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Authors: Eva Hudson

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Kill Plan (Ingrid Skyberg FBI Thrillers -)

BOOK: Kill Plan (Ingrid Skyberg FBI Thrillers -)
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KILL PLAN

EVA HUDSON

For Steve Murray - a true fan

Come on you Swans!

1

Special Agent Ingrid Skyberg peered more closely at the dead man. His light brown hair fell loosely across his forehead. His haircut had been styled by an expensive hairdresser rather than a barber. His suit jacket was open, revealing the deep maroon lining: a touch of flamboyance in an otherwise somber gray two-piece. Ingrid supposed he was trying to prove he had a personality. His right hand was shoved up into his left armpit. He must have fallen clutching that side of his chest. His left arm was flung over his head, the hand bent into a claw-like curl. His face was unlined, his skin clear. His lips already had a bluish tinge to them. He couldn’t have been older than late twenties.

She pulled a pair of nitrile gloves from her pocket, quickly snapped them on and stepped over the makeshift cordon of blue and white police tape strung across three office chairs.

“What do you think you’re doing! You can’t touch him!” A uniformed police officer lunged forward and grabbed Ingrid’s arm.

Ingrid stared into the woman’s face. It was criss-crossed with deep lines. Her cheeks were flushed. No doubt a result of years working the beat in all weathers. “I have no intention of compromising your crime scene, officer,” Ingrid said.

“Who said it was a crime scene?” The middle-aged officer glanced toward her youthful male colleague, as if she wanted his support. But he didn’t seem to be listening. He’d been staring at Ingrid from the moment she’d shown the two cops her FBI badge.

“If it’s not a crime, why are you here?” Ingrid asked.

“The paramedics called us in.” The cop gestured toward the two EMTs who were standing near the elevator, deep in conversation with a gray-haired man dressed in a suit even smarter than the corpse’s.

“Why did they call you in?”

The cop puffed out an irritated breath. “Why don’t you ask them?” She started to walk away and beckoned to her colleague to follow her. They disappeared around a corner at the far end of the corridor.

Ingrid stood up, pulled off the gloves and looked through the glass wall separating the corridor from the large open-plan office of Fisher Krupps bank. The morning sun was streaming through the floor-to-ceiling windows. There had to be about seventy or so individual work stations on the trading floor. Over two-thirds of those were currently occupied by traders. Most of them had a phone cradled between shoulder and ear, their hands moving fast over computer keyboards. They were clearly still working despite the fact that the dead body of their colleague was lying just yards away in the corridor outside.

She approached the two men in green jump suits, an empty gurney standing between them.

“Hey,” she said and flashed her badge at the EMTs and the smart-suited man they were talking to. “Special Agent Ingrid Skyberg, from the US embassy. Can I ask you a couple of questions?”

The man in the smart suit shoved out his hand. “Richard Wennstein, I’m the manager of the trading floor—I called the embassy.” His accent was East Coast, probably New Jersey.

Ingrid shook his hand. “Thank you for your vigilance, sir.”

He shrugged. “It’s company policy here at Fisher Krupps. Anything happens to one of our US employees, we call the embassy.” He stood back a little and unashamedly scrutinized her from head to toe. “I saw you just now looking at the body. What’s an FBI agent doing here anyway? I expected some administrative clerk to arrive and make me fill out a dozen forms.”

“We should really get going,” the first EMT said.

“I’m sorry, Mr Wennstein. Would you mind if I spoke to these gentlemen before they leave?”

Wennstein shrugged again. “Be my guest.”

One of the EMTs glanced at his watch.

“I promise I won’t keep you,” Ingrid told them. “Why did you call in the police?”

“Standard procedure,” one of them said.

Ingrid nodded at him. “It is?”

“If someone dies unexpectedly we always inform the police. It’s up to them to decide how to proceed.”

“What are the options?”

“There are basically two: call the coroner’s office to request an autopsy and let them come and collect the body. Or, if foul play is suspected, call in the detectives. Full forensics examination of the victim and the scene.”

