Lucky Score: A Lucky O'Toole Novel
The barrel of a gun pressed to my temple stopped me mid-stride.
“Put your hands up.” A female voice, forced to a deeper timbre, whispered in my ear, her breath hot on my check.
Adrenaline surged through me. My anger spiked.
Saturday night. Vegas. My hotel. A crowd packed in.
Over my dead body.
I grabbed the gunman’s forearm, pushing upwards. Then I reached up twisting the pistol out of her hand. She yelped in pain as I wrenched her arm behind her, dropping her to her knees.
My knee poised to pop her elbow should she even look at me cross-eyed, I stared down at my newly discovered cousin who was more like a half-sister, Bethany. Only seventeen, she was all arms and legs, big eyes and bad judgment.
“The gun’s a fake. I was just…” She stammered then stopped as the error of her joke washed over her a minute too late—I could see it in the widening of her eyes, the flush of her flawless skin. Her youth mocked my age. I realized with a sinking stomach I was twice her age. Time traded for wisdom, though, most days, nobody could prove it by me.
In kids, time could mitigate stupidity. In the rest of us, well, a cure remained elusive.
I cranked her arm a little harder, forcing home my displeasure and maybe a bit of a lesson.
The crowd milling in the lobby had moved back, giving us a wide berth. Thankfully nobody had panicked at the sight of the gun. We all were a bit twitchy about that sort of thing right now, all things considered. When I tucked the pistol in my waistband at the small of my back, the crowd clapped. “Party’s over. False alarm.”
A few folks snapped photos. Should one of them show up in the Review-Journal, well, it would teach my cousin a lesson, but I shut down the shutterbugs with a glare. “Don’t even think about it. Privacy concerns trump your right to gain followers.”
Keeping the Babylon, Vegas’s primo Strip resort casino hotel out of the news was my job, at least the one they paid me for.
People drifted back into what they had been doing, ogling, drinking, chatting, looking for the next Vegas conquest—normal activities on a Saturday night.
How soon they forget. Don’t let them forget.
Immobilized by her arm at a painful angle and my hands applying the leverage, Bethany hadn’t moved. Her long hair hung across her face. She wore fatigues, boots, with a hint of face paint still lingering behind her ear.
I didn’t ease up on the pressure. “That was about the dumbest stunt in the history of mankind.” Only a few months ago a guy had opened fire from the Mandalay Bay Hotel. A horror that tore the fabric of mankind. And no matter how carefully we stitched life back together, the fabric would never be whole again, never be as it once was.
None of us would be.
She angled a wide-eyed look up at me. “I just wanted to get your attention.”
“That was the most insensitive, asinine, juvenile…” I was struck with the total inadequacy of words. “Do you know how many people died?” The horror of that night, the outdoor concert, the bullets flying, people dropping, screaming.
“You’re right, seriously stupid. I wasn’t thinking. As a joke it—”
“A Joke! A gun is never a joke. Nor are they toys! What the hell is everyone thinking these days?” Treading the line between protecting a right to own a gun and keeping guns out of the hands of psychopaths and idiots required a balance the country had yet to find. “Where the hell did you get a gun?” I growled, my anger spilling over, dousing rational thought.
“It’s not real. Ow!”
“Not real?” Sure looks like it.” I gave her arm another tweak, less than I wanted but probably more than I should have. I could almost feel the stinger racing up her arm myself. “There are consequences to every stupidity. You put a gun to my head, you’re lucky to be alive. Had a security guy been close by…” A security guard with a twitchy trigger finger and a crowded lobby—dear God!
After releasing her arm, I helped her to her feet then keyed Security on my phone. “Stand down. I got this. False alarm.”
“Roger that.” A male voice I didn’t recognize.
“Security?” Bethany looked at me wide-eyed. Only a few weeks into being a Vegas resident, Bethany had yet to learn that, in a hotel like mine, with cameras everywhere, no movement went unwatched.
“Somebody walks into a casino with a gun, people get their knickers in a serious twist.” I pointed to some of the cameras hidden among the blown glass hummingbirds and butterflies taking wing across the lobby ceiling. “Somebody’s always watching. We can never be too careful.” Had I ever been stupid enough to put a gun to somebody’s head and not mean to pull the trigger?
