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Текст книги "Adrenaline"

Автор книги: Jeff Abbott

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Текущая страница: 27 (всего у книги 28 страниц)


LUCY AND I WALKED free of the private plane. Our papers had been stamped and the custom official waved us through. Thank you, Kenneth and flight crew. Borders. Do they even matter anymore?

We exited the airport and walked along the short service road. A car pulled up, and I pushed her into the backseat and then followed. I’d phoned ahead.

“Hello,” August Holdwine said.

“Mr. Nice Guy. You just committed professional suicide,” Lucy said, as he pulled the car away from the curb.

“Career advice from you is rich,” he said. “How are you, Lucy?”

“I should have married you. Not him,” Lucy said.

“Be nice. August is going to get the credit for your capture,” I said.

“You’re not surrendering to the Company?” Lucy jerked her head to look at me.

“No. I’m going to go get our kid. Thanks again, August.”

August glanced at Lucy in the rearview. “I always thought it was iffy to trust you. I hate being right so often.”

I could feel the defensiveness rising in her. “You’re betraying the Company yourself, going out of bounds to help Sam.”

August said, “You got a limited imagination, Lucy. Certain people in the Company might entirely approve of what I’m doing. As long as it nabs you.”

Lucy opened and then shut her mouth.

“You mean we have help?” I asked.

“No. You have me,” August said. I wasn’t sure how tough we could be. I was injured, and August had been shot in the arm. We weren’t exactly a pair of badasses.

Lucy seemed to study these words, as if they hung in the air above August’s head.

“Where’s Howell?” I asked.

“Summoned to Langley. Whatever technology you found these guys have, it has set off a firestorm.”

“The rendezvous is in one hour,” Lucy said. “I suggest you drive a little faster, since you’re in such a hurry to be a hero.”

“There has to be a reason they’re meeting at Yankee Stadium,” August said.

“A demonstration,” I said. “You want to prove a bullet can truly, without fail, seek out a single target among thousands? A crowd is the best way to make your point, without a doubt. So who’s the target?”

“Any of the star players,” August said. “And the governor was scheduled to throw out the first pitch, I checked, but he had to cancel.”

I looked at her, thinking of the photos of the kids I’d seen on Zaid’s computer. “Kids. Are they going to kill a kid at this game?”

Lucy said, “I told you, I don’t know if there’s even a demonstration. That’s between Edward and the buyer. It seems awfully risky to me.”

I said to August, “Do you have a liaison with the Yankees security or police detail?”

“Yes, but I ask them anything, they’ll want to know my source. And I’m supposed to be on leave.”

“Do they know that?”

“I imagine not.”

“Say the tip’s anonymous. Call. Find out if there are any groups of kids being brought in.”

August phoned his contact. “Hey, Lieutenant Garcia, this is August Holdwine at the Manhattan CIA office.” Pause. “Yeah, I’m fine, thanks. I’m kind of dodging channels here, but I thought I better talk direct to you. Do you have any groups of kids coming in for today’s game? We picked up some chatter that talked about targeting a kid.” He listened. “Okay, no, I don’t have more than that.” He listened some more. “Can you give me a rundown?”

“If Edward sees you coming, our son is dead,” Lucy said. “Just so you know.”

“Not if he gets caught first.”

“I wouldn’t be willing to risk it,” she said, as though I were the bad parent.

August got off the phone. “Twenty-seven kids groups there today, everything from orphans being brought in from a Catholic orphanage in Queens to Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts and prep-school groups. They’re going to put extra security around them all, but Garcia needs to know more.”

“We don’t have more.”

“This is getting people’s attention, Sam.” August glanced at me in the car. “I suspect the police are going to want to talk to me as soon as I get to the stadium. I can’t back you up if I’m chatting up Garcia. They’ll want threat assessments—”

“Good.” I raised my hand.

“Like a cop can stop that bullet once it’s fired. Nothing can,” Lucy said.

“We find him before he ever fires,” I said.

“You risk our child to save a stranger’s life,” Lucy said. “I should have killed you in Amsterdam, Sam. At least our son would be safe. If you’re wrong…”

I had been so wrong about so much. I couldn’t be wrong now.


I EXPECT HE’LL BE ALONE,” Edward said into the phone. “Do you have the sample for him? In case I need it?”

“Yes. I took the precaution. I’ll see you shortly, Edward, and I look forward to the demonstration.”

