Home > The Shell Game (Fox and O'Hare 0.25)(5)

The Shell Game (Fox and O'Hare 0.25)(5)
Janet Evanovich, Lee Goldberg

Kate figured that appropriate resources was Jessup’s way of saying as little as possible. This meant she’d probably be the only resource the FBI was willing to provide.

“I’d like to brief you on the security details, but I’m running late for another appointment,” Drake said to Kate. “I’m staying at Shutters on the Beach in Santa Monica. If you haven’t other plans we could have dinner at the hotel and run through the operation.”

“Perfect,” Kate said. “I have a stack of files I need to clear this afternoon and then I’m free. I’ll meet you at seven.”

Kate thought her blue jacket and tan slacks were perfect for every occasion. The shirt with the barbecue sauce on it, not so much. She made a fast stop at her apartment to change her shirt, slip her feet into dressy flats, swipe on some lip gloss, and she was good to go.

The Bureau motor pool had assigned her a dented silver Crown Vic with three hundred thousand miles on the odometer. It wasn’t pretty, but it got her to Shutters. The hotel was built to look like a Nantucket estate. Kate loved the massive, rambling gray shingle building, but she thought it fit in with Santa Monica about as well as a Taco Bell in Chinatown. She took the elevator up to Drake’s sixth-floor suite, and restrained herself from gushing over the room. It was about the same size as her apartment. Unlike her apartment, though, it was beautifully furnished and it had a view.

“Nice room,” Kate said. “The presidential suite wasn’t available?”

“I didn’t want to overindulge myself.”

She walked to the open veranda window and looked out at the Santa Monica Pier and the Ferris wheel. She listened to the ocean swells break on the sandbar, and she breathed in the sea breeze. She knew that on the beach below her there were piles of dog poop and signs warning swimmers to stay out of the polluted water, but in the encroaching darkness it was magical.

The table was set for two and looked suspiciously romantic to Kate. Candles, champagne in an ice bucket, a small vase of fresh flowers.

“Am I interrupting something?” she asked. “I don’t want to put a crimp in your date plans.”

“No date plans,” he said. “Just a working dinner.”

“My idea of a working dinner is a Domino’s Pizza, buffalo wings, and a six-pack of Coke served in a windowless conference room.”

Drake opened the champagne and poured two glasses. “I asked for a windowless conference room when I checked in, but they didn’t have any available.”

Kate took a glass of champagne from him and chugged it down.

Drake grinned and refilled her glass. “I like a woman with a healthy appetite.”

“Yep, that’s me,” Kate said. “I’m all about appetite.” She took a sip of champagne. “And the job.”

“You take your work seriously,” Drake said, settling the champagne bottle back into the ice bucket.

“I do. I was an army brat, and I inherited a sense of pride in a job well done from my dad. I firmly believe in the American flag, apple pie, and upholding the law of the land.”

“Good to know,” Drake said, picking up an iPad up from the coffee table. “Let me show you the route we’ve planned.” He tapped the iPad and brought up a satellite map of L.A.’s west side. “The antiquities are arriving at LAX on a private jet. They’ll get in at eleven A.M. on Monday at one of the freight terminals along the Imperial Highway.” He pointed to a line of warehouses along LAX’s southern runway and the road that paralleled it. “We’ll transfer the crates under armed guard to an armored truck. The armored truck will travel east on the Imperial Highway and up the northbound 405 freeway to the Getty. Once we’re on the Getty property, their security team takes over. The Getty is basically a hilltop fortress, minus the cannons, so I don’t have any worries at that point.”

“Sounds good to me,” Kate said. “But I’d like to check out the route for myself and think about how I’d take the shipment from you.”

He set the iPad down. “You can think like a thief?”

“I can think like a soldier.”

“They don’t think alike.”

“What’s the difference?”

“A soldier’s strategy is all about achieving the mission objective, using blunt force and cold precision. But for a con man and thief like Nicolas Fox, it’s also about expressing himself through the cleverness and audacity of his technique. The value of the prize itself is almost secondary.”

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