When i found you, p.11
When I Found You, p.11Kate James
Wow! She must be overtired, or overworked, she reasoned. She didn’t fall for guys that easily, especially when they worked together and when they had a reputation like Logan’s.
Overtired for sure. She shook her head and called up the plan of the airport on her computer. She had a lot of possibilities to consider, and hopefully she’d come up with some answers.
LOGAN SAT IN his office making his way through the paperwork that had piled up over the last few days.
“Got a minute?” Shannon Clemens asked him from the doorway of his office.
“Of course.” He motioned for her to enter and slid the papers he’d been reading away from him. “What’s up?”
“One of the explosive ordnance disposal guys came by while you were out. They have the results of the tests of the IEDs that went off at San Diego International.”
He gestured for her to take a seat. “And?”
“Here’s the report.” She passed a stapled document to him. “The EOD tech explained that the gist of it is that the first IED was on a timer. Small amount of explosives. In his estimation, not intended to do much damage. He said that generally that sort of device is used to draw attention rather than injure.”
“And the second one?”
“It was different.”
“How so?” Logan thought of Ariana so close to that IED, and his blood ran cold. Try as he might, he couldn’t shake his feelings for her.
“It had more explosive material and it wasn’t on a timer.”
“Was it triggered by a cell phone?” That was most likely. If that’s what it was, it meant that the person responsible had controlled when it went off...and who was in its vicinity. It also meant he’d probably been close by, within sight. He’d been there...
“Yeah.” Shannon nodded. “Why would he have done that?”
“Why do you think?” Shannon didn’t know explosives well, but she was smart and a quick learner. She’d been at the scene with him and Rick, and Logan wanted to see if she would come to the same conclusion he had.
She didn’t take long to respond. “Triggering explosives by remote—a cell phone in this case—would mean that whoever was doing it wanted to decide when it went off. I know that’s stating the obvious,” she was quick to add. “But to me that means that he was targeting someone specifically. Maybe a passenger. It makes it unlikely to be an act of terrorism, in my opinion, if it’s directed at a specific person. If it’s personal, an ex-partner or a business associate might make sense.”
Shannon’s eyes rounded.
“What?” He didn’t have time for games, but she was obviously distressed.
“I was in the other terminal when the bomb went off. I know there were injuries. I heard that three passengers and the head of security for the airport were hurt.”
“Go on,” Logan prompted when she fell silent.
Her shoulders slumped “I was just thinking about Jeff...having been shot by the cartel,” she said, referring to a former K-9 Unit officer who’d been killed in the line of duty less than a year ago. “I wondered if it was possible that one of the injured was targeted...or maybe a police officer who might have been close by.”
“No. I don’t believe so,” he said slowly, thinking of Ariana. “The outcome doesn’t corroborate it. As for targeting an officer, none of us were nearby. It’s a good point, though, and we’re looking into possible motives. As for the rest, yeah, you’re right about the use of a cell trigger.” What Logan didn’t say was that although three passengers were hurt—and he was digging into their backgrounds—the person closest to the IED when it had gone off was Ariana. Was it possible that she’d been targeted? And if so, why?
“Other noteworthy points are,” Shannon continued, “that although the second device contained more explosive material, neither had enough to cause large-scale harm in a facility the size of the airport. Neither device was a crude pipe bomb. He knew what he was doing.”
“No. That sums up the highlights.”
“Well done. Thanks, Shannon.”
Shannon rose to leave, but stopped at the door. “Uh, actually do you have another minute? I’d like to ask you something.”
Logan glanced up. “Sure.”
Shannon walked back in and sat again. “It’s about Darwin...or maybe me...I’m not certain.”
It wasn’t like Shannon to get flustered. “Go on,” he encouraged.
“The day we were at the airport, doing the search for explosive devices?”
“Well, when Rick and Nitro were leaving, Rick asked me to continue to search—essentially redo an area as a training exercise for me and Darwin.”
“I’m aware of that.”
“I don’t know if it was me or something else set Darwin off, but he wouldn’t leave a room that Rick and Nitro had already cleared for explosives,” she rushed on. “Rick and Nitro are...well, they don’t make mistakes...or miss a thing. But I couldn’t get Darwin away from what I was told was a lost baggage secure storage area. So, to be on the safe side, I called one of the EOD techs over to check for me to make sure there really wasn’t an explosive device in there.”
Logan didn’t know where Shannon was going with this, but he was concerned and not happy that this was the first he was hearing about it.
“Anyway, the tech got a security guard to open the door for us. Actually, it wasn’t security, because his key didn’t work so, since it was a baggage storage area, one of the baggage handlers’ supervisors let us in. It was what they said it was. The room was filled with boxes of a variety of sizes and a few suitcases. The EOD tech checked it all and there was no indication of any trace explosives.”
“The dogs aren’t perfect, Shannon. I’d rather have a false positive than the other way around. Besides, Darwin is still in training.”
