Người mà cố gắng rồi thất bại vẫn tốt hơn nhiều so với người không cố gắng gì cả và thành công.

Lloyd James

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Tác giả: David Baldacci
Thể loại: Trinh Thám
Nguyên tác: The Whole Truth
Biên tập: Dieu Chau
Upload bìa: Dieu Chau
Language: English
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Chapter 13
HE DRUM-DRUM OF THE RAIN woke him. As he tried to get back to sleep the vibration next to his head elicited a small groan from him.
Shaw snatched up the device and read the message he’d just been sent.
Frank.
In the bed next to him was Anna. They’d properly consummated their engagement and then drank a bottle of Dom, glasses balanced precariously on flat bellies.
She slept soundly as Shaw rose, walked into the adjoining room, and punched in a number, knowing it would be answered immediately.
“Your gig over in old Dublin?” Frank said cheerfully. Shaw could imagine the man lounging in a chair somewhere, probably several time zones away, wearing the smug, shit-eating grin that masters reserved for conversations with their servants.
“What, your men not checking in with you regularly? Not that you need them to.” Shaw stared at his right side when he said this, where the old scar was. “And by the way, it’s 3 a.m. here. The thought ever run through that thick head of yours?”
“We’re a 24/7 op, Shaw. You know the rules.”
“Your rules.”
He yanked open the drapes and stared out at a dismal curtain of rain drenching the area.
“We need you, Shaw.”
“No you don’t. And even people like me need some damn R&R.”
“I can tell from your grumpy tone that you’re not alone.”
Shaw of course knew that Frank knew exactly where he was and who was with him. Yet the other man’s tone made him look away from the window and then race back to the bedroom to check on Anna. She was still sleeping peacefully, blissfully unaware that he was currently haggling with a professional psycho.
One of the woman’s long, elegantly formed legs lay on top of the sheet. It made Shaw want to wake her up, make love to her again. But then he had Frank on the phone. He returned to the other room and gazed out the window, exploring every crevice of the streets and alleys below for Frank’s boys. They were down there. They were always down there.
“Shaw, you still breathing?”
“I told you where I was going. So why keep me under the scope?”
“You did it to yourself. With all this crazy talk about retirement.”
“It wasn’t crazy talk. I’m done, Frank. The last one was the last one.”
Shaw could envision Frank shaking his head with the dent in the back from where he’d been shot at close range with a nine-millimeter SIG Sauer sporting custom grips. Shaw knew these intimate details because he’d been the one who’d shot Frank.
“We have a lot of work to do. The world is a very dangerous place.”
“Yeah, because of people like you.”
“It’s noble what we do, Shaw. It’s a matter of honor.”
“Save the babble for the rookies.”
Shaw heard the squeak of the chair as Frank sat up straighter. Okay, here it comes.
Frank’s voice was tight and hard as cement. “And where exactly are you going to retire to, you prick? A supermax facility?”
“The deal was for five years, Frank. I’ve hung on for almost six.”
“You nearly killed me.”
“You had a gun pointed at me. And you didn’t show your badge. I thought you were just one more goon looking to shoot me in the back.”
“So if I’d flashed my badge you’re telling me you wouldn’t have shot me in the frigging head?”
“I did take you to the closest hospital. Otherwise you would have bled to death.”
“Hospital!” Frank roared. “You left me holding what seemed like half my brain in the parking lot of a human chop shop in the middle of Istanbul.”
“You really think it was just half?”
“Look—”
But Shaw cut in. “I shot you in self-defense, but when your guys showed up in Greece a month later they obviously didn’t see it that way. So we made a deal and I lived up to it. There’s nothing else to talk about.” They did have a deal, Shaw knew. In return for not spending the rest of his life at hard labor in some hellhole in Siberia that Frank would’ve gleefully arranged once he’d recovered from the large-caliber hole in his head, Shaw had spent nearly six years running around the world risking his life so, as Frank quaintly put it, others could live in peace and security. Well, Shaw wanted a little peace and security in his life and he wanted it right now. With Anna.
Yet arrangements with men like Frank were sort of like hanging off the Golden Gate Bridge by your pinkies while high winds kicked off the bay. And Shaw couldn’t exactly grab a lawyer off the street and sue in open court for his contractual freedom. That was why he’d agreed to spend an extra year getting nearly shot, stabbed, poisoned, and even blown up. When he’d implied that tangling with the Amsterdam Islamic nuke squad was a cakewalk, he’d meant it.
“But for your special ‘skills’ I wouldn’t have offered you anything except a prison cell.”
This was news to Shaw. “So you were the one? Why?”
“After my brains got put back in my head I realized anybody who could almost take me out was somebody we needed on our side.”
“Then you should understand that I’ve done my duty.”
Frank said slowly, “I don’t know. I’ll have to talk to my people about that. Maybe I could bring myself to cutting you loose, but I don’t think they’ll be too happy about it.”
Shaw had never been able to go over, around, or through Frank. The burly baldy had stood his ground like a stone wall.
I should have shot him between the eyes.
“I don’t care if they’re happy! Just tell ’em what I said.”
“In the meantime I need you in Edinburgh and then Germany, Heidelberg. You don’t come through on that you can forget me talking to anybody except your new warden.”
Shaw was silent for a few moments, trying to get his anger under control. “This is the last time, Frank. This is it! You can tell your people whatever the hell you want. Understood?”
“Instructions the usual way. Two days. Enjoy Dublin. And your friend.”
“You really don’t want to go there.”
“Just making an observation.” The line went dead.
“I hate your guts, Frank,” Shaw whispered to the empty air.
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