Monday, August 31, 2009
Tuesday, August 25, 2009
(To read from the beginning go Here.)
Light posts zipped by. Anne braced herself for a sharp right turn.
A grin played about Erik’s lips and she had a feeling he lived for this, the thrill of the chase. He glanced over at her.
“I know a shortcut. Ought to save us ten minutes or so. We’ll get him.”
“Good.” Exhaustion pushed her head back against the seat. “I never did get him to confess.” A yawn escaped before she could swallow it back.
He glanced over at her again before cutting his eyes back to the road. “So spill it. What makes you so certain that he’s going to head to Grand Central?”
Anne grimaced. She might be completely off base, but then again, if she were, the only thing at risk was her pride. “I thought—I mean it occurred to me.” She sucked in a deep breath. “I think this is part of a Russian plot.”
Erik’s head whipped toward her. “What?”
Anne pointed frantically. “The road!”
He yanked the wheel back and Anne slid across the seat to bang into his side.
“Sorry.” He helped her sit up again. “What did you say?”
Her cheeks burned. “Russians. Communists.”
“How did you leap to that conclusion.”
In for a penny, in for a pound. “There were a couple things. I kept wondering why they needed so many sets of plates. Plus there was the cost of the operation and those papers Carol gave me. It occurred to me that there had to be an organization fronting the costs.”
Erik nodded. “Did you think of the mob?”
“What would the mob need with so many sets? Surely one or two good sets of plates would be enough to make the thing lucrative. I thought what would happen if a set of those plates were sent to every major city in the country. Just think what would happen if counterfeit currency flooded the markets in every part of the nation.”
A low whistle emerged from Erik’s lips. “Confidence in our currency would collapse. The markets would panic.”
His eyes met hers for a fraction of a second.
He gave a little huff of air through his nose. “That’s why he has to go back for those papers. I thought they felt like the real deal, and they were. They must have someone inside the National Mint. He’s determined to get those documents because if we realize what they are their whole plot could be exposed.”
“That’s what I thought.”
A wicked gleam came into his eye. The car’s tires screeched in protest as he slammed on the brakes in front of Grand Central’s main entrance.
He thrust open the car door. “Stay here.”
Tuesday, August 18, 2009
(To read from the beginning go Here.)
Anne snatched at the handle and slammed her shoulder into the door. Rick grabbed for as she half-fell from the car and His fingers closed on the hem of her sweater but she wrenched free, falling to her hands and knees.
A car door slammed and running feet smacked the pavement.
Anne scrambled upright and around the car before Rick could clamber across the seat and nab her again. Erik appeared in a circle of light cast by a streetlight. His face was set in tense ridges and he held a revolver in his hand.
Thank you, Jesus. Anne sprinted toward him, expecting at any moment for a bullet to pierce something vital.
She winced expecting to feel the fiery punch of a bullet. Her wits caught up with her instinct a second later. It hadn’t been a gunshot. It’d been the sound of a door closing. Tires squealed and the Ford rocketed forward heedless of the red light or any traffic laws.
She barreled into Erik and his arms wrapped around her, pulling her close.
“Are you ok?”
All too glad to allow herself to be supported by the warm strength of his arms, Anne relaxed into him. “Yeah, I’m fine.” Her answer was muffled by his trench coat.
He stepped back but gripped her shoulders. “You’re sure?”
“Yes. I’m not hurt.” Although without his supporting warmth, cold shivers prickled her skin and she began to shake.
“Thank, God.” He embraced her again briefly. “Were you able to get him to confess?”
“No.” She’d failed. The enormity of it stung her to the quick, bringing tears to her eyes. What use were her wild theories when she’d let Rick get away. Unless… “Do you think the other agents will be able to follow him?”
A grimace twisted his features. “There aren’t any others.”
“What?” It was Anne’s turn to step away from him.
“My bosses’ boss pulled everyone from my detail. Said we were chasing a wild theory.”
“So I really did let him get away.”
“He’ll have to surface sometime and we’ll have his description circulated. We’ve got the plate number to his car. We’ll get him. It’s only a matter of time.”
