12:00 p.m. Thursday
The electronic beeper on his wristwatch sounding noon roused Mercy from sleep, his heart pounding, the blood pumping through him and rushing to his head.
Had the bodies been discovered yet? Mercy scratched his private parts, then rolled over and grappled for the TV remote on the bedside table. The hand that had been so steady last night, so deadly, now trembled with anticipation.
The morning news had been ungratifying—not one mention of the killings. But surely, now there’d been time…. The set came on with a burst of color and sound in the darkened motel room.
A satisfied smile twisted his mouth as the thin-lipped, tight-assed, primly suited anchorwoman gazed solemnly into the camera, her expression conveying both sympathy and outrage as she segued into the lead story.
“Residents in Gloucester are in shock today over the gruesome discovery of the bodies of a man and a woman shot to death in their home. A neighbor spotted the couple’s three-year-old daughter through a kitchen window and became suspicious when it appeared the girl was unsupervised. Police are not commenting on whether it was a botched burglary or a murder/suicide. A toddler was also found in the home. He was unharmed. Names will not be released until the next-of-kin have been notified.”
Mercy flipped her the bird and switched to another Ottawa station, just catching the tail end of the story. He got some satisfaction from seeing footage of the neighbors huddled outside the house. The fear stamped on their faces made his chest swell. Damn straight they should be afraid. Mercy was no one anyone wanted to mess with—not if they didn’t want to find themselves six feet under or reduced to dust in a fancy bottle.
This station reported no names were being released, too. Mercy threw the remote against the wall. If he was lucky he’d get positive confirmation on the evening news, then he could blow off this town filled with politicians and civil servants squabbling over pay increases and tax cuts to medical and social programs. He took a deep breath and forced himself to relax. He’d followed the bastard home from the office, and the mail piled in a basket on a table in the living room had been addressed to Q. D. McClure. The confirmation was just a technicality. Necessary paperwork.
He was on his way into the bathroom when his digital cellular phone rang. “Yeah?”
He recognized the dry, raspy voice. “Has the job been completed?”
“Last night. Just waiting for positive ID. His old lady woke up so I ended up poppin’ her, too.”
“Don’t expect extra. Just fax me a copy of the newspaper report and I’ll have the money wired directly to your account. It’s been a pleasure doing business with you.” The line went dead.
Mercy grunted and shook his head, remembering how the woman had stirred, her blond head lifting from the pillow…and how he’d popped her before the scream could rise from her throat.
His body tightened. Yeah, the pleasure was all his.
2:35 p.m. Friday
“It should have been me. Not them,” Quinn Mc-Clure told the solemn-faced lawyer who’d agreed to this cloak-and-dagger meeting in a fast-food restaurant. But then, never in a million years could Quinn have imagined himself, with two young children in tow, on the run from a hit man.
Of medium height and average build, wearing a conservative gray suit topped with a black overcoat, Tom Parrish glanced up from the pages of the last will and testament of Quinn’s brother, Quentin Mc-Clure. Parrish was sharp, with a glint of ingrained caution evident in his hazel eyes. “I’m sorry for your loss. I’ll do whatever I can to help.”
Quinn nodded. He’d never felt so numb. His thoughts seemed disconnected from his body, neither fully registering the actions of the other. Or maybe it was that the part of him which had always been linked to his identical twin brother, Quentin, was irretrievably severed. And yet, Quinn had to think. Had to resist sinking into the black whirlpool of grief that had opened in the pit of his stomach. He had to do what was best for the children before he hunted down the bastard who’d gunned down Quentin and Carrie in their sleep.
A Mountie always gets his man. Even ex-Mounties.
Parrish set Quentin’s will aside on the table and picked up Carrie’s. Quinn’s fingers trembled as he tried unsuccessfully to blot the horror of identifying his brother and sister-in-law’s bodies from his mind. Tried not to remember the last joking conversation he’d had with Quentin when his brother had dropped by Quinn’s office Wednesday evening to pick up the ticket Quinn had bought him for a Senators’ hockey game.
Parrish’s narrow brow furrowed. “Both wills appoint a Charles Duncan as the children’s alternative guardian.”
“That’s Carrie’s dad,” Quinn explained, struggling to keep his teeming emotions from his tone. “He had a debilitating stroke just after Christmas. He’s in a nursing home in Nova Scotia. I guess Quentin and Carrie never got around to selecting someone else—”
Quinn swallowed hard, unable to continue. Heat seared the backs of his eyelids. He hadn’t called the nursing home yet. He couldn’t bear to think of Charlie being told such news by a stranger. Couldn’t bear to think of Charlie’s grief at learning his only child and her husband were dead. That his grandchildren were orphaned.
Twenty-six hours had passed since Quinn had received the horrible call early yesterday afternoon informing him that Quentin’s and Carrie’s bodies had been found in their home. He told himself that he’d made it through the first horrific day and could make it through another. He’d been an RCMP officer too long not to immediately suspect the grisly truth when he’d arrived on the scene. It looked like a professional hit. Forced entry in a neighborhood that hadn’t seen a break-and-enter in over three years. Victims shot at close range with a .22 semiautomatic. None of the neighbors had heard a sound, and there was no sign of the spent casings, which indicated the hit man had used a silencer. Not a damn thing was taken. A quick in-and-out job. Quentin’s wallet and Carrie’s purse weren’t even touched.
Damn. It was his fault.
Every day of his life he’d live with the torturous knowledge that the hit man had followed Quentin home by mistake. Quentin hadn’t had an enemy in the world. But Quinn had a long list of enemies—all of them criminals, and not one of whom appreciated his efforts to toss their sorry asses in prisons all over the globe for counterfeiting anything from currency, credit cards, checks and travel documents to high-end designer clothes, salon products and stuffed СКАЧАТЬ