After the recent shootings, we’d taken to x-raying every bag that went up to a room. Stuff a couple of rifles in a golf bag and hoist it on your shoulder like you just enjoyed a quick eighteen holes. Nobody would’ve thought anything of it…before. Amazing how one shot of adrenaline and I was right back to that night. I rubbed my hands together to keep them from shaking. Of course, putting them around my cousin’s neck would also do the trick. “What’s with the commando gear?”
“School doesn’t start until the fall, so I got a job.” Shoulders back she tried to reclaim some dignity. Folks wandering past still gave her some serious side-eye and a wide berth, which she tried to ignore.
“As a mercenary?” I glanced up from my examination of her gun. Lighter than most pistols, it had the same look if not quite the same feel. “Before you start at Cornell, I suggest you grow a brain.”
Lacking even a flimsy rationale, she wisely conceded.
The end of the barrel had an orange ring around it. “What is this?”
“Indicates that’s an air gun. I’m working the field at War Vegas.”
“The new place west of town where everyone dresses up like a Marine or something and pretends they’re retaking Fallujah?”
“Yeah.” The girl looked proud so I kept my derogatory thoughts to myself. Maybe I was getting old, but I couldn’t see how running around shooting people advanced society. Silly me, but I thought that was the sort of thing we were working to put a kibosh on. “It’s so realistic,” she said, her enthusiasm growing. “The guns look real, but only shoot plastic pellets—they sting when they hit, but no lasting damage—just enough to know you’re dead.”
“You do know this conversation is super alarming, right?”
As she opened her mouth to answer, a scream echoed over the crowd in the lobby.
People stopped, glasses half-raised, their mouths open, their posture frozen as if The Ruler of the Universe had hit “pause”.
The scream came from the direction of the front entrance. I couldn’t see anything through the crowd, so I starting pushing my way in that direction. Bethany dogged my heels.
My name is Lucky O’Toole, and as Vice President of Customer Relations here at the Babylon, screamers were my business.
This one didn’t sound like as a draw-your-weapon-and-storm-the-castle kind of scream so I didn’t run, keeping my pace slightly under a panicked run. The key was to keep it nonchalant, but be the one who arrived first.
To be honest, running would have been a bit optimistic. Limping along like Igor, I was a far cry from fluid form. My leg didn’t exactly scream, but the muscle grabbed, demanding attention. Nothing like having a balky body part that still wanted to whine at being perforated by a bullet. I danced around on one leg as I massaged the offended extremity. A month should be plenty of time for healing, or at least abatement of whining, so my sympathy was flagging a bit. Physical limitations weren’t part of my game plan and they made me a tad testy. As did stupid seventeen year-olds.
And now a screamer. Could tonight get any more fun?
“Are you okay?” Bethany asked from right behind my left shoulder.
“Never better.” With my ego on the line, I launched off again with renewed vigor. Taking my weight only on my toe, I could move without whimpering. Still, I nearly took out two children who had no business being in the lobby of a Vegas hotel at this time of night—not that is was terribly late, the night just amping up. But, if you started life in a casino, where would you finish up?
Rhetorical question—I was the walking, talking answer. Well, actually, I started life in a whorehouse in Pahrump, but a story for another day.
Bethany, showing a curious flash of wisdom, stayed behind me and didn’t try to rush ahead.
I hoped the screamer was nothing more than a drama queen low on attention. We had those in spades in Vegas…and it was Saturday night. Probably a full moon, too—the crowd had that kind of vibe. I’d maxed my Fitbit running from one crisis to another. I glanced at my phone. Four minutes to handle the screamer before I was needed elsewhere, not even a challenge for my super-powers.
The NFL memorabilia signing event would end in five minutes and I’d been on my way to help the former greats of the game make their way to the after party.
A quick dodge around the future wards of the state, I grimaced as my knee let me know what it thought of that, then I bounced off a wall of solid human flesh. Two men, encased like sausages in suits. They didn’t even register my blow.
Part of the NFL contingent in town to celebrate the Oakland Raiders becoming the Las Vegas Raiders, or whatever name some marketing firm chose in the future. A big win for my town.
But one that came with a whole new set of problems.
Completely unaware of my presence, the men stared over my head.
Bethany tugged on my arm, “Do you know who that is?” Breathless, she stared at one of the players overtaken by a serious case of hero worship she didn’t even try to hide.
“Beau Boudreaux, bad boy extraordinaire. Life will teach you to steer a wide berth around those kinds of guys.”
