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Nolan forced a smile. "That's the way the mop flops," he mused. "I'll be
around, when you are." He finished his coffee in silence. "Well, I have
to get moving, make out a report and all. Thanks for the coffee, Beth."
She nodded, but remained staring into her cup. Nolan went into the front
room, picked up his hat and went out into the morning to climb into his
car. When he had started it and headed back toward Everett, he found
himself struggling with the feeling that he was being cheated.
After all, he reasoned with himself, why should a guy have to play
second fiddle to a man who was probably dead. If Nick Danson were alive,
it'd be different; but dead, and that was an almost sure thing, he felt
cheated. Beth could learn to love him. She could forget. Hell, a lot of
women lost their men for some reason or another, but they accustomed,
they altered their lives. If a man dropped the reins, some other guy
should pick them up. It was only natural.
He shut off the thoughts of Beth as he reached the busy section of town
and concentrated on his driving. He could wait, he decided in closing
off the thoughts. Sooner or later she would be ready to accept the
truth, and he would be right there waiting. He maneuvered the Ford
around several other cars parked in the lot of the City Hall and found
the berth that bore his name. He killed the engine, got out and went
inside to his office.
When he opened the door and saw the two men and the Chief sitting in his
office, he knew it was something big. After awhile, it was so you could
spot a Fed a mile away. Especially when they were sitting in your
office. Chief Daniels looked grouchy at him, but his tone was cordial.
"You finish with Peters?"
Daniels nodded, his florid, moon face looking lumpy and important.
"Lieutenant Brice. This is John Cartwell and Sam Morgan. Secret Service.
I've promised to give them assistance in an important matter. They'll
brief you." He nodded an important good-by and left the three of them
"What's the problem, gentlemen," Nolan said and settled behind his desk.
Cartwell, a stocky looking thirty year old, with wavy blond hair, did
the talking, while his dark complected friend puffed placidly on a
"Lieutenant Brice," Cartwell said, "your boss seemed to think that you'd
be the best man to help us set up our plan of operation. We've already
contacted the Civil Air Patrol and the National Guard outfit here. We
have an air search under way and for the meanwhile that's all we can do.
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