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.His skin was pale white and his wide smile showed a row of perfect teeth, and even under the suit you could detect the broad shoulders.A meaty fist gripped the snorkeling gear.I recognized the face, and still felt those large hands gripping my arms and pulling my wrists together, the rock hard body beneath the black Special Ops uniforms as the mercs jostled us in and out of the inflatable boat.“What do you think?” Natsumi asked.“The general could have used his help.Do a trade out.”“So we don’t have to storm the gates?” she asked.“Just the office suite.About two miles from here.”I showed it to her on the smartphone’s GPS.“So let’s go,” she said.“We can’t do that,” I said, a faint panic rising in my throat.“Why not?”I thought a moment.“I don’t know,” I said.Natsumi sat back in her overstuffed Starbucks couch and smiled at me with her eyes, a talent that seemed uniquely her own.“That happened too quickly,” she said.“You’re not ready.”“I’m not.”“The curse of the analytic mind.You haven’t crunched the numbers.Weighed the odds.Analyzed the regressions.”“I’m unarmed.I’ve got nothing.”“Yes you do.You’ve got me.”She stood up and left the Starbucks.I followed, slightly unnerved.She got in the driver’s seat.“You navigate,” she said.Which I did, not knowing what else to do.As promised, we were there in a few minutes.It was a new office building made of phony brownstone and reflective blue windows.The sign out front suggested a warren of small operations, though we quickly spotted Rolando Mosqueda, Certified Financial Planner, Hablamos Español.Natsumi parked near the exit, facing out.She shut off the car and turned to me.“Sometimes it’s better not to think so much,” she said.“Thinking keeps us alive.”“There’s different kinds of thinking.You never heard of Gestalt?”“They wouldn’t let mathematicians into psych courses.”She opened the car door.“Come on,” she said, “before the moment’s lost.”I followed her into the building and up the elevator to Rolando’s office.Inside was a tight reception area with a pink-faced young guy manning the desk.He had thinning red hair and a scar that started in the center of his cheek and sliced straight back through the ear.I forced my eyes away, but it wasn’t necessary.All his attention was on Natsumi.“We’re here to see Señor Mosqueda,” she said before the guy’s “Can I help you?” was halfway out.He looked down at something on his desk.“No, we don’t have an appointment,” said Natsumi.“Tell him what we look like.He’ll see us.”The guy stood up and went through the door behind his desk.Natsumi watched him go from where she was leaning forward, both hands flat on the desk.We didn’t have long to wait.The door opened and out walked Rolando, looking just as handsome as he did in the Rotary photo, only three inches taller and that much broader across the chest.His sleeves were rolled up over thick forearms and he had an old-fashioned pencil in one of his hands.He didn’t offer to shake and neither did we.“The general has some explaining to do,” he said.“Not as much as you,” said Natsumi.He used both hands to twirl the pencil.His face seemed under the strain of careful thought.The red-haired scar face looked like he wanted to squeeze back into the reception area.Rolando stood aside and waved to us to follow him.We went back into another open area off of which were three enclosed offices and a conference room, into which he guided us.It was well lit by a bank of windows.A coffee machine was in the corner and a white board covered in figures and acronyms filled the other wall.“Sit,” he said.“Please.Can I get you anything?” he added, then immediately said, “No, of course not.”He sat across from us.“Do they know what you really do?” Natsumi asked.“Your colleagues? Your family?”He touched his wedding ring.“This is what I really do,” he said, and then, “What do you want?”“Information,” she said.He nodded, looking down at the table.“I may not be able to do that,” he said.“Not because I don’t want to.” He looked up again.“I only know what I know.”“What do you know?” she asked.“That the world is a dangerous place.That it isn’t what people think it is.That sometimes it’s better to just let things be.To walk away while you still can.”“We can’t,” said Natsumi.Something akin to a smile lightened his face.“I’m not surprised.You two are a handful.”He sat back in the office chair, which surprised him by tipping back even farther.He caught the edge of the table and pulled himself back up, Latin dignity slightly akilter.“We’re not here to threaten you, or expose your extracurricular activities,” said Natsumi.“All we want are answers.”“That’s good, because threats don’t work so well with me.”“Who hired you?” I asked.He looked at me, his gentle amusement deepening.“So, he talks.Not so easy for people to get you to do, from what I remember.”“What else do you remember?” asked Natsumi.He looked out the windows as if to assist his memory.“Bush league.The contact had clearance.Our team leader had worked for him before.But some other dick from the same outfit met us at the dock before shipping out.Civilian puke.No operational sense.Our team leader had to run the thing.”“What thing?” asked Natsumi.“The snatch.You two [ Pobierz całość w formacie PDF ]