Page 65 of Forced Alliance

Checking his watch, he hurried through the picture files. Nothