Breathing hard, she stared at him for a long moment. She could do this. With Porter outside watching, it would be a piece of cake. A little voice in her head told her to tell him about the phone message from Orlando but there was nothing they could do about it now anyway. Not until she knew what was in that stupid safe deposit box. Better to find out the contents first.
After slipping the plain blue ball cap on her head and grabbing the small backpack Grant had also retrieved for them, she headed across the street.
Once inside she saw Grant lounging in the sitting area. Four short, modular couches were angled together to create a square around a perfectly square glass table. Managing to keep her gaze away from him—even though she was very grateful for his presence—she headed straight for the first open teller.
Though her heart beat like crazy the entire time, once she showed the teller her ID and the gold key, the woman dressed in the sharp black skirt-suit led her down a set of stairs, a long tiled hallway and through two sets of locked doors. Opening the box was a simple thing and once the teller had inserted her matching key and pulled the box out of the slot, the woman left.
The moment the door shut behind her and Lizzy was alone in the cold room with rows and rows of safe deposit boxes, she opened the one on the small wooden table in front of her.
Inside was a thin, long rectangular black notebook. There was nothing else there. Frowning, she flipped it open. As she scanned the pages she realized what she was seeing and for a moment it felt as if her heart actually skipped a beat.
Dates, meeting places, names of some very powerful government officials and what she assumed were bank account numbers were listed all the way back about seventeen years. This must have originally belonged to Alberto Salas, but looking at the current dates she realized Orlando had held on to it and continued adding information about all sorts of interesting stuff.
The high profile political names were interesting, but also interesting were the listings of some men Lizzy thought were Orlando’s competitors. She couldn’t be sure, but she’d seen some of the names on the international news enough to know that they were bad men. Drug dealers, arms dealers…bad, bad stuff. And he had information on who they were sleeping with, where they golfed, who they golfed with, how many mistresses they had, who would possibly take a bribe in their organization, who was taking bribes. A lot of it just looked like scribbling and random notes. In the right—or wrong—hands, this book could be very powerful. After shoving the notebook into her backpack she pressed the call button on the wall to let the teller know she was ready to put the empty safe deposit box back.
As she waited, Lizzy tried to wrap her mind about what she now possessed. And figure out what the hell she was going to do with it if Orlando really did have her brother.
* * * * *
Porter continued scanning the area in front of the bank. No suspicious cars. No men carrying guns. Still, the vise around his chest cinched tighter and tighter each second that Lizzy was out of his sight.
And forget about thinking of her as Elizabeth anymore. Something had changed between them. He couldn’t put his finger on what ‘it’ was, but he’d felt things shift between them last night. That heated kiss before she left the car told him she knew it too.
As his phone buzzed, announcing that he had a new text, he tensed until he saw his brother’s brief message. Lizzy coming outside.
Only then did that snugness around his chest loosen. Not completely. That wouldn’t happen until he saw her with his own eyes.
A few seconds later, tightly clutching the straps to her backpack against her chest, Lizzy walked out of the bank at a brisk pace. She kept her head down but he knew she was aware of everyone around her.
Since the two lane road was deserted, Porter pulled out of the curb side parking spot and flipped a U-turn so he was level with the other curb.
Lizzy didn’t pause. She just jumped into the passenger’s seat and the moment he saw her face he knew she’d found something. “Drive,” was all she said, her tone clipped.
Palm trees and cars flew by at a steady pace as he headed in the general direction of Coconut Grove. While Lizzy had been inside the bank he’d called Harrison and set it up so that they had a safe house to go to.
Porter still wasn’t one hundred percent positive that Orlando didn’t have access to their listing of safe houses, but at this point, he and Lizzy needed to get out of Miami proper where Orlando definitely had spies. Keeping an eye on the road and rearview mirror, he began weaving in and out of traffic and making random turns. If they had a tail, he’d know soon enough.
As he drove, Lizzy unzipped the backpack and stuck her hand inside, but didn’t pull it back out. A quick glance at her told him all he needed to know. Her lips were pinched tight and her eyebrows drew together in worry.
“You might as well just tell me what you found, Lizzy,” he said quietly.
“You’ve got to promise you’ll help my brother.” Her voice cracked on the last word.