Anne shook her head. “I don’t think you will. If I’m right this conspiracy goes much deeper than we originally thought.”
Erik frowned. “What are—”
“Wait.” Anne held up a hand. Of course! Why hadn’t she thought of it before? Rick had been desperate to get those papers. He wouldn’t leave the area without them. “I think I know where he is going.”
Brows lowered in confusion, Erik let her drag him back to where his car sat idling in the middle of the road.
“Get in, get in. We don’t want to miss him.”
“He wouldn’t be stupid enough to try to get a train out of town.”
“No, no he’s looking for something.” Anne darted around to the passenger side and shut herself in. “He wouldn’t believe I’d given up the papers so I told him I’d hidden them.”
Erik put the car in motion. “At this point don’t you think he’d just let it go?”
“No. Please. It’s worth a chance at least. Isn’t it?”
“If you say so.” He accelerated through the light and picked up speed.
“You’ve got to hurry. If we don’t catch up to him pronto I have a feeling he’ll get clean away.”
Tuesday, August 11, 2009
(To read from the beginning go Here.)
Anne sucked in a breath. No, it wasn’t worth the risk of losing Rick altogether. As casually as she could, she raised her hand and tugged on her ear lobe. Rick pulled her down the stairs. In the hush of a midnight street the click of her high heels, and the slap of Rick’s wingtips were the only footsteps she heard. Where were the agents? Shouldn’t pounding footsteps be coming closer?
She pulled against Rick’s grip on her arm and made the signal again. Maybe they just hadn’t seen her movement. Please, Lord.
Rick jerked savagely on her arm. She stumbled forward. Her throat constricted. Something must have gone wrong. What was she going to do now? Goosebumps prickled along her arms.
What would he do when he found out there were no papers hidden at Grand Central? Even if she did have them to hand over, he’d probably kill her.
She breathed in through her nose. She would not throw up. She would not.
Rick dragged her alongside a non-descript Ford sedan and shoved her in the front seat. He entered behind her and she had to scoot quickly across the bench seat to the passenger side.
Rick released her arm. “Don’t try anything funny.” He fumbled the keys from his pocket.
Across the street the headlights of a car flashed on and then off again.
Anne straightened and bit her lip. Had that been a signal? Rigid as a ruler, she waited.
Rick inserted the key and the Ford grumbled to life. He shifted and began to maneuver the car out of the too short space. With cars nearly kissing his bumpers, both before and behind, he was nearly penned in.
Once more the lights flashed. Surely it had been a sign. Anne swallowed and settled back into her seat. She was still wearing the wire. Now, if she could just get Rick to admit to something.
Somehow he managed to steer the car out of the space. He pulled out onto the empty street and settled in his seat. His gun had been put away somewhere for the time being. That was a good sign, wasn’t it?
Anne’s eyes locked onto the rear view mirror. No headlights appeared. None of the other cars on the street moved. She wiped sweaty palms against her skirt. They would follow. They had to. They just wouldn’t want Rick to be suspicious, so they would give him a good head start.
“So what makes these papers worth killing for?”
Rick merely grunted.
Anne tried again. “Wouldn’t it have been easier just to move the operation, rather than risk a murder investigation?”
“Stop fishing.” His words warred with the note of satisfaction in his voice.
She might as well press her luck. “Why? We both know you’re not going to let me survive the night.” She paused for just a second. He didn’t protest. Just her luck. Oh, well. In for a penny…
He smirked and said nothing.
“You have a mole in the police office.” As she said it, it became obvious. No wonder there had been so much resistance to investigating Carol’s death. But how had he managed to buy a police officer. How well financed was his operation? If there was that much money flowing then there had to be someone else behind it.
Tom had said that he already made several sets of plates. But Rick had wanted even more. What could he possibly do with so many?
A niggling suspicion began to grow at the back of her mind. She tried to tamp it down. It was too crazy, even for one of her theories. But it would make sense of everything.The light in front of them turned red and Rick slowed to a stop.
Tuesday, August 4, 2009
(To read from the beginning go Here.)
If Rick flattened Tom, what would she do? On the other hand, if she intervened it would definitely blow her cover. Anne bit back a grimace. Maybe she could draw her attention to herself another way.
