King is suddenly woken up by someone putting a hand over his mouth. It’s the reanimated corpse of Ed Gein. King is going to get filleted and skinned alive for our amusement. King takes a look, noticing the gun and then the person and discovers it’s Michelle. Michelle said she thinks she heard noises and asks if he knows who it could be.
Well it sure as hell won’t be the ghost of Benjamin Franklin. King says it might be people bringing in another corpse. Michelle then asks if there are any valuables in the house. This makes king realize that there’s the found gun down in the lock box in his study. King picks up the phone, finds it dead and asks Michelle if she has her cell. Being as Michelle is based on a sixty year old woman, she doesn’t and thinks she left it in her truck. Oddly for them, they decide it’s not smart to go running downstairs, waving a gun and confronting the intruders.
Michelle has her keys so they sneak out to her truck and get in. Michelle starts to say something when a leather garrote—an oddly specific detail—wraps around her neck and starts strangling her. King gets hit on the back of the head and falls forward because the bad guys buy those magic knockout gloves which are guaranteed to incapacitate the heroes without giving them brain damage.
There’s some more fighting and Michelle almost gives up until the bad guy whispers “just die” in her ear. Michelle gets the energy to find her gun and point it back at her attacker. She fires and hits the guy somewhere. The garrote gets released and Michelle stumbles out of the car. She goes to shoot the guy but he kicks the door into her and she falls down.
The henchman/villain runs off and Michelle goes to shoot at him. But sudden nausea strikes and Michelle sees the man split into three. She takes aim at one of them and fires the rest of her bullets at him. All of them miss, which is pretty amazing considering she hit him while aiming blindly behind her. He gets into the car with the other bad guys and they drive off in a rush. Michelle then passes out.
Surprisingly, this chapter doesn’t start with them coming to. Instead, we’re told the blaring of the horn caught the attention of a passing deputy. King fell onto the horn when he got knocked out last chapter. It’s a good thing this deputy heard the horn from so far away. That or this deputy was so bored they were driving into the remote area King lives and just happened to drive right by King’s place. And that the battery didn’t get run down to the point the horn stopped working. I might have had it to where a deputy or a Marshall was watching King because he’s a suspect in a murder noticed the endlessly blaring horn.
They both get taken to a hospital where King recovers first. Head injuries are never serious in books like these. Michelle’s injuries take longer, though I don’t know what she has beyond a bruised neck. She comes to and says King looks awful. They banter for a second before she says she shot the guy through the seat. King says that she’ll have to give a statement to the police. King says he already did and told them about finding the gun at Loretta’s.
“There must have been at least two of them: one to flush us out of the house and the other waiting in your truck. They were counting that I’d grab the gun. Saved them from looking for it. Someone must have been tailing us when we were at Loretta’s house. They could have seen us discover the gun, and decided to get it back.”
That sounds like an incredibly stupid plan. Why not just sneak in, take one of them at gunpoint and demand they get the gun? That seems infinitely easier that trying to scare Michelle and King out of the house, knocking them out and then getting the gun. Michelle then realizes that they got the gun and King says they should have taken it to the FBI right away.
King says that was close, way too close. Michelle says she fought as hard as she could, as if King accused her of anything less. King says he know and that he’s only alive because of her. No, you’re only alive because the avatar never punches out before the final act. Before Michelle can say anything else, a “young man” who’s part of the USSS comes in. He says as soon as Michelle is discharged, she’s to accompany him back to Washington. She’s been assigned to a desk position which King figures is the doing of Bishop.
They’re both very sad and King says it was fun while it lasted. Michelle says she’ll be back soon and won’t let him have all the fun by himself. She also says that she really liked the swim with King and wishes they could do it again. Just send that other agent out of the room and screw already, will you two?
Page break to King running into Joan in the hallway. She’s suspiciously everywhere King is and she knows all about the gun. King almost seems like he’s suspicious but Joan manages to assure him by saying her investigation skills aren’t dead. ‘You sure seem to know a lot about this case. I might be more suspicious if your boobs weren’t so enticing.’
Joan starts being jealous then, and saying King has certainly been spending a lot of time with his “lady-friend”. King says she’s just helping him with some stuff and Joan asks if Michelle offered a million dollar payday if the find Bruno or maybe just a night between the sheets. King asks if she’s jealous and Joan says she is. She then wants to know if King is going to accept her offer or not.
“So you’re in? I need to know. Right now.”
After a moment he nodded. “I’m in.”
Hey, Baldacci. The only time someone can say “I’m in” is immediately after hacking into a network while wildly tapping on keyboard. Now the only question is, how long until King figures out that Joan is in on the kidnapping and assassination? Probably after Michelle pieces it together and tells him.