“Yes, I think the whole world will be impressed,” Edward said. Bright sunshine kissed New York City; the sky gleamed a faultless blue. He felt happy. He was nearly done with his trudge along a very dark road. He missed Yasmin, to his surprise. He had made her, shaped her into the person most useful to him, and he wondered if he had given her up too easily. Ah. Soon he would have enough money where he could attract a woman who required much less effort to bend to his will.

A marvelous day, it was, to prove that fear works wonders.


IT WAS A GORGEOUS AFTERNOON in New York. The sun smiled down like a saint. August already had our tickets and we moved through the crowd.

August’s phone rang. He answered and listened. “Yeah, I don’t have more information, Garcia. Kids. Credible, I don’t know how much. You can’t take the risk, though… yeah. What? What? Um, okay.”

He hung up the phone. “Garcia had to go; he’s dealing with the governor’s security detail.”

“You said—”

“He un-cancelled. The governor is here to throw out the pitch,” August said. “His son apparently begged him to do it.”

The governor of New York was in his late forties, a man named Hapscomb, popular, but with no plans for higher office. “That’s it,” I said. “Surely if you want to demo a weapon, you kill a prominent person.”

But killing a governor—it lacked the impact of killing a president or a religious leader. It seemed a smaller stage for Edward’s ambitions, especially with such a powerful weapon. And none of the people in the photos were politicians, at least none that I recognized.

We watched thousands of people settling into their seats. The game would begin in minutes. I scanned the ring of the stadium, looking for a likely spot for a sniper to fire from. But the security details would already be watching those.

Lucy saw what I was doing and shook her head. “As long as he’s in range, Edward doesn’t have to set up a careful position to shoot the governor,” she said. “He can just fire. The bullet will do most of the work, if there’s nothing in its way.”

“If he’s delivering the guns here too, he needs seclusion.” I held her between us, a firm grip on her arm, steering her through the crowd, August on the other side of her.

Fifty guns. Fifty bullets. Fifty states. Fifty governors? But none of the people in the files were governors. “This is the product demo, isn’t it? And then the buyer will move onto the next targets.”

“You’ve missed the other timing advantage of this gun,” she said. “God, I thought you were smarter, Sam.”

Any fool could assassinate. Fools had been doing it for centuries. But now…“With fifty guns all at once, you can hit many targets,” I said. “Mass assassination. You kill a governor, security goes up on all the others. You kill them all at the same time and—”

“What would it do to this country?” Lucy said. “Oh, it would be a shock wave. How do you fight a weapon like this? And, psychologically, what does it do? Every governor, dead within minutes of each other. Their replacements, dead in another month. No one is really going to be rushing for those jobs then, are they? You have a profound shock to the political system if you cannot guarantee that leaders stay alive. What does it do to America if the leadership pool gets rapidly thinned, if no one will lead because they’re going to be killed? It makes the world weaker. It makes it easier for the criminal networks to do their job, to commit more crimes. Maybe even to take over.” She smiled. “You know, the crooks run parts of Colombia, of Moldova, of Pakistan. Why not here? Why not in the West?”

“Who’s this buyer?”

I watched August hurrying down toward the field. He hadn’t waited to hear more. He was heading straight for the field, and the security detail for Governor Hapscomb.

I scanned the stadium.

“Let me go and I’ll tell you where he is,” Lucy said.

“The baby?”

“No, I mean Edward. You can’t have it both ways, Sam. I’m keeping where the baby is a secret.”

She knew. She knew and she knew where the meeting site was. God damn it.

“Tell me!” I grabbed her shoulders. “Lucy, for God’s sakes, don’t do this. Tell me!”

“Hey, buddy,” a deep voice rumbled behind me. I glanced over my shoulder. Three guys, thick-necked, short haircuts. Five hundred pounds of muscle, glaring at me.

“You don’t need to talk to the lady that way. Let go of her arm,” the good citizen said.

“I’m arresting her,” I lied. The last thing I wanted was attention. I made my voice easy, calming, authoritative.

“You didn’t talk to her like a cop. You let her go,” he said, not backing down.

Lucy began to moan as if in pain.

The slugger slugged me. Hard. I saw it coming and ducked back but he still connected with my face. Lucy launched a hard kick that caught me on the collarbone.

I let go. She ran. I saw her heading toward the large section of private suites.

It might be perfect. Elevated. Private. Lower a window, fire, leave in the resultant chaos.

