Days after being brought out of retirement to investigate a kidnapping, Derrick Storm has a dead US senator on his hands, an assassin to track down, and nearly six billion dollars' worth of gold bars, hidden by the Communist Party somewhere in the former USSR, to uncover. And while the CIA mission is getting heated, it's nothing compared to the growing sexual tension between Storm and Showers...
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About the Author
Also Available from Titan Books
Present day, 7:15 P.M.
A dead United States senator was in his arms.
Derrick Storm had been the first to reach him and the only one who’d heard his dying words: Midas—Jedidiah knows. Seconds earlier, Senator Thurston Windslow had been alive and angry. He’d leaped from his chair and was about to reveal who had abducted and murdered his stepson when a bullet sent him crashing to the floor. From his crouched position, Storm could see the bullet hole in the large window directly behind the elderly statesman’s desk.
It was dusk outside, and the window had turned into a mirror, making it impossible for Storm to spot the assassin. Along with the three women with him inside the Dirksen Senate Building office, Storm was a sitting duck.
“Get down!” he yelled at Gloria Windslow, the senator’s newly widowed wife. She was standing in the center of the room in shock.
Storm needed to act before the sniper fired again. Springing to his feet, he dashed around the desk in a blur of motion. Like an attacking lion, he lunged at Gloria, throwing his right arm around her waist in mid-flight, pulling her down onto the thick carpet out of harm’s way.
FBI Agent April Showers and Samantha Toppers were already prone on the floor. Showers was clutching her .40-caliber Glock semiautomatic in one hand. The other was gripped around a pair of stainless steel handcuffs that she had snapped onto Toppers’s wrists before the shooting.
As in all Capitol Hill buildings, the senator’s office had been refitted recently with bullet-resistant glass windows that were supposed to prevent the sort of assassination that they’d just witnessed. By composing them of five thick pieces of shatterproof glass, the manufacturer had guaranteed the windows would stop bullets fired from guns as powerful as a .44-caliber magnum revolver—even if they were shot at close range. But the window had offered little real protection from a professional killer using a high-powered sniper’s rifle. The layers of safety glass may have slightly altered the slug’s path, because it hit the senator’s left shoulder rather than what was surely its intended target—his heart. That shift had kept him from dying instantly and given him seconds to whisper his dying words.
Jedidiah knows was clearly a reference to Jedidiah Jones, the cranky director of the CIA’s National Clandestine Service and the man responsible for dragging Storm into this thorny mess. What the word Midas meant was less clear, but since Jones was involved, Storm suspected it was the name of a covert CIA mission.
“The drapes,” FBI Agent Showers called out.
Storm followed her eyes to a red button on the wall next to the office window. Releasing his hold around Gloria Windslow’s waist, he shot forward, punching the button with his palm and dropping to the carpet just as another bullet pierced the glass—this one aimed at his head. The slug sailed by his left ear and smacked into the senator’s desk, causing splinters of polished mahogany to spray through the air.
That was close.
How many times can a man cheat death?
“You OK?” a concerned Agent Showers hollered.
“Piece of cake,” he replied. “But thanks for caring.”
“If anyone is going to kill you,” she replied with a smile, “it should be me—for you pushing yourself into my case.”
“But we’re having so much fun together, aren’t we?” he called back.
With the heavy drapes now drawn, Agent Showers rose to her feet, pulling Toppers with her up from the floor. “Don’t move!” she ordered Toppers, a twenty-something college student whose entire body was trembling.
Storm started for the office door just as a uniformed U.S. Capitol Police officer burst through it, followed by another. Both had their guns drawn and they instinctively divided their targets. One aimed at Showers, the other at Storm.
“Freeze!” the first cop yelled.
“I’m FBI!” Showers shouted. “Special Agent April Showers. The shot came from outside, not here. The senator is down.”
Not sure how to react, one officer kept his pistol leveled at her while the other rushed over to examine Windslow’s body.
“He’s dead!” the officer confirmed.
“She just told you that,” Storm said.
