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She cut him off, “Don’t say that, Mitch.”

“Please let me speak. If I don’t say this right now I don’t think I ever will. I see you and Mike and your kids and I see the life I could have had with Anna. I blew it. I thought I could do both. I thought I could keep the two lives separate. Continue to do all the stuff I’d done for a decade and half. All the nasty shit I can’t talk about.”

“Mitch, you can’t blame yourself.”

“Anna knew it, Maggie. She begged me to get out of the field, let a new crop of guys take the fight to the bad guys, and I told her I would, but I never did. I kept telling myself, one more operation. One more bad guy to take down. I made excuse after excuse. I even lied to her about the crap I was involved in because I knew she’d freak. I thought I could keep the two lives separate, and it was all a bunch of bullshit. And you know it, Maggie. I saw what you and the kids went through last year when he almost died, and then this crap last week . . .” Rapp’s voice trailed off as he thought of their dead colleagues. In a remorseful tone, he said, “This is no business for a family man.”

Maggie sighed. “You don’t have to convince me.”

“Good. Then here’s what we’re going to do.”

“We . . . as in you and I?”

“Yes.” Rapp checked his mirrors.

“Mitch, I love you and I respect what you do. I admire your courage. I admire Michael’s courage and commitment to what he believes in, but I hate your jobs and Michael knows it. I have tried to get him to quit, and he has yet to listen to me. What makes you think this time is going to be different?”

“Because we’re not going to give him a choice in the matter.”

“So . . . what are you saying? Are you going to fire him?”

“No. The opposite. I’m going to promote him.”

“To what? For all I know you’ve been promoted a dozen times and it hasn’t changed a thing.”

“This is going to be different. I’m going to do you a favor, Maggie. I’m going to give you and your kids the life you deserve.”

“That sounds great, Mitch, but I still don’t get how you’re going to pull it off. He’s not a quitter. You try to promote him out of the clandestine side of the business and he’ll turn you down.”

“I might need your help on this, but in the end he’s not going to have any choice in the matter. You’re just going to have to trust me. You know Gabriel Dickerson?”

“Of course I do. Everyone in D.C. knows who Gabriel Dickerson is.” Maggie worked for a prominent PR firm in town.

“Did Mike by chance tell you anything about last week . . . what happened at the office?”

“You mean the attack?”


“Yeah . . . I mean we know Jessica died. We went to the funeral.”

She was referring to Nash’s assistant. “He didn’t talk about any heroics?”

“No. He never talks about that stuff.”

Rapp was relieved. At least Nash still knew how to keep his mouth shut. He began telling her

a little bit about what her husband had done, leaving out his own part in the heroics and focusing on Nash. Then, in broad strokes, he told her about Dickerson’s plan. That the CIA needed a hero. That America needed a hero. And then he fudged a bit and told her the president wanted to give Mike a medal. That he wanted to do it at a public ceremony at the White House and they wanted Maggie and the kids there. Her husband would finally be rewarded for his sacrifices and Maggie would no longer have to live the lie, because he would be outed. Rapp made her promise not to tell anyone, especially her husband.

“You know how these politicians work,” Rapp warned her. “This morning they think this is a great idea. Dickerson is championing it for the president, but it’s never a done deal until it actually happens.”

“You don’t have to tell me. I’ve been burned plenty of times.”

Rapp could hear the hope in her voice. “Maggie, there’s a lot of fucked-up guys like me out there who don’t have a family to take care of. Let them take their turn stepping into the breach. Mike’s done his part. Go home . . . support him . . . make sure he gets some rest and don’t breathe a word of this to him. You know him . . . if he gets wind of this he’ll stop it dead in its tracks.”


RAPP took a quick left and then a quick right. He backed into a private drive halfway down Pathfinder Lane and stopped under a massive elm tree. The leafy canopy of the tree would frustrate any airborne surveillance. One of Rapp’s high school buddies had lived on the street, and he knew the driveway serviced only a couple of houses. The street jogged at both ends so it wasn’t used to cut through the neighborhood like some of the other side streets. Rapp checked the clock on the dashboard and settled in to see if any American-made four-door sedans came skidding around the corner.

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