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Diamond bay, p.26

Diamond Bay, page 26


Diamond Bay

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“The target’s already there,” Axel pointed out. “My job is to find out who and why. Unless you’re fucking someone else’s wife, the strong possibility exists that this is work related.”

  “I’m clear on the domestic front.”

  “Then it’s related to the GO-­Teams.”

  There was no arguing with that. Still—­Morgan shook his head. “But why?”

  “If I can figure that out, then I’ll know who. And vice versa. All I need is something to point me in the right direction.”

  “So what’s your plan?” Because Axel always had a plan; Morgan might not like it, but he had no doubt the plan existed.

  Axel said, “I’m going to bury your location under enough security that whoever wants to find you will really have to dig to find it, and that’ll trip an alert I’ve had set up. But I can’t make it easy to find, or whoever it is will know it’s a set-­up and won’t bite.”

  “That’s it? What do I do in the meantime?” Other than work at being able to walk for longer than thirty seconds at a time, that is.

  What could only be described as a truly evil smile spread over Axel’s face. “I’m sending you to my ex-­stepsister.”

  Whatever Morgan had expected, that wasn’t it. “What?”

  Axel obligingly repeated himself, word for word.

  “You’re involving civilians?” That was what startled him the most. What they did was kept away from normal ­people, though of course there was civilian support staff, but they had signed on knowing what the work involved. Deliberately throwing innocents into danger wasn’t something they did.

  “I don’t expect any real problems. I’ve been doing some digging, getting things set up. No reason any civilians should be involved, other than her giving you a place to stay.”

  “And your ex-­stepsister has agreed to this?”

  “She will,” Axel said carelessly. “Once the alert is tripped, we’ll move in.”

  “The alert won’t tell you who.”

  “It’ll give me a direction, but best of all, I’ll be able to put some ­people in place to catch any threat coming after you.”

  “How in hell will you do that?”

  Axel ticked off the reasons. “It’s a very small town, small enough that any strangers will be noticed. It’s relatively close to D.C., in West Virginia, which means no airports or trains or bus lines involved; whoever comes after you will come by road, and the number of roads I’d have to cover is very limited.” He paused and gave what could only be described as a satisfied sigh. “And best of all, it’ll really piss her off.”

  AXEL MACNAMARA DIDN'T give a shit about most ­people and most things, but he did give a shit about his country and the operatives on the GO-­Teams he oversaw. Every mission they went on, they put their lives on the line, and he not only respected that but he was sworn, both professionally and privately, to do his best for them regardless of the context. Sometimes it was fighting tooth and nail to make sure they had the best equipment available, sometimes it was smoothing the political way, sometimes it was polishing and spinning certain events so pertinent details were either distorted or hidden completely. They did the jobs they were tasked with doing, and if any shit rolled downhill, he wanted it to stop at the ­people in charge, not the men he regarded as his.

  Generally he hated politicians, but he was a lot like them and by the very nature of his job had to associate with them.

  It was a bunch of bullshit, but he played the game.

  He had to move very cautiously; if he was too obvious, he might frighten off his prey. If he wasn’t obvious enough, the wrong conclusions could be drawn and the bait ignored. That was why he dropped a few tidbits of information here and there, but never much at any one time, and sometimes he didn’t say anything at all.

  A few days after talking to Morgan and laying out the basics of the plan, he managed to maneuver himself into position at one of D.C.’s endless parties, where Congresswoman Joan Kingsley was in attendance. Her husband, Dexter, was absent, but she had navigated the capital’s social waters for so long that she was perfectly comfortable on her own. As politicians went, she was very likable—­even to him, and he didn’t like anyone. He tolerated her much better than he did a lot of others, though he never let himself forget that she was a politician first and an ally second, even if Morgan’s team had saved her son’s ass. Gratitude went only so far in D.C.

  Inevitably, she and her husband were both on the list of suspects. They’d had contact with Morgan that day. Maybe she was clear and her husband wasn’t, or vice versa. Maybe they were both clear, or both guilty—

  ­he didn’t give them the benefit of the doubt because he didn’t know and therefore assumed they were both guilty. Regardless, Congresswoman Kingsley had contacts and avenues of information, both going and coming, that he himself didn’t have, and she was a good conduit for getting out the word that he wanted out.

  He didn’t approach her, though she was very easy to spot with that striking white hair. She made a practiced circuit of the crowded room, chatting with everyone, smiling the warm smile that charmed almost everyone she met. Axel was immune to charm. He started every day assuming most ­people were up to no good and the others simply hadn’t thought of it yet.

  At one point he lost sight of her—­though he was careful not to let her know he was watching—­but she reappeared in about ten minutes with freshly applied lipstick, so his best guess was a trip to the ladies’ room. She could also have been meeting a lover, exchanging information, or making a private call. Without any evidence to the contrary, though, he was going with the ladies’ room theory.

