And that was the moment at which Harry came through the front door of the café, took a step inside, saw me, and beckoned me to come to him.
“Excuse me,” I said to Kim, “but one of my, uh, colleagues just stepped in.”
She turned in Harry's direction. “Were you expecting him?”
“No, unexpected. And unpleasant.” I stood and walked to Harry. “What's up?”
“We need to go to Rye. Now.” He spoke with quiet urgency.
“Savannah Faringer's people found Marissa. A team from Cú Chulainn and SHK Dragon is on its way.”
“Oh, shit.” I glanced over my shoulder at Kim then back at Harry. “I need to say goodbye. Then we'll leave.”
I stepped back over to our table. “I'm sorry about this, but―”
“Someone's in trouble. You have to go.”
“Yes.” I hesitated, awkwardly leaning over the table. She gave me the tiniest of nods, and I leaned in all the way and kissed her softly on the mouth.
“Call me,” she said.
“I will.” I turned toward Harry, stopped, twisted back to Kim. “Listen, if I . . . If I don't call, please know that I wanted to. If I don't call, it's because I can't.”
“I hope so.”
Harry and I walked outside Café Sabatini.
“I need to get into my apartment without anyone noticing.”
“I need more weapons. Heavy weapons.”
He nodded and in less time than it takes to read this sentence, we were in my living room. During the last case I had worked for Harry, an old friend from my Afghanistan days, a CIA agent named Alex Cranston, had helped me take on a Russian Mafia chief. Among other things, Alex had procured a diverse and lethal set of weapons. Really good stuff if you go in for fire fights with Russian mobsters or private security types like Cú Chulainn and SHK Dragon. My hope was that I wouldn't need this stuff, but I didn't want to be caught needing it and not having it.
The last time I'd been headed to my apartment, I'd spotted Reznik with his cinderblock chin. Cinderblock hands, too. At the time, I'd thought he was trouble and was convinced he was going to search my apartment with dedication and destructiveness. Unfortunately, I had been correct. He'd trashed my place. Books and CDs were scattered all over. The television screen had been smashed and the entertainment system torn up. The front closet was open, and coats had had their linings torn out then had been tossed to the floor. Every pair of shoes had been pulled apart to be sure there was nothing inside the soles. Furniture had been smashed and/or cut open.
But that was all stuff. It could be replaced. Don't get me wrong, I was royally pissed off that cinderblock chin had done this. But the thing that really got to me? He'd smashed the frames of three photos of Maggie and torn the photos to pieces. I leaned over and picked up what was left of one of them―Maggie's left eye looking at me from a chunk of broken frame.
Harry asked softly, “Are you all right?”
“No. This guy wanted to fuck with me. He and I will settle up, and then I'll be fine.”
“Are you planning to kill him?”
“No. I'm hoping to kill him.” I put the shattered photo down and walked into my bedroom. The mattress and pillows were a fluffy disaster area. The photo of Maggie on my night table had received the same treatment as the photos in the living room. The night table was more like kindling than table.
Thanks to the way cinderblock chin had treated my place, he had confirmed something about himself: He took his work personally. He wanted this to be about me and him.
I shook my head at the destruction and stepped to my closet. The door was hanging off the lower hinge, and the top one had been pulled loose. The clothes were all in a heap on the floor. The hanging rod had been broken. The shelf above the clothes had been pulled out and the sweaters and sweatshirts that I'd stored there were now on the bedroom floor.
Harry asked, “Did he find it?”
“No,” I grinned. “Mr. Destructo was a wee bit too angry for his own good. He even saved me the trouble of taking all the hanging clothes off the rod and pulling out the rod.” I used my phone to send a text to a digital lock, and the right side closet wall popped open about an inch. I had built a false wall, creating a secret cabinet about a foot deep, seven-feet tall, and two-feet wide. I pulled the false wall open, exposing a black duffle-pack of ballistic nylon. The duffle was filled with the lethal tools of my sometime violent trade. I lifted the duffle out and pushed the door shut until it clicked, locking again.
I sorted through the piles of clothing until I found what I wanted: a pair of dark gray cargo pants, loose fitting for action and with huge pockets for ammo, guns, and grenades. I took off the cotton sweater I was wearing courtesy of Andrew Selkirk and pulled on a black T-shirt and a dark gray sweater that matched the pants. A hunter's vest in black went over the sweater, and my ensemble was topped off by my parka. I hefted the duffle over my shoulder and slipped my arms through the pack straps. There was a lot of firepower inside that duffle.
“Why did you come warn me at the café? You've never done that before.”
“The Chairman gives people what they need. You needed a warning if you were going to help Marissa, and she needs help. Now.”
“Okay, then. Where are the bad guys now?”
Harry looked up and then to me. “The team is approaching the Selkirks' community gate in two SUVs.”
“Okay.” I took a deep breath. “Please take me to the Selkirks' front yard, under the huge pine to the right of the house as you face the door.”
And just like that, we were in the front yard, under the pine. The afternoon was cloudy, making it dark under the pine's thick branches. The air felt as if snow was on the way, but I wasn't sure snow was coming. I wish I could have said the same about the imminent arrival of a bunch of heavily armed hostiles.
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