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  • Текст добавлен: 4 октября 2016, 23:23

Текст книги "Adrenaline"

Автор книги: Jeff Abbott

Соавторы: Jeff Abbott





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Текущая страница: 21 (всего у книги 28 страниц)


PIET HAD PARKED HIS VAN on a side street and stumbled along the Prinsengracht. He remembered walking along the grand canals with his mother, hand in hand, before Mama would go to her job, kneeling before the disgusting strangers. He’d dreamed of living in one of these nice homes, with the canal glistening in the morning light. He’d become a great artist and have a studio along the Prinsengracht or the Herengracht. It had never happened, and now it never would.

Most of the windows were dark, but the apartment immediately above the Rode Prins had every light blazing.

He staggered to the Rode Prins’s front door. What was the barman’s name? Henrik. He could ask for Henrik. Maybe Henrik was the manager; maybe he lived above the bar.

The job had gotten too messy. Information on Edward could buy him passage. He’d go someplace quiet like Panama or Honduras. Warm, under bright skies and slack laws. Lots of girls there that could be shipped up to brothels in the States and Canada. He’d start over. You could always start over when you had good people skills.

Heavy velvet curtains covered both the front windows and the door. He knocked on the door. Once, almost timidly. He didn’t want to attract police attention. He didn’t see that a small camera, hidden in the doorway, watched his moves. He knocked again, slightly louder, and was very surprised when the curtain on the front door slid slowly open. A woman stared at him through the glass, and to his surprise he felt a shiver. Odd, the night wasn’t cold. Maybe he was losing blood.

“Samson sent me. He needs help. Please.”

The woman seemed to study him. She was a nice little number, maybe thirty, but a bit older wasn’t always a drawback. Blond hair, petite. Through the pain he assessed her, out of habit, as though she might bring him value. He remembered her now; he’d seen her in the bar before, when he drank beer with Sam. A prime little number, he’d joked.

“I don’t know who Samson is and the bar is closed.” She spoke with the very slightest muddle of some eastern European and British accent. Her words were hard and precise. He liked the accent. He’d developed a taste for hearing broken English with Slavic pronunciations, usually in a begging scream. He knew how to deal with Slavic girls.

“I don’t care if it’s closed. I want to see Henrik or whoever runs the place. I got information to sell.” He remembered the name Samson had used at Taverne Chevalier in Brussels. “Roger Cadet. That’s who I want to see, whoever works with Roger Cadet.”

“What sort of information?”

“On who Peter Samson is chasing.”

“His name’s not Peter Samson,” the woman said. Now he really didn’t like her tone, a bit clipped and impatient. Bitch needed a lesson in respect, he thought. “It’s just Sam,” she said.

“Well, Sam what-the-hell-ever. He works with you, right? You and the people in Brussels with the same bar? Can you make me a deal or not, bitch?”

She smiled at him. “Yes, I think I have a deal for you.”

He lowered his voice to a hiss. “Your boy is fighting some badasses right now. He needs help.”

“And you want protection from those same people. Your type, it is very predictable to me.”

He didn’t know what she meant. He didn’t care. “I got stuff of value.”

She looked hard at him. “I am Sam’s… superior. Come inside.”

She opened the door and he stumbled in. She closed the door behind him and shut the curtains. “Christ. Thank you. Can I get a drink?”

She went to the bar, poured a stiff shot of jenever. He eased onto a stool and drank it down. The alcohol seared his lacerated gums. “Sam kicked my teeth out.” He sounded like a whiny child.

She stayed on the other side of the bar and poured him another. “Yet you are here.”

“Sam had backing. You don’t just show up at a bar and leave armed to the teeth.” He slammed the second one down. Warmth seeped through him.

“My name is Mila,” she said. “And I’m not offering anything in trade. You will simply tell me where Sam is.”

Piet spat blood onto the bar, feeling nauseous. “Nothing’s free in this world.” He poured himself a refill and gulped the jenever again.

“Pain is.” She raised a small black stick. A baton. It telescoped out to an arm’s length. And she lashed it hard across his nose and mouth. He screeched in agony as the jenever glass shattered in his face. He swung blindly toward her and missed. She vaulted over the bar and began to hit him with a precision that rivaled a surgeon’s, delving past nerve and blood vessel to diseased tissue. He felt his nose break on her second blow. He lunged, trying to close his massive arms around her pixie’s frame, and she shattered his knee with a blow. Air vacated his lungs.

