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The betrayal, p.24
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       The Betrayal, p.24

           Jerry B. Jenkins
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  “But if something happens to her, it has to look like an accident and be blamed on an overzealous lawyer.”

  “Right,” Jack said. “But who would Wade use who could put her mind at ease enough to get her to go along?”

  “The nephew!”

  Jack nodded. “Antoine Johnson. That’s good. Maybe. Young, good-looking. Doubt she knows him. Take him out of uniform, dress him in a suit, give him a nice car. He sees Haeley on the street, trying to keep warm while the fire department checks out the hotel, tells her he’s an associate of Fritz, who asked him to come get her.”

  “She’d buy that,” Boone said, feeling like he was finally thinking like a cop again. “It might eventually dawn on her that it was too coincidental that he happened by when she was outside. Why wouldn’t Fritz have called? But in the spur of the moment, she’d go along with him. And to a place no one knows about except family.”

  “I’m listening,” Jack said.

  “The River North condo.”

  “My man,” Jack said. “See how you can be when your mind is right?”

  “Right? I’m about to jump out of my skin. I want to get units into the area right now, surround the place, see if they can determine whether she’s there, protect her.”

  “Exactly. How are we going to do that?”

  “Who do you trust, Jack?”

  “I can think of three old-timers who’d die before they turned to the dark side.”

  “Fletch,” Boone said.

  “Of course. And we worked under two more just like him at the 11th.”

  “Heathcliff Jones and Stewart Lang.”

  “You got ’em, Boones.”

  “You don’t think they’d hesitate because, you know . . .”

  “Not a chance. They find out he’s dirty, his color won’t matter. Those guys are cops first, man. You saw Fletch’s reaction. Jones and Stewie will be all over this.”

  “I’m calling Fletch.”

  When Galloway answered, he said, “Drake, I told you to leave me out of this for now.”

  “It’s life or death, boss.”

  “I’m not your boss, and I can’t be doing anything—”

  “Your weapon handy?”

  “Of course, but—”

  “You told me yourself you’re still a sworn cop. We need you to save lives tonight.”


  First Move

  Wednesday, February 10, 9:40 p.m.

  It was one thing, hearing the resolve in Fletcher Galloway’s voice and his assurance that “even my wife will understand this.” It was another to follow Jack Keller’s counsel to keep his emotions—particularly his fear over Haeley’s safety—at bay and think like a cop.

  That was, Boone knew, crucial to the success of this operation. But even calling this an operation seemed a stretch, because he and Jack were flying by the seats of their pants, using an unmarked squad—stuck in traffic—and a pair of cell phones as their base of operations. The car was outfitted with a police-band radio, but they didn’t dare conduct any of their business over a medium so easily monitored.

  Fletch agreed with the idea of gathering a small cadre of veterans he would trust, as he said, “with my wife and my life” and told Boone and Jack to “leave River North to me. I got to tell you, though, I get myself killed here in the twilight between the end of active duty and retirement, and Dorothy will kill me again.”

  The old man also had a great idea. He told Boone, “Zappolo owes us. For the first time he’s on our side, so you need to get him to cash in all his chips and find a friendly judge to get us whatever warrants and clearances we need to search residences, even monitor phones. Can you do that?”

  “I can ask.”

  “Finding a judge who can stomach a defense attorney is the chore,” Fletch said. “Make sure he knows how bad we need it.”

  Boone called Stephanie. “Sorry to bother you. Do you have a minute?”

  “Officer Drake, I have no life outside the office. I’m in my robe and fuzzy slippers with my hair up, waiting to watch the news, the highlight of my evening.”

  “Except for helping me out.”

  “Of course.”

  “I need Fritz to call my cell from a secure landline. Maybe a pay phone somewhere?”

  “A pay phone? Haven’t seen one of those in ages.”

  “Maybe from a friend’s house. A phone no one would even think to tap. Problem is, I need to talk to him like yesterday.”

  “I’m on it.”

