[Chapter 1: Scuderi]

"We're in luck – looks like he's working late tonight," Connor MacManus said, easing the Ford LTD to the curb under the spindly branches of a leafless maple. "See him? Second floor of that brownstone, corner window."

Drizzling rain and partially open Venetian blinds reduced Murphy's view of the office into blurry stripes of shadow and light. A long, dark table and surrounding high-backed chairs occupied most of the space that could be seen. Stacks of files covered the table and further obstructed the view.

"Where do you see him?" Murphy asked. "Those chairs are all empty."

"There's a desk in the back right corner, behind that big ugly plant."

Murphy leaned forward and wiped at the condensation on the windshield.

Behind a huge desk a dark figure was visible, partially hidden by a monstrous potted plant. The glow of a computer monitor reflected on greasy black hair. Good chance it was a man. Beyond that, identification was impossible.

Murphy was about to say so when headlights lit up the car from behind.

"Shit," Connor said, his eyes on the driver's side mirror.

Murphy couldn't see anything but the lights in the rear-view. "What? What is it?"


Murphy held his breath as a two-toned sedan pulled alongside.

The car slowly closed in, then passed, picking up speed as it cruised under a streetlight. Murphy realized the contrasting paint colors weren't black and white, but some brown and tan combination and it was the hood that was lighter, not the doors.

"Get a handle on the paranoia, would you?" Murphy said, watching Connor's face register the mistake.

"So I'm a bit wired, so what."


"Alert. Ready for anything-do you hear that?"

Low, muffled voices sounded nearby. Murphy caught a sudden movement out his window and froze. Two men in dark rain jackets were outside, hoods pulled low over their faces. Murphy's Beretta pressed hard and heavy against his ribs from the cradle of his shoulder holster. Connor's hand slipped from the steering wheel and inched under his own jacket.

The hooded men moved on, heading toward the bus stop on the corner. Murphy watched them all the way. The one on the right had an even, controlled gait. The man on the left was about fifty pounds heavier and lagged a half-step behind, pausing every few steps to hike up his sagging pants and - maybe it was Murphy's imagination – to look up at the corner office window.

The men disappeared into the small shelter of the bus stop. Connor let out a breath that carried the smallest chuckle. "Me nervous? I thought you were gonna piss yourself."

"At least I can tell the difference between a panda and piece of crap beater."

"It's dark."

Murphy smiled. Darkness was usually his problem, not Connor's. He rolled his neck, trying to ease the tension already taking hold. Something didn't feel right. Something about the way the hooded men didn't seem anxious to get out of the rain.

He glanced back up at the muddled figure in the office, trying to ignore his growing unease. "You're sure it's him," he said to Connor. "Not one of his ass-kissing paralegals staying late to impress the boss?"

Connor shook his head very slightly. "Typing on Scuderi's computer in his private office?"

"I'm just saying, let's be sure."

Connor switched on the wipers, clearing the view for a few seconds. There was a slight glare on the windshield, coming from the store on their right. It was a Quickie Dry Cleaners that was closed according to the sign on the door, but that still had some interior lights glowing dimly through the plate glass window. Hard to tell if there was anyone left inside.

They were four blocks from the courthouse, and the majority of offices and stores in the area directly or indirectly supported the crime and punishment business. Most were closed for the night. Other than the two men at bus stop, the street was deserted.

Murphy cut his eyes back to the corner office. Scuderi, if that was really him, hadn't moved from the desk. Every so often he'd appear to thumb through a file, then go back to his slouch in front of the computer.

Connor glanced at Murphy, gave a barely audible sigh and ran the wipers again. As they watched, the man finally rose and crossed in front of the window, leaving the blinds swinging in his wake.

"It's him," Connor said. "You can tell by the swagger. The Scuderi Strut, they call it. Even alone in his office at ten o'clock he walks like an arrogant jerk."

"You've never seen him strut," Murphy reminded him. "Just that cocky smile on the news, every time he weaseled Papa Joe out of another conviction."

"We've seen him in person. You remember."

"Aye, but he wasn't strutting then. He was ducking under a table, shaking in his three-hundred dollar shoes."

Suddenly the blinds parted and the man peered outside, staring directly at them. Murphy slouched back in his seat instinctively.

Connor cracked a smile. "He can't see us here in the dark, pussy."

"Can't hear us either, asshole, so why are you whispering?"

Connor was sitting very still, but he moved his hand just enough to give Murphy the finger.

