Divide & conquer, p.36
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       Divide & Conquer, p.36
 

         Part #4 of Cut & Run series by Abigail Roux
Page 36

 

  Ty smoothed his hand over Zanes chest and hummed. “I know which one will work. ” He handed Zane his cover and stepped aside, heading for Zanes bedroom.

  Zane spun the cover between his hands as he watched Ty move into the next room. He walked differently, Zane noted. Taller, his shoulders more squared, steps more measured, with a gravity Ty normally shrugged off. It was more than a subtle change, one that oddly seemed to suit him.

  Some people were born to be Marines. Ty was one of them. Suddenly it struck Zane as a tragedy that Ty was no longer in the Corps. The hint of melancholy he had noticed in Tys eyes upon occasion made perfect sense now, and the realization settled unhappily in the pit of Zanes stomach. Ty had been happy in the Marines. He had to miss it.

  Ty came back a moment later, holding a narrow black tie with silver squares and charcoal gray lines between them. It was one of Tys, and the corners of Zanes mouth curled up, because he probably had ten or twelve different ties of his own in the drawer. At least one a month got ruined between work and Tys lack of patience at the end of a long workday. “Okay,” he agreed, holding out one hand.

  Ty shook his head, sliding his fingers down the expensive silk of the tie. Ty didnt dress to impress all that often, but when he did, he went for broke. He raised the tie and wrapped it around Zanes neck, looking him in the eye with a smile. “Turn around. Ill tie it. ”

  Zane half rolled his eyes but turned around as instructed, facing the island countertop. He loved it when Ty did this. Ty slid his hands under Zanes arms, having to press hard against his back to reach the tie. His fingers were quick and sure as he tied it, and Zane could feel his nose and chin pressing down against the back of his shoulder. When he had it tied, he stepped back and tugged at Zane to turn, then smoothed the tie out and straightened it. Finally he gave a nod of satisfaction.

  “Do I pass inspection?” Zane asked.

  “Itll do,” Ty answered as he looked Zane up and down. He took his cover from Zane and tucked it back under his arm. “You ready?” “No,” Zane said honestly. “But its time to go anyway. ” Ty patted his cheek sympathetically. The entire department was in mourning, but Zane had been the last person to see Reeves conscious, in the store just before the bomb went off. It had left Zane shaken once hed remembered.

  The funeral was going to be a huge public spectacle: the big Bureau and law enforcement turnout, the irresistible PR opportunity, and—because there was no realistic way to keep the press out— cameras everywhere. Zane was trying not to think too much about the very real possibility of the funeral itself being a target.

  “Lets get this over with, then,” Ty muttered. His eyes were a deep green, trending toward blue today, and though the uniform seemed to do something spectacular to his bearing, the air around him felt worn thin and stretched. Not for the first time, Zane found himself worrying about Tys general well-being.

  His partner wasnt right, and Zane didnt know what to do to help him. He turned and headed for the door while Zane shrugged into his heavy woolen coat. Zane double-checked his wallet, badge, phone, and firearm, and followed Ty out.

  T HE gravesite lay beneath a copse of giant oak trees. It would be well shaded in the summer, but for now the bare branches reached up to the heavily clouded sky. Green Mount was a beautiful cemetery of great historical significance, filled with monuments and mausoleums that lent a solemn air to that beauty. Even now, in the dead of winter, the grass was green and wet, shining dully against the uneven paths of gray pavers. Tombstones and statues too numerous to count stood vigil over the graves, marble and weathered rock figures that peopled the cemetery when no other living soul was present.

  The pallbearers moved silently into the crowd after carefully setting Lydia Reeves flag-draped casket just so, and the minister began speaking. Zane noted distantly that the man had a good speaking voice; it carried out over the tidy gravesite to the family under the green awning as well as the crowd standing in small clusters amidst the other headstones and monuments. He estimated at least a hundred present, many from the Bureau, and then assorted friends and family who gathered closer to the family for the service. The press had been surprisingly considerate so far, not approaching the family or any attendees, standing to the side, only a couple of digital video cameras running silently.

  The minister didnt speak long. He nodded to a woman standing nearby, she read the twenty-third Psalm, and then the gathered lowered their heads for a final prayer. At the amen, the bagpipes, positioned discreetly to the far side of the crowd, wheezed to life, and Zane couldnt repress a shiver as the player began the traditional “Amazing Grace. ” Two servicemen in dress uniforms, agents Zane recognized from work, moved to lift and fold the American flag.

