“Let’s see what the bomb squad has to say.”
They had to wait fifteen more minutes before the squad called an all-clear, having removed the device and placed it into a blast-proof container. “High tech,” the female member of the team said. “Nothing your average malcontent could make on his own.”
Max hunkered down beside her, aware of the two males giving Sophia the once-over. If they so much as smiled wrong in her direction, those faces would be hitting the old-fashioned concrete of the garage floor—he was not in a rational mood right now. “Someone wealthy?”
“Sure. The rich can source anything, but they’d have to have some fairly strong contacts—this stuff is Defense grade.”
“Is it from a Psy company?” Sophia came to stand so close beside him, he could’ve reached out and curved his hand around the smooth temptation of her calf. Though he forced himself not to touch, her proximity soothed the clawing edge of his protectiveness.
“Can’t tell from a surface look, but they’re the leaders in explosive technology, so I’m guessing yeah.” She locked the box. “You want me to call forensics?”
“Thanks.” Rising, he said good-bye to the bomb experts just as two uniformed officers arrived to hold the scene secure. “Detective Chen is on her way,” one of them said.
Grabbing Chen’s number from them, Max made a call to her, then one to Bart, telling him of the incident and asking him to have his people go over Bonner’s mail and visitor records.
“I’ll organize it,” Bart said. “Glad you’re safe.”
“Thanks.” Ending the call, Max made another one asking for a ride to the airport.
“Shouldn’t we stay for the investigation?” Sophia asked.
“No point.” Max wanted Sophia out of here, wanted her safe. “I know Chen, and she’s a hell of a detective. She’ll keep us in the loop if they discover something—and she’s okay with taking our statements over a comm link.”
“And if this is connected to Nikita rather than Bonner,” Sophia said, “then we need to be in San Francisco.”
“Yeah, because even Psy sure as hell wouldn’t attempt to blow up a cop five minutes from an Enforcement station unless they were planning something damn spectacular. Either we’ve gotten too close to something—”
“—or we were meant to be a distraction,” Sophia completed.
The question was—Who or what target was important enough to chance taking out a cop? The fact that he was human didn’t negate the danger—all politics aside, Enforcement command would take the murder of one of its officers as a personal attack.
Sascha grinned as Lucas stopped at a small corner shop to buy her an ice cream. “Thank you, Mr. Hunter.”
“You’re welcome, Sascha darling.” He shook his head as they pulled away from the store. “I don’t know where it all goes.”
She took a contented bite of her chocolate-coated chocolate ice cream. “Don’t make me mad.”
He shuddered. “I think you’ve fulfilled your quota of crazy today.”
She made a face at him, able to hear the cat’s humor in his voice. “There is no quota, not once you start carrying around a bowling ball in your belly.” A little pat to reassure the baby, who appeared to be fast asleep. “Not that I don’t adore our little bowling ball.”
A fond glance from the cat beside her. “Why are we going into work?”
“Because they need you to sign documents.” Savoring the delicious treat, she sighed. “It’s such a beautiful day.”
“Let’s take a drive through the Presidio before we head in,” he said, referring to the forested region just outside the city. “You can find a nice sunny spot to eat your ice cream while I take a nap.”
She shot him a laughing glance, warmth filling her body at the remembrance of exactly why he was so sleep-deprived. “Are you complaining?”
“No”—a wicked smile—“I’m planning my revenge.”
Max and Sophia had gone over every piece of evidence related to Nikita’s case twice by the time they were twenty minutes into their flight. “What are we missing?” Max muttered, frustrated at the feeling that they were being blind to something critically important. Bonner and his twisted games just didn’t fit.
The vanilla of Sophia’s shampoo whispered across his senses as she bent her head over her organizer, an invisible caress. “Whatever it is, it must be taking place soon if they came after us in such a high-risk location.” They’d both realized the bomb could’ve been planted anytime in the past forty-eight hours. Which meant—“We have to work on the assumption that the timeline has to be very, very short by now.”
“A strike anytime soon will break the pattern of murders before a big deal.” Max had spoken to Nikita prior to boarding the airjet, reconfirmed that nothing was even close to final. “Why?”
“Something’s made them push their schedule forward.” Her thigh brushed his.
The fleeting touch was a balm, centering him. “Nikita’s people—anyone who’ll be out of easy reach for a long period?”
Sophia tapped the screen of her organizer with quick motions. “Prague, Berlin, Tokyo, hardly out-of-the-way locations. And any who are going are coming back within a week or two at most.”
“It has to be an issue of access,” Max muttered. “And for some reason, they were worried we’d figure it out—”