetrock, sending splintered wood, money, and debris flying everywhere. A group of masked gunmen wielding high-powered assault rifles were shredding the motel room mercilessly, turning it into a death trap. Bree reached for his gun, but a bullet struck the lamp on the nightstand, bursting it into pieces that narrowly missed putting a hole in his hand or taking off a few fingers.
“Shit!” he shouted as a mixture of fear and adrenaline flowed through him.
Hearing the storm of bullets whizzing passed her head, China knew that she was going to die.
Outnumbered, outgunned, and running out of time, she could only think of one person with the balls and arrogance to pull off such a brazen hit: Cinco. He was dead, but those were certainly his trained wolves bringing the reaper to their doorstep.
Bree was just looking for a way to survive, searching the room for an escape route. When his eyes landed on the adjoining room door, he knew he had found it. “Listen, ma, we got one way and one chance to get the fuck outta here. The door on your left leads to the room next door. We get through that door and out the bathroom window, we live. You understand me?”
China nodded her head as her sobs turned to whimpers. She took a peek up at the door to see what he was talking about.
Bree reached for his gun again. This time he was able to grab it, then they both began crawling toward the adjoining room door. The pain of her arms and legs being cut by the broken glass on the floor didn’t deter China one bit. The will to live was strong in both of them, motivating and pushing them toward the door. Suddenly the gunfire stopped, and Bree thought that the gunmen must be reloading. He knew this was their chance. They had to make a break for it now. He jumped to his feet, pulling China up with him all in one motion. Using all his strength, he crashed through the door into the next room. His shoulder throbbed, but the rush of adrenaline pumping through his veins served as a painkiller. They quickly raced into the bathroom. Pushing the swinging window open, Bree assisted China through the window first, then prepared to follow. Out of nowhere, a masked gunman came rushing into the bathroom. Without hesitation, Bree lifted his weapon and squeezed, firing two shots, hitting the gunman in the chest. He didn’t stay around long enough to watch the body drop, vanishing through the window in an instant.
Half naked, barefoot, and bleeding, Bree and China sprinted up the narrow alley behind the motel, hand and hand until they hit the street. Hightailing it north on Crenshaw Boulevard, never looking back or stopping until they had put a safe distance between them and the gunmen back at the motel.
Convinced that they were out of harm’s way, Bree pulled China into a twenty-four- hour coin Laundromat in the middle of the block to catch their breath.
The place was empty except for two Mexican women with several bags of clothes. Bree and China headed straight toward the back, picking a few articles of clothing out of a dryer that had stopped on the way to the bathroom. Once they were inside, Bree closed the door, locking it behind them.
“Fuck!” he grunted under his breath, realizing that in narrowly escaping death, they had left
all the getaway money back in the room. How far were they supposed to get flat broke?
“The money,” China said, realizing the same thing at the exact same time. “What are we gonna do now, Bree?” she sassed, giving off tons of attitude.
“Calm down. Let me think, let me think,” he said, walking in a circle.
“You need to hurry up and come up with something, ’cause we don’t have a lot of—”
“Shut up. I said let me think,” Bree said through clenched teeth, really wanting to yell but knowing he didn’t need to draw any unnecessary attention to them. They were back at square one with their worst fear confirmed. Cinco’s people were coming for them. He needed to come up with a plan to get them out of the city as safe and as fast as possible.
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Copyright © 2016 by Ty Marshall and reprinted by permission of St. Martin’s Griffin.