Troy Vinstonie, this is not over!
You’re going to die!
“Thirteen Delta. Come in.”
Special Agent Jo Clarin glared at the cellular phone attached to her hip.
Jack. The boss. Now what?
Her team was smack dab in the middle of nabbing a fugitive they’d been hunting for over six months. She sat in her car, on the dangerous side of Oakland, attempting to supervise this well-planned operation.
He is such a pain.
Jo fingered the earpiece to operate the speaker.
The police radio attached to her other hip squawked at the same time.
“Jo. Subject heading to your position.”
“Jo, I need you back in the office ASAP.”
She switched back to her cellular.
“Jack, I’m in the middle of something here.” Fingering her police radio, she said, “Stand by, boys. I want no moves until I give the signal. Over.”
She made a leisurely exit from her car. It was noon, Oakland, on a crowded Seventy-Eighth Street at International Boulevard. No one would notice a woman in an oversized sweatshirt, talking on a cell phone. It was similar to New York where people minded their own business, unless you forced your way into it.
Unfortunately, it was also a location where if you didn’t watch your back, there’s a chance of a stray bullet from a drive-by catching you. One hundred and one murders alone last year attested to this fact. Death was a norm in this town. She kept a hand on her Glock 22, in case.
Multitasking. Jo sighed. The bane of my existence.
“Jo, this is non-negotiable. I want you 10-20 here in ten.” Ten codes, Jo hated them, she could never remember what the hell they meant. Jack wanted her in his office.
She spotted her fugitive strutting down the street.
“Roger that, see you in your office in ten,” she said. At the same time, she received acknowledgements from her fugitive squad.
“Okay, boys. Move in slowly, but hold until I make contact. Keep the chatter to a minimum.”
She barely acknowledged their responses. The adrenaline kicked in, her heartbeat sped and tunnel vision focused her line of sight. She saw her fugitive and only her fugitive. Eighteen years old, a double murderer, gang member, and generally all around bad kid. And he was going down.
She eased away from her car and tugged up her sweatshirt to free her cuffs. Her biggest advantage; the element of surprise. She knew, given the chance, he would run. She could see it in the way he moved. He had that edgy, nervous gait, his eyes constantly scanning. His gaze passed right over her. To a felon like this, a man would be a threat—not a woman.
“Be ready, boys. He’s a runner. Get the perimeter sealed up.”
“Roger that, Jo. We’re ready. Go for the takedown.”
Oh, I’m going for the takedown, all right. Six months of work, two dead bodies. This kid is a problem to society.
She eased away from her car. “I’m moving in. Be ready. Look alive, boys.”
She loved this part of the job. The situation lent itself to just enough unpredictability to make it fun, and enough danger to make her heart dance. She reached out her hand as she strolled closer to the mark. The key to catching fugitives was easy, so terribly simple. Surprise them when they were least expecting it.
Jo pasted a smile on her face.
“Go, boys,” she commanded at the same time she approached the kid.
“Jamal Wente?” She immediately encased his hand in hers as if they were greeting each other. His shocked expression was priceless.
A female could do almost anything.
No one expected a woman to single-handedly catch a fugitive.
Her smile became genuine. When a fugitive was surprised, he usually didn’t immediately lie. Positively identifying Jamal was critical to arresting him.
“Great.” Jo jacked his arm behind his back, jamming his wrist into a lock, a hold which ensures severe pain if he struggled. That was, of course, if he wasn’t hyped up on drugs.
A good sign. He could still feel pain.
She slapped on the first cuff, the snick of cinching metal making her smile.
“You’re under arrest, Mr. Wente.”
He sent his other elbow flying, striking her in the face.
“Now you’re really pissing me off.” Jo shoved the kid against a nearby car, pinning the flailing arm, wrenching his wrist up higher. Adding pressure to the hold, she secured the second cuff and tightened it.
He yelped again.
“And guess what, kid. I have many friends.” Ten Oakland police officers and four FBI agents converged upon Jamal. They immediately contained him and hauled him off, shoving him into the black and white. Gang violence made it necessary to clear out swiftly. Not a place for a picnic lunch.
Brushing her hands together, she faced her partner, Jim Ellis. Tall and lanky, Jim ran marathons in his spare time, with triathlons on the side. His bald head glowed, a beacon in the California sun, and a sprig of blond hair peaked out from his chin. An overachiever in the extreme—that was her Jim, her best friend.
“Didn’t even need to pull your gun, dude. Nice work.” ‘Dude’ was Jim’s pet name for her. He pounded her back.
The adrenaline began to wane. Jo felt the tightness of swelling begin around her nose and eye. Still, she couldn’t help a satisfied smile. Arresting the kid was worth it.
“Gonna have a shiner from that one.” Jim pointed to her face.
“Yeah. Thanks.” Jo rubbed a hand under her nose to ensure it wasn’t bleeding. It felt as if it would.
“Hate to use this cliché, but it was like taking candy from a baby, Jim.” Jo breathed a sigh of relief that she didn’t have to chase the kid all over the neighborhood, something she’d done on many occasions. With six months worth of work, she had been up since sunrise briefing and planning—and they’d caught him in thirty seconds.
What a break they got when Oakland police had hauled in the kid’s best friend last week. He cried like a baby when he realized he faced jail time. She smiled. Yeah, they cut him a deal, and he gave up Jamal’s location faster than he’d steal her purse if she chanced turning her head.
“I’ve got to head to the office to see Jack.” She didn’t need to explain, Jim understood. One word—‘Jack’—said it all. Strained. “Can you process Wente for me?” she asked.
Jim nodded. “You got it. Catch ya later, dude.”
“Later.” Jo hopped into her car. She briefly wondered what was up with her boss. For the most part they had a silent understanding. Jack left her alone, and she kept providing him arrests. It wasn’t like him to interrupt her on the job. Jo sucked in a breath and briefly wondered why her eye hurt; then she remembered.
Oh, yeah, someone socked me in it.
She hadn’t even written up the last injury. She hated paperwork. It slowed her down.
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