Suddenly there were armed men all around, machine pistols emerging from nondescript coats and from beneath rain slickers.

A van pulled up and the door slid open. “Get in!” one of the men said, leveling the business end of his heater at May. “Now!”

She glanced at me; my saucer-like eyes and blank expression probably weren’t all that reassuring. A moment later, I was being shoved out of the way as she was bundled into the waiting van.

Seeing her in that situation, I felt my hands close into fists. I’d been talking about making a change, becoming more assertive, taking risks. Hell, I’d been thinking about jumping off a bridge or at least threatening to do it.

Here was my chance to do both at once.

I leapt into the van and took a seat next to her. “Hey, asshole, we don’t want you!” the person in the passenger seat said. “Get out!”

“Make me,” I growled.

Suddenly a jet-black Glock was pressed to my forehead. “I said out!”

I folded my arms.

“If he wants to come, let him come!” the driver shouted. “All the same to me. Just get that door closed!”

The door slammed shut. Acceleration forced everyone back in their seats, and the passenger pulled off his ski mask. It was Austin, the man from the embassy. “No room for sightseers on this trip, buddy. Now that you’re playing, you’re playing for keeps.

I could feel May’s hand tighten around my wrist. Whatever horrible fate was in store for her, at least she wouldn’t have to go alone.

Without her, the house seemed empty and foreboding. The sun didn’t shine as brightly—the entire world seemed faded, as if it had been bleached.

Marshall looked out the second-story window and sighed. “Where are you?” he said.

The treeline at the edge of the yard undulated in the light summer breeze, answering the question with another.

“What am I supposed to do now?” Marshall asked. “I…I never thought I’d say this, even to myself, but I’m lost. And I don’t know if I can stand to lose you.”

Boughs rocked back and forth gently, as if nodding.