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“I know,” Rapp said.

“I don’t think luck had anything to do with it. If it was a prize fight they would have called it after the first round.”

“What Irene means is that under normal circumstances, they would have never let me get away with that. They would have shouted me down, and if it wasn’t for Lonsdale’s conversion there’s no way in hell I would have gotten away with it.”

Kennedy looked at Rapp and said, “I’ve never seen anything like it in my nearly twenty-five years. They’re scared to death.” She looked back down the hall at the doors to the committee room and in near-disbelief said, “Your friend from Illinois.”

“The one who likes to call us Nazis.”

“Yes. He just pulled me aside and told me whatever I want, just ask for it. He told me to take your leash off and turn you loose.”

“Unbelievable. The guy’s been busting my balls for two years. Thousands of people die in the Towers and the Pentagon, and planes fall out of the sky, and he wants me to Mirandize every piece of crap I come across. Now it hits a little closer to home and all of a sudden we need to take the gloves off and throw away the rule book. God . . . they’re the most egocentric fuckers on the planet.”

“Yeah . . . well, don’t look a gift horse in the mouth,” Kennedy said. “Isn’t this what you wanted?”

“Yeah,” Rapp snarled. “It’d just be nice if they did it for a reason other than self- preservation.”

“Well,” Kennedy said, “sometimes you have to take what you can get. Just be happy they didn’t launch an investigation. You could spend the next year sitting in conference rooms drinking weak coffee and eating stale doughnuts talking to lawyers.”

“You’re right.”

“All right,” Kennedy said while checking her watch, “we can’t keep the president waiting.”

The three of them walked down the hallway. Two of Kennedy’s bodyguards fell in, one in front and one in back. Nash asked his boss, “What does the president want?”

Kennedy stole a quick glance at Rapp and then said to Nash, “I have no idea. We’ll find out when we get there.”

Rapp and Nash parted ways with their boss and went down the back stairs to where Rapp’s car was parked. C Street was closed on this side of the building and his car was parked in one of the diagonal spots. He paused at his door with his keys in hand and looked across the boulevard at the teams of special agents combing through the debris of what had been one of Washington’s most famous restaurants. The place looked more like an archeological dig than a crime scene. The big parking lot had been divided into more than a dozen sections separated by crime scene tape and orange cones. Agents were sifting through the debris with shovels and by hand. A crane was parked off to the side, just in case, but most of the heavy stuff had already been removed from the pile.

The FBI was looking for clues. Sifting through every pile of debris. This was where they excelled—gathering evidence and building a case. Finding a latent fingerprint on a detonator, tracing the detonator back to the manufacturer, and then following it every step of the way right back to who used it to commit murder. They would spend years building their case, and then as much as a decade trying to convince some foreign government to turn the individuals over. It would be a slow, tedious process.

Rapp shook his head and realized why the president wanted him to expedite things. In this particular situation he wouldn’t play the role of judge and jury, but he would gladly play the role of executioner. He got into the car, started it up and backed out. As they drove over the pop-up security barricade and took a right onto Second Street Rapp listened to a voicemail Coleman had left him. At Constitution he took another right.

A block and a half later Rapp was thinking of Coleman’s voicemail when he asked Nash, “You ever seen a shrink?” He knew Nash would think the question was a little out of bounds so he quickly added, “Irene’s been trying to get me to see one.”

“You probably should,” Nash answered without giving anything away.

“I did right after Anna was murdered. Didn’t go so well.”

Nash gave him a sideways glance. “No . . . I imagine it didn’t.”

“What in the hell is that supposed to mean?” Rapp said with a self-deprecating laugh.

“Guys like us aren’t very good at discussing our feelings. I don’t have anything against it. I think therapy can do a lot of good, but I also think a lot of people use it as a crutch.”

“Yeah . . . I suppose Maggie thinks it’s good. Anna used to try to get me to do it. Said it would be a fair way for us to resolve some of our issues.”

“Maggie says the same thing. I know she has someone she goes to from time to time. She doesn’t say much about it other than she thinks it would be good for me to sit down and talk to someone.”

Rapp turned onto Pennsylvania Avenue and added, “Our security clearance doesn’t exactly allow us to do that.”

“That’s what I keep telling her.”

Rapp was half tempted to tell him about Coleman’s message. Apparently Doc Lewis wasn’t the only shrink they had put under surveillance. Max Johnson had told Coleman that Adams had directed him to follow Maggie Nash and see what he could dig up. When he found out she was seeing a therapist twice a month, he ordered Johnson to bug the office. Mitch knew he couldn’t tell Nash, though. At least not today. He needed to get him to the White House and let him have his moment. Afterward, he would be sure to tell Nash all the sordid details before he made his decision on Adams’s fate.

They entered the White House grounds via the southwest gate and pulled into one of the visitor spots on West Executive Avenue. They handed their guns to the uniformed Secret Service officer who checked them in on the ground floor just around the corner from the Situation Room. He placed them in a locked drawer and handed them claim tickets. Rapp looked at the sign-in sheet and was pleased to see Kennedy was already here. Her security detail would have buzzed over from Capitol Hill without stopping for lights.

They walked down the short hallway and when Nash turned to the right to go to the Situation Room, Rapp grabbed his arm and said, “We’re upstairs today.”

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