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Rapp looked around said, “Ahhh . . . He just started vomiting.”

“Coward,” Karim scoffed. “I will make sure the media knows that your hero vomited before facing me.”

“Yeah . . . well not everyone can be a tough guy, right?”

“Who is this?”

Rapp looked up and saw Lewis and Hakim. “Dr. Lewis! I’m monitoring the situation here. Mr. Nash is obviously very traumatized by this.” Rapp tried to think of the words Lewis would choose. “He just got off the phone with his wife and boys. He wanted to say good-bye to them. He wanted them to have some closure.”

“Well, put him on the phone. It is time to make the exchange.”

“Hold on.” Rapp looked down and hit the mute key. He marched straight over to Hakim and said, “Are you honestly sick of seeing innocent people killed?”

Hakim looked up at the building bathed in lights and said, “Yes.”

Rapp thought it through one more time. “All right . . . then you’re going to get your chance to prove it. I’m going to hand you this phone and I want you to bait him like you’ve never baited him before. I want you to work him into an absolute fury.”

Hakim nodded. “I know just what to say.”

“Mitch,” Lewis said, “I’m not sure that’s such a good idea.”

“No time to argue,” Rapp snapped. “Slick, are you good to go?”


Rapp grabbed Hakim and dragged him through the police and up the edge of the steps. Harris followed. “Art,” Rapp said, “take the phone from him if he tries to warn him.”

Harris pulled out his gun.

Rapp looked at the keypad, took a deep breath, and took it off mute. “Are you still there?”

“Yes, and I must warn you I am not alone. If anyone other than Mr. Nash approaches the building I will kill the girl.”

“Understood.” Rapp handed the phone to Hakim and pulled the black mask down over his face.

“Karim, this is your old friend. I see you are still hiding behind the skirts of little girls.”

Rapp turned away from Hakim and said, “Bingo! I repeat . . . Bingo!”

Rapp took the steps three at a time. Reavers was right at his side. “You’ve got my six. We go in on the right side.”

“Tango is down.” Wicker’s voice came over the net. “I repeat, tango is down.”

Wicker’s words were welcome but Rapp didn’t have time to celebrate. There was one bad guy down, but still one to go. They pushed up the last flight of stairs, their footfalls nearly silent. As they neared the big columns, Rapp could hear someone shouting from inside the immense space. He had a moment of indecision. Should he stop and assess the situation or rush headlong into it and keep surprise on his side? He decided on the latter and already had a picture in his mind’s eye. They reached the threshold and Rapp sliced through the farthest opening on the right. His left eye was perched behind his Eotech holographic sight. The red bull’s-eye glowed in the middle of the square aperture.

The picture Rapp had in his mind’s eye was nothing like the one he was confronted with. Standing no more than twenty feet in front of him, Karim had his phone to his ear and was screaming. His gun was in his right hand, and there was no sign of Shannon. They made eye contact and Rapp saw the gun start to come up. He continued to close, and did three quick double taps, all high center mass. All suppressed. Karim tumbled backward, the pistol falling from his hand. Rapp stopped two feet short and kept the gun trained on Karim, who was now sprawled out on his back.

“Shannon?” Rapp yelled.

Off to his left he saw something in the shadows shift. He glanced over and saw Shannon tied up with her back to him, but moving. Rapp looked back down at Karim, who was clutching at his tactical vest. There was no sign of blood. Rapp figured he was wearing a bulletproof vest. Rapp thought about the president and Dickerson and the bullshit show trial that the country would be dragged through. He elevated the thick silencer a few degrees and put Karim’s face in the center of the sight. He was trying to say something, but Rapp didn’t really care. He squeezed the trigger one more time and ended it.



THE Bell 430 helicopter floated down out of the night sky. Its front spotlight lit up the grassy field north of the house. In the shadows, just beyond the light, Stan Hurley waited at the edge of the field along with Rapp and a slightly groggy Mike Nash. Dr. Lewis was in the house keeping an eye on Shannon. He’d given her a mild sedative and was making sure there wasn’t something she was afraid to talk about while her dad was in the room.

Rapp turned his back to the rotor wash, while Hurley and Nash simply closed their eyes and lowered the heads. The CIA helicopter set down softly on its three wheels and its rotors began to slow. The portside door opened and Scott Coleman jumped to the ground. He held Jack Nash under the arms and pulled him from the chopper and set him on the ground. Rory followed on his own, jumping from the chopper and landing on both feet. He and Jack saw their dad and broke into a sprint. Maggie was next. Charlie was in her arms wrapped in a blanket and somehow still asleep. Coleman helped her step down and finally Kennedy appeared in the doorway. She said something to the pilots and then exited the bird.

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