  They were an hour and a half into the party when their circuitous routes around the room brought them together. He tilted his glass toward her in acknowledgment but didn’t interrupt his current conversation with a senator’s aide even though it was deadly boring and he’d have liked to cram a pair of dirty socks down the pompous jackass’s throat. Let her come to him. He wasn’t approaching anyone.

  Finally the senator’s aide paused when he stopped a passing waiter to deposit his empty glass on the man’s tray. Congresswoman Kingsley smoothly slid in and said, “Hello, Karl, Axel.”

  “Congresswoman,” Axel replied in acknowledgment, and watched in amusement as the senator’s aide struggled with his ego and the pecking order on Capitol Hill. The congresswoman was an important personage, but Karl looked on the House as inferior to the Senate; therefore his position as chief aide to a senator should be superior to hers. Then his ego butted into the unfortunate fact that Congresswoman Kingsley had been elected—­several times over—­while he was a hired aide who hadn’t been elected to anything..

  “Congresswoman Kingsley,” Karl finally muttered, using her title while she’d used his first name. Oh, the slings and arrows, Axel mused.

  She gave Karl one of those smiles and said, “Would you excuse us? I’d like to discuss a few details with Axel.”

  There was nothing Karl could do except say, “Of course,” and take himself away.

  Axel sipped his drink—­sparkling water on the rocks because when you were wading in a pool of sharks, you needed all your wits about you—­and waited for her to steer the conversation in the direction she wanted, though he did paste a faintly questioning expression on his face.

  “I heard something disturbing,” she said, pitching her voice low so only he could hear her.

  He gave a slight lift of his eyebrows that invited her to continue.

  “I heard Morgan was killed.”

  “Not so,” he promptly replied.

  Relief flickered in her eyes. “Thank God. But—­was he hurt? My source was very specific about the victim’s name.”

  He’d like to know exactly who her source was, but he didn’t waste time trying to dig that info out of her. She was a seasoned veteran of the dance.

  “He was shot—­and I
won’t lie, it was serious. But I have him in a protected location while he recovers.”

  “What happened?”

  “Assassination attempt. The problem is he can’t tell me why.”

  “He doesn’t know?”

  Axel rocked his hand back and forth. “He thinks he does. He suffered a serious concussion and he’s having a few memory problems, but he says he knows what’s going on if he can just remember it. There isn’t any permanent brain damage, and the doc says that he’ll remember when all the swelling is gone.”

  “For goodness’ sake! When will that be?”

  “No definite date, everyone heals differently. He has pneumonia now and that’s a setback, but the docs say he’s already getting better. I’m thinking a few months, most likely, before he’s back to normal.”

  “That must be difficult, being grounded until then. I don’t know him as well as you do, but I suspect he isn’t a good patient.”

  “Understatement,” Axel said.

  “I’m so glad he’ll be all right. We’d all be devastated if anything happened to him. Give him our best when you see him.”

  “I will,” he replied, holding back the information that he wouldn’t be seeing Morgan at all until and if his trap was sprung. He’d spread these seeds of information in several venues around town; now he had to wait and see if any of them sprouted. Morgan had been targeted for a reason; that reason had to be rooted in something he’d seen or done that day. Maybe the threat he was looking for was several layers deep, not Congresswoman Kingsley herself, or Brawley, or even Kodak, but someone who knew them. He wouldn’t know until someone acted.

  About the Author

  LINDA HOWARD is the award-­winning author of many New York Times bestsellers, including Up Close and Dangerous, Drop Dead Gorgeous, Cover of Night, Killing Time, To Die For, Kiss Me While I Sleep, Cry No More, and Dying to Please. She lives in Alabama with her husband and two golden retrievers.

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  This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents are products of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously and are not to be construed as real. Any resemblance to actual events, locales, organizations, or persons, living or dead, is entirely coincidental.

  This book was originally published in 2011 by Harlequin Books S.A.

  Excerpt from Troublemaker copyright © 2016 by Linda Howington.

  DIAMOND BAY. Copyright © 1987 by Linda Howington. All rights reserved under International and Pan-­American Copyright Conventions. By payment of the required fees, you have been granted the nonexclusive, nontransferable right to acces s and read the text of this e-­book on screen. No part of this text may be reproduced, transmitted, downloaded, decompiled, reverse-­engineered, or stored in or introduced into any information storage and retrieval system, in any form or by any means, whether electronic or mechanical, now known or hereafter invented, without the express written permission of Harper­Collins e-­books. For more information, address HarperCollins Publishers, 195 Broadway, New York, NY 10007.

  EPub Edition FEBRUARY 2016 ISBN: 9780062422279

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  Linda Howard, Diamond Bay



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