I grabbed some coveralls from a cabinet and slipped into them, then rolled the tool cart over to the TIV, my baby. She was a cherry red Ford 350 Super Duty truck with four-wheel drive and a 6.7-liter turbo charged Diesel engine with propane and water injection. I’d take her home with me, if it weren’t for the modifications: aluminum, steel, Kevlar, and polycarbonate armor, hydraulic wind skirts on all sides, and stabilizing spikes. The TIV was a 14,000-pound tank that would probably scare most other drivers in Tulsa off the road. It was too bad I only ever got to drive her May through June.
I changed the oil, cleaned the cylinders, flushed the fuel injection system, and was about to move on to rotating the tires when my cell phone rang. My nerves were still wound so tight that I bumped my head on the elevated hood as I jerked up. Rubbing the sore spot with one hand, I frantically fished my phone out of my pocket with the other, not even caring that I was getting grease on the case. Preston’s name lit up the caller ID.
I swiped the answer arrow, then tucked the phone between my ear and shoulder so I could grab a rag. “Hey.”
“Hey, you at home?” There was a tightness in his voice that made me take notice.
“No, the garage.”
Preston sighed. “Mind calling me back from an office line?” He sounded a little put out by the request, which baffled me since it was coming from him in the first place.
“I guess, but why?”
He hung up without answering, and I pulled the phone away from my ear to stare at it in bewilderment. Shaking my head, I went to the sink and washed my hands before heading into the lab. I didn’t bother flipping a light switch, as there was enough illumination from the ten computers sitting on the right side of the large room. Their screen savers alternated between slideshow photos of our team and generic swirly rainbows. We left the computers on over the weekend because they were processing data and running simulations that couldn’t be interrupted. That also meant the air conditioning ran constantly, and the shades on all the windows were pulled down to keep the place cool.
I slumped into a rolling chair from one of the desks and picked up the landline telephone. Preston answered before the first ring had finished.
I quirked a confused brow. “Yes. What’s going on?”
Preston made a disgruntled noise. “Josh called me.”
“What?” I lurched to my feet, sending the chair wheeling back to knock against another desk. “Is he okay? Where the hell is he? And why did he call you?”
“Before you get pissed, he only called me to pass on a message to you. He didn’t call you directly because he’s afraid your phone might be tapped.”
Preston snorted as though the idea was ridiculous. I, however, felt a chill down my spine. Would the SPA tap my phone? Maybe if they didn’t believe I hadn’t heard from my brother, or they thought Josh would reach out eventually. Which he had, finally, though I was going to ream him good for making me crazy with worry.
I took a deep breath. “What’d he say?”
“He wants you to meet him,” Preston said tightly. “Where—and I quote—‘you beat up Howard Minke.’ The first time.”
I blinked. Josh was using code? Was it because he was afraid the SPA was listening in, or because he didn’t trust Preston, even though Josh was using him as a middle man? I pinched the bridge of my nose. This was too much. At least I knew the place he was referring to, and it was only a twenty-minute drive with no traffic on a late Sunday afternoon.
A cold thought dropped a lead ball into my stomach. What if the SPA was watching me? I didn’t want to lead them to Josh, not without hearing his side first. My head turned toward the parking lot where my motorcycle had been sitting unattended for the past six hours. And before that, it’d been at my apartment while I’d walked to the café to meet Gage. What if Agents Ford and Romero had stuck a tracker on it? I snorted to myself; now I sounded paranoid. Still…
“Can I borrow your car?”
“Sylphie,” Preston said, tone warning. “Don’t get mixed up in this.”
“He’s my brother.”
“Then do what’s best for Josh and convince him to turn himself in.”
I gritted my teeth and said irritably, “I can’t very well do that if I don’t go meet him. And it’d be better if I drove him back in a car, not on the back of my bike.” I heard a scowl on the other end of the line.
“Fine, just…try not to get charged aiding a fugitive.”
“They’d have to catch me first.”
I wasn’t completely convinced the SPA would be on my tail, but if they were, they wouldn’t find me an easy target. I outran tornados for a living; I could certainly outrun them.