Boudreaux glanced at me and lifted one corner of his mouth in a mock as if to say there were lots of stupid women in the world for him to hack and slash his way through. That might be the case, but my cousin wouldn’t be one of them—not if I had anything to say about it. Several months from her eighteenth birthday, Bethany was still jailbait, so I had a little time to figure out how to make her listen to all I’d learned the hard way.
While I was struggling for a retort, another cream echoed over the crowd.
Okay, not a normal screamer. One scream could mean anything. Two screams narrowed the scope of possibilities to serious.
I tugged on the sleeve of the NFL guy closest to me, the one who wasn’t Boudreaux. “Can you see anything?”
“Naw. A bunch of looky-loos in the way. Probably some female all bent out of shape.”
Ya’ think? That much was obvious, but pointing that out would probably not be in my best interest. I ducked around the two players. The time for measured calm over, this time I picked up the pace.
She screamed a third time.
I fought the urge to run.
The humans teeming in the lobby, their heads on swivels, moved toward the sound.
Working my way through the thickening crowd, I still couldn’t see anything. At least the surge of humanity was moving with me. I grabbed my phone and hit a familiar speed dial. “Security?”
“Security.” The new voice again, deep with a serious edge. I’d been hoping for Jerry, our Head of Security.
“O’Toole here. Who am I talking with?” I didn’t bother to keep the hard out of my voice—nice took time, time I didn’t have.
“Jack Fox, acting security head, Ma’am.”
I’d never heard of this kid and Jerry had given him temporary control of Security? “And Jerry? Where is he?”
“On a break, ma’am.”
Jerry didn’t take breaks, but now was not the time to argue. “Okay, Fox, we have a screamer by the front entrance. What’s happening? Can you see?” One of the security cameras ought to give them a bird’s eye.
“Yes, ma’am. Bringing up the feed now.” One of the security folks responsible for monitoring the lobby must have already alerted Fox.
I’d made my peace with the whole ma’am thing: I chose to see it as a sign of respect rather than age. A pyrrhic victory and probably completely delusional, but delusion was my best escape from reality.
I eased through an opening in the crowd and darted ahead past a couple clutching each other with one hand and a flute of Champagne with the other. The girl’s tiara identified her as the bride. Ahead of them, a gaggle of young men looking for mischief formed a wedge to part the crowd. I fell into trail behind them. “What do you see?” I shouted into my phone to be heard above the excited murmurs around me.
“Holy shit!” Apparently Mr. Jack Fox was as young as he sounded. And not particularly helpful.
But his response did tell me one thing: I was going to need help with this one. “Send a detail NOW!”
“Yes, ma’am.” The young voice sobered. “Ms. O’Toole, he has a knife.”
A guy with an automatic weapon and several full clips was our worst-case scenario. A man with a knife, a distant second, but still a major problem in need of a quick solution. My heart rate climbed until blood pounded in my ears. “Is he…?”
“No, ma’am. He’s just standing there. There’s a lot of blood. Should I make the calls?”
“Put someone between him and the crowd and get the crowd back. I’m seconds away, if someone would get this wall of humanity out of my way.”
“Do you need help with that?”
“No, just keep him from hurting anyone until I get there. Can you see any victim?”
“But there’s blood?”
“All over him.”
“There has to be a victim somewhere. Find him!” I used the masculine generically, but a man with a knife? In all probability the victim was a woman. So many men came to Vegas with a need for sex and with no respect for the women who provided it. One of those ethical swords men regularly threw themselves on. But the women were the ones bloodied.
“Roust the doc out of bed, but wait on the paramedics.” The media stuck to the EMTs like remora on sharks. “Security is on its way, right?”
“Have them fan out. Given that he’s covered in blood, the guy couldn’t have wandered too far from the scene of the crime. We need to find his victim STAT.”
Snaking through the crowd, I took a moment to think. The crowd was interested, calm not panicked. And odd commentary on modern life that a man with a knife was viewed as a curiosity and not a threat. But then again, this was Vegas where everything was part of the show.
Until it wasn’t.
Jack Fox jumped into the silence. “But the blood. I think it best to call the EMTs.” The kid had balls—not one of the best attributes for a young security guard, but usually the kind attracted to this kind of work. I bet he even wore his shirts two sizes too small to show off the size of his biceps.
“My job is to do the thinking, Fox. Your job is to do as you’re told.”
“Roger.” One word slid in like a lethal blade between two ribs.
