“And it still runs?” she marveled aloud.
Spence flashed a smile. “Let’s just say I’ve done a lot of work on it here and there when I’ve had time.”
Eddie snorted. “Don’t be modest, boy. You took the entire thing apart and put it back together again. Baby’s better than brand-spanking-new. She’s bionic.” He looked at Spence. “Bionic’s still a thing, right, boy genius?”
“Sure,” Spence said. “But she’s only bionic on the inside.” He looked at Elle. “He didn’t want anything on the outside to change.”
“Of course not,” Eddie said, stroking the truck. “Baby likes flying under the radar.”
“And as for your next question,” Spence said to Elle. “She’s almost legal.”
“I never question a favor.” Elle searched for a seatbelt, finding only a lap one. It’d have to do. “But we’re in a hurry. Does baby hurry?”
Spence laughed and revved an engine that sounded Formula One race ready.
Elle pulled out her phone. “I’m calling Archer to leave a message and let him know what we’re up to.”
“Good idea,” Spence said. “Since I already did.”
She slid him a look that usually had a man’s testicles going north for the winter. “You didn’t trust me to know that was the right call?”
“Bros before hoes,” Eddie said from the backseat.
“He tried calling you back,” Spence said. “You didn’t pick up.”
She stared down at her phone. Yep. A missed call.
“Text him where we’re headed,” Spence said. “He’s going to meet us there. Do it now before he kills us both.”
“I’ve got Morgan’s dot on the map but I want to try calling her again for her exact location.” Elle nearly collapsed in relief when her sister answered.
“Yo yourself,” Elle said. “Where the hell are you?”
“Well, you’re not going to like it.”
“I’m on my way to Lars’s place—”
“I didn’t want you or Archer to get hurt. I need to do this, Elle. I want to clean my slate. I want to start over without anything hanging over my head. That way I can get myself a life like you, with a great job, a great guy—”
“And I’m going to turn myself in,” Morgan said firmly. “With the Russian pocket watch. It’ll go back to its rightful owner and when it’s all over and done, I’ll be free and clear and finally in the right place to start anew.”
Elle’s stomach dropped. “Morgan, I don’t know the statute of limitations on stolen antiques. You could go to jail.”
“I stole it, Elle,” Morgan said softly. “I did this. I’m coming to terms with paying the consequences for that, but first I want to make some things right. I hate all the crap and danger I’ve brought to your life and I’m furious at Lars. I need to see him.”
“No,” Elle said firmly. “No way—”
“I’m going to tell him I have the watch hidden safely away and that I’ll give it to him if he promises he’ll leave me and you alone.”
Panic and fear were unhappy twins inside Elle. “He’ll never do it. And you’re not naïve enough to believe otherwise.”
“Of course not,” Morgan said. “But you know how arrogant he is, how much he likes to talk about himself. I’m going to record our conversation and hopefully get him to implicate himself. I’m going down but he’s coming with me. And the beauty is, he won’t see this coming. He’ll never believe a grifter like me would actually go to the police. But that’s exactly what I’m going to do.”
“You don’t even know if he’s going to be home.”
“If he’s not, I’m going to search it for the brooch and turn that in too. Lars inherited his grandma’s house in the Tenderloin while he was in jail. It’s a pit, but it’s a free-and-clear pit, and he’s living there.”
The age-old need to protect her sister reached up and choked Elle. “This is sheer insanity. You know that, right?”
“He’s probably not even home, in which case I’ll get to B&E one last time.” Morgan laughed a little but it didn’t ring true. “You’re not going to be a spoilsport and ruin the last bit of fun I’m going to have for a while, are you?”
“Fine, but wait for me,” Elle said. “Okay? Just wait a few more minutes. I’m on my way. I’m bringing the cavalry.”
But Morgan had disconnected.
“You hear that?” Eddie asked Spence excitedly from the backseat. “We’re the cavalry!”
Before Elle could correct that notion, her phone buzzed.
“Morgan’s making a move without us,” she said immediately. “I’m on my way to stop her.”
“Address.” His voice was his usual calm, although she detected enough heated tension coming through to pop corn as she gave him the best address she could.
“I’ll meet you there,” he said. “Wait for me.”
“I mean it, Elle. This guy’s a nutcase.”
“I know,” she said but he’d already disconnected. What was it with the people she loved and their terrible phone manners? Irritated, she shoved her phone away. “You know what’s more infuriating than knowing he’s right all the time? Having him know he’s right all the time.”
From the backseat, Eddie patted her on the shoulder in sympathy. “I’ve been told it’s a male genetic disorder.”
Much of what Archer did was hurry up and wait. Ninety percent of that hurry up and wait was routine, and if he and his guys did their job right the odds got even better.
But there was always a possibility of things going fubar and completely out of their control. Archer was trained and prepared for that, so he rarely felt a leap of sheer adrenaline and genuine fear going into a job.
But he felt it now.
He, Lucas, and Reyes pulled up to the address Elle had given him and parked behind Eddie’s ancient, old Ford. He was relieved to see Elle in the passenger seat, which allowed him to take his first breath since Spence had called him and filled him in.