The voices stopped and Taylor knew they’d switched to a private channel. She was just as glad because the constant chatter in her ear was making conversation difficult. She couldn’t pretend to be enjoying herself when she was listening to the others.
“I feel helpless,” Jason mumbled, taking a sip of his champagne.
“Sit there and smile and look impressive,” Greg said. “Let the pros do their job.”
“I am a pro,” Jason said as he tried to look happy. “Please don’t treat me like I’m not.”
“I know,” Greg said. “No offense, but we’ve got dozens of people on this.”
Jason took another sip of champagne, eyeing the room from over the rim of his glass. He actually hadn’t tasted the alcohol, merely tipped the glass up, wetting his lip.
“Don’t like waiting,” he mumbled.
Taylor tossed her head, laughing as if he’d said something witty. She took his hand and kissed his cheek. “Two o’clock. Someone’s looking.”
Jason picked up her hand, kissing her fingers. “Saw that. I think he’s our accomplice.”
“I see him,” Greg said as he yawned and stretched. “Should I move closer?”
“Don’t take him yet,” Jason warned. “Wait until we hear about the gas. I don’t want to spook her.”
A voice Jason didn’t know came over the ear piece. “Banes.”
“Lawrence, Bitsy’s second. Make an excuse and come here immediately. I’ll meet you at the door. See me? Blond, dark eyes, standing just inside the door.”
“‘Cuse me, love. I need the loo.” He kissed Taylor. “Back in a flash. I love you. Know that.”
“I know. I love you too.”
He squeezed her hand, then worked the room as he made his way quickly to the door. He met up with Lawrence and followed him to an electrical equipment room. Tim was sweating in the corner, an open panel in front of him. Jason stopped in the doorway, saying nothing.
“Come in and shut the goddamn door,” Tim growled. “Whoever wired this is either fucking crazy or knows a lot more about this than I do.”
Jason approached slowly, working his way around Tim with care. The FBI agent wasn’t touching the apparatus, but studying it from a few inches away. He didn’t even want to breathe on it, so had his face turned slightly to the side.
“Bollocks! That’s a pillock for you. Bummer.”
“I don’t know what that means,” Tim said.
“It means we’re fucked hard up the ass,” Jason replied.
He reached into a pocket of his jacket, extracting a slim pouch of tools. It looked like an oversize wallet. Had anyone glimpsed it, they wouldn’t have looked at it twice. Inside was housed a small fortune worth of tools. Easing Tim aside, he laid the pouch down, looking at it. After saying a silent prayer, he got to work while the FBI agent and security man watched the door and waited.
“One of them has some kind of control device. I’m guessing it’s on her partner and probably a cellphone. I think I can disable the receiver but there’s absolutely no way to be sure.”
“Disable away,” Bitsy said in his ear. “Anything you can give me, JB.”
“Any luck finding canisters?”
“Check the roof. Around the air conditioning units up there. They could have been planted well in advance. She’s probably planned this for weeks.”
“Sending men up there now. Not to put too much pressure on, but the show’s about to start.”
“Got it,” Jason said. “I make no guarantees.”
“I’ve got people stationed outside just in case….” Bitsy said.
“While you’re on the roof, check for a sharp shooter.”
“Going back to my seat now. Is the accomplice looking at all twitchy?”
“He’s been twitchy,” Taylor said. “No more than before. Scratch that, he’s looking very alert.”
“He’s moving toward the door with his hand in his pocket,” Greg said conversationally. He got up, making the excuse that he needed the head, and followed at a leisurely pace.
The nervous looking man wandered to the men’s room, digging a cellphone out of his pocket. He didn’t quite have it as he kept dropping it back in. Greg followed, catching up with him when he got to the door. He was taller than the other man by nearly a foot. He put his arm on the door, hitting hard with his palm as he shoved it open. Pretending to be drunk, he fell into the other man, apologizing for his clumsiness.
Moments later, the cellphone was in his possession and his phone was in the pocket instead. He used the urinal, washing his hands as he engaged the other man in conversation. As he was leaving, he saw the fellow’s hand drop into the pocket. Speeding up, he exited before the man could tell that it wasn’t his phone.
“Hey!” He heard behind him. “Hey!” The voice got more desperate.
A hand grabbed Greg’s arm, desperation in the voice.
“Hey, buddy. I think you got my phone by mistake.” He held Greg’s phone in a trembling hand.
Greg patted his pocket. “Nope, don’t have a phone at all. But hey, that looks like mine. Where’d you find it?”
“In—in my pocket. I really think you’ve got mine, buddy. I know I had it on me.”
“Maybe you dropped it in the bathroom. I’ll help you look.”
© Dellani Oakes
To Purchase Dellani’s Books:
Under the Western Sky http://www.tirgearrpublishing.com/authors/Oakes_Dellani/under-the-western-sky.htm