“Yes, but it got me thinking. We all know how much more accurate dogs are than the trace detectors. And Darwin was definitely alerting. So I didn’t know if it was something I did wrong or maybe there’s a problem with how we’re training Darwin.”
Shannon was good and all the reports he’d received so far stated that Darwin’s training was coming along well. He was excelling. Although they hadn’t settled on the dog’s specialization yet, Logan was leaning toward explosives. What Shannon was saying surprised him, as Darwin had been showing high levels of detection accuracy. Still—as he’d said to her—Darwin was in training.
“I don’t think it’s you, Shannon,” he reassured her. “You said there were mostly boxes in the storage area?”
“Did anything appear out of the ordinary to you?” Logan wondered if maybe the perpetrator had stored his explosives materials in that area, but then why didn’t the trace detectors pick it up? Was it the accuracy issue associated with the equipment?
“No. If it had, I would have reported it to you right away. The tech said Darwin might have been overzealous, with the excitement of the day, everyone on edge and all.” Shannon glanced down at her hands in her lap. “That bothered me, because Darwin is such a good dog. So, after the tech left us, I opened a couple of the boxes, just to be certain. There were some electronics equipment, canned goods and stuff like that.”
The mention of electronics equipment sent up a flag for Logan. He wondered if the equipment could be related to the explosives mechanism. “How did Darwin react?”
“He didn’t seem interested in what was in the boxes. More the room in general. Any idea why?”
Logan shook his head. “No. You did the right thing telling me about it, Shannon. I don’t think you or Darwin missed anything, but I want to go out there with you and have a look.” He
“We’ll take Boomer and Darwin with us, and see what they tell us.”
She nodded and gave him a relieved smile, before rising again.
As soon as Shannon left his office, Logan started reading the report on the explosions. She’d covered all the salient points, and he didn’t like the implication.
They’d have to accelerate the background checks for the injured passengers.
Logan kicked around the idea of Ariana being the target, but it made no sense. What possible motive could there have been in that? He’d ask her if she was aware of anyone who might have it in for her. He didn’t think that was likely. She’d been in the wrong place at the wrong time. That was all.
As he was about to put the report aside, a concluding comment captured his interest. The blue residue on the bottom of the note paper was printer cartridge powder.
What did that mean?
He’d used a defective printer to generate his note?
The type on the note had been black. The residue was blue. He’d see if they could determine the type of printer and cartridge based on the residue. It was probably a waste of time, but he had to follow up on all possible leads.
* * *
DESPITE SPENDING MOST of the night going over all the possibilities, Ariana hadn’t been able to come up with any plausible ideas as to how her access card had been compromised or how the explosives had gotten into the secure area of the airport. She’d been advised that morning that the FBI special agents had satisfied themselves that it wasn’t coordinated terrorism or a matter of national security. The impact had been too small and no group had claimed responsibility. Other than the note they’d found taped to the underside of the chair, there’d been no indication of further incidents. The feds relinquished their leadership role to the SDPD. They could be called in anytime and would attend briefings, but it was now up to Logan and his team.
FSD Stewart wasn’t pleased about the turn of events. It was obvious that he would have preferred to call the shots.
Both airport security and police presence would remain at heightened levels for the time being. TSA was adding extra personnel, too, but security clearance lines grew longer with the added scrutiny applied to all passengers.
Calvin was furious about that, because it impacted passenger flows. Ariana had just finished a tense meeting with him—not the way she liked to start her mornings. He’d questioned—grilled was more accurate—her at length about how long the extra precautions would be in place. He hated inconveniencing passengers any more than they had to be. Unhappy passengers spent less money shopping, resulting in lower revenues for the airport, causing further budget pressures.
Ariana tried to focus on the positive as she left Calvin’s office. They’d been fortunate to avoid serious injuries and fatalities. All three impacted passengers had sustained minor injuries only. She glanced at the splint on her finger. As much as it made it awkward for her to do normal tasks, such as type, she’d been lucky, too. And bless Molly for her mastery with communication to have been able to manage the flurry of media attention effectively. Airport operations were back to normal, at least on the surface.
Ariana sighed. She hoped her relationships with Calvin and Ralph would regain their equilibrium, as well.
As for Logan? They had limited opportunity to be alone together, yet every time she saw him, her heart rate accelerated.
Ariana’s head and heart were in two very different places where Logan was concerned, and she didn’t know what to do about it. She hoped she wouldn’t have to see much more of him unless she could figure out what it was that was between them...if anything.
But Logan was the least of Ariana’s worries. Her feeling of guilt that the breaches in security were a personal failure persisted. Even her CEO and the board of directors seemed to think she’d failed. She didn’t want to contemplate another incident for which she felt personally responsible, as she did with Bryan Carpenter.
With those concerns circling in her mind, Ariana was on her way to her office when her cell phone rang. Seeing Max’s name on caller ID, she answered without slowing her pace. “Any news?”
“Not the kind you’re hoping for.”
