“Don’t tell me you’ve forgotten me already? After all of the good times we had together in Vegas?”
Arnold’s breath caught. Fear quick-froze his gut. He jumped up from the chair and moved away from the floor-to-ceiling windows, just in case the sniper was back on the other side of the ravine. Was Chance out one the deck?
Something wet brushed his hand. He jerked it away and looked. His dog was staring up at him with concerned brown eyes and attentive ears, and whimpering softly.
Shit! He was still holding the phone. He dumped it back in the charger, cutting the connection.
“Awww...Jesus.” He dropped to his haunches and pressed his nose to the Malinois. “Chance is a good boy.” He gave the dog a flurry of choobers, the behind-the-ear scratches the pooch loved so dearly. The action short-circuited a bit of the raw anger and panic filling his chest. Naseem was back! Or maybe she’d never left the island. Regardless, she wanted him dead.
He grabbed the controller for the sunshades.
Wait! You really want to do that? What if she’s out there watching, looking for your reaction. What will that tell her?
That she struck a nerve?
Right. Probably exactly what she wants.
Maybe show no reaction?
Well, shit, easy enough to say...
Slowly, he stood and glanced around. Nothing looked out of place; on the TV, Al Michaels and Cris Collingsworth were discussing a play. Everything exactly as it was before the phone rang. Reassuring. Sort of.
Still daylight out, all the interior lights off. Meaning if she was watching from the sniper spot, she probably couldn’t see in.
But then, why call?
Duh! She’s a terrorist. She’s trying to make you feel terror
No, there had to be more to it than that. Think! Had hanging up been a mistake? Should he have at least listened to what she had to say?
Why? I know what she wants.
First order of business: make damn sure your security is locked down.
Then he was off the couch, heading into the guest room to check on SAM.
Naseem instantly recognized the Jew’s voice.
“Don’t tell me you’ve forgotten me already? After all of our good times we had together in Vegas?”
She listened closely for his reaction, hoping to pick up the slightest indication of hitting a nerve. Was there shock? Fear? She wanted the Jew to clearly understand that the issue between them was far from settled and that he knew exactly how she intended this to end.
The line went dead.
Ah, so the Jew was rattled. Good. Smiling, she powered down the cell and pushed a straightened paper clip into the small hole on the side of the case, popping out the SIM card, and replacing it with the usual one. She’d toss the just-used card out the window on the H1 freeway during the drive back to the safe house, virtually guaranteeing its destruction. Nawzer argued adamantly and repeatedly against employing this technique to disguise calls, claiming that buying and discarding cheap “burner phones” was far safer. Not her thinking. Burners were more easily found and, if not carefully cleaned before discarding, served as a source of both DNA and fingerprints. A destroyed SIM card—especially one pulverized on a freeway—was infinitely more difficult to find and analyze. Not only that, but SIMs were less expensive.
She raised up on her elbows to continue watching the Jew’s house across the ravine. The sky was still light enough for him to turn on the interior lights, making it impossible to see his reaction. This would soon change. Evening was near. She knew his routine by now, having surveilled the house the past three weeks. At least twice a day, for example, he drove his dog to one of two parks and sat at a bench or picnic table while the animal ran for a half hour. Each morning before their walk, he stopped at a Starbucks for a breakfast sandwich and grande latté to eat as the dog ran. The Jew’s schedule was more regimented than the Japanese railway.
Dusk... For some reason these past days, dusk evoked vivid memories of older brother Fadi, a gentle soul, a grade-schoolteacher rather than a warrior. Fadi died senselessly, a victim of a drone attack. For what reason? What had he ever done to deserve such a brutal and senseless death? Nothing. The Americans claimed the school housed ISIS fighters. A lie.
The moment she’d learned of his pointless murder her hated toward arrogant Americans—and their insistence on enforcing their particular political and religious beliefs on those who chose to believe differently—skyrocketed. That hatred had fomented unabated ever since.
And the Jew? Ha! Simply being a Jew intensified her hatred of him. From the start of recorded history, Jews had been the main source of problems plaguing the civilized world. Since the establishment of Israel, their unquenchable expansionistic appetite has done nothing but oxygenate incendiary Middle East politics. Kill the Jews, and you will do wonders for bringing peace to this earth.
But Arnold Gold was more than just a Jew. He was directly responsible for her husband’s incarceration as well as the deaths of Karim and her brothers in the warehouse. Mere words could never describe the hatred burning in her heart toward him.
She could already taste the delight that killing him would bring.
But the Jew possessed a thing of great value: his computer system’s ability to evaluate and predict the outcome of future events, a feat he proudly demonstrated to her in a bout of adolescent bravado. Grave stupidity on his part. For her, learning of his system was a sign from Allah, for it would provide yet another weapon to employ in her Jihad.
But she had blundered by overestimating the spell she cast over him. She’d also gravely underestimated his gullibility. He eventually saw through her fabricated story, and when he did, he attempted to disappear, only to give himself away by making amateurish blunders. It’d been mere child’s play to track him straight back to his Seattle home.
Her iPhone vibrated softly, jarring her from these dark memories. She glanced at the screen: Kasra.
“Yes?” she whispered even though she doubted that a neighbor could hear her at normal volume. Plus, a breeze rustling through nearby foliage provided sufficient background noise.
“He is leaving by the front door with his dog, heading for the car.”
Naseem wiggled backward a few feet from the crest of the hill to a point where she could stand without being seen from his house.
“Good. I am coming. FaceTime me so I can see exactly what happens. He may simply walk the dog along the sidewalk.” She started working down into the rocky ravine, heading back to her car, one eye on the narrow scree path and the other on the phone.
Naseem smiled. The Jew would be highly predictable and probably drive his dog to one of two parks. The only thing she didn’t yet know was whether he’d contacted the lawyer yet. Nawzer could answer that question soon as she checked with him, a task she planned to do the moment she returned to the safe house. Meanwhile, there was still a great deal of work to finish this evening.