She left the other women in the entertainment room and went to look for Dallas. Hopefully, they were wrapping up business and would soon be able to leave, with the disk in their possession. They'd then meet up with the agents and hand it off to them while being briefed on the surveillance job and then head back to the beach house.
They wouldn't stay there for long and sometime in the earlier part of the morning before dawn they'd slip on out of their bungalow to the airstrip where Dallas's Lear jet awaited. Luke and Vince would meet them there and then they'd head back to the States back to their regular lives waiting for them there.
Reese smiled when she considered that, but she didn't know what that meant now. After all, things had changed between her and her best friend in the past couple of weeks. Her cheeks flushed a bit as she flashed back to some of those memorable moments they had spent together.
No, she had to focus on their mission but when Dallas met her in the hallway suddenly, she went to him. He kissed her softly on the mouth as he slid his arms around her waist.
"Did you get it?"
"How'd it go?"
She paused because she didn't want to get into the details…certainly not right now while they were still in the mansion.
"It went…how are you guys doing?"
Dallas smiled at a couple of party guests who walked past them.
"Fine…listen if we're finished here, we might want to think about our exit plan."
"Okay we've still got some surveillance to wrap up here," she said, "Maybe you'd better head on back."
He looked at her intently then.
"Maybe we'd better discuss it first some place private."
They saw the same door leading to some supply room and she nodded before one at a time they slipped inside hoping no one had seen them.
Inside the room, everything else receded away as he grabbed her with his hands and their lips met hungrily, the tension of the evening melting away as she pressed against him, rubbing against his hard body in ways that made him groan.
"Dallas…we really shouldn't…"
But he'd picked her up at that point and moved her towards an old desk and this time she grabbed onto him with her legs holding him firm. Suddenly, hearing footsteps outside the door, he stopped and they just looked at each other breathing hard.
"We've got a job to do and we've got to get it done."
"Well how about in a few minutes okay?"
His lips met hers again.
Later, she smiled to herself as she returned to the other women who seemed to be more bored than anything else, having amused themselves with all kinds of discussion topics. They hadn't seemed to notice her missing at least not most of them.
Lucille folded her arms when she returned.
"Where have you been," she said, "You miss Anna telling about how Carlton planned to take her to the Italian winery he owns when this party is over."
Lucille sneered at her.
"What…not good enough for you…you're not even from wealth so what do you know?"
Reese just shrugged and smiled again.
"Not everything revolves around money…"
Lucille just waved her hand.
"You must be new to all this if you're still saying that," she said, "I hope your partner's smarter or the sharks Luke eat him up."
Serena moved up.
"Oh Lucille, we're here to have fun not to talk about which guy has a larger caliber size except where it matters."
Reese hid her smile watching Lucille return to her corner and her wine bottle. All the wealth couldn't be making her all that happy if she was hitting the booze so hard. Serena just shrugged and she and Reese went to sit back on the chaise.
"So what are the men doing?"
Reese rubbed her forehead.
"They took a break and I guess Rodrigo and his partners finally made an appearance."
Serena made a face.
"That's not good…I mean the guy's hardcore…"
Reese leaned closer to her.
"What do you mean?"
"Oh he's got legitimate business interests but he's got a whole side of his empire…that's not legal…I heard he's heavy in the narcotics trade down here."
Mexico's government had started crumbling from corruption and infighting so the drug lords had stepped in to take charge. She figured Rodrigo was another shark in a large pond of them as they sliced out pieces of the countryside's turf to claim as their own, forming uneasy alliances with some and going to war against others.
"He's in the right place for it."
"But it's more than that…or so I've heard. Don't really know the guy except what I heard."
Reese listened to the other woman and guessed that she knew more than she was telling her. But then Rodrigo's activities often pressed those who knew about them or witnessed them into silence.
After her encounter with him and Milan in the hallway, that didn't surprise her.
Dallas and Luke talked more with the businessmen and Carlton left for a few minutes and came back. Rodrigo participated in the discussion after he'd returned not long after Dallas had left Reese and took his seat across from him. Sliding as easily into the banter as if he'd never left but Dallas sensed a change in him and his own body tensed.
The sooner they could get this done and exit this scene the better for all of them. But he felt uncomfortable being apart from Reese and as he looked into Rodrigo's eyes that glanced at him, he felt his blood chill. Dallas had received the most extensive training when in the military specializing in all forms of acquiring and processing military intelligence. His work as an investigator had only honed those skills…not to mention his more basic instincts. Watching Rodrigo and Milan refresh their sherry in their glasses, he felt uneasy. Not that he minded because he'd be worried if he didn't in an operation like this…but…he looked at Vince and saw the wariness in the veteran operative's eyes.