“You think this could be foul play?”

“I couldn’t tell you one way or the other.”

“Any idea what he might have died of?”

“It’s down to the pathologist to determine the cause of death,” the other EMT chimed in and glanced toward Wennstein, who was hovering a few feet away, well within earshot.

“How about an educated guess? Help me out here, fellas.”

The first EMT leaned toward her, almost conspiratorially. “If I was a betting man, I’d put fifty quid on it being a massive coronary.”

“Based on what?”

“The sudden onset, the way he was clutching his chest when he keeled over.”

“He’s a little young for a heart attack,” Ingrid said.

“Which is why we called the police.”

Ingrid glanced down the corridor. The two uniformed cops still hadn’t returned to the body. Where the hell were they? “Thanks for your time, guys,” she said.

They looked at one another, said goodbye to Wennstein, then shoved the gurney toward the elevator. The first EMT punched the down button and let out a long sigh.

Ingrid turned to Wennstein. “You manage the trading floor?” she asked him.

He nodded.

“So that’s maybe seventy, eighty people?”

“Ninety-two.”

“How well did you know Matthew Fuller?”

Wennstein glanced over her shoulder down the corridor and toward Fuller’s stiffening body. He sniffed. “No better than anyone else here. He worked hard, always made good numbers every month. He was a stand up guy. What do you want me to say?”

“Was he healthy?”

“I guess—he worked out.”

“The bank must have something on file about his medical history.”

“Sure. Look—he was a fit, young guy. Not heart attack material if that’s what you’re asking.” He took a step backward. “Exactly what are you asking? I mean, why is a federal agent getting involved with something like this?” He stuck a finger between his collar and his neck.

In Ingrid’s experience, the presence of a Bureau agent often had this effect on people. Especially those working in financial institutions. It was as if they were all hiding some guilty secret they were worried was about to be exposed.

“Unexplained death of a US citizen in a foreign country? An FBI agent from the Criminal Investigation Unit always gets involved.”

“Criminal? You think somebody killed Fuller?”

“I’m not saying that at all.” Not at this stage, Ingrid thought. “Whatever this is, I’m here to represent the embassy and the Bureau. If there’s a criminal investigation into Mr Fuller’s death, I’ll be assisting the police any way I can. I’ll also write a report on the way the investigation is handled.”

“Is that something we get to see?”

“It’s more for the family of the deceased.”

Wennstein closed his eyes for a moment.

“What is it?”

“Fuller’s girlfriend. She works here at the bank. She’s in New York, working at HQ for a couple days. How am I going to tell her about this?”

“Would you like someone from the embassy to contact her?”

“Could they?”

“Sure—I’ll take her details before I leave. What about his parents?”

“I… I don’t know anything about them. Maybe you should talk to Kristin.”

“His girlfriend?”

He nodded.

“Would it be possible to see Mr Fuller’s medical records? Would he have had a medical exam before he started at the bank, for insurance purposes?”

“Every employee does.”

“So, can you get me the records?”

“I should really be getting back to the floor, see what’s going on.”

“Maybe you could make a couple of calls? Get the personnel department to do the legwork?”

Wennstein stared forlornly through the glass wall of the corridor toward his busy team of traders, like an anxious father peering into a room full of newborns at the hospital. He reluctantly pulled his phone from his pocket.

Ingrid was about to return to Matthew Fuller’s body and continue the examination she’d started before the unformed cop told her to stop, when she heard a loud crash sound from further down the corridor. She looked up to see a man wearing dark blue coveralls stagger out of a door. For a moment she was transfixed by the six feet tall man’s strange lurching gate. She glanced at Wennstein, who was speaking in hushed tones into his cell phone. He shrugged back at her.

The man in the coveralls leaned a hand against the corridor wall to steady himself. Ingrid ran toward him. As she approached she could see he was blinking rapidly and sweating like he’d just stepped out of a sauna.

