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I saw Ty’s face above me. I was being carried away from the hotel, or what was left of it. The windows were boiling with fire. Smoke billowed into the sky. The building had been gutted, at least three explosions, maybe more. Already I could see the walls thinning, gobbled up from the inside by heat.

I sat up and blacked out. Maia was making a fuss, but I managed to promise her I was okay. She didn’t look reassured. There was a deep gash on my arm that Jose was wrapping in his own shirt. My leg…I didn’t think it was broken anymore, but I wouldn’t be doing tai chi exercises any time soon.

I’d been very lucky, landing on the sand.

“Jesus,” Garrett said. “The hotel—”

“Did everyone make it out?” Lane asked.

Markie said, “Where’s Huff?”

“The lighthouse,” Garrett said.

Chase paled. “Mr. Lindy.”

“What?” I croaked. I looked around and realized the old man wasn’t in the group. Surely he hadn’t gone in after me?

“I saw him,” Chase said. “He went up that way, toward the lighthouse. He had a gun.”


Ty shivered on the beach. His eyes stung from the smoke, but he was glad to be outside. He couldn’t imagine anything better than watching that horrible old building burn.

“Calavera will shoot us now.” Chase paced a rut in the sand. “So what if we got out of the building?”

“Maybe not,” Markie said halfheartedly. “He can’t take us all.” He had a smudge of ash on his jaw like war paint, but it made him look ridiculous. For the first time, Ty didn’t feel afraid of him. After seeing the Mexicans in the boat, Ty found it hard to be scared of his companions. He’d seen the real threat, and it had calmed his nerves. If the Mexicans decided he needed to die, there wasn’t much he could do about it.

“He’ll fucking execute us,” Chase insisted. “There’s no help coming. Nothing.”

Ty scanned the ocean. The rain had stopped. He still felt claustrophobic. The island was too small. His skin itched with the need to leave. But it was so much better than being inside that hotel.

Suddenly he knew what he would do. If he got off this island, he would quit school and head back to the ranch. The hell with what his father said. The hell with Chase and Markie. He would work cattle the way his family had done since his great-grandparents’ time. He would live under the open skies again, and if the Mexicans ever came after him, he would see them coming. They would learn how well he could shoot.

A dark spot appeared on the horizon. Ty watched as it got bigger. Then he started to laugh, because he knew either death or rescue was coming, and he wouldn’t have to wait much longer.

“What’s your problem?” Markie growled.

“A boat.” Ty pointed to the sleek black cruiser that was racing straight toward Rebel Island.


The first gunshot came as I reached the lighthouse doorway.

Normally, this would not have inclined me to rush inside, but things weren’t normal. Benjamin Lindy was standing in the middle of the room, a .22 in his hand. I didn’t know how he’d found a second gun. At the moment, it was not my first concern.

Alex Huff was still sitting at the table. He was hunched over, fingers laced together, like a man in casual prayer. There was a bullet hole in the floorboards between his feet.

“To answer your question,” Lindy told him, “it is loaded.”

Both men saw me at the same time.

Lindy turned the gun on me. “No offense, son. But I’d like you to step outside. You won’t be taking my sidearm twice.”

“Don’t do this, Lindy.”

“Mr. Huff is the only one who can dissuade me,” Lindy said. “And I’m sorry to say he hasn’t done much on that count.”

Alex looked dazed. I doubted he could’ve mounted a rational defense even if he’d been so inclined. And he did not look inclined.

Black smoke drifted into the lighthouse from the burning hotel. The heat on my back was intense. I figured there was a good chance the building frame would collapse against the lighthouse and kill us all—or at least those of us Lindy didn’t shoot first.

“It’s all gone, isn’t it?” Alex tried to focus on me. I wasn’t sure if he realized who I was. “The hotel. Everything.”

“You destroyed it,” Lindy told him. “You killed my daughter. Her two little girls. You tried to kill everyone on this island. You will account for that, sir.”

The smoke stung my eyes. The roar of the burning house was louder than the storm the night before.

Alex swallowed. He looked at Lindy with an expression of pain, maybe even regret. “It’s not the way you think.”

“You deny you killed them?”

Alex looked down.

Outside, a distant voice yelled, “Hey! Heeeeey!”

It sounded like Ty down by the beach, as if he were trying to get someone’s attention. Almost as if he was hailing a boat.

Too optimistic, I thought. I couldn’t be that lucky.

Garrett would be coming up behind me sooner or later. I didn’t know how he would make it up the path, but I knew he would try. I wanted this resolved before he got here. Unfortunately, Lindy still had his gun pointed in my direction.

“Lindy,” I said, “when your wife left you, you know where she went?”

His jaw clenched. “That is none of your business.”

“She left you for another man. Alex’s father. She came here, to Rebel Island.”

