“We’ve got your six, Elliot. However you want this to end.” Mark kept his voice low. “On your six. Let’s get your girl.”
“Not a girl,” Elliot repeated.
Night had allowed them to surround the house without being seen. Crashing waves in the distance muffled any footsteps, not that they made much sound. They were dark shadows converging on a single location.
In rescues, Elliot had learned there was often only one chance to get things right. They’d normally go in with a flashbang. Shock and awe. It lowered the risk of their hostage getting injured.
They didn’t have that luxury this time. The last thing they wanted was CSU finding evidence of an incendiary device. It would be too hard to explain.
Instead, Jesse had the idea for a bait and switch. She’d stripped out of her gear down to a tank-top and jeans. She knocked on the front door, ready with her excuse of ‘my car broke down, can you help?’
Half of their team remained out of sight with their weapons trained on Jesse. Ready to take a shot. Mark and Elliot slipped around the back of the house. They eased open the sliding door and entered without William Lewis any the wise.
Smells immediately assaulted his senses. The damp. Alcohol. It reeked worse than a dive bar after hours. Burnt flesh. Urine. The smell alone would give Elliot nightmares for the rest of his life.
The place reeked.
With a nod to Mark, Elliot snuck through the house. He had William Lewis subdued, disarmed, and cuffed in a disappointingly short amount of time. It hadn’t even required a punch.
They’d deal with him after.
“Elliot?” Mark’s normally steady voice wavered when he called out to him from deeper in the house. “She’s in here. Hurry up.”
Elliot yanked the mask off his head and shoved it in his pocket. He wanted her to be able to see his face. A friendly face. His heart stopped when he finally saw her bound to the bed. “Oh god.”
His mind reeled, trying to process the room and her. Is that a blow torch? Vodka bottles littered the floor. He spied a pill bottle on the filthy matters. Olivia’s clothing had been ripped and partially burned.
“C’mon, man. Head in the game.” Mark kept his voice low, trying not to spook Olivia, who hadn’t opened her eyes yet. They could tell she was breathing, at least. “Let’s get her free. No idea what the extent of her injuries are aside from what we can see.”
Elliot prayed for strength then took measured steps across the room. He knelt on the bed, reaching out to gently brush her hair out of her face. “Liv? Sweetheart? Can you hear me? It’s El. I need you to open your eyes for me.”
“You don’t get to talk about him,” Olivia whispered without opening her eyes. Her speech was slightly slurred. He wondered how much of the pills and vodka Lewis had forced into her. “You don’t get to talk about my partner.
What had William Lewis drawn out of her? About me?
Was she drugged? Drunk? Both? Fuck.
They released her ankles and wrists. Elliot moved up, speaking to her the whole time. He hesitantly lifted her up into his arms.
“No, no, no.” She fought weakly against him.
“Liv. I need you to open your eyes for me.” Elliot held her loosely in his arms. “I’m here. Swear to god that I’m here. For you. He’ll never touch you again.”
“No.” Olivia kept shaking her head, repeating the one word over and over.
“If you don’t open your eyes, I’m going to tell Cragen who wrecked the sedan that one time.” Elliot watched her blink a few times before her bleary gaze met his. The crash was a secret they’d kept between themselves. “Hey there.”
“El?” Her hand reached up toward him. Her fingers traced his jaw and scratched at the stubble there. “Is he dead?”
“He can be,” Mark commented mildly. He stepped around the bed so Olivia could see him. “I’m Mark. Elliot works for me. We make a habit of rescuing people. Heard a lot about you, ma’am. How about we get you to a hospital? Don’t worry about Lewis. He’s not going anywhere.”
“He’ll get away with it.” Olivia’s fingers clutched at Elliot’s bulletproof vest. Her head fell against his shoulder as if it was too heavy to hold up. “He’ll get away with it. He always gets away with it.”
“Not this time.” Elliot met Mark’s gaze over her head. “I’m going to let our medic get a look at you. I’ll be right back. I promise.”
He carried her out of the beach house toward the vehicles they’d parked down the road. They’d kept them there to avoid tire tracks on the sand near the house. He set her down on the backseat, leaving her in the capable hands of Alex, who’d been a combat medic for seven years before retiring from the military.
“Well?” Mark nodded to where William Lewis lay struggling on the floor. “What’d we do with this monster?”
It required careful planning. Elliot refused to do anything that might put Olivia in danger. IAB had arrested her for murder once in the past; he doubted Tucker had improved much as a human being in two years.
Elliot considered all the options. Everything he’d read about Lewis. The man who always seemed to escape justice. He couldn’t be allowed a second chance at Olivia. “Take him back in the room. Jess. Tell Alex not to patch Olivia up. We’re going to need both us to be ‘found’ here by the police.”
“Remember what I said when I hired you?”
“We’re not cops. We’re good guys who save people. But sometimes justice requires difficult decisions that might weigh on your conscious.” Elliot glanced over his shoulder to where two of their team are dragging a struggling Lewis back to the room where he’d tortured Olivia. “I’ll sleep like a baby tonight.”
“Good. Lewis’s weapon.” Mark held a pistol up in his gloved hand. “Let’s get this done right. We’ll have to make sure the trajectory matches. You’ll know they’ll check.”
Two shots were fired in the house before Elliot called Fin. One hit the wall to the left of Elliot. The other hit William Lewis in the head.
CSU would find gunshot residue on William Lewis’s hands. They would find no signs of anyone other than Lewis, Elliot, and Olivia in the house. The team was gone before sirens could be heard in the distance.
Elliot sat steps of the deck with Olivia in his arms. She was in and out of consciousness. She’d wake up and tug on his hair as if checking if he was real. “Still here, Liv. Not going anywhere.”
“Fired a shot at me. I returned fire.” Elliot glanced down when she grabbed the back of his neck. “Liv?”
“I saw it. You shooting him to save me.” Olivia reached for the water bottle that he’d brought. She sipped a little of it. “Anyone asks. That’s what I’m saying.”
“Get ready for a lot of chaos,” Elliot warned when lights pierced the darkness. He heard multiple sirens. Vehicles. “Looks like your rescuers are here.”
“You saved me.” She took another sip of water, watching as one vehicle after another came flying toward them. “How am I going to survive this, El?”
“One step at a time.” Elliot kept his arm tightly around her. “You won’t have to do it alone. I’ll be there every step of the way.”
A sedan skidded to a halt in front of them. Fin jumped out with a dark-haired detective close behind that Elliot didn’t recognize. They raced over when they spotted the two of them on the steps.
“Liv.” Fin crouched down in front of them. “You okay?”
“She needs a hospital,” Elliot answered for her when Olivia pressed her head against his chest. “Lewis is dead in the house. I entered. Announced my presence. He fired a shot at him and I returned fire.”
“That true?” Fin glanced at Olivia who nodded. “Good enough for me. Let’s get you to the hospital.”