“Hey, are you OK?” Ingrid asked him, just a few feet away now.

The man dropped heavily onto his knees, remained in a kneeling position for a few moments, then pitched forward onto his face.

2

Immediately, Ingrid hollered back to Wennstein, “Call reception downstairs. See if those EMTs are still in the building. We need them back up here fast.”

“What’s wrong with him?”

“Make the call, goddammit!”

Wennstein tapped a number into his phone.

Ingrid turned her attention back to the guy on the floor. She pushed two fingers into the soft flesh of his neck, trying to feel for a pulse. It was fast, but faint. His eyes flickered open. “Hang in there, buddy,” she said.

“Help me,” he said feebly.

“Don’t worry. Help is on its way.”

“Help me get up.”

“You just rest there, the ambulance guys will be here any second.”

He ignored her, and, still lying face down, reached out his right arm and leg and hauled himself a foot or so sideways. He writhed, snake-like across the tile floor until he reached the wall of the corridor. Then he started to haul his upper body upright. Ingrid pulled one of his arms around her shoulders and together they managed to get him into a slumped sitting position, propped up against the wall.

He looked down toward his hands and flexed his fingers, then relaxed them. Then he started tapping the tips of his fingers against his thumbs. He swallowed. The perspiration had made his hair stick flat against his head.

“Pins and needles,” he said and took a sharp, shallow breath. “My arms are going numb too. My legs feel like rubber.” He turned his head to one side and stared into Ingrid’s face. “I’m so cold.” The sweat continued to drip from his eyebrows into his eyes. He shivered. “Freezing.”

Ingrid glanced up toward the elevators. She saw Wennstein standing with his hands on his hips, looking up at the illuminated display above the elevator doors, no doubt thinking the same thing she was: where were the goddamn EMTs? Behind him Ingrid could see the prone body of Matthew Fuller. She bent close to the sweating guy’s head.

“Do you have pains in your chest?” she asked him.

He nodded. “Can’t breathe.”

A few moments later Wennstein stepped back from the elevator as the doors opened. The gurney came crashing out ahead of the two EMTs. They ran toward Ingrid who was waving frantically at them. When they reached her, Ingrid quickly described the man’s symptoms.

“So cold,” he said again and his torso slid sideways to the floor as he passed out.

Ingrid stepped away and let the medical guys do their thing. One EMT was shining a light into the man’s eyes while the other snapped an oxygen mask over his mouth and nose. There was nothing she could usefully do, so she set off in search of the two uniformed cops. The last time she’d seen them was at the opposite end of the long corridor. She started to hurry toward it. A few feet from the end she heard the raised voice of the female cop.

“For God’s sake, Mark, it’s not murder just because you think it’s exciting.”

She turned the corner to discover the two police officers sitting on a low window ledge, steaming cardboard cups of coffee in their hands. They looked up at her, guilty expressions on their faces.

“You have to call in your homicide detectives,” Ingrid said. “Right now.”

“Have you been listening to our private conversation?” The female cop stood up. Coffee slopped over the edge of her cup.

“Come with me.” Ingrid headed back around the corner, hoping the police officers were following.

When the female cop finally appeared at the end of the corridor her mouth dropped open. The EMTs were lifting the tall man in the coveralls onto the gurney. “What’s happened to him?” She eyed Ingrid suspiciously as if she’d had something to do with it.

“I guess the same thing that happened to Matthew Fuller,” Ingrid told her.

“Bloody hell,” the male cop said and started to jog toward the elevator.

“You need to call in your homicide and serious crime team, CSIs, pathologist, whoever else needs to be here. And get somebody to go with that poor guy to the hospital.”

“I’ll be the judge of that.” The female officer hurried toward the moaning man strapped to the gurney. “What’s wrong with him?” she asked the EMTs.

“I’ve got no idea.” The lead man in the green jumpsuit pushed her out of the way and dragged the gurney to the elevator.

BOOK: Kill Plan (Ingrid Skyberg FBI Thrillers -)
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