Authors: Josh Lanyon
Tags: #Gay, #Erotic Historical, #LGBT Suspense, #LGBT Erotic Contemporary, #Contemporary Suspense, #Action/Adventure
Dangerous Ground 4:
Dangerous Ground 4: Dead Run
Copyright © September 2011 by Josh Lanyon
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Editor: Judith David
Cover Artist: April Martinez
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There was something familiar about the man at the airline ticket counter.
Taylor studied him for a moment. Medium height…slightly stooped…medium weight…aquiline features beneath the tweed cap. Nothing unique about an old man in a raincoat. In fact, the very ordinariness of him was part of what caught Taylor’s eye. It was like the old guy had taken
to an art form.
“Next!” called one of the agents at the check-in desk. The couple in front of Taylor dragged their children and luggage to the next open space at the long desk. Taylor stepped forward. The serpentine line shuffled and scooted behind him.
Had he remembered the photos of Riley? Taylor double-checked quickly. No. He’d left them on the kitchen table.
. He knew how much Will missed that damn dog, and he’d meant the snapshots as a little surprise.
Oh well. If Will wanted to see Riley that much, he could always come home.
Taylor glanced up automatically as the old man ahead of him turned away from the ticket counter.
Dark eyes met his, held his gaze for an instant, then dismissed him. The back of Taylor’s neck prickled.
No. No way
. It couldn’t be.
But he couldn’t quite ignore that feeling of recognition.
He’d been reading an article in
on the history of modern terrorism in Europe. That had to be why he was suddenly seeing a long-dead Breton separatist in the first senior citizen wearing a beret who crossed his path.
Okay, not a beret, but close enough to trigger the connection.
A ticket agent at the far end opened and nodded to Taylor. “Sir.”
The line behind Taylor breathed a collective sigh. One step closer to the prize.
“Next in line please,” the ticket agent encouraged when Taylor didn’t seem to be getting the hint.
Taylor groaned inwardly. He was probably wrong.
More importantly, he was on vacation. He had a plane to catch. A plane he had no intention of missing. It had been eleven months since he’d seen Will. Eleven months since they’d been together. No fucking
was he missing this plane.
But what if he wasn’t wrong? What if by some crazy coincidence he had just seen a ghost?
Oh, what the hell.
He moved instead to the agent who had assisted Helloco, if Helloco it was. She was busily putting a little CLOSED sign at her place, with the air of someone taking her break come hell or high water.
He sized her up fast. Cute and prim in her navy blue polyester. A girl in love with the rules and regulations. He looked for her name badge.
“Bridget.” She did her best not to see him, but Taylor pasted on his most charming smile and pushed harder. “That guy you just gave a boarding pass to—where is he headed?”
Bridget looked as surprised as if her ticket machine had asked her to bring it back a cappuccino. “Sir?”
“Your last customer. I need his name and his flight number.” Taylor already had his DSS ID out. He was keeping his voice down, trying to avoid attention, but she was backing away from the counter, shaking her head, doing her best to separate herself from whatever situation he was trying to drag her into.
“I’m sorry but we can’t give out that information.”
Taylor pushed his ID toward her, hoping the problem was her vision. “I’m with the Diplomatic Security Service.”
Bridget stopped backing away, but her expression grew more skeptical. “I never heard of it.”
“I’m with the State Department.”
“You just said you were with the Diplomacy Service. Anyway, that’s not what your
“The hell it doesn’t.” Taylor jabbed his finger at the blue and gold ring around the seal on his badge.
Department of State. Diplomatic Security Service
. “It says it right here.”
Bridget didn’t exactly roll her eyes, but if he thought she’d been born yesterday, he clearly had another think coming. “Anyone can have one of those made.”
“Are you kidding me?”
“It doesn’t even look real.”
As much as Taylor hadn’t wanted to start this, her obstructive attitude hardened his resolve. “Get your manager.” He watched the luggage moving on the conveyor belt behind Bridget. “Did he check a bag?”
He smothered his exasperation. “The guy you just checked in. Do
let any of his luggage go through.”