  Boone’s phone chirped. A text from Pastor Sosa: Praying. Check 1 John 4:18a when you get a second. Worth it.

  Boone opened the Bible app on his phone and found the verse: “There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear.”

  Thinking and acting like a pro didn’t mean sublimating his fear, Boone knew. He had been taught well that bravery was anything but an absence of fear. It was the courage to push past fear, to harness it and use it to stay alert.

  Boone could not even begin to catalog all that was at stake. A future with Haeley and Max was another form of salvation—not spiritually; he knew better than that. But since the tragedy that had cost him his family and everything he thought he had known about God and life and himself, Boone had been floundering.

  Family and friends believed he was on the mend, that his growth had been astounding. He couldn’t argue that he had made progress. He had learned that while time was indeed a healer, it was a slow one and not predictable. Waves of emotion still hit him at odd times, woke him in the night, sent him somewhere else while strolling with Haeley or playing with Max. It wasn’t fair to them, but what choice did he have? It wasn’t fair to him either. It wasn’t like Boone chose to be dragged back to a grief so deep and piercing that it was clear he would never be entirely rid of it.

  But if there was hope, it was in God, in his faith, in prayer, in Scripture. And the ultimate realization of hope was not forgetting the pain but rather finding a balm for it in the form of a new life, a new love, a new family. To her credit, though Haeley never seemed completely comfortable talking about Nikki and Josh, neither did she seem resentful or indicate any wish that he forget them.

  It had to be hard for her, too, in essence competing with the idealized memory of a beautiful woman, her love’s first love. Haeley’s maturity in this alone was yet another reason Boone so cherished the thought of a future with her.

  Was it just his imagination, or did the traffic appear to be abating as Jack skirted the city and set sail for Addison? “We moving a little better?”

  “Averaging ten miles an hour faster,” Jack said. “It’ll open up here in a bit. We should reach the safe house not long after ten.”

  “This going to look suspicious, our getting a city truck out there in the middle of the night?”

  “I’ll think of something to make it work,” Jack said.


  It was as if Boone had heard the command aloud. That was a new one for him. He’d been raised a Christian, but not in a tradition where people were spoken to from on high, and he always found himself uncomfortable in the presence of those who were convinced they had been.

  And yet here it came again.


  Boone panicked, worried that God was urging him to pray aloud in front of Jack. He was sure he knew where Jack stood spiritually—respectful, even deferential at times, but nowhere near a man of faith.

  Boone decided to pray silently, lowering his head and closing his eyes, knowing he didn’t have to do that, either.

  As soon as his chin rested on his chest, Boone felt fatigue wash over him. He had skipped his last round of meds and believed that a good idea, given all he had to think about. Being off the narcotics would keep him awake and alert. But there was no arguing that he belonged in bed sound asleep. He fought the drowsiness and told God, I don’t know what to say. I’m listening. I need you; I know that. Keep Haeley safe and help us do whatever we need to do to protect Pascual and his mother and son.

  I will keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on me. My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.

  Was that God? Had he spoken directly to Boone? Or was Boone just being prompted to remember Scripture? Sosa had always told him that “the Word will not return void.”

  “Fallin’ asleep there, bro?” Jack said.

  “Nah. Just praying.”

  It had slipped out. He’d had no intention of telling Jack, but now it was in the open.

  “Well,” Jack said, “that can’t hurt, I guess.”

  “Really? Do you pray too?”

  “No! Well, yeah, couple of times I have. When I thought I might die. I didn’t make any bargains or promises, just called out for help, you know?”

  “Sure do.”

  “One of your kind told me once that God doesn’t listen to the prayers of unbelievers, so I can’t say whether it got higher than the ceiling.”

  “Too many of our kind think they know more than they do, Jack. I’m no theologian, but how could a God who created you ignore your cry for help?”

  “That’s what I kinda hoped. And you know Margaret agrees with you. She’s a pray-er, you know. She feels bad because she’s living in sin, she says, and she knows God’s not happy about that. She told me, ‘He’s more likely to listen to you than to me right now.’”

  Zappolo called.

  “You won’t believe where I’m calling from,” he said.

  “Try me.”

  “I was buying cigars when Stephanie called my cell. My tobacconist let me use his office line. ’Course I’ve kept him in business for years, so he owes me. What’s up?”

  Boone told him how desperate they were for warrants and even wiretapping and phone-monitoring privileges.

  “That stuff’s easier than ever these days,” Fritz said, “especially with cell phones. But finding a judge this time of night isn’t going to be easy. Not too many look kindly on me, as you can imagine, but I’ll do my best.”

  “But you’re on our side this time, Fritz. One of ’em has got to like that. Nobody owes you a favor, anything? Anyone?”

  “Hey! You know Peggy Overmeyer?”

  “Sounds familiar.”

  “Name comes with ‘the Honorable’ before it. Circuit court judge. Known for berating everybody over the smallest stuff—showing up a minute late, misfiling a brief. Loves to show off that way, chastising everybody about the sanctity of the courtroom, specifically her courtroom.”


  “Well, she owes me. I was in her chambers one day, and she was giving it to me for one thing and another. Then she realizes court’s about to be in session, so she jumps up, grabs her robe, and breaks a heel just as she gets to the door. She changes shoes, but she gets to the bench about ninety seconds late. No big deal, but with her reputation, well, she was embarrassed.

  “I jogged around the outside of the courtroom and entered from the usual corridor. The other attorneys were eyeing each other and smirking, so I asked permission to address the court. I said, ‘Your Honor, I apologize for causing your delay this morning. It won’t happen again.’

  “She recovered well, said she appreciated that and that, yes, I was forgiven. After the hearing her bailiff said she wanted to see me in chambers. She told me, ‘Mr. Zappolo, it was interesting to discover that your heart may not be totally black.’”

  Boone enjoyed the story, but time was of the essence. “So, you going to try her?”

  “Just hoping she’s not an early-to-bed girl.”

  Boone was relieved to hang up and realize they were already in Addison, less than half a mile from the dirt road that led to the safe house. He had no idea how far behind Carl Earl had to be, but a city worker’s being late to an emergency call would only add authenticity.

  Boone was dying to know what was happening with Haeley. Guessing she might be at Pete and Thelma Wade’s condo was good police thinking, but that didn’t mean he was right.


  Closing In

  Wednesday, February 10, 10:20 p.m.

  Just outside the area monitored by the Chicago Police Department security unit in charge of the safe house in Addison, Illinois, Jack Keller carefully edged the unmarked Crown Vic squad off the pavement, through a shallow snowdrift, and into a forest preserve parking area.

  “What?” Boone said, eager to accomplish whatever needed to be done in Addison so he could make sure Haeley was all right.

  “Sit tight,” Jack said. “Normally I’d assign you this task, but with you being a cripple . . .”

  Jack popped the trunk and slid out of the car. Boone heard him rustling around and then saw that he had apparently removed the jumper cables from their burlap tie sack. Jack moved to the front and kicked at the right wheel well until a shard of frozen sludge broke loose. Boone watched him brush away the residue and slip the remaining triangular block into the sack. This he set on the floor of the backseat.

  “Dare I ask?” Boone said as Jack got back in.

  “Keep your eyes open, junior. I’m gonna look like a genius before the night’s over.”

  Boone’s phone chirped as Jack shifted into drive. “Hold on,” Boone said. “This is a first. A text from Fletch. Listen: ‘Urgent. You and your partner get to where you can stop and study this. This is the most fun I’ve had as a cop, bittersweet as the assignment is. Already second-guessing retirement. And in case you’re wondering, no, I’m not texting this. Someone’s keyboarding it for me on some fancy wireless thingie. This connection is not guaranteed secure, so here’s your new numbers, one for each phone. Hang up and don’t answer till you get a message from me. It will come in ten or twenty seconds and will be long. Both phones will ring. Hang up now.’”

