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Authors: Stuart Woods

Tags: #Mystery, #Thriller, #Suspense

Shoot Him if He Runs (4 page)

BOOK: Shoot Him if He Runs
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“Are you going to be able to recognize Teddy Fay?” Stone asked. “You’ve met him twice, is that right?”

“Sort of. The first time I met him at the opera, and he invited me to sit with him; since he had better seats than I did, I accepted. Problem was, he was well disguised. Second time, I’m not even sure it was him; it was an old man on crutches, with one leg.”

“Since there are no photographs, do you have any idea what he looks like?”

“He’s about six feet tall, slender, balding or bald. We had a sketch done with the help of people in Tech Services who had worked with him.” She fumbled in a large handbag and handed him a sheet of paper.

Stone looked at the face. “This looks like Larry David from the HBO TV show.”

“Everybody says that, so it must be true. He’s pretty bland-looking, so he disguises easily, and he’s good at it.”

“Is he likely to go armed?”

“I’ve no idea, but he certainly knows how to use—even build—weapons of all sorts.”

Dino and Genevieve looked at the drawing. “I’ve seen this before,” Dino said. “I doubt if it’s worth the paper it’s drawn on.”

“There’s something else you both need to know,” Holly said. “Every time we’ve gotten close to him, Teddy has always had a well-planned escape route. Expect him to be slippery.”

“How about Irene?” Stone said. “Is she going to be difficult to deal with?”

Holly dug out a photograph of a handsome woman, apparently in her early fifties, her brown hair streaked with gray. “She was an agency drone for a long time, working her way steadily up the ladder.”

“Do you know her?”

“I think I passed her once in a hallway at Langley,” Holly replied.

“Any chance she’ll recognize you? Or will Teddy, for that matter?”

“Stone,
you
didn’t recognize me, until I spoke to you.”

“Touché,” Stone said. “Will Teddy recognize your voice?”

“I don’t think there’s anything all that distinctive about my voice, do you?”

“I suppose not,” Stone said.

“For what it’s worth,” Dino said, “I didn’t recognize her either, even when she spoke to me.”

“The transformation is remarkable,” Stone said. “Like two different women.”

“For better or worse?” Holly asked archly.

“They’re both gorgeous,” Stone replied, diplomatically.

“I could get used to this,” Genevieve said waving an arm at the airplane’s interior.

“Don’t,” Dino replied. “Stone’s airplane isn’t as nice as this, and I can’t afford the rental on jets.”

“I’m going to get used to it, anyway,” she said, putting her head back and closing her eyes.

The pilot’s voice came through an overhead speaker. “Ladies and gentlemen,” he said, “we’re at our cruising altitude of forty-one thousand feet, making a little over four hundred knots. We’ll arrive at St. Marks in three hours and forty-one minutes. The toilet is forward, if you need it; please remember to close the curtain.”

“What’s the cabin altitude?” Stone asked.

“A thousand feet,” the pilot replied. “The pressurization is very good.”

Stone picked up a magazine and read until he was drowsy, then he napped. He was awakened by the pilot’s voice in his head.

“Landing at St. Marks in five minutes,” he said.

In exactly five minutes, Stone felt the airplane touch softly down. A couple of minutes later they taxied to a stop, and the pilot shut down the engines and opened the door, which was forward of the wing, then he went back to the cockpit for something.

Stone was first off the airplane, and he found himself facing half a dozen uniformed police officers, all black, pointing guns at him.

“Get on the ground,” a man in plain clothes and sunglasses said.

“What?” Stone asked.


Get on the ground!
” There was the sound of guns being racked.

Stone got on the ground.

6

S
tone heard the others being ordered down, then he felt cold steel pressed against the back of his neck.

“Identify yourself,” a voice said.

Stone was about to do that when he heard a car screech to a halt and the door open and slam. “Stop that!” a man’s deep voice commanded.

The barrel of the weapon left Stone’s neck.

“Help them up,” the driver of the car said.

Someone put a hand under Stone’s elbow and helped him to his feet, along with the others.

“These people are my guests.”

Stone turned and saw Thomas Hardy walking toward him, smiling, his hand out.

“Thomas, I’m very glad to see you,” Stone said.

Thomas shook his hand and gave him a hug. “Let’s get your luggage into the car,” he said.

