St. Louis, Missouri
198 Addison Avenue
Rose knocked on the front door of the modest home. Elena stood beside her dark red Mercedes C230 Kompressor, the driver's side door still open. Glancing back, Rose asked, "See anything?"
"Her car's still here."
With a grimace, Rose pounded on the door. She waited, listening at the door. "I don't hear anything." She stepped down off the porch. "Car's here, no paper waiting outside."
"She might not get the paper," Elena suggested.
"There is that." Rose stopped on the driveway and looked around. "Sunday morning, ten o'clock a.m. Did we pass a church getting here?"
Rose returned to the Mercedes. "There has to be one within walking distance from here."
"Are you sure she'd go?"
"I'm willing to look." Rose slipped into the car.
Elena got in behind the wheel. "Better call the parents before one of them has a nervous breakdown."
Rose took out her cell phone and dialled her home phone number. "Good idea. Maybe Allie's dug something up." Elena started the car while Rose waited for the line to be picked up. After the second ring, the call was answered. "Amber, hi, what took you? I see. Anything happening?" Rose nodded several times. "Um, Amber? Yeah, no, good work, but I don't think Sexton would go to a grand opening sale anywhere. I-- I can't beat that logic, Amber." Rose glanced at Elena and mouthed, "Help." Elena chuckled. "Okay, Amber?" Rose began, "Elena and I are still looking for Lund. We think she might have gone to church. Okay, Amber, it's not that funny, you can stop laughing. Amber. Amber." Rose rolled her eyes. "Amber, we're on business, remember? Thank you. Elena and I are trying to find the church she went to. Call if you or Allison find anything concrete. No, sales don't count. Unless shoes are involved. Bye."
"Amber's feeling better, I see," Elena said.
Rose put away her phone. "I think she needs something else to do."
"What's this about a shoe sale?"
"Amber thinks Sexton might be hiding at a store opening. No shoes, though."
Elena shrugged. "For the best. Hard to shop when chasing someone." She pointed out to her left. "Church." On the opposite side of the street, a church made from red brick stood, its steeple standing tall, same height as the surrounding trees. Its parking lot was full, though no one was around. Elena pulled the Mercedes into the lot and stopped facing the exit. "I'll stay here."
"I wish you had a four-door right now," Rose said. "Be right back." She got out of the car. Adjusting her light jacket, she walked over to the church's main doors. Rose entered, making the sign of the cross as she stepped over the threshold. On the other side of the apse, Rose heard the church choir singing. She looked around for an assistant. Seeing someone who might be able to help, she walked over. "Excuse me," she said in a low tone, trying not to be disruptive.
The woman turned to Rose. "Yes?"
"I'm trying to find Donna Lund. I need to talk to her. It's an emergency."
"An emergency? What should I tell her?"
"I can't say. Privacy, you see. I'll be outside so I don't disturb anything."
"I'll go get her."
Rose smiled. "Thank you and God bless." She returned outside and waited near the entrance.
A few minutes later, the woman returned with Lund. "Ah, there she is. I'll leave you two alone so you can have privacy." The woman returned inside.
Lund's eyes widened when she saw Rose. She backed away.
Rose opened her jacket to reveal the butt of her gun. "Don't. Running will just annoy me more." She jerked her head towards the Mercedes. "Get in the car."
Lund walked over to the vehicle, panic clearly seen in her expression. "You can't kill me," she said.
"You're right, I can't." She pushed Lund into the back seat, then sat beside her, pulling the front passenger seat up. "Not until you tell me what's going on."
"Probably. Elena, find someplace quiet."
Elena started the C230's engine and drove off. "It'll go better for you if you tell us everything now."
"I know what you're doing," Lund said with defiance. "'Good Cop, Bad Cop'. I've seen it done."
"Good for you," Rose praised mockingly. "However, I'm in no mood for games. Your boss, Sexton, tried to hurt my daughter. He's still out there."
Lund blinked. "You're in this for petty revenge?"
"Petty revenge would be me beating the crap out of you right now. Don't tempt me. However, your rat bastard boss is still out there and may want to eliminate every damned witness alive, including my girl."
Elena turned the corner. "Down by the river should be quiet until the ballgame starts," she suggested.
"Good enough for now," Rose agreed. "Ms Lund, you have until we get to the ballpark to decide whether you want to cooperate. Me, I don't care whether you do or don't. I'll still get what I want from you." The Hispanic woman's cell phone trilled. "Pardon me." She pulled it out and checked the caller ID. Recognizing her home phone number, she took the call. "Hello? Amber, what do you have? Oh, really?" Rose stared hard at Lund. "Have Allison bring it to the ballpark. Busch Memorial, Amber. That's the one, yes. Thanks." She hung up. Turning her attention to Lund, Rose said, "Think hard, Ms Lund."
St. Louis, Missouri
198 Addison Avenue
"Please, Allie?" Amber pleased. "I'll be quiet."
"That'll be the day," Allison sniped. "Amber, no. Doctor's orders. You're supposed to stay here and rest quietly."
"How are you getting to the meeting?"
