The Heist - Janet Evanovich
Kate O’Hare’s favorite outfit was her blue windbreaker with the letters FBI written in yellow on the back, worn over a basic black T-shirt and matching black Kevlar vest. The ensemble went well with everything, particularly when paired with jeans and accessorized with a Glock. Thirty-three-year-old Special Agent O’Hare didn’t like feeling exposed and unarmed, especially on the job. That all but ruled her out for undercover work. Fine by her. She preferred a hard-charging style of law enforcement, which was exactly what she was practicing on that 96 degree winter afternoon in Las Vegas when she marched into the St. Cosmas Medical Center in her favorite outfit with a dozen similarly dressed agents behind her.
While the other agents fanned out to seal every exit in the building, Kate pushed past the security guards in the lobby and made her way like a guided missile to the first-floor office of Rufus Stott, the chief administrator of the hospital. She blew past Stott’s stunned assistant without even acknowledging her existence and burst into Stott’s office. The startled Stott yelped and nearly toppled out of his chrome-and-mesh ergonomic chair. He was a chubby, bottom-heavy little guy who looked like a turnip that some bored wizard had tapped with a magic wand and turned into a fifty-five-year-old bureaucrat. He had a spray tan, tortoise-shell glasses, and crotch wrinkles in his tan slacks. His hand was over his heart, and he was gasping for air.
“Don’t shoot,” he finally managed.
“I’m not going to shoot,” Kate said. “I don’t even have my gun drawn. Do you need water, or something? Are you okay?”
“No, I’m not okay,” Stott said. “You just scared the bejeezus out of me. Who are you? What do you want?”
“I’m Special Agent Kate O’Hare, FBI.” She slapped a piece of paper down on his desk. “This is a warrant giving us full access to your concierge wing.”
“We don’t have a concierge wing,” Stott said.
Kate leaned in close, locking her intense blue eyes on him. “Six obscenely wealthy and desperate patients flew in today from all over the country. They were picked up from McCarran airport by limos and brought here. Upon arrival at your private concierge wing, they each wired one million dollars to St. Cosmas’s offshore bank account and immediately jumped to the top of an organ waiting list.”
“You can’t be serious,” Stott said. “We don’t have any offshore bank accounts and we certainly can’t afford to rent limos. We’re teetering on bankruptcy.”
“That’s why you’re conducting off-the-books transplant surgeries using illegally acquired organs that you bought on the black market. We know those patients are here and being prepped for surgery right now. We will lock this building down and search every single room and broom closet if we have to.”
“Be my guest,” Stott said, and handed the warrant back to her. “We aren’t doing any transplant surgeries, and we don’t have a concierge wing. We don’t even have a gift shop.”
Stott no longer looked scared, and he didn’t look like he was lying. Not good signs, Kate thought. He should be in a cold sweat by now. He should be phoning his lawyer.
Eighteen hours earlier, Kate had been at her desk in L.A., tracking scattered intel on known associates of a wanted felon, when she’d stumbled on chatter about a certain financially strapped Las Vegas hospital offering organ transplants to the highest bidder. She dug deeper and discovered that the patients were already en route to Vegas for their surgeries, so she dropped everything and organized a rush operation.
“Take a look at this,” she said, showing Stott a photo on her iPhone.
It was a medium close-up of a man about her age wearing a loose-fitting polo shirt, soft and faded from years of use. His brown hair was windblown. His face was alight with a boyish grin that brought out the laugh lines at the corners of his brown eyes.
“Do you know this man?” she asked.
“Sure I do,” Stott replied. “That’s Cliff Clavin, the engineer handling the asbestos removal from our old building.”
Kate felt a dull ache in her stomach, and it wasn’t from the Jack in the Box sausage-and-egg sandwich she’d had for breakfast. Her gut, flat and toned despite her terrible eating habits, was where her anxieties and her instincts resided and liked to communicate with her in a language of cramps, pains, queasiness, and general malaise.
“Cliff Clavin is a character on the television show Cheers,” she said.
“Yeah, crazy coincidence, right?”
“What old building?” she asked him.
He turned to the window