“Show me identification!” the cop with his gun aimed at Agent Showers commanded.
“Take it easy,” Showers replied as she slowly holstered her pistol and fished out her FBI credentials.
“How about you?” the other officer asked Storm.
“Don’t mind me. I’m a nobody—just ask her.”
“He’s with me,” Showers declared. “He’s a private detective named Steve Mason, hired to help the senator.”
Steve Mason was the pseudonym that Jedidiah Jones had given Storm when he brought him to Washington to help solve a tricky case.
Looking down at Windslow’s limp body and then back at Storm, the cop asked, “Is this the senator you were supposed to help?”
Storm grimaced and said, “Actually, things were going rather well—until he just got shot.”
“This woman is under arrest,” Showers said, nodding at the traumatized Toppers. “Watch her, seal off this crime scene, and call the number on this card.” She jabbed her FBI business card at the officer. “Tell the person who answers that the senator’s been murdered.”
“What buildings are across from this office window?” Storm asked.
“Only one building is out there,” the officer at the doorway replied. “The Capitol Police Building—our headquarters.”
“That’s got to be where the shot came from,” Storm said, moving toward the room’s exit.
“Call your dispatcher,” Showers said, falling behind him. “Tell him to lock down your entire police headquarters. Stop anyone who’s coming down from the roof.”
A bewildered look washed over the officer’s face.
“Do it now!” she yelled. “And get a doctor for Mrs. Windslow. She’s in shock.”
“Wait,” the officer said as she scooted by him. “You two shouldn’t leave, should you? I mean, you’re witnesses.”
But she and Storm were already halfway down the building’s corridor. The killing had all the traces of a professional hit. Every passing second was working against catching the killer. Storm reached C Street first, with Showers on his heels. The eight-story police headquarters was about four hundred yards ahead of them. It sat in the center of a vast parking lot and was the only structure tall enough to accommodate a sniper.
The assassin must be wearing a disguise. How else would he have gotten onto the rooftop of a police headquarters without being noticed?
Storm and Showers reached the building’s front entrance just as a Containment and Emergency Response Team, the equivalent of a police department’s SWAT squad, burst through the double glass doors on its way to the Dirksen Building. Flashing her credentials, Showers exclaimed, “A sniper fired from your rooftop!”
Speaking into his headset, the CERT’s leader said, “Dispatch CERT Two to check the rooftop. Armed suspect may still be there. No one gets in or out of our building. Lock her down. Now!”
Addressing Showers, he said, “We have jurisdiction here. You need to stand down.”
Before she could respond, his team began racing across the parking lot.
Storm, meanwhile, was scanning the area, confident that the shooter had already fled from the building. To their immediate left was a city park that separated Capitol Hill from Union Station, the main rail hub in Washington D.C. It served both Amtrak and subway lines, was always filled with travelers, and was exactly where Storm would have gone to disappear into a crowd.
“There!” he yelled, pointing a finger north toward Columbus Circle, the traffic interchange directly in front of the train station. Showers spotted the lone figure as he walked under a street lamp. They couldn’t see his face from this distance, but they could see that he was wearing a blue shirt and black pants—a U.S. Capitol Police uniform. All of the other officers either were locked inside the headquarters building or were scurrying as quickly as they could toward the Senate office building. But this officer was casually walking away from the action.
“That’s got to be him,” Storm said, breaking into a run.
Showers pounded on the headquarters’ now locked front doors and pressed her FBI credentials against the glass. “The shooter is getting away. Call the D.C. police at Union Station! He’s disguised as one of your officers!”
The officers standing guard behind the glass gave her blank stares. Frustrated, she used her cell phone to call the D.C. police department.
In top physical shape, Storm could run a mile in less than four and a half minutes, even in street shoes. But despite his quickness, his target entered Union Station before he could reach him. Storm eyeballed the crowd as soon as he burst inside the station’s massive lobby. No Capitol Hill uniforms were in sight.
I’m dealing with a professional, he told himself.
A D.C. cop was loitering near the entrance to the Amtrak ticket line. Storm dashed over to him.
