In 2002, Mark Vincent, onetime senior special agent, ran into John, a troubled little boy, at a local McDonald’s. Concerned, although it wasn’t his business, he gave the kid his business card and left.
Three years later, Mark is director of his department at the WBIS and married to Quinton Mann, the former CIA spook who now writes spy novels. They’ve settled into a life of quiet domesticity and are even considering adopting a cat.
All this changes when John, now using another name, barrels into Mark’s life with a secret no one expects and on the run from an organization that wants him despite the collateral damage.
What will Mark, the man known as “the best” in the intelligence community, do when he learns what this secret is? Will it affect his relationship with Quinn? And how complicated are things going to get when Mark decides to get involved?
Half an hour later we walked back through the sliding door into the parking lot. I was holding the plastic bags with the gallon jug of milk, the package of bacon I'd added to our purchases -- hey, growing boy, right? -- the box of Frosted Flakes, a bag of Snickers, a package of Chips Ahoy, and potato chips. The kid carried the stuff he needed, as well as a jar of chunky honey-roasted peanut butter and a loaf of bread.
"Hold it, kid." The lights in the lot were out, and wasn't that just too fucking convenient? Traffic cones blocked off the entrance to the parking lot. Other than the employees' cars, which were parked around the side of the building, there were only two cars there, mine ... and someone else's. The other car's doors slammed.
The kid stopped, and I could hear his bags rustle as he began to shake. "M-Mr. Vincent?"
"It'll be okay," I said softly, then raised my voice, but not enough to rouse suspicion. "Shit. Wouldn't my fucking shoelace choose now to untie?" I put the bags down carefully and squatted down. However, instead of tying my shoelaces, I reached into my pocket. Because I'd flown in earlier in the day, I didn't have my clutch piece strapped to my ankle, but I wasn't unarmed. "You still have my business card, kid?" This time I kept my voice pitched low.
"N-no, sir. Mr. Perry took it from me."
Son of a bitch. These goddamned directors of Security were turning out to be one worse than the other.
"But I have an eidetic memory. I know the number by heart."
"Okay." I passed him my cell phone. "Go back inside and head for the pharmacy." It was the farthest spot from the front of the store. "Dial that number and tell them you need Howard." He was a good man, not Deputy Director of Security just yet, but I had a feeling that was in his future. For a time he'd been in Interior Affairs, but fortunately, he'd gotten out before Sperling could ruin him. Either way, I trusted him more than Perry. "You see the address of this store?"
He looked over his shoulder at the front of the building and then nodded.
"Remember it, and give it to Howard. Tell him I said to bring the truck. We're going to have company."
"But they won't get here in time!"
They'd get here for the cleanup, and that was what I'd need them for. "Just do what I say."
He backed away, and I rose to my feet as three men stepped out of the darkness. In my right hand was the small knife I always carried.
"All right, boys. Let's dance."
"Look, all we want is the kid." They were amateurs; otherwise they wouldn't have bothered talking, just gone straight on the attack.
"Too bad. You can't always get what you want."
"Just hand him over and no one gets hurt." They glanced at each other, and I could see how nervous they were. Yeah. Amateurs.
They made their move, and it was over in a matter of seconds.
I feinted to the right and took out the one on the left, swearing when the blade of my knife broke off in him. He screeched and clutched his groin. It hadn't done much damage -- it was a small knife, suitable more for a boy than a man, but I'd had fond memories of it, so I always carried it -- but the idea of anything sharp near his family jewels was enough to shake up any man. I tossed aside the hilt as useless.
The middle one rushed me, and I flipped him, brought my foot down on his knee, and broke it. A thin, breathless shriek passed his lips, and he curled in on himself, trying to protect his knee.
Something whizzed by my ear, and I ducked and spun to face the last threat. Before I could do a thing, the remaining jerk grunted and his feet flew out from under him. He landed heavily on his back, his head bouncing on the blacktop of the parking lot. Nearby a jar of peanut butter rocked and rolled and came to a stop.
"I ... I couldn't help Ma." The kid was suddenly at my side. "But I wasn't going to let them hurt you."
"Uh ... thanks." I was kind of touched. Quinn was usually the only one who'd ever felt that way. "You've got a good arm." I stripped off my shoelaces. They'd have to do for the time being. Although all the first two wanted to do was protect their injured body parts, I yanked their wrists behind their backs and secured them with my shoelaces. Then I stripped off my tie and used it to truss the one who was unconscious. "I suppose it's too much to hope you made that phone call?"
The kid gave me an innocent smile. "I'll make it now."