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She opened her eyes, shut them again. The sunshine hurt too much. d.a.m.n, it was hot.

Cavanaugh persisted, patting her cheek. "Theresa. Are you okay?"

She squinted, tried to shake off the liquid dripping into her eyes. It hurt to breathe. "I'd be better if you hadn't landed on top of me."

He made a sound like a laugh and helped her to sit up. One side of his face bled where it had sc.r.a.ped the ground. He held up their bound hands; now both their wrists were b.l.o.o.d.y. "You don't have another one of those scalpels, do you?"

Her body seemed intact, nothing broken or even bleeding profusely. But it hurt to sit, hurt to breathe, hurt to exist, especially for the right half of her torso-she must have cracked a few ribs. Her lungs worked in short gasps, expanding no more than absolutely necessary.



Sirens wailed around them in a symphony of noise. Most continued past them, skimming the bleachers, but one pulled up in front of them. Mulvaney, Jason, and Frank piled out.

The veteran detective reached her side before the other two got out of the car. "Theresa."

"I'm all right. At least I'm still alive, I mean. Lucas-"

"They're under the bleachers," Cavanaugh cut in.

"We saw it. They won't get far."

"Certainly not Lucas," Theresa said, with only a twinge of hysteria. She let Cavanaugh explain the plan. Mulvaney got on the radio; he instructed the assembling marine units to check all boats in the area for Lucas's accomplice. "Where's the money? I mean, what they didn't distribute to the masses."

"In the car, with the RDX," Theresa said, grimacing as Frank cut apart the tie-wraps with a Swiss Army knife. "How's Paul?"

Frank looked up, into her eyes, and she knew. She knew.

"Mom!"

Rachael bounded from another arriving patrol car before it even stopped moving. Mindless of her ribs, Theresa opened her arms. The impact hurt like h.e.l.l, and she sobbed for a moment, from relief, and pain, and guilt. "I'm so sorry, honey. This will never happen again, I promise. I promise. I promise."

Abruptly Rachael separated from her, but still grasping her arms with a grip so tight it took her attention off the ribs. "Mom."

"I'm sorry-"

"Mom."

Theresa watched the struggle as her daughter tried to find the right words, to deliver news that no one should ever have to deliver, much less a child to her own mother.

"He's dead."

Confirmation, of something she'd known for hours. She knew it from the pallor of his face when he stumbled past her on the burning street. She knew it from the location of the wound and the amount of blood on the floor of the lobby. She knew it from the refusal of the sergeant and Chris to tell her the truth.

Yet she tried, even as Frank put his arm around her and Rachael laid her raven-colored locks on her neck. "No, honey, the hospital probably-"

"Paul's dead, Mom. I was with him. He died a half hour ago."

Theresa slid her bleeding arms around her daughter and held on.

CHAPTER 34

THURSDAY, JULY 2

IN A TYPICAL C CLEVELAND CHANGE OF MOOD, THE TEMPERATURE DROPPED THIRTY-FOUR DEGREES IN THREE DAYS, AND P PAUL'S FUNERAL TOOK PLACE ON A COLD, WET MORNING. THERESA FOUND THIS COM FORTING EVEN AS SHE shiVERED, MORE APPROPRIATE THAN A SUNNY DAY WOULD HAVE BEEN. POLICE-DEPARTMENT PERSONNEL TURNED OUT IN FULL FORCE, UNIFORM ED AND SOLEM N-LOOKING, EVEN THE CHIEF AND assISTANT CHIEF AND ALL THE DEPARTMENT HEADS. THEY HAD PLENTY OF NICE THINGS TO SAY ABOUT THE DECEASED AND T THERESA DIDN'T HEAR A SINGLE WORD THROUGH HER OWN PERSONAL FOG. RACHAEL, FRANK, AND D DON KEPT HER CORDONED OFF FROM MOST OF THE MOURNERS, EXCEPT P PAUL'S FAMILY, AND ALL OF THE MEDIA.

They allowed Chris Cavanaugh through, to join her on a bench next to the grave site as she waited for the cemetery traffic to thin and for the strength to walk away.

He gave her a foot or two of s.p.a.ce and studied the damp grave. "Glad to see you're not fired."

"Yeah. Leo made some phone calls."

"Jessica is sticking to her kidnapping story. She must think it's her only chance to get Ethan back, which of course it is."

The break wall had made it easy for the marine patrol to cordon off the boats present, and it hadn't taken long to find Lucas's buddy, the same one who had driven Bobby's car to Atlanta. The former desk clerk at the self-storage place clearly remembered the guy with the missing hand.

Jessica Ludlow had been found with the car, trying to drag a dying Lucas from the passenger seat. He bled out in much less time than Paul had.

"The car never did blow up," Chris went on when she didn't respond. "Lucas never hit the detonator. They even recovered Jessie's d.a.m.n Picasso, only a little worse for wear."

She nodded. Frank had told her all this, but she let Chris talk anyway.

"What made you suspect her in the first place?"

Speech required an inordinate amount of effort. "The dog. The Browns dog. Those were a limited-edition item, given out by a fast-food place, a long time ago. The Ludlows just moved to the area, so how would they have something like that? She said a neighbor gave it to him, but it seemed in good shape. Odd for someone to keep a collectible like that all those years and then give it to a child you barely know.... A tiny thing, but once my mind went in that direction, all the details started to make sense."

"A stuffed dog."

