Read an Exerpt of Just Between You and Me

Ezra Standish once again logged on to his computer terminal and sat down, carefully placing a styrofoam container of double espresso at his elbow. He yawned expansively and asked himself what he was still doing sitting at his desk at seven in the morning. Still being the operative word; rather than an early morning this was essentially the mother of all late nights. Not that he was a stranger to late nights but generally he reserved the all night sessions for social occasions, preferably involving a gaming table, a deck of cards, good whiskey and if he was lucky, a female companion. Finally, he had been driven to abandon the computer just long enough to leave the building and fetch a take-out coffee and croissant in the scant hope that the caffeine and carbohydrate would fuel him for just a few hours more. Now he focused his bloodshot eyes on the information before him and sent the file to the printer.

Chris pushed open the door from the stairwell and stepped out into the empty foyer on level seven making a mental note to call maintenance as soon as he reached his office. Once up those stairs was enough for anyone in a day. He chuckled wryly to himself. You’re getting soft, Larabee. The bull pen was in semi darkness with just a few lights still burning, one of which he knew would be Standish although he was curious to find out why.

The agent was indeed already working, his attention fixed on his computer terminal as his fingers flew across the keys. Ezra was one of the few agents who could touch-type -- a talent, Chris guessed, that was a side benefit of his incredible dexterity with a pack of cards -- and he imagined that at that moment he was churning out eighty words a minute.

“Early start, Ezra? That’s not like you.”

He did not appear to have noticed Chris approach but if he was taken by surprise when Larabee spoke he certainly showed no sign of it.

“On the contrary, Mr. Larabee. I am presently at the wrong end of an extremely late night.”

He paused in his data entry for a moment to remove the lid on his coffee and drink down a full third of the strong java. Chris shook his head; he was permanently at a loss to understand what made Ezra tick. He started to walk away to his own office content to leave Standish to whatever case he was engrossed in then, as an afterthought, turned back.

“Were the elevators working when you came in?”

Ezra didn’t look up.

“I went out for coffee around six-thirty. They were working fine then.”

Chris shrugged eloquently and crossed the bull pen to his own office. It was going to be one of those days.

Inside the disabled centre elevator car stalled on the sixth floor two thirty pound liquid petroleum gas cylinders lay against each other head to toe. Beside the cylinders sat a gallon container of gasoline with a detonator attached to a fuse wire dangling inside. The timing device -- two batteries -- were crimped to the detonator. The steady hiss of gas filled the empty car as one cylinder vented into the other. As the timer ticked over to 0715 the batteries sent a charge to the detonator igniting the gasoline which in turn sparked off the escaping LPG creating an expanding gas explosion which ripped the elevator from its moorings and tore the heart out of the sixth and seventh floors of the building.