Bex knocked twice before walking in. “Geez! Real y?” he yel ed, closing the door.
“Knocking doesn’t count if you just walk in!” Jared growled.
I backed into the closet, mortified.
The door opened again, and Jared sighed. “We are al owed privacy,” he said, his voice low and angry.
“I’ve seen it al before,” Claire said. “Hey,” she smiled, poking her head into the closet. “You wanna hang out today?”
“Don’t even think about it,” Jared warned.
“She’s learning, isn’t she?” Claire snapped. “She’s got to see it sometime!”
“She’s not learning that,” Jared said.
“You’ve got business today, anyway,” Bex said.
Kim walked in, confused by the number of people in the room coupled with our lack of clothing. “I’ll just wait outside.”
“I’ll go, too,” Bex said.
Jared glared at Bex, and then at Claire. “She’s not ready.”
“I need her for a distraction in case Ryan shows up,” Claire said, irritated that she had to explain.
“So now she’s bait?” Jared seethed. “No.”
“Why don’t you tel me what’s going on and let me make the decision?” I said. Being spoken about as if I weren’t in the room was quickly becoming my least favorite thing.
“Claire’s going to take out Anderson,” Jared said, frowning.
“You’re going to kil him?” I asked. Claire nodded. “Right now?”
She watched me, annoyed.
“But, I have class,” I said, completely aware of how ridiculous the words sounded.
Jared pushed Claire and Bex backward. “That settles it. Out.”
Claire ducked under her brother’s arm. “If Ryan shows up, you could help. Otherwise it could get bad. He might try to protect him.”
“Wait,” I said.
Jared froze, and then turned to face me. “This is a bad idea. We can figure something else out.”
“Kim has class, too,” Claire said, her voice smooth and persuading. “Jared needs her help today.”
“She doesn’t go to class half the time, anyway, and stil has a four-point-oh,” I grumbled. “Watch you take a man’s life?” I said, unsure.
“Yes,” C.aire said. “And to help if Ryan shows.”
“Okay,” I shut the closet door to dress.
I put on black jeans, a black turtleneck and pul ed my hair back into a low bun. When I emerged, Claire’s face lit up.
“I have boots that would look amazing with that.”
“I can’t wear stilettos on a hit,” I said, shaking my head.
Claire wrinkled her nose. “Why not? I do it al the time.”
With that, we al made our way down the stairs and out to the drive. Jared and Kim took the Escalade, and Bex, Claire and I piled into the Lotus.
She drove us to North Providence, and turned on Mineral Spring Avenue, parking in a McDonald’s parking lot, not a block from the red brick building.
“You’re kidding. It’s seven in the morning! You’re going to gun down a cop in broad daylight?” I said in disbelief.
“Wil you pretend I know what I’m doing for two seconds?” Claire snapped. She slipped on her large glasses and nodded to an officer walking out to a cruiser.
“Anderson?” I said.
“Yep,” Claire said, waiting a beat after Anderson pul ed out onto the road before she turned the wheel and pressed on the gas to fol ow.
She stayed so far behind the black and white that I thought a few times we’d lost him. Claire’s eyes were focused, however, and what I couldn’t see, she saw as if it were right in front of her.
“Okay,” she said, slowing by the curb. “Let’s set up shop,” she said to her brother.
Bex nodded once, pul ing a hot pink duffel bag from the back seat.
I eyed the bag, and then smiled at Bex.
He rol ed his eyes. “I’ve tried to get her to bring black ones. Or even brown or green. She won’t.”
“I may be an assassin, but I’m stil a girl,” she said, popping a stick of gum in her mouth.
We kept a low profile; climbing over fences, dodging dogs on chains and play equipment, and final y sneaking into a two-story building. The stairs were unusable, the bottom half lay on the floor, and the top half hung by only a few debilitated boards.
“What now?” I whispered.
Bex threw me over his shoulder, and then hopped from the wal , to a beam, to the next floor. Even from my angle, he looked like Spiderman. I couldn't imagine why he thought he needed to float—and he could climb wal s easily enough.
Claire took a single leap, grabbing the landing where the stairs met the second floor, and then swung herself to our position.
“You can put me down, now, Bex,” I said.
“Not yet,” he said, taking a running jump to the half-exposed rafters. “Okay,” he said, helping me balance. We were sitting on a few beams lined together that formed what used to be the attic floor.
Claire lay on her stomach beside me, clicking the pieces of her rifle together. “They’re going to meet here,” she whispered. “Don’t make a sound.
Anderson is very paranoid. That’s how he’s made it this far. If you tip him off, it wil be a while before we get a chance like this again.”
I nodded, watching Bex pul his own rifle from the l bag. He didn’t set it on its stand in front of him; instead, he set it in front of me.
“Just look through the sights. Don’t take the shot, even if you have one. It’s just for practice,” he said in a low voice.
I began to whisper affirmation, but voices below startled me. Claire slowly put her hand on the barrel of my rifle, and then let go, situating herself to aim.
“Look through your sights,” she whispered. I did so, and three men in suits came into view, along with a man in uniform. “Count them. How many do you see?”
“Four,” I said.
Bex leaned in beside my ear. “Look by the entrance.”
I slowly moved my rifle in the direction he referred to, spotted two more. To my surprise, the men were not in uniform, but in suits. Their broad shoulders and extra-large frames reminded me of old movies about the Mob.