Somehow the foolish woman had gotten herself and several of her associates arrested. About the only good thing that had come of this was that the officials in Crimea didn’t seem to know who they had. El-Hashim was listed under a false name—A’isha Najem.
It took McElroy less than ten minutes to get over his annoyance, and realize the new situation might actually provide an opportunity. What if he could get someone into the prison to bring El-Hashim out?
The logistics were solved fairly quickly with the old standby combo of blackmail and money. And with the how figured out, it became a question of who ?
The operative would have to be a woman, someone who could think on her feet and blend in with the other female prisoners. While Stonewell did have female security employees, they were few in number and all were assigned elsewhere.
McElroy was looking through the digital archive on Raven when he came upon a mention of the colonel’s daughter and everything clicked. Not only had she spent two years in the army before going to college, she now worked as a domestic fugitive retrieval specialist, or, as most called it, a bounty hunter.
She was perfect.
And she had a Stonewell file, too. But instead of containing a gigabyte of information like her father’s, her dossier was under one meg, consisting merely of reports on previous attempts by the company to recruit her. All had failed.
That didn’t bother McElroy. None of the previous attempts had included the leverage he had.
A link to her father.
As he read through her file again, he saw a cross reference to another Stonewell employee named Shane Cooper. According to the document, Cooper had served with her in the army.
McElroy worked out a deal to have the man temporarily transferred to his group, thinking that Cooper would have knowledge of Alex that might prove useful.
In the end, it wasn’t Cooper’s insights that had helped secure her services, but the man’s ability to take a punch.
Unfortunately, all of his maneuvering would be wasted effort if Alexandra Poe didn’t show up.
But as he started to check his watch again, the door behind him opened, and one of the receptionists stuck his head in. “Sir? Your visitors are parking now.”
* * *
T HE STONEWELL COMPOUND was in a forested area about four miles outside of DC, down an unmarked road that was easy to miss if you didn’t know where you were going. Fortunately, McElroy’s coordinates had been very precise and Alex had no trouble finding the place.
A quarter of a mile in, a guardhouse stood in the middle of the road, flanked on either side by a gated fence that disappeared into the woods. Topping the fence were large coils of razor wire.
As Alex pulled her Jeep to a halt, a uniformed man stepped out of the guardhouse. This wasn’t some fifty-year-old, potbellied rent-a-cop just doing time, however. He couldn’t have been more than thirty, with the build and demeanor of a human bull.
He leaned down and looked inside the Jeep as she lowered the window.
“Ms. Poe, Mr. Jones. Welcome to Stonewell.”
Alex and Deuce nodded.
“Put this on your dash,” the guard said, handing her a piece of paper through the window. He looked out at the road beyond the gate. “Continue on for four tenths of a mile, then make a right, and that’ll take you to the parking area next to the main building. Your assigned spot is number seventy-two. Please make sure you use only that number. When you arrive, stay in your car until someone comes out to get you.”
Alex raised an eyebrow, but didn’t say anything.
The man took a step back, reached behind him, and pushed something just inside the guardhouse door. The gate began rolling out of the way. “Have a good day.”
Alex was tempted to give him a salute, but didn’t. Instead she hit the gas and started forward again, knowing what Deuce would say before he even opened his mouth.
“Stay in the car, huh? I’ve got a better idea. How about we turn around