Authors: Dee Henderson
Â© 2012 by Dee Henderson
Published by Bethany House Publishers
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Bloomington, Minnesota 55438
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Baker Publishing Group, Grand Rapids, Michigan
Ebook edition created 2012
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Scripture quotations are from the New Revised Standard Version of the Bible, copyright Â©Â 1989, by the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.
This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, incidents, and dialogues are products of the author's imagination and are not to be construed as real. Any resemblance to actual events or persons, living or dead, is entirely coincidental.
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Cover design by Jennifer Parker
Cover photography by Tyler Gould
Thus says the L
: Do not let the wise boast in their wisdom, do not let the mighty boast in their might, do not let the wealthy boast in their wealth; but let those who boast boast in this, that they understand and know me, that I am the L
I act with steadfast love, justice, and righteousness in the earth, for in these things I delight, says the L
'm pulling into the scene now. There are four dead, but Jackie wasn't hurt. I'll be back in touch, Dad, as soon as I know more.” FBI Special Agent Paul Falcon parked behind a Chicago squad car within sight of the blue-and-white restaurant awning with
scrolling across the fabric. He shoved the phone back in his pocket. It was just after eleven p.m. and the dark street was bathed in the flashing lights of squad cars. FBI Agent Sam Truebone met him as he cut between the medical examiner's van and the crime-scene van.
“I've seen Jackie, talked to her,” Sam said immediately. “Your sister is furious, but fine.”
Paul felt the sharp edge of his tension ease off. Being on the other side of town when the shooting occurred had made the drive a slice of private abyss. “Who's got the scene?”
Chicago PD had sent one of their top homicide cops. The woman wasn't hard to spot, as she controlled the scene, people flowing to and away from her. Paul headed her direction.
“Your sister's fine.”
“I heard that.”
“One of your father's places,” she added.
“When is it not?” His father's empire ran to so many corners of the nation, pockets of family business showed up everywhere he turned. “Need some help?”
She smiled at him. Not the one she normally gave himâwarm, welcoming, and often amusedâthis was her cop's smile, cool and assessing, but willing to play nice. “I don't mind working with the Feds when it suits me, and in this case it does. This shooter is one of yours.”
“That fits the night this is becoming. Which one?”
“Andrew Waters. We've got him on tape. Rick Ulaw, undercover narcotics cop with the sixteenth precinct, was having dinner with his wife. Waters walked up to the table and shot him twice in the back and once in the head. He then killed three civilians who got in his way. He left the scene in a dark blue sedan. His photo is out to every cop in the state, and newscasts have just put it up. If he's in Chicago, he's ours. If he's slipped out, you can help haul him back so I can bust him.”
“You'll have everything we have on him within the hour. And I'll personally take any assignment you want to give me. You want flyers plastered on telephone poles in Mexico, I'm your guy.”
“I've already called Marcus and told him I want Quinn on it tonight coordinating the manhunt. Leave Sam with me, and give me Christopher Zun. I like him.”
“You'll have them.”
She was married to an FBI agent, had the head of the U.S. Marshals as a close friend, and called the Chicago Police her territory. Kate would get whatever she needed to run the case. And he was wise enough to let her have a clear field to do it. If Waters could be run to ground tonight, Kate would get it done. Paul could delegate the work, but he couldn't delegate family. And right now he had family to deal with.
Kate must have been thinking along the same lines. She nodded toward the restaurant. “Go convince your sister to go home. We've got the scene handled. As ugly as this case is, it is also
simple. I backtrack to figure out who hired someone to kill a cop, and I chase the shooter into a rathole somewhere.”
“Waters has no known family or friends in Chicago, but he's got a connection to the Lacomb crime syndicate, and they work this far north.”
Paul nodded and headed into the restaurant. He knew whom he could trust, and he could trust Sam and Kate. The case and the chase were in good hands.
The name had actually crossed his mind as a possible suspect when word of the shootings first hit. Paul knew the man's work, and the original report had sounded like his MO. Waters had been hired for nine murders and managed to chalk up a body count of sixteen. Now he was at ten and nineteen. Cops had clipped Waters's car in Virginia, cornered him in Boston, and shot him once in Philadelphia, and no one had ever been able to get a good enough hold on him to snap on cuffs. He'd disappeared into Mexico three years ago, and they had been working a cold case trying to stir him out of the muck. This time cops were on the trail within the hour. They might have him tonight.
The restaurant main dining area showed the chaos of eventsâchairs overturned, meals abandoned, the violence at table twenty-two. Officer Ulaw's body had been removed as well as two of the civilians. The medical examiner was still working over the waitress who had been shot. Paul could smell the blood and lingering gunpowder, overlaid with the burned smell of overcooked food.
This was absolutely senseless violence. Waters could have shot the detective in the parking lot, or walking into the precinct, or in his car at a stoplight. Waters had chosen to shoot his victim in a crowded restaurant. He liked others to see his violence; he enjoyed killing bystanders who got in his way. They would have to catch him to end this. Waters reveled in killing too much to ever stop. If Kate didn't get him tonight, Paul would on one
of the tomorrows. It was a small corner of family truth that a Falcon didn't stop hunting.
Observing the scene, Paul found himself wishing his lady shooter had been hired for this hit instead of Watersâat least then there would have been no bystanders killed. She'd never shot other than her target. She had never killed her victim where the family would see the death or where a child was present. She'd shot thirty people in the head, but treated it as business to be done carefully and precisely. She'd been quiet for nine years. He'd never come close to catching her, but she remained on his mind. And he was still quietly hunting her.