  Movement from Ty drew Zanes eyes, and when he glanced to his side at Ty, a sudden and unexpected thrill ran through him. Ty had come to attention, body taut in a smart salute. His jaw was tight and his eyes were unreadable, staring ahead from the shadow of his white cover. He stood straight and tall, every ounce of him perfect and rigid, the bright colors and harsh white of his uniform in sharp contrast to the washed-out sepia of the day. Zane didnt think hed ever seen anything more incredible and heart-wrenching than Ty right then. The bagpipes played on, a soundtrack to the very picture of self-sacrifice and loyalty.

  Zanes thoughts inexplicably landed on Elias Sanchez, a man hed never met, a member of Tys Marine Recon team who had also joined the Bureau. Sanchez had died in the line of duty, murdered by a fellow agent turned serial killer. Sanchez would have had a funeral like this, with the honor guard and the gun salute, with men and women in pristine uniforms standing in silent respect for the dead. As Ty stood now. How many times had Ty done this, said goodbye to a fallen comrade in that uniform?

  Zane dropped his gaze, giving his partner what modicum of privacy was possible. He didnt need to continue staring. The sight would be forever burned in his memory.

  He blinked when movement from his far right caught his attention. Hed been without his sight long enough that he was still overreacting to quick, unexpected movements. This was out of place, hurried, and he turned his chin to look.

  A young man, late teens, Zane suspected, with messily styled blond hair, was pushing his way through the crowd, obviously searching for someone in particular. The music covered any noise he was making. The kid stopped to speak to a woman, who looked around, made eye contact with Zane, and pointed right at him. Zane blinked as the kid made a beeline for him. He was fairly sure hed never seen the young man before.

  Zane was aware of a change in Ty, as if hed sensed Zanes attention, but he didnt move, still saluting the flag as it was folded. Zane glanced at him, then watched the kid fumble toward them.

  He walked right up to Zane like he knew him. Zane had to lean over a little to hear him over the bagpipes and the people who had started singing. “You have to get everyone out of here. Pierce is crazy,” the kid said, practically hyperventilating, “and hes coming with a bomb. ”

  Zane stared at him hard for a few heartbeats, then turned to see if Ty had heard. Ty met his eyes, hand dropping as if in slow motion, body already tensing and gears already turning—he was trying to decide the best way to sound the alarm without causing a mass panic, and Zane wasnt sure it would be possible.

  “Do you know where he is?” Zane asked the boy. If this kid knew Zane and had a connection to Pierce, the chance of this being legit was way too high.

  “No, I got out just before him. I couldnt let him do it. ” The kid looked about to break into tears. “But I couldnt stop him. I was afraid. ” Zane grasped his shoulder for a moment before turning to Ty.

  “The families?” Zane bit off, noting that the agents gathered around them had focused on the disturbance. Ty turned and whispered to the man beside him, then moved to speak to another, trying to get word around quickly. Then a commotion broke out on the other side of the crowd.

  “Its him,” the kid
said, pointing, voice high with terror. With his height, Zane saw over crowds better than most, and he zeroed in on a person pushing through the civilians gathered by the family under the awning. Zane didnt wait.

  “Bomb! Down!” he yelled harshly, trying to shove through the crowd while pulling his Glock and focusing on the young man he recognized as Pierce Sutton.

  His words were met with complete stasis. For crucial seconds, no one moved. No one seemed to comprehend. Then time kicked into fast forward, and the panic and comprehension crashed through the crowd on a wave as agents pulled their weapons and people hit the ground.

  Zane stopped and raised his gun. Pierce bulled his way toward the casket, clambered up on the side rail to snatch the tightly folded American flag in one hand, and he waved it around, his face twisted into a snarl, before throwing it to the ground and jumping off the casket to land on it with two booted feet.

  “Son of a bitch!” Ty growled from beside Zane. Zane saw his chance as Pierce deliberately reached into his trenchcoat: the civilians had cleared out, the minister ducked behind a nearby oak tree, and he had a few seconds for a clear shot.

  He wasnt the only one who took it. A volley of bullets tore into Pierce Sutton before he could utter a word, sending his body jerking like a puppet on slashed strings to the ground.