  Jack shoved the Vic back into park, and as they sat there alone in the wintry darkness, illuminated by only their headlights, both cops laid their cell phones on the rubber dashboard pad.

  Both phones sounded simultaneously and the men reached to connect. Write down those new numbers, Fletch’s message read. I don’t know how the techies do it, but both your phones have been reconfigured remotely and are now secure and impenetrable. They may have been secure before, and we have no evidence of anyone breaching their security, but now we know.

  Stewart Lang, Heathcliff Jones, and I have set up shop at the evidence lab with Doc Waldemarr, Judge Peggy Overmeyer, and Friedrich Zappolo, Esquire. Stewie and Cliff and I have each chosen select beat cops we trust implicitly. They’ll work with a SWAT team to handle the operation in River North. We already have visuals that tell us all the lights are on in the residence and that several people are there. We believe both Wades are there, and we can only assume our victim is too.

  Boone didn’t like Haeley being called a victim, especially, he hoped, prematurely.

  Judge Overmeyer approved the warrants, and the tech team is wired in to Pete’s, Thelma’s, and Antoine’s cells, as well as the landline at the condo, Pete’s landline in his office, and the landline at their Naperville home.

  Best, they have remotely engaged Haeley’s phone, muted it, and programmed it to transmit. We don’t know for sure where she is, and we assume someone has confiscated her phone, but this could give us our best information.

  If we find that the Wades are holding Ms. Lamonica, we will strategize a retrieval. That’s polite language for “Somebody’s gonna get hurt and it ain’t gonna be us.” The number at the bottom of this message is the one you should respond to.

  “So text back what we’re up to,” Jack said.

  “What are we up to? You’re gathering stuff for a snowball fight. . . .”

  “You get hit with that baby in a snowball fight, and you’re dead. What I’m gonna use it for will become obvious soon enough. Just tell ’em we’re minutes away.”

  “How am I going to do that with one hand? Wait, this phone has voice-to-text.” As Boone dictated, the words appeared on the screen: Aim texting this bye voice.
Minutes from safe house. Will cause plumbing problem, call in streets and san, and pull our people out in tanker truck. Whole story later, but jacks using an old friend of yours, Carl earl. For the job.

  Fletch texted back: Got it. Green light. Muffled sounds from Lamonica phone. Must be in someone’s pocket.

  As Jack stopped for the first security check a few yards up the dirt road, the cop in the beat-up, idling pickup rolled down his window. “Deputy Chief Keller,” Quincy said, “didn’t expect you this evening.”

  “Just checking on our man and dropping off my overnight guest.”

  Boone leaned over and nodded to Quincy, who nodded back and jotted on a clipboard.

  As Jack drove toward the compound, he slowed and peered ahead. “You see what I’m seeing, Boones?”

  He followed Jack’s eyes. “Lots of tracks.”

  “Pastor Sosa?”

  “Probably,” Boone said. “But that would have been one car. There’ve been a lot more.”

  Jack stopped and turned around. When he reached the pickup, the window came down again.

  “Who’s been here?”

  Quincy looked at his clipboard. “Pastor Sosa. That’s it for tonight, till you. Why?”

  “Oh, just thought someone else from our office might have come.”


  Jack headed back.

  “He’s lying,” Boone said.

  “You got that too? What was your first clue?”

  “Checking his list.”

  “Exactly. One visitor and he had to see who it was? Can you handle the Beretta with one hand?”

  “I’d love to be tested.”

  “I’ll just bet you would. And I’d wager my pension these tracks are only coming in, not going out, except Sosa’s.”

  “So Quincy is Wade’s guy?” Boone said.

  “Looks that way. Question is who else, and who joined ’em tonight? We can’t believe anything we see here.”

  When they reached the high fence the dogs barked and snarled, despite their wagging tails giving them away. “Poor things must not get much action, Williams,” Boone said as the trainer called them off.

  “You’re right,” Williams said. “You can see in their eyes that they want so bad to work, or play—and it’s all the same to them.”

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