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Final Exit (EXIT Inc. #3)

By:Lena Diaz

ter on his belt.

"This is Lone Wolf," he spat out, "and he's seriously pissed. Get your heads out of your asses and get up here. Little Red Riding Hood just ran past me."

Knowing his team would never get here in time, Kade steeled himself against the pain and took off after his prey.

Chapter Two

Saturday, 12:42 a.m.

A shout of frustration built in Bailey's throat. But she didn't dare let it out. Instead, she hurled herself against the thick wall of bushes blocking her way. And just like before, all it got her were some cuts and scrapes and some wicked sharp thorns embedded in her side.

Biting her lip to keep from cursing out loud and announcing her presence to anyone skulking around the woods, she plucked the lethal-looking thorns out, one by one. Black spots swam in front of her eyes. She realized she'd been holding her breath. She let it out and drew in precious oxygen until her vision cleared.

The throbbing in her side only added to her frustration. She grabbed one of the few spots in the lattice of vines and branches that didn't boast any thorns and shook them like an inmate desperately testing the bars of his cell. Except that Mother Nature was a far better jailer than man. The wall of her cage didn't move, not even a little.

She was trapped.

Every path she'd taken through these woods since escaping the gunmen who'd tried to ambush her at her house had sent her in circles. Or at least it seemed that way since she kept ending up at an impenetrable wall of bushes. If someone had purposely planted them to form a fence around the perimeter of the property that she'd only recently rented from another Enforcer, they'd done a whopper of a job. If she didn't figure a way through them, around them, or over them, soon, she'd end up like Amber and Sebastian.


She hoped that Hawke was having better luck tonight than she was.

The FBI agents that were rounding up Enforcers weren't doing it to thank them for their service to their country. They weren't grateful that Enforcers had eliminated untold numbers of terrorists, preventing dozens of 9/11-types of tragedies. And the government certainly wasn't gathering up Enforcers to help reintegrate them into society as the seemingly benign requests sent through the EXIT Inc. network claimed. Anyone who'd followed the directives had disappeared and never been seen again.

The men and women of EXIT had given up their former lives, their careers, friends, families, all to do the dirty work that no other alphabet agency could stomach. Where other agencies stepped in after a crime occurred, Enforcers were tasked with preventing the loss of life in the first place, by taking out the bad guys before they struck. But when the leaders of EXIT succumbed to the lure of power and greed and tricked a few Enforcers into killing innocent people, Uncle Sam had decided to clean house. All Enforcers were judged guilty by association. Their beloved country, the one for which they'd sacrificed everything, was rounding them up like cattle.

To exterminate them.

Bailey, of all people, should have expected that the government would turn on her one day. She shook her head at her own stupidity and whirled around, running back the way she'd just come.

Think, Bailey. Think.

There had to be a way out of these woods that didn't include returning to the house to take her chances against an unknown number of assailants. Not that she'd normally run from a fight. But going up against armed men with her bare hands didn't give her the best odds of success.

How many agents were after her? She wasn't sure. After going to sleep tonight, she'd been awakened a few minutes later by a very insistent bladder reminding her that she'd downed a supersized Coke on the way to her hideout. She'd just stepped into the bathroom when she noticed a shadow in her peripheral vision that had nothing to do with furniture-especially since it was wearing full body armor and holding a pistol. Shadow number two stepped into the bedroom directly behind shadow number one.

With her gun on the nightstand behind both men, she'd forced herself to pretend that she hadn't seen anyone and had calmly closed the bathroom door.

Thanks to a hidden panel in the wall-like the panels in many of the walls of her newest hiding place-and an equally hidden set of back stairs, she'd escaped. If it weren't for the fact that she'd been lazy when getting ready for bed and had dropped all of her clothes-including her shorts with her cell phone in the pocket-onto the bathroom floor, she'd have had to make a run for it in nothing but her underwear.

Now, here she was, in shorts, T-shirt, and-thankfully-shoes, but without a gun, without her car keys, and hopelessly lost. Worse, there were at least two armed men searching for her.

Unless they thought she was still in the bathroom.

Picturing FBI agents waiting in the dark, counting the minutes and watching the light under the bathroom door had her smiling. She wondered how long they would wait, and her smile widened. Sometimes she had to take her pleasure in the little things.

She jumped over a fallen log, wincing when the movement pulled at the punctures in her side. If she survived this night, she fully intended to come back later with something deadly-like napalm or a flame thrower-to have her revenge on those nasty thorn bushes. She'd teach them to never mess with an Enforcer again.

A gap appeared between two thick trees straight ahead. Praying that she hadn't passed this way already, she sprinted for the opening. If this was the beginning of yet another circle of the lost, she really was going to scream, to hell with the consequences.

A fallen log blocked her path again, so she leaped over it. A dark shape loomed off to her right. She twisted around, automatically bringing up her hands to defend herself. A man slammed into her with the for