Will stared at the blinking canister strapped to the assassin’s forearm. Four seconds left before the bomb was set to go off – not even enough time to wet his pants in fear.
Angie pulled what looked like a sliver lunch bag out of her utility belt, cut the straps of the bomb canister with her knife, and dropped the bomb into the bag. She rolled the top down and stretched an oversized rubber band around it. She tossed it under the display table and a moment later Will heard a pop, like a giant kernel of corn becoming popcorn. The silver bag remained intact.
Will nodded. He dragged his attention from the slightly smoking lunch bag to the assassin’s face.
“You recognize him?”
Will nodded again. “He’s the copper I talked with this morning.”
Angie looked thoughtful as she tied the assassin’s hands and feet with plastic chords. “Why would he come after you? I mean, no offense, but we already knew they were in Gloucester. What does it matter that you know?”
“A Pakistani chapter of al-Qaeda. Not large, but we’re holding some of their top men and they want them back.” She tore a piece of duct tape off of a roll from her belt and covered the man’s mouth.
Will stood on shaky legs. “Why Gloucester?”
“That’s what we don’t know. Double Oh Seven overheard them talk about “leverage” that they have here, or will have here. I’ve been working the town for a week and have no leads.”
Will climbed out of the boat where he’d been hiding and Angie stood up. “We’ll leave him here for the moment. I put a tracker on him, so my people will be by shortly to collect him.” They walked down the hall to the staircase and started down the steps.
“I told that copper about a car chase that happened this morning on Bentin Street. Two SUVs were shooting at a black LaFerrari. One of the SUVs hit my car and I gave the copper the SUV’s license plate number.” Angie was adjusting what looked to be ninja throwing stars on her utility belt and didn’t respond, so Will kept talking. “I don’t remember all of the license plate.” He rattled off the first few letters and numbers; the only part he could remember.
Angie’s eyes grew wide. “That explains why they didn’t want you sharing that information.”
“What does it mean?”
“It means it was an inside job.”
The staircase turned at a landing, giving them a partial view of the museum’s first floor’s open exhibit areas. “What do you mean ‘an inside job’?”
“Those letters indicate that the vehicle belongs to MI5. They shouldn’t be shooting at an MI6 agent.”
The Ferrari’s license plate had read “007”. Not a novelty plate then. Will’s pulse beat a little faster. “Didn’t he notice who was following him?”
Angie shook her head. “The first SUV didn’t have MI5 plates and they were the only plates he could see.” They reached the bottom of the stairs and crossed the open floor.
“How do you know…” Will stopped himself mid sentence. “You showed him the pulley display. James. That’s when you two talked.”
Will stopped next to a replica front half of a house boat in the center of the room. It was about six feet long and four feet wide with a bench seat and an interior complete with tiny kitchen, table, and bed. “Is he really going to date Tish?” He knew it was stupid, but he couldn’t help it. A man didn’t drool over a co-worker for months only to give up on the dream at the first sign of trouble.
Angie arched an eyebrow. “Yes, I suppose he will.”
Will rubbed his sweaty palms on his pants to dry them. “When you say leverage, you’re talking about blackmail, right?” He ran his hand along the smooth painted letters on the side of the boat. House boats were always colorful. Families had lived on them, raising children and trading goods up and down the canals. “If we don’t give them back the prisoners, they’ll blow something up or steal something?”
“Or someone, yes.”
Will climbed the two steps up to the house boat’s bow and sat on a bench there. Angie stepped onto the boat’s decking and stood looking down into the kitchen. “It’s small, but it’s still bigger than my first flat in London after graduation.”
Steal someone; small boats. Bits of the morning were gathering in his brain, arranging themselves like puzzle pieces. An image of the Indian tourist popped to the forefront of his mind. Hadn’t Angie said that this particular al-Qaeda group hailed from Pakistan? And he’d ducked to tie his loafer when Double Oh Seven came out of the museum. Will’s palms began to sweat again.
“Angie, there was a guy here earlier and he disappeared-”
Will heard a muffled pop and Angie crumpled to the deck.