She backed away slowly, as if she were trying to avoid notice. A quick jab of her elbow and a table lamp landed with a satisfying crash on the floor. It’s porcelain base turned into a grenade as it smashed, sending shards of china flying in every direction.
Both men turned to her. Rick grabbed for her arm and she snatched it back, whirling for the door. Please God, let Erik have gotten the bugs in place. Her fingers brushed the knob before he tackled her. She crumpled and the momentum carried her forward. Her forehead slammed into the heavy wooden door and she crumpled to the floor.
A million camera flashes exploded before her eyes. Dazed, she blinked and raised shaky fingers to her forehead. They came away splotched with blood. She could feel it trickling down the side of her face.
Rick hauled her to her feet but for some reason she couldn’t seem to make her legs cooperate. Her knees were about as rigid as cooked spaghetti. Her train of thought hadn’t just been derailed it’d been blown up. She tried to think. She had to ask Rick something. Desperately she dredged through the jumbled contents of her brain.
He nudged her back into a chair and she collapsed gratefully. Frowning furiously, Tom handed her his handkerchief and she dabbed at the gash.
“Don’t move.” Rick’s glare pinned her to the seat, not that she could have moved anyway. He crossed to the liquor cabinet and poured himself a stiff drink.
That was it. She had to make him admit to killing Carol. A flash of pride at recovering the lost information fueled the return of her ability to speak, even if the words did feel a little mushy as they exited her mouth. “You gonna kill me like you did Carol?”
Tom’s gaze skittered from her to Rick and back again.
Rick’s sneer was eloquent. “You’re certainly asking for it as much as she did.” He swigged the last of his booze. “But first you’re going to get me those papers.”
Tom’s fingers flexed in and out, bunching into fists and releasing. “Are you saying that you did kill Carol?” His tone had a strangled quality to it.
“I don’t know why you’re wasting so much effort on that broad. She was going to betray you. Betray us. You’re better—”
An animal cry erupted from Tom and he dove at his former employer. Rick toppled sideways but as they grappled he quickly gained the upper hand.
Anne found her feet and stood. She couldn’t tear her eyes away from the brawl.
They gained their footing again and separated, circling one another like boxers trading jabs.
Anne glanced around for a weapon of some kind. If Tom started to lose again, she needed to be able to help. No way was she going to let Rick get the upper hand again.
At last, Tom landed a good solid uppercut and Rick staggered back a pace. He leaned against the liquor cabinet shaking his head and blinking as if he were as dazed as she had been a moment ago.
Anne gulped in a relieved breath. But something was wrong.
A sly smirk flashed across Rick’s face.
She stepped forward, hand outstretched.
Rick’s arm swung back out toward Tom, only this time it was holding a whiskey bottle.
The bottle connected solidly against Tom’s temple and he slumped to the floor.
Anne scrambled to his side. “You didn’t have to do that.”
Rick nudged the fallen man with the toe of his shoe. “He’s becoming more trouble than he’s worth.”
He grabbed her arm and dragged her into the hall. “Harry!”
No response. He stalked to a door and pulled it open. Inside Anne caught a glimpse of a narrow staircase leading down into a cement-floored basement. The rumble of some kind of machinery floated up to them.
The machinery ground to a halt. “Yeah, Boss?”
“Get up here and keep an eye on Tom. I’ll be back in a few hours.”
“Don’t let him leave. He’s not a friendly anymore.”
Dear, Lord. Where were the Secret Service agents? Why weren’t they swarming the place?
Rick’s grip on her arm tightened again. It was going to be black and blue in the morning. Providing she survived until morning. He propelled her out the front door.
She glanced down both ways down the street but couldn’t see either of the vehicles that were supposed to have agents in them.
Where were they?
The pea sized ball of fear that lay in her stomach all evening suddenly blossomed and sprouted shoots that twined around her heart and lungs constricting until it was hard to breathe. She was being silly. They were there somewhere. Right where they were supposed to be. Of course they couldn’t be easily seen, that would defeat the purpose. Erik was there, somewhere in the darkness. Watching and waiting.