A Maiden's Grave

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Authors: Jeffery Deaver
Tags: thriller
to me," scowled Henry LeBow, who'd voted Democratic all his life, Eugene McCarthy included.
    "All right," Potter said, forgetting immediately about the attorney general's call, "let's get a volunteer with a good arm. Oh, one more thing." Potter buttoned his navy jacket and lifted a finger to Budd. He motioned to the door. "Step out here, would you please, Charlie?"
    Outside they stood in the faint shadow of the van. "Captain," Potter said, "you better tell me what's eating you. That I stepped on your toes back there?"
    "Nope," came the chilly response. "You're federal. I'm state. It's in the Constitution. Preeminence, they call it."
    "Listen," Potter said firmly, "we don't have time for delicacies. Get it off your chest now. Or live with it, whatever it is."
    "What're we doing? Taking off our insignias and going at it?" Budd laughed without much humor.
    Potter said nothing but lifted an eyebrow.
    "All right, how's this? What's eating me is I know you're supposed to be good at this and I've never done a negotiation before. I hear you barking orders right and left like you know exactly what you're doing but don't you think there's one thing you neglected to mention?"
    "What?"
    "You didn't say hardly three words about those girls in there."
    "What about them?"
    "I just thought you should've reminded everybody that our number-one priority is getting those girls out alive."
    "Oh," Potter said, his mind elsewhere as he scanned the battlefield. "But that's not our number-one priority at all, Charlie. The rules of engagement are real clear. I'm here to get the takers to surrender and, if they don't, to help Hostage Rescue engage and neutralize them. I'll do everything in my power to save the people inside. That's why it's me, not HRT, running the show. But those men in there aren't leaving Crow Ridge except in body bags or handcuffs. And if that means those hostages have to die, then they're going to die. Now if you could find me that volunteer – a fellow with a good arm to pitch the phone. And hand me that bullhorn too, if you'd be so kind."

NOON
    As he walked through a shallow gully that eventually ran into the south side of the slaughterhouse, Arthur Potter said to Henry LeBow, "We'll want engineer reports on any modifications to the building. EPA too. I want to know if there're any tunnels."
    The intelligence officer nodded. "It's being done. And I'm checking on easements too."
    "Tunnels?" Budd asked.
    Potter told him about the terrorist barricade at the Vanderbilt mansion in Newport, Rhode Island, three years before. The Hostage Rescue Team had completely surprised the HTs by sneaking through a steam tunnel into the basement of the building. The tycoon had ordered the furnace installed away from the house so the noise and smoke wouldn't disturb his guests, never knowing that his sense of social decorum would save the lives of fifteen Israeli tourists a hundred years later.
    The agent noticed that Dean Stillwell had reorganized troopers and agents in good defensive positions around the building. Halfway to the slaughterhouse Potter paused suddenly and looked toward the glint of water in the distance.
    To Budd, Potter said, "I want all river traffic stopped."
    "Well, um, that's the Arkansas River."
    "So you told us."
    "I mean, it's a big river."
    "I can see."
    "Well, why? You thinking they'll have accomplices floating in on rafts?"
    "No." In the ensuing silence Potter challenged Budd to figure it out. He wanted the man to start
thinking
.
    "You're not afraid they'd try and swim out to a barge? They'd drown for sure. It's a mean current here."
    "Ah, but they might want to try. I want to make sure they don't even think of it. Just like keeping the choppers away."
    Budd said, "Okay. I'll do it. Only who should I call? The coast guard? I don't think there's any such thing as a coast guard on rivers here." His frustration was evident. "I mean, who should I call?"
    "I don't know, Charlie. You'll have to find out." On his cellular

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