“Stone!” Moses’ head appeared in the doorway. “Miss Trinity called. She needs your help.”
Stone didn’t wait for an explanation, but made a beeline for the doorway. As he took the steps two at a time, Moses followed along behind and elaborated.
“She said she went to the cab company and didn’t find anything, but they acted funny. When she went to leave, they offered her a ride, but she didn’t feel right about it. Now, she thinks somebody’s following her.”
“Where is she?”
“She called from a diner on H Street. She was going to wait for you there, but she thought somebody was watching her, so she decided to walk back to her office.”
“Of course she did!” Stone slammed a meaty fist into his open palm. “Impulsive as always. Did she call the police?”
“I asked her that, but she said they’d just figure she was another hysterical woman.”
“She’s probably right, but I still wish she’d have called them.”
After retrieving his Webley, he ran outside, Moses still at his side. He burst through the front door and hurried in the direction of the old carriage house. “You said you’ve got my Indian running?” he called over his shoulder.
“Yes, sir. It’s ready to go.”
“Do you want me to go with you?” Alex had appeared on the front step.
“You call the police. I don’t care how you do it, but get them out looking for Trinity.”
Stone’s Indian Scout motorcycle waited in the carriage house. Moses had polished it to a high sheen, and the red paint and silver chrome gleamed in the shafts of afternoon sunlight that streamed through cracks in the wall. The low-slung bike, with its long wheel base and and backswept handlebars, brought back fond memories, but there was no time to reminisce. He hopped on, fired the engine and, in a flash, was zooming toward the capital city.
Best known for its handling, the Scout wasn’t the most powerful motorcycle on the market, but it could hold its own. As Stone accelerate, though, he immediately realized that Moses had done more than maintain the engine; he’d improved it. He felt a surge of power as the motorcycle hurtled down the road faster than he would have believed possible. He took the corners as fast as humanly possible, and opened it up on the straightaways. Before he knew it, the peak of the Washington Monument came into view.
He performed a few mental calculations. He didn’t know exactly where Trinity had been when she made the call, nor what route she’d take to her office. The most direct route would take her past the Capitol Building and the Treasury Department. To be safe, he swung around to H Street and followed it down toward the mall. Weaving in and out of the light traffic, he kept his eyes peeled as he shot down the street. A few pedestrians cast admiring glances his way— the men at his motorcycle, the ladies at him, but his focus was entirely on finding Trinity.
The longer he rode without finding her, the hollower the feeling in his chest. Why had he allowed her to put herself in danger? He’d thought letting her investigate the cab company a good way to safely divert her attention, but if her instincts were correct, the company itself was dirty. If anything had happened to her, he vowed to pay the company a visit and settle the score however he saw fit.
He slowed for pedestrians at the intersection of H Street and Pennsylvania Avenue and a figure darted out of the crowd, heading directly for him. Unthinking, he grabbed his Webley and leveled it at the figure, who shrieked.
“Stone! It’s me, you dolt!”
Stone’s entire body sagged with relief as Trinity scrambled onto the back of the oversized seat of his Indian and wrapped her arms around his waist. How many times had they ridden like this in their youth?
“What are you waiting for? Go!” she shouted into his ear.
“Grinning with relief, Stone took the Indian down Pennsylvania Avenue. As they flashed past the White House, a pleasant wave of nostalgia swept over him. Trinity riding on the back of his bike, barking orders and expecting to be obeyed without question. He’d missed this.
“I knew someone was following me, so I kept ducking in and out of shops and businesses, trying to shake him, but I never could. I was beginning to think you weren’t coming.”
That was patently unfair. Stone had made excellent time, and if Trinity had wanted immediate help, she should have called the police. But, before he could protest, squealing tires and blaring horns caught his attention. He stole a glance behind him and saw a taxi cab bearing down on him.
“It’s them!” Trinity shouted.
“I’d like to see them catch us.” Accelerating, Stone weaved around a slow-moving vehicle, and then shot across the street. Trinity screamed as they just missed the grill of an oncoming truck, and bounced up onto the sidewalk.
“What’s the point of getting away from them if you kill us?” she screamed.
