“Have you had breakfast?”

Katie nodded. “I wasn’t hungry, but Mom made me eat a bunch of waffles. Not the ones you put in the toaster. The real kind. Mom made waffles and eggs and sausage. I only ate the waffles. Do you think it would be all right if I went into Victoria’s room? I won’t touch anything. I just like sitting in there.”

“I’m sure she won’t mind.”

“I don’t know. Victoria got real mad the last time.”

“Times change.”

“I’m glad you’re afraid,” Katie said. “I tried hard not to be afraid, but I couldn’t help it. I thought maybe there was something wrong with me.”

“There’s nothing wrong with you,” I said.

I found Shelby in the kitchen. She was washing a platter that she normally would have placed in the dishwasher.

“Hey,” I said.

“Good morning.” I rested my hands on her shoulders, and she lifted her cheek for me. I kissed it, and she said, “So, how are you holding up, McKenzie?

“As best I can.”

“Good. I need all my men to be strong today.”

All my men, my inner voice repeated.

“I expected you over an hour ago,” Shelby said.

“I didn’t want to get in the way.”

She stopped washing the plate and looked at me as if I were a tourist attraction, something odd and improbable that she had never seen before. “In the way?” she said. “You’re family, McKenzie. You were family long before you agreed to give us a million dollars.”

“Yeah, well, once we bring Victoria home I expect to get the money back.”

“Amen,” Shelby said. She finished washing her plate and set it on a rack to dry.

“You okay?” I asked.


“You look better.”

“That’s because I’m holding it in. Like Bobby. If I start to let it out again, I’ll never stop.”

“Katie said you made waffles.”

“I made breakfast for everybody, including the FBI. It was the least I could do. Besides, it helped me keep my mind off of things. Are you hungry? I could make you an egg sandwich. With shredded cheese. And a couple slices of tomato. I know that’s one of your favorites.”

“If it’s no trouble,” I said.

Shelby began making preparations, pulling out a carton of eggs and a block of cheddar from her refrigerator and the remains of a loaf of bread that she had baked using a machine that I had given her for Christmas. She stopped after she retrieved a skillet from her drying rack and turned toward me. “You’re not just trying to humor me, are you?” she said.

“I swear I haven’t had a bite to eat all morning. Just coffee.”

“With a slug of bourbon in it, I bet.”

“Shelby. We’re going to get Victoria back. I promise.”

She didn’t say if she believed me or not.

The Feds were listening in on Scottie’s, Tommy’s, and Joley’s phone conversations. Agents watched Scottie and Tommy from afar. Nothing happened. Bobby and Shelby’s phone didn’t ring.

“The kidnappers know it’ll take time to assemble the money,” Honsa said. “They’re not going to call every five minutes to check on it. I wouldn’t be surprised if we didn’t hear from them until later this afternoon.”

“In the meantime,” I said.

“In the meantime we try to keep the lid on. It seems every cop in the St. Paul PD knows what’s happening. It won’t be long before the media finds out, too. The daughter of a top cop is kidnapped—do you think there’s a TV station in town that wouldn’t broadcast the news, even though we ask them not to, even though it might jeopardize the girl’s life?”

“I’d like to think so.”

“So would I. But I don’t. The networks are launching their new fall schedules, and they’ll do anything to attract eyeballs.”

I studied Honsa over the remains of my egg sandwich. His eyes were heavy, his face unshaven, and his reassuring smile seemed wilted. His clothes were wrinkled—he was wearing the same shirt and slacks as the day before. He reminded me of an unmade bed.

“Maybe you should take a break,” I said.

He shot me a look that could have flash-frozen ice cream. “Have you been speaking to Wilson?” he said. “I’m the case agent. I’m in charge here. I’m fine.” The tech agent rose from his chair at the dining room table and excused himself. Honsa called after him as he disappeared into the kitchen. “I’m fine.”

“Tired people make mistakes,” I said.

“I’m not tired.”

“I am.”

“We’ll have to keep an eye on you, then, won’t we?”

I was contemplating my reply—it involved several four-letter verbs and an equal number of seven-letter nouns—when my cell finally rang. “Talk to me, H. B.,” I said after reading the name on the display.

“The money has just now been deposited into your checking account.”

“You’re early,” I said.

“So I am.”

“You really are a heavenly love.”

“Let’s keep that to ourselves, shall we?”

“Thank you, H. B.” I folded my phone and dropped it into the pocket of my black sports jacket.