"I do have a driver's license, Amber."
Amber put her good hand on her hip. "I meant, which car. You can't drive stick."
"I'll figure it out, Amber."
Maria entered the living room from outside. "Hi. Mom back yet?"
"No," Amber answered, "but we're about to go see her."
"I'm about to go see her," Allison corrected. "You, the both of you, are staying here."
Allison cut off Amber's whine. "I need someone here to take care of Maria. Sexton might come back for her." She turned to face Maria. "And I need someone here to take care of Amber, to help her with her arm. Okay with both of you?"
Maria shrugged. "I guess."
"If I have to," Amber answered.
"Good. I'll have a cell phone. The number's beside the computer. Call me if there's a problem, and I'll call for the same reason." Allison zipped around the younger women. "And do try to behave."
"Allie, really, Maria's old enough to know what she's doing."
Allison opened the front door. "I meant you, Amber. No coffee!" She ran out, closing the door behind her.
Maria locked the front door. "Well, that was fun."
"She's just trying to hide her true feelings."
Maria watched as Allison maneuvered the Grand Am out of the driveway. "Yeah, right. I'll be in my room."
St. Louis, Missouri
Busch Memorial Stadium
Rose pulled Lund out roughly from the back seat of the Mercedes C230. "Don't run. Don't scream."
Elena got out from the car. "I do hope you went to Confession this week."
Lund looked around nervously. "I've thought about it. I don't want any trouble."
"Too late for that, don't you think?" Rose said. "How deep are you in this mess, Lund? When did you figure out that what your boss was doing wasn't quite kosher? Was the before or after he kidnapped my daughter?"
"I didn't know about your kid."
"What do you know?" Elena asked.
"I don't know why he hired you, if that's what you mean."
"Ouroboros," Rose said.
Seeing Lund's puzzled look, Elena explained, "The snake that eats its tail. Deniability. A small agency known through certain circles as taking on challenges gets hired to steal a faked document, thus lending it credibility."
"Sound familiar, Ms Lund?" Rose asked. "Of course, the agency knows too much and needs to be terminated with extreme prejudice. You have heard that quaint phrase, right?"
"Does the NSA go for euphemisms like that?" Elena asked. "Never could tell with them."
Rose shook her head. "No idea. The alphabet soup here doesn't mingle well with each other. That might be good news for us." She returned her attention to Lund. "Now, what did Sexton plan with the /HMCS Ottawa/?"
"The which?" Lund asked.
"She's a Canadian frigate," Elena supplied, "currently stationed in the Middle East. Why would Sexton have or even need the plans to a foreign warship?"
"Or, for that matter, need it stolen from a warehouse here in St. Louis, far from any Canadian naval port?" Rose added.
Lund paled. "I can explain."
"No, not yet," Rose said. "One of my employees is on her way over with some information she found that you might find interesting. I know I'm interested in it." She spotted the maroon Pontiac enter the parking lot. "Ah, there she is now."
The Grand Am came to a stop near the women. Allison climbed out of the car. "Rose, Elena, hi. And thanks. Amber was starting to get to me."
"My apologies for leaving her with you," Elena said. "What did you find?"
Allison pulled a sheath of papers from her back pocket. She handed it to Rose. "Flights, itineraries, connections, all filed by a Donna Lund."
"That can't be," Lund sputtered. "I never!"
Rose read over the papers. "It's your name, Lund. Start talking."
"Ray said I wouldn't be in trouble," Lund started. "I was doing this for the country."
"Oh, please," Allison said.
"Ray said it was my patriotic duty! To combat terrorism, to show the world that the US isn't a whipping boy."
"By bombing a Canadian vessel," Rose said.
"An ally of the US," Elena said. "To show the world that even they are in danger from terrorism. Clever. Cold-hearted, mind, and very short-sighted. The Canadian people have been questioning being involved after a couple of friendly-fire incidents. Imagine the outrage when they find out that one of their ships was targeted on purpose."
"No." Lund shook her head in fervent denial. "It's not possible. Ray wouldn't do something like that."
"What else did you do for him?" Rose demanded.
Elena tsked. "You are in enough trouble right now. Lying is just going to make things worse. What else did you do?"
"It was just packages!" Lund collapsed to the pavement. "I don't know what's in them. Ray wanted me to send them to his family overseas." The woman burst into tears.
Allison buried her face into the palm of her hand. "I don't believe this. Of all the . . . how can you be so god-damned blind?"
"Allison, not now," Rose said. "Ms Lund, I need those addresses."
"I don't remember them," Lund cried. "Ray was always sending things out."
"Did you keep records?" Elena pressed.
"Of course," Lund answered, trying to regain her self-control. "The budget. We have to track all our expenses. The Admin department handles all that."
Elena looked over to Rose. "I would love to read the line item descriptions," the Russian woman said.
"Same here," Rose agreed. "Okay, we're going back to your office and you're going to get us every last scrap of detail about what your boss has been up to in the past five years. Get up." She hauled Lund to her feet, pulling on the woman's shoulder. "Don't try anything funny. I don't need you to do this research, just to do it fast."