Survival Clause - Jenna Bennett Page 0,2

anything more than an arched brow. “See that blue car over there?” he asked instead, nodding to where I was sitting. The kid’s head bobbed up and down, and so did his Adam’s apple. “Go stand by it.”

The kid’s eyes must have flickered, because Rafe added, “Don’t run. There are four people here with guns, and you don’t want one of’em to get the idea that he can shoot you in the back because you’re trying to evade arrest. Just stay where I tell you.”

The kid swallowed again. When he moved toward the Volvo, it was slowly and carefully.

Tucker, meanwhile, had gotten his balance back, and with it some of his bravado. “Who the bleep d’you think you are,” he yelled at Rafe, “coming here and interfering with my apprehension…!”

I couldn’t hear Rafe’s response. He moved close enough to Tucker that he could practically whisper in the older man’s ear. Tucker tried to move back as Rafe came forward, but Rafe wrapped a hand halfway around Tucker’s arm and kept him in place so he could lean down and talk to Tucker in a voice that didn’t reach me, and more importantly, didn’t reach any of the cell phone cameras trained on the pair. I had no doubt that most of those phones were set on video, and that some of them might even be live-streaming this encounter right now.

Whatever Rafe said, was effective. Tucker turned red, and then pale, and then red again. But when he wrenched his arm out of Rafe’s grasp and stepped back, he didn’t follow it up with a punch or a push, or even anything verbal.

“Go on home,” Rafe told him. Calmly. There might have been an edge there, but not enough of one to make him sound threatening. Or any more threatening than he usually does, at any rate. “I’ll take care of this.”

Tucker hesitated. He glanced at the kid, and he glanced at the other cops. Finally he glanced at the crowd, and that seemed to make the decision easier. Looking surly, he brushed past Rafe, close enough to bump him with his shoulder, and headed for his car.

Rafe didn’t bother to watch him go, just turned his attention to the other two cops.

“We were just providing backup…” one them began as the cameras turned toward them. Tucker slammed his car door, and a moment later, the engine revved before the squad car took off up the street with a roar of the engine.

Rafe took advantage of the noisy interlude to have a quiet word with the two officers, neither of whom I knew personally. Maybe they were attached to Sergeant Tucker’s unit and not traffic. But they knew Rafe, and were obviously willing to take orders from him. Or suggestions, at any rate. By the time Tucker’s car engine had faded in the distance and everyone’s attention had shifted back to them, they were both nodding pleasantly. “Yes, sir.”

Rafe nodded back. As he turned toward me, or more likely, toward the kid who was still standing like a statue next to the right fender, the other officers headed toward the second squad car. It might have been me, but it looked like they weren’t wasting any time doing it. You couldn’t call it an escape, exactly, but it came close. I could practically feel their relief at being able to get away without anything worse happening.

“Nothing more to see here,” Rafe told the onlookers as he walked back toward the Volvo.

“What’re you going to do to him?” someone piped up from the back of the crowd. There were maybe eight or ten people standing there altogether, and I counted the glow from at least four phones.

“Who are you?” someone else called out.

I held my breath as Rafe stopped and turned toward them. He held still for a beat, maybe to make sure they were listening, or else because he was trying to decide what to say.

Or maybe just because it made for good television.

In the end, he went with the truth. “My name is Rafael Collier. I work for the Columbia PD.”

He pulled his badge out of his pocket and lifted it. And then he waited for the rumbles to die down before he added, “That’s my wife and my baby girl in the car. We were on our way home when Chief Grimaldi heard about what was going on, and wanted somebody to take a look. When I’m done here, I’m gonna take my family home and put my baby