It’s an important case, guarding another US marshal, who has blown the whistle on some men he worked with. One of them is still at large and was his superior. Julian is not happy about losing his vacation time, but he’s even more unhappy when he is told the name of the marshal.
Victor Reeves went through marshal training with Julian, and they were not friends. In fact, Victor made it a point to compete with Julian on every activity. Julian suggests they send someone else to watch over Victor, but apparently, Victor personally requested him. But why?
It all started when I was having one of those rare, perfect days, dozing on a sun-drenched Mexican beach. Some friends had talked me into taking one of those all-inclusive vacations for a week. I’d been here two days, and so far all I’d managed to do was catch up on some much-needed sleep, swim, soak up the sun and drink cocktails…lots and lots of cocktails.
I was having a daydream about some hot guy going down on me, and it was just at the good part when I heard a woman hollering, “Hey, look at those dorks in their suits! Shit! They’re coming this way, and oh my God, run! They’ve got guns!”
Immediately my eyelids flew open, and I sprang up straight in the sand. My hand blindly reached for what I knew I wouldn’t find, my weapon, while the whale-like grey-haired lady in the striped bathing suit hopped up and down in front of me. I couldn’t see a damn thing.
Then I heard a male voice telling people to be calm, and as the three men got closer, the lady stopped jumping. I could see them now, the sun reflecting off their shields. I groaned and dropped back down in the sand again.
The woman who’d been jumping pointed right at me. “I knew that man was a fugitive from the law. I could see it in his eyes,” she declared.
Truth was, I wasn’t a fugitive from the law. I was the law.
“US Deputy Julian Harrison?” The men in the suits blocked out the sun.
I sat up, my jaw set. “No!” I shook my head. “No friggin’ way. This is the first vacation I’ve taken in almost three years, and I’ve only been here for two days. I haven’t even sampled all the cocktails yet.”
The man speaking didn’t flinch. “You are Deputy Julian Harrison, aren’t you?”
I groaned. “Yes, but—”
“I’m Deputy Ingram.” He turned around and introduced his companions. “Marshals Phillips and Lewinski. We’ve been told to deliver you to headquarters in Washington immediately. There’s a plane waiting.”
The other clones didn’t speak. They glanced around from behind their dark glasses as Deputy Ingram waited for me to respond.
“Washington?” I worked out of New York City, not Washington. I wrinkled my nose, picked up my beach towel and got to my feet. “What’s going on?”
“I’m not at liberty to say, Sir,” Ingram replied.
“Perfect,” I muttered. “How did I guess you’d say that?” I trailed behind the three marshals, feeling miserable.
“Aren’t they even going to handcuff him?” the jumping lady exclaimed.
I glanced at her as I went by, sneering, trying to look dark and threatening.
The woman placed a hand to her mouth and gasped.
That made me chuckle a little. I hurried to catch up with the three marshals, my bare feet sinking into the sand. I was trying to think of what I could say to make them go away. I knew it was futile.
“How in hell did you find me out here, anyway?” I demanded as we approached the hotel lobby. I already knew the answer. I was a member of SOG, a special emergency unit, and as such, I had to keep the Marshals Service informed of my whereabouts at all times. I was a sitting duck, ripe for the picking. “I’m entitled to a vacation, you know! Isn’t there any other marshal in the whole goddamn country that could have been called in my place?”
Ingram took off his dark glasses. He looked just as intimidating with them off. “We were told to come and get you. That’s all I know, Marshal Harrison.”
“All three of you?” I shook my head. What? Did they think I’d try and make a run for it?
Maybe I still would.
Lewinski spoke for the first time, taking off his glasses and giving me a huge smile. “Oh, I’m staying,” he said. “I booked a trip here.” He lifted a hand to the other two and walked off toward the front desk.
My eyes widened. “He’s kidding, right?”
“No,” Ingram said. “He’s taking your room.”
“I’ll be damned,” I gasped. “And do I get compensated for my half-assed trip?”
“You’ll have to contact your department for that, Harrison,” Ingram told me.
“Yeah, right. Okay, well, you two better come on inside, you’re liable to scare the hotel guests.”
An hour later, I was on a small plane chartered by the government, heading back to US Marshal’s headquarters in Washington, DC.
As I watched the beautiful sun-soaked beach disappear from view, I almost regretted joining SOG, a specially trained and highly disciplined tactical unit of the US Marshals Service. I knew it was not unusual to be called on at any time to do some special assignment, but during my damned vacation?
I joined SOG for excitement. It was a self-supporting response team capable of responding to emergencies anywhere in the United States or its territories. I’d always craved danger and challenge.
Most of the deputy marshals who volunteered to be SOG members served as full-time deputies in Marshals Service offices throughout the nation. Now I couldn’t help wondering what the urgency was all about, and why it couldn’t have waited.
I knew the group’s missions included apprehending fugitives, protecting dignitaries, providing court security, transporting high-profile and dangerous prisoners, providing witness security and seizing assets, but I always thought there were enough of us to go around.
“Has something happened I don’t know about?” I glanced over at Ingram, who seemed to be in charge of everything. “Has there been a terrorist attack?”
“Thankfully, nothing like that,” he said.