Damn it. He couldn’t tell her no. How did she not realize that by now? Porter bit back a sigh. “Did Benny do something illegal?” Other than his drug habit.
“Not exactly, but he’s definitely in trouble. In…more ways than one.” She bit her bottom lip and clutched the pack closer to her chest with her free hand.
“What’s in the backpack?”
“You’ll need to read it yourself and we’ll want to check some of the entries to make sure all this stuff is legitimate, but it’s very damaging to Orlando. There are names of dirty government officials, blackmail information on some of his competitors, lots of nasty stuff. It makes sense why he’s after me and why…” She gave him another worried look, “…why he left me a voicemail wanting to trade Benny for this. I don’t know for sure but Benny probably told him I had this. Or had access to it or something. Maybe to keep Orlando from killing him or maybe…I don’t know.” Sighing, she pulled out a thin rectangular notebook.
Porter’s hands tightened on the wheel as he looked away from her. “When did Orlando call?”
She audibly swallowed. “I got the message before I went in to the bank.”
And she hadn’t said anything to him. He fought back his temper. “What did he want?”
“His message was cryptic, but it wasn’t hard to read between the lines. He thinks I have something he wants—which I do now—and he wants to trade it for Benny. He also inadvertently threatened you. Told me not to say anything to you.”
Porter ignored the threat. He didn’t give a shit what Orlando said. That man was as good as dead. “Do you know for sure he has your brother?” He glanced at her as they came to a stop light.
Taking her ball cap off, she shook her head. Her dark hair fell around her shoulders in soft, seductive waves. Something he shouldn’t be noticing. “No. Orlando wants me to call him though.”
“He’ll want to set up a trade as soon as possible.” The drug lord wouldn’t have made contact with her unless he definitely had Benny. Porter knew Lizzy wouldn’t walk away from her brother, but he also knew that whatever was in that notebook was something they couldn’t just give back to Orlando. Then the bastard would have no reason to keep her alive. Hell, he’d have even more motivation to kill her now.
“Are you going to tell Grant or Harrison about this?” she asked.
He’d be telling them, but before that he and Lizzy needed to iron out some details. “We’ll need to set up a meet with Orlando first.”
“You want me to call him back?” Shock laced her voice.
He nodded as a plan formed in his mind. With one hand on the wheel, he fished a burner phone out of his back pocket. “Do you need to check your voicemail for Orlando’s number?” When she shook her head, he turned the phone on. “Do you trust me?”
She hesitated for a brief moment, then nodded. “Yeah.”
“Orlando’s going to want to choose the place and the time. You’re not going to let him do either. He’s got your brother, but you have something he desperately wants. If he kills Benny he’ll lose his leverage over you and there will be nothing stopping you from doing whatever you want with the notebook. He’s going to want to meet today, but you’re going to stall him. Tell him you had to drive a couple hours to get the notebook and that you’re going to need to lose me before you meet him. He needs to think you’re desperate enough to come alone, but not so desperate that you give him whatever he wants. If you do that, he’ll know it’s too easy. You can’t have a meeting place picked out yet either, but tell him you will the next time you call him back. And you also need to demand proof of life for Benny. Now and before we meet him. You got all that?” Porter had been in the protection business for a long damn time. Dealing with hostage situations was rare but Red Stone gave classes to all its security employees. Hell, even law enforcement took classes when they opened them up. This wasn’t technically a hostage situation, but it was the same conditions.
And Lizzy was smart. He knew she had practically an eidetic memory so remembering all his instructions wouldn’t be difficult. Especially considering it was her brother’s life at stake.
Lizzy took a deep breath and punched in the number she’d committed to memory.
“What?” Orlando’s voice grated on her last nerve.
She steeled herself to talk to the monster who had her brother. “I got your message.”
“It’s taken you a while to call. Your…product might not make it to our trade.” He sounded so smug she wanted to jump through the phone line and punch him.
She took a calming breath, trying to keep her emotions out of this. “I want to talk to my brother.”
Orlando laughed, which only infuriated her.
Anger was better than fear. “I talk to him or you’re not getting anything.” She put a punch of heat in her voice.
Next to her Porter nodded encouragingly. Seeing his face gave her strength she didn’t know she had. Orlando cursed then she heard a soft rustling.