Home > Dark Angel (Letty Davenport #2)

Dark Angel (Letty Davenport #2)
Author: John Sandford




   In the summer of 2021, the woman flew into Miami International with nothing to declare but the clothes she stood in, a phony passport, an iPhone with a broken screen, and a ballpoint pen. The pen didn’t work, but did conceal a two-inch-long razor-sharp blade that could be used to slice open a carotid artery (for example).

   She looked more than tired. Exhausted, but fighting it. She had dishwater blond hair that hadn’t been washed recently, a mottled tan, turquoise eyes, and a thin white scar that extended from one nostril down across her lips to her chin.

   The clothes she stood in were speckled with mud and what the young Customs and Border Patrol officer thought might be dried blood; the clothes reeked of old sweat and something else, like swamp water.

   Her ragged tee-shirt—the only clothing above her waist, worn paper thin, he could see her nipples pushing out against it—featured a drawing of a llama with a legend that said “Como Se Llama?” which the young officer understood as a Spanish pun. She had flown in on United, from the Aeropuerto Internacional Jorge Chávez in Lima, Peru. How she’d gotten on the plane, he couldn’t even guess.

   The CBP officer was giving her his best no-admittance stink-eye as he thumbed through her passport. He asked, “Your name is Angeles Chavez?”

   The woman shook her head: “No.”

   “What?” Hadn’t heard that before; he checked her turquoise-green eyes. “Then what is it?”

   “I’m not allowed to tell you that.”

   He was about to call for help when the head of the CBP unit stepped up behind his booth, took the passport from his hand, and said, “Let her in.”

   Hadn’t heard that before, either. He let her in.

   A man in a plutonium suit and tie was standing a few feet behind his boss, rolling a wooden matchstick between his lips. When the woman whose name wasn’t Angeles Chavez stepped past the CPB booth, the man took the matchstick out of his mouth, grinned, and asked, “How you doin’, honey-bun?”

   “I think I got a leech up my ass,” the woman said.


* * *



   So then Letty Davenport was sitting on a battered swivel chair in a near-empty room on the second floor of a warehouse off Statesville Road in Charlotte, North Carolina, watching a door on another warehouse across the street.

   August was slipping away, but the heat was holding on with both hands, and the warehouse was only somewhat air-conditioned. When she lifted her arms to look through her binoculars, she could smell her armpits, if only faintly, and her face was . . . moist.

   Letty was twenty-five, of average height, dancer-slender and dancer-muscled, with dark hair that fell to the nape of her neck. Crystalline blue eyes. A whiff of Tom Ford’s Fucking Fabulous perfume mixed with the perspiration. She was an investigator for the inspector general of the Department of Homeland Security, although her real boss was a U.S. senator.

   She’d suffered a spasm of fame, or notoriety, after a shoot-out in the Rio Grande town of Pershing, Texas, the year before, in which she’d killed two men. She’d shot to death a third man earlier in the same trip.

   All for God and Country; Country, anyway.

   Behind her, in the long, wide, near-empty room was a ping-pong table. Three youngish FBI agents were taking turns being bad at ping-pong when they weren’t trying to determine her relationship status.

   Nothing had come through the door across the street in the two hours that Letty had been watching it, but she wasn’t bored. She had a laptop where it was supposed to be—on her lap—and she was riding on a wi-fi signal from the food wholesaler next door.

   From Bing, the search app, she’d learned that South Koreans now disliked China more than they disliked Japan, that housing prices might be peaking. She’d also read in the New York Times about five fascinating things she could do this weekend, if she lived in New York City, which she didn’t, and if she was easily fascinated, which she wasn’t.

   Without warning, a door popped open behind her.

   Letty swiveled and reflexively picked up the Sig 938 from the windowsill as a woman came through the door, saw the pistol, lifted her hands and said, “Don’t shoot.”

   Letty: “Cartwright?”

   “That’s me.” The woman with the turquoise-green eyes had a fresh set of clothing. “I wanted to be here for this.”

   “I was told you had a leech up your ass.”

   “All taken care of,” Cartwright said. She waved to the three FBI agents, but strolled over to Letty. “Tequila works wonders, when properly applied. You know. By drinking it.”

   Letty smiled and said, “We were supposed to get a call to say you were on the way up.”

   Cartwright shrugged. “I dunno. The drop-off guy just dropped me off and said to go to the second floor.”

   “Sounds about right for government work,” Letty said. She looked back across the street. “Bogard and Holsum haven’t shown up yet. Dupree walked around the truck and looked inside, an hour ago. That was the last time I saw him. The feds over there”—nodded at the FBI agents—“are all looking for dates, so you might keep that in mind.”

   “I will.” Cartwright looked through the dirt-spotted window at the semi-trailer backed up to the loading dock across the street. Like Letty, she was average height and dancer-slender. Her blond hair was pulled back in a short efficient ponytail. Like Letty, she was wearing jeans, but with a khaki overshirt to hide her pistol. She was seven years older than Letty, but they might have been sisters.

   “Got a good spot here; how long does it take to get across the street?”

   “From here, standing start, eleven seconds to get across the room, down the fire stairs, to the exit, which is right below us,” Letty said. “They’ll see us coming.”

   “You think they could be trouble?”

   “Don’t know. I interviewed Dupree. You should have gotten a transcript.”

   “I did. Sounded fake-cooperative,” Cartwright said.

   “Exactly. But, I got him jumpy, with the urge to move. When I saw him, he wasn’t carrying. On the other hand, he’s an office worker in a government building. Bogard and Holsum are the reddest of necks and they’re freelance. Even if they’re not carrying, I’d be surprised if they didn’t have a few guns around.”

   “And this will go off around six o’clock?”

   “Yes. Most of the employees get out around four-thirty. I think they’ll wait until it’s quiet. Give it an hour or so.”

   The FBI agents had given up on the ping-pong and come over to meet Cartwright. One of them said, “An hour or so if it happens at all.”

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