Her fist closed around his testicles, and agony replaced breathing. Then she hammered her forehead against his broken nose and he lay flat on the floor.

He opened his eyes. A lock of her blond hair, daubed with his blood, lay between her eyes. She was breathing hard.

“Do not move,” Mila said. “Do not raise your hands. Do not do anything except breathe and listen.”

He gasped and he listened.

“I know what you did to the women in the machinists’ shop,” she whispered. “I know. I know what you are. In the old days, Piet, you would have been the captain of a slave ship. Or a Nazi commandant, whipping laborers to death. You are cut from the same foul fabric. I know what you are. I know every inch of what you are.”

He moaned and writhed. His knee. The thought that he might never ever walk right again scratched past the pain in his brain.

“The bar has a concrete floor. The walls are soundproofed. None of that is an accident,” she said. She ran the edge of the telescoping baton along his shattered knee. “You will tell me what I want to know or I will rape you with this baton.”

A cold terror enclosed his heart. He looked up at her and saw, in a flash across her face, all the women he had sold. Past her shoulder he saw the red prince, in his portrait, the splatters of paint marring his face. He could see his own blood splatters, low on the bar’s front.

“Do you understand me?” Mila said.


“Where is Sam?”

He babbled out the address of the brewery and directions. She moved the baton toward his groin. “Please… please…”

“Shut up. You don’t get to ask for please. You don’t get to ask for mercy. Those are human concerns, and you are a human being in species only.” She stood. He sobbed, clutching his knee, moaning in pain.

“Stand up,” she said.

“I can’t, I can’t, you bitch.”

“It would take ten of you to make a real person. You shot one of the Moldovan girls in the calf when she fought you,” Mila said. “I know. She told me. She managed to stand. I’m just seeing if you’re made as tough as those women were. Stand—or the baton goes up your sorry ass. Ten. Nine. Eight…”

On two, he was on unsteady feet, shuddering in pain and rage.

“Listen,” he said. “It’s not my fault, it’s just a business… I had to make money. My parents are ill…”

“Shut up,” she said. “You are Piet Tanaka. You never knew your father and your mother is a dead whore. I don’t care that you hurt right now. No one cares. You made your choice about life. Your whining bores me.”

Tears leaked from his eyes. “I told you, I can provide information…”

“Those girls you send. To Israel, to Britain, to Spain, to Africa. They don’t get mercy. They don’t get to cut a deal. They don’t get traded to the police. They get used up and then they get killed. They get raped two dozen times a day.”

“Please…” Piet tried again.

“I think you need to know what it’s like. To be taken into a dark room and know that you are only there to be used. To be hurt. To be treated as less than human.”

Piet grabbed the brass railing along the floor, in front of the bar, squeezing it in agony. He sobbed.

She pulled a phone from her pocket and dialed a number. “Hello? Nadia?”

Nadia was the name of one of the girls. He remembered: the redhead.

“I have him. He has a broken leg, a broken nose, and he’s beat up good. He can’t get away from you. He can’t hurt you. Do you want me to bring him? You all could do with him what you like.” A pause that lengthened. “Are you sure? It might make you feel better. No. All right, then.”

She rang off. “The women don’t want to ever see you again. I guess they’re better than you.” Mila shrugged. She closed the baton.

“Please… please.”

“The women are also better than me.” She pulled a gun from the small of her back and she shot him in the crotch. Pain beyond imagination. He screamed and writhed and howled and clawed at the concrete.

Mila began to count. Leisurely. “One-Amsterdam. Two-Amsterdam. Three-Amsterdam,” while Piet sobbed and shuddered on the concrete. When she reached eight—one count for each young woman she’d saved from him—she put a mercy bullet between his eyes. He jerked, his corpse hissed out a purring breath, and lay still.

She didn’t look at him again. She picked up the phone and called Henrik. He answered on the third ring.

“I need you to clean up a very serious mess. Use the dump site out past the airport—and keep the bar closed today until you hear from me.”

“I understand,” Henrik said.

She unlocked the door, relocked it, and hurried to her car, arrowing onto the still streets. She started to shake about five minutes out of town, thinking of the dying man’s terrified eyes. A gaze that pled for a mercy she could not give.

