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Книга Whiplash. Содержание - 41

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She nodded. "Yes, but who do you think followed me?"

"Probably Caskie Royal."

"Or it could have been Carla Alvarez. I overheard her and Royal speaking before they came into his office. He'd brought her into it, Bowie."

"Something else we didn't know. It occurs to me we need to sit down and talk, right now." He sat down on the sofa, folded his arms over his chest, still royally pissed, and motioned for her to sit in front of him. He eyed her and then said, his voice sharp, "I want you to start again, at the beginning. And don't leave anything out."

Twenty minutes later, Bowie leaned back. "Is that all of it?"

"You asked me that three times."

"Is it?"

"Yes, I've told you everything."

"I don't want you killed. I don't want my daughter in danger. There's only one way I can keep you safe now. Even though I've got two agents outside in a car across the street, I'm staying here." He nodded toward the sofa.

"And I'm thinking when this is over, I may just have to haul your butt to jail."

Bowie heard Georgie give a sound, a yip that sometimes came out of her dreams. No, there was no way he could hear her if she was in bed asleep. He slowly dropped his arms to his sides and turned. Georgie wasn't in bed. She was standing in the doorway, her thumb in her mouth, only half asleep, and she looked scared. She yipped again.



Thursday night

Sherlock was gliding smoothly in a half-pipe on her skateboard, Sean behind her, laughing, when her cell phone woke her up at exactly three o'clock in the morning. "Yes?"

"Agent Sherlock? Help me, you have to help me!"

"Jane Ann? What's wrong? Come on, calm down. Talk to me."

"Someone's in the house, I-I can hear them, I-"

"Is it your husband? Is it Caskie?"

"Caskie? No, Caskie would call out to me, he'd tell me right off he was here. No, it's a stranger, it's someone here to hurt me. Help me!"

"Do you have a gun?"

"What? Yes, it's in Caskie's bedside table."

"Get it out and get yourself in a closet and close the door. I'll be right there. Don't shoot me! If it's your husband, don't shoot him either. Stay calm, Jane Ann, and get moving!"

There was sharp intake of breath, but nothing more from Jane Ann Royal. The line went dead.

Savich was already out of bed, pulling on his pants, Sherlock behind him, grabbing clothes.

As they ran to the small parking lot behind the B&B, she shouted, "I'll drive, I know where she lives. Do you want to call backup?"

"No, not yet. Let's wait and get the lay of the land first."

As they swerved out of the parking lot, Sherlock said, "It's my fault. I put her in danger by simply visiting her. I drew a circle on her back, and someone knows I met with her at her house. That same someone is afraid of what Jane Ann Royal told me. Or might tell me." She banged her fist against the steering wheel and took a corner too fast. "Is it Caskie there in the house? Maybe he's hiding and Jane Ann simply doesn't know it? Is he the one she heard?"

Savich lightly touched her leg. "Cut the guilt or you'll piss me off. Now, tell me about the house, everything you can remember. I don't want to go in there blind."

Sherlock talked nonstop, describing what she'd seen of the Royal house as she sped through the dark streets toward that lovely neighborhood with its big graceful houses and huge grounds, repeating herself, she knew, but she didn't care. "It is my fault if something happens to her," she said again. "You can't jolly me out of it."

Savich said sharply, "Of course I can. I'm your boss, you have to follow orders. Cut that nonsense out, right now."

She screeched into the large driveway. The house was dark, completely and utterly dark, not a single light on inside.

The alarm system wasn't on. Sherlock was breathing fast and hard, praying for all she was worth. Savich turned the doorknob. It was open.

He swung the door back, smoothly and silently. He went in high, Sherlock low, something they'd done often, both in and out of Quantico, their movements practiced and fast.

Savich started to flip on a light switch then stopped cold when he heard a scratching noise off to his right.

He slipped his penlight out of his jacket pocket. Together they moved silently toward the living room, the beam from the penlight sweeping back and forth in front of them. After six steps, they stopped, listened.

Nothing now, only dead silence. Savich nodded. Sherlock yelled, "Jane Ann! Where are you?"

Nothing. Then they heard a whimper, a human being's whimper, coming from up the stairs.

They ran up the wide staircase, crouched over nearly double.

Someone fired at them from the landing, one shot, then a fusillade from an automatic weapon. Savich slammed Sherlock down onto the stairs and came down on top of her, covering her body as best he could. Bullets riddled the plaster on the wall two feet above his head, broke it apart and splattered it on the back of his head.

A painting fell, one sharp edge striking the stairs as it plunged down. It slammed the bottom stair and struck the tiles, sliding across the entrance hall.

There was another shot, this one from off to the right. He reared back and fired his SIG blindly toward the shooter.

Sherlock managed to get her arm free. When the next shot nicked the lovely mahogany stair railing, both of them fired toward the direction of the sound.

There was a shuffling sound, not like they'd shot someone, but something else, like someone was moving fast. Yes, he was running down the hall.

Savich was up in an instant, grabbed Sherlock's arm, and pulled her up. He fiddled with the penlight and it flickered on again, carving a narrow beam through the inky black. He whispered against her ear, "We've got to take this real slow. We'll be blind up ahead, and whoever it is could be circling back, waiting for us to come up."

They spread out across the stairs, each to one side. Crouching, they made their way to the top.

They stopped and listened. There were no more running footsteps. Whoever it was, was long gone.

"Which way to the master bedroom?"

Sherlock shook her head. "Let's go right."

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