Chapter 44

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"That's the worst plan I've ever heard, Shawn," said Richard Curtis over the speakerphone in the back of the black Town Car as they drove toward the small Portland Secret Service satellite office. Shawn stared out the window with a stern frown and Brandon looked at his boss with a sad puppy dog expression on his face. "Not only will I not approve the loan, but I want you to come back to DC immediately. You are not a field agent. Hell, you're too old for this. When's the last time you even shot your gun?"

Shawn had been at the shooting range with his Sig Sauer just yesterday, but didn't say so.

Richard continued: "Look, Shawn, I know you're friends with the president and that you predicted the attack and all, but you have no evidence. You are working off less than a hunch, and you are way out of your role. You should be sitting at your desk in DC managing people. I have teams of active field agents ready to roll if you had a shred of evidence."

Shawn's expression remained unchanged. As they crossed the Burnside bridge, he just kept quiet.

"I appreciate your gumption. I really do. But there is nothing to work with here. And there are bigger things going on right now that need our full attention. I need you back in the office by morning or I'll be looking for a new Senior Director of Transportation. Do you understand me?"

"Yes, sir," mumbled Shawn.

"What was that?"

"Yes. Sir."

"Good."

Shawn hung up.

"So what are we going to do?" asked Brandon.

Shawn didn't say a word, but started dialing numbers into the car's satellite phone.

"Hello, this is the desk of Richard Curtis, how can I help you?"

"Debbie?" said Shawn, cracking a hint of a smile.

"Shawn Douglas? Is that you?"

"In the flesh. How are you? It has been too long. How are Jonathan and the kids?"

"They're great. Alex just finished his doctorate and Amy just had her second kid. You are sweet for asking. How can I help you today?"

"I need to call in the favor."

There was a pause. The timbre of Debbie's voice fell to a low rattle.

"This is it? And then we're even?"

"Yes."

"Okay."

"In a few minutes you will get a fax from me for Richard to authorize. I need you to fake his signature for me."

Another pause. This one lasted for at least thirty seconds.

"I don't know."

"Debbie, I need you to do this."

"You know what you're asking me to do, right? I know I owe you, but I'm still paying Alex's undergraduate tuition. I can't afford to lose this job."

"Debbie, if I am right about this, we'll all look like heroes. But I need it authorized immediately or my whole plan falls apart."

This time there was no pause.

"Ah shit, Shawn, you should have told me it was for one of your hunches. In the thirty years I've known you, I have never seen one of your hunches turn out wrong. If that's all I need to do to clear things up, consider it done."

"You're the best. You'll see the form in a minute."

"Hey, Shawn. I'm sorry about Norah. They don't make them like her anymore. If you're ever in my part of town, come over for coffee and we can chew the fat."

"You got it, dear."

Shawn hung up and smiled while gazing out the window.

"Who was that?" asked Brandon sheepishly.

"Richard's secretary."

"No, I mean what's the backstory? How do you know her? What do you have on her?"

"She was originally my secretary. When you work with someone long enough, you don't need to have anything on them."

Brandon smiled and let it go.

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