Don't Look Down Read online

  "No." Wilder processed it. So Nash worked for Blue River in between movie gigs. That made sense. With his SAS background he'd earn top dollar. Enough in sixty days to live on for a year if he was reasonably frugal. Then he had his movie income, although Wilder had no idea what a stunt coordinator pulled in. They didn't seem to be living in the lap of luxury on this movie. "Did Nash do any time in Ireland where he might have run into Finnegan?'

  "No record of it."

  "How about Mexico? Was Nash down there when Finnegan got nabbed?"


  There was a long silence while Wilder tried to figure out the connection between Nash and Finnegan, and then Crawford cleared his throat nervously. "Finnegan did some things in Iraq after the overthrow of Saddam. Smuggling."

  Bingo, Wilder thought. "You should have told me that up front, damn it. What are we playing, hide the intelligence here?"

  "I didn't put it together until right now," Crawford said. "I mean, I

  read the files, but there was so much information I didn't see the possibility of Finnegan and Nash meeting there."

  Wilder shook his head. "Anything could have happened after Baghdad fell. The Army had planned on using six divisions, but the politicians screwed up the assault from the north and there were only two and a half. The place was wide open. A lot of vultures just like Finnegan flew in to pick over the leavings." He picked up his beer. "You have a picture of Finnegan?"

  "Taken eighteen years ago." Crawford pulled it out of his coat pocket, flashing his revolver again, and handed it to Wilder, who checked his nemesis out: a burly, handsome man with white hair and piercing blue eyes in a truly bad Hawaiian shirt.

  Wilder was impressed. The kid had done okay boiling it down and following up on the old director. Of course, he had to be smart; the CIA had probably recruited him out of some Ivy League school that would never have allowed Wilder to look at their catalog, never mind enroll.

  Crawford leaned back so that his jacket fell open, again exposing his revolver. "You're probably wondering about my gun."


  "It's my dad's."

  Oh, crap. Wilder ran his hand along the side of his empty mug and gestured for the waitress with two fingers. There was silence until she came and left.

  "He was a cop," Crawford said, picking up his beer and taking a deep drink. "He'd been a cop but hurt his knee chasing down a bad guy. They retired him at quarter pay and he couldn't take care of a family on that. So he worked security at a supermarket."

  Wilder wanted to leave. There was Armstrong with Nash dogging her, and Finnegan lurking in the background, making money for shit-head terrorists, and the ghost in the swamp… He cut off Crawford's life story: "Could Finnegan have somebody in the swamp?"

  Crawford looked disappointed at having his story interrupted. "What makes you think someone is there?"

  "I felt it today. I heard a strange noise."

  Crawford made a face. "Probably just some fisherman or hunter."

  "No," Wilder said. He figured telling Crawford about Pepper's ghost wouldn't go over well. "There's somebody bad in there. What are you not telling me?"

  Crawford froze and then tried to shrug it off. "Nothing. I'm telling you nothing."

  "Screw you," Wilder said, shoving his chair back. "Your man almost got a little kid killed-"

  "No, no," Crawford said. "We really don't have anybody in the swamp."

  "What then?"

  Crawford hesitated, and Wilder stood up, leaning forward toward the CIA agent.

  "Wait." Crawford swallowed. "When Finnegan was nailed in Mexico he was buying the art on consignment. For a Russian named Simon Letsky."

  "That doesn't sound Russian."

  "A Russian Jew. Known as the Smart Don."

  Aw shit, Wilder thought and sat down. Why couldn't it be the Dumb Don?

  "Letsky is reported to be the most powerful organized-crime boss in Russia. My source couldn't tell me much, but Letsky is considered by many insiders to be a very bad man. Finnegan stole the jade for him."

  Wilder glanced at the white-haired smiling Irishman in the photo. You asshole, you're in way over your head, aren't you? "And Letsky probably wasn't very happy about his fifty-million-dollar Viagra shipment being taken."

  "XT "


  Wilder tried to figure the angles, but hell, he was just a Special Forces guy, not a cop. "And you think Finnegan is laundering money through the movie for Letsky in order to pay him back?"

  Crawford shrugged. "It's the logical deduction."

  "No, it isn't. Four million isn't close to the fifty million Letsky paid."

  "I can do the math," Crawford said, looking sullen. "But Letsky most likely didn't put the entire amount up front. Probably just enough to entice Finnegan to get the jade, with the balance paid on delivery. But that's it. That's all I know. I'm not keeping anything else from you, I swear."

  Wilder gave up. He stood, sliding the picture into his pocket, shook his head, and walked out.

  When he was on the sidewalk, he looked back into the diner. Crawford had switched seats and was facing the door, almost smiling.

  Wilder paused. Why was Crawford smirking? He'd missed something. He could feel it. He shook his head again and went toward his Jeep. It was late and he just wanted to get some sleep before the next fuck-up happened.

  With Crawford in charge, there was bound to be another one along pretty soon.

  The next afternoon, Lucy met Daisy when she got off the shuttle at the Wildlife Refuge.

  "How are you doing?" she asked. "You okay?"

  Daisy nodded, still a little wobbly. "I think that cry did me good. Well, the cry and you. Thanks for rescuing me again."

  Lucy waited for a smile and didn't get one. "Well, that's my job. Daize, about the pills-"

  "I didn't take any today," Daisy said, tiredly. "I figure you're here, maybe I don't need them. Just hand everything over to you, no worries." She sounded brittle, almost angry, but then she finally smiled- weakly, but still a smile-and said, "So where's your secret weapon?"

  Lucy nodded to the side of the road, where Wilder looked less delighted to be dressed just like Bryce, who looked less than delighted, especially with his copy of Bryce's knife strapped across his chest. Wilder was so much the real thing that he almost made the knife look right. "The swelling's gone down on Bryce's face so that's all right. We're good to shoot. How's Pepper?"

  "Looking for craft services, of course." Daisy's smiled wavered "Aunt Lucy needs her apples since Stephanie is falling down on the job."

  "Stephanie is mad as hell about something," Lucy said, resigned to having an assistant who hated her. "She's stomping around sneering at people. But then, what else is new?" She looked around for Pepper and didn't see her. "Pepper didn't go-"

  "Into the swamp? No." Daisy sounded sure. "And she never will again without J.T. She was really terrified in there until he rescued her. She says she's J.T.'s egg now, which I don't get, but if it keeps her out of the swamp, what the heck." She looked at Lucy. "You really hit the mark with her, buying that Wonder Woman outfit. The only reason she didn't wear it to bed last night was because I told her she couldn't wear it today if she did. She put it on the chair beside her bed and stared at it until she fell asleep. You did good, Aunt Lucy."

  "Good." Lucy put her attention back on Wilder, looking lean and tough in camouflage, and Bryce in the same getup, looking like he was going out for Halloween.

  "So they're still pals?" Daisy said, looking at them, too. "Even after Althea?"

  Lucy shook her head at the mystery that was men. "I'm guessing Bryce doesn't know that Rambo did Bambi. Plus, Wilder did save Bryce's butt in that bar fight, so Bryce has to love him for that."

  "J.T. saved a lot of people yesterday," Daisy said.

  "Fucking hero," Lucy said, trying to keep the warmth out of her voice. Thank God, Gloom was too busy to hum Bonnie Tyler at her. Change the subject. She nodded toward the long straight road ahead of them leadin