“There’s been a shooting on Capitol Hill,” he said. “The gunman is dressed like a Capitol Hill Police officer and he just came in here. Did you see him?”
With a skeptical look, the cop said, “And who, exactly, are you? You got a badge?”
“I’m a private investigator.”
“Let’s see your ID.”
Dealing with this dolt was a waste of time. A men’s room. That’s where the shooter would go to ditch his disguise. Emerge as someone else. Someone who wouldn’t stick out. A tourist. A businessman. A janitor. A construction worker. Anyone but a Capitol Hill cop.
There was a large “RESTROOM” sign to his left. Storm ran past it into the room. A long string of startled men peeing at urinals glanced up. When Storm drew his handgun, they panicked and scrambled past him out the exit, some not bothering to zip their pants. There were seven stalls across from the urinals. Storm could see beneath the doors that three were occupied.
He pounded on the first stall’s door, and when the occupant let loose with a profanity, Storm stepped back and kicked it open.
“What the—” the startled man sitting on the commode exclaimed, his sentence cut short when he saw Storm’s Glock.
“Sorry,” Storm said. “You can go back to your business.”
He moved to the next stall, but when he knocked on the door, its occupant opened it and immediately raised his hands. It was a teenage boy. The last occupant was an old man. None of them had been changing out of a Capitol Hill uniform. None of them had looked suspicious.
“Drop it!” a voice behind Storm yelled. It was the D.C. cop from the lobby.
Raising his Glock above his head, Storm slowly turned to face him.
“Are you crazy, man?” the cop asked him. “What the hell you doing, busting in here, waving around a gun? You’re lucky I didn’t shoot you just now.”
“I’m looking for a sniper,” Storm said. “Like I told you, he’s dressed as a Capitol Hill cop. We need to close off the exits before he escapes.”
“Then you are crazy,” he replied. “Even if I wanted, there’s no way to shut down this building in time. We got entrances out onto the street, downstairs to the subway lines, and out back to the trains.”
A second D.C. cop came running inside with his gun drawn.
“What’s happening?” he asked his partner.
“He says he’s a private eye looking for an assassin.”
The newly arrived officer asked Storm, “You high on something?”
“Get his weapon,” the first cop declared.
Holstering his sidearm, the second officer stepped forward, took Storm’s Glock, and ordered him to “assume the position.”
Storm placed both hands flat against the wall and spread his legs. Resigned, he said, “Don’t tickle.”
Agent Showers came flying into the men’s room. “FBI!” she said, waving her badge. “You’ve got the wrong guy. He’s with me.”
“Then you can have him,” the first officer said, lowering his gun. The second officer stopped frisking Storm, who turned and said, “My gun please.”
The officer handed it back.
Storm walked over to a nearby trash container and flipped open its lid. But there was nothing inside it except crumpled paper towels and trash. He checked a second one. There was no Capitol Hill policeman’s uniform inside it either.
“We’ll check the lobby,” the first officer announced.
“Great,” replied Storm, knowing the killer was probably long gone.
“What exactly are we looking for?” the second officer asked.
“At this point?” Storm replied. “A ghost.”
Storm and Showers stepped from the men’s room together. A third trash container was a few feet away, located between the entrances to the men’s and women’s restrooms. Storm checked it. A blue Capitol Hill Police officer’s shirt was stuffed inside, complete with a badge and pair of black slacks.
Pulling the shirt from the bin, Storm said, “It’s a small. We’re looking for a man probably under six feet, about a hundred and fifty pounds.”
Together they scanned the waves of people scurrying by them in the cavernous station’s lobby. Dozens of men fit that description. The shooter could have been anyone, anywhere.
“How’d you know I was in the men’s room?” Storm asked.
“Do you think you’re the only one who can think like a fleeing criminal?” she replied.
Storm smiled. “It could have been embarrassing for you if I hadn’t been in there.”
“Not really,” Showers said.
“Oh, you’ve been in a lot of men’s rooms, have you?”
She simply smiled and said, “Let’s go. We got a killer to catch.”
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