Something made the back of Mike's neck tingle as the vehicle followed and he realized that it was keeping pace with them! He grabbed Karin's arm, hurrying her. She looked at him in alarm, but did not resist as he urged her to run.
"I think that maniac wants to kill us!" Mike muttered.
They had reached the end of the alley, which opened out into a main road. He was about to propel her across the road when the driver of the car following them, suddenly switched on the headlights, revving the engine and coming straight at them. What game was this fool playing? He must be mad!
Almost blinded by the lights, Mike instincts made him throw Karin to one side and dive after her, shielding her body. He felt something hard brush against his leg, then the car was passed them and speeding off down the road, disappearing around the corner at the far end. There was no license plate visible.
"Sorry," Mike said as he stood up and pulled the girl to her feet. "I hope you're not hurt."
"Bruised and shocked," she admitted her face pale in the darkness.
"Were you hit?" He was feeling his leg and she looked at him in concern as he limped across the road, looking warily from one side to another, although he knew it wasn't going to happen again. "He must have been drunk!"
"No, not drunk," Mike replied grimly. He discovered that he was breathing hard, and it wasn't shock but the way his body had reacted to the feel of hers pressed closely to his. "He knew exactly what he was doing, believe me. Another inch and my leg would've have been broken. I have a feeling that was a warning."
"For what?" Karin's smoky grey eyes were wide with distress. "Do you have enemies, Mr Wendell?"
"Apparently," he said, smiling lazily. "But as long as they only want to warn me that's okay by me. It's when they really start trying to kill me that I worry."
"Has that happened?"
"Not yet," he replied. "Come on, I'll buy you a drink, Miss Blake. We both need it after that."
He pushed open the door of the bar, leading her into the noisy, friendly atmosphere. A large, fat man waved to him from behind the bar as they approached.
"Hi, Mike," he said. "What happened to you – and your friend?"
Mike glanced at Karin. Her expensive red dress was stained where she had fallen and there was a smear of dirt on her cheek; his jacket was wet on one arm.
"A brush with a maniac in a car," Mike said. "Nothing to worry about, Luigi – but you could bring a towel for Miss Blake if you would."
"Sure, no trouble – Maria, she bring." He turned and called something in Italian, and a woman appeared in the doorway behind. She was even larger than her husband, but she had a lovely smile. "You take the lady to a table, Maria come to you."
"Thank you," Karin said, glancing down at herself. "Perhaps I could pop to the toilets?"
"Yeah, sure they're out there." Luigi jerked his head to one side. "What do you want to drink? It's on the house."
"A glass of red wine please." She smiled and moved off towards the bathroom.
Luigi rolled his eyes at Mike. "That's some lady," he said appreciatively. "She's class – what she doing with you?"
"She's a client," Mike said. "Give me double bourbon, Luigi."
"Got the shakes?" Luigi raised his brows. Mike usually only drank beer.
"No – it's for my leg." Mike rolled up the left leg of the combat trousers he was wearing, revealing a nasty gash. "It's not bleeding too much, but it stings like hell."
"This will make it sting more," his friend said as he handed over the glass and watched as Mike poured the liquid over the deep graze. Luigi winced but Mike merely grimaced, then drank the last mouthful of the bourbon. "You get the number of that maniac?"
Mike shook his head. "It must have been concealed in some way. I think he was waiting for me to show." He shook his head as Luigi would have questioned him more. "Here comes Miss Blake – forget it. I don't want her frightened more than she has been already."
Karin was being fussed over by Maria, and she smiled as she came up to them. "There, I feel much better. Now, if we could talk, Mr Wendell – I have a plane to catch later this evening."
"Yeah, sure." Mike picked up the beer that Luigi had poured for him and ushered her over to the table in the corner. "Shoot … I mean, tell me, Miss Blake."
"Do you think you could call me Karin?" she asked. "I think something a little less formal – don't you, Mike?"
He shrugged, looking at her from beneath lazy lids and long, thick lashes that veiled his thoughts. She was very attractive. He thought he might have seen her face somewhere before, but couldn't be certain – maybe on a billboard somewhere? She was certainly one sexy little number and just looking made him as hard as iron. Mike hadn't been with a woman or thought about sex in a while.