deceptively boyish face had a grim cast as he
followed the macadam driveway through two acres of manicured lawn.For almost a year he'd worked this investigation.He
almost had the case cracked, but a piece of the puzzle was still missing.Last night, he
pleaded with the director to give him more time.He
should have saved his
breath because this morning the CIA
had informed the FBI
about the activities of Harrison McIvor.
A friend at the Justice Department
off when the search warrant was issued.He'd burned rubber getting here.As he
surveyed the black sedans crowding the space before the Spanish-style villa, he
cursed silently.All he
could do now was damage control.Corrigan
knew every detail of the white stucco house with arched doors and windows.Below the clay-tile roof, he
could see shadows of men moving about the bedrooms on the second floor.
A powerfully built man in his
early thirties, Corrigan
crossed the tiled patio in three bounds.He flashed his badge, and the FBI guard stood away from the door.
The instant Corrigan stepped into the front entry, he
heard hoarse screams from upstairs.
bounded up the curved staircase using the iron rail to boost his
face equally covered in sweat, Perkins looked up."Not till she
gives me the bear."
Corrigan's sharp kick brought a howl of pain.Clutching his side, Perkins rolled off Laura as Corrigan
turned his attention to the agents holding Mrs. McIvor.
Newburg's head snapped back as Corrigan
windpipe."I'm not negotiating with you morons.
righted an antique chair and placed it near Laura.
shot a sharp glance at Alice McIvor, before returning to Laura's fragile face.Her
desperate expression clung to hope like a drowning man to a bit of passing driftwood.She
silently begged him to make it all right.
"Who are you?"she
released Laura's hands.He
took a deep breath, and forced himself to speak the awful truth.
forehead."The football team?"
Laura reached for Bear and stared at him for a moment that seemed forever to Corrigan
Color rushed into Laura's face, and Corrigan
shied further back into the chair."I wouldn't put it like that.You're a wonderful person.I-"
"The shared secrets, the dreams were just playing along?"Corrigan
cheek where the imprint of a hand blossomed a brilliant red.He
jaw until the muscles protested.He was a CIA agent.He
couldn't afford to have feelings.He
stood up and strode out of the bedroom before she
could see the pain in his
eyes.Laura's bedroom door stood ajar.He
paused and caught a whiff of Elige perfume.He
had to get out of there.
reached the bottom of the stairs, six FBI agents watched him.
"Your face is looking a little red there," taunted Perkins.Corrigan
"Got any more hearts lined up to break, or you taking a holiday after this one?"asked another.Corrigan
shouldered between them, refusing to be baited.
"Hey, how was it being undercover with her?"Perkins called after him, laughing.Corrigan
spun on his
heels.Perkins's head snapped back and blood gushed from his
Corrigan's flinty eyes darted from man to man.Each stupid grin vaporized.Finally, he
turned again to Perkins."Where is Harrison McIvor?"
Pressing a handkerchief against his
glanced at Sam Perkins beside him at the window.The big man lay aside his
infrared binoculars and reached for yet another piece of pizza from a flat box on the floor beside him.Of all the slobs he
had to be hooked up with, Jonathan Corrigan
had to get Perkins.It also irked Corrigan
that the CIA
was legally bound to work under the FBI
on this investigation.The thought of taking orders from Perkins turned Corrigan's stomach.He
attention to the street below, and especially the apartment across from them.
The pizza box shuffled across the dusty floor, propelled by Perkins's foot."Wanna piece?"
"Leave it for the rats," Corrigan
grunted.The apartment was a dump.During the night they could hear the disgusting rodents travelling inside the walls.Corrigan
took secret delight that the rats bothered Perkins.The FBI agent was brought up in a nice comfortable suburban home.Jonathan
grew up on a farm.Rats were nothing to him.He'd potted his
fair share as a boy with his
But Perkins hated them.Corrigan
had almost split a gut when a rat had run across Perkins's feet.The FBI
agent practically jumped out of his
skin and even pulled his
...Corrigan of the CIA choked back a comment that Perkins hadn't done so well with Laura McIvor two years ago.
attention back to the lighted windows of the building across the street.He
had to stop torturing himself.
continued watching, wishing again he
could have bugged the apartment across the street.They'd tried it once, but the suspects had simply swept the place with an electronic scanner.A few minutes later the listening device was swimming toward the city sewer.Corrigan
had to settle for visual surveillance.
"Seems you're not the only one who wants pizza tonight," he
irritable FBI partner a few minutes later.
At the entrance to the apartment building, a delivery guy got out of a dark Hyundai with a lighted sign on top of it.Slim and young, a baseball cap shielded his
face from the blue-green lenses of the binoculars.Corrigan
said, "Some guy is going into the building with one of those big pizza warming envelopes."
Perkins grabbed his
shrugged."Someone's getting pizza."Corrigan
attention to a video display linked to a hidden camera in the dingy third-floor hall across the way.
Half an hour later, Corrigan
stiffened."They're going out," he
said.""Why would anyone go out at midnight just after eating delivery pizza."He
squinted into the eyepiece.
"I'd hate to blow our cover for a false alarm, Corrigan
.They might just as easily be going to get some bromo seltzer.MacDuff's pizza is pretty brutal.I don't know how that place stays in business."Corrigan
glanced at his
wristwatch's glowing LCD numbers.Mid-night wasn't really that late.But something was nagging at him.Something staring him in the face!Corrigan
watched below as a dozen agents propelled themselves from doorways and parked cars.The terrorists started running like fleeing calves in a rodeo.Less than eight seconds later their noses scraped the pavement.Corrigan
grinned.Those agents could have taken a ribbon in a real event.
A dozen people gathered around, gaping at the men prone on the sidewalk.
"Tell those guys not to touch the briefcase," Corrigan
stood and faced Perkins, intimidating him with his
six foot one inch, two hundred and ten-pound frame - no fat."How's your nose?"It was all he
had to say.Perkins would never forget the day on the McIvor estate when Corrigan's right hand flattened his
Perkins lifted his
wrist."Clear the area, and call the bomb squad.The briefcase may contain explosives, leave it alone."
Before Perkins finished talking, Corrigan
bolted out the apartment and charged down the stairs.When he
burst out the door, the onlookers were rushing in opposite directions, the word "bomb" popping out like corn thrown in a hot fireplace.Corrigan
sprinted a hundred yards and drew up, sucking air, hands on hips, relieved that the leather case was still intact.It could contain enough explosive to incinerate at least one building.Still flat on the ground, the prisoners eyed him warily.They flinched in unison when he
hand over the clasps on the case.Did they flinch because they were scared or to mislead him?He
had to know for sure.
Glancing up and down the street, he
saw just what he
needed: a twenty-four hour check cashing place.He
grabbed the briefcase and dashed toward it.