Full Scoop(5)

By: Janet Evanovich


"I told him he could get lockjaw and die," Abby Bradley, the owner, called out from behind the counter.

Maggie shot her a look of disbelief. Abby was a busybody and a gossip. "I would appreciate it if you'd try not to traumatize my patient," she said coolly.

"I was just trying to help." Abby gave a huff and disappeared into a back room.

Chocolate fudge dribbled from Henry's chin. "And I'm not going to let that voodoo woman touch me," he said. "My dad thinks she's wacko."

Maggie put her hands on her hips. "Tell you what, Henry," she said, trying to keep her anger in check. "You don't want to take the shot, that's fine with me. But I'm going to have to insist you come back to my office and sign a waiver."

He blinked. "What's that?"

Maggie arched one brow. "Your daddy is an attorney, and you've never heard of a waiver?"

"Good grief, I'm only in sixth grade!"

"It's a document releasing me of any and all responsibility in case you get sick from not following my medical instructions." Maggie smiled. "In other words, your daddy can't sue me." She started for the door.

"Wait."

Maggie turned and smiled. "Yes, Henry?"

He stood. "Okay, I'll come back to your stupid office and take the stupid shot, but it better not hurt. If it hurts I'm going to tell my dad I want another doctor."

She opened the glass door and made a sweeping motion. "After you, Henry."

* * * * *

Zack Madden tried to ignore the doorbell. He ached all over just lying there motionless; he dreaded the moment when he'd actually have to move. The cast on his arm felt heavy and cumbersome, and his ribs were sore. He touched his forehead. The swelling had gone down, but the stitches were tight and they itched. His beard itched.

Finally, when it was obvious his visitor wasn't going anywhere, Zack climbed from the bed, grabbed his wrinkled jeans and T-shirt from the back of a chair, and pulled them on. He made his way through the dark condo, trying to steer clear of the furniture. If he so much as stubbed his toe at this point, he would just stick his revolver in his mouth and be done with it. He paused at the door and checked the peephole before unlocking it.

FBI Director Thomas Helms walked through the door, peering at him through wire-rimmed glasses. He carried a Starbucks sack. "I heard you got roughed up. Heard they found the wire," he added.

"Yeah. After I've been dealing with those goons for almost a year they finally decide to frisk me. Luckily the good guys showed up before I was shot and mounted over somebody's fireplace."

"Any permanent damage?"

Zack shook his head. "I'll still be able to have children."

Helms chuckled. "You need anything?"

Zack closed the door. "A morphine drip, maybe?"

"How about a cup of coffee instead?" The older man handed Zack a tall cardboard cup from the bag. "It's black."

"Thanks." Zack took the cup and peeled off the plastic lid. "Have a seat." He checked his watch. Eleven o'clock.

Helms sat on the camel-colored leather sofa that faced a large plasma TV screen, a serious sound system, and every other toy a man could wish for. Zack took the chair opposite him. He took cautious sips of the coffee as Helms pulled out a second cup.

"I see you have a lot of signatures on your cast."

Zack grinned. "The nurses insisted on signing it." He pointed to the cast that ran from his wrist to just below his elbow. "It's a real babe magnet."

"And the beard?" Helms asked.

"Colombian women love beards. Unfortunately, most of the ones I know were recently jailed. I just haven't had the energy to shave."

Helms set down his cup. "Nobody knew it was going to be this big, Zack. More than two thousand pounds of pure coke," he added, shaking his head as though he still couldn't believe it. "Do you know what that is worth on the street?"

"I did the math. I could buy Rhode Island."

"One of the guys is already begging to turn state's evidence. He can give us names and addresses."

Zack nodded. "That's what we wanted."

Helms grinned. "Hey, you played one hell of a mob boss, my friend. We're going to use the videos in training."

"I miss being Tony Renaldo," Zack said. "I miss the Miami Beach penthouse and the yacht and the fancy cars and Italian suits. It never gets cold in Miami. Not like here in Richmond. Women in Miami don't wear much. A thin coat of suntan oil and a bikini, and they've got a full summer wardrobe." Zack sighed. "I miss the smell of suntan lotion."

"I feel your pain, Zack."

"I want to be a real mob boss when I grow up, Thomas."

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