A Maiden's Grave

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Authors: Jeffery Deaver
Tags: thriller
then reflected that perhaps he had. He and red-haired Derek had become fast friends.
    "Think about it, though," Budd persisted. "That's a scary place at high noon. At night? Brother, it'll be awful."
    "Whatever happens," Potter replied, "these next twenty-four hours aren't going to be very pleasant for those girls. They'll just have to live with it. We need to bunch them up. A single lantern'll do that."
    Budd grimaced in frustration. "There's a practical matter too. I'm thinking if it's too dark they might panic. Try to run. And get hurt."
    Potter looked at the brick walls of the old processing plant, as dark as dried blood.
    "You don't
want
them to get shot, do you?" Budd asked in exasperation, drawing LeBow's glance, though not Potter's.
    "But if we turn the power on," the agent said, "they'll have the whole slaughterhouse to hide themselves in. Handy could put them in ten different rooms." Potter pressed his cupped hands together absently as if making a snowball. "We
have
to keep them together."
    Budd said, "What we could do is get a generator truck here. Feed in a line. Four or five auto repair lights – you know, those caged lights on hooks. Just enough current to light up the main room. And that way if you ordered an assault we could shut down the juice any time we wanted. Which you couldn't do with a battery unit. And, look, at some point we're gonna have to communicate with those girls. Remember, they're deaf. If it's dark, how're we gonna do that?"
    That was a good point, one that Potter hadn't considered. In an assault someone would have to issue sign language evacuation instructions to the girls.
    Potter nodded. "Okay."
    "I'll get on it."
    "Delegate it, Charlie."
    "I aim to."
    Tobe pushed buttons. A hiss of static filled the van. "Shit," he muttered. He added to LeBow, "Got two men with Big Ears closer than they ought to be," referring to small parabolic microphones that under good conditions could pick up a whisper at a hundred yards. Today they were useless.
    "Damn wind," LeBow muttered.
    'Throw phone's ready," Tobe announced, pushing a small olive-drab backpack toward Potter. "Both downlink circuits're ready to receive."
    "We'll -"
    A phone buzzed. Potter grabbed it.
    "Potter here."
    "Agent Potter? We haven't met." A pleasant baritone boomed out of the speaker. "I'm Roland Marks, the assistant attorney general of the state."
    "Yes?" Potter asked coolly.
    "I'd like to share some thoughts with you, sir." Potter's impatience surged. There's no time for this, he thought to himself.
    "I'm very busy right now."
    "Some thoughts about state involvement. Just my two cents' worth."
    Potter had Charlie Budd, he had his containment troops, he had his command van. He needed nothing else from the state of Kansas. "This isn't a good time, I'm afraid."
    "Is it true that they've kidnaped eight young girls?"
    Potter sighed. "And two teachers. From the deaf school in Hebron. Yes, that's right. We're just about to establish contact and we're on a very tight schedule. I don't -"
    "How many takers are there?"
    "I'm afraid I don't have time to discuss the situation with you. The governor's been briefed and you can call our special agent in charge, Peter Henderson. I assume you know him."
    "I know Pete. Sure." The hesitant voice suggested he had little confidence in the man. "This could be a real tragedy, sir."
    "Well, Mr. Marks, my job is to make sure it doesn't turn out that way. I hope you'll let me get on with it."
    "I was thinking, maybe a counselor or priest could help out. In Topeka we've got ourselves this state employee assistance department. Some top-notch -"
    "I'm hanging up now," Potter said rather cheerfully. "Pete Henderson can keep you informed of our progress."
    "Wait a minute -"
    Click
.
    "Henry, pull some files. Roland Marks's. Assistant AG. Find out if he can make trouble. See if he's filed to run in any elections, got his eye on any appointments."
    "Just sounds like some do-good, knee-jerk, bleeding-heart liberal

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