Guess I wasn’t a ma’am anymore. So much for the whole respect thing. “On second thought, you’re right.” I so wanted to avoid the spectacle of flashing lights and sirens but, on the theory that where there was horseshit, there was a horse, we needed to be prepared to find a victim in need of medical attention. “Rally the EMTS, and find Jerry and have him call Metro, tell him to keep it on the down low. We don’t need the cops screaming in here, too. He’ll know who to call. You start working through the video feed. Trace the guy with the knife. I want to know where he came from and how he got to my lobby. First priority is to immobilize him. I’ve got that one. Second priority: Find who donated all that blood. I can’t stress the urgency of that enough.” I disconnected then called my office. Miss P, my Number One answered on the first ring. “I need you to sub for me at the signing.” The NFL legends, past and current, would be signing memorabilia in the Golden Fleece Room. Someone from my staff needed to be there. “Escort them to the party at Babel.” Babel was our über cool rooftop lounge and club.
“On my way.” Miss P rang off. Ours was a long and close corporate marriage where verbal shorthand sufficed.
The crowd thickened as I drew closer—human concrete setting-up from fluid to impassable. My plow of young men now became a wall.
“Everybody back!” I shouted as if anyone would listen.
Nobody even glanced my way.
I wedged a shoulder between two more big guys, these two blocking my way. “Excuse me.”
One glanced at me. “No way, lady.”
I elbowed him in the ribs hard enough to make a point but stopping short of breaking anything. As he cringed, I moved through.
“Shit, lady, I think you broke my rib. All you had to do was ask.” He put a hand on my shoulder, jerking me back.
I met him eye-to-eye, mine slitty, his bloodshot and wide with surprise. Most bullies didn’t expect a woman topping six feet with some bulk behind her punches. “Let go. If you don’t, next it’ll be your nose.”
Wisely, he let his hand drop.
“That was so cool,” Bethany said from behind me as she rubbed her shoulder.
My definition of cool and hers were separated by seventeen years.
People around us muttered, their excitement growing.
I could read that murmur—someone recognizable.
Many around me pulled out their phones, holding them high to get unobstructed photos.
“Everybody back! No photos.”
Nobody moved. Phones remained high.
Finally I shouldered through into the open and drew a deep breath.
A man, covered in blood and holding a knife, and pretty decent blade at that. Twelve inches, a serrated edge, it had a black plastic handle, a coating of blood and military look to it.
Bethany gasped when she saw him.
I put out an arm, keeping the girl back.
“I know that guy,” she whispered as she clung near my shoulder.
“Yeah.” I knew him, too.
Nolan Ponder—the owner of the Vegas-bound NFL team, with money to burn and a lifestyle to match wore a dazed expression and wobbled on unsteady legs.
He’d been making big promises, stepping on more than few toes to coerce the approval of the team owners, the league, and apparently the Almighty herself, to bring the Oakland Raiders to Vegas. The whole thing hinged on a unique money deal. A deal requiring a significant State investment. A deal lacking support from those who were scarping by and in need of State assistance. A deal orchestrated by the man holding the knife.
Blood coated Mr. Ponder’s hands and actually most of the rest of him. The only way I’d keep this out of the news was if he’d been on a hunting trip and had decided to gut an Elk in our lobby. The tux he wore pretty much shot a hole in that theory. Covered in dirt, he looked like he’d been in close hand-to-hand combat and rolling around in the desert.
“No,” Bethany insisted. “I know him. Like I saw him tonight.”
I didn’t have time to draw her out. Ponder needed to be de-weaponed before he perforated a guest. “Stay right here,” I barked as I rushed toward him with a security detail a few steps behind me. At least the new kid in Security had known serious when he heard it.
Stopping in front of Mr. Ponder, I waved the security guys away. “One of you, get rid of the crowd.” My eyes left Mr. Ponder for a flash, just to make sure the security guys understood my order was not a suggestion.
They both gave me the bug-eye. Easy to interpret: Saturday night, the crowd our normal level of epic. But, I was the boss. One of the security dudes, I assumed the more junior, peeled off and started moving the crowd back.
I gave our main attraction my undivided. “Mr. Ponder, are you hurt?”
Nolan Ponder, his shirt red with fresh blood, his tux jacket showing wet-dark stains and a white powdery substance that covered his left should and arm, looked right through me. Breathing hard, he struggled to pull in each breath. “Hurt?” His eyes flicked to mine.
