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Rapp cupped his free hand over Charlie’s ear and feigned shock at his friend’s choice of words. “Hey!”

“Dad, I heard that,” Jack announced as he appeared at Rapp’s side.

“I don’t know if you’ve noticed, Jack, but it’s my day. When you’re thirty-eight and the president of the United States gives you a medal you can swear all you want to. Now take your brother. I need to have a word with Mitch.”

Rapp handed Charlie over to Jack and then followed Nash to a nearby open spot.

Nash looked at the people who had gathered on his behalf. “I can’t believe you ambushed me like this.”

Rapp couldn’t stop smiling. “And I can’t believe how easy it was to dupe you.”

“Yeah, well, I’ve been a little preoccupied lately.”

“You do work for the CIA . . . you know. You’re supposed to see shit like this coming.”

“I don’t want to hear it from you. Not now . . . probably not ever. You had no right to make this shit up.”

“Well, you’re welcome.” Rapp pointed across the room at Nash’s wife. “I haven’t seen Maggie this happy in years.”

Nash looked at his wife. She was talking with Kennedy, Dickerson, and a few other big shots, and Rapp was right. She looked as if the weight of the world had been taken off her shoulders. “That doesn’t mean it was okay for you to out me. How the hell would you like it if I did it to you?”

“You’d be breaking the law.”

“Why isn’t it breaking the law when you do it to me?”

“Because the president didn’t say you could. He gave me the go-ahead . . . and besides, I don’t have a wife and four kids who depend on me.” Rapp looked back at the Nash brood and said, “Trust me . . . you don’t want to turn out like me. They need you, and you need them.”

The words seemed to at least make Nash stop and think. He considered them for a moment and said, “I would have at least liked to have a say in it.”

“And you would have said no.”

“You’re damn right I would have. I didn’t do all those things the president said I did. You did!”

“I did some of them, and don’t get all Semper Fi on me. You were a big part of it. If you hadn’t zipped that first guy, I’d be dead and so would a hell of a lot of other people, including you.” Rapp poked him in the chest. “You deserve that medal.”

“What about you?”

“Shit . . . I already have three of them.”


Rapp shrugged. “See for yourself. Now that you’re getting promoted you might be able to read about some of the stuff I’ve done.”

Nash suddenly lit up. “Irene says I’m your boss now. About the only good thing that happened today.”

“Quit your pissing and moaning. Look at how happy your wife and kids are. Once you calm down you’re going to look back on this day and thank me.”

Nash looked over both shoulders and said, “I’m going to ride your ass is what I’m going to do. I’m going to be the worst boss you’ve ever had.”

Rapp laughed. “Good luck. You’re not the first guy who’s told me that.”

Art Harris, the deputy assistant director of the FBI’s Counterterrorism Division, ambled over with a huge grin on his face. Rapp matched it and Nash frowned. Harris stuck out his big mitt and said, “Mitch, nice work! You got him good!”

“Thanks, Art, I appreciate it, but it’s not the first time someone’s duped a jarhead.”

“They’re like Labs,” Harris said, “extremely loyal, but at the end of the day not real smart.”

“Boy . . . you two are a regular Rowan and Martin.”

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