The good citizen grabbed me. “Asshole, you’re done.”

I saw two police officers racing toward us. So I played the victim. I screamed, “Please help me, help me, he’s gone crazy!”

Every bit of subtlety helps. It shifted the cops’ reaction ever so slightly; the guy tackling me looked the bigger threat. You never want to look the bigger threat. But of course the cops were going to take us both down. They couldn’t risk doing otherwise.

The cops—one heavy, one skinny—took us down. I gave the skinny one a hard, sharp blow, and he was on his knees. I seized the gun from his holster, slamming my fist into the back of his throat and ran into the crowd, the gun high. The other cop couldn’t risk the shot, not with the crowd between us.

I saw Lucy. Then I heard the roar rising from the crowd.

I risked a glance toward the field. And saw August, bolting out onto the field, as the governor stood on the mound with a teenage boy, presumably his son, ready to throw out the first pitch.

And the realization hit me like a bolt.

His son. His son. It wasn’t the governor at all. And it wouldn’t be all the governors to come.

It would be their kids. Their husbands. Their wives.


NEXT TO THE STADIUM’S MAIN outdoor private suite area, an interior bar with a view of first base was closed for repairs. No place is more deserted in a stadium than a closed bar. Inside, the buyer looked down over the field and said, “Let’s get started.”

Time to begin an extraordinary audition, Edward thought, in a flash, of the first time under the lights, his brain burning with the right lines, eager to pretend to be a whole new person.

Edward lowered the window of the closed bar slightly and placed the rifle into the gap. There was no rifle sight; he didn’t need one. But he didn’t want to risk the demo going poorly, so he aimed toward the mound. And saw the big blond man barreling out onto the field, deftly stiff-arming a policeman who tried to stop him.

Interference. No. Edward pulled the trigger without hesitation.


GOVERNOR HAPSCOMB SAW THE RUNNER– screaming that he was a CIA agent—plowing past an errant security line, heard the rising gasp of the crowd, and had he been alone he would have simply stared his attacker down. But he had his thirteen-year-old son, Bryant, with him, and he could not bear the thought of Bryant being harmed. So he threw himself on his surprised son, in case the crazy in the nice suit was armed, just as the bullet shot out over thousands of spectators, its nanosensors seeking the one true match among thousands.

I saw the flash at the edge of the main-level outdoor private suites. Through a slightly opened window near the seating area. Right where Lucy was headed, a few rows above us.

I caught her and pressed the cop’s gun against her ribs.

I wrenched her around so I could see the mound. Screams erupted from the massed crowd. The governor and his son were down on the mound, not moving, August buried under a pile of police.

“Let me go!” she screamed. “Let me go and I’ll tell you where the baby is!”

“Just tell me!” I hadn’t stopped Edward’s bullet.

I’d failed.

She threw a fist against my jaw. I wouldn’t let her go, and we slammed into the railing.

“Sam Capra,” the buyer said. “There.”

Edward tore his stare away from the mound. He couldn’t tell if the Hapscomb boy was down or not. Sweat exploded down his ribs. He ejected the chip and slipped the new one in. The gun whirred, the match being made, the bullet given its own soul. The coding process would be done when the green light appeared.

He couldn’t wait. Edward raised the rifle and fired.

“Tell me!” I said, clutching her close. We spun, her fighting me.

“Daniel’s in—” and then she stiffened. I heard the impact of metal hitting flesh, and she fell in my arms.

“No!” I screamed. “No!”

“This hasn’t gone well.” Edward had to pick his words carefully or the deal would fold. “I think the governor took the bullet meant for the child. He covered him just as I fired. This isn’t a normal situation, since we’d usually strike without warning—”

He turned to his buyer and the knife flashed across his neck. Edward staggered, tried to close up the wound with his hand as the blood gushed. Pointless. He fell against the wall and thought, No no it hurts and I’m afraid I’m afraid—

The buyer stepped away from the spray of blood. He could see panic arising, not only from those close to the field but in a nearby section, where Edward’s second bullet had scored. No sign of Lucy. No sign of Sam Capra.

He collected the briefcase of DNA chips. Technology could always be refined. This demo might have been too extreme. Fine. Time was on his side. Resources were on his side. There were networks of rogue programmers, hackers, scientists, assassins, all eager to help him refine Bahjat Zaid’s prototype.

