Compact with the Devil: A Novel

BOOK: Compact with the Devil: A Novel
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The City of Lights is never so romantic as it is on New Year’s Eve—and for Carrie Mae agent Nikki Lanier, it’s never been so deadly.

Still reeling from her break up with CIA agent Z’ev Coralles, Nikki is tracking a Basque anarchist who may be planning to kill fellow Carrie Mae operative Camille Masters. Nikki’s search leads her to Camille’s son, bad-boy pop star Kit Masters, who is traveling to Paris on tour. When Nikki receives a picture of Z’ev with another woman, Kit is happy to help mend her broken heart—but first, they’ll have to fend off masked gunmen so Kit can arrive safely at his New Year’s Eve concert.

When dissension in the ranks of Carrie Mae gets Nikki fired from the mission, she defies orders and recruits her friends to help solve the case. But staying alive long enough to protect Camille—while untangling her increasingly messy love life—will be the hardest thing Nikki’s ever done.

Also by Bethany Maines

Bulletproof Mascara

A Division of Simon & Schuster, Inc.
1230 Avenue of the Americas
New York, NY 10020
www.SimonandSchuster.com

This book is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents either are products of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual events or locales or persons, living or dead, is entirely coincidental.

Copyright © 2011 by Bethany Maines

All rights reserved, including the right to reproduce this book or portions thereof in any form whatsoever. For information address Atria Books Subsidiary Rights Department, 1230 Avenue of the Americas, New York, NY 10020.

First Atria Paperback edition April 2011

ATRIA
PAPERBACK
and colophon are trademarks of Simon & Schuster, Inc.

The Simon & Schuster Speakers Bureau can bring authors to your live event. For more information or to book an event, contact the Simon & Schuster Speakers Bureau at 1-866-248-3049 or visit our website at
www.simonspeakers.com
.

Manufactured in the United States of America

10 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1

Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data

Maines, Bethany.
Compact with the devil: a novel / by Bethany Maines. — 1st Atria Paperback ed.

p. cm.

1. Women spies—Fiction. 2. Anarchists—France—Fiction. I. Title.

PS3613.A34964C66 2011
813'.6—dc22

2011001206

ISBN 978-0-7432-9279-5
ISBN 978-0-7432-9280-1 (ebook)

Contents

Colombia I: Rocking Around the Christmas Tree

Colombia II: Well, I’ve Never Been to Spain

Colombia III: Clockwise Witness

Colombia IV: How It All Went Down

Colombia V: Devil May Care

Germany I: Your Time is Gonna Come

Germany II: Maxwell’s Silver Hammer

Germany III: Tilt!

Germany IV: Honest, I Swear

Germany V: Groupie Chick

Germany VI: Green T-shirt Blues

Germany VII: You Can Get What You Need

France I: Fiery Crash

France II: Dirty Laundry

France III: Say It Ain’t So

France IV: Interrogation

France V: Care Package

Paris I: I Love Paris

Paris II: Something’s Wrong

Paris III: There’s No Place Like Home

Paris IV: Z’ev’s Dead, Baby, Z’ev’s Dead

Paris V: The El Nina Effect

Paris VI: Le Gator

Paris VII: Subway

Paris VIII: I Need TV When I Got T. Rex

Paris IX: Work Ethic

Paris X: You Turn the Screws

Paris XI: La Vie en Rose

Paris XII: Have to Answer to Us

Paris XIII: Underneath Your Clothes

Paris XIV: Paris, France

Paris XV: Assault on the Opera

Paris XVI: Fork in the Road

Paris XVII: Basque Standoffs

Paris XVIII: After 2+2 Is 1+1

Paris XIX: The World According to Brandt

Paris XX: Home Again

L.A. Work Related

Acknowledgments

COLOMBIA I
Rocking Around the Christmas Tree
December 24

Nikki Lanier popped open the hood of her small red Fiat and stepped out onto the sun-washed, dusty Colombian road that tumbled away in a series of jogs and bends in either direction. The far side of the road was a mass of greenery from which issued an occasional lonesome birdcall and the repetitive chirp of insects. The near side was a wall of clay bricks broken only by a set of tall iron gates and a smaller wooden door a few yards away. A scrawny calico cat sunned itself on top of the wall, ignoring Nikki, who was pretending to examine the inner workings of the engine. The blast of hot air from under the hood added to the sheen of sweat covering her skin. The monotonous tick of the cicadas should have made her feel alone; instead it simply seemed to underscore her feeling of being watched. She held still and listened for a sound behind the insects.

Her cell phone buzzed against her hip bone, vibrating in her pocket. Fireworks of adrenaline burst in her chest, shooting sparkles of fire down her arms. They were supposed to be in the communication blackout phase. Had something gone wrong with the team? Nikki checked the phone’s face. Her boyfriend’s picture blinked next to “incoming message.”

Against her better judgment, she pressed the accept button.

“Call me. We need to talk,” was all the message said.