The man remained at the window. Then suddenly he hunched over. The blinds pitched and twirled. Something whitish caught the light – an avalanche of manila from one of the high backed chairs.

"What the…?"

When the blinds quit swinging, Murphy could see him doubled over in the chair. He shrugged out of his suit jacket, standing finally to get it off. He loosened his tie, then stilled for a moment, seeming to struggle with the buttons on his shirt.

"I hope this isn't going to be a full show," Connor said. "I don't think I could watch it sober."

"What the hell is he doing?"

The man gave up on the buttons and raised an arm to lean against the glass, revealing a dark circle under his arm.

"Look at him, he's sweatin' buckets," Murphy said.

"Maybe he's afraid the Saints are coming for him."

"Maybe someone poisoned him and cheated us out of the job."

"There's actually a decent chance of that," Connor said, "Not poisoning, but-"

"Copy cats, I know."

"Wouldn't be the first time."

The man turned around and leaned his back against the window, pressing the blinds flat behind him and blocking their view. His shadow slid lower and lower, and then the blinds swung free again.

"Is he on the floor?"

"Can't tell…there he is - at the desk again. On the phone, looks like. But now he's got the phone to his ear and his head down on the desk. I think it's time someone put ol' Scud out of his misery."

The tree they were parked under was dripping fat drops of rain onto the roof of the LTD and Connor's fingers drummed to the rhythm on the steering wheel. He looked at Murphy with raised brows.

Murphy reached over him and switched on the wipers again.

"It's him, Murphy! What do you want, to see a picture ID?"

"Don't give me your shit, Con. We can't be wrong about this."

Connor rested his elbows on the armrests, eyes focused on the office window, fingers no longer tapping. When two minutes passed and there was no movement in the office, he spoke, his voice low. "This is as clear as it's going to get. You want a better view, we're gonna have to get wet."

Murphy took a breath, not able to shake the feeling that something wasn't right. "We're gettin' wet either way. Pull around so we can take the alley."

Connor keyed the ignition and angled out, not switching on the headlights until they passed the bus stop on the corner. The benches were empty. Murphy found himself scanning the shadows for dark hooded figures.

Behind the brownstone, the back alley was dark and narrow. Black water streamed from the two-story roof and splashed onto dumpsters and broken asphalt. Connor pulled up past the entrance to the side alley before cutting the engine. No one would see their car pass the alley when they left.

The rain began to pick up as they sat there in the dark making their final preparations. It pounded on the roof and on the hood. It was the kind of rain that, on a different night, in a different place, could have lulled Murphy to sleep. Tonight it seemed like a warning, a foreboding omen. After all they'd been through, it wasn't an easy feeling to dismiss. He glanced at Connor. If his brother heard the warning too, he gave no indication. Murphy could barely make out Connor's frown of concentration as he pulled on black leather gloves.

Murphy pulled his own gloves from his coat pocket. He slid them on, then made a fist and flexed his fingers, shoving his trigger finger as deeply and tightly as he could into the leather.

Connor had his hand on the door handle, waiting. Murphy nodded, and they both stepped out into the rain.

The puddles were deep, and getting deeper. His feet found more than one hidden pothole as they splashed up the alley. They began by hugging the wall, but soon realized that neither building had any overhang and attempting to stay dry was pointless. They stopped where the alley opened to the plaza and looked up at the corner office window. Only the blinds, the underside of the table and chairs, and the ceiling were visible from the low angle.

Connor crossed his arms, leaning his back against the wall and keeping his eyes on the window. "Once he shuts off the lights, we'll probably have about three minutes. He has to walk past this alley to get to his car."

Murphy drew his Beretta and checked the clip, though he'd checked it twice already. "I didn't see a car."

"There was a tree between us, but I still don't know how you could miss it," Connor said. "In the daytime it'd block out the sun." He nodded toward a massive black Hummer parked several spots ahead of the one they'd just vacated, directly in front of a fire hydrant.

"That's not a car. That's a tank."

"And his license reads A-Q-T."

Murphy grimaced. "Acquit. What a dick."

"His ego's even bigger than his car. That's got to be him."

Murphy was out of arguments. He glanced up at the window, expecting Scuderi to appear and prove Connor right. "Okay, fine. I'm sold."

Connor gave him a long look, then drew his gun and checked the clip, sheltering it from the rain with his body. "I'm not aiming to sell you, Murph. If it ain't both of us ready for this, we bail. Period. It doesn't have to happen tonight."

