TWENTY-FOUR

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Virginia had been sling-free for almost a month when she confronted Captain Beal with her demands. "Okay, I'm going crazy in here. It's time I returned to full active duty." She planted her feet in front of his desk and crossed her arms.

"You sure you're ready for that?"

"Yes. I've been working out. I'm at about eighty-percent of where I was as far as endurance and lifting goes, which means I can beat half the guys in here."

Captain Beal chuckled. "I don't doubt that. I was talking mentally, are you ready?"

"Yes."

"Okay, you can come along tonight."

"You're going? What's up with that?"

"It's a tip from Vito, a drug delivery."

"Not Vito," she moaned as she played with a pen in its stand at the front of his desk.

"He claims Gus Chilvati is going to be there," he said, the inflection in his tone highlighting the tantalizing morsel of information he was offering.

Virginia's eyes snapped up to meet his, her hand hovering. "Are you kidding me?"

"That's what he said." The captain shrugged. "And that's why I'm going."

"Where?"

"Same restaurant."

"Oh, you have got to be joking. He's yanking your chain." She batted at the pen and it shot out of its holder and landed on the floor.

"Maybe, but he seemed pretty nervous this time."

Virginia stilled. "Who in here knows about this?"

"Only the people I'm taking with me: Walt, Joe, Tommy, Jason, Devin, Adrian . . . and now you."

She went over the list in her head as she bent down, remembering Spinelli's warning about trust, mentally judging each and every one of her co-workers named. And hating herself in the process.

"Virginia?"

She shoved the pen back into the stand. "I'll go."

An hour later she was experiencing déjà vu as she listened to the captain giving directions on how the bust would take place. Just like before, it was a Monday night and the restaurant was closed. They were keeping watch on the place from two unmarked cars parked a half-block down the road.

It wasn't long before four men pulled up to the side entrance and began to unload bags from the trunk of their car.

"That's them," Cap whispered. "Let's move."

They had already planned out their approach, two officers at the front, four at the side where the delivery had just been made, and two at the back to watch windows and other escape hatches.

Virginia was with the captain at the side door, pressed up against the brick wall. "On my count," Cap whispered with a nod to her, Walt, and Joe as they each pulled their guns. "One . . . two . . . three." He lifted his leg and kicked the door in.

Three men stood by the duffle bags. They spun around, anger turning to surprise when they saw who was disturbing their work.

"Shit!" one yelled before hightailing it into the other room.

"Police. Freeze!" Walt shouted.

The runaway ignored him, already committed to the escape attempt.

Walt grabbed his radio. "Heads up—one's coming out the front!"

The other two accepted their fate, both rolling their eyes at the deserter's wasted effort.

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