So it wasn't just his instincts kicking into overdrive.
But when it finally happened, neither saw it coming.
Reese had been talking to Serena when she felt sharp footsteps past the door into the entertainment room.
"What's going on?"
Serena looked towards the door.
"I don't know…maybe some folks are leaving."
Reese got up from where she sat and looked at the other women who didn't appear interested and headed to the doorway. Then she stepped out into the hallway and heard muffled voices from another room growing louder.
Suddenly she realized that the men storming by had realized that the disk they'd been sent to retrieve was missing.
Because someone else had gotten there first…she realized she had a decision to make quickly.
A group of men entered the room where the men sat and suddenly Rodrigo changed moods and turned towards them.
One of the men stepped forward.
Rodrigo's jaw tensed and Dallas watched as he turned to look at Carlton.
"You had promised us the disk…that it'd be waiting in your office."
Carlton suddenly looked flustered.
"Well…that's where I left it for your pickup," he said, "Are you sure your men looked in the right place?"
Rodrigo looked at the man.
"Where did you look Dash?"
The man looked agitated.
"All over the office, beginning with the desk…"
"That's where I had it left…I saw personally to it myself…you should have found it."
"No…nothing there though the desk was a mess…someone got there first."
Rodrigo's eyes darkened as he focused on Carlton.
"Do you know who that would be," he said, "Did you sell it to someone who promised you more money?"
Carlton tugged at his shirt and shook his head. Rodrigo gestured to the men by the door.
"Go get his mistress and bring her here."
The men left quickly and Carlton's eyes widened.
"But…but it was supposed to be there…in the drawer. If it isn't I swear to you I don't know what happened to it."
Dallas saw the vestiges of Carlton's power slip away and Rodrigo just stared at him a long moment.
"That might be but if it's not in my possession, I'm taking something else you may value more to jog your memory on what you did to the disk."
Dallas knew that Rodrigo would be ruthless to anyone who crossed him and he knew that Carlton knew that too. He glanced at Vince and Luke and all they could was watch for now because this hadn't been part of the game plan.
Then he saw something working in Rodrigo's mind and the trafficker gestured to Milan.
"Go get that woman we met in the hallway too."
Dallas just watched as Milan left the room to join the others.
Reese watched from the doorway where she'd returned to after going to the chaise when she saw the three men come inside. They lunged across the room and grabbed Anna, pulling her towards the doorway as she fought against them.
"Wait, what are you doing," Reese asked.
The men looked at her.
"This doesn't concern you," he said, "Stay inside the room and continue on with the party."
She just stared at him as if he were crazy while one of the men who grabbed Anna slapped his hand over her mouth to shut off her screams.
"Wait…what's going on here," Reese said, "Where are you going with her?"
One of the men stopped long enough to sneer at her.
"Her boyfriend lost something that belongs to Rodrigo and he's taking his payment."
Reese 's eyes widened and just then she saw Milan enter the room.
"Take her too…"
And before she knew it, another man along with Milan had grabbed hold of her while she struggled against them.
"Get your hands off of me."
Milan chuckled mirthlessly.
"My partner needs you too," he said, "His property's come up missing and you were the closest to where it was supposed to be."
She knew then what he was talking about and that she had taken it. So she just tried to think quickly as they moved out of the room and headed down the hallway. Milan still had hold of her when they entered the room and she looked up and saw Dallas, Luke and Vince just sitting there.
Rodrigo stood up and walked over to the woman, looking at Anna first. Reaching out with his hand and stroking her hair as she flinched. He then grabbed hold of it and wrapped it around his fist. She cried out in pain when he pulled hard until she nearly stumbled as her heels caught the rug.
"Ready to talk now Carlton…I've got your girl right here and if you don't give me the disk, I'm going to hand over to one of my syndicate partners to add her to his stable…you know what that means right?"
Carlton didn't answer but nodded slightly.
"So I need the disk and I won't call my partner."
Dallas sat rigid in his seat, ready to act but not seeing an opportunity. Rodrigo moved closer to Carlton.
"We're going to continue this party," he said, "and there Luke be no more guests."
Milan and the other man arrived with Reese and Dallas's eyes widened when he saw her standing there. So she had been the woman that they had seen in the hallway but she hadn't mentioned anything to him when…he closed his eyes trying not to let fear get away from him. He was professional in all he did pertaining to his business. He would be this time as well, pushing his emotions away and he looked over at Vince and Luke and saw them determined to do the same.
