ll call up her fire on a whim. A flame flickered to life on her hand and then extinguished. She was ready.
Jaxton rushed to her side. “The bloody thing’s rigged, which means the fire escape is our only option. We might even be able to go to the roof and jump to a neighbor’s house.”
“I sense a ‘but.’”
“There’s a device above the window, most likely set to go off when it opens. Breaking the window might avoid the trigger mechanism, but the noise would surely alert the people down by the van.”
So they needed a way to break the window without making any noise. Kiarra put the safety back on her gun and tucked it into her waistband. “I can melt the glass and the device. The people below will probably notice the bright light, but even if they mistake it for an explosion only at first, those precious few seconds might give us enough time to scramble down the fire escape. Once we reach the bottom, I can try to create some sort of fire barrier to give us time to get away.”
Jaxton shook his head. “That’s going to take a lot of energy, not to mention a phenomenal amount of control. You might burn out.”
She poked his arm. “Do you have any other ideas?” When he said nothing, she smiled. “I thought so. Let me help for once, Jaxton. I can do this.”
He searched her eyes before cupping her cheek. “You sure?” She nodded and he said, “I’ll make sure we survive the climb down. But you need to promise me one thing, Kiarra.”
He leaned down. “If something happens to me, you run. Go to one of the safe houses and find a way to contact Neena or call the phone number I made you memorize. The person on the other side will help you.” She didn’t want to make a promise she couldn’t keep, but then he threaded his fingers through her hair and pulled her head forward. “Promise me.”
“Fine. I promise.” He rewarded her with a brief kiss before tugging her to the side of the window. When he motioned for her to start doing her thing, Kiarra kept her eyes on the window and concentrated on her fire. If she could pull this off, she would no longer be useless. She could protect not only herself, but those she cared about too.
After double-checking that all of his weapons were accessible, Jaxton watched Kiarra and frowned. She should still be in bed, tucked against him, not melting glass and creating fire barriers to help them escape capture.
The people downstairs were most likely here to collect Kiarra and take her back to the AMT. But he wasn’t going to let that happen. Kiarra was no longer just his charge.
Sure, the sex last night had been fantastic—Kiarra had proved to be an unashamed and curious bugger in bed—but it was all of the small things she’d done that still made him smile. Kiarra’s teasing tone and half-hearted glares. The way she held him after and traced designs on his back. Or even the way she slept, with her mouth open, drooling a little.
After what had happened with his brother and Marzina, Jaxton had never slept over with a woman because that would signal a tentative commitment, which could lead to an attachment. And when people became attached, they tended to forget their priorities and become blinded to the truth. Or so he’d believed.
Now he wasn’t so sure. Kiarra was not only determined to help him, but she didn’t try to shift his focus or demand all of his attention. Between his contacts and her inside knowledge, they had a real chance to make a difference in the lives of first-borns, especially if they could bring down the AMT system.
He wanted to keep her. Or rather, he wanted to convince her to stay. He could just imagine what she’d do if he mentioned a plan to “keep” her.
A bright flash at the window caught his attention. A second later it was gone. The glass had melted, but the wooden frame and highly flammable curtains were untouched. Judging by how quickly Kiarra was mastering her abilities, he was starting to believe the legends about Fire Talents.
“Nice work.” Jaxton went to the window and crawled out. “Now follow my lead.”
Kiarra crawled out behind him, but Jaxton focused on the five people down below. Two were making a beeline for the bottom of the fire escape. Jaxton tugged Kiarra behind him and made it down one flight of stairs before he saw small lights flashing from the direction of the van. He pushed Kiarra down and fired off a few shots of his own, causing the three people near the van to duck for cover.
Taking advantage of the opening, he looked over the rail and saw a man climbing up the ladder. He whispered, “Close your eyes and plug your ears,” to Kiarra before taking out a flash grenade. After releasing the pin, he crouched down with Kiarra, covered his ears, and closed his eyes.
Light and noise filtered through his eyes and ears, but not enough to affect him.
When it was quiet again, he grabbed Kiarra’s hand and pulled her along after him. But they had only gone down one flight before people started shooting at them from the van again. Jaxton ducked his head and said, “Keep your head down.”
A bullet hit the railing next to him, so Jaxton picked up his pace; somehow they managed to reach the bottom flight without getting hurt.
Since the ladder was already extended, Jaxton motioned for Kiarra to keep down and close to the wall before he turned and checked out his two opponents on the ground below.
The man previously climbing the ladder was now on his arse, and a woman stood in front of him as a shield. She had her oddly shaped gun raised in his general direction, but since she was still disoriented from the flash grenade, she was aiming not at him, but about five feet to Jaxton’s right.
He’d seen that type of gun before, when he’d rescued Kiarra and his brother from the AMT—it shot tranquilizer darts.
Before he could jump down to the ground, a small arrow of flame shot from behind him and hit the tranquilizer gun below. As the woman dropped her gun, Jaxton jumped down and twisted the woman’s arm behind her back. He took the spare tranquilizer gun from the woman’s holster and shot both the woman and the man. The drug was quick acting, and it knocked them out within seconds.
Jaxton looked up, but Kiarra wasn’t there. A quick scan revealed her location to the side, behind a trash skip, with a small flame dancing on one of her palms. He fired his gun toward the van to keep them ducking for cover, and went to Kiarra’s side.
He waited, not wanting to break her concentration, but after five seconds passed, he whispered, “Is it impossible, pet?”