Hungry Like the Wolf(7)

By: Paige Tyler

Zak was snapping photos of the man-fest, so Mac asked him, “Any idea who that man is in the sports coat? I don’t recognize him.”

“Not surprising. He doesn’t get a lot of press. He’s one of the department’s new civilian crisis negotiators.”

“But SWAT has its own negotiators.”

Three of them, to be precise—Diego Martinez, Trevor McCall, and Zane Kendrick.

Zak shrugged. “Maybe the department brought him in to soften up SWAT’s image.”

And he was on good terms with the commander of the unit? What was next—dogs and cats sleeping together?

Dixon finished up his conversation with the lieutenant and two civilians, who disappeared back into the operations vehicle. The SWAT commander then turned and said something to Taylor, who nodded. Damn, she wished she could hear what they were saying. A few moments later, Taylor and the other two SWAT officers headed for the brick building, reaching under their helmets to pull knit caps down to cover their faces as they went. Before they got there, the three men split up, each disappearing around a different part of the building.

“You’d think they would go in with more people than that,” she said.

“Maybe some of them entered the building before we got here,” Zak suggested. “You know, like an advance recon team.”

Mac blinked. Where the hell had that come from? “An advance recon team?”

He stopped taking pictures to give her a superior look. “Hey, I play video games. I know the lingo.”

She shook her head. Men.

Mac turned back to see what Dixon was up to and saw him looking over at their undercover van. Crap. She started to duck down in the seat but caught herself. What the heck was she worrying about? The windows were too tinted for him to see anything at this distance.

His gaze lingered on them for a moment longer before he said something to the two patrol officers nearby, then climbed into the operations vehicle.

Mac grabbed the door handle.

“Where are you going?” Zak asked in a voice that said he knew exactly where she was going, and that he also knew he couldn’t stop her. He’d given up trying a long time ago.

“I’m going to look around, see if there’s anything interesting happening. Maybe get a few pictures.”

Zak frowned but held his tongue. Another thing he’d learned over time. “I’ll go with you.”

She reached into her bag for the digital camera she carried on little sneak-and-peek missions like this. It was small, simple to operate, and took higher-quality pictures than her cell phone. She tucked it in her back pocket.

“Nah, I’m good. I’ll be back in a few minutes.”

She slipped out the door and closed it before Zak could insist. And he would, on principle. But she didn’t like him getting involved in this kind of stuff. She was willing to be stupid with her own neck, but she sure wasn’t going to let him risk his. Zak was good at a lot of things, but he sucked at the sneaky, Danger Mouse stuff. Fortunately, he knew it and never tried to force her to take him along.

“Be careful,” he called out.

She nodded and hurried down the block, away from the scene. As soon as she reached the end of the block, she started jogging. Cop cars zipped past her, lights flashing and sirens wailing, but nobody paid attention to a woman who seemed to be doing the sane thing—running in the opposite direction of trouble.

The moment she was out of sight, she turned down an alley and worked her way back toward the rear of the building where all the crap was going down. If she could sneak inside and find a place to hide, she’d be able to observe the SWAT team in action and see how messy things really got.

And she had no doubt things were going to get messy. Why? Because she was here now, and things always seemed to get messy when she showed up. Zak said it was because she had a nose for finding trouble. Maybe he was right. That used to scare her parents to death when she was a kid—it probably still did—but it proved to be an invaluable talent for a journalist.