“Son of a bitch!” Jason cursed, causing Lillian to jump.
She spun in his direction, her heart hammering in her chest. “What’s wrong?” Her eyes ran over Tristan’s battered body, looking for any signs that he was getting worse. He was in such bad shape she couldn’t tell.
“Kincaid just found Elijah and Mariah. We’ve got to go.”
She breathed a sigh of relief before the urgency of his tone dawned on her.
“We have to go. Now,” he said again. “They’ve set something on fire in the tunnel.”
He didn’t have to tell her a third time.
She hobbled toward Tristan as quickly as she could.
“What was that?” Lillian cried as a loud boom rang out, shaking the tunnel around them. Boxes and bottles rattled and fell to the floor, liquid pouring out as she fought to stay on her feet.
Jason cursed loudly as he was thrown to the floor, his belt still in his hands. He dragged himself up to his knees before the shaking subsided and grabbed for Tristan, the belt forgotten. “Lillian, can you run?” he asked as a whooshing sound began from farther down the south tunnel, growing louder.
“What?” She blinked as he hefted Tristan over his shoulder in a fireman’s carry and staggered to his feet. Tristan didn’t even move.
“Run,” Jason gritted out. “Now.”
Flames shot from the end of the south tunnel, rapidly igniting the gasoline spread across the floor.
Lillian started limping as fast as she could go.
They were halfway up the stairs when the gasoline spread across the basement floor caught with a crackling hiss.
“Faster,” Jason urged her as she dragged herself upward, not even daring to breathe.
Another loud explosion sounded, closer than before, rocking the building.
Her heart raced. Her breath came in sharp pants. The roar from below drowned out both sounds, pushing her as fast as possible up the stairs. Smoke poured into the club, billowing up the stairs and thickening the air around them. Her eyes and lungs burned, but she didn’t care. All she could think about was Tristan, motionless over Jason’s shoulder as he raced toward the exit at her side.
The heat of the flames rushing toward them licked at her as she ran across the dance floor, her leg screaming in protest. The doors were close, so close she could smell sunshine and freshly mown grass beneath the overpowering stench of smoke and gasoline, but they weren’t close enough.
Flame licked higher, heat pulsating at her back in burning waves.
Would she feel it when the fire caught up to them? Would dying hurt?
Her leg wobbled beneath her, shards of pain slicing through the fear in her mind. The muscles stretched tight beneath her as she pushed her leg to the edge of collapse. Still, she kept moving, running as fast as she could. Like the ballerina she had been on stage, each step she took had purpose.
The doors loomed directly ahead, but Jason was faltering, Tristan’s dead weight slowing him down. She wasn’t going to let Tristan die like this—buried in the rubble of Teplo—because of her. For the last year of her life, she’d felt helpless. She’d been caught in a nightmare she didn’t want to live, unable to dance, to run, or to cross her legs and simply sit on the floor. She wasn’t going to let it end like this, running away from something else she couldn’t fight while he died.
For once in a very long time, she was suddenly certain of who she was. Not a ballerina. Not an agent. But a woman in love. Madly, desperately, absolutely head over heels in love. She’d take whatever came her way, however it came, for the man she loved. And she would give up every bit of happiness in a heartbeat, anything it took, just so long as he survived. She didn’t even have to think about her actions as a deafening roar sounded below.
Reaching out, she pushed Jason as hard as she could, shoving him and Tristan through the doors.
The building erupted around her, the heat flinging her off of her feet.