Книга Army of Devils. Содержание - 8

The driver whipped through a screeching right turn. He slowed as he grabbed Ruiz.

"Get out of my car, you crazy!" the driver shouted into the cocaine freak's face.

When a bullet shattered the windshield, the driver screamed and swerved and floored the accelerator.

Fernando Ruiz had less than a minute of freedom. Then a black-and-white squad car stopped the careering sports car.


In a tobacco-stinking lounge of Los Angeles International Airport, Carl Lyons and Flor Trujillo watched a jet taxi to a passenger-loading bridge. To bring it the last hundred feet to the bridge, field technicians had coupled a tug's tow-bar to the jet's front landing-gear strut. The tug docked the jet.

For a moment, Lyons took his attention from the runway. His eyes focused on the plate glass in front of them, on the mirrored image of himself and Flor standing together, his arm over her shoulders, like lovers waiting for arriving friends.

Flor had been quiet in the hours since the horror of the morgue. Though her professional demeanor tended toward silence broken by incisive observations — in contrast to Lyons's thoughtless comments and brutal joking — neither of them approached their time together as "on-duty time." In contrast to Flor the professional, Flor the lover joked and teased and gossiped. Carl Lyons had always considered the time he enjoyed with Flor to be precious.

The past times together — in the Caribbean or Washington, D.C., or New York — in the few hours or days their schedules allowed them to be together, he escaped from the discipline of the hard-core fighter. Flor knew his work. She also understood his reflexes.

Once, at breakfast in New York, with early morning traffic racing past a small cafe, an incoming customer opened the front door exactly as a truck backfired three times, one-two-three, like the firing of a large-caliber autopistol or a battle rifle with a low cyclic rate.

Lyons, seated at a small chrome-and-vinyl cafe table, had jumped simultaneously up and to the side. However, the table, bolted to the floor, had stopped him. The impact of his legs and torso against the table had overturned the water and juice glasses. Their breakfast plates clattered across the vinyl tabletop. All the waitresses and other diners stared at the big tanned man.

But Flor, knowing why Lyons had jumped, laughed. After a second, even as his heart raced with adrenaline, Lyons laughed, too.

Flor understood his silences and sudden rages. She understood his strange jokes. She understood his extreme generosity.

Now Lyons studied the lovely young woman beside his image in the plate glass. In her high heels, she stood only half a head short of his own height. She wore a modest summer dress with an abstract motif. Yet on her, the modest dress revealed and celebrated her body; a belt at her waist accentuated her slender form, her full breasts; the pale blue fabric contrasted engagingly with her dark skin and ink-black hair.

He touched the smooth fabric of the dress while his eyes watched his hand stroke her shoulder. In the reflection, she turned to him. He watched her profile as she looked to his face. He studied her while she studied him.

Overcome with a sudden desire to hold her, to touch her, to taste her, he pulled her against him.

One arm around her shoulders, the other hand on the muscled arch of the small of her back, he held her, feeling her breath on his neck, the rise and fall of her breasts against his shirt as she breathed. He kissed her, lightly, only wanting the sensation of her lips against his, to smell the warmth and moisture of her breath.

Brushing his face over her hair — she wore no perfume, used a shampoo without scent — then putting his face against the side of her neck, he smelled her sweat. The sweet yet acrid scent of her summer-sweating flesh struck memories, which came like flames, memories of the previous night, of her sweat glistening on her body…

His hands clawed her against him in the passenger lounge.

Flor laughed as she eased away. "We're in public, you animal."

He pulled her against him again and whispered,

"We'll go to another motel. Maybe a hotel. The Bonaventure. Soon as we drop them off."

"Think it makes a difference, a motel or a hotel?"

"Not to me. Someplace where we can laugh."

Lyons glanced past the waiting crowd.

No passengers came from the jet bridge. Then a technician opened the doors to the lounge. The first passengers came a second later.

Hand in hand, Lyons and Flor went to meet his partners. They passed returning vacationers, businessmen, elderly travelers, women with babies in their arms. Friends and families welcoming the passengers talked and laughed all around them. But many of the travelers had returned to Los Angeles reluctantly. Lyons heard snatches of conversation.

"Think we'll be safe on the way home?"

"Did you bring a gun for me?"

"The east-coast news people — they say it's a war zone."

"The newspaper made a joke of it. Crazy Californians on cocaine."

"Is it true they're cannibals?"

Then Flor saw the two ex-Green Berets in casual clothes. Gadgets Schwarz and Rosario Blancanales followed the flow of the departing passengers. Gripping Lyons's hand, she pulled him through the crowd.

Gadgets blinked when he saw Flor. "Long time no see, Senora Meza."

"Thought you were on business," Blancanales remarked, giving Lyons a wink. The Puerto Rican charmer put an arm around Flor. "Glad to see you again. But why do you have to hang around with him? It won't do your reputation any good."

"Cut the crap," Lyons told his partners. "Let's go. You brought luggage?"

"You expect us to wear the same clothes all week?" Gadgets said. "Or do you think we can do this overnight?"

Lyons shook his head. "I got other plans for tonight. We'll take you downtown, introduce you to the blue-suits..."

"Ix-nay, Ironman," Gadgets interrupted as the group went to the escalator leading down from the passenger lounges. "Even if they're your friends, we got to stay far, far away."

"More congressmen call the Man?" Lyons asked.

Lyons rode shoulder-to-shoulder with Flor, Gadgets one step ahead, Blancanales one step back. They effectively blocked out any possibility of the nearby people overhearing them as they talked.

"You mean Hal, or the Main Man?" Gadgets said, turning to ride backward on the escalator.

"Any congressmen calling anybody."

"Just standard paranoia. Nothing special going on back east."

Blancanales leaned forward and spoke quietly. "But elections are coming up. One of our national voices of reason and social compassion would very much enjoy putting any one of us in Leavenworth. That would get him on the news three nights straight. So we need to stay invisible all the time."

Gadgets stared at Blancanales for an instant, his eyes and mouth wide with mock shock. Then he grinned to Flor. "The Pol never used to talk like that. Used to be soft words and brotherly understanding. It's hanging around with him..." Gadgets pointed at Lyons "...that's got our Rican talking this reactionary hard-core line."

"Me?" Lyons startled, actually offended. "Me, reactionary?"

Gadgets put up his hands, whispered, "I'm your friend, don't kill me. Don't kill me. Remember, you'd have to carry fifty percent more equipment."

"Calmatese, mi hermano," Blancanales laughed, his hands on Lyons's shoulders. "Perhaps he meant it as a compliment."

"I'm calm, just quit the clowning."

They left the escalator. Walking in a tight group through the underground corridor from the passenger lounges and the terminal, the four counter-terrorists hurried past slower travelers.

"Your luggage heavy?" Lyons asked his partners.

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