Gone (Michael Bennett)

Gone (Michael Bennett) by James Patterson

Book: Gone (Michael Bennett) by James Patterson Read Free Book Online
Authors: James Patterson
Maeve had been an artist, in addition to so many other things.
    I handed it to Mary Catherine, who held it open as I placed the tiny tooth on the little white silk pillow inside it.
    “Make sure she sees it before she puts it under her pillow,” I said. “And don’t try to do the switcheroo until after midnight. You know what an unbelievable skeptic that kid is!”
    “Aye, aye, Detective Tooth Fairy,” Mary Catherine said, laughing as she looked at me.
    Our eyes met. Mary Catherine and I had gotten closer and closer after she’d become part of our family. But right before we went into hiding, we’d gotten into a huge fight, and that had made things pretty tense. In fact, ever since we’d landed in California, she’d been all business, had kept things strictly professional.
    But for a second, as we stood there, looking at each other over the jewelry box, we were suddenly back the way we used to be. It felt good. Better than good. Like suddenly finding something you’d thought you’d lost forever.
    “You know,” I said, staring at her, “I don’t have to go, Mary Catherine. I really don’t.”
    “Oh, yes, you do, Michael Bennett,” Mary Catherine said, closing the jewelry box shut with a loud snap before leaving the room.

PART TWO
    BACK IN THE SADDLE
     

CHAPTER 30
     
    TWO US MARSHALS SHOWED up at the farmhouse less than two hours after I called Emily back with my agreement to join the hunt for Perrine.
    I’d met some marshals, since the US Marshals Service was the branch of the Justice Department that ran the witness protection program, but this young team, Agents Leo Piccini and Martha McCarthy, was new to me. They must have had orders to step on it, because after Martha dropped my overnight and duffel into the trunk of the Crown Vic, Leo dropped the hammer.
    The best news of all was that after I caught my flight, the marshals would be heading back to the ranch to guard my family. My kids would be getting extra-special, round-the-clock protection while I was gone. Their safety was paramount, the priority for me. I wanted Perrine bad, but my guys came first. If anything ever happened to them while I was away, I didn’t know what I would do.
    Leo told me we were headed to a place an hour south-east of Cody’s ranch, along the California-Nevada border, called the Amedee Army Airfield. As we drove, I wondered if Amedee was Indian for end of the world , because the area was hands down the most desolate place I had ever seen in my life. On both sides of the faded two-lane blacktop was nothing but mountain-rimmed scrub desert beneath a sky so huge and bright and blue, it hurt my head.
    “Is this where they tested the atom bomb?” I asked as we slowed and turned onto a dirt road.
    “No, sir. I believe that was down in New Mexico,” Leo said from behind his aviator shades.
    “I knew I should have made a left in Albuquerque,” I mumbled as we bumped along.
    We slowed and stopped about five minutes later. I looked to the left and right for the military airport that was our destination, but there was nothing. No planes, no control tower, no buildings. There was nothing but more desert.
    “Um, I thought I was supposed to catch a plane,” I said, scanning the bleak landscape.
    The young agents looked at each other, smiling.
    “You’re about to,” Agent McCarthy said, opening the door.
    “But where’s the … you know, buildings and TSA gropers and everything?” I asked, stepping out and spotting for the first time the macadam runway in front of us.
    “That’s at an airport,” the female fed explained as she checked her watch. “This is an airfield.”
    “Aha,” I said, pretending like that explained something.
    When I turned to her partner for clarification, he was pointing up at the sky.
    “Here comes your ride now,” Leo said.
    Far in the distance to the east, a plane began to make a whistling descent out of the wild blue yonder. Though unmarked and military charcoal gray, it looked sort of

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