Every muscle in Alastair’s body went on high alert.
A light flared to life beside him, and he saw that Darcy had pulled her tablet from somewhere and turned it on.
“Accessing the system now,” she murmured.
The museum’s emergency lighting came on—small lights at the base of the walls—casting a dim glow in the lobby.
“Dim the tablet,” he said. He didn’t want her to stand out as a target.
The light dimmed to almost nothing.
He shifted closer to her, feeling her warmth pressed against him. “The diamonds?”
“Still in their case.”
All around them were confused murmurs.
Alastair pressed a finger to his earpiece. “Thom? Thom?” Nothing. “Comms are being jammed.”
Darcy muttered a creative curse. “Bastards shouldn’t be able to do that. Let me see what I can do about it.”
“What the hell is going on?” someone shouted.
“Everyone stay calm,” Burke called out.
“Power to the main lighting system is down,” Darcy whispered. “They aren’t in the system, so my guess is that they’ve disrupted power outside the museum. But this definitely wasn’t an accident.”
Alastair had never thought it was.
“Cameras are still operational. Switching to the night vision cameras now.”
He saw the screen of her tablet change to a dark image with a familiar, eerie green tinge.
She grabbed his sleeve. “Alastair, I can see figures moving through the crowd—”
He saw them, too—moving with purpose and no hesitation.
Stun grenades started going off—sharp bangs and piercing flashes of light. Bang. Bang. Screams echoed through the lobby.
Alastair dived on top of Darcy, taking her down to the ground. He covered her, but could still see her tapping frantically on her tablet.
“Yes! I got comms back.”
Brilliant woman. “Thom?”
“Here. We’re moving to neutralize.” Thom sounded focused but pissed. “You okay?”
“Yeah. Ward? You there?”
“My team is moving in, too.” Ward sounded like he was ready to kick some ass. “You got eyes on Darcy?”
“She’s with me and fine.”
Gunfire. The rumble of the crowd turned terrified, punctuated with screams and shouts. Fuck. Alastair gritted his teeth. There shouldn’t be weapons in here. They’d wanded everyone.
“How did they get guns and grenades in?” Darcy said.
“I’ll find out,” he said grimly.
Panic was setting in. The screams escalated and people were pushing.
He needed Darcy somewhere safe, not here where she could be trampled or hit. He levered off her and yanked her to her feet. “We need to move.”
He pulled her along, pushing through the frantic crowd. He moved them toward the back of the lobby. In the darkness, he spotted the museum information desk and the area leading to the restrooms.
More gunfire, this time nearby. He yanked her around one of the columns, pressing her into the pillar. “Wait here.”
He pulled out his Glock. In the glow of her screen, he saw Darcy nod. Her eyes were wide, but she was as steady as steel. He touched her chin, and she went up on her toes and pressed a kiss to his lips.
“Do your thing, Alastair. And be careful.”
God, she was something. He pulled in a deep breath, let it out, and slid around the pillar.
He saw the man firing nearby. At least the bastard was shooting up at the ceiling and not into the crowd. He was only trying to cause panic, not kill. At the moment.
Alastair crept closer. Silently, he moved in behind the man. He landed a hard chop to the back of the man’s neck. The gunman stumbled forward with a groan, his weapon clattering on the tiles.
Alastair followed through with a hard punch and the man crumpled to the floor, out cold. Quickly, Alastair yanked zip ties out of his pocket and secured the man. The guy was dressed in a tux, so Alastair guessed Silk Road had snuck in posing as guests.
He grabbed the man’s handgun. It was a strange design and light. That’s when Alastair realized what it was—a 3D printed weapon made entirely of plastic. Shit.
There was still screaming, shouting, and gunfire. But now he heard the distinct sounds of hand-to-hand fighting as well. His team and THS had engaged.
He touched his ear. “Thom?”
“They have 3D printed weapons.”
