High Treason(10)

By: DiAnn Mills

“Viewed as rumor. Fear missed Prince Omar’s DNA, and what happened today was unfortunate but not a barrier to his plans.”

“Before we check out the crime scene, I want to hear the reporter,” she said.

He couldn’t argue the point. Actually a good one. They clipped on their FBI IDs and moved to where a solemn-faced Hispanic woman took a deep breath before speaking into the live feed.

She repeated information that Monica and Kord had been briefed on. “Police officers and the FBI are combing the area for information leading to the sniper’s identity. No other details are known at this time.”

Neither Monica nor Kord said a word, instead continuing to the Frozen Rock, where a team of FBI agents were investigating the crime scene. Eeriness clamped on his heart, a vise of grief and dread. Zain had taken this same path earlier today. Nothing justified the murder of a good man.

One of the agents, a man with premature gray hair, recognized him.

“Davidson, you’re on this one?” the agent said.

He nodded. “Richardson, this is my partner, Monica Alden.”

Richardson reached out to take her hand. “We haven’t met. Keep this guy in line. He can be a maverick.”

She laughed, and Kord liked the sound. “I will,” she said. “Good to meet you.”

Kord got back to business. “Anything additional you can tell me?”

“Clean kill. Professional hit. You already know that. We’re looking for anything left behind.”

“I hear the shooter was across the street on the roof of the academic building at Paramount High School.”

“Take a look at this.” Richardson pointed to the hole in the glass door facing the parking area.

Kord followed the trajectory from where Zain had stood to the bullet lodged lower in the opposite wall of the store, an angle indicating the sniper had been positioned several feet away and higher at the high school. He should have concluded the sniper’s location this morning, but his attention had been diverted to the prince’s and his entourage’s safety.

“We dug a round out of this wall. It’s mangled, but I’d say possibly a .300 Win Mag.”

“Has security footage given us a lead?”

“The owner here gave us permission. But we found nothing. City cams might show something.”

“Thanks. Call me if you find anything.”

“Will do. Good to meet you, Agent Alden.”

Kord walked outside with her. “Those kids were in school when the shooting took place. This could have been a bloodbath. Makes me sick thinking about it.”

“My thoughts exactly,” Monica said. “A student or a member of the faculty could identify the killer. Another course of danger. Has anything turned up in the interviews?”

“Nothing solid yet. The arrangements to visit here were done in Riyadh. How did the sniper know the exact time we’d be there? That’s the big question.”

“Not if Prince Omar has someone on his team who betrayed him.”

“The prince has conducted extensive background checks on his bodyguards and staff. Impossible.”

“Anyone can be bought,” she said.

“Prince Omar’s men are loyal. Zain died for him today.”

“Really? Money talks big.”

Her cynicism brought out the worst in him. “I told you this partnership wouldn’t work. You know nothing about a brotherhood of loyalty.”

For a fraction of a second, a flicker of anger crossed her eyes. Monica instantly reverted to her professional mode, the one they all practiced consistently. No emotion. End the crime. Do your job.

“Don’t pitch your chauvinism at me. I’ve been where I wouldn’t want anyone to go.” She crossed her arms, then dropped them at her sides. “Ninety percent of our discussions are arguing. We can verbally kill each other or try to get along. Which will it be?”

An hour at the prince’s home, and she’d resign. “We could be more civil.”

“Thank you,” she said.

They walked to his car, where privacy was their closest companion. “I’m listening,” she said.

“ISIS, al-Qaeda, and every terrorist group in between are supporting or taking responsibility for what happened.” He hesitated. “Someone paid for precise results. Once we know why, then we can nail the who.”