"I think Bobby gave it to him. Lucas wouldn't have had one either, for the same reason, and Ethan kept talking about 'Bo.' Bobby's brother said he was good with kids."

"A stuffed dog. You're something, Theresa." After a moment his voice took on a different tone: "How are you? I suppose that's a stupid thing to ask."

She tried to say that she was still alive, that she'd survive, that she was well, given the circumstances. The words stuck in her throat. "I don't know. What about you?"

"I feel great, actually, ecstatic to be alive. Unfortunately, that's normal. Posttraumatic stress can take weeks to kick in."

"I get that feeling. I think I don't even know what I've lost yet." The idea of PTSD worried her, and as she had done every ten waking minutes for the past few days, she looked around to find Rachael.

Chris followed her line of sight. "How's she handling it?"

"Like a trouper, of course, but that doesn't mean squat. She holds everything in; I taught her that. It's almost a help, how guilty I feel for making her go through this. I'm so determined to put her first now that it takes my mind off-" Her gaze returned to the earthen hole in front of her.

"Guilty?"

"I risked myself. I risked her mother, to save a man we've known for only six months."

"It's your life to risk, Theresa."

You don't have any children, do you? "No, it's really not." "No, it's really not."

"It was a brave and selfless thing to do. She would respect that."

"I'm sure it would be a great comfort to her during her senior prom, her wedding, the birth of her first child."

The man who made his living ferreting out other people's motivations asked gently, "Why did you do it, then?"

She thought of herself standing in the middle of East Sixth Street, the sun beating her shoulders, Paul collapsed on the lobby floor and bleeding. "I couldn't do anything else."

"If it happened again this afternoon, you'd do the same thing again."

She knew the answer, but it took her a long time to say it. "Yes."

"We all make decisions, Theresa, and we all have responsibilities. Sometimes they line up well and sometimes they don't, but you can only do the best you can. Stop cluttering up your mind with what might have happened, because it's going to take you away from her senior prom, tomorrow's high-profile homicide, or"-he paused-"your next date."

That seemed an odd thing to say. She looked at him.

He merely smiled.

"Mom?"

Rachael stood to the side, Leo behind her.

"Yes." Theresa stood up and smoothed her slacks. "I'm ready to go now."

ACKNOWLEDGMENTS AND NOTES.

I'd like to thank several people for their assistance in writing this book: Specialist Lawrence Stringham, my supervisor at the Cape Coral Police Department; Officer Ira Roth, currently of the Cape Coral Police Department and formerly of the New York City Police hostage negotiation team; Freddy Yaniga and Evelyn Drnak, for sharing their knowledge of the Federal Reserve building; my critique partner Sharon Wildwind, for her medical knowledge; librarian Nancy Skabar; my other critique partners among the Sisters in Crime Guppies, for their help with the craft; my editor, Carolyn Marino; and Elaine and Stephanie at the Elaine Koster Literary Agency, who make it all happen.

The Federal Reserve is prohibited by law to render assistance to a private citizen in a commercial venture, so I had access only to the lobby of the building, which is open to the public. There are no teller cages in the lobby anymore; all areas are given over to educational displays. I have no idea what offices are where on the upper floors, and I have no knowledge of any staff members or their personalities, habits, working conditions, or hours. The guards do not wear fatigues but uniforms; I put them in fatigues to make them easily distinguishable from the other two police agencies involved. I have no idea what the FBI's or the Federal Reserve's response to such a situation would be and only a general idea what the city police would do.

The M.E.'s office building as described in these pages has not existed for many years and bears no resemblance to the ultramodern building that now houses the outstanding staff of Cuyahoga County Coroner's Office. Thanks and love to the trace evidence department there-Linda, Sharon, Kay, Dihann, Jim, and Bernie.

I'd also like to thank my husband, Russ, a walking reference source regarding guns and cars; and of course my mother and four siblings, who give me feedback as well as a reason to keep writing.

BIBLIOGRAPHY.

Adams, Susan H. "What Do Suspects' Words Really Reveal?" FBI Law Enforcement Bulletin, FBI Law Enforcement Bulletin, October 1996. October 1996.

Culley, Lt. John A. "Hostage Negotiations." FBI Law Enforcement Bulletin, FBI Law Enforcement Bulletin, October 1974. October 1974.

Meyer, Laurence H. A Term at the Fed. A Term at the Fed. New York: HarperBusiness, 2004. New York: HarperBusiness, 2004.

Misino, Dominick J., and Jim DeFelice. Negotiate and Win: Proven Strategies from the NYPD's Top Hostage Negotiator. Negotiate and Win: Proven Strategies from the NYPD's Top Hostage Negotiator. New York: McGraw-Hill, 2004. New York: McGraw-Hill, 2004.

Thompson, Leroy. Hostage Rescue Manual. Hostage Rescue Manual. London: Greenhill Books, 2001. London: Greenhill Books, 2001.

Wells, Donald A. The Federal Reserve System: A History. The Federal Reserve System: A History. Jefferson, NC: McFarland & Co. Inc., 2004. Jefferson, NC: McFarland & Co. Inc., 2004.

About the Author.

LISA B BLACK is a member of the American Academy of Forensic Sciences and has been certified by the American Board of Criminalistics. She lives in Florida. is a member of the American Academy of Forensic Sciences and has been certified by the American Board of Criminalistics. She lives in Florida.

www.Lisa-Black.com Visit www.AuthorTracker.com for exclusive information on your favorite HarperCollins author.





CHAPTER DISCUSSION