Home > Bad Luck and Trouble (Jack Reacher #11)(12)

Bad Luck and Trouble (Jack Reacher #11)(12)
Author: Lee Child


"Someone I met."


"As a button."

"Cuter than Karla Dixon?"


"Cuter than me?"

"Is that even possible?"

"Did you sleep with her?"


"The woman in Portland."

"Why do you want to know that?"

Neagley didn't answer. She just shuffled the five sheets of contact information like a card player and dealt Reacher two and kept three for herself. Reacher got Tony Swan and Karla Dixon. He used the landline on the credenza and tried Swan first. Thirty, forty rings, no answer. He dabbed the cradle and tried Dixon's number. A 212 area code, for New York City. No answer. Six rings, and straight to a machine. He listened to Dixon's familiar voice and waited for the beep and left her the same message he had left earlier: "This is Jack Reacher with a ten-thirty from Frances Neagley at the Beverly Wilshire Hotel in Los Angeles, California. Get off your ass and call her back." Then he paused a beat and added: "Please, Karla. We really need to hear from you." Then he hung up. Neagley was closing her cell phone and shaking her head.

"Not good," she said.

"They could all be on vacation."

"At the same time?"

"They could all be in jail. We were a pretty rough bunch."

"First thing I checked. They're not in jail."

Reacher said nothing.

Neagley said, "You really liked Karla, didn't you? You sounded positively tender there, on the phone."

"I liked all of you."

"But her especially. Did you ever sleep with her?"

Reacher said, "No."

"Why not?"

"I recruited her. I was her CO. Wouldn't have been right."

"Was that the only reason?"



Reacher asked, "What do you know about their businesses? Is there any good reason why they should all be out of contact for days at a time?"

"I guess O'Donnell could have to travel overseas," Neagley said. "His practice is pretty general. Marital stuff could take him to hotels down in the islands, I guess. Or anyplace, if he's chasing unpaid alimony. Child abductions or custody issues could take him anywhere. People looking to adopt sometimes send detectives to Eastern Europe or China or wherever to make sure things are kosher. There are lots of possible reasons."


"I'd have to talk myself into really believing one of them."

"What about Karla?"

"She could be down in the Caymans looking for someone's money, I guess. But I imagine she'd do that on-line from her office. It's not like the money is actually there."

"So where is it?"

"It's notional. It's electricity in a computer."

"What about Sanchez and Orozco?"

"They're in a closed world. I don't see why they would ever have to leave Vegas. Not professionally."

"What do we know about Swan's company?"

"It exists. It does business. It files. It has an address. Apart from that, not much."

"Presumably it has security issues, or Swan wouldn't have gotten hired."

"All defense contractors have security issues. Or they think they ought to have, because they want to think what they do is important."

Reacher said nothing to that. Just sat and stared out the window. It was getting dark. A long day, nearly over. He said, "Franz didn't go to his office the morning he disappeared."

"You think?"

"We know. Angela had his set of keys. He left them home. He was going somewhere else that day."

Neagley said nothing.

"And the landlord at the strip mall saw the bad guys," Reacher said. "Franz's lock wasn't broken. They didn't take Franz's key from him, because he didn't have it in his pocket. Therefore they scammed one or bought one from the owner. Therefore the owner saw them. Therefore we need to find him tomorrow, along with everything else."

"Franz should have called me," Neagley said. "I would have dropped everything."

"I wish he had called you," Reacher said. "If you had been there, none of this bad stuff would have happened."

Reacher and Neagley ate dinner in the downstairs restaurant, front corner of the lobby, where a bottle of still water from Norway cost eight dollars. Then they said goodnight and split up and headed for their separate rooms. Reacher's was a chintzy cube two floors below Neagley's suite. He stripped and showered and folded his clothes and put them under the mattress to press. He got into bed and folded his hands behind his head and stared up at the ceiling. Thought about Calvin Franz for a minute, in random flashing images, the same way a political candidate's biography is squeezed into a thirty second television commercial. His memory made some of the pictures sepia and some of them washed out, but in all of them Franz was moving, talking, laughing, full of drive and energy. Then Karla Dixon joined the parade, petite, dark, sardonic, laughing with Franz. Dave O'Donnell was there, tall, fair, handsome, like a stockbroker with a switchblade. And Jorge Sanchez, durable, eyes narrowed, with a hint of a smile that showed a gold tooth and was as close as he ever came to showing contentment. And Tony Swan, as wide as he was high. And Manuel Orozco, opening and closing a Zippo lighter because he liked the sound so much. Even Stan Lowrey was there, shaking his head, drumming his fingers on a table to a rhythm only he could hear.

Then Reacher blinked all the pictures away and closed his eyes and fell asleep, ten-thirty in the evening, a long day, over.

Ten-thirty in the evening in Los Angeles was one-thirty the next morning in New York, and the last British Airways flight from London, delayed, had just landed at JFK. The delay meant that the last immigration watch in British Airways' own terminal had already gone off duty, so the plane taxied to Terminal Four and fed its passengers through the giant arrivals hall there. Third in the visitors' line was a first-class passenger who had napped in seat 2K for most of the trip. He was medium height, medium weight, expensively dressed, and he radiated the kind of expansive self-confident courtesy typical of people who know how lucky they are to have been rich all their lives. He was perhaps forty years old. He had thick black hair, shiny, beautifully cut, and the kind of mid-brown skin and regular features that could have made him Indian, or Pakistani, or Iranian, or Syrian, or Lebanese, or Algerian, or even Israeli or Italian. His passport was British, and it passed the Immigration agent's scrutiny with no trouble at all, as did its owner's manicured forefingers on the electronic fingerprint pad. Seventeen minutes after unclipping his seat belt the guy was out in the shiny New York night, walking briskly to the head of the cab line.


At six the next morning Reacher went up to Neagley's suite. He found her awake and showered and guessed she had been working out somewhere for an hour. Maybe in her room, maybe in the hotel gym. Maybe she had been out jogging. She looked sleek and pumped up and vital in a way that suggested there was a whole lot of oxygenated blood doing the rounds inside her.

They ordered room service breakfast and spent the waiting time on another fruitless round of phone calls. No answer from East LA, none from Nevada, none from New York, none from Washington D.C. They didn't leave messages. They didn't redial or try again. And when they hung up, they didn't talk about it. They just sat in silence until the waiter showed up and then they ate eggs and pancakes and bacon and drank coffee. Then Neagley called down to the valet station and ordered her car.

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