The policeman wearing dark glasses stepped up. “I require to see their passports,” he said.

“Of course, captain,” Thomas said. “Stone?”

Everyone produced a passport and handed it over. The captain motioned to a policeman who ran over and made a desk of his back while the captain stamped each passport, then handed them back to their owners. “My apologies,” he said, then with a wave for his troops to follow, walked away toward the small terminal.

“Thomas, let me introduce my friends: this is Dino Bacchetti, who used to be my NYPD partner; his girlfriend, Genevieve James; and my friend, Holly Barker.” He felt an elbow in his ribs. “Oh, uh, I’m sorry, this is Ginny Heller.”

“I’m very pleased to meet you all,” Thomas said. “Hop in, and I’ll drive you to the inn.” He leaned close to Stone’s ear. “Stone, you’d best learn the names of your women.”

“Right,” Stone whispered back. “I’ll explain later.”

The pilot finished loading the luggage into a Volvo station wagon. “Contact Mr. Cabot when you need me,” he said to Stone, “and on the way home you can fly right seat. That was my first solo flight in this airplane, and I didn’t want any witnesses.”

“Great job,” Stone said. Thomas started the car, and they drove away. “What was that all about, Thomas?” Stone asked.

“You’ll find that things have changed a bit in St. Marks,” Thomas said. “Since Sir Winston Sutherland became prime minister, the police take a greater interest in everyone than they once did.”

“It can’t be very good for tourism to do that to everybody who arrives.”

“No, it’s not, but they don’t bother the folks on commercial flights quite as much. They tend to look at every private airplane as a conveyer of drugs, and there is no faster way to get in trouble on this island than to possess illegal drugs.”

“Well, thanks for your help.”

“You’ll find things quite different at the English Harbour Inn, too. I’m a member of Parliament now, and I’ve prospered since the advent of Sir Winston, mostly because he likes my conch chowder, and, of course, because I pay him well under the table. I was allowed to buy some beachfront property from the government that’s adjacent to my own, and I’ve built a dozen cottages. You’re all in the nicest of them, and you’ll have your own housekeeper and butler.”

“Sounds wonderful.”

“I bought the marina, too, and I’ve made improvements. You can even get wireless Internet on your yacht these days. The restaurant has been enlarged, and I got a new chef from England last year. I also started a liquor distribution company, so the wines are better than when you were last here.”

“Sounds like the advent of Sir Winston has brought all sorts of improvements.”

“He hasn’t been all bad,” Thomas said. “I’ve never learned to like the man, but he’s cracked down on crime, the roads have been improved, and the national income from tourism is up and headed higher, I think.”

“What’s the downside of Sir Winston?”

Thomas shrugged. “The payoffs are higher than with the last PM, but then so are the profits, and the police are more…observant of the citizens.” Thomas nodded toward the island’s central mountain in the distance; its top was shrouded in fog. “The old man is wearing his gray hair today,” he said. “Did you ever go to up to the top of Black Mountain?”

“No, I seemed to spend most of my time in a courtroom last time.”

“Ah, yes,” Thomas said, smiling. “I read about the exploits of the lovely Allison and her evil husband in Palm Beach a couple of years ago. They’ve been put away, I believe.”

“That’s so, and I’m glad to have had a hand in it. I had dinner with the president of the United States last night, and he told me that she requests a pardon every year.”

Thomas looked amazed. “You had dinner with the president?”

“Along with about three hundred other people,” Stone said, “but I did get to chat with him for a couple of minutes.”

“You’re coming up in the world, Stone.”

“Not really; it was my first White House dinner, and I expect it will be my last.”

Thomas turned through a pair of large stone gateposts with a brass plaque bearing the legend “English Harbour Inn,” and below that another plaque identifying the inn as a Relais de Campagne hotel.

“You got in the Relais? You’re coming up in the world, too.” The Relais was an international organization of luxury hotels and country inns and restaurants.

“Well, at least I didn’t have to bribe anybody,” Thomas said. “I applied, they showed up and inspected the place, and I got that little plaque for my gate.”

“You didn’t even have a gate last time I was here.”

Thomas laughed and turned off the main drive onto a smaller road. A moment later he stopped the car beside a stone cottage with a roof of palm thatch. The sea lapped against a powdery white beach a few yards away. “Here we are,” he said.

