No one came forward to refute this story. Not the FBI, not the state police, not any of the jurisdictions in between. Certainly not the Palm County Sheriff’s Office, which forwarded all inquiries to the FDLE.

The narrative became a juggernaut. It was ridiculous on its face, a pack of lies and half-truths, but if there was an investigative reporter out there who saw the cover-up of the cover-up, Jolie didn’t know about it. She knew there was no point in fighting it. At least she had managed to get justice of sorts for Nathan Dial. It was easier to pin a single crime on a dead man.

The announcement came on the loudspeaker. “Continental flight Five-forty-two, with service to Chicago and Albuquerque, will begin boarding in ten minutes.”

Albuquerque was Jolie’s final destination. She would go back to New Mexico, where she had spent the first ten years of her life. There was still family there on her father’s side. She would go back home.

As she bent to grab the handle of her roll-on suitcase, something made her look up. Jolie only saw the man from the back, but she could swear it was the rogue operative she’d known as “Cyril.” He moved efficiently through the crowd—mid to late forties, khaki trousers, knit shirt, expensive-looking carry-on bag. The same light brown hair, military cut. Big. She recognized the way he carried himself—a soldier. Not just any soldier, but one of the elite.

But Cyril was dead. She’d seen him go under the propellers.

Jolie checked her watch—there was time. She threaded her way through the crowd, not sure what she would do. Didn’t know why she wanted to make sure. There was no point. Why not just forget about the whole thing?

Maybe it was because his body hadn’t been found. There were plenty of solid reasons for that. A night hammered by a subtropical storm, plenty of sharks and fish to feed on his body. But it was one of the few questions that remained. Her life had been turned upside down, one phase ending and another beginning, and it would be good to know for sure.

“Cyril!” she called, just as a crowd of high school kids in matching shirts funneled onto the concourse from another direction. She kept pace with the group of passengers she was with, but she began to lose track of him.

And then, way up, there he was. Moving effortlessly through the crowd ahead.

“Cyril!” she called again.

He kept moving, but turned his head briefly.

Their eyes met.

He smiled.

And then he was gone.



Photograph by Ian Galley, 2011

J. Carson Black is the bestselling and critically-acclaimed author of eight books, including the Laura Cardinal crime fiction series. Born and raised in Tucson, Arizona, Black has found inspiration for her writing in everything from real life horrors to the headlines screaming today’s news. She is currently working on her next thriller, to be published by Thomas & Mercer in 2012.


The characters and events portrayed in this book are fictitious. Any similarity to real persons, living or dead, is coincidental and not intended by the author.

This book was originally published in a slightly different format by Breakaway Media in March 2011.

Thomas & Mercer first edition, February 2012.

Text copyright © 2011 Margaret Falk.

All rights reserved.

No part of this book may be reproduced, or stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording, or otherwise, without express written permission of the publisher.

Published by Thomas & Mercer

P.O. Box 400818

Las Vegas, NV 89140

ISBN: 978-1-61218-269-8

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