Do you think he ever thought of the women’s eyes? Mila asked herself. He never did. Ever. Let it go.

She did and she drove. She wondered if Sam Capra was still alive, if she would ever tell him what she’d done. She thought not.


I FELT THE LOCK GIVE. I pushed open the door. My back was soaked with sweat.

I ran upstairs. I could hear distant shots. The men lay where I’d left them, except for one. He was by the wall.

All of them had bullet holes in their foreheads.

I ran up to the vat room. The guard I’d shot on the catwalk was down by the stairs now. Bullet hole in forehead.

I stumbled up the hallway to the storage room. The spill of cell phones still lay on the floor; the video game had run its course, showing an empty battlefield. The steel door was partly open; I pried it back. The five I’d corralled into the freezer room sat slumped. All of them shot dead at point-blank range.

I felt stunned. Edward had killed his entire team.


I hurried back up to the loading dock area. It smelled of blood and beer.

I could surrender to Howell, tell him about Lucy.

And hope that he believed me? If Lucy was already gone, I had no proof. And Howell would not let me escape again.


No surrender.

I had to get out without being seen.

I heard the back door crashing open. I ran. Or rather, I half stumbled, half ran. I darted through the wide open rooms, ran past the dead men. A window in the brickwork faced an empty field and a slightly decrepit windmill. First one I’d seen since getting to Holland.

I pulled myself up to the window, worked the lock, shoved it open.

“Stop! Sam Capra!” Howell’s voice rang out like a bolt from the blue. I stopped. I shouldn’t have. But I did. I looked behind me and he had a gun leveled at me, two men behind him, Glocks aimed at me.

“Step away from the window, Sam.”

“She was just here,” I said. “Lucy. She was just here.”

“Step away from the window and we’ll talk about it,” he said. He wanted me alive.

“You don’t believe me,” I said. “I know. She was just here. I came here to rescue a hostage they have and Lucy is with them. You were right. I was wrong.”

Howell’s voice was stone. “Let’s talk about it, Sam. Come tell me what you know and we’ll find her.”

I looked at him, in his pressed, perfect suit and his steel-rimmed glasses and his stage actor’s voice. I hated him. “I’m going to find her myself. She’s alive. She lost the baby.” I didn’t want him asking about my child.

“Just come down, Sam.”

They were going to shoot me; that was my last invitation. “How did you know where I was?”

He nearly laughed. “Our informant in the Ling organization wasn’t happy you robbed their shipment. She called us. We tracked the truck with a GPS device the Lings keep hidden inside the cab. I can guess how you found out about the Lings. August went for a long walk the other night, didn’t he?” He shook his head. “You should be ashamed, ruining your friend’s career. Get down from the window, Sam, or I’ll shoot you in the back.”

I considered my options. Get shot or throw myself through the window or surrender. None were good. He would not let me escape from him again. I’d be bound and tied and kept with a pistol to my temple and not given a mockery of a life in Brooklyn. I’d be back in that prison that wasn’t supposed to exist, the plaything of Howell’s Special Projects group inside the Company.

I got down from the window. I staggered and I put my hands in the air. And the three of them closed in on me, with fists and guns.


THEY CUFFED MY WRISTS, they shackled my ankles, and they dragged me to their van. They shoved me inside; Howell sat across from me. He briefly examined my injuries; his fingers probed my head, my back, my shoulder.

“Well, Sam, you’re a mess.” Then he told his two puppies to start processing the scene. The van door slammed closed. We were alone.

“I need a doctor,” I said. I enjoy stating the obvious.

“You’ll get one if you cooperate. How did you know August was in Holland?”

“I saw him when I stopped a guy from shooting him at that machinists’ shop,” I said. “I stopped those psycho twins from shooting you, too. And you’re welcome.” I could smell my own blood sticking to the clothes on my back, my arm. My injuries were untreated; I’d been Tasered and then tranquilized. My limbs felt heavy and awful and disconnected from bone and tissue.

“August got sent home because he was hurt. I’m glad. I think he would have affected my judgment regarding you. He is actually your friend, useless as that position is to him.”

“I can explain all this. Sort of.”


I took a painful breath. “I’ve been undercover. Kind of.”

