"Wake up, Sam." Maddie swatted Sam in the back of the head.
The lights of Vegas shone bright in the near distance.
"What?" Sam muttered, opening his eyes.
"I don't know how you can sleep in that seat and handcuffed like that," Maddie said. "You sleep like a rock."
"Yeah, it's a skill." Sam stretched as best he could in the passenger seat. "It's a side effect of being a werewolf. I mentioned that. After a nap like that, though, I can go a long time without sleeping. Quite a useful ability." Sam grimaced and licked his dry lips. "Could I get a drink of water, please?"
Maddie lifted a canteen from the back seat and unscrewed the top. "Tilt your head back." Sam did so and Maddie poured water into his mouth.
Sam swallowed as Maddie took a drink also. "Thanks," he said.
Maddie put the canteen behind the seat. "Where do I go?"
Sam smiled. "Yeah, that part is a bit tricky. You see, I live in one of the apartments in the Bellagio, so getting into my place unseen might be a problem."
"I thought it might be something like that. On the other hand, you're a lady's man around town, aren't you, Sam?" asked Maddie.
Sam grinned. "Well, sure but I don't see what that has to do with anything."
"Here's the drill. I'm your date. We're drunk and you're taking me back to your place for a fun evening. If anyone talks to you, wave them off with a wink and a witty rejoinder. That should get us into your place."
Sam sat looking at the lights. "Yeah," he admitted, "that might work, but you don't look like the kind of girl I usually bring home."
"I thought of that. I can make my clothes a little more attractive. It'll be a pretty girl/combat Jane sort of thing. Will that work for you?"
Sam chuckled. "Sort of a, what was that game? A Lara Croft thing?"
Maddie nodded. "Exactly."
Sam's eyes glinted. "Well, this will be worth seeing." He shrugged. "It's a good plan."
Maddie smiled and shook her head at him. "Holy smokes, Sam. I can read your mind. You're thinking you'll bide your time and use your greater speed and strength to take me out before we get there." The look in Sam's eyes dimmed. "But here's the deal." Maddie lifted a small device from the back seat. "Before I woke you, I put together this little baby. It will fire two bullets at the same time, sort of a mini-derringer. I'll have it wedged against your chest. If you ease the pressure in the front of the barrel, the pins connect and the bullets fire. If you do something to me, I release the pressure against your side, blowing a hole in you."
Sam's face darkened. "So a homemade deadman's switch zip-gun?" He bit his lower lip. "You are clever. But what if it fails? What if it blows up or something?"
Maddie shrugged. "I lose a finger or two. You lose a lot more. Let's hope that doesn't happen, Sam."
Maddie cut her combat pants short, the bottoms of the pockets clearly showing. They created a combat-tramp look when she put her boots back on. She tore the sleeves from her shirt and unbuttoned it halfway down her bare chest, tying it securely above her navel. With a glance at Sam, she knew she succeeded in the right look. She growled at him. "Now take me to where we can park this thing unseen and walk to your home, Sam."
Sam's eyes glinted as he looked at her. Maddie strapped the pistol back on and pulled it from its holster, holding it against Sam's head. His eyes widened. "If you can't get me to your place for the antidote, Sam, then you're not useful to me and I'm wasting time with you. I'd rather be back with Jed in that case."
Sam gulped, his Adam's apple riding up and down. "Yeah, I can get you in the back lot. The gate is permanently down. We can use Frank Sinatra Drive. It comes around the back of the Bellagio. He doesn't guard roads, just buildings."
Maddie holstered the pistol and smiled sweetly. "If we don't park unseen, Sam, I plan to shoot you and leave. Is that clear to you?"
"Abundantly. Don't you think the gun is a little much for your disguise though?"
Maddie looked at him, a dangerous glint in her eyes. "You'll be living a bit on the wild side tonight, Sam, so you'd better sell it if you need to. I'd rather you didn't need to..."
An hour later the buggy was parked in the back lot of the Bellagio. Las Vegas was no longer a party city; now at three in the morning the town was quiet. Fountains no longer danced to loud music. There was a feel of unreality to the night as Maddie walked around and pushed her derringer into Sam's side. He heard and felt a sharp click and he sat very, very still.
