"There is no way."

"Fang, please." I don't usually like to beg, but my current situation is too dire to resort to anything else; also, I'm way too exhausted too simply knock him out with a well-placed kick.

There's also the small problem of US BEING ATTACHED AT THE WRIST.

I seriously regret that now as I stare mournfully at the cafe across the street. I thought getting out of that hellhole hotel was going to be a lot more difficult, but it turned out to be almost horrifyingly simple: I put my hair up and smudged my make-up as a simple, but convincing, disguise to avoid being detected. Fang and I grudgingly held hands to disguise the handcuffs, and I pretended to look lustfully up into his eyes as he explained to hotel security that he and his new "love" were seeking a more peaceful hotel to "relax" and "enjoy ourselves".

After he'd finished hotwiring the beat-up camry (Fang's personal car was a Mercedes, which was way too ostentatious and identifiable in this rugged town), I'd been trying desperately to think of a new plan to ditch Fang and alert Archer of the situation. Somehow, the brains behind the diamond trade had found us out. The plan was too complex to be uncovered that easily, and I wanted to know how and who let to its demise.

But first, I need caffeination.

"No. I'm not gonna risk getting caught because of your addiction to crappy drinks."

"If I pass out from exhaustion, you'll be getting caught anyway!"

He actually stops and thinks for a moment. Then, "No."

"You can't exactly stop me without make a scene," I say. I hold up my restrained wrist, and the handcuffs clink. I reach for the door handle, waiting for Fang to pull stubbornly on his side of the handcuffs. I'm shocked when my bruised wrist feels nothing but the already-familiar weight of the restraints, and look at my other half (literally). His eyes have a detached, I'm-not-here-right-now-but-can-you-leave-a-message? look about them, and his face is blanched and sweaty.

Stupidly, I seize my chance and open the door.

A gunshot rings out, and the window shatters, glass falling onto my left arm. I yelp with shock. Fang doesn't even hesitate; he steps on the gas, puts the car in reverse, and floors it. We're not even a hundred feet gone before a dangerous-looking Porsche pulls after us.

I've driven my fair share of Porsches (what can I say, I have expensive taste), and I know they go fast. Faster, say, then a Camry with chipped paint, torn seats, and an engine that is in even worse shape than Amy Winehouse. I glance at the speedometer and feel my empty stomach lurch. Even in kilometers per hour, it barely goes past 110.

Fangs purses his lips in frustration. The Porsche looms menacingly behind us. My burnt shoulder and glass-filled arm hurt more than ever.

With a bang, the car suddenly swerves to the side. Our hind tires have both been shot.

Fang and I look at each other. We both know the only solution.

Faster than I can register, the car is stopped, I'm climbing out my shot-out window, and Fang is following me. I spread my wings just in time before we both lift elegantly off the ground. A bullet wizzes past, but we're too high by now to get hit.

We fly for only a few minutes before the city's rooftops are no longer visible, and all I can so is a barren expanse of field, almost invisible in the night. Fang lands sloppily. He's cut his leg on the glass from the window, and it's deep and bleeding. He sees my arm, which is now also bleeding.

"I know a guy," he says. "He's not affiliated with those people back there, but he's not exactly a great person either."

"At this point, I'll do anything for some morphine," I admit.


Fang wasn't kidding when he was talking about his friend. Rob is his name. He's a strange-looking African man who can't be older than thirty, but with eyes that are so haunted and circled he appears much older.

"He was a child soldier for the rebel forces," Fang explains when Rob has left to find some medical supplies. I think about Richard and, strangely, feel a slight pang of worry.

When Rob returns, he sets up a light. "Ladies first," he says chivalrously. I cautiously offer him my wounded arm, which looks like nothing more than a white stick compared to his. He has a pair of tweezers and I immediately break out in a cold sweat thinking about the last time I saw those. He douses the lacerations with a liquid that makes my entire arm flame with pain, and proceeds to delicately extract each and every shard of glass as Fang explains our current situation.

"So," he says in summation, "we're going to need two guns, both small and light, and a supply of bullets."

Rob nods almost imperceptibly. "Very well."

As he finishes cleaning out my wounds, he asks if I'd like stiches. I shake my head no.

"It might be better for the healing process, but very well," he says again. Then he notices my clothes, which by now are so tattered and ripped, they look more like shreds of cloth hanging randomly off my body. I feel self-conscious for the first time in hours.

"I have a woman boarding here for a couple of nights," he says. "If you pay her, she might give you some clothes."

Fang peels off a pound note from a wad in his pocket and hands it to me. "She's in the back room." Rob beckons with a twitch of his head. I lift aside the beads that are hanging from the door payne and make my down a set of stairs into the basement. The small boarding rooms are defined by blankets, which have been strung up to serve as flimsy walls. I wonder how much Rob could possibly charge his guests, and decide that whatever it is is way too much.

Only one of the "rooms" is occupied; I can tell because I see a pair of feet through the gap between the end of the blanket and the floor. I approach it and say, "Excuse me, but--"

Almost immediately, the blanket is pulled away violently, and I'm standing face-to-face with Alexa.