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she heard the wail of a siren and fought the urge to speed off again, gripping the steering wheel so tight her fingers tingled. Joe was unconcerned by the sound of sirens, busy rifling through the bag sitting at his feet. When he spoke, it sounded like someone was strangling him. “The money’s gone.” “What?” The bag was still in the foot well and just as full as it had been when they left the bank. “It’s right there, I see it.” “It ain’t money no more.” His attempt at explanation degenerated into incoherent cursing about the Feds and their triple-damned technology. He shoved one of the bills at her and she took it reflexively. Not ten minutes ago it had been unremarkable currency. Now the paper was blank and dissolving around the edges. Her heart flew into her throat, vision swimming as her eyes stung and watered. Without that money there would be no operation. No hope. She’d already sold everything she could and never made a dent in the medical bills, never mind coming up with the necessary funds for the experimental procedure Ella’s doctor had suggested. Her stomach flipped as she raised her eyes and saw a roadblock full of flashing lights. No more chances. “I told ya that bastard with the security codes was a Fed. Ya dumb broad, ya got us busted!” Joe lunged at her. It would have been more threatening if he’d remembered to remove his seat belt first. The belt pulled him up short like a dog on a choke chain, and his face contorted as he growled at her. “I’ll kill ya. I knew you was a plant. That job was too good to be true.” It wouldn’t do her any good to argue, though she could point out that the supposed federal agent was 102

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