Today's Reading

CHAPTER THREE

Liberty Island
Originally Bedloe's Island and renamed by the United States Congress in 1956.

'"Assistant Special Agent in Charge Delgado is waiting for you by the base, sir."'

The FBI special agent hadn't said whether Delgado was a man or a woman, but Michael knew it was a her as soon as he spotted a woman walking about the thickest rubble on her own, processing the scene in her mind ahead of the forensics teams that were just setting up shop.

Delgado was all of five feet nine inches tall, firmly built, and looked plenty athletic, although the extra bulk layered around her upper body was due more to the flak jacket she was wearing beneath her windbreaker with FBI stenciled across the back than hoisting heavy weights. Her complexion was a bit pale, and her neatly coiffed short hair was coated in the concrete dust still sifting through the air on the ever-present breeze.

He approached the ASAC of the New York field office of the FBI, lifting the ISB badge dangling from his chest.

"Special Agent Michael Walker, Investigative Services Branch."

"Gina Delgado, Special Agent Walker," she said, extending a hand encased in an evidence glove. "Call me Gina. I'm running lead right now for the Joint Terrorism Task Force."

Michael took her hand and realized he'd forgotten to bring his own evidence gloves along. "Michael."

She smirked tightly. "Nice uniform, by the way."

"Not required, but I wanted to be easy to identify."

"Sure, because ISB has jurisdiction for the next five minutes or so, once Washington gets things sorted out."

"If it's the same Washington I'm thinking of, it'll probably be more than five minutes."

"A formality, anyway. The Joint Terrorism Task Force has already assumed command and control."

"If you say so. But even then, I'll remain on as liaison to the JTTF, standing in for my boss, so you better get used to me."

Delgado looked down, and seemed to be studying his prosthetic foot. "How'd you lose it?"

"Good catch. You must know your way around prosthetics, Gina."

"I know my way around war. Unfortunately, one often leads to the other."

"This was the result of what the Park Service calls an 'incident,'" Michael said, finally answering her question. "I took three bullets in the foot and lower ankle."

Gina's eyes widened in recognition. "I remember hearing about that. Mount Rainier, right? Another ranger was killed in the shoot-out, a woman."

Michael nodded stiffly. "That's right."

"I didn't know ISB agents were prone to getting in shoot-outs."

Michael glanced down at his foot. "I became an ISB agent afterwards."

"Oh. What were you before?"

"A law enforcement park ranger."

"I didn't know law enforcement park rangers were prone—"

"I get the idea," Michael interrupted. "I'm sure you got into more than your share of shoot-outs in combat."

"Who said I saw combat?"

Michael returned her smirk. "You said you knew your way around war."

"War and combat are two different things." Delgado stifled a cough. "I should have worn a surgical mask."

"The smell?"

"All the concrete dust kicked up into the air. Plays hell with the lungs. You don't realize until it's too late, when you can't stop coughing."

Michael joined her gaze at the toppled Statue of Liberty. The crown had dented upon impact, carving a divot the size of a car door into it, but the statue was otherwise intact. Even in such a condition, it was massive and impressive, a testament to the enduring spirit of the country.

"Any ideas about what could have done this?" Michael wondered.

"You mean who."

"No, I mean the kind of explosives they used."

"You know anything about explosives, Michael?"

"Only what the aftermath looks like when they go off."


This excerpt ends on page 16 of the hardcover edition.

Monday, June 24th, we begin the book Has Anyone Seen Charlotte Salter? by Nicci French.
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