Nikki froze. In the entire history of man, nothing good had ever come from the phrase “we need to talk.” A grating noise pulled her back into the moment.

Turning, she saw the small door in the wall slowly opening. Nikki whipped back around and looked at the engine again, stuffing the phone into her purse. She put Z’ev firmly out of her mind. It was time to concentrate on the mission. The team depended on her.

She heard the crunch of footsteps as two men emerged from the doorway. They were wearing jeans and T-shirts, with guns slung across their shoulders. Nikki knew at a glance that the black, snub-nosed machine guns were TEC-9s. Nikki waved happily at the two men, who remained expressionless.

“Boy, am I glad to see you guys!” she chirruped, trying to look as harmless as possible.

“¡Usted no puede parquear aquí! ¡Usted no puede estar aquí!”

“Sorry, fellas,” said Nikki, jutting out one hip and sounding as American as possible. “
No habla español.
I don’t suppose y’all
habla
car?” She made little steering motions with her hands and then broke the imaginary wheel. The men exchanged looks.

“Americana estúpida.”

“Sí, pero está buena.”

“Justos, ayudémosla a arreglar su coche así se va más rápido.”

The second man shrugged. They both slung their guns behind them and approached Nikki’s rental car. Nikki beamed.

“You can see it’s just busted all to fooey,” she said, holding the smile and resting a hand on the upraised hood.

Both men ducked under the hood and peered at the engine workings. Nikki maintained her smile, put both hands on the hood, and then slammed it down on their heads. There was a satisfying
whonk
sound, and when she raised up the hood both men fell, unconscious, onto the roadway.


No todos los americanos son estúpidos, mus amigos
,” Nikki said in perfectly clear Spanish, looking down at the bodies. “But it’s nice to know you think I’m hot.” She collected the guns and pulled the guards to the side of the road, pushing them into the underbrush.

Moving quickly, Nikki went through the door in the wall and walked briskly down the path as if she had followed it a hundred times before. The path led to a small, round building that overlooked the gate and the main house. She slithered through the doorway, letting the TEC-9s lead the way. The caution proved needless since the hut was empty except for blinking TV screens that showed various black-and-white viewpoints of the grounds, including a middle-gray version of Nikki’s Fiat and a small delivery van arriving at the back gate.

“Right on schedule,” she said, checking her watch. Her rescue plan was moving smoothly through phase one and into phase two—extraction.

Nikki flipped the switch that opened the back gate, and the van pulled through without even stopping. Reaching under the console, Nikki ripped out a series of wires, and one by one the TV screens went blank. Then, taking a tool kit out of her purse, she climbed on the console and inserted a bug into the junction of
wires where they emerged into the room. When a repair crew came in, all they would see was the mess of ripped-out wires under the console; meanwhile, Nikki’s team would be able to see everything going on in the Alvarez compound. Climbing down from the console and dusting off her hands, Nikki frowned.

“We need to talk,” she muttered to herself. “There’s nothing to talk about!”

Nikki jogged toward the main house, still carrying the TEC-9s. But her mind was racing faster than her feet, considering the things Z’ev might want to talk about. Two days from now they were supposed to meet in Mexico for two weeks of Christmas fun, sun, and making out on the beach. And probably lots of those little drinks with the umbrellas in them.

Nikki liked this plan; it was a good plan; had lots of good points to recommend it. Avoiding one more depressing, obsessive holiday with her mother, for one thing. And it was convenient since she was already in South America on “business,” anyway. Not that Z’ev needed to know that. And had she mentioned umbrella drinks and making out? Nikki approached the house with a worried expression that had nothing to do with the looming oak doors. Z’ev had canceled this vacation before. Twice before, in fact.

Nikki kicked open the front door and quickly scanned the room. In one corner was an enormous fake Christmas tree that had been decorated with a Martha Stewart–like pathology. The rest of the room boasted a mix of traditional Colombian and totally drugged-out
Miami Vice
decor. It was Colombian eighties. Nikki paused her scan at the fireplace; there was a large fertility god on the mantel, large in a way that required the kind of hand gestures fishermen usually reserved for the best fish stories.
No, really, it was
this
big.
While Nikki was taking a moment to consider why men felt the need to decorate with their penises, a maid
ambled into the room accompanied by the slow
sluff, sluff
sound of her house slippers on the tile floor.


Buenos días
,” said the maid, shutting the door and ignoring the fact that Nikki was carrying not one but two submachine guns. Nikki smiled uncertainly.


¿Puedo tomar su bolso?
” the maid asked, gesturing to Nikki’s purse. For lack of anything better to do Nikki handed over her purse, shrugging it awkwardly over one of the guns.

“Where is Mrs. Alvarez?” asked Nikki, momentarily forgetting her Spanish.


La señora no está aquí
,” said the maid placidly, and Nikki stared in dismay.

BOOK: Compact with the Devil: A Novel
10.41Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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