Stone answered the doorbell, and special agent Dave King stepped inside and introduced his partner, Special Agent Ann Potter.
“Now,” King said, “tell me what the hell is going on here.”
“Dave,” Stone said, “do you remember that when we visited the crime scene at Fair Sutherlin’s apartment, Shelley Bach asked if you had found her cell phone?”
“Yes, I do,” King said. “We had not found it.”
“That’s because it was in Shelley’s handbag at that moment. She had taken it on an earlier visit that afternoon, after she murdered Ms. Sutherlin.”
“Are you completely nuts?” King asked.
“Listen to me, Dave: Holly had the CIA do a search for the Sutherlin cell phone, and it was at this hotel. She had them call the number, and we heard it go off. It was in Shelley’s handbag.”
“Shelley was here?”
“She was. She was in the bathroom when the phone rang. We emptied out her bag, and there were six phones in it. We believe one was Shelley’s and the others belonged to the five women.”
“You don’t know that,” King said.
“She came out of the bathroom with a gun in her hand, took the bag, and left.”
“I don’t believe this.”
“Holly,” Stone said, “can you put traces on the other four cell phones, and on Shelley’s, as well?”
“I’ve got Shelley’s number,” Dino said.
“I’ve got Milly Hart’s,” Stone said. “Don’t bother with the Kendrick phone. She’s been dead for a year. Can you get the numbers for Brandon and Kirby?”
“Of course,” Holly said. “I’ll be right back.” She went into the bedroom to use the phone.
King spoke again. “You’re telling me that an assistant director of the FBI is a serial killer?”
“That’s exactly what I’m telling you, Dave. Are your people looking for Shelley yet?”
“That’s my call, and I’m not convinced,” King said.
Stone looked at his watch. “She could already be out of the District,” he said. “How long are you going to wait?”
Holly came back into the room. “My people are on it.” She went to Stone’s computer and logged on to the CIA mainframe. “Well, well, look at this,” she said, pushing back from the laptop so the others could see.
Stone and King walked to the computer and watched.
Holly pointed. “We’ve got Sutherlin’s, Kirby’s, and Shelley’s phones at the same point, across the river in Arlington, headed south.”
“They’re all in the same handbag, Dave, and pretty soon Shelley is going to realize that, and she’ll get rid of the phones. You need to catch her while they’re in her possession.”
King stared at the moving display for a moment, then he took out his own phone and made a call. “This is Dave King,” he said. “I want every agent in D.C. and northern Virginia looking for Assistant Director Shelley Bach on a charge of murder. She’s in a silver BMW SUV, in Arlington right now, headed south. When she’s apprehended, it’s very important that you confiscate her handbag immediately. Alert local PDs in the area, as well. Call me immediately when she has been apprehended.” He looked at Stone. “You better be right about this.”
“You better be right about it, too,” Stone said, “or she’ll be gone.”
Holly spoke up. “Uh-oh,” she said.
“What?” Stone asked.
“The cell phones are splitting up. Shelley’s still moving, but the other two have stopped. She’s ditched them.” Holly zoomed in and got a street address.
King got back on the phone. “There are at least two cell phones that have been discarded near this address.” He recited the street and number. “I want every trash can and dumpster near there searched, and when found, the phones are to be treated as evidence.”
They all watched the screen, and a moment later, Shelley’s phone disappeared from it.
“Now she’s ditched her own phone,” Holly said, “or removed the SIM card. Shelley Bach is now wild in the country.”
“Oh, shit,” Dave King said.
“She’s going to ditch her car, too,” Stone said, “if she’s thinking clearly.”
“She is,” Holly said. “She’s over the panic now-ditching the phones shows us that.”
Dino spoke up. “Let’s hope she’s winging it,” he said, “because if she has a plan, we’re fucked.”
“What kind of plan?” Dave King asked.
“Does she have a country place?” Dino asked. “Does she own another car?”
King got back on his phone and started issuing orders again.
“She’s had time to think about this,” Holly said. “If she’s really smart, and I think she is, she has a plan. She has a bolt-hole, and maybe another car, too, not registered in her name. Dave, you should find out who her friends are. If I’m wrong about the bolt-hole, she might go to someone for help.”
King nodded, still talking on the phone.
It was nearly midnight before Dave King and his partner left the suite. There had beenAv>
no further sign of Shelley Bach.
Shortly after he left, the phone rang, and Stone picked it up.
“This is the White House operator,” a woman’s voice said. “Will you speak to the president?”
“Of course,” Stone said. He heard a click.
“Please put Dino on an extension.”
“Yes, sir. Dino, pick up the bedroom phone. Holly, get the other one. Mr. President, we’re all here.”
“I’m on the phone, too,” Kate Lee said.
“I’ve heard from Kerry Smith what’s going on,” the president said.
“We’ve been brought fully up to date,” Kate interjected.
“We both want to thank you for sticking with this until it was resolved,” the president said. “At least, it will be when Shelley Bach is caught.”
“Dino and I jumped to conclusions the last time we all spoke,” Stone said, “and I want to apologize for that.”
“We’ve known Shelley Bach for some years,” the president said, “and of course we’re shocked. The media have already got wind of this, and the press office here is getting calls. I wanted you to know that. I’d appreciate it if you’d refer any questions to Kerry Smith. They’re stunned over there, but it’s their case now, and they should be seen to be handling it.”
“We will refer questions to the FBI with pleasure, Mr. President, and we’ll be out of here tomorrow morning.”
“Have a good flight back, then, and if you’re in Washington again before we’re done here, come and have dinner with us.”
“We’d like that, Mr. President.”
“Good night to you all,” the president said.
“Good night,” Kate echoed. “And, Holly, come and see me first thing tomorrow morning.”
“Yes, ma’am,” Holly said, but they had already hung up.
Dino and Holly came into the living room.
“I don’t know about you two,” Stone said, “but I’m exhausted.”
“Then come to bed,” Holly said, heading for the bedroom.
“I guess I’m sleeping alone tonight,” Dino said.