Stone ignored her. With lightning-fast reflexes and years of experience, he deftly swerved past a cluster of surprised men and shot back across the road. He took the turn at 15th Street, Trinity leaning into the turn like an old hat, and zipped toward the National Mall.
Behind them, the cab came up on two tires as it rounded the corner. Biting back a curse, Stone turned his eyes to the front. It was going to take more than a little fancy riding to escape their pursuers.
That thought had just crossed his mind when a bullet zipped past his shoulder, the hollow report of a pistol scarcely audible over the roar of the engine.
“Now what?” Trinity was surprisingly unfazed by this new development.
Stone began weaving the Indian back and forth. Shooting at someone from a moving vehicle was difficult enough. If your target was moving, it was nigh-impossible for all but the finest marksmen. Another bullet pinged off the pavement, and then they were crossing B Street, not even slowing for traffic.
“Hold on tight!” He felt Trinity’s arms squeeze his waist, and then the Indian bounded over the sidewalk and up onto the lawn surrounding the Washington Monument.
“Are they still following us?” he shouted.
“They stayed on 15th. Look out!”
The taxi was running parallel to their course, and the passenger was now braced on the window, taking careful aim. Stone steered the bike up a sharp incline below a sidewalk and the Indian went airborne as shots rang out again. They hit the ground smoothly and he opened the engine up.
“It’s no good!” Trinity called. “They’ll circle around and head us off.”
“I’ve got a plan.” As they closed the remaining gap up to the famed monument, Stone eased up on the accelerator. Surprised pedestrians leapt out of the way, crying out in anger or surprise as the motorcycle zipped past. Bullets still flying, Stone circled the monument and made a sharp left. The surprised cab driver stepped on the brakes, the gunman nearly falling from the window as the motorcycle shot across 15th and onto the National Mall.
The Indian fishtailed on the slick grass, but Stone maintained control. As the lush carpet of green flew past, Stone allowed himself to relax, but the moment was short-lived.
“They’re behind us again!”
The cab was now barreling down the lawn in hot pursuit. The passenger leaned out the window again and began firing. The shots came at a rapid clip, now, but Stone continued to evade. Soon, the gun fell silent.
“I think he’s out of ammunition,” Stone said.
“Now we just need to keep them from running us over.” Trinity still sounded calm, despite what she’d been through.
“I’ve got it covered.” Stone eased off the gas, allowing the cab to close the gap between them.
“Shouldn’t you be speeding up?”
“Give it a second.”
The cab drew close enough for Stone to get a good look at both of his pursuers. Both were thickset men in suits. The passenger was a greasy-looking character with receding brown hair, while the driver had a square chin, a reddish-blond flat-top haircut, and a scar on his chin. He bared his straight, white teeth as he bore down on Stone and Trinity.
When the cab had almost caught up with them, Stone sped the motorcycle up again. He led the taxi on a winding chase along the mall, keeping just ahead of them. Time after time, they crossed over streets that intersected the grassy lawn, but the cab kept pace. Finally, his destination was in sight.
“Trinity!” he shouted. “Whatever you do, don’t let go?”
There was no time to answer. Stone cut to the left, slowed a little, and with a jolt they bounded up the steps of the Capitol Building. The cab driver, so focused on running down his quarry that he hadn’t realized where they were, hit the brakes hard.
Too late. The cab smashed into the marble steps.
While onlookers rushed to the scene of the accident, Stone skirted the building, coming out on B Street. In front of the Library of Congress, two men in a familiar vehicle flagged them down: Alex and Moses.
“Are you all right?” Alex asked.
“So far, so good. You two take Trinity back to the house. If anyone else is following, I’ll lead them away.”
Trinity slid down off the motorcycle and gave him a long, searching look. For a moment, he thought she would argue, but instead, she put her hands on his cheeks and kissed him hard.
“Take care of yourself,” she whispered.
Dumbfounded, Stone watched his friends drive away, before revving his engine and peeling out. He made several unnecessary turns, all the while checking behind him, but no one followed him. The ride gave him an opportunity to clear his head and consider his situation.
Today’s events had convinced him that, even if he wanted to forsake his grandfather’s bequest, he wouldn’t have that choice. Whatever lay on this mysterious island, men would kill to find it, and neither Stone nor those he cared about would be in danger.
He had to solve the mystery.