“Want me to take him?” The remaining security guy hulked at my shoulder.
“No, I got this. Just wait. Step back a little. Keep the kid here.” I nodded at my sister, then inched closer to Mr. Ponder. I couldn’t see any pulsing wounds, but truth exceeded expectation—there was way more blood that I thought possible. He breathed heavily, deep, tortured lungs full of air. The whites of his eyes were visible—did that mean I could shoot him? I forget.
Random clichés attack me when panic strikes, what can I say?
And panic was setting in. I felt the glare of the cameras. My each move would be recorded and then shredded by lawyers and the vast public for eons to come. Okay, overstating, but at least for my lifetime, which was all that mattered to me.
Pink tinged his skin—not the pale of someone losing a lot of blood. He weaved a bit, occasionally shuffling a foot to maintain balance. Blood splatter stitched across his face—a well-dressed, garish Frankenstein. I couldn’t imagine where he’d been, what he’d been doing—in fact, I didn’t want to.
Visuals tended to implant themselves in my gray matter and torture me in the wee hours.
He reeked of back alley fear mingling with the metallic tang of blood, but no alcohol. I wondered what kind of drugs he’d been doing. Or maybe he’d had a total psychotic break. Wealthy, handsome, influential, with the requisite arm-candy wife, number four if I remember correctly, he didn’t seem the type to have any sorrows to drown in or mask with mind-altering substances, but I’d been surprised before.
I’d leave the why for the cops. But I’d sure like to know the who and the what.
“Mr. Ponder. It’s Lucky O’Toole, Albert Rothstein’s daughter. The V.P. of Customer Relations here at the Babylon.” I searched for a glimmer of recognition.
When he raised his hand, I took a step back, even though he seemed confused by the knife he held and not particularly intent on burying it in my chest.
“Lucky, can I help?” A familiar voice sounded behind me. Jerry. A trim black man, pressed and proper in khakis with the sleeves of his starched shirt rolled up and a flash of gold at the wrist, his tone and manner invoked calm, but demanded compliance.
“No.” It came out a bit harsher than I intended. “I got this.” Problems were my thing and Mr. Ponder was the very definition of a huge problem. Besides, he knew my father—not a friend, more a respected adversary—but still, this was Vegas and relationships were currency. “Is Romeo on his way?” I didn’t want to say “police.” Past experience taught me that particular word makes gun wielding, blood covered folks a bit twitchy.
I so needed a new job.
Jerry tried to cover a hint of anger with concern. He needn’t have bothered. “Yeah. I told him lights off. No need to attract an even larger crowd.”
Detective Romeo was my ace-up-my-sleeve with the Metropolitan Police Department, Metro to us locals. Through the last year or so, the young detective and I had forged an easy alliance.
I glanced past Ponder to the front doors where, for the moment, a phalanx of valets barred entry and exit. “While we’re waiting on him, get some of your men to ask out front how Mr. Ponder arrived here.”
Jerry motioned to his men who had been close enough to hear. They filtered away through the crowd, which was now well back, alleviating the claustrophobic crush but giving the camera bugs better shots.
For every action, an equal and opposite reaction. Yin and yang—one of the immutable rules of existence.
Jerry inserted himself between me and the knife. “Let me,” out of the side of his mouth. Translated, it meant stay out of my way. Possible threats to my health and physical well-being brought out the Papa Bear in Jerry—he’d been my mentor long before I’d earned partner status.
Technically, now with the recent promotion, I was Jerry’s boss, but neither of us stood on that bit of corporate fiction.
Mr. Ponder raised the knife. Alarm flashed across his face.
I didn’t wait. I leapt at Mr. Ponder, pushing the knife down. Jerry stuck a leg behind him, then pushed Ponder backwards. He landed with a thud on his back, the air leaving him in a whoosh. Jerry went with him, landing on top, using his weight to hold Ponder down. The knife clattered across the marble. Not wanting to disturb any evidence or add any trace of my own, I left it where it fell. Instead, I grabbed a gun out of the holster of the security guard standing next to me. “You haven’t gotten to the part of the course where they tell you what this is for?” I asked, not expecting an answer, which was a good thing as he gave me a forty-watt stare. I trained the gun on Ponder. “I got him, Jer.”
Jerry crawled off Mr. Ponder. He brushed down his khakis and shirt as he stepped away giving me a clear shot, if I needed it.