She held back a sigh. “What now?”
“Where are you?”
“Terminal 1, passenger concourse.” She glanced up. “Near Gate 15.”
“Can you come to Terminal 2?”
“Of course.” She didn’t like how cryptic Max was being. “Why?”
“O’Connor and Clemens are on their way with their dogs.”
“Why?” she repeated.
“He didn’t say. All he said was that they wanted to have access to the Terminal 2 baggage claim area. He tried calling you, but your phone went direct to voice mail.”
Now she did sigh heavily. “I was with Calvin.” Instead of turning down the corridor leading to her office, she headed in the opposite direction. “I’ll see you shortly.”
* * *
LOGAN AND SHANNON arrived with their dogs at Terminal 2 shortly after ten o’clock. Logan had called Ariana on the way. When his call went directly to voice mail, he called her office number and pressed zero for her assistant. She told him Ariana was in a meeting and put him through to Max. It was probably for the best, Logan thought. With two dogs with them and Darwin still on the rambunctious side because of his youth, Ariana wouldn’t have been comfortable.
Max met them in the terminal.
“Can you tell me what this is about?” he asked.
“I’m not sure. It’s probably nothing. Darwin alerted to something in a storage area. He’s young and still in training, but I didn’t want to disregard it. Shannon can show us where it is.”
They rode the escalator down to the baggage claim area and followed Shannon to the storage room in question. Logan watched Darwin carefully to see if he’d alert, but there was no visible reaction as they neared. “Did you direct him to search?”
“Well, we were searching but I didn’t give him a specific command.”
“Give him the command now.”
She did and when they reached the room, Darwin sniffed under the door, but with only a mild level of interest. Soon he started off to continue his search.
“Okay. Call him back,” Logan said to Shannon. “Max, can you unlock the door for us, please?”
“Of course.” He tried his master key but it didn’t work. He checked the key, seemed to satisfy himself that it was the correct one and tried again with the same result.
“Why isn’t the room on card access?” Logan asked.
Max glanced at him, still trying to figure out what was going on with the lock. “Hmm...it’s just a storage space for lost or unclaimed baggage.” He pulled out his cell phone and dialed a number. “Hey, Aaron. Can you unlock a baggage storage room door for me in Terminal 2 by domestic baggage claim or send someone to do it?” He paused. “Yeah. I’d appreciate it.” He holstered his phone. “One of the supervisors from baggage handling is on his way to open it for us.”
It took only a few minutes until they saw a lanky man in blue coveralls striding their way.
“Thanks for coming, Aaron,” Max said to him.
Aaron unlocked the door and swung it open.
Logan stared into the nearly empty space. From what Shannon had told him, he expected the room to be packed with cartons and boxes. Less than a dozen suitcases were in there now, and that was it. He glanced at Shannon. Her surprise was evident and she shook her head at him. “This isn’t the way the room was when I saw it. It was full.”
“This room is used as secure storage for lost or unclaimed bags, until we can reconnect them with their owners,” Aaron explained. “The number of items in here will vary day to day,
“What about cartons or boxes?”
“Yeah, they can end up here, too, say as part of an unclaimed shipment of goods.”
Logan nodded slowly. “Okay, Shannon, send Darwin in to search.”
She instructed her dog and he ran into the room and headed directly to a couple of suitcases. Rather than focusing on the bags, he sniffed under them, repeatedly nudging one. It was an older bag without wheels and since it didn’t move readily, Logan assumed it was heavy. Darwin persisted until he’d pushed it a few inches from where it had been, revealing small, dark-brown objects that had been beneath it.
Logan directed Darwin to cease and sit. When he didn’t immediately obey, he stepped in and grabbed the dog’s collar and handed him to Shannon to put him back on his leash.
In response to the uncertain expression on Shannon’s face, Logan said, “Go ahead and praise him. He did well.”
As Shannon happily obliged, Logan bent down to inspect the objects Darwin had revealed. He lifted the suitcase out of the way and pulled an evidence bag from his pocket.
Shannon approached with Darwin beside her. “What did he find?”
“Coffee beans.” He crouched down and scooped a half dozen of them into an evidence bag.
Aaron stepped up behind him. “Huh. Ah...we must’ve had a shipment of coffee in here, and the packaging must have torn.” He turned to Max. “I’ll get the room cleaned up ASAP.”
Logan wasn’t so sure. Coffee beans were often used to mask other smells to confuse detection dogs. The strong, pleasant aroma could be effective at throwing dogs off the trail of the primary scent they were following. He sent Boomer in. If the perpetrator had hidden in the room or stored any explosive materials in there, Boomer was skilled enough to pick it up even with the passage of time. Similar to Darwin, Boomer did a thorough sweep but found nothing.
“Why is this door not keyed to your master?” Logan asked Max as he reattached Boomer’s leash to his collar.
When I Found You by Kate James / History & Fiction have rating 4 out of 5 / Based on32 votes