"I am ready, Con. I've been ready for three months."

"Then what's your problem?"

Murphy shook his head. "Forget it," he said, not even sure there was a problem, much less that he could explain it.

Connor sighed and rubbed his temples. "What is it?" he asked, "Those guys at the bus stop-" He stopped, turning his head slightly to the side.

Somewhere in the distance a siren wailed. For a few seconds all they could do was listen. The rain diluted the sound and the high walls bounced it around so that it was impossible to tell where it was coming from. But it was definitely getting louder. Closer.

Doubt and denial flooded Murphy's mind, fueled by the earlier scare—the scare that had turned out to be completely groundless. No way could the police be after them already. Who could have called them? What was there even to report? He felt foolish suddenly, absurdly paranoid. Probably there'd been an accident. People always drove too fast in the rain.

They were still standing there in the downpour, silently debating, when lights appeared out of nowhere, flashing on the falling drops and jerking Murphy's heart so far up into his throat he nearly choked.

They turned simultaneously, tearing back down the alley towards the car. Halfway there, Connor lost his footing in a flooded pothole and went down hard into the water. Murphy swore and hauled him up, glancing hurriedly behind them. Red and white lights were swinging madly across the walls of the alley, but their source had stopped moving. Red and white, Murphy thought. But not blue. He stepped sideways to get a better view and confirmed his suspicion. It was an ambulance.

"What are you doing?" Connor hissed.

"It's not the police," Murphy said, pulling him to where he could see. "Look. It's just docs."

They watched two uniformed paramedics haul a gurney from the back of the ambulance and wheel it towards the building's entrance.

"Damn," Connor said with a glance at the office window. "The bastard really is sick."

Slowly, cautiously, they tiptoed closer to the lights, curiosity replacing panic. The paramedics disappeared into the first floor lobby.

"That's who he was calling," Connor muttered, resting against the wall again. "Friggin' 9-1-1." He gripped a hand around his upper arm and slid it down the sleeve, squeezing a gush of water from the soaked wool.

Murphy was suddenly aware of the weight of his own water-logged coat. "This sucks," he said. "I say we don't try this again until the weatherman start spoutin' good news."

"Hey now, nobody said it was over yet."

"Connor, he called them for a reason – he's probably having a damn heart attack! What do you want to do, off him when they bring him out on the stretcher?"

Connor glanced at his watch. "We don't know anything for sure. Could be they're just gonna give him a few aspirin."

"You're kidding, right?"

Connor peeked around the corner, then glanced above them to the office. "Let's just wait and see. If they leave without him…" He looked at Murphy, smiling a little behind his mask.

Murphy sighed heavily. He leaned against the wall and tried not to think about being cold and wet. Unlike his brother he had no delusions about salvaging the plan. Scuderi had managed to weasel an extension on his fate tonight.

But it wouldn't be indefinite.

A metallic clank and rattle and the sound of voices carried from around the corner. The paramedics came into view. The taller one led the way to the still-idling ambulance with one hand pulling the gurney behind him. The man from the office – Scuderi he told himself – was strapped to it, trying to turn his face from the pummel of rain drops. A black briefcase lay on his lap and he clutched it with both hands. The second paramedic, a woman with a blond ponytail, spoke quietly to him while she pushed from behind.

"Goddamn it," Connor muttered.

"Told you."

Connor shot him a dirty look. "You're going to gloat now? You're happy to be right about this?"

"Doesn't happen all that often. Got to take what I can get."

Connor pushed off the wall, kicking water at Murphy as he started for the car.

They'd gone only a few steps when they heard the woman's scream.

Murphy's eyes met Connor's and this time there was no hesitation. In an instant they were crouched at the brownstone's corner.

Murphy couldn't believe how quickly the scene had changed. He recognized the dark hoods immediately. They'd been hidden in the shadows after all.

One of them crushed a hand over the woman's mouth. She kicked wildly and tore at the black gloves to no avail. The heavier one held a large black pistol to her partner's back. The medic raised his hands defensively. Scuderi writhed violently on the gurney, trying to free himself from the straps over his chest and legs.

"Jesus fuckin' Christ," Murphy breathed, drawing his gun.

Connor's was already in his hand.

They moved forward together, pausing behind a low planter twenty feet away.

The woman stopped struggling and lowered her hands, reaching for something on her belt.

