The Job (Fox and O'Hare #3)(2) by Janet Evanovich, Lee Goldberg

“It’s just a phone call,” Kate said. “It’s probably my mother.”

“Up!” he said. “And start walking. If anyone approaches you, I’m shooting you first and then whoever else gets in my way. Clear?”

This isn’t good, Kate thought. There were customers conducting business, coming and going, and there was a possibility that one of them would accidentally cross their path.

“Should I take my purse?”

“No.”

“Won’t it look odd if I walk out of the bank without my purse?”

“Where is it?”

“The bottom drawer, to my right.”

“Stay where you are, and I’ll open the drawer. Do not move.”

He stood and moved around the desk, all the while keeping his eyes on Kate. He held the Sig in his right hand and reached down to open the drawer with his left. The instant his attention shifted from Kate to the drawer, she smacked him hard in the face with her keyboard. His eyes went blank, the gun dropped from his hand, blood gushed out of his smashed nose, and he crashed to the floor, unconscious.

Kate picked the gun up and aimed it at his partner in the manager’s office.

“FBI!” she yelled. “Don’t move. Put your hands on your head.”

Mr. Ray-Bans did as he was told. Everyone in the bank froze, too, startled by her outburst and shocked by the sight of her holding the gun.

Ryerson rushed out of the vault, his gun drawn, big sweat stains under his armpits. He looked confused. “What happened?”

“I had to go to Plan B,” Kate said. She turned to the customers in the bank. “Relax, everyone. We have the situation entirely under control, and you aren’t in any danger.”

Kate’s desk phone wouldn’t stop ringing. She kept her gun aimed at Mr. Ray-Bans in the manager’s office, and snatched at the phone with her other hand.

“What?” she said.

“Is that any way to talk to James Bond?”

“You’re not James Bond.”

It was Nick Fox, and truth is, Kate thought Nick was pretty darn close to James Bond. A little younger and mostly on the other side of the law, but just as lethal and just as sexy.

Fox was a world-class con man and thief. Kate had tracked him for years and finally captured him, only to have her boss, Carl Jessup, and Fletcher Bolton, the deputy director of the FBI, arrange Nick’s escape. In return for conditional freedom, Nick had agreed to use his unique skills to nail big-time criminals the Bureau couldn’t catch using conventional means.

Kate had been given the unwanted responsibility of helping Nick neutralize the bad guys. She was also supposed to make sure Nick didn’t go back to his life of crime. The Bureau didn’t have Nick under constant surveillance or wearing a tracking device between assignments, so it was up to Kate to keep him on a loose leash. It had been a few days since she’d last spoken to him.

“Did I catch you at a bad time?” Nick asked.

“Yes. What do you want?”

“I didn’t do it.”

Kate went silent for a beat. She had no clue what he was talking about, but whatever it was, at least he hadn’t done it. That was good, right?

“I’m kind of busy right now,” she said.

“No problem. I just thought you’d want to know.”

Kate hung up, and the phone rang again. It was Carl Jessup.

“Your cellphone isn’t working,” Jessup said.

“That’s because I’m in the middle of a bank robbery thing.”

“We’ve got a big problem,” Jessup said in his distinctive Kentucky twang. “Yesterday, Nicolas Fox stole a five-million-dollar Matisse from the Gleaberg Museum of Art in Nashville.”

“Are you sure it was Nick?” she asked, watching as Ryerson called in the troops and cuffed Mr. Ray-Bans.

“I’ve just texted you a photo from one of the museum’s security cameras.”

Kate turned her phone on and clicked on MESSAGES. The photo showed a man in an oversize hoodie holding a painting under his arm. The man’s face was partly obscured by the hood, but she could see enough to recognize Nick.

“I’ve never seen Nick in a hoodie before,” Kate said.

“I’m not interested in his fashion choices,” Jessup said.

“You don’t understand, sir,” Kate said. “Nick shops on Savile Row, not at the outlet mall. He wouldn’t wear a hoodie from Old Navy.”

“He was trying to blend in with the local yokels.”

“How did he steal the painting?”