she was still on the phone or if Jacinto had hung up on her. “Don’t let them get away with this. Don’t pay them, whatever threats they make, whatever—”
“ ¡Cállate! ” A boot landed hard in his side and something cracked. Suddenly, he couldn’t draw a full breath without pain splintering his every thought and he collapsed onto the concrete floor with bone-jolting force.
Jacinto grabbed his tie and hauled him upright. Breath that reeked of cigarettes and coffee and something spicy invaded his nose as a broad, dark face pressed so close, an irrational fear that Jacinto was going to kiss him flitted through his brain.
“I speak Ingles, asshole,” Jacinto said in thickly accented English and jerked on the tie, cutting off his oxygen. “Try something like that again, I will kill you. I don’t need to keep you alive now that they have proof of life. Remember that.”
LOS ANGELES, CA
As far as second communications went, that wasn’t the worst. Wasn’t the best, either, and a hard knot of dread settled in FBI negotiator Danny Giancarelli’s stomach. He set down the phone and exchanged a knowing glance with his partner, then they both turned to Special Agent in Charge Frank Perry.
“What—what was that?” Chloe Van Amee’s voice was high, verging on a screech. She looked from one of them to the next, eyes frantic, complexion white despite her tan. “We’re going to pay them, right? Yes, of course we’re going to pay them. Brys doesn’t know what he’s saying. We have to pay them. We—”
“Mrs. Van Amee,” Danny said since Frank Perry didn’t seem to care to step up and do his job to calm the woman. “This isn’t unusual. Your husband is frightened, feeling out of control, and trying to take back whatever control he can.”
“Oh God.” She doubled over in her chair and covered her face with her hands.
Standing over Chloe’s shuddering form, Rick O’Keane arched a brow. Danny gave his partner an almost imperceptible shrug. It might be true. Bryson was no doubt frightened, but usually hostages were willing to pony up anything for their release. Wasn’t often he heard a hostage say not to pay.
God, he wished Marcus Deangelo was here. His former partner knew how to handle family members better than any other agent in the office.
“We’re obviously dealing with professionals,” Frank Perry said, and Danny turned in his seat to stare at him. “Don’t worry, Mrs. Van Amee. They don’t want your husband’s life. All they want is the money.”
Hell. He can’t know that after two very short freakin’ phone conversations with the HTs—hostage takers. They didn’t know anything yet, other than Bryson was still alive, his ransom was around sixty million and some change, and the HTs wanted the exchange to happen as soon as possible.
O’Keane looked just as thunderstruck, and nothing much surprised the Irishman. He cleared his throat and jerked his head toward the corner of the room in a we-need-to-talk gesture.
“Perry.” Danny stood and motioned him toward the corner as well. “Let’s talk.”
Perry ignored them both. “Mrs. Van Amee—Chloe. Is it okay if I call you Chloe?” When she gave a watery nod, he took the chair across from her that Danny had vacated. “Do you have access to funds for the ransom payment?”
“My suggestion is that you start making calls, whatever you need to get the ransom money ready. Your husband’s best chance, our best chance, is to pay what they ask.”
“Now I think we’re getting ahead of ourselves,” the suit from the insurance company said. Always protecting that bottom line. Danny couldn’t remember his name and frankly didn’t care to know it, but in this instance, he had to agree with the man.
They had the resources to send someone to Colombia and get Bryson out. A team of SEALs stationed in Coronado trained with Danny’s office, as well as several other Special Forces units—any of them could go in after
Kevin J. & Peart Anderson