His partner’s curse echoed along the line. Somewhere nearby, another stun grenade went off and more screams erupted.
“Warn the team,” Alastair said.
“On it. Alastair, the entrances have also been blocked from the outside.”
Fuck. “Acknowledged. Let’s get those bastards contained. I don’t want anyone injured.”
He hurried back to the column where he’d left Darcy. His chest contracted.
She wasn’t there.
There was a faint line of light on the floor. He went down on one knee and his gut cramped.
It was her tablet, lying facedown on the floor, emitting a glow.
He snatched up the tablet, then lifted his head and scanned the area.
He heard a feminine grunt and a scuffle from nearby. His jaw tightening, he lifted his weapon and followed.
* * *
Darcy struggled with the man dragging her away.
He’d surprised her and had hit her in the belly. Hard.
“Move faster,” the man growled.
“I can’t walk any faster in these heels, buddy.” It was a lie, but he wouldn’t know.
He yanked her roughly, almost sending her flying. She was close enough that she saw he was wearing a black silk scarf over the bottom half of his face. Oh yeah, Silk fucking Road. He was also in a tuxedo, so she figured they’d snuck in dressed as guests.
She kept dragging her feet. She just needed an opening, and then she was taking him down. “Just let me go. I’ve got nothing you want.”
“We know who you are, Ms. Ward.”
As he pulled on her arm again, her hip banged into what she guessed was the information desk. “So you know that my brothers, and THS, and the FBI are going to come looking for me?”
“We need to make use of your fancy computer skills.”
“I’ll never help Silk Road.” Hell, she’d just make her own opening.
She pretended to stumble, and rammed into his stocky body. Her fingers brushed the butt of a holstered gun.
Yes. She reached for it.
But before she could yank it from the holster he spun, striking out at her. She whipped her arm up and blocked the blow. Pain vibrated up her arm, making her wince. The asshole was strong.
Well, lucky that Dec had taught her that winning a fight had nothing to do with physical strength.
She jabbed the heel of her flat palm against his throat.
He made a choking sound, but it was dark, and her aim was off. She knew it hadn’t hit hard enough to debilitate. She jammed her foot down, ramming her heel into his ankle.
He staggered back. “Bitch.”
“Yeah, when I need to be. Like when I have to deal with thieving bastards like you.”
He came at her with a growl. Darcy spun and landed a punch to his kidneys. He grunted and as she turned again, he sank a hand into her hair.
Ow. He pulled her closer, rough fingers at her neck. She twisted and kicked, trying to break his hold. He pushed down on her skin.
A painful, electric feeling winged through her body. Ow again.
Then her legs went lax. No. He’d hit some nerve or pressure point. She sagged against him and her vision greyed. She desperately tried to fight off unconsciousness.
Suddenly, a dark shadow moved out of the gloom and slammed into the man.
The Silk Road thug released her and she slid to the floor. Looking up, Darcy could just make out Alastair and the man trading hard punches in the emergency lighting.
The sound of fists hitting flesh and pained grunts made her wince. She needed to help Alastair. She pushed up on her knees.
Hands grabbed Darcy’s arm, pulling her up.
“No!” She swiveled. A dark shape loomed over her, another black scarf covering this guy’s face. She yanked her dress up and kicked out at him, landing a very sharp heel in his thigh.
The man staggered back and pulled out a handgun. He aimed it at her and her blood turned to ice.
Shit. What now?
Alastair slammed into the man like a footballer on the field. They crashed into a column and she gasped.
Then, a sharp blow hit the back of Darcy’s head and pain exploded through her. She fell forward, landing on her hands and knees.
“No,” Alastair cried.
Through her blurring vision, she watched him spin and run to her.
God, he was handsome. He dropped down beside her, pulling her into his arms.
That’s when she saw both Silk Road thugs advancing. Just before she passed out, she saw an odd-looking gun pressed to the back of Alastair’s head.
No. Then there was only darkness.