Home > The Scam (Fox and O'Hare #4)(3)

The Scam (Fox and O'Hare #4)(3)
Janet Evanovich, Lee Goldberg

“I like when you get all worked up like this,” Nick said. “It puts a sparkle in your eyes.”

“If you go down, I go down, too. Rest assured I’ll do everything I can to make sure it’s not a pleasant experience for you. I’ll make sure you’re locked up and the key is thrown away.”

“So you’re in on the con?” Nick asked.

Kate blew out a sigh. “Yes.”

“Excellent,” Nick said. “Can you play an FBI agent?”

“I’ll give it a try,” Kate said. “But only if we can pick up my dad and drop him off afterward at LAX.”

“No problem,” Nick said.

Jake O’Hare was waiting for Kate and Nick in his gated community’s private park. He was wearing a white golf shirt and tan chinos, his hands in his pockets, casually watching as Willie set the helicopter down on the grass. Jake had spent most of his life in the Army, doing covert ops for the government, but those days were long gone. Now he was in his sixties and most of his battles were fought on the putting green.

“Thanks for the lift,” Jake said as he climbed in. He took a seat and put on his headset.

“Where are your suitcases?” Kate asked.

“I don’t have any. I’ll buy what I need when I get there and leave it behind when I go.”

“You’re going to Hawaii to visit an old Army buddy. It’s a vacation, not a covert op.”

“Says the woman taking me to the airport in a phony State Department helicopter,” Jake said.

“Good point,” Kate said. Her father was the only one, outside of Jessup and Deputy Director Bolton, who knew the truth about her and Nick. “Actually, we have an errand to run before we get to the airport.”

“That’s what I figured.” Jake acknowledged Nick with a friendly nod. “What can I do to help?”

“Do you have any experience getting American captives out of foreign countries?” Nick asked.

“Extensive,” Jake said.

Nick smiled. “Then just be yourself.”

“I can do that,” Jake said.

Thirty years ago, Stuart Kelso was an insurance salesman in Dearborn, Michigan, when he got a call in the middle of the night from a cop in Istanbul. Kelso’s pot-smoking teenage son Bernie, who was on a backpacking trip through Europe, had been arrested for drug smuggling. If Kelso didn’t send the cops $10,000 in twenty-four hours, they’d throw Bernie in a Turkish prison for five years. Kelso did as he was told and his son was put on a plane back to the United States. It was only later, once Bernie was home safe, that Kelso realized how stupid he’d been to act so quickly. What if it had all been a con? It was an epiphany for him…and the grandparent scam was born.

Kelso chose to target grandparents because the elderly were less likely to think clearly under pressure, and often had access to fat retirement funds. It was a smart move, because now he was ten times richer, fifty pounds heavier, and lived in Malibu with his third wife, Rilee, an aspiring model, in a Southern Colonial mansion on a bluff overlooking the Pacific.

When the U.S. government chopper landed in his backyard two days ago, he was sure the feds were coming to arrest him. Thankfully, he was wrong. It turned out to be a frantic State Department bureaucrat named Nick Burns arriving with bad news. Kelso’s twenty-one-year-old grandson Ernie had been arrested smuggling dope into Havana. The Cubans wanted $5 million to set Ernie free or they’d put him on trial to embarrass the United States. Kelso couldn’t believe the cosmic unfairness of it all. History was repeating itself. Burns urged Kelso to make the payoff for the sake of his grandson and the good of his country.

Kelso didn’t care about Ernie or Uncle Sam, but he was afraid that the media spotlight might reveal his own crimes. That’s why every dollar Kelso had was packed into the four suitcases that were currently standing beside him, waiting to be loaded into the State Department helicopter that was landing in his backyard again.

Burns emerged from the chopper, checking his watch as he approached. He was accompanied by a stocky older guy and a fit young woman in a gray pantsuit with her jacket open to show off the gun on her belt.

“Good morning, Mr. Kelso,” Burns said. “Is that all of the money?”

The only cash Kelso had outside the suitcases was the twenty-eight dollars in his wallet. All of his other assets were tied up in debt and ex-wives. It was as if the Cubans wanted to clean him out. He could no longer run his business, pay his mortgage, or support his third wife and her posse of yoga instructors, hairdressers, stylists, and personal shoppers. But at least he wouldn’t be going to jail.

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