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Authors: Jerry B. Jenkins

Tags: #FICTION / Christian / General, #FICTION / Religious

The Betrayal (6 page)

BOOK: The Betrayal
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9

The Offer

Boone found Jack Keller behind the wheel in an idling, unmarked squad parked at the rear of the 11th precinct station house. Jack leaned over and pushed open the passenger-side door, but it took Boone a while to extricate himself from his own car.

As Boone made his way to the squad, he felt Jack's eyes on him and tried to add energy to his gait, anything to hide his exhaustion and pain. This little outing was a bad idea, but he wanted to see it through. He poked his head in the car and said, “Got any water? Behind on my meds again, but I didn't want to drive under the influence.”

“Half a bottle, if you're not afraid of my germs.”

Boone thought about using the water fountain in the station, but the thirty-foot walk looked like a mile. “You don't have cooties, do you?”

Keller flashed an obscene gesture as Boone slipped into the car. It was a lot easier with his good arm on the door side. He fished for his pills, popped them into his mouth, then took the bottle, which Jack had cleaned with a shirtsleeve.

“This is an eighteen-mile ride,” Keller said. “You still gonna be with me when we get there?”

“I'll be with you, but will I remember? That's the mystery.”

“Those drugs make this the best injury you've ever had, eh? Maybe it's better you don't remember tonight.”

“You want to put a bag over my head so I can never tell anyone where this is?”

Jack pulled out. “I don't care who knows; they'll never get in. But no one does know.”

About ten miles into the ride, the combination of the heater, Boone's thick coat, and the pills made him logy. “How cold is it?” he slurred.

“Single digits. Hey, don't leave me, Boones. We've got to talk.”

“I'm okay. What's up?”

“I want you to meet with Pete when you're up to it.”

Boone yawned and looked out his window. He shook his head. “Believe me, I'd love to talk to him, but I wouldn't trust myself just yet. I'd want to give him a piece of my mind, but that's not going to help. I want to talk to him after I've persuaded myself that he's really thought this through.”

Traffic was light, but it was clear Keller was in no hurry. He cruised along under the speed limit. “I've always looked up to Wade,” he said.

“Who hasn't?”

“No, I mean he's a model. Concrete investigative reasoning is a hallmark of his, just like we were all taught. I'd love to think he's going off half-cocked on this deal—for Haeley's sake and yours—but when a guy like him takes a stand, I've got to listen.”

Warmth had spread from Boone's chest. He could feel it all the way to his fingers and toes, and though a dull ache remained in his shoulder, it was tolerable. He was, however, fighting sleep. “You sound as if Pete's convinced you of something.”

When Jack didn't respond immediately, Boone shot him a look. “What, he's got something on her? Something real?”

“That's not my call; you know that.”

“It's not his call either, Jack, but you brought it up. What's he got?”

“You know you're the last person I should be talking to about this.”

“So you were just going to throw that out and leave it lying there? C'mon. You brought it up for a reason.”

“You can't tell Zappolo, and you can't act on it.”

Boone wrenched in his seat to face Keller. “I'm making no promises, but you'd better tell me.”

“Can't do that.”

“Then why'd you start?”

“Can't tell you without assurances, is what I'm saying. You know I'm on thin ice here.”

“And I know you intend to tell me or you wouldn't have brought it up.”

“Listen, Boones, I do want you to know, but I'm way off the reservation here. You're a friend and the best partner I ever had. And we both know you're not going to be allowed anywhere near a case that involves your girlfriend, not to mention you. I have to know this won't get out, because if it does, everybody will know where it came from.”

Boone settled back in his seat. “You're worried I'll rat you out? Really?”

“That's how big this is.”

“You wouldn't want it to get in the way of your shot at Galloway's job.”

“Now, see, Boones? You know better than to go there. You know
me
better'n that. This isn't about me. It's about you. Nothing I say or do is going to keep you from nosing around and trying to prove Haeley's innocent. But you can't let on you know anything.”

They sat at a red light, the defroster trying to keep up with the cloud on the windshield. “You want to prick fingers and mingle our blood?” Boone said. “Want me to cross my heart and hope to die, stick a needle—”

“Just give me some hint you realize how dicey this is for me. And a little gratitude wouldn't hurt.”

Boone fell silent. This was a different side of Keller. Talk about a model. Pete Wade may have been an interesting veteran and dramatic looking, always natty in his dress blues, the sky of his shirt playing off the navy of his trousers and jacket, and the gold star and brass buttons setting off his tight snow-white Afro and ebony face. And though Pete's diction and delivery were as crisp as the crease in his pants, Jack Keller had always been Boone's ideal.

Jack looked good in uniform too, but there was something earthy, something accessible about him. He looked the part, no question. Ruddy-faced with short, gray hair, he was wiry and rugged. You got the impression he had seen it all.

Boone had always counted on Jack's being transparent, honest, direct. No bull. He opened his mouth, truth came out. If it hurt, it hurt, but you never had to wonder where he stood.

And now he was hedging? Even through his Percocet and OxyContin fog, Boone felt on high alert. This was so out of character for Jack that the man seemed almost needy. Boone was desperate to know what Pete had on Haeley, if anything. But he never wanted to owe a thing to Jack Keller.

“Okay, so you're going to make me do this,” Boone said, “this vulnerable man thing where I tell you what you really mean to me? Do I have to convince you I'm still trustworthy?”

