Home > The Scam (Fox and O'Hare #4)(2)

The Scam (Fox and O'Hare #4)(2)
Janet Evanovich, Lee Goldberg

“I’ve got to go,” Kate shouted to her sister, ending the call and taking the remaining flights two steps at a time, past the penthouse and up to the rooftop.

She burst out of the door to see a green helicopter embossed with a U.S. State Department seal idling on the roof. Nicolas Fox was running toward it, his suit jacket flaring like a cape.

To Kate’s relief, the helicopter pilot waited for Nick this time. Nick opened the door to the passenger cabin and turned to Kate as she ran up. There was a boyish grin on his face and a sparkle in his brown eyes. It was pretty much a confession that he was up to no good and enjoying it too much.

He was wearing the kind of off-the-rack, basic blue suit that Jos. A. Bank regularly sold two for the price of one. It was very un-Nick-like. He was a stylish six-foot-tall man with a keen and very expensive fashion sense. This suit made him look like an underpaid bureaucrat. She assumed that was the point.

“Perfect timing,” he yelled over the sound of the helicopter blades whirring above them. “I’m glad you could make it.”

Kate climbed into the chopper and took a seat. “Where are we going?”

“Malibu.” Nick secured the door and sat beside her. They slipped on microphone-equipped headsets so they could hear each other over the noise.

Kate wasn’t surprised to see Wilma “Willie” Owens in the pilot’s seat. Willie was a fifty-something bleached blonde with enhanced boobs that looked like basketballs with nipples. Her typical outfit was a halter top and Daisy Dukes, but today she wore aviator shades, a white shirt with epaulets, and crisp blue slacks. It was an outfit suitable for a licensed pilot, although she wasn’t one. She was a Texan with a natural talent for operating any vehicle on land, sea, or air and an unlawful tendency to steal them for joyrides.

“Have you ever flown a helicopter?” Kate asked her.

“Once or twice,” Willie said.

“Which is it?”

“That depends, honey. Does this flight count?”

Kate tightened her seatbelt and turned back to Nick. “We aren’t going anywhere until you tell me why you’re pretending to be a diplomat and what happened to our million dollars.”

Nick pressed a button on his headset that cut Willie off from the conversation.

“Most of the money went into buying and repainting this chopper,” Nick said. “The rest went to sending a lucky young man on an all-expenses-paid trip to the Caribbean. It was the grand prize in a contest he didn’t even know that he’d entered.”

“Or that he was the only contestant.”

“You catch on quick. He’s staying at a very exclusive, very remote island resort that bills itself as ‘the true Gilligan’s Island experience.’ ”

“No phone, no lights, no motor car, not a single luxury,” Kate said, referencing the show’s catchy theme song. “You’re keeping him off the grid. Who are you hiding him from?”

“His grandfather, Stuart Kelso, the king of ‘the grandparent scam.’ Are you familiar with it?”

“Yes. A grandparent gets an urgent email, or phone call, from an official with the terrible news that their grandchild has been arrested, robbed, or badly injured while traveling abroad. The fake official tricks the old and easily confused grandparent into wiring tens of thousands of dollars overseas to get the kid out of trouble.”

“That’s the one. As fate would have it, Stuart Kelso was recently notified by the State Department that his grandson, Ernie, has been arrested in Cuba on a drug-smuggling charge. The bail is five million dollars. Ordinarily he might have not fallen for his own con, but we had inside information about his grandson. And we landed a State Department helo on his front lawn.”

Nick grinned, and Kate tried her best not to grin. It was genius and well-deserved poetic justice, and it was totally illegal. It felt oh-so-right but also oh-so-wrong…much like her attraction to Nick. And the worst part was that he’d pulled it off under her nose.

“Why didn’t you tell me about this con until now?” she asked, eyes narrowed, blood pressure edging up a notch.

“It was just a lark, something to keep myself amused between jobs. Kelso is small-time compared to our usual targets. I didn’t think you’d approve.”

“So you sneaked around behind my back.”

“Yeah.”

“We’re supposed to be partners. You just made me look like the village idiot.”

“Don’t take it so personally,” Nick said.

“How else am I supposed to take it? I’m responsible for you. My career hinges on my ability to control you and your larcenous personality. You’re only allowed to break the law when you have permission from the FBI. You can’t go around breaking the law on a ‘lark.’ ”

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