“No, but it did reveal traces of a strong sedative. Strong enough to have knocked her out.”

Knox stopped, and so did Puller.

“A sedative?” she said. “Why didn’t anyone else notice that?”

“Because I think they all stopped looking at the tox report when it showed no poison. Me, I tend to read until the end.”

“But why would there be a sedative in her system?”

“My brother could have injected her with one.”

“Why would he do that if he wanted her to talk?”

“To allow him to escape after they finished talking.”

“But why would she lie if she knew it was provable by a blood test?”

“Because she’s not as smart as

she thinks she is. I don’t believe she thought it all the way through. And I think she truly hates my brother and saw an opportunity to really stick it to him. Calling him a coward and trying to make us believe that she was able to fight him off successfully must have really brightened her day. Oh, and she obviously knew you had searched her house and found the gun in the bookcase. That’s why she mentioned it. Really good liars always work in something true to make the lie more plausible.”

“So that means she was lying about . . . well, everything.”

“I never doubted that for a minute,” said Puller.

CHAPTER

51

THEY HAD ALMOST gotten to the building’s exit when two security personnel stopped them.

“Chief Puller? Agent Knox?” said one, who was dressed in cammies and carried the rank of sergeant.

“Yes?” said Puller.

“Mr. Carter would like to see you both.”

Donovan Carter was waiting for them in a room adjacent to his formal office. There was one other person in the room, a man of medium height with a thick head of blond hair and penetrating green eyes. Like Carter he wore a suit, regulation navy blue with a white shirt and muted striped tie.

“This is Blair Sullivan,” Carter began, indicating the man next to him. “He heads up our internal security section.”

The man gave a curt nod in their direction but said nothing.

“After our conversation last night,” began Carter.

Puller’s gaze shot to Sullivan, but Carter said, “It’s all right, Agent Puller. I’ve brought him into the circle. He was instrumental in tracking certain things down for me.”

Sullivan folded his arms across his chest and did his best not to look at either Puller or Knox.

Carter drew open a file that was sitting in front of him. “Let’s first address Susan Reynolds’s financial history. I wasn’t personally aware of this, but her husband was an FBI agent who was killed many years ago.”

“A hit-and-run, she told us,” noted Puller. “Never solved.”

Carter glanced at Sullivan, who took up the story. “There was a two-million-dollar life insurance policy on Adam Reynolds,” said Sullivan.

“Why so large?” asked Puller.

“He was an FBI agent. They had two young children. Ms. Reynolds had a similar policy on her because she traveled a great deal out of the country for the government in some remote places. Thus there obviously was a heightened risk for them both. The premiums had been duly paid up. Ms. Reynolds collected the money. She used it to pay off some debts, help raise her kids, and she invested the rest. I wish I had asked for her investment advice. She did a lot better than my 401(k). Needless to say, the insurance payout has grown substantially over the intervening years.” He stopped and stared at Puller.

“And the Joan Miró in her library?” asked Knox.

“It is a Joan Miró, but it’s a signed limited edition. Not something I could ever afford, but Ms. Reynolds purchased it some years ago for quite a good deal. And she had the money to do so. It’s on her disclosure form and has been for years.” Again, Sullivan stopped talking and stared pointedly at Puller.

Carter said, “I apologize that I wasn’t aware of any of this last night when we spoke.”

Sullivan said, “With all due respect, sir, you run an organization with thousands of employees. It would be impossible for you to know the intimate financial details of each person. That’s my job.”

“And Niles Robinson?” asked Knox.

“He’s not employed by DTRA,” said Sullivan promptly. “Mr. Carter has told me of your concern there as well. I suggest you check that out with his last agency.” Sullivan paused. “However, Mr. Carter filled me in on what you told him about Mr. Robinson. And since I am also the father of a child who had a serious health issue, I can tell you that a parent will do anything to see them through it. I wouldn’t be surprised if Mr. Robinson didn’t hock everything he had and take out every loan he could to see that his child lived. But I have to say that I find it repugnant that you jumped to the conclusion that a man would betray his country in such a manner. I really do.”

“I don’t jump to conclusions, Mr. Sullivan, I investigate matters,” replied Puller.

“Well, I think you need to keep investigating, but down a different path. Susan Reynolds is a well-respected member of the DTRA family and has never had a shadow on her record as far as I can find.” Sullivan paused again and the next moment his entire body seemed to swell with stark indignation. “Your brother, on the other hand, cannot say the same, can he? And I find it absolutely remarkable that you would accuse one of our people of treason while your own flesh and blood has not only escaped prison, but also killed someone. Have you no shame, Agent Puller?” He rose when he said this last part and looked like he might take a swing at Puller, who outweighed him by sixty pounds and had him by seven inches.

“Sullivan!” Carter said sharply. “You are way out of line. Stand down, immediately.”

Sullivan dropped into the chair, folded his arms over his chest, and looked away.

Carter said, “I apologize for my colleague’s tone and words, Agent Puller. We can’t let our emotions run away with us.” He looked at Sullivan and added in a firm voice, “We will talk about this later.” He turned back to Puller. “With that said, I do have to agree with his conclusions about Susan Reynolds. Everything seems to be in order. And I have communicated that to her.”

“Well, we appreciate your looking into the matter, sir,” said Knox, rising and tugging on Puller’s sleeve. Puller was staring dead at Sullivan. When the man finally looked at him and found Puller’s piercing gaze directly on him, he hurriedly glanced away.

They left Carter’s office and were escorted to the exit. Once they were outside, Knox said, “Okay, first Reynolds and now this. Why do I feel like I just got sent to detention?”

When Puller didn’t say anything she added, “Do you think this Sullivan character is in on it? He was acting like a psycho.”

Puller shook his head and pulled out the keys to his car. “He looked at the file and found what he found. And if he had a sick kid then he probably does think I’m an asshole. And I get what he means about my brother being a traitor and I’m here trying to point fingers at good people. But it still stuck in my craw.”

“And Carter?” she asked.

Puller didn’t answer right away. “I don’t know, Knox. Jury’s still out on him.”

“I can tell you this, that was no limited-edition Joan Miró. It was an original. I’d swear to it.”

“Well, by now it’ll be long gone, original or not,” said Puller.

“I guess so,” Knox agreed glumly.

“I think I was wrong about Reynolds, though.”

“What! You mean you believe she’s innocent?”

“No, I believe she’s a lot more dangerous and a lot more capable than I thought she was. She just kicked my ass. Not to sound full of myself, but I’m not used to that happening.”

“Well, neither am I,” replied Knox. “She lied about your brother. The sedative was in her bloodstream. She never got her gun and scared him off. We can use that against her.”

“She’d have an explanation for that, Knox. She self-medicated, hoping to slow down the advance of the poison.”

She said resignedly, “Yeah, I guess you’re right. But we can’t let that bitch win, Puller.”

“She’s not going to win. But it’s not going to be easy either.”

“If only we had something against her.” She looked at Puller, who was now gazing off and obviously not listening to her.

“Puller, where is your head?”

He said, “I just think I missed something.”

“Missed something? Where?”

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