Lindy’s gun hand sagged. I thought about jumping him, but his expression made me hesitate. The old man looked like he was collapsing from the inside, like someone had set off a fire-bomb in his chest and any second it would burn through his skin.

I turned to Alex. “The statue you made. That was your mother.”

“She died of cancer when I was young,” Alex murmured. “My father never got over it.”

“Rachel was your half sister,” I said. “After the bombing, you saw her picture in the papers. You realized who she was.”

Alex closed his eyes tight. Then he nodded.

“That’s why you tried to turn yourself in,” I said. “You realized you’d killed your own sister.”

“No, it wasn’t like that,” Alex said. “I didn’t—”

“Liar.” Lindy turned the gun on Alex. I tackled the old man just as he fired.

Unfortunately, my balance was off. My leg was hurt and I was weak from the fall I’d taken. We both went down and I slammed my head on the table’s edge.

Maybe Alex hadn’t been as dazed as I thought, or maybe the adrenaline was just counteracting the booze. He bolted for the door but Lindy was already back on his feet, blocking the way. There was only one other way for Alex to go—up.

He took the stairs as Lindy fired again. And somewhere down at the beach, I heard Ty yelling.

I was staggering up the stairs as fast as I could. The eighty-year-old man beat me by a mile.

By the time I got to the little landing at the top of the tower, Alex Huff had realized the obvious—there was no way out—and had turned to face his accuser.

Benjamin Lindy didn’t try to stop me from climbing into the room. His gun was an arm’s length from Alex Huff’s forehead. If I tried to tackle him, if I interfered…the gun would go off.

Both men were breathing hard, completely focused on one another.

Out the windows behind Alex, gray sea stretched to the horizon, but there was something startling nearby—a black boat slicing through the waves, headed for the shore. It seemed impossible—an intrusion from some other world. After twenty-four hours of isolation, I would’ve been less astonished to see angels streaming from the sky.

“The Coast Guard,” I said.

Neither man moved.

“Lindy,” I said. “The Coast Guard is here. They’ll take Alex into custody.”

“You tried to make a deal for your life,” the old man told Alex. “After all you’ve done.”

“You don’t understand.”

“You contacted the Marshal’s Office.”


“I won’t let you go free,” Lindy promised. “I won’t let you just disappear.”

“He won’t go free,” I told Lindy. “Not with Longoria dead. They won’t make any deals with him now. Let the law handle this, Mr. Lindy. Put the gun down.”

“I didn’t kill Rachel,” Alex said.

No statement could’ve infuriated Lindy more.

“Try an apology,” the old man said. “Plead for your life.”

Outside, the boat bobbed closer. Several men stood at the prow. Out the opposite window, a column of smoke billowed up from the hotel—wet wood and plaster and carpet going up in a blaze.

“We have to get out of here,” Alex said. “The rest will go soon.”

“He’s right,” I told Lindy. “There’s enough explosive material in the bomb room to blow up ten hotels. It’ll take out this tower.”

“Don’t change the subject,” Lindy growled. “I want to hear why you killed my Rachel. I want to hear you justify that.”

“Lindy,” I said. “He’s all that’s left of your wife. Let him stand trial, but don’t kill him.”

Lindy’s finger tightened on the trigger. Alex locked eyes with me. He was trying to tell me something. Like a silent apology.

Too late, I realized what he was going to do. He made a desperate grab for Benjamin Lindy’s hand, and the gun fired.

The shot pushed Alex against the window. The glass cracked under his weight but didn’t break. He slumped to the floor, holding his chest, his shirt already soaked with blood.

“Go,” Alex groaned. “Hurry.”

I knelt at his side. His face was colorless. He clutched his shirt, struggling to breathe, just like Ralph Arguello had done the night he died.

“I’ll help you,” I told him.

Alex shook his head.

Then he closed his eyes and didn’t move again.

The hotel rumbled behind us as another section collapsed into flames.

“Tres!” Garrett shouted from the bottom of the stairs.

I rose to face Benjamin Lindy. His face was blank, like a man who had decided his life was over.

“I’m done here,” he said simply. And he dropped the gun.

Garrett and Lane were waiting at the bottom of the stairs. Both looked sweaty and out of breath. Garrett was in his chair. Apparently, Lane had helped him up the path.

“We heard the shots,” Garrett said. “Where is Alex?”

“Upstairs,” I said.

I guess my tone said the rest.

Garrett focused on Lindy. “You bastard.”

Garrett took out the .357—Maia’s gun. My luck keeping track of weapons had never been worse.

“Your friend murdered my daughter,” Lindy said. “Do what you need to.”

He did not look concerned. He looked strangely like Alex Huff—as if he were caught in a riptide he couldn’t possibly control.

“He wasn’t a murderer,” Garrett said. “He couldn’t have been.”