Page 22 of Already His

“Let’s get in fast, then,” Laura said and sped up, which left Nate with no choice but to speed up as well to make sure that he didn’t lose his advantage.

He made it to the boat first and glanced around, immediately spotting a man dressed in what had to be a pirate costume—though he was missing the wig and the overcoat, working in his shirtsleeves to move objects around on the deck.

“Matt Wendell?” Nate asked, shouting up to him.

The man on deck paused, looking down at them. “Hello?” he asked. “Are you here for the tour?” There was a level of uncertainty in his voice that foretold he wasn’t convinced by his own guess.

Nate reached for his badge, but he didn’t even get so far as opening it up before Wendell ran.

Nate swore and began to move, trying to figure out where Wendell was trying to go. It looked like he was rushing for something at the other side of the deck of his ship. Nate raced up the gangway, trying to get to him before he threw the evidence or whatever it was overboard—

Only to watch in horror as Wendell leapt from the railing of the boat to the walkway below, landing not far from where Nate had been only a moment before, then racing off up between the other boats toward the sea.

There was nothing for it but to go after him.

Laura was already on the ground level and already starting to run, but Nate wasn’t going to be beaten. He would have liked to take the time to stop and utter a prayer, but instead he just did it. He ran to the railing and jumped, following in Wendell’s footsteps but trying to push himself out farther, getting more of a lead.

He put on a burst of speed as soon as he landed, ignoring the way the impact seemed to vibrate through his legs, focusing on catching up. The momentum helped him outpace Laura, who had been going from a standing start. But Wendell had even more of a start than either of them, and he seemed to be getting farther and farther ahead.

Not on Nate’s watch.

“Stop!” he yelled at the top of his voice, which was enough for one of the workers a few boats down to step back from the gangway he had been about to walk up and see what was going on. That caused Wendell to have to swerve, slow down a touch, and then regroup, getting Nate closer to him. He doubled down in determination, ducked his head, and pumped his arms faster as he gritted his teeth. He wasn’t going to let this suspect get away.

Just where did he think he was running to, anyway? There was only so far that the wooden boards of the walkway extended. On either side, there were boats, but eventually he was going to run out of options. The route they were on twisted away from the shore, away from a close enough distance to leap from a ship onto the land. Wendell had already gone too far for that—or at least, Nate hoped he considered himself too far from that. If he didn’t, they might both be in trouble.

As if reading his mind, Wendell suddenly jolted to the side, turned, and ran right up a sloped gangplank leading right up into a nearby ship. It was a tall ship with a tall upper deck, an old-fashioned style like the other tour boats, with a vantage point that might just look like it was tall enough to let him jump to shore, if he was a madman.

Nate cursed in his head and put on another burst of speed, giving it absolutely every bit of strength he had. He raced up the plank after Wendell, having the slight advantage of not having to break his speed as he angled directly for it and carried on running, using his long legs to propel himself up higher.

Wendell was climbing up a ladder to the next deck. Nate grabbed onto the bottom rung and launched himself upwards in a jump, grabbing the guy’s leg. It was enough to drag him downwards, but the lack of solid grip on the ladder made Nate fall back, too, dropping to the deck even as Wendell did. The two of them both rolled for a moment, trying to get their footing on a surface that bobbed and dipped on the surface of the water.

Wendell was used to it, and he recovered first. He got to his feet and lunged forward, making for the railing of the ship. Nate watched him as he wrenched himself upward, with no idea of what Wendell was intending to do or where he was intending to go. He’d moved right to the edge of the railing, then hesitated for a moment.

Nate saw the bunching of the muscles of his legs as he prepared to make his move, and he had no choice.

He jumped first.

They connected in the air, and for a brief moment that felt like an hour, Nate knew he was falling. Both of them were, their bodies tangled, Nate instinctively grabbing onto Wendell’s arm to stop him from getting away.

Then the moment was over, and they both plunged into the cold water of the harbor, for a moment stealing Nate’s breath completely.

They bobbed up to the surface almost as abruptly as they had gone in, both of them throwing their heads back and gasping for air. It was freezing in the water, the winter cold even worse under the waves. Wendell was trying to move, to swim, but Nate couldn’t go through all of this just to let him get away.

“Nate!” He heard his own name yelled from nearby and looked around to see Laura standing on the wood of the walkway still, leaning forward, reaching out to him. She was holding a flotation device, no doubt yanked from the nearest available safety point, preparing to throw it. Nate stretched up a hand and caught it in the air, grateful for the fact it allowed him to get his breath back as he hung onto it with one hand and Wendell with the other.

“Matt Wendell,” he said, panting for breath and starting to shiver. “I’m arresting you on suspicion of murder.”

He hooked an arm around Wendell’s shoulders—meeting no resistance now as he seemed to give up under the pressure of the cold water—turned toward Laura and began to swim back to her.

CHAPTER THIRTEEN

Laura looked up as Nate approached, still holding a towel against his head and rubbing his hair dry.

“Better?” she asked.

“Much,” he said, dropping the towel onto a desk in front of her and hugging his FBI windbreaker closer around his body. “Man, am I glad we hadn’t yet gone to the motel and my spare clothes were still in the trunk of the car.”

Laura chuckled. “You’re much luckier than him,” she said, nodding toward Wendell through the one-way glass. He was sitting in the interview room with his arms folded over his chest—a chest which was covered in the unflattering and uncomfortable white all-in-one garment they offered to suspects whose clothes needed to be taken for forensics. It was true that his own clothes in this case actually had no forensic value left, or likely didn’t, thanks to being in the water, but he’d needed something dry.


Tags: Blake Pierce Suspense
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