Rachel Hart battled with a gaggle of stunt harnesses beneath the blazing Los Angeles Indian summer sun until the muscles of her arms ached. Sweat trickled along the indentation of her spine and dampened the back of her new sundress.
“I should have known better than to wear something cute on location,” she complained into her Bluetooth headset, jerking against nylon, canvas…even freaking Kevlar until her back and shoulders ached. “This is a disgrace. I can’t believe you take such shitty care of the very equipment that saves your stupid asses.”
A few harnesses pulled free, and the momentum of her struggle knocked her off balance. She dropped the gear into the dirt at her feet, and stared down at the tangle, hands on hips, panting. “Who is responsible for this mess?”
“Keaton.” The blame came over her headset in two distinct voices—Duke’s and Troy’s.
“Just throw me under the bus, why don’t you?” Keaton said. “Assholes.”
Rachel turned from the equipment compartment beneath the Renegades’ on-site stunt trailer and squinted up the mountain face. Duke, Troy, and Keaton hung at different levels, their forms outlined by the creamy granite at their backs. Two cameramen hung nearby, one filming from a higher vantage point, the other filming from the lower, equipment mounted on their shoulders.
“This might take a while, and I’ve got a bunch of other stuff to do. Which is more important to you, this harness or your paychecks?”
“Paychecks,” all three men said at the same time.
“But Jax is on his way over to pick it up,” Troy added.
The owner of Renegades, Jax Chamberlin, had been performing another stunt across town that morning. “Now?” She turned back to the knot of straps and latches, and even the thought of fighting with them again made the aches in her body deepen. “I thought he’d be filming all day.”
“He nailed the fall on the first take,” Keaton said. “They wrapped early.”
Rachel growled, crouched, and wrestled one of the harnesses free, then gritted her teeth and untangled two more. “Little notice would be nice, guys.” She held up two harnesses, both of which seemed identical. “What does this thing look like?”
“It’s the Zero G,” Troy said.
“Full body,” Keaton added, “with side D rings.”
She blew out a breath, ruffling the strands of her hair that had fallen from the messy bun held together by pencils. “That’s a little like me asking you to get the crackle nail polish from my makeup drawer, which, at last count, contained seventy-two bottles.”
A chorus of groans filled her ears.
“It’s black,” Duke said.
“Oh.” She drew out the word, staring into the dregs of the trailer. Ninety percent of the harnesses were black. “That’s helpful, Duke.”
Inside the trailer, the phone rang. “Shit.” She dropped the rig and started around the front. “I have to get the phone.”
“Rachel—” Troy said, irritation in his voice.
“I’m waiting for Precision to call me back—” She turned the corner, her mind on the risk assessment consulting company that held the key to success for the last stunt in the Bond film, and found a UPS man blocking the stairs with a cart of boxes.
He looked up from his clipboard, his middle-aged face drawn with fatigue, sweat glistening across his forehead and turning the chest of his brown uniform shirt dark. “Delivery for Renegades. Where would you like it?”
“Um…delivery?” Her mind skipped through the orders she’d recently placed, but had no idea what could be in these boxes or where they should go. She squeezed between the boxes and the arm rail to get up the steps. “Let me just get this…”