Reese had kept her cool despite being manhandled by two large men. She just looked up at Rodrigo.
"What do you want…why did you interrupt my conversation with the girls?"
Rodrigo stepped closer to her.
"I'll get to you in a minute," he said, "I'm still talking business with Carlton about the property he owes me."
Carlton just shook his head.
"I told you where I left it for you…"
Rodrigo flashed him a hard look.
"I told you what would happen to this sweet girl here if you didn't give it to me."
Carlton's eyes bulged and Dallas thought he seemed on the verge of losing it.
"I don't have it…if it's not here; perhaps one of your own men isn't really working for you."
That made Rodrigo even angrier, though he could cage his rage where he could keep control over it. Still, Dallas knew he was deadly serious and that he'd kill Carlton and hand Anna off to a trafficker without blinking.
But what was going on with Reese? Why had she been brought here?
"I don't know what to tell you if I don't know who took it."
Rodrigo looked over at Milan and Dash.
They pushed Anna to a wall and began hiking up her expensive silk dress. Carlton reacted.
"Wait…what are you doing?"
Rodrigo held up a hand.
"Relax…we're just searching her for the merchandise…for now."
Milan moved Anna's dress upward as she stood there terrified, her eyes seeking out Carlton but her boyfriend could only watch. Another man slid his hands expertly over her ankles, her legs…up her thighs and grabbed her crotch as she flinched while he slipped his hands beneath her underwear in his search. It obviously had an effect on Carlton but Dallas knew he was telling the truth, because Dallas knew the disk wasn't in the drawer, it was in Reese 's possession.
Rodrigo turned to Carlton smiling.
"She's nice…a beautiful piece of ass…my partner could make good use of her and he Luke if you don't turn over the disk."
Carlton just looked helpless, his fists clenched and then Dallas saw him slide one hand beneath the table. He wondered if the millionaire was packing and about to try something, god he hoped not. The situation was bordering on meltdown quickly enough already but there was no room to act. He wondered where their handlers were right now while the operation was falling apart in front of them.
"Okay Carlton…we'll just see what a good little whore she is in front of you…Milan…"
The other man moved towards where Anna had been pushed against the wall and grabbed her dress strap, ripping it off of her exposing part of her lace covered breast. She shivered and tried to recoil but he just pushed her harder against the wall with his body. He reached to tear at her dress again.
Dallas turned in surprise at Reese 's voice as she raised her hand.
"Don't hurt her….Carlton's telling you the truth," she said, "The disk was in the drawer…"
Dallas looked to see how Rodrigo would react and noticed he didn't seem all that surprised at what he suspected was coming.
"And where is it now," Rodrigo said, "Was that what you were doing in the hallway when we found you?"
Dallas saw Reese staring at her and inside, his heart felt squeezed by something very cold, like ice as he saw Rodrigo approach her. She stood there and didn't back away, her face unreadable even to him. Her focus on the young woman pinned to the wall by a couple of thugs.
"Let her go…I'm…."
Then a shot broke the silence in the air and everyone turned around to see where it came from and Carlton had pulled out a handgun and fired it, striking one of the Rodrigo's men who sunk to the floor bleeding profusely. Rodrigo pulled out his own gun as did Milan and Dash and another of his lieutenants. Dallas's eyes shifted quickly between Rodrigo and Carlton as they stood in an armed standoff.
Rodrigo focused his attention on the party host.
"You just made your last mistake," he said, "Say goodbye to Anna…"
Carlton just aimed his gun as two men grabbed Anna and dragged her towards the door.
"Go take her to one of the back bedrooms…"
Carlton's mouth snarled but his hand holding the gun didn't waver.
"No you don't…stop…"
The men continued dragging the writhing woman and Rodrigo spoke with them while keeping his eyes on Carlton.
"When you get there, do what you want with her," he said, "but no bruising because she'll be someone else's property in the morning."
Carlton started to pull the trigger.
But before he could fire, another gunshot filled the room and Dallas turned to see a growing crimson stain on Carlton's shirt over his shoulder. Carlton dropped the gun and grabbed his shoulder, trying not to collapse on the table. Rodrigo stepped closer, his mouth curving into a smile which didn't reach his eyes.
"Anna's going to make a lot of men very happy for the rest of her life Carlton," he said, "and she'll have you to thank…"
Before Carlton could respond, Rodrigo fired off his handgun again and this time, Carlton fell on his oak table and remained still. Dallas and Luke looked at each other. Rodrigo turned his attention on them while Milan and Cash moved closer to where Reese stood.
"Now it's your turn to answer some questions Mr. Dallas…let's see if you can come up with better answers…"