After a rough assignment catching people out to destroy battered women's shelters, Anne needed a break. Being assigned to observe operations at Common Grounds Legal Clinic seemed like a cake assignment. Xander Finley, the head lawyer, was a friend of Joan, already supported by the Arc Foundation. Arc was simply expanding its support.
But then Anne was carjacked, her guard dog, Argus, shot. She was already off-balance, worried about Argus and wearing borrowed clothes, and things got worse from day one. Face-to-face with someone from her painful past and feeling antagonism from Xander's employees, Anne stumbled into one problem after another. Her frustration grew when allies became enemies, and she was accused of entrapment and then attempted murder. How come prayer was her last resort, when it should have been her first reaction to every problem?
"I'm your first hold-up, huh?"
He nodded. Anne held out her hand again. He looked at her hand, looked back over his shoulder at the grocery store, looked at Argus. The big dog was quiet now, still standing on alert, teeth still bared, advertising his willingness to bite the minute the young gunman did anything wrong. Just because Vincent trained all the Quarry Hall dogs to never bite, that didn't mean they couldn't or wouldn't threaten to bite. It was amazing, Anne reflected, what the power of suggestion could do in a tense situation.
"Look, couldn't you just... like forget I was here?"
"I'm soaking wet. Tomorrow's lunch is in a puddle. I'm going to have one doozy of a bruise in the morning. Getting held up after a day of driving in the rain is not going to be easy to forget!" She managed a grin, though the shakes were working their way up from her guts.
Please, Lord, don't let me get stupid, now. My guardian angel has already been working overtime lately.
"No, you have to let me go."
"You need help. Nobody decides just to take somebody else's total worldly goods without some kind of reason." Anne reached into her pocket.
"What're you --"
"Just let me give you my card. It has a number you can call for help. That's what we do. We help people. Even dumb ones." She grinned wider, and pulled out her wallet. The keys came with it, falling to the ground with a jangle-splash sound.
"How about you give me all your money and I let you keep the truck and we call it quits?" he said, his voice shaking a little. The gun lowered a tiny bit more. Still not low enough to suit Anne. She had a mental image of the gun going off, the bullet bouncing off the pavement and hitting her somewhere totally embarrassing.
The grocery store door squeaked open, distracting them both. He turned a little, raising his gun. Argus growled.
"Hey, what's going on over there?" a man shouted. He stepped out into the parking lot lights, revealing himself as tall, balding, dressed in dark slacks, white shirt, and the long red apron the store workers wore.
"Don't tell them anything!" the gunman demanded, his hand shaking now. He took a step backwards and pointed the gun at Anne.
Argus leaped, aiming for the gunman's chest, to knock him to the ground as trained.
"No! Down!" she screamed.