Darkness had fallen by the time Luke arrived at the outskirts of the village, fifty miles north of London. He drove slowly through the quiet streets until he spotted the black SUV parked in the shadows between streetlights on the edge of the road.
Pulling up behind, he got out of his own vehicle and slipped into the passenger seat of the car ahead.
Callum tapped his earpiece to show he was listening to someone and glanced up. “You look like shit.”
“Thanks.” Truth was he felt like shit. “Where are they now?”
“In there. It’s the doctor’s surgery.” Callum nodded toward a building opposite. It stood back from the road with a parking area in front containing a single vehicle. Lights shone from the front windows. “Carson’s questioning him. So far it’s been just questions, but I have an idea Carson’s about to up the game.”
“What’s he asking?”
“Apparently, the doctor has been doing some searches on things he shouldn’t be.”
Callum turned to him with a grin. “Descartes? Does that cheer you up?”
Oh yeah. The muscles in his belly clenched tightly. Maybe they were on to something, after all. “Do you have a comm unit for me?”
Callum handed him one, and Luke placed it in his ear.
A man’s voice.
“Look, I don’t know who you are, but I suggest you leave before I call the police.”
The sounds of a scuffle came down the earpiece.
“Now, tell me about Descartes.”
“I told you—I don’t know anything about any Descartes.”
A dull thud and the doctor’s next words were panicked.
“It’s a place…on the moon…I don’t know what else it means.”
There was a moment’s silence followed by a shrill scream.
“Shit.” Luke reached for the door handle, but Callum halted him with a hand on his arm.
“Where are you going?”
“To stop this.”
“Luke, think. This doctor is one man. We’re trying to stop an attack that could kill thousands, maybe more, and he’s our only lead.”
“We’ll take them both in. Find out what they know.”
“And you reckon they’ll talk if we ask them nicely?” Callum’s tone held disbelief.
“There are some lines we don’t cross.” While he had few qualms about questioning anyone connected to the Conclave, as far as he could tell, this doctor was an innocent.
Callum’s expression hardened, his mouth tightening into a narrow line. “Maybe we need to start.”
A low moan echoed in the earpiece. Luke gritted his teeth. “And if we do, what’s next? We might as well just give up and join the bad guys.”
He stared into Callum’s cold eyes until the other man looked away. Then he shrugged off Callum’s hand and climbed out of the vehicle. Another scream from his comm urged him on, and he raced across the road. From the conversation in his ear, time was running out.
Luke drew his pistol and edged around the building until he reached a window where light spilled from the interior. As he peered inside, the breath left him. The light clicked out.
“You’re too late.” Callum’s voice came over the comm.
“No fucking kidding.”
“What do you want me to do?”
He rubbed at the scar on the back of his neck. A dull pain throbbed in his temple. He pressed a finger to his forehead and tried to force his brain beyond the heavy weight of defeat.
“Stay with Carson.”
He stood motionless in the shadows. A minute later, Carson strode out of the building just as a car pulled into the parking area, catching him in the fierce glare of the headlights. He turned, shoved his hands in his pockets, and strolled away, disappearing around the back of the building.
“Carson’s on the move—don’t lose him,” Luke commanded, keeping his gaze on the approaching car.
“I’m on it.”
The car parked in front of the surgery entrance. The headlights died, and the driver sat for a while. Hopefully, they would take the lack of lights as a sign the place was closed and drive off. Instead, a woman climbed out and slammed the door. The locks beeped, and her gaze shifted back and forth between the other car and the darkened building.
She appeared young, somewhere in her mid-twenties, tall and slender, dressed in a red skirt and black top, her long blond hair a vivid contrast against the darkness. As she turned slightly, her face was lit by the dim glow from the streetlights behind him. She was flawless. High cheekbones, wide mouth, pale skin, and eyes slanting under arched brows.
She walked toward the surgery, her movements graceful but tentative, then paused at the door and glanced around.
Luke took one last look at the woman, the urge to warn her flashing through his mind. He shook his head. Soon the place would be crawling with cops.
Time to get out of here.
Panic flared, and Jenna forced it down, breathing slowly, deeply. She stared at the man and allowed her hatred to show in her face.
He straightened and backed away, leaning against the far wall with his arms folded across his chest. “She’s all yours, Doc.”
Jenna’s gaze darted to the second man in the room. The doctor approached, and she flinched as he wiped the blood from her face with a paper towel, his touch almost gentle. He rolled a trolley close beside the chair, and she peered at it out of the corner of her eyes. It contained electronic equipment and a set of needles and bottles.
He patted her lower arm below the elbow and inserted a needle into the vein to collect blood. After he’d filled two small bottles, he labeled them and put them on the counter across the room.
Jenna concentrated on his actions, preventing her mind from thinking about what was to happen. He came back, looked at her for a moment, then hooked a finger in the neck of her T-shirt and tore it, exposing the tops of her breasts. Her eyes snapped closed, but she forced them open and watched as he taped two monitors to her chest. He fiddled with the dials of the machine and stepped back.
Her gaze darted to the other man, who raised an eyebrow and made a move as though to straighten.
At the soft chuckle across the room, her hatred rose.
The man in the white coat took her through a series of questions about who she was and what she did, and she answered them truthfully. There was no reason not to—she was sure they must know this stuff already. They were calibrating some sort of lie detector. For a moment, she allowed herself to hope they would believe her when she told them she knew nothing—that they wouldn’t resort to torture—until her glance flicked again to the man leaning against the wall. His eyes followed the rise and fall of her breasts, and for the first time his expression was clear: he looked eager.
“Okay, it’s ready.” The doctor stepped away from her.
Though she hated to beg, she knew she had to try. “Please, don’t do this. I don’t know anything. I can’t tell you what I don’t know.”
The man in black moved to stand in front of her, but she couldn’t tell what he was thinking. “Tell the truth, and this will be all over.”
“You really believe that?”
When he glanced away, she knew there was no help. This was going to happen, and she could do nothing. All the same, she couldn’t stop herself fighting against her bonds. It was futile and left her panting with frustration.
“Tell me about Descartes.”
The voice was soft, reasonable. She opened her mouth to answer, to tell them about the letter from her father, but couldn’t make the words come out. Her mind screamed at her to tell them whatever they wanted to know, whatever it took to stop them from hurting her. But she couldn’t do it. Something inside her would not allow her to give in to them; some stubborn, stupid streak would not give them the satisfaction. She glared into his eyes.
“Go to hell!”
He turned to the doctor. “Hook her up.”
The doctor selected a needle from the trolley. He tapped her arm again and inserted the needle into her vein, attaching it to an intravenous bag before nodding to the other man, who crouched down in front of Jenna.
“This is something Doctor Smith here has been working on for us. Just so you know, it’s a combination of truth serum and pain inducer.” He reached across and stroked a finger down over the skin of her cheek. “It’s very effective. You’ll want to pass out, take my word for it, but you won’t. So, you have one more chance. What do you know about Descartes?”
Goddamn fucking Descartes. She was beginning to hate the name.
She clamped her lips together and looked away.
“Go ahead, doctor.”