He had the chips, and the rest of the guns would arrive in the next few days. He could collect the shipment, and even if those prototypes were lost, he could re-create as many guns as he needed based on the gun he had. And he hadn’t transferred the funds. He folded the gun; it telescoped down into a wide metal tube which he put in his briefcase.

There were worse days.

He stepped out, the panicked crowd rushing pell-mell, and no one noticed him hurrying toward an exit with brisk efficiency. Thousands began to pour out of the stands, the police trying to effect an orderly evacuation.

He was close to the gate when he heard a voice say, “Hello, Howell.”


HOWELL KEPT HIS BAGS CLOSE TO HIM. His pinched frown told me he could feel the gun in his ribs.

“Move and I’ll kill you,” I said.

“So. Turning yourself in.”

“Don’t bull me. You’re the buyer.”

Howell took a deep breath. “Kill me and Mila dies.”

“She’d call that a fair trade,” I said.

He kept walking. So did I. I was careful to keep the gun under a fold of my jacket.

“You left your wife to die?” Howell asked.

“She’s not my wife anymore.”


“Who are you?”


“Who are you really? Who do you work for?”

“The Company.”

“No, you don’t. The Company hired Zaid to develop these guns. You would have gotten them without stealing them.” He’d used Edward to steal them. Of course. If the guns were stolen before they were ever delivered, then Howell would never be suspected. He’d chased me to keep me from tracking down the guns, or perhaps he’d hoped to double-cross Edward and steal them before he had to pay millions for them. Using me to see if I could locate the trail, do his dirty work.

“Part-time,” he amended. “I have another job. We can use a man like you.”

“Novem Soles. You asked me if I’d heard of it because you wanted to know if she’d talked. Not because you were on its trail. You were protecting Novem Soles.”

“Sam, that deal—”

God, everybody wanted to make a deal. I was sick of deals. “No. Where is Mila?” Now we were out of the gates, streaming into the parking lot.

“She’s being questioned. We want to know about you the same way you want to know about us.”

“You got Lucy to turn. She worked for you.” And that was worse. He’d used her. She’d gotten her orders from someone inside the Company. I believed her. She hadn’t known it was a bomb she’d planted in the London office until that final minute, when Edward left to make sure the detonator worked and she called me…

Howell gave me the equivalent of a shrug.

“Where is my son?”

“I don’t know.”

“Don’t lie to me. You will simply tell me where my son is.”

“Actually, I don’t know. Your wife handled all the arrangements for the baby broker.”

“That’s not what she said.”

“And you believed her?” Howell cleared his throat. “This is my car.”

We got inside it, him sliding over from the passenger side, me keeping the gun on him, sitting in the backseat.

“Yeah, now I do. You’re the asshole, Howell. You’re the king of the assholes.”

“I can make your troubles go away, Sam. I can clear your name. I can stop being your inquisitor and be your champion. We get rid of Mila. You forget about the guns. I can get the Company to say you infiltrated a dangerous group in Holland. We’ll say you were on a secret job and we expose your wife as the, well, traitor she is. Was.” He turned his flat stare onto me. “I can even help you find your child.”

“We’ll pretend, in other words, that it never happened.” His pet phrase he’d used with me in that distant prison where I had been the only inmate.

“Yes,” he said.

“No,” I said, and I shot him. The bullet sprayed through his heart and he jerked. The sound of the shot was loud but no one was right by the car then. Immediately afterward a group of Boy Scouts hurried by and they glanced at me and Howell sitting in the car. He stayed sitting up, his head down a bit like he’d decided to grab a nap, like the shooting, to use a phrase he favored, had never happened. I just got out and walked away from him, sifting into the crowd.

Let me go. Now I’d let it all go. Everything. All of it. Gone.


WHEN A COMPANY EXEC DIES in a baseball stadium parking lot, right after an elected leader is assassinated, the case gets taken from the NYPD and the Company takes over the investigation. The Company was most interested in the nano bullets and the gun, and the shipment manifest tied to a container of cigarettes.

The fifty people I’d seen on Zaid’s computer were indeed the kids and spouses of America’s governors. No one is targeting them now, and they sleep safe in their college dorms, their beds at home, their cradles. Including Bryant Hapscomb, shielded by his father’s body; the bullet couldn’t change course fast enough. Thousands attended the governor’s funeral. He died for his child, although the world believed him to have been the target. It did not occur to anyone that a thirteen-year-old boy was the real target, and that the governor simply threw himself on his child, covering him in the same millisecond that Edward pulled the trigger.