“Governments and police agencies give cover. You pretending you’re someone else is just breaking the law, Sam. Sort of, kind of.”

“Please, I want to talk to Langley. This guy, Edward, that took Lucy—he’s moving illicit weapons of some sort.”

“Is that who shot at us as we arrived?”

“Yes. I don’t know. Was it a truck?”

“We didn’t see a truck leave. A man in an Audi shot at us as we arrived.”

“Audi. That’s him. Please, take me seriously. Call the ports.” But Edward wouldn’t use Rotterdam. Not with this heat. He’d move the weapons out of France, or Belgium, or Spain. “Here, I can tell you what was in the Ling shipment. You can stop it. Call Langley, get authorization. I’ll talk to them—”

“Maybe Langley doesn’t want to talk to you, Sam. Maybe Langley just wants you to go away and stop being a giant pain in the ass.”

I swallowed. “What I said about Lucy is true. Please. She was here—”

He raised a hand. “I’m going to offer you a deal, Sam. I want you to consider it carefully, because right now your life is in my hands in a way it never was before. I don’t like your answers, I put a bullet in your brain and we’re done. I have permission to do whatever I need to do to you.”

“The Company won’t let you execute me. They want to know what I know. They want the connections I’ve made here. They want information and I have it.”

“The Company doesn’t know that I have you yet, Sam. Right now, you and I get to write our own history. You were found in a building full of dead bodies.”

“The woman, and one of the men—they have tattoos like the guy in Brooklyn who tried to kill me. Novem Soles. You asked me about it, well, here they are.”

He stared at me, ran a finger along his chin. “And you killed them all?”

“No! Edward killed them because he didn’t need them anymore.”

Howell folded his arms and he looked at me with a glare I had not seen on his face since I had been his prisoner in Poland. “I think you’re the sole survivor, Sam, but I think these people were your colleagues. I think they helped you blow up the London office and I think they helped you escape me in New York. The guy in Brooklyn could have brought you your money and papers to escape, and you killed him to keep him quiet.”

“He tried to kill me. These people sent him to kill me.” And then I wondered: Edward or Lucy? It had to be Edward who’d dispatched the assassin. Lucy had let me live twice.

“And where’s the lovely Mrs. Capra?”

“She Tasered me and she left. Look at my chest. I’ve got the Taser rash.”

He opened my shirt and inspected the needle marks.

“So she works with these people. Goodness, after all those months you kept insisting on her innocence.” His tone was mocking.

“I’m a good husband,” I said. “You don’t assume your wife is a traitor or a criminal. I saw her taken by Edward. She saved my life. Twice.”

“I think you were both working with this group, gang, whatever. I think she turned, and then she turned you. I tend to go for the simplest explanation.”

“That’s because you’re simple,” I said. “Life isn’t. This isn’t. I don’t understand why Lucy’s done what she’s done.”

“Where’s your baby?”

I looked at my knees. I didn’t know what to say. I didn’t want him to know she’d offered me my child for silence. A silence I’d already broken. So I looked up and said, “Lucy lost the baby.”

He studied my face for a long time. “Where is Lucy? Where will she go?”

“I don’t know. But I’m going to find her and I’m going to find out the truth,” I said.

“Uh, no, you’re not,” Howell said. I swear bureaucrats have a smug voice they save for moments like this, ones they can savor.

“Yes, I am. Look, Howell, if I was guilty and I was caught, I’d be cutting a deal. I don’t want your deal. I’m not going to confess to anything I haven’t done. Put away your knives and your waterboards because I will never confess to what I haven’t done. Ever. All I care about is finding Lucy.”

“Convince me, Sam. Tell me the whole story of what’s happened since New York and maybe I can help you find her. Who got you off the boat? Who’s been funding you and supplying you?”

“I can’t.”

“You helped a man escape who fired on me and my men.”

I didn’t shoot at you. I killed men firing on your agents. They used to give medals for that.”

He grabbed my shirt and slammed my head against the van’s wall. It hurt. My body felt wracked with pain. “I want the whole truth, Sam. Everything.”

“Why don’t you believe me? Why? Why?” I screamed into his face. “Why don’t you even try to believe me?” Spittle from my mouth sprayed his face. He leaned back.

