“They could’ve gone down the night before and been waiting for us,” Drake said. “They told us to go home, but they figured either we were going to find those rooms or Henriksen would.”
“Uh-uh, no,” Jada said, shaking her head. “The skeleton, the Minotaur or whatever—his fingers broke off when we slid the altar back. If anyone else had gone down that way before us, that would’ve happened then, not now.”
Drake pondered that, running a finger inside the collar of his new sweater. The tag was bugging him, distracting him, but there was no arguing with Jada’s point. Not that he had actually believed the hooded killers had slipped past the dig workers or security and gone down through the upper-level worship chamber. Sure, he’d seen the way they seemed able to melt silently in and out of shadows like some kind of crazy ninja assassins, but if they wanted to, he would have bet they could have killed every person working on the dig team.
So why hadn’t they? They had rules, he thought. They weren’t going to kill people who didn’t break them.
Had they been giving Drake, Sully, and Jada the benefit of the doubt? The hooded men had told them to go home; had they been waiting for the three of them to cross some invisible line? To trespass?
“We already talked about there being another way in,” he reminded her. “We felt the air moving. By now, Hilary Russo and her people—and probably the antiquities minister or whoever—have already found the other entry point.”
“Agreed,” Jada said. When she nodded, her hair veiled her face again. “But the labyrinth was buried for, like, thousands of years. If the archaeologists unearthing the site didn’t know there was another way in, how did they?”
“Now you’re just creeping me out,” Drake said.
“I’m creeping myself out!” Jada said. “ ’Cause the next question is, if they knew the bat cave entrance to that labyrinth, do they know about this one?”
Drake caught another whiff of the pipe smoke he’d smelled before. Mixed in with that odor were delicious aromas of frying onions and spices. From another bar, a ways back along the walk, loud music had begun to play, the kind of thumping dance noise that roared in the sort of nightclub he had always avoided. But earlier they had passed a young bearded guy playing a bouzouki, and Drake had allowed himself a moment to wish they were here on some less troubling errand and without the specter of Luka’s death looming over them.
“I don’t think I want the answer to that,” he admitted. “But I figure we’ll find out when we find the labyrinth on Therasia.”
“Can’t wait,” Jada muttered.
They turned together, in silent agreement that they were moving on from both the topic and the location. Something caught Drake’s attention, a shifting of the night shadows on top of the darkened jewelry store to their left. He glanced up and froze, staring.
Jada walked on several steps before she realized he wasn’t with her.
“Nate?” she asked, turning to see what had snagged his attention.
Drake started walking again, taking her elbow and hurrying along the path. He glanced over his shoulder, looking at the jewelry store’s roof and then checking others on both sides of the path. They went down five steps, and he picked up his pace further.
“What the hell’s wrong with—” she started. “Wait, did you see one of them? The hooded guys?”
“I’m not sure,” Drake said.
And he wasn’t. It had been a momentary glimpse, little more than a shadow detaching itself from another shadow and retreating out of sight. But something had been moving up there, and even if Henriksen had caught up with them this quickly, the men he’d hired thus far weren’t clever or stealthy enough to lurk in shadows.
“You think they’re trailing us right now?” Jada asked.
“Why just watch? They don’t know what to make of us? Or they’re biding their time?”
Drake wanted to comfort her, but he’d had a lifetime of telling people what they needed to hear instead of what they wanted to hear. And Jada wasn’t exactly a damsel in distress.
“These guys are like shadows. They don’t like being seen,” Drake said. “They took a risk back in Egypt with so many people seeing them. My guess is they didn’t like it. They’re doing what any decent hunter would do, waiting for the right moment. They’ll want us alone, away from a crowd. Better still if they can take us one by one.”
Jada’s face went slack. “Oh, no. Uncle Vic.”
Drake felt his heart sink. He couldn’t be sure of what he’d seen, but if they were being shadowed—if these ninja assholes really did want to take them out—and they’d left Sully alone—
He took Jada’s hand, and together they ran.
They raced along the walkway, past the bars and darkened shops, watching rooftops and shadows for any further threat. But Drake’s thoughts had shifted away from self-preservation. The fear that made his heart race, thrumming in his skull, had nothing to do with his own safety. He hadn’t seen the corpse of Luka Hzujak, but he knew how the dead man had ended up—in a trunk with his arms and legs cut off and his decapitated head resting on his chest, abandoned on a train platform. He had to force himself not to picture Sully’s face staring up from inside that trunk, a bloodstain spreading out beneath it on a vintage guayabera, the copper stink of blood mixing with the earthy odor of old cigars.
Jada let go of his hand, and he wished she had held on. But they needed to run faster, and that didn’t leave time for them to soothe each other’s fears.
Drake darted along a narrow path that led down, cut into the cliff face. The island fell away to the right. There were homes and hotels and even a few more restaurants below, slashed into the rock, but none of them were likely to save them if they fell. Small trees and bushes grew around the path, along with fall flowers, a minor miracle considering the severely arid climate of the island. Drake scratched his arm on something as he whipped by, but those were the sorts of things that grew on Santorini—the prickly, dangerous ones.
A chorus of laughter rippled into the air ahead. They descended narrow steps carved from stone and came to another long slash of a terrace, a walkway filled with middle-aged Germans on holiday. Several of them swore as Drake and Jada elbowed through them. One man tried to grab Jada’s arm, but she popped her open hand against his chest, shoving him away. Drake smelled licorice and knew that one of them had spilled ouzo on his clothes. These were the details he absorbed as he ran, the minutiae he tried to use to drive back the dark thoughts.
“He’ll be all right,” Jada whispered as she ran beside him. “He has all the guns.”
The guns had occurred to Drake the moment he saw the dark figure on the rooftop. He and Jada had not wanted to risk carrying illegal weapons in public unless they were sure they would need them. Stupid, he thought now. Careless. They weren’t on holiday. The very idea of a moonlit stroll had been ridiculous. The three of them should have holed up in their suite until morning, waiting for daybreak, when they could search for the labyrinth.
The hotel lay ahead. They reached a narrow set of stairs winding up the cliff face and ran up the seventeen steps to the top, and the doorway loomed on their left. Straight ahead was the pool, still bright blue under the lights, heated just enough that a few brave souls stood quietly flirting with one another in the water and admiring the view of the caldera far below, glistening in the moonlight.