A few days after the shootings at the stadium, I sat in the Round Table’s New York bar, an elegant space called Bluecut, drinking a Boylan Bottleworks Ginger Ale, my favorite soda, waiting for Mila to show up. The bar sat on the edge of Bryant Park, not far from the hubbub of Times Square, and it was a beauty. Perfect Connemara marble curve, fine chairs, the right tools with which to lift cocktail creation to an art. A glance, even in the early afternoon, told me that it was a Destination. Every person at the bar, every person at a table had their own story. Soft jazz—but not light jazz—filled the air, played on a grand piano by an African-American woman with a shock of blond hair and fingers delicate enough to impress Monk or Mozart. I liked this Bluecut bar a lot, but I felt itchy waiting here. I had things to do.

I ordered a Glenfiddich for Mila and had it waiting for her. She had been kept in a rental office near a port; she’d been found by a member of a Salvadoran cleaning crew. Howell had been questioning her. The burn marks on the soles of her feet were taking a long while to heal.

August slid onto the stool. He pointed at Mila’s drink. “Can I just down that?”

“It’s for my friend Mila, but go ahead.”

“If she drinks that, she’s my friend, too.”

I thought it best not to mention that Mila was the one who’d grazed him with a bullet in Amsterdam. “Go ahead, but it’s eleven in the morning,” I said. “Try the ginger ale, it’s perfectly cold and good.”

“But whisky means good tidings,” he said.

“I thought whisky was for wakes.”

“One man’s wake is another man’s good tidings,” August said. He cupped his hands around the glass. “The police identified you, you know. Lucy getting shot got captured on a security camera. They know you didn’t do it.”

“I know. They haven’t bothered me.”

“The Company sat on it. It took a lot of grease and muscle and loss of face. NYPD is quite particular about its officers being bested in terms of control of their firearms.”

I sipped my ginger ale. “So now the Company is shielding me?”

“They—we—oh hell,” August said. “None of us are fools. While I was being suffocated under the weight of New York’s finest, you were killing Howell.”

“If I did, they’re ignoring it. He’s the biggest embarrassment to the Company since—”

“Since Lucy. You can say it.”

“Officially, there are no prints.”

“Then it didn’t happen. Like Howell always said.” August cleared his throat, studied his drink, took a nice healthy sip. “The Company has deputized me to offer you your job back.”

“Why you?”

“They think you’ll only listen to a drinking buddy.”

“I would only listen to you, August. You were a real friend to me.” I clinked my green bottle against his whisky. “But I have to find my kid. And the Company, except for you, was quick to think me a traitor. Not a nice vote of confidence.”

“Sam, you must understand—”

“I do. I don’t want them. They had no faith in me.”

August savored his drink over several small sips. “This is why I needed the drink. You’re a bad influence. I can only hope you are going to find gainful employment.”

“I don’t care about a job. I have to find my kid.”

“How? Edward is dead, Howell is dead, Lucy may never wake up.”

Lucy was lost in a limbo between life and death, and I couldn’t decide how I felt about that. Edward’s final bullet had left her in a coma. The doctors in the CIA hospital could give me no real hope that she would wake up; but the powers that be wanted her kept alive. She was a potential source about the mystery of Novem Soles. So she lay beribboned with wires and tubes, broken. Maybe she dreamed endlessly of her precious money. Maybe she dreamed of me and our child. “I lean on the right people back in Europe, I’ll find him.”

“The Company isn’t going to let you go quietly into that good night.” August lowered his voice. “They’re going to keep a watch on your passport. They’re going to be shadowing you when you might not expect it. This whole ‘Howell working for a secret group’ has them shaken. They’d like to pretend it isn’t as frightening as it actually is. They want to know what you’re doing. Who you’re going after.”

“They can try and find out, as long as they don’t get in my way. Are you sticking with them?”

“Yes, I must get my semisuspect hands on my retirement benefits.” August shot me a sidelong look. “I’m sure, though, we’ll see each other again.”

“I’m sure, too.”

He got up and fished in his wallet.

“I got it,” I said. “Least I could do.”

“Yes, but I have a job,” he said.

“No, really, I got it. Thank you, August.”

“You will find your son, Sam. I know you will.”

“I know I will.” I watched August leave and wondered if anyone was shadowing him. I could smell the whisky left in August’s glass and I ordered one for myself.

I was just starting on its replacement when Mila slid onto the stool.

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