She meandered out to the edge of the practice yard, not sure what else to do. It was odd; she was used to being alone all the time. But now Daniel wasn’t around to check on, and suddenly she was at loose ends.
Arnie, of course, paid zero attention to her as she came up to the fence and hooked her fingers through the links. She watched him work with a young German shepherd – still all oversize paws and floppy ears – long past the point when her own patience would have run out. Lola’s two pups came over to press their bodies against the fence and beg for licks from their mother. She obliged a few times, then yelped at them, a funny sound that made Alex think of her own mother reminding her to study after dinner. Sure enough, the two half-grown puppies ambled back toward the man with the treats.
Maybe Daniel had returned to the practice range. Kevin had said there was a truck around here, but she’d seen no sign of it. She wished Daniel had waited for her. She wanted to play with the SIG some more. And, honestly, she could use some exercise with her PPK, too. Her life had never depended on her aim in the past, but it very well might in the future. She didn’t want to waste the unexpected opportunity to improve her skills.
She watched Arnie with the young dogs for another half hour. Finally, she interrupted, more out of boredom than any driving need to know.
“Hey,” she called over the dog sounds. “Um, Arnie?”
He looked up, his face betraying no interest.
“Did Daniel take the truck over to the range? What time did he leave?”
He nodded, then shrugged. She tried to guess at a translation, but quickly gave up. She would have to keep the questions simpler.
“He took the truck?” she verified.
Arnie was focused on the dogs again, but she did get an answer. “Guess so. Wasn’t there the last time I went to the barn.”
“How far is it to the range?” she asked. It had seemed too long a distance to walk, but she might as well ask.
“’Bout five miles, as the crow flies.”
Not as far as she’d thought. Daniel was a runner – couldn’t he have left the truck? Well, she could use a run herself, but he’d probably be on his way back before she could get there.
“And you don’t know what time he left?”
“Didn’t see him. It was before nine, though.”
It had been more than an hour. Doubtless he’d return soon. She’d wait her turn.
It was good that Daniel was taking an interest in the practice. Maybe some of what she and Kevin had been trying to tell him had sunk in a little. She didn’t actually want him to have to live in fear, but it was the best option. Fear would keep him alive.
She waved her thanks to Arnie, then headed back to the house to finish the laundry, furry entourage in tow.
An hour later, she was in clean clothes for the first time in several days, and it felt fantastic. She put the outfit she’d been wearing in the washing machine, happy at the thought of having her whole wardrobe smelling nice again. She put in another thirty minutes on her memory project; at least she remembered her notations twelve hours later. She was trying to do things chronologically as best she could, though her numbering system was based on severity. It might have made things more confusing than they should be, but she didn’t want to reorganize it all now.
This morning she worked terrorist events number fifteen and three – an attempted subway bombing and a stolen biological weapon – trying to think of any names that had come up in context. The terrorist and Russian profiteers on number fifteen had been dealt with, so it was probably nothing to do with them. She noted it down anyway. NY was too obvious an abbreviation, so she used MB for Manhattan–Bronx; the 1 train had been the target. TT for the faction behind it, KV for Kalasha Valleys, VR for the Russian who sold them the materials. A few outsiders who had aided and abetted: RP, FD, BB.
Number three had a few loose ends, as she remembered, but those had been turned over to the CIA. She looked at her letters: J, I-P for Jammu, India, on the border of Pakistan. TP; the Tacoma Plague, they’d called it. It had been developed by a known terrorist cell from the notes of an American scientist, lifted from a lab near Seattle. The splinter cell, FA, was involved in events T10 and T13 as well. The department had still been helping the CIA procure information about the remnants of the cell back when she’d been “fired.” She wondered if the CIA had ever shut it down completely. Kevin had been busy enough in Mexico that he probably couldn’t give her the answer. She noted down initials for a few connected names. DH was the American scientist the formula was stolen from, and OM was a member of the terrorist cell whom she’d interrogated. She thought there was another American involved somehow – not a participant in the event. Or had that name been related to number four? She only remembered the name was short, clipped-sounding… did it start with a P?
She’d never been allowed to keep any notes, of course, so there was nothing to refer back to. It was frustrating. Enough so that she gave up and decided to look for lunch. The Pop-Tart hadn’t exactly been filling.
As she walked into the great room, she could hear the low rumble of an engine pulling up outside, then the grinding sound of heavy tires on the gravel. Finally.
Habit had her checking out the door to make sure it was Daniel. Just as she peeked out, the engine noise cut off. A dusty white older-model Toyota truck with an equally aged and dusty camper shell was parked where they’d left the sedan last night, and Daniel was getting out of the driver’s seat. Einstein jumped out the car door after him.