“Assumptions are never a safe bet, you know that.”
“If I do my best, Jules, if I do everything I can…” Carston began. His voice was suddenly raw. “Please. Please let Livvy go. Make the call, whatever you have to do. Even if… even if you’re not getting out. I know you have every reason to hurt me, but, please, not the baby.” He was only whispering by the end. She rather thought he was speaking from the heart, as much as he had one.
“I can’t do anything for her if I don’t make it out. I’m sorry, Carston, I wish I could have done things differently, but I didn’t have the time or the resources.”
He clenched his hands in his lap and stared at them. “You better know what you’re doing.”
She didn’t answer. He probably could guess what that meant.
“If we go down,” he said, his voice stronger, “at least take that bastard Deavers with us. Can you do that?”
“I’ll make a point of it.”
“We’re five minutes out, approximately.”
Alex handed Carston his phone. He turned it on, then, after a second, selected a number from his address book. The phone rang twice over the car’s speaker.
“Why are you interrupting me?” a man answered. His voice was pitched to be quiet, almost a whisper, but Alex could hear that it was a deep baritone. He sounded annoyed.
Carston was annoyed, too. “I’m assuming there’s been no progress.”
“I don’t have time for this.”
“None of us have time for this,” Carston snapped. “Enough is enough. I’ll be at the gate in two minutes. Make sure they’re expecting me and my assistants.”
“What —” Deavers started, but Carston hung up.
“Combative,” Alex commented.
“It’s our normal form of interaction.”
“I hope so.”
“I’ll do my part, Jules. If Livvy weren’t involved, I think I would actually enjoy this. I am so tired of that pompous fool.”
The building they pulled up to would have looked abandoned if there weren’t two cars parked beside the entrance. The small lot was protected by steep, man-made hills that surrounded it on three sides, the unassuming, one-story concrete building taking up the fourth. The front of the building wasn’t visible until you were already in the lot. The location was hidden in the middle of miles of warehouses and Soviet bloc–style office buildings, all certainly owned by some arm of the government and all seemingly empty. As was the maze of roads weaving through them. She doubted anyone would wander back here by accident, and she was glad she’d had Carston to guide them through the maze. She hoped Daniel had paid attention. She’d tried to memorize the route, but it was unlikely she’d be there to guide him back out.
There were no lights in the small, shaded windows, but that was expected. The ground floor was nothing but camouflage.
Carston got out and came around to hold the car door for her, already acting his role. She almost smiled, remembering what it had been like when she had been the talent. Well, that was her part to play tonight. She would have to get into character.
Daniel pulled the steel toolbox on rollers out of the trunk and brought it around to her. Someone was probably already watching, though she couldn’t see where the cameras were hidden.
“Careful with that,” she admonished in a stern tone, taking the handle from him. She straightened her left cuff, and brushed an imaginary speck of dust off her sleeve. Daniel went to stand just behind Carston’s right shoulder. She noticed the gold pinkie ring. It didn’t quite fit the picture, but the rest of him did – even in the dark lot, his black suit looked just right, conservative, not expensive; every FBI agent in the country had something exactly like it in his or her closet. No badge, but then, anyone working as an aide to this department wouldn’t be expected to carry identification. It wasn’t a badge kind of organization.
She squared her shoulders and faced the dark building, trying to come to terms with the fact that she’d probably never see this ugly parking lot again.
his way, Dr. Reid,” Carston said, and he led them to a blank gray door. Daniel stayed close on his heels, his back to Alex. She walked briskly behind them, struggling to keep up with her shorter legs.
Carston didn’t knock on the door; he merely stood directly in front of it. Expectant, like he’d already rung the bell.
The door opened a second after Carston planted himself. The man who answered it wore a suit not unlike Daniel’s, though this man’s was so new it still had a sheen on it. He was shorter than Daniel and wider through the shoulders. There was an obvious bulge under his left arm.
“Sir,” the man said, and saluted Carston. His hair was high and tight, and she guessed he’d feel more at home in a uniform. But his appearance was still part of the camouflage. The uniforms would be downstairs.
“I need to see Deavers immediately.”
“Yes, sir, he informed us you’d be arriving. This way.”
The soldier turned abruptly and paced inside.
She followed Daniel into a drab office space: gray carpet, a few tight cubicles, some uncomfortable-looking chairs. The door closed behind her with a solid-sounding thud and an ominous click. No doubt someone was still watching; she couldn’t afford a glance back to look at the lock. She would have to hope it was meant to keep people out and not in. It hadn’t taken the soldier long to open the door to them.