Bridget was looking at Taylor as though he were a nut. In fairness, working at a ticket counter in an airport probably jaded you as fast as working in law enforcement.
Bridget waved to another airline employee in a navy suit. “Mr. Yousef! Mr. Yousef, can I see you please?”
Maybe she was trying for discretion, but the overall impression was
cleanup on aisle three
! Bored passengers were staring their way, and the man who might be—but probably was not—Yann Helloco was now a quickly disappearing tan raincoat in a crowd of tan raincoats heading for the security screening lines.
Mr. Yousef, big, black, and bald, with an unexpectedly charming smile, joined Bridget at the counter. He silently examined Taylor’s ID as Bridget filled him in on the details.
“This customer is trying to get personal information about another customer. He says he’s a secret agent.”
“What?” Taylor spared her a startled look before turning back to Yousef. “I’m with the DSS. That’s a division of the Bureau of Diplomatic Security.”
“Sure.” Yousef spoke in a deep and melodious bass. “You’re the guys who protect foreign bigwigs when they visit.”
“Right.” It was like the relief of finding someone who spoke English in a foreign country. “Among other things. Bridget here just processed a passenger who I believe might be wanted by Interpol.” He was trying very hard not to use the
,” Yousef repeated as the conveyor belt behind him lurched forward again.
“Please don’t let that bag go through without screening it,” Taylor told Bridget, who was waiting hopefully for Yousef to chop him into mincemeat. She ignored him.
“Bag? Every bag we checked is screened.”
Mr. Yousef turned to Bridget, who said with a tight little smile, “I tried to tell this gentleman that the other customer didn’t check any baggage.”
Taylor opened his mouth, but really…bigger fish to fry. He turned to Yousef.
Yousef said, “Bridget, did you not see this agent’s identification and badge?”
“Well, yes, but you can get those made anywhere. And it doesn’t look real.”
Mr. Yousef shook his head apologetically at Taylor. “Let’s get the information Special Agent MacAllister needs.”
Bridget returned to her computer and tapped the keys in quick, irritated strokes. She moved aside for Mr. Yousef, who read aloud, “Yannick Hinault. He’s on his way to Paris on Delta Flight DL67 departing from Gate 57.”
Yann Helloco and Yannick Hinault. Not exactly case closed but surely too similar for coincidence?
“I’m leaving my stuff with you.” Taylor unloaded his suitcase and carry-on bag, ignoring Bridget’s instinctive protest. “Can you call the gate and have them hold that flight? And have security meet me there.”
“I can try,” Yousef said. “But you better be sure this is your guy, or I wouldn’t want to be in your shoes.”
Taylor was already moving in that easy law enforcement lope that covered a lot of ground without giving the public the impression that there was cause for alarm. Even so he was moving way too fast for anyone in an airport, and security officers were moving to intercept him as he headed for the screening tables.
A quick survey of the lines of shoeless and coatless passengers confirmed there was no sign of Helloco or Hinault or whoever this asshole was who was already starting to interfere with Taylor’s much-needed vacation.
Then the unis were blocking his view. Taylor flashed his tin, doing his best to explain the situation without triggering all the alarms in the place. It was his bitter experience that getting airport security involved was usually more trouble than it was worth, but there was no way around it. It was at times like these he missed Will. Will was so much better at finessing…well, everyone.
“Are you armed, Agent MacAllister?” a short, squat guy with a face like the Great Pumpkin questioned.
Taylor shook his head. “No. I’m on my annual leave. My weapon is secured at my place of residence.”
The rent-a-cops began to ask him the usual stuff: Had he been drinking? Was he on medication?
like a guy who had been drinking or was on medication?
In the back of his mind, Taylor could hear Will cautioning him to be cool, to play the game, so he bit back his immediate retort. He knew the ritual was partly departmental flexing of muscles and partly the fact that these jokers considered snagging a pair of nail scissors off an old lady a coup for law enforcement.
Another uniform joined the crowd surrounding Taylor. “He checks out.”
“Sorry for the hassle, but we have to follow procedure,” the Great Pumpkin told Taylor. “You know how it is.”