I fought for calm. Pain wracked my body. I’d been beaten, shot, and the implacable doubt on Howell’s face made me blind with rage. He just stared at me.

“Why aren’t we at a Company safe house?” I asked. “Why aren’t you recording what I’m saying, in front of witnesses? Where are the Dutch intelligence agents? None of this is protocol.”

“Pot, meet kettle,” he said. “Sam, you have no place to lecture me on right and wrong. The whole Company is going to know soon enough that you are a traitor.”

The word was like a lash against my skin. “I’m not a traitor.”

“You want me to believe you? Then tell me everything.”

I blew out a long hiss of air. I had to give him more to get to a position of strength. “This Edward used the Centraal Station bombing to kill the Money Czar we were investigating in London. A supposed financier for criminal networks, the biggest ones that connect back into government. I don’t understand why Edward killed this man, but he did,” I said. “He’s smuggling contraband, bad stuff, into the States and he needed that shipment I stole as camouflage for whatever he’s shipping. It could be a bomb, it could be plague, it could be people. I don’t know. I could have found out if you hadn’t interfered.”

“Let’s say you’re telling me the truth and that you are innocent. How did you find these people, Sam? How did you learn about them? How do you know any of these details? Who helped you find this Edward who got you into Holland?”

It was the wrong question. Realization bolted into my bones. “Don’t you care about what his operation is?”

“I don’t believe a word you say until you tell me who has been helping you.”

“Where is your curiosity about Edward’s shipment?”

“First things first.” He pushed a photo at me. Me and Mila, at the train station in Rotterdam. Then another one, at the train station in Amsterdam. “Who is this woman?”

I pretended to frown at the photo. “Someone who rode on the train with me. I don’t know her.”

“You do. We questioned a conductor on the train. You traveled together. You sat together and talked.”

“Oh, her. Yes. Lovely face but horrible breath. I offered her an Altoid. That was the extent of our interaction.”

“Bull. Where have you been staying in Amsterdam?”

“In hostels. Cheap, paying cash. I’m young enough to look like a wandering grad student.”

“Which hostels?”

“Let me get this straight,” I said. “I have just told you that the guy who bombed the London office is smuggling seriously dangerous goods into America, and you want to know what hostel I stayed at?”

“If he can smuggle this stuff in, it’s because you provided him with the camouflage,” Howell said. “What I’ve caught you doing is helping this guy.”

I heard a noise outside, like a man falling against the side of the van and sliding to the pavement. A yell.

Howell whipped out a pistol, aimed it at my head.

“I’m tied up,” I said. “I’m not the threat.”

He moved the gun away from me and I hammered my foot hard into his jaw. I hope I broke it because I was really tired of hearing him talk. Shutting up for a long while would do Howell a world of good. He slammed against the side of the van and I launched myself toward him, my hands useless and bound behind me but I didn’t care. I wasn’t rational. I just wanted him to shut up and listen to me. I wanted his silent belief.

I hit him hard with my head, pounded my skull upward to catch him under the jaw. He gurgled and a freshet of blood oozed from his mouth. I rocked my head into his and he went down. I lost my balance and collapsed on top of him.

The van door opened and I expected to see one of his puppies there.


“Finally,” I said.

She sliced my plastic restraints off and I helped her put the two Company guys into the van; both were unconscious but not seriously injured. She slammed the van doors shut, locked them, tossed the keys into the field behind the brewery. We got into her car and she gunned it toward Amsterdam. The day was going to be a cloudy, gray one; it matched my mood.

“Thank you,” I said.

“You are welcome.” She sounded weary.

“How did you find me?”

“Your friend Piet.”

“Piet is not my friend.”

“Piet came to the Rode Prins. He was panicked. He thought he could trade information for sanctuary, for whoever you worked for.”

“And Piet talked.”

“Piet talked.” Now her voice was cool iron.

“Is Piet still talking?”

“Piet is done talking.”

“What did you do to him?”

“Such concern for the rapist and the slaver.”

“My concern is not for him. My concern is for you.”

I put my hand on hers. She shrugged it off. “Don’t worry your bloodied and beaten head about me, Sam. I’m fine. Never felt better.”

“You killed him.”

“He needed killing.” She raised an eyebrow. “Did you find this Edward? Did you find Yasmin?”

“I found my wife.”

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