The young suit was on my side. I took that as a good sign. “The Feds were able to break the Mafia because it was a hierarchy-lower-level thugs could testify against the big guys. But the only weak links here are the common elements that move from network to network.” I tapped the Money Czar’s ugly face on the screen. “This guy is the glue between some very bad people. It goes beyond crime. It moves into threats not only to our allies, but to the United States. This man may represent our best hope of uncovering some of the biggest threats to Western security.”

“He doesn’t look that scary,” Brandon said, and everyone laughed. Except me. I was prepared to scare the hell out of them when I told them what I knew.

“So the question is how do we find this Money Czar and-” My phone beeped. When your wife is seven months pregnant, you get a free pass on taking calls in meetings.

“Sorry,” I mouthed to Brandon. “Pregnant wife,” I said to the suits. I stepped out into the hallway. I didn’t recognize the number. “Hello?”

“Monkey?” Lucy said. “I need you to meet me outside.”

“Um, I’m in a meeting.”

“I need you to step outside. Now, Sam.” Then I heard it: an awful undercurrent in her words, like a shadow eddying under summer water.

I started to walk to the door. “Did you get a new phone?”

“I lost my old one this morning. Just bought a new one. It’s been a rotten morning.”

I heard the shaky tension in her voice. “You sick?”

“Please, just come outside.”

Bad news, then, to be delivered face-to-face. Not in the office, where emotion might be seen. A coldness gripped my heart. The Bundle. She had gone to the doctor. Something was wrong with the baby.

I hurried out of our offices; past John the guard, who had abandoned his cricket book for a British tabloid. Down the hallway. “Where are you?”

“Out on Holborn.”

“Are you okay?”

“No… just come find me outside. Please.”

I raced down the stairs, six flights, not waiting for the elevator. I came out into the lobby.

No sign of Lucy.

“Come out into the street,” she said. “Please, Sam. Please.”

“What’s the matter?” I headed out onto the busy street. It offered a steady stream of pedestrians-office workers, couriers, shoppers, the inevitable London tourists. Two young women leaned against the building in fashionable coats, smoking, sipping tea from plus-sized paper cups between gossipy laughs. I scanned the street. No Lucy. “Where are you?”

“Sam, now. Please. Run.”

I ran, even before Lucy said to, because it was all so wrong, I could feel it in every cell of my body. I headed under the covered scaffolding of the building next door, hurrying along the steady march of people. Finally I pushed past a man in a suit, past a woman in a hooded sweatshirt.

I stopped when I stepped back out of the temporary tunnel; there was no sign of Lucy, on the sidewalks, in the herky-jerk of London traffic. None. I turned, looked every way.

I heard my pregnant wife crying on the phone.

“Lucy? Lucy?” I gripped the phone so hard the edges bit into my fingers.

Now I heard her sobbing: “Let me go.”

My eyes darted everywhere and I heard a car honk. I turned and saw a truck whip around an idling Audi, thirty feet away, the car facing me on the opposite side of the road, Lucy in the passenger seat. My office building stood between me and the Audi. My first thought was: no one stops on Holborn. The car was silver gray, like the sky in the moments before rain. A man sat in the driver’s seat, bent toward Lucy. Then he straightened and I could see him better. Late twenties. Dark hair. Dark glasses. Square jaw. I saw a flash of white as he turned his head, the pale curve of a scar marring his temple, like a sideways question mark.

Lucy looked right at me.

Then the blast hit.


A roar, an eclipse of the sun, like God stuck his hand between me and the sky. I turned and the top floor of our building was shattering, flame spouting out, reinforced glass and ash and steel carving and falling through the air. The ground shook. A person, halved, burning, fell to the street, right by the pretty tea drinkers, who cowered and staggered for the doorway’s cover as debris rained down.

My office of fake consultants was gone. Brandon, the visiting suits, the scribbling rookie, my friends and colleagues. Gone. Rubble covered the street, people, landing on cars, cabs, and buses, and London itself seemed to give out a scream, formed of the thundering blast’s echo against glass tower and stone courts, the keen of car horns, and the rising cry and stampede of the bystanders.

I couldn’t see the Audi anymore, and Holborn was a mad jumble of stopped buses and cars, and chunks of concrete, stone, and steel.

I couldn’t see. I didn’t think. I vaulted onto the construction tunnel roof, monkeyed up the bars. I had to get above the haze. I climbed fast, then I saw the flash of steel gray. The Audi, with my wife in it, revved forward. I saw the back of Lucy’s head, bent slightly as though to catch the breeze in the window. Driving with the window down helped her cope with her morning sickness, I remembered. It was a crazy thought.

“Lucy!” I screamed. “Lucy!” I scrambled up the scaffold. I had to keep her in sight, find her above the cloud of grit. Below me was chaos. I had to keep the car in sight. I hurried up the scaffolding, found the Audi again. The traffic thickened like smoke from a fire, everyone trying to flee the blast.

I saw the Audi turn right onto a side street, revving onto the sidewalk to escape the impassable jam in the road, nearly running down two women.

The scaffolding moaned, heat surging through its joints. I heard a massive roar, turned, saw that the edge of the scaffolding closest to my office building had been savaged by falling debris. It was collapsing, thundering down onto the pavement.

I vaulted from the railing, bursting through the sheeted plastic onto a reconstructed floor. I hit concrete, coughing, tried to roll. I wasn’t in the right shoes for this and my roll was rough. I ran across the empty concrete, glanced back to see the scaffolding twist and shred and tumble into the street. The building shuddered and I thought: It’s next.

I ran across the unwalled floor to the back of the building-it cut all the way to a parallel street-and looked down, past a web of scaffolding on the north side of the building that was intact. I saw the Audi forcing its way onto the narrow sidewalk, a man in a suit kicking at the door in fury as it nearly ran him and a woman down. It was thirty feet below me.

My wife looked up. Through the sunroof. She saw me, her eyes wide and her mouth a perfect little shock of O. She started to reach upward, her jaw moving, and then the scarred man hit her. With a solid punch across her mouth. She slammed into the door.

I dropped down through the web of the scaffolding, my blood turning to adrenaline. I broke my descent with grabs but I let gravity do the pulling and I had never been so afraid in my life. Not for myself but for Lucy and The Bundle. I couldn’t lose the car. He was taking my wife; he had killed innocent people. Then I was on the ground and I dashed into the traffic.

A Mini Cooper barreled into the street, right into my path, and I wasn’t even thinking, I was only running for all I was worth. I timed it, going over the roof when I should have been run down by the car, sliding with purpose, and then I hit the street, rolled down to my shoulders, back onto my feet, not crippled by the impact or the force. The pain came later. I didn’t even know I was hurt.

The Audi surged ahead into the crowd and I ran hard and saw it turn a corner. I couldn’t fight my way through the thickened crowd driven out from offices and shops, the jam of cars and two buses, paralyzing the traffic

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