“Why didn’t you let me handle him?” Jerry let his irritation show.
I worked to control my tone. Few things pissed me off more than some man thinking I couldn’t handle my job. “I’ll call your irritation and raise you to pissed. You don’t need a penis to handle a man with a knife, only some balls.”
We both knew I’d grown a pair as I’d grown with my job.
“Where have you been, Mr. Ponder?” I resisted the urge to grab his lapels and shake the truth out of him. “Where’d all the blood come from?”
He lay on the floor staring at the ceiling. The hummingbirds and butterflies mesmerized him. He giggled. “Pretty. Why don’t they move?” He cocked his head. “Oh, there they go.”
“The guy is stoned out of his mind,” Jerry sated the obvious.
“Where’d the blood come from, Mr. Ponder.” I kept asking even though I knew I wouldn’t get the answer I wanted.
He giggled again and shrugged, then wiped his palm down his pants leg as he pulled in another deep breath. “They shot him.”
Okay, not what I expected, but it was something. “Who?”
“I don’t know who shot him. Too dark”
“No, who did they shoot?”
“Pain in the ass.”
“That really narrows it down,” I said out of the side of my mouth to Jerry.
The lobby had grown quiet, the crowd hanging on the edge of a collective inhale. Curiously, the only sound was the omnipresent piped-in music. Right now that was Bobby Darrin singing Mack the Knife.
Laughable irony—the soundtrack of my life.
Ponder looked totally out of it, like the wheels were still turning but the hamster had died. He scratched at his arm and looked like Dorothy landing in OZ. He rolled over and pushed himself to his knees. Jerry grabbed an arm to steady him as he staggered to his feet.
“Mr. Ponder. If you’re not hurt, you’ve got a lot of blood there. Maybe someone else needs our assistance? Can you help us out? Where were you before you showed up here?” Jerry asked since I’d been singularly unsuccessful in getting anything out of Ponder.
“I don’t know.” His brow creased with effort. “Game. Kids.”
“Okay. Close to here?” I asked.
“Near a lake?” This being the Mojave, lakes were not plentiful. The first glimmer of hope. “A big lake?” If he meant Lake Mead—searching there could take awhile, but it’d be a start.
“Asshole,” he muttered. He shrugged out of Jerry’s grasp.
Jerry moved back but only a step or two.
Ponder’s nonsequiter momentarily rocked me back on my heels, then the bolt of lightening seared through my pea brain. Shit! “You mean Senator Lake? This is his blood?” I tried to keep my voice calm, but it didn’t work. Even to me it sounded screechy and tight.
Ponder looked at me, panting as if he’d sprinted to where he stood. For a moment I thought I saw clarity and horror, then his knees buckled and he crumpled. Jerry and I both jumped. He caught his left arm, I the right, then we gently lowered him to the floor.
“Where the hell is the doctor?” I growled wishing somebody, anybody, would show up.
“Busy with a bleeder in Stairwell Fifteen,” Jerry said. “A guy took a header. Split his skull. Doc’ll be here as soon as he can.”
I keyed Security again and got the same kid, Fox. “Any luck on figuring where the knife guy came from?” I didn’t feel the need to explain the man was Ponder. Experience had taught me it was best to give only the information needed and nothing more.
“We’re not finding him on any of the feeds.”
“Okay. Check with the front desk. Find out if Senator Justice Lake is registered in the hotel. If so, we need to check his room. Better yet, we need to find him. STAT. Break the rules, do what you need to do. I’ll shoulder the consequences. Just find him!” I tried not to shout—I didn’t want the closest bystanders to hear, but damn! Senator Lake!
Granted Lake was a worm, and a particular thorn in the side of Ponder—they were on opposing teams in the NFL in Vegas battle—but Ponder had won. And knifing Lake wasn’t even close to an ideal solution to the bad blood between them—a good one, maybe, but not ideal. I’d met Lake once. He was the kind of guy who put the justifiable in justifiable homicide. But I couldn’t see the point in testing that theory if one had already won.
“Where am I?” Ponder whispered, his voice hoarse.
“The Babylon,” I answered. “Mr. Ponder,” I let a hint of demand into my voice. “We need to find Senator Lake. Where is he?”
Flashes popped as the crowd pressed in, eager to record every word.
“Lake?” he spat the word. “You find him; I’ll kill him.”
Bethany moved in close. Leaning in she whispered, “I know where you can find him.”