A man wearing a white cotton jacket and a black bow tie materialized next to the car and opened the doors.

“This is Jacob Marlow, your butler,” Thomas said. He nodded at a plump woman in a white dress, standing in the doorway of the cottage. “And that is Hilda, his wife, who will help take care of you. I’ve booked a table for you in the restaurant at eight; I’ll see you then.” Thomas shook Stone’s hand, got in the car and drove away.

The cottage consisted of a large, comfortably furnished living room with a well-stocked bar in one corner and two bedrooms, en suite. There was also a small, book-lined study with a desk and a sofa. Ceiling fans kept the air moving, and air conditioning seemed unnecessary. A large flat-screen television set was built into a wall unit in the living room, and each bedroom had a smaller set.

“Mr. Barrington, would you and your guests like a drink before Hilda and I unpack for you?”

“Thank you, Jacob, you go ahead, and I’ll do the drinks.”

“Would you like something pressed?”

“The blue blazer and the white linen trousers,” Stone asked.

Jacob took similar instructions from the others, then dematerialized.

Stone went to the bar, made a batch of vodka gimlets and served them from a tray. Everyone relaxed.

“Well,” Genevieve said, “I don’t know about the rest of you, but I’m glad I came.” She gave Dino a kiss.

“I’ll drink to that,” Holly/Ginny said, raising her glass. “And here’s to Stone remembering my name.”

As they took their first sips of their gimlets two gunshots rang out, at a not very great distance. Holly started to get to her feet, but Stone stopped her.

“Holly, never run
toward
gunfire, unless you’re the police, and you are no longer the police.”

They continued to sip their drinks, but the mood had changed.

7

A
t seven-thirty they walked up to the main building and into the open-air restaurant. A long bar occupied one side of the room, and a steel band was playing at one end of it. Stone estimated there were about fifty tables in the restaurant, and three-quarters of them were already full.

They were having a drink at the bar when there was a stir in the room and Stone looked toward the door to see Sir Winston Sutherland, clad in his usual white linen suit, enter, accompanied by his wife. He was halfway to his table when he spotted Stone. He seated his wife, then walked back toward the bar, a small smile on his face. “Ah, Mr. Barrington,” he said, “welcome back to St. Marks.”

“Thank you, Sir Winston, or I should say, Prime Minister. Congratulations on your election.”

“Thank you, Mr. Barrington. We are glad to have the opportunity to apologize to you for the treatment you received at the airport this afternoon.”

“I confess I was surprised; I thought there might be hard feelings left over from our courtroom appearance together some years ago.”

“Certainly not; your conduct was professional at all times, at least when you were wearing the robes and wig. Though it seems we were right about the lovely Allison, after all.”

“Well, you weren’t right about her murdering her husband, but I must admit you were a better judge of her character than I. She had me fooled, but not you.”

Sir Winston beamed.

“May I introduce my friends? Mr. Bacchetti, Ms. James, Ms. Heller.”

Sir Winston shook their hands. “We welcome all of you to St. Marks and wish you a most pleasant stay. Now, if you will excuse us.” He returned to his wife at their table.

“He was very cordial,” said Thomas, who had walked up behind the bar.

“Surprisingly so,” Stone said.

“You notice he has adopted the regal first person plural, instead of the more democratic first person singular?”

“I did notice that,” Stone said. “I would have thought that more appropriate for a king than for a prime minister.”

“Quite so,” Thomas replied, “but Winston tends to blur the line between the two. Your table is ready; will you follow me?” He stepped from behind the bar and led them to a table in a sort of gazebo in one corner of the dining room, with a fine view of the sea in the medium distance. “Will you allow me to order for you?” Thomas asked.

“Thank you, Thomas; we’d like that,” Stone replied.

Another round of gimlets arrived.

“I have a feeling,” Genevieve said, “that by the time we leave here I will be thoroughly pickled in vodka gimlets.”

“Just think of them as a preservative,” Dino said.

The steel band was replaced by a pianist and a bass player, who played soft jazz and ballads through the evening.

A first course of conch chowder arrived, followed by an enormous paella, made from local seafood. After dessert, Thomas brought them a pot of espresso and a bottle of good cognac and they invited him to pull up a chair. Dino and Genevieve repaired to the dance floor, and Thomas poured them all a brandy.

BOOK: Shoot Him if He Runs
2.88Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
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