The foster parenting application, meanwhile, was working its way through the system. Bree and I had done the required twenty-seven hours of training with Child and Family Services, and it looked like Ava would be staying with us for the foreseeable future. Damon would bunk with Ali while he was home, and then next summer — well, we’d figure that out next summer.

I was running way behind. Still, I was determined to get a quick shower. The fact that I found Bree already in there was what you call a lucky break.

“Mind if I sneak in?” I asked, rattling the curtain.

“You’re going to have to ask my husband about that,” she said. “And grab a washcloth, please.”

Fifteen-plus minutes later, everybody was finally assembled downstairs. Nana was fussing over the bow tie she’d gotten me for my birthday, and Bree was still fixing Jannie’s hair even as the coats were going on.

“Why are you smiling like that?” Jannie asked, eyeballing me in the hall mirror.

“I’m just glad to have all of us together,” I said. “It doesn’t happen often enough.”

Mmm-hmm,” Nana said pointedly. Then she gave my tie one last adjustment and patted my chest to let me know we were finally good to go.

With that, the Cross family tornado was out the door.

“You look cute in that tie.” Damon got in a last little dig.

“Adorable,” said Jannie, piling on.

THE AUDITORIUM AT St. Anthony’s was filled to overflowing that night. We’d already moved the event over from the cafeteria when word got out that Regina Coyle would be speaking.

I had the pleasure of introducing the First Lady, and I’m pretty sure I impressed a few patriotic biddies in the audience when she stopped to kiss me on the cheek as she came to the podium.

Then she spoke beautifully, all about the importance of quality neighborhood schools. She talked about her admiration for what a lot of charters had been able to accomplish in Washington — mentioning Arts and Technology Academy and Booker T. Washington specifically — and told the room how she just knew that the Southeast Children’s House was going to be a huge success when it opened its doors.

“And with your help, it will open. I have no doubt about that,” Mrs. Coyle said. Her husband may not have exactly swept the District in the last election, but we were all on our feet when she finished, applauding like crazy. As Nana put it later, politics stayed home that night. For once, thank goodness.

Afterward, we had a few minutes with Mrs. Coyle, and I got a chance to introduce our family to her.

“I’m sorry the president couldn’t be here tonight,” she told us. “I know he would have liked to have come.”

“Maybe next time,” Nana said with a wink. “I’d just love to talk to him about his education funding proposals.”

“This is my wife, Bree,” I said, moving things along. “And my two oldest, Jannie and Damon.”

“I think very highly of your father,” she said, shaking the kids’ hands.

“We do too,” said Jannie, “most of the time, ma’am.”

Mrs. Coyle laughed, and I imagined that Jannie reminded her a little of Zoe.

“And this is Ali and Ava. They’ll both be going to SCH when it opens.”

“Wonderful,” she said. “Does that mean you’ll be able to walk to school?”

Ava looked up at her, awestruck. She barely nodded before she turned away, but I caught a little smile, too — and with all due respect to everyone who was there, it was the highlight of my night. If I wasn’t mistaken, I’d finally just managed to impress Miss Ava. All it took was an introduction to the First Lady of the United States.

So I rode that wave. I spent the rest of the night feeling good about myself, and pretending for just a little while longer that I was someone important.

But don’t ever tell Nana I said that.

“SIR, IT’S BEEN two months since the bodies were found at the beach in Truro. Since that time, there have been no known attacks from or by Al Ayla that we’re aware of. All of our intercepts and intel from the Kingdom indicate that their Washington operations have shut down for the time being.”

President Coyle looked across his desk at the dozen high-ranking men and women gathered in the Oval Office. The events of the last few months had left these people exhausted. He could see it in their eyes.

But it had also brought a renewed sense of unity to the intelligence community. The breadth of knowledge and experience in the room this evening was not insignificant.

“What about those bodies? Any progress there?” Coyle asked.

“Still no luck identifying three of them, sir,” answered Norma Tiefel. “The fourth was Tariq Al Dossari, the husband of the woman we believe was in charge of the Washington cell just before everything died down.”

“And she is —?”

“Unaccounted for. It’s like she disappeared. We believe she might have killed the others.”

Вы читаете Kill Alex Cross
Добавить отзыв


Вы можете отметить интересные вам фрагменты текста, которые будут доступны по уникальной ссылке в адресной строке браузера.

Отметить Добавить цитату