Without a specific location, Randi pulled an internet map up on her phone and once she got her bearings, she headed toward the warehouse district in Anacostia. Her better judgment told her to call the body in and let local law enforcement handle it, but as Tweeg always happily pointed out, she was better suited to women’s intuition than rational judgment. As she drove down the freeway, she went over what little she knew of the situation ahead of her. The more she replayed the events of the past twenty-four hours, the more her instincts screamed at her that this was no job for locals.
She wasn’t sure it was the right job for her fellow agents.
You should’ve called in backup, Tweeg’s snotty voice echoed in her head. She had to admit, as much as she hated the annoying ass, he’d probably be right. A dozen agents in full gear should be swarming the warehouse now, instead of one agent in a smart pantsuit. Giving herself a wry grin in the rearview, she said, “I’m guessing this is what they mean when they call a book’s heroine ‘too stupid to live’.”
But look at it this way. If this is a trap, I’ll fall into it and once I’m out of the picture, Vic will be safe. On the other hand, if this is really related to the case, I’ll be a hero and whether I look stupid won’t make a damn bit of difference.
The eyes looking back at her told her she wasn’t fooling anyone. She knew the real reason behind her traipsing into unfamiliar territory with only her service weapon as backup. This whole business had been too politically charged from the onset for her to be able to trust anyone who worked for the government. For all she knew, her own boss had ordered the attack on Dr. Hammond to keep the true nature of Mrs. Reynolds’ death a secret. Stranger things had happened, after all.
If this is a trap of some kind, I’m already committed to it. Whatever happens is on me. The thought buoyed her up. For the first time since the fiasco with Payton, she was trusting her own judgment on a real case. Maybe she could use this case to prove she hadn’t gained anything because of her relationship with the director—that she really was worthy of being an agent with the TTF.
When she finally reached Pine Street, she hit a smidgen of luck. The street seemed to be one of the shorter ones in the area. It held five warehouses and only one of them appeared to be unoccupied. If her luck held, the body would be inside. If not, she would have to eat crow and call in the police to sweep the area. If her luck had really given out, the tip had been fake and she’d be eating more than crow before the day was out.
Pulling her sedan into a weed-ridden parking area, she regarded the empty structure. From the looks of it, sooner or later someone would call in the building inspectors to condemn the place.
As she stood on the pavement outside, the only obvious entrance was the front door, but she couldn’t be lucky enough to find it unlocked. Instead, she had to leave the front and try the loading docks in back. If those proved unhelpful, she’d have to call this in.
Luck came back for her before she walked all the way to the back. A side door stood open along the way. She didn’t need to step inside to know the caller had told her the truth. The smell of decomposition wafting through to her proved it.
With a handkerchief covering her nose and mouth, she stepped into the cavernous metal building. So help me god, if this is a dog or a deer, I’m going to find whoever called me and shoot him in the kneecaps. The smell of her own detergent did little to cover the growing scent as she ventured further into the building. She barely made it deep enough inside to see the shadowy outline of a man.
As the caller had said, the warehouse housed a dead guy. The body lay face down in the middle of what used to be a shipping area. When she got close enough, she could see the gaping hole in the back of his head. A wide circle of dark, brownish-red blossomed from where his nose should’ve been pressed against the concrete. She didn’t need to roll him over to know she wouldn’t be making a visual identification of this victim. No one would.
The mental image of what a bullet could do as it exited a man’s face undid her resolve. She turned and walked quickly from the crime scene before she contaminated it with a mess of her own making. Whoever this guy had been, someone wanted him dead in a very bad way.