As a team, Matt Drake and his partner, Frodo, have watched each other's backs through some very dark days. But one thing they've never doubted was their commitment to each other...until now.
Frodo has been accused of a war crime ten years after leaving Afghanistan. Matt is determined to prove his friend innocent, but what will he do when he finds that his closest friend has secrets he won't share?
“I have a warrant for Frodo’s arrest,” Julie said. “He’s coming with us. How that happens is up to you.”
“Let me see the warrant,” I said.
“Fuck off,” Fred said. “You’re not the subject of the warrant or his lawyer. We don’t have to show you shit.”
“That’s correct. You don’t,” Rawlings said, his disembodied voice ringing through the bar, “but I’m asking that you to share it with me, as a professional courtesy.”
“Why?” Fred said.
“Because you’re in my city,” Rawlings said, “and that’s how things are done. Or I can ask my friends at Austin PD to pull you over for a traffic violation and develop probable cause for a body cavity search while I make some calls. Choose wisely.”
“This is bullshit,” Meathead said.
“Welcome to the big leagues, kid,” Rawlings said. “Read me the warrant or one of Austin’s finest checks you for hernia.”
The flush that had begun in Fred’s thick neck had now reached his jowly cheeks. He opened his mouth, but Julie’s smooth alto cut through whatever he’d planned to say.
“We’re happy to extend professional courtesy,” Julie said, even though the look she gave me suggested otherwise. “I’ll send you a copy of the warrant once we’ve taken the prisoner into custody. He’s being arrested for a murder that took place in Afghanistan in 2011.”
I hadn’t seen that coming.
“Bullshit,” I said. “We’re not going anywhere.”
“Matty,” Frodo said.
“I don’t know how else to say this,” Julie said, “but we’re not here for you, Mr. Drake.”
“We were in Afghanistan together,” I said. “He didn’t murder anyone.”
“Matty,” Frodo said, his voice more forceful.
“The warrant sounds legit, Matt,” Rawlings said. “I can take a look when I get there, but—”
“Not happening,” Julie said. “You asked for professional courtesy, and I gave it. Now my partner and I are walking out of here with Mr. Cates. End of story.”
“Don’t take this the wrong way,” I said, squaring off with Julie, “but unless you’ve got five more friends waiting outside, Frodo’s not going anywhere.”
Julie’s eyes blazed.
Frodo and I weren’t just friends. I’d been in the seat next to him when an explosively formed penetrator had ended his career as a commando and nearly his life. He was my brother. No way was he leaving here in handcuffs.
I turned to see Frodo standing beside me.
“I’ll go with them,” Frodo said.
“You can’t—,” I said.
“I love you man, but you make a mule look compliant. We both know I’m going with them.”
“Damn it, boy,” Frodo said. “Think. What good will you be sitting in the jail cell next to mine? Let me go and do your thing.”
Frodo squeezed my shoulder and then slipped past me.
“I’ve got only one hand,” Frodo said, offering right arm to Julie. “Not sure how your cuffs are going to work.”
“We’ve got that covered,” Fred said, grabbing Frodo by the shoulder and spinning him around.
The CID agent took a pair of specialty restraints from his pocket. He fastened one on Frodo’s wrist and the other to the stump just above this prothesis. “Don’t expect any special treatment because of your injury. You’re a war criminal. Period.”
A war criminal.
If there were any two sentences in the English language more incongruent, I couldn’t think of them. Though he never talked about it, Frodo had been awarded the Silver Star for an operation in Afghanistan during which he and another Unit sniper had saved the lives of four SEALs. What he had done that day was legendary in the special operations community.
Frodo had never seen fit to mention it to me, even though we’d been running and gunning together for more than a decade. The information had come to light only when a SEAL had asked him about it in my presence. I’m not saying that Frodo was perfect, but war criminals were by and large cowards, thugs who preyed on the helpless.
Frodo was no coward.
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Don Bentley is the New York Times bestselling author of Tom Clancy Target Acquired and the Matt Drake series (Without Sanction and The Outside Man). Don is a former FBI special agent, SWAT team member, and Army Apache helicopter pilot. Learn more at www.donbentleybooks.com