Castle’s blood pressure was so high he could hear the rush of it.
Kit was a liar. A habitual, no, pathological, no, no, compulsive liar! His gut churned with white-hot anger, but the sucker punch of betrayal was worse.
She was innocent of collusion with terrorists. That much he believed. But he could only buy stock in eighty percent of what came out of her mouth. And it wouldn’t be so bad if the remaining twenty percent wasn’t going to get them killed.
He sharpened his focus on the task at hand. They were going to get through this, alive, so he could strangle her later.
Castle held on to her waist as he guided her to swing one leg over the side, followed by the other. The breeze blew her dress up higher than appropriate and he caught an indecent glimpse of her ass. Sweeter than he’d imagined.
She stared up at him with those crazy-beautiful eyes, trying to suck him back in.
Damn it to hell, why did he enjoy touching her so much? Why had it taken every ounce of strength in him not to kiss her back earlier when she was shivering in his bed, pressed up against him, wearing nothing but his T-shirt?
Why did he still want to kiss her?
“Put your toes on the tiny lip,” he said, referring to the barely-there ledge, keeping his voice controlled, low.
“Tiny is an overstatement.” She struggled to get her footing stable, her thin-soled shoes slipping around with no treads, but he held onto her.
“I won’t let you fall, Kit.”
Her anxious gaze locked onto his and narrowed. “I know. You want the pleasure of killing me yourself.”
And why oh why did her sassy remarks not only torque him tighter and tighter but also turn him on brighter than a popped flare in the pitch-black night?
“You probably want to use your bare hands around my throat,” she said.
“So you’re a psychic liar. I was trying to pinpoint how to classify you, but I don’t think that one is listed in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual for Mental Disorders.”
“Whatev—” She swallowed the rest of the word, controlling her tongue before she pushed him from peeved to righteously pissed.
About time she advanced to Go and collected a clue.
“Those shoes are a problem,” he said. She’d be better off barefoot out here. He took another look at the six-inch thick wall separating her bedroom balcony from the main one and sized up the length of her arm span.
Holding on to one balcony and reaching over to grasp the other might prove tricky for her. Doing it at night in those slippery shoes was suicide.
He gestured for her to come back and helped lift her over the rail.
“Climb on.” He knelt. “I’ll piggyback you over.”
For once, she simply did as he told her. No smart-ass remark, no protests. No questions. Maybe she did trust him, at least in this.
Standing upright, he adjusted her weight on his back, getting it balanced. “Hold on tight.”
She wrapped her legs around his hips and clamped her arms around his neck in a choke hold.
“Not that tight,” he hissed, shooting a quick glance over his shoulder at the door. The curtain was in place, giving them precious minutes—perhaps only seconds—that might mean the difference between success and death.
He swung his leg over the side and shimmied across the ledge.
The curtain rustled. Their time just ran out.
He stepped up the pace, reaching across the wall to the other side as the drapes were drawn. Castle stared at a man wearing glasses. His gaze was hard and pitiless. He matched Kit’s description of Bravo.
Castle wouldn’t be able to draw his weapon until they were on the other side and he had a free hand. “Kit, reach into my holster and grab my gun?”
“Wh-what? I’ll fall.”
“Oh God. I’m going to be sick. I can’t.”
“You can. Trust me. They’re coming. Do it!”
She fumbled inside his jacket, her body plastered to his, legs in a death grip around his waist, and drew his Maxim 9.
The safety was already off.
“Aim at the other balcony,” he said, “finger on the trigger, squeeze, and shoot at anything that moves.”
A swish echoed in the wind as the balcony door opened.
Kit screamed, ducking her head, cheek pressed against his neck, and started shooting, wild and erratic.
For fuck’s sake. Were her eyes even open?
Silencers on both sides softened the pop of the shots. Bits of stone from the concrete wall sprayed in the air. Bullets cracked by his head, too close for comfort.
Castle hooked his leg on the rail of the living room balcony and rolled over, nearly knocking against the steel staircase that went up to the roof. He tucked Kit beneath him, using his body as a shield. “Please tell me your eyes were open when you fired?”
“You said nothing about my eyes.”
Wasn’t it implicit in the bit about aiming?
He snatched the gun from her, hopped to his feet, and aimed for the master bedroom balcony—with his eyes open.
No sign of Bravo or any from his band of merry hitmen.
Shit. “Change of plan.” Gripping her elbow, he hoisted her up. “They’re about to rush us, coming in through the living room doors. Can you swim?”
She gulped and looked over the balcony. “Oh, sweet Lord. You want us to jump?”
“What if we miss the pool?”
“Push off from the railing when you jump. You won’t miss. Take off your shoes first so you don’t slip.”
“Stop making everything sound so flipping easy. There’s four hundred feet between us and going splat.” She shoved the flats in her bag.
“It’s more like forty feet.” He helped her stand up on the top of the balustrade. “Grip the handrail of the staircase.” He gestured to the metal bar right beside her. “Steady yourself.”
“If we don’t die, we’ll break bones.”
A distinct possibility. “Who’s the crybaby now? If we don’t jump, we don’t make it.”
Once she was in place with stable footing, Castle trained the gun on the French doors, ready to lay waste to anyone who dared set foot on the balcony.
“This plan sucks!”
“Did I neglect to mention I have a degree in sucky planning?”