Pageflex Persona [document: PRS0000040_00014]Caleb picked up his phone out of the dirt and tapped a button. The music cut off. Silence, except for the crackle of flames.
Tamara was staring at the burning jet, tears running down her face. “How are we going to get home now?”
“Holy shit, I’m bleeding,” Caleb said, touching his face. Tamara ignored him, continuing to stare at the jet.
Akila came to the edge of the roof and looked down. Maha and Jenna were flanking her. “Is everyone okay down there? Is anyone hit?”
“No, we’re good,” Santiago replied. “Our ride home is fucked, though.” Jordynn was standing beside him but she seemed paralyzed.
“What about the flight crew?” Jenna asked. “Were they on the plane?”
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“If they were, they’re dead,” Santiago said. “No one could survive that.” He turned to look at the pickup. “At least you shot those pendejos. They won’t be bothering us again.” To Akila he yelled, “No more fucking around. I want a full clip for the next time shit like that happens.”
“Did anyone see what happened to the flight crew?” Jenna persisted.
“I think only the co-pilot was on the plane,” Nate replied. Everyone turned to look at the jet. Great clouds of black smoke were pouring into the sky. The heat was intense.
“Toss me a clip!” Santiago yelled. “What if more of them come?”
“Just shut up about the clip for a minute,” Jenna shouted back at him. “We’ve got other problems right now.”
“Forgive my French,” Santiago snapped back. “But I don’t really give a shit. I didn’t know those guys.”
“You’re a heartless asshole, you know that?”
“I don’t give a shit what you think either. I care about me and getting out of this place and my best chance just went up in smoke.” Jordynn was clinging to his arm and he shook her off. “Get inside,” he snarled. She hesitated, then did as she was told.
Akila, Jenna and Maha came down off the roof. Jenna and Maha approached the rest of them, while Akila headed for the pickup. There was movement in the trees and Kelly emerged. Her shirt was torn, her face blackened and her hair was singed. Behind her came Adam and Carl, looking about the same. Carl had his fingers in his ears and he was working his jaw.
“You’re okay,” Jenna said with relief, hurrying over to them.
“Yeah, I think so. I feel like someone hit me with a brick wall,” Kelly said.
“I can’t hear a thing,” Carl said, his voice very loud.
“Where’s Dave?” Kelly asked, looking around. Then she looked at the jet and a cry came from her. She put her hand over her mouth.
“We think he was in the plane,” Jenna said gently. Kelly moaned and started crying.
Akila got into the Toyota, which was still running. She drove it up next to the warehouse and parked it, then walked over to them.
Santiago cut her off. “I said, give me a clip,” he demanded.
She looked up at him. He was a head taller, but she was unfazed. “You’ll get one when I’m ready to give you one. Is that clear?”
“Just give me the damned thing,” he said, reaching for her shoulder. Nate never knew what he meant to do, whether he was going to shake her or what, because his hand never made it to her shoulder. Akila’s hand came up and locked on his wrist. She ducked and twisted and just like that Santiago was on the ground, flat on his back.
He got to his feet, his face dark with rage. “You’re going to pay for that,” he snarled.
Before he could do anything else, Caleb got in front of him. He put one big hand on Santiago’s chest. “You need to back up, mate. She just saved our asses.”
For a moment Nate thought Santiago was going to swing at Caleb. His fist clenched and the muscles in his neck knotted, then he mastered himself and took a step back. Through gritted teeth he forced a smile. “Si. That she did.” To Akila he said, “I am not a patient man.”
Akila nodded. “I’ll keep that in mind.” She turned her back on him and walked over to the jet.
“Are you cool?” Caleb asked Santiago.
“As a popsicle,” Santiago replied. He went to the overturned chairs and picked up the bottle of scotch and his glass. Without looking at anyone he went into the warehouse.
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