  Time slowed. Silence reigned again. Several heartbeats, and then the frozen tableau broke. Civilians milled about in confusion, and Bureau agents fanned out and around the gravesite, checking for further threats as the family gathered together, most of them sobbing angrily.

  As another agent needlessly checked for a pulse, Zane stopped to stand next to the body of the young man who had masterminded bank robberies amounting to hundreds of thousands of dollars in losses, deliberately promoted ill will and hatred in the city, and caused tens of millions of dollars in damages and destroyed property in four separate bombings that had also resulted in scores of injuries and three deaths.

  When Lydia Reeves had died, Pierce Sutton had become a dead man walking. Zane holstered his gun as people started drifting closer. The cacophony that utterly destroyed the quiet peace of the cemetery was giving him a headache. Hed noticed that being blind had by necessity sharpened his hearing, and now he was paying for it. Children sobbing, raised and nervous voices chattering, law enforcement vehicles arriving with sirens on, Bureau agents yelling out perimeter checks, and to top it off, an unexpected boom of thunder echoing from the roiling clouds overhead.

  Ty stopped beside him, then bent down to pluck the flag from under the dead kids foot. “Crime scene, Grady,” someone reminded breathlessly. “Dont care,” Ty shot back as he saved the flag.

  Zane was pinching the bridge of his nose, trying to ward off the pain, when he heard a nagging sound that didnt fit. Frowning, he looked around for a cart or machine nearby. He wasnt wearing a watch. But he could just barely hear a measured clicking.

  Zanes chest seized, and he looked down at the body as Ty rescued the flag. A flash of metal mostly covered by the trenchcoat caught his eye, and a streak of pure fear burned through him as he saw a wireless timing mechanism with a tiny red blinking light in Pierces lifeless hand.

  Ticking. Zane could hear ticking. He dropped to one knee, yanked at the coat to uncover the hand holding the timer, then hurriedly patted down the trench until his fingers hit something hard, a bulge at the waistband. He jerked the thick sweatshirt up. For once, Zane didnt stop to consider his options or think through scenarios or figure the percentages.

  He grabbed the ticking bomb, yanking it from its duct tape, and ran. People and tombstones alike created an obstacle course as Zane tried to get away from the gravesite, weaving through the gathered, shoving some aside, almost ramming into a monument taller and wider than he was as he dodged a small child. There, maybe thirty yards away, stood an ancient mausoleum, its stone walls heavy and thick, hopefully enough to contain the blast from the welded and duct tapewrapped box he clutched against his chest. Finally he broke free of the crowd and, distantly aware of people calling after him, charged the mausoleum doors, ramming into one with his shoulder. He practically slid inside on the pavers smoothed by almost two centuries of foot traffic.

  Zane didnt know how much time he had. But as he ran through the deeply shadowed building, past marble crypts and statues, he spared a prayer of thanks that he had at least gotten away from the families and children.

  He skidded to a stop and turned into a small room at the back of the mausoleum. Without any traction, he thudded painfully into a wall, but he shoved the box behind the last stone coffin and turned on his heel, his heart thundering in his ears as he slung himself through the doorway and ran.

  The dim gray light seeping in from the front doors beckoned to him, and he was a few rooms away—a bare thirty yards—when a shadow rammed into him from the side, sending him sprawling painfully hard into a marble sarcophagus and down to the floor.

  Ty grunted his name and held up the flashing red device, then began dragging Zane by his collar across the smooth stone floor until they huddled behind a substantial stone vault. Ty shook against him, adrenaline obviously fueling him, and he held the flashing thing up again.

  0:01.

  0:00.

  Zane covered his head and Tys as the explosion echoed through the mausoleum. It wasnt a loud, crashing cacophony. It was more a thud deep in their chests and a rush of fetid air from the depths of the mausoleum. The air reverberated with the blast; then all was silent.

  Ty raised his head and looked around. “That wasnt so bad,” he gasped out. A deep rumbling answered his words. From the back of the mausoleum came another rush of air, and all around them, the structure trembled and groaned. A stone lintel crashed to the floor, followed by another. Then another.

  Zane grabbed Tys arm and pulled him down again, covering their heads as the collapse sent broken stone flying and blew out the archways, showering them with a hard rain of driving sand and jagged chunks of marble. The light was snuffed out as the ancient building foundered and collapsed around them.
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