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“Telling your kids to be good . . . don’t cheat in school . . . play life by the rules . . . and, oh, by the way, I just broke five federal laws today and killed a man. That kind of shit weighs on a guy after a while.”

“It doesn’t weigh on you,” Kennedy focused her gaze more intently, “just a little bit?”

Rapp was surprised that he actually paused to think about it. As crazy as it was, no one had asked him this question in a long time. “Which part of the job?”

“All of it, but let’s start with the part that most people would have a hard time with. The killing.”

Rapp shook his head. “It’s never bothered me. The guys I’m whacking aren’t exactly upstanding citizens.”

Kennedy had read every after-action report he’d written and verbally debriefed him on the ones that were too sensitive to put in writing. She knew Rapp wasn’t big on detail or blowing his own horn, so more often than not she got a very abbreviated version of what had gone down. “You’ve never accidentally killed an innocent bystander?”

“Define innocent . . . if you’re talking some rent-a-bodyguard who’s hired to protect some piece of shit, he’s not exactly innocent in my book. You wanna play tough guy mercenary, you’d better understand the bullets are real.”

Kennedy nodded. They’d covered some of this territory before.

Rapp considered it further, took a kernel of an emotion and decided to blow it up. Turn it into something Kennedy would get. “The only thing that weighs on me is not having his life.”

“What do you mean, ‘his life’?”

“I’d leave this shit in a heartbeat if I could turn back the clock and have Anna back. When he’s in town, he goes home to that family and they’re his. Those kids love him and the dumb shit takes it for granted. When you don’t have something,” Rapp caught himself and added, “when you’ve had something that meant more than anything in the world to you, and it was taken away . . . it’s hard to imagine why anyone would want to do this shit when the price is that high.”

Kennedy didn’t speak for a long time, and then she said, “You know it’s not too late for you, Mitch? You’re in your early forties.”

“You mean to find someone else. Settle down, have a bunch of kids.” Rapp shook his head. “Not so sure it’s for me. Besides, someone has to do this job, and I don’t see too many guys with my skill set ready to step into the breach.”

“I’m sure I could find someone else.”

With a confident grin, Rapp asked, “And do you think they could do it as well?”

“I doubt it.” Kennedy reflected on the subject and began to see that maybe Rapp was coming at it from the right place. “So your solution, as far as Mike is concerned, is to let Dickerson turn him into the CIA’s poster boy?”

“I haven’t worked out the details yet, but, yeah . . . that’s pretty much the plan.”

“And you think he’ll go along with this?”

“Not sure, but we don’t have to give him a choice in the matter.”

Kennedy shook her head. “I don’t think he’ll like it.”

“He probably won’t at first, but I think he’ll come around pretty quick.”

Kennedy winced. “I don’t know, Mitch

. . . He’s not as stubborn as you, but he’s pretty close.”

“When he sees how proud Maggie and the kids are . . .” Rapp smiled, “all will be forgiven.”

“I’ll think about.”

“Good.” Rapp checked his watch. “I gotta get going. I need to—”

Kennedy stopped him. “Yes, you do. You need to get out to Dulles. Your friends have requested a meeting.”

“Which friends?”

“Your counterparts from across the pond.”

“Oh.” These neutral-site, face-to-face meetings were a recent development. “How much time do I have?”

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