Home > Tail Spin (FBI Thriller #12)(9)

Tail Spin (FBI Thriller #12)(9)
Catherine Coulter

Let’s hear it for a gigantic dose of overkill—keep your mouth shut.

Sherlock cocked her head, but didn’t say anything.

Nurse Harmon stuck her head in the door. “Dr. Post, we’ve got patients piling up out here, and Dr. Reimer called. Her little boy is throwing up and she doesn’t know when she’s going to make it in. Jimmy Bunt hurt his leg falling off his daddy’s tractor, looks broken. He’s making a racket, disturbing Mrs. Mason, who’s telling everyone she’s about to go into labor, although she shouldn’t, not for another three weeks.”

Dr. Post was out the door, saying over his shoulder, “I’ll be retiring in twenty years.”

Sherlock saw Rachael take one more long look at Jack, frown at a clump of bloody hair. She watched her grab the washcloth and begin carefully wiping away the blood. Well, she had saved him, it made sense she’d care enough to clean him up.

Rachael was a name Sherlock had always liked, but Abercrombie? As in Fitch’s partner? Hmmm. She saw a faint line of freckles marching across Rachael’s nose. That beautiful hair of hers, all long and smooth with streaky highlights, very nicely done, and that clever braid on the side. She’d have to ask Dillon what he thought of the braid. As for Rachael’s eyes, they were dark blue and—what? Afraid. Yes, she was afraid, and her chewed nails took away any doubt. But afraid of what? Of them because they were cops? Was she running from an abusive husband? Sherlock knew their plates were full, but still, this woman had saved Jack. Whatever was wrong, she was ready and willing to help her.

She said to Rachael, “Do you know Jack’s been injured only once before this? He was stabbed in the side by a crazed heroin addict. Amazing, really, since he spent four years in the FBI’s Elite Crime Unit. He’s already faced more horrific situations than most agents do in a lifetime. He burned out, no wonder, but instead of leaving the FBI to go practice law, Dillon talked him into transferring to his unit, the CAU—the Criminal Apprehension Unit.”

“Ah, well, that’s very interesting,” Rachael said, and tossed the washcloth back into the sink, her eyes now on the door. She gave them a big smile. “It was a pleasure to meet both of you. I’m off now, good-bye,” and she started walking around them.

Sherlock lightly laid her hand on Rachael’s arm. “Jack’s a very good agent and a very good man.” Rachael was wearing a soft beige cashmere V-necked sweater with a white oxford blouse beneath it, very expensive, Sherlock thought. The boots she was wearing looked so soft you could butter toast with them. But she looked strung out. Sherlock smiled.

Rachael looked down at Sherlock’s hand, her long fingers, buffed nails, the wedding band. “Yes, I can imagine Jack is very good at what he does.”

“Before you handle car repairs, we’d really appreciate it if you would tell us exactly what happened the moment you saw the plane, all right?”

Rachael was so close to the door she could touch the knob. She realized she was cold and wondered if she’d ever see her leather jacket again since she’d covered Dr. MacLean with it.

Savich said pleasantly, “We would really appreciate it, Rachael. Since Jack will be asleep for a while, why don’t I hang around and speak to the sheriff when he gets here? I also need to check that Dr. MacLean is all right. Then I’ll arrange to have your car towed to a mechanic here in Parlow while you and Sherlock have some coffee and something to eat. You must be hungry.”

“Would you look at that,” Sherlock said, eyeing her own watch. “It’s getting late. Come along, Rachael. I, for one, am starving. Dillon, we’ll see you at that café across the street when you’ve got everything wrapped up.” Sherlock turned to Rachael, smiling all the while. “I’m sorry, but I missed your last name.”

“Abercrombie,” Rachael said, voice stony.

“A nice name, very English, very retail,” said Sherlock, thinking, You are a really rotten liar. “Let’s go have some scrambled eggs.”

She was trapped, very neatly. She looked back at Agent Crowne’s still face. With all the black smoke and blood cleaned off, she saw a good-looking face with an olive complexion, all strong lines and good bones, stubborn bones, she’d bet, and an indentation in his chin. He’d been in the FBI Elite Crime Unit? She didn’t know exactly what they did, but it sounded scary. He’d nearly been killed by a drug addict? Was this Dr. MacLean a criminal he was flying back to Washington? Or a friend who was in trouble? She didn’t want to know, didn’t want to get involved. She wanted the time and privacy to enjoy her death. The last thing she needed was more complications.

Agent Sherlock was still smiling at her. Well, no choice. She said to Agent Savich, “Would you mind bringing my duffel with you to the café?”

“My pleasure,” Savich said.

“Thank you, Agent Savich,” Rachael said, as she fell into step beside Sherlock and left Dr. Post’s clinic, the half-dozen people in the waiting room staring at them, some with curiosity, some with hostility since they’d had to wait so long.

Savich stayed with Jack awhile longer, watching him breathe, checking his pulse to reassure himself. He’d stepped back toward the waiting room door when a slender straight-backed man in his mid-forties came through, wearing bib overalls, a long-sleeved bright red flannel shirt, a holstered .38 clipped to the wide belt around his waist. Savich didn’t sigh at this example of local law enforcement, but he wanted to. He knew this was very likely going to be a chore.

SEVEN

I’m Sheriff Hollyfield,” the man said, and stuck out a slender hand hardened with calluses. Savich shook it, introduced himself, showed him his creds.

“A pleasure, Agent Savich. Sorry I’m late. That dratted septic tank of Mrs. Judd’s busted again. The first time, that damned dog of hers fell in and we had to pull him out. Come along outside, we can talk more privately.”

“Maybe you could send a tow truck out to the crash site to fetch Rachael’s car?”

“I’ve got a tow on my truck. Let’s go. We can talk on the way.”

Savich nodded and followed the bib overalls out the door.

The day was warming up nicely, the sun bright in the morning sky. “I appreciate your coming over, Sheriff,” Savich said as he climbed into the passenger side of a big white Chevy Silverado.

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