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“I only heard one.”

“Check the phone. There’s another one. It starts out very similar to the first. He calls him a coward . . . all that bullshit. See if Johnson can find out what tower he used when he left the second one.”

“And what do you wanna do with the FBI?”

It was the million-dollar question and the eight-hundred-pound gorilla all rolled into one. Rapp grabbed the back of his neck and squeezed while he tried to sort it out. “This isn’t going to be easy. We give them the phone numbers and they’re going to want to know where we got them.”

“There are two dead bodies in northern Arkansas, and from everything he’s been telling us,” Coleman pointed toward the cell door, “this Karim whack job probably isn’t done killing people. We have to share this information. The feds are all still up in Iowa trying to piece things together and these guys are hundreds of miles away killing grandparents and God only knows who else.”

“I know. I’ve already talked to Irene and she’s trying to figure out a way to source it.”

Coleman stepped back and shook his head.

“Scott, I don’t like it any more than you do, but come on . . . you got any better ideas? I mean we’re not exactly sitting on it. We just found most of this shit out ourselves.”

“And if we gave the feds these phone numbers they’d have them pinged in ten minutes.”

“Bullshit . . . they’d bring in the lawyers, ask for a fucking warrant, and fill out ten forms in fucking triplicate, and then and only then would they ask the phone companies for their records.”

“I don’t know.” Coleman shook his head.

“Listen . . . Irene’s on her way to the White House right now. She’ll figure it out. In the meantime, ask our new friend Max Johnson if he would please hack back into the phone company database and find out where Karim was when he left that second message. And see if there’s any other activity on the phone.”

Coleman nodded and headed back down the hallway. Rapp collected his thoughts and went back into the cell. Lewis and Hakim were talking. Rapp stood behind his chair and placed his hands on the back. They were discussing Karim’s temper. Rapp was only half listening to what Hakim was saying. At the moment he was more concerned with how they were going to bring this sordid mess out of the dark covert world and into the transparent world of law enforcement. He didn’t doubt for a minute that it had to be done. It was just a question of how. Rapp was trying to figure that out when Hakim said something that caught his attention.

“What did you just say?” Rapp asked Hakim.

“He was very proud of his men. The six that were killed in the attack on your terrorism facility.”

“No . . . just before that. You said something else.”

“He was upset with me for doubting his bravery. He was very upset with your president for calling his men cowards. He said we were going to go to Washington and show the world that your president is a liar. Show—”

“Washington?” Rapp asked. “Are you sure he said Washington?”

“Yes, but I’m not sure I believe him. I mean . . . he might send Ahmed. That was part of his original plan. To turn Ahmed loose in downtown Washington and let him kill as many people as he could before you managed to stop him.”

“Ahmed is a trained sniper?”

“Yes. And he’s very good. I saw him work in Afghanistan.”

“But he said you were all going to Washington?”

“Yes. To martyr ourselves.” Hakim shook his head. “But I do not think Karim will do it. He is too vain.”

There was a knock on the door and then it was yanked open. This time Coleman didn’t wait for Rapp to come out. “The second message was left at twelve-oh-four this afternoon. It pinged a tower just off Sixty-six and Jackson Lee.”

“Shit.” Rapp started pacing. His hand was forced. They had to bust this thing wide open. He grabbed his BlackBerry from his pocket and was about to call Kennedy when he saw Nash’s name pop up on the caller ID. Rapp thought he might be with Kennedy so he answered the call. He listened for a few seconds and then said, “Mike, slow down. Are you sure?” Rapp listened for another few beats and as he listened to Nash explain himself he felt his stomach begin to twist into knots. “We’ll be right there. Don’t do anything crazy . . . just wait for us to get there.”



NASH came speeding down his street at close to seventy miles an hour. He slammed on the brakes and came to a stop directly in front of his house. Maggie was out the door and up the walk like a shot. He’d already told her what he wanted her to do and explained it in a voice that made it clear there was no room for debate. They weren’t even halfway through their first glass of wine when he decided to call home and check on the kids. He tried the home number first and then Shannon’s mobile number and got nothing. His tension began to rise, and Maggie did her spousal duty and told him to relax. Five minutes later he got the same result, and his blood began to boil. Maggie tried to reassure him by offering what she thought were plausible explanations. He didn’t buy any of them and started dialing the phone every sixty seconds until finally on the fifth try Jack answered.

The ten-year-old’s weak attempt at a cover story crumbled in the face of his father’s anger, and he spilled the beans. Nash threw two twenties on the table and grabbed his wife by the wrist. Nash offered his apologies to the poor manager who had so proudly set aside his best table. Maggie mumbled something about one of the kids’ being sick. They ran two red lights and were home in less than two minutes. During the brief car ride Nash explained that she was to go into the house, lock the door, turn on the alarm, and grab one of his guns from the safe in the mudroom. When Maggie tried to tell him he was over-reacting, he ignored her and hoped she was right.

Nash made sure Maggie was in the house and then sped off. He stopped at the end of the block and looked both ways. There was nothing but a few parked cars. He wondered which way she would have turned and guessed right. He sped off and stopped in the middle of the next intersection. He looked left and then right. Two blocks down he saw the lights of a police cruiser. Nash spun the wheel and floored it. As he drew closer he saw the minivan just beyond the police car parked in the middle of the street. The driver’s door was open. Nash threw the car into park and breathed a sigh of relief. She’d been stopped for driving without an adult in the car. His worst fears behind him, he got out and approached the police officer, who was standing on the boulevard talking with a woman who looked to be in her late forties.

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