He was the FBI's top murder cop, and hired shooters stayed at the top of his priority list. Tonight he regretted more than ever that he hadn't caught Waters in time. Paul stepped carefully around the room and moved toward the voices in the kitchen.
His father would be here by first light, to do what could be done to help the victims' families, to do what could be done to help those who had seen this violence. The Falcon restaurant would reopen, after it had been gutted, after the image of this tragedy had been erased.
It would reopen with his father at the doors and welcoming the first guests. Paul knew his dad.
And he knew his sister. “Don't throw that, Jackie.”
He ducked as a white mixing bowl came sailing toward him. It hit the door and then the floor and cracked into pieces.
“You've been hunting this guy for years and you haven't caught him yet? You let him stay out there and do this to my guests, my place?”
He ducked another bowl. He'd taught her to throw as a kid and done a good job. He held up a hand and pointed a finger at her. She wavered on the third bowl and set it back on the counter.
“Rough night. Sorry about that.”
He was near enough now to simply wrap his arm around her shoulders and hug her.
“Four dead, Paul. Four.” Her voice was muffled against his shirt.
He rubbed his hand across her hair and let out a harsh breath. “Glad you weren't one of them.”
“Trish worked for me for a year. She's a sweet kid.”
“No one is going to rest until this guy's caught. It's what is left that we can do, and we'll get it done.”
“He killed a cop.” Her voice trembled. “That's your table when you come for a meal. It could have been you.”
He could feel the energy and passion burning out of her. The crime-scene tape marked the area she couldn't enter, but what was within her reach had been scrubbed down and set back to order. The grills and the stoves were glistening clean, the food in process packed away. At least she wasn't running away from it; she was reclaiming the place. The Falcon family would help.
“Let's go home, Jackie. Let me take you home, and tomorrow we'll deal with the rest of this.”
She picked up a satchel holding her recipes and personal chef knives, along with the cluttered pad of paper she liked to think of as her business plan. “Can you drive with sirens so we're not crawling home an hour from now?”
“Lights, but not sirens. You were the one who wanted to live out in the suburbs.”
“You're on the fourth floor of a building that has no grass. I want better for myself.”
He smiled, relieved to hear the normal complaint. He took her out the back way, through the alley and around to his car, managing to bypass the media hunting for a photo and a story. He took his sister home.
Paul walked into Chicago PD headquarters at 4:17 a.m., cleared through security, and found Lieutenant Kate Sinclair in the third-floor command center. The darkened room was crowded with
people watching a live video feed on the wall shot from a police helicopter.
Sam walked over and handed him a coffee. “He's on InterstateÂ 74 heading west. Two cops identified Waters and the car at a light just outside Peoria, gave chase. He took a few wild shots, then tried to drive down an embankment to cut away from them and busted up his car. He's running ahead of them now, leaking oil, and they are bringing in cars and boxing him in. State police are going to stop him at Sanders Point.”
A flash of bright light tore through the room, turning it into instant daylight.
The helicopter's camera adjusted, and a burning wreck filled the screenâstationary, crumbled, and tossing off flames.
Cop cars that had tracked in behind the fleeing car began pulling into the frame, stopping well back. The pilot in the air had jerked away at the explosion and now panned around an oddly dark area and moved to hover back from the crash site.
“What happened? Back the tape up and toss it on the second screen,” Kate ordered.
The crash replayed.
“Doesn't look like he lost control. That was a hundred miles an hour right into a power pole,” the cop beside her said.
The tape looped and replayed again. The cop nodded and used his pointer to trace part of the image before and after the crash. “Transformer blew up and took out power to the homes around it. Look at all the lights no longer on.”
Sam shifted where he stood to better see the video. “I did not expect this ending.”
“I'll take this outcome over a shootout with cops,” Paul decided. It was done. Waters died without taking out more cops, and that was its own relief.
Kate, standing in front of the screen, hands shoved into her pockets, watched the cops on the ground now using fire extinguishers to control the blaze. Paul moved forward to join her. “Sorry, Kate. You won't be able to ask who hired him.”
“I'll still figure it out.” She turned to look at him. “This side of the case is over but for the paperwork. Mind if I keep your guys a few more hours working on the why?”
“No problem. Thanks for doing my job.”
She gave a small smile. “You could have rightfully made a fuss about taking over the case. You didn't, so I'd say we're even. Sorry it was your family's place where this happened.”
“You can come over and be my guest when it reopens next month. Anything you need to help find out who paid to have your cop killed, don't hesitate to ask. Wiretaps, warrants, extra coffee for your guysâlet me know.”
“I'll do that.”
He nodded and headed to the door.
He turned back.
“When they offer you the top job, take it.”
He smiled. “Now why are you squeezing me like that, beautiful Kate?”
“It's the first time in my memory local cops and FBI haven't wanted to push each other into the Chicago River. I'm getting used to you.”
“Have to say I'm beginning to feel the same.” She'd married a good friend of his, and he was coming to like this Chicago cop more with each passing year. “Oh, and, Kate?” He held up the cup. “FBI has still got the better coffee.”
He left with her laughter following him. The day ahead would be run on two hours of sleep, for he had meetings beginning at seven a.m., but it would be a good day all the same.