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The current seemed to break on that word. Deavers took an unconscious step back and blew out an annoyed breath. He looked at Alex’s bandaged face again, then at his adversary.

“I should have known there was more going on in Turkey. Carston, this is beyond your authority.”

“I’m currently being underutilized. Just trying to make myself more valuable.”

Deavers pursed his lips and glanced back at her again. “She’s good?”

“You’ll see,” Carston promised.

“But I’m at a critical point,” the interrogator protested. “You can’t pull me off the case now.”

Carston gave him a withering glance. “Shut up, Lindauer. You’re out of your league.”

“All right,” Deavers said sourly. “Let’s see if your better option can get us what we need.”

The room was as Carston had described. Plain concrete walls, plain concrete floor. One door, a large one-way mirror between this and the observation room, a round overhead light flush with the ceiling.

At one time, there would have been a desk in this room, two chairs, and a very bright desk lamp. Subjects would have been questioned, harangued, threatened, and pressured, but that would have been the extent of it.

Now a surgical table took the place of the desk. It was like something from a World War I movie, one solid piece of unpadded stainless steel with the kind of wheels a gurney had. There was a folding chair in the corner. This facility was nowhere near as functional as the state-of-the-art suites back at the department, but clearly, this interrogation was off even the most covert section’s records.

She kept her inspection clinical and prayed that Daniel would have the restraint necessary for this.

Daniel had accompanied Carston and the others into the observation room, and he was invisible to her behind the glass. Before the group divided, neither Deavers nor any of the others had looked at his face. She desperately hoped he would do nothing now to change their indifference to suspicion.

Kevin lay on the table under the one light, handcuffed and shackled in place. He was naked, his body gleaming wet with sweat and blood. Long burns blistered a multitude of uneven parallel lines down his chest. Thin slices ran up his ribs, ragged skin blanched at the edges – probably with acid. The soles of his feet were covered in blisters and bleached white as well. Lindauer had poured acid into those burns. Kevin was missing another toe on his left foot, the one next to the first stump.

Lindauer’s tools littered the floor, messy with blood and his dirty handprints. She knew there was a toe down there, too, but she couldn’t find it at first glance.

She’d expected a clean, clinical setup; that was what she was used to. This was savagery. Her nose wrinkled in disgust.

Kevin was alert. He watched her as she walked in behind the interrogator, his face tightly controlled.

With a precision meant to mock Lindauer’s unprofessional work habits, she bent to her toolbox and carefully laid out a few of her syringe trays.

“What’s this?” Kevin asked hoarsely. She glanced up automatically to see that he was addressing the mirror, not her. “You think a little girl can break me? I thought this flunky was the low. Honestly, you guys never cease to disappoint.”

Lindauer, who had insisted on being in the room, leaned furiously over the table. He jammed one finger into a slash wound that cut across a burn on Kevin’s chest. Kevin grunted and clenched his jaw.

“Don’t worry, Mr. Beach. The little girl is just a nice rest period for you. Get your strength back. I’ll return later, and then we’ll have some productive conversations.”

“Enough, Doctor,” Alex snapped in a ringing tone. “I agreed to let you observe, but you will kindly step away from my subject now.”

Lindauer glanced at the mirror as if expecting backup. When he got only silence in response, he frowned sullenly and went to sit in the lone chair. Once he was down, he seemed to collapse a little, whether from exhaustion or disgrace, she couldn’t tell.

Alex turned her back on Lindauer and pulled on a pair of blue latex gloves. The small piece of metal she’d palmed in the process was invisible beneath the right glove.

She stepped to the edge of the table, gingerly clearing a swath in Lindauer’s mess with one foot.

“Hello, Mr. Beach. How are you feeling?”

“Good to go a few more rounds, sweetheart. Looks like somebody already had a nice time with you, eh? Hope it was fun for him.”

While he spit the words through his teeth, she began examining him, shining a small flashlight in his eyes and then assessing the veins in his arms and hands.

“A little dehydrated, I think,” she said. She looked directly at the mirror while she put his right hand back on the table, leaving the thin key under his palm. “I assumed there would be an IV in place. Could I get a pole, please? I have my own saline and needles.”

“I’ll bet you know your way around a pole,” Kevin said.

“No need to be crass, Mr. Beach. Now that I’m here, things will be much more civilized. I do apologize for the current conditions. This is all very unprofessional.” She sniffed scornfully, giving Lindauer her most cutting side-eye. He looked away.

“Honey, if this is the good-cop routine, sorry, but you’re not really my type.”

“I assure you, Mr. Beach, I am not the good cop. I am a specialist, and I should warn you now, I won’t play the same silly games this… interrogator” – the desire to use a less flattering word was clear in her inflection – “has wasted your time with. We’ll get down to business immediately.”