Jack stared straight ahead as he drove. Boone let the question hang there, and it clearly embarrassed his boss. That was all right. The man didn't have to answer. Not saying anything was answer enough.

“Because I'm willing, Jack. Listen, you've been the best mentor a cop could have. You taught me everything I know. I would no more do or say anything to hurt you than I would surrender my badge. If anything, I'm hurt that you even have to ask for assurances, but if that's what you need, that's what you've got.”

Keller cleared his throat. “I appreciate that, Boones, and I only asked to be dead sure
you
appreciate how dangerous this is.”

“Got it. Now we okay?”

“'Course. We'll always be okay, no matter what happens.”

“What's going to happen, Jack?”

Again the boss hesitated and Boone felt it in his gut. “It doesn't look good, Boones.”

“For Haeley, you mean?”

Jack nodded.

Boone tensed. His legs felt tingly and his good hand was balled into a fist. “I'm listening.”

“Jazzy Villalobos is cutting a deal.”

Boone went blank. “I've got to tell you, Jack, that was the last thing I expected to come out of your mouth. What in blazes does Jazzy Villalobos have to do with Haeley? And how can he cut a deal? Candelario had to have spilled so much on him before the grand jury that—”

“Villalobos is already out.”

“You serious?”

Jack nodded. “He's turning state's evidence.”

“Who's he going to rat on? PC nailed him along with all the rest of 'em.”

“His nephew was your shooter.”

“That kid was a Villalobos? I mean, we all knew he had to be DiLoKi, but—”

“And Jazzy is willing to tell where the kid got inside information, enough to almost kill PC. You were just in the way.”

“And what, he's going to claim some connection with Haeley?”

“Indirectly.”

“I'm lost.”

“We all are, Boones. But doesn't it make sense that this kid being in exactly the right place at the right time and almost taking down the biggest canary the Chicago PD ever had means he had inside information? How many people knew where Pascual was and when he would be moved?”

“Precious few.”

“How many, Boones?”

“I guess just the five of us. You and me, Pete and Fletch, and Haeley.”

“Even the undercovers who went with you that night didn't know where they were going. They just followed you.”

“It doesn't make sense that any of the five of us would leak that information, but least of all Haeley. What's in it for her?”

“I have no idea, Boones. But on some log sheet for the file, she wrote just enough information for the wrong people to have, and they got it.”

“And we know this how?”

“I saw the copy Jazzy gave to Pete.”

“A copy?”

“Claims it was shot with a cell phone, right off her desk.”

“By . . . ?”

“He's dangling that tidbit. Before he gives up too much he's parlaying it into getting out of jail, getting immunity, all that.”

“And he's going to rat on his own nephew, who's already dead?”

“No, he's going to rat on the insider who gave up PC.”

As they neared their destination, Boone tried to make it all make sense. “Let's say someone copied—or shot—confidential information from files in Haeley's control. At worst she was careless. Is that a crime? Does it breach her loyalty oath? It's not like she handed over the info.”

“According to Jazzy—and this is Pete's version—she was in league with a former employee, who paid her.”

“Garrett Fox?”

“That would be my guess, but Jazzy hasn't given that up yet.”

“Haeley taking money from Fox? No way.”

“Boones, I'm afraid there's some incriminating evidence.”

“Such as?”

“A deposit to her checking account the same day the information leaked.”

“And we know which day that was how?”

“Time stamp on the photo.”

“Some phone. And how much was deposited in her account?”

“Five grand.”

Boone exhaled loudly. “That would be a lot of money for her. But there has to be an explanation.”

“Here's the thing. You can't go trying to find out.”

“Someone will.”

“Of course. But not you.”

“Why?”

“Conflict of interest. You're a principal in the case. The victim.”

“All the more reason she wouldn't have done it.”

“Anyway, you don't want to jeopardize your future.”

“I've got no future without her, Jack.”

“Not so fast.”

“She's given me a reason to go on, man.”

“I know that. But I also know you thought your life was over after the fire.”

“It was.”

“But here you are, Boones. And on the brink of a real future.”

“What's that mean?”

“I've been told to keep you off this case.”

“Naturally.”

“But there's a real reason, Boones. You're visible, a hero, a victim. People are watching, seeing what your future holds.”

“It holds retirement with full benefits or a desk job, if it's up to the brass.”

“Wrong.”

“I'm all ears.”

“There's a plum down the road,” Jack said. “An incentive for you to come back to full strength.”

“I already have an incentive. Haeley.”

“But this is in play regardless what happens to her.”

10:40 p.m.

Jack pulled onto a gravel road and approached a rusty pickup truck. The driver rolled down his window and greeted Keller.

“Any traffic tonight, Quincy?”

The man looked at a clipboard. “Some pastor from Chicago. Sosa. Here ninety minutes and gone.”

“That's all?”

Quincy nodded.

“Not sure how long we'll be. Anybody else expected tonight?”

“Nope. See you on your way out.”

As Jack started down the road and pulled out of sight of the pickup, Boone asked him to pull over. “We've got to finish this before I see PC. Otherwise, I'm going to be too distracted. What're you telling me?”

“You notice the construction going on at the 11th?”

“Yeah, but I didn't pay any attention. Downtown is always sprucing something up in some precinct.”

“They're adding a suite of offices.”

“For?”

“The Major Case Squad.”

“Seriously, like New York and St. Louis?”

“Our aim is to be better than both. It would fall under OCD but would be pretty much autonomous.”

“Some goal.”

“You want in, Boones?”

BOOK: The Betrayal
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ads

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