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Книга Whiplash. Содержание - 30

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Ruth was on her cell phone as Savich negotiated the heavy traffic back into Washington, wondering what Sherlock was doing, praying she was keeping herself safe.

Ruth punched off. "That was Ollie giving me the results of his last interview. He said he got statements from all the staff who handled food in the kitchen at lunchtime today."

"Talk to me."

Ruth thought briefly of her husband of one month, Dix, and the boys, and realized she wasn't going to be in the stands for Rob's Friday night high school football game. It was the beginning of the season, but still . . . "There were eleven employees in and out of the kitchen today at the Foggy Bottom Grill: the chef, two sous chefs, three dishwashers, two busboys, and three waiters all had easy access. The owner, Raul Minsker, was also in and out of the kitchen, but he doesn't think he was in there during the time the poison had to have been introduced into the shrimp batter, but who knows? We're not going to discount him.

"I was there when Ollie spoke to the chef-Carlysle is his name, Carlysle Boyd-and he said he always prepares Senator Hoffman's shrimp personally, and he did this time as well. He said he thought it was for the senator's usual order. The batter was mixed by one of the sous chefs, Jay Luckoff's his name, from the usual ingredients as far as he knew. Luckoff said he let the batter sit because he was preparing three other dishes at the same time, so anyone could have stirred something into it.

"Ollie's doing an in-depth check on Luckoff, nothing so far. Elliot's doing checks on all the other kitchen employees. One of the busboys has a few juvenile offenses, nothing horrendous, joy riding in a stolen car, some marijuana. He was shaking so hard when Ollie spoke to him, Ollie doesn't think he could have pulled it off.

"To be honest here, Dillon, it could be any one of them. Ollie's setting all of them up for lie detector tests."

"That'd be too easy."

"Show me some optimism here, boss."

"All right then, I'm hoping by tomorrow we'll have nailed him," he said as he smoothly swung around a big black SUV.

Ruth felt the wind tear through her hair. "Let's hope." She laughed. "Ah, this is wonderful. I'm thinking I'll talk Dix into a Porsche. What are my chances?"

Savich shot her a grin. "I'd like to hear what he says."

"Are you going back up to Connecticut?"

"Tomorrow, if Mr. Maitland agrees. I want to see the results of the lie detector tests, use them to recreate where everyone was in the kitchen." Savich shrugged. "I've got some serious thinking to do."

Back in his office, Savich shut his door, turned off his cell, pulled off his tie, and sat down. He closed his eyes and he concentrated. Nikki, David nearly died today. I really do need you.

He pictured her from the photo Senator Hoffman had showed him and Sherlock. A solid woman, she had thoughtful brown eyes, "handsome" was the word, he supposed. She looked fit, a gym lover probably, lightly tanned, her hair beautifully styled and red as a sunset. And an appealing smile, at least in the photo. She stood alone, a big star jasmine bush trellised behind her, white blooms so thick they nearly covered the trellis. He pictured her, tried to feel her. Nikki, please come. There's trouble here, and I know you can help me.

He waited, tried to relax, and opened his hands on his desk. He made her face as clear in his mind as he could, as if she were right in front of his nose.

He felt nothing at first, and then it seemed her face was floating, but it wasn't clear anymore. It was swallowed up by what seemed like a fog, cold and gray. Suddenly the fog was churning in front of him. It seemed substantial, and yet he knew he could put his hand through it, knew it would be wet if he did, but she wouldn't really be there to grasp his hand. There would be nothing. Nikki, make yourself clear.

The swirling fog thinned, and he saw a vague outline, blurred, then clearer, but never clear enough, as if she were a prisoner behind the thick veil, unable to come through. He concentrated hard on trying to see her face, but there was nothing but a vague outline he could hardly make out. He thought he heard her voice, faint and hollow, her words indistinct and distant, as if she were retreating, farther and farther away.

Savich's eyes opened slowly. He looked at Dane Carver, who stood in the doorway of his office, stone still, watching him. Dane asked calmly, "You get anything from the wife?"

Had Dane knocked and he hadn't heard him? Very probably. Savich had to grin. There was no doubt in his mind the whole unit knew now about Senator Hoffman's dead wife. There was no doubt in his mind either that not a word about it would get out. "No, well, she couldn't seem to come through to me. Very weird, actually. What's going on, Dane?"

"You need to switch gears back to Connecticut. Maitland just told me the top-dog director of Schiffer Hartwin, Adler Dieffendorf, and one of his subordinates, Werner Gerlach, marketing and sales, are on their way here from Germany."

"Isn't that a nice surprise? It seems this is very important to them if they don't trust their lawyers to handle it. When are they arriving?"

"Tomorrow afternoon at JFK."

Savich picked up his cell from his desktop. "I'll give Sherlock and Bowie a heads-up. Things are going to happen fast up there now."



Early Wednesday evening

"Hot diggity," Sherlock said. "The mountain's coming to Mohammed. I can't believe it. I've got Bowie right here, I'll tell him." Sherlock rang off, gave Bowie a fat grin. "Guess what? Dillon told me the big German guns are coming here, all the way from Hartwin, Germany, the managing director, Dr. Adler Dieffendorf, and Mr. Werner Gerlach, director of pharma marketing and sales."

Bowie made a victory fist. "Here I was picturing us going to Germany and having them slam the door in our faces, the German cops kissing us off, and here they come, right into our open arms."

Erin was spooning taco meat from a skillet into a bowl on the table. Her heart was pounding hard, but she tried to look only mildly interested. She had to be cool, had to keep her excitement under wraps, well hidden from these two pairs of sharp eyes and sharper brains. "That's great, right? And even better, they'll speak English."

Sherlock smiled at her. "How do you know that, Erin?"

Erin's spoon dashed taco meat onto the table. "Oh, rats, look what I did. How do I know they speak English? Well, all the higher-ups in the big corporations in Europe speak English. They'd have to, wouldn't they? I thought everybody knew that."

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