"Easy, now, Sam. Get up nice and slow." She clumsily unlocked one cuff and handed him the key. "Undo the other handcuff and slide those into my back pocket. Call it decoration, if you like."
Sam did so, chuckling. "You're such a tease," he muttered. They moved toward the back doors of the Bellagio. "I'm on the fifteenth floor, a Tower Suite," Sam said.
Maddie smiled at him and leaned closer, whispering in his ear. "Am I supposed to be impressed?" The cold metal barrel felt hard against Sam's ribs. He tried to ignore it.
"Well, it's a big deal. The more highly the Doctor values you, the higher up you are."
"So how tall is the Bellagio, Sam?" Maddie whispered.
Sam paused, his voice quiet. "Oh. Well, thirty-six floors."
"Well, then there are eleven floors of people above you, aren't there, Sam?" Maddie chuckled.
"Nice, Maddie. Real nice." Sam approached the back door and knocked. The metal barrel jammed more tightly in his side, Maddie hanging on him to hide the device.
Sweat rolled into Sam's eyes and he wiped it away with his sleeve. "What? It's locked and guarded, Maddie. There's no other way in..."
The door swung open and a huge man stood inside, emanating violence. Maddie sensed the vampire in him. He looked at her oddly then looked at Sam, who staggered a little and squinted up at the big man.
"Sam?" The big guy crossed his arms, but didn't move from the door.
"A'lo Lawrenshe. Lawrensh. Lawrennch." Sam slurred his words and poked the big man in the chest with his right forefinger. "You know whatcher name is, right?"
Lawrence sighed deeply and looked down at Sam, cocking an eyebrow at his view of Maddie and her outfit. "Yes, Sam. I thought you were on Doctor business. I haven't seen you in months."
Sam struggled to stand straighter, managing to fail miserably and slouch closer to Maddie. "Thish ish Doctor biznush, Lawrensh. One hunnerd percent Doctor biznush." He poked the big guy harder. "An' it ish my job, my privilesh to take thish lady to searsh her from top to bottom. And I musht do it shoon, so pleash standsh ashide."
Lawrence pointed at the gun on Maddie's hip. "What about that?"
Sam's hand traveled across Maddie's hip as she clung to him. He patted her a few times, then his fingers touched the pistol. He felt a sharp pain in his ribs. Sam grinned up at Lawrence. "Ish mine, of coursh." He winked at the big man. "She likesh to wear it."
Lawrence moved from the doorway, a frown on his face. "I suppose I should tell you that Agnes is looking for you."
"Well, she wilsh she me shoon, after I finish witsh the Doctor biznush." Sam staggered forward, Maddie tight against him, her eyes half closed and smiling stupidly at Lawrence.
As they entered the elevator Maddie leaned close to Sam's ear. "Nice job, Sam."
"A lot of practice," he muttered back.
On the fifteenth floor Sam walked to one of the large wooden doors. "This is it," he said. "I need my keys to open the door."
"Back pocket, where you put them, Sam." Maddie leaned into him as he reached into her back pocket, squeezing her butt as he pulled the keys out.
Maddie pressed the barrel up against his side, pushing hard, eyes angry.
"What?" Sam grinned as he found the key and unlocked the door. "Simply playing the part."
"A little too well, Sam."
Sweat trickled down Sam's hairline as he opened the door, Maddie draped on him. He dropped the key ring on a small table and kicked the door closed. "Okay," he said loudly, "we're here. We're alone, so you don't have to jam that thing into my side anymore."
Maddie looked at him, her eyebrows furrowed as they moved forward into the lavish apartment. "Hey, keep the volume down, Sam. What's with you anyway?"
Sam looked over Maddie's shoulder, his eyes wide in terror. "No!" Sam wrapped his arms around Maddie and held her against him tightly as the vase crashed into the back of her head. As Maddie slumped to the floor, Sam heard a sharp click. He closed his eyes, waiting for the bullets to crash through his ribs and shred his heart.