"Oh, no you don't," her attacker snarled, yanking her head back roughly by her ponytail. He ripped a hand-held radio from her grasp and lobbed it into the darkness. "You won't be needing that," he said, and then whispered something into her ear that Murphy couldn't hear.

Her eyes went wide and she nodded, sinking to her knees on the wet concrete. He crouched and pulled her arms behind her.

"This doesn't feel like a mugging," Connor said. "Bastard's tying her up."

"What the hell is this?" Murphy wondered aloud as the fat man spun the gray-haired medic around to face his patient.

"Tie his hands to the rails," the fat man ordered, tossing what looked like plastic cable ties onto Scuderi's chest.

"Don't," Scuderi croaked, clutching one hand around his briefcase and weakly waving the other out of reach. "Don't. I'll sue your ass. You'll be an accomplice-"

The fat man shoved something into Scuderi's mouth. "Tie his hands," he ordered again, jabbing the gun hard into the medic's back. "Do it, now!"

"Our drugs are in the bus," the medic said, hesitating. "The key's in my left pocket."

The fat man laughed hoarsely, then leaned closer, lifting the gun to the medic's temple. "Do you really think we're here for your fucking morph?" The medic's back stiffened. He looked at the woman, on her knees with her wrists bound behind her, and his face filled with fear.

"Leah!" he shouted.

"John, don't-"

John ducked away from the gun and dug an elbow into the fat man's side. But the fat man struck back with surprising speed, the crack of his gun's handle against the medic's skull hard enough to send him crumpling to the ground without even raising a hand to brace his fall. He lay motionless on the wet concrete.

"No!" Leah screamed. Her attacker was on her in a flash, forcing her down with a knee on her back, growling something into her ear.

Shifting his weight, Connor inched out of the shadows. "I don't know what the hell these guys are after," he said quietly, "but we need to move before somebody gets killed. I've got this scumbag. You take the fatty."

Murphy scanned the plaza. It was too open, he realized, and they were much too far away. He closed one eye, testing his aim, and the bodies blurred together. "We can't go from here," he said. "Not as one. They'll use the woman as a shield."

"Then circle around, find some cover."

"What cover? A parking meter? We should take them out from here, but…" He paused while necessity warred with his pride. "I can't make a good shot from this distance-it's too dark," he said, the admission coming out harder than he intended. "Can you take them both?"

Connor looked at him, his eyes unreadable behind his mask. He turned back to the unfolding drama for a long moment. The woman, Leah, had been hauled to her feet and handed off to the fat man. He was holding her close in front of him, taunting her while she strained to turn her face away from his gun.

"Not both," Connor said finally. "One for sure, but…once the first round's fired, that girl's a goner. I can't line up two clean shots that fast, not while she's so close."

Frustration flamed inside Murphy. "I'm sorry, Con, I-"

Connor elbowed him and pointed to the far side of the plaza. "There's your cover."

"The fire hydrant?"

"To the right a bit. Straight across from here, behind the gurney."

Murphy saw it now – a UPS drop box not far from where John the paramedic lay unconscious. It was the standard dark brown, hardly visible except when the ambulance's red strobe flashed on the wet metal.

"Got it. Don't move in 'til I take him down. And keep an eye on Scuderi. Remember, we don't exactly look like law enforcement."

Connor nodded grimly. "Be quick."

The first hooded man stood over the gurney now. "Eugene, Eugene," the man said in a dangerously playful tone. He pushed the barrel of a small silver gun into the soft flesh under Scuderi's chin. The lawyer lay absolutely still.

Murphy took a breath and stood up. It was only about thirty paces away directly, but to stay out of sight he'd have to circle around, along the wall of the dry cleaners, then come back up from the street.

"Eugene," the hooded man continued, his voice almost singsong, "you seem to be having a rough night. Feeling a little…under the weather?" He laughed at his own joke. "It's a bitch, I know – being the only one, the keeper of all the secrets. Terrible for the blood pressure."

Murphy strained to listen in as he stepped carefully through the water, taking larger than normal strides to make as little splash as possible. That Scuderi had enemies ready to kill him wasn't much of a surprise, but this didn't sound like a simple victim's revenge.

He was over halfway now, nearing the dry cleaners. The back room light was still on inside. There was still no sign of life, but Murphy took no chances, moving as quickly as he could past the plate glass window.

Scuderi grunted and thrashed on the gurney.

"Shh, shh…." The hooded man placed a gloved hand on the gag. "I'm sorry you won't get to make your full confession, but I do have a question for you, and it's an important one, so please think carefully before you answer. Can you do that for me?"

Scuderi squirmed, upsetting his briefcase, but the hooded man steadied it before it could fall.

"Concentrate, Eugene, because I'm only going to ask you once."

At last Murphy reached the box. He went down on one knee and peeked around it. On the far side of the gurney the fat man still held his gun to Leah's head. The hooded man looming over Scuderi was closer, and therefore the target of Murphy's attack. Oblivious to Murphy's presence, he leaned forward to remove the rag from Scuderi's mouth. John lay awkwardly on the concrete in front of Murphy.

Please let this work Murphy prayed, and slipped around the box.

The hooded man's voice carried across the plaza. "Where are the files?"

One step, two steps, quietly, now….


Four heads spun in his direction. The crash came again, followed by a voice, "Medic six-one, what is your status?" It was John's radio.

The hood whipped his weapon around, but Murphy was faster.

"Drop it," Murphy said, heart thundering against his ribs. "And let the girl go."

Scuderi yelled for help, though his weakened voice didn't carry far. Leah's mouth was covered, her face tight with fear. Murphy realized with a pang of regret that all she would see was another masked man with a gun.

The hood kept his weapon pointed at Murphy. "You crashed the wrong party, asshole," he said, then turned slightly to his partner, keeping his eyes on Murphy. "If he shoots, kill her."

"I wouldn't do that," Connor's voice rang out. The first man threw back his hood and looked around furiously.

The fat man spun toward Connor's voice. "Who the fuck's going to stop me?" he yelled, apparently hoping Connor would respond and give himself away.

But there was only the sound of the rain.

Murphy smiled. Connor was hidden in the shadows, but his aim would be expertly trained on the fat man.

The hood gave up on the gag and squeezed Scuderi's throat to shut him up.

"That's close enough," he said to Murphy.

Murphy took another step. "I'll tell you once more, and then I'll put a bullet in your head. Let the woman go."

"I said don't come any closer!" The hood looked around quickly. Connor was still out there somewhere. "Look," he said more calmly, "I'm only here for the lawyer. No one else has to get hurt."

"Bit late for that, isn't it? You forgetting you left a body over here?"

The man frowned at the unconscious medic then threw a glare at his partner. "I need Scuderi," he said. "No one else matters."

"Then the girl can walk away," Connor said, his voice closer now, directly opposite Murphy.

Murphy squinted into the shadows, his focus thrown by the pulsing sparkle of emergency lights on the falling rain.

Directly opposite Murphy.

With a stab of panic he realized what they'd done.

Instinct screamed at him to move, to get out of the path of Connor's shot. His brother's aim was good, but not infallible. As for his own skill – in the light of day he and Connor were a close match. The dark of night was another story.

The problem was he didn't know which direction to move. He took a slow step forward and cocked his weapon for effect—he'd never take the shot blind and risk hitting Connor.

"Back off!" the hood spewed.

Leah whimpered, struggling feebly against the fat man's grip.

Murphy spoke with all the authority he could muster, praying for Connor to clear his background. "Enough with the bullshit! Tell your man to turn her loose. Now."


The hood's fury echoed off the walls and that's when Murphy heard it - a tinny jingle, coming from the direction of the dry cleaner's. It was a bell, the kind attached to a store's front door to announce when people were entering. Or leaving.

Oh no.

There was no time – no time to warn or to flee. Steeling his resolve, he ignored the instinct to look. A distraction was his only chance. The hood's expression tweaked just a bit-possibly confusion at Murphy's lack of response. Murphy waited. The seconds crawled. Then–-shuffling footsteps, a faint gasp. A horrified scream. The hood's eyes flitted toward the sound and Murphy had his opportunity.

He hit low, diving under the outstretched arm before the hood could squeeze off a round. They slammed into the gurney. It tipped onto two wheels, then crashed to the ground with Scuderi still attached. The man was stronger than Murphy'd expected, and with the rain slicking his leather gloves as well as trying to keep hold of his own weapon, it was no easy task to pin him down. Finally, he got a fistful of the man's jacket and forced it up over his face so his stomach was exposed and his arms were locked above him. He smashed the man's hand against the railing until the silver pistol slipped from his grasp.

As he shifted to raise the Beretta, a swirl of black ink on white skin caught his eye. It was only the tip of a devil's tail, the last half-inch of a tattoo that appeared to wrap along the ribs from the back, but there was something familiar about it.

"Nice tat," he said, squinting to see the rest.

The hood growled and the next thing Murphy knew, he was flying, then slamming into concrete. Stars exploded behind his eyes.

Dimly he heard the anonymous screaming grow hysterical. Connor and the fat man shouted over it. John's radio beeped and squawked, unanswered.

A knee crushed his chest. Murphy tried to roll him off but couldn't get the leverage. Somehow the hood got a lock on his right arm and bent back his wrist until it was dangerously close to snapping. The Beretta splashed to the ground. The hood stretched to reach it and Murphy slammed his freed fist into his jaw.

Three shots rang out—successive. Loud. Not from a silencer—not from Connor's gun. Something heavy splashed nearby.

Murphy's heart stopped. With every ounce of remaining strength, he shoved the hooded man off him. He scrambled to his feet, cursing the dark and rain. Leah sprinted past him with her wrists still bound and fell to her knees next to John. The fat man lay sprawled on his back, his mouth and eyes open lifelessly beneath the black mask. At the far corner of the plaza, lit by the dim glow of the dry cleaner's window, a body lay crumpled in a heap, wrapped in a shiny green raincoat. Darkness seeped from under it, fading as it spread in the wash of rain.

In the center of it all, barely distinguishable from the shadows, stood Connor. His gun was still drawn. It was pointed at Murphy.

Murphy heard a chuckle behind him as something hard touched his temple. Anger flamed in him, mostly at himself. How stupid to get distracted for the most self-sufficient person he'd ever known.

"Drop it!" Connor commanded.

"You first," said the hood, gripping Murphy by the neck.

"Maybe I wasn't clear. Drop the gun or I'll drop your fucking ass on the pavement like I did your fat friend."

Murphy glanced at the fat man's body, nearly forty feet from where Connor stood. It was a hell of a shot. The hood's grip tightened on the back of his neck. "Do it, then. But your boy dies first." There was a dull click against his skull.

Connor held his aim for a long moment.

Murphy gritted his teeth. Don't surrender, Connor. Not to this motherfucker.

Connor raised his hands slowly, palms open, gun pointing to the sky.

Without meaning to, Murphy shook his head in protest. He caught a glimpse of the gun jabbing his face-it was black, not silver. It was his own gun! Which meant the hood's was still on the ground only a few feet away. He kept his head still, moving only his eyes to scan the puddles around the gurney.

He saw the silver handle as Scuderi's hand closed around it. The barrel swung up and he dove sideways, knowing if the shot were meant for him it was all over.

Shots rang out as he splashed down. Ignoring the pain in his elbow and side, he looked up at the hooded man. Still standing. Scuderi had missed them both, but he wasn't through trying.

The spit of silencers filled the air and Scuderi's body jerked back and forth as Connor and the hood rained bullets on him from both sides. Scuderi choked, sinking to his knees before a final shot from Connor sent him face-first into the water.

A siren wailed. Gun still raised and now aimed at Connor, the hooded man looked down on Scuderi. "Fuck!" he swore. Out of nowhere, a car screeched to the curb. It was the two-toned beater.

"Go," a soft voice urged. Leah was crouched next to John, bound hands clutching her partner's radio, her eyes imploring as Murphy struggled to his feet. The hooded man backed towards the street, tripping twice but never lowering his gun.

The sirens were closing in.

"Come on!" Murphy shouted to Connor, who was sending a shower of bullets through the beater's rear window as it peeled away. Murphy yanked him toward the alley.

Connor slowed for a moment as they passed Leah, now kneeling next to Scuderi's blood-soaked body. "So you're all right, then?" Connor asked her.

She stared back at him, and Murphy tugged him on. There was no time to wait for her shell-shock to subside.

They ran flat-out to the LTD.

It roared to life and Connor slammed on the gas, launching them across the flooded asphalt before Murphy's door was even closed. He reached and caught it, hearing the car backfire as he pulled it shut.

Connor grimaced and glanced heavenward. "Give us a break, would You?" He was answered with two more violent blasts.

"Cruisers to your right," Murphy warned but Connor was already veering the opposite direction, keeping the headlights off. Murphy scanned the road behind them, expecting every second to be followed by a responding unit.

The LTD bottomed out again and again as they zigzagged though the smaller streets and alleys, but Connor never slowed. Only as they crossed the Congress Street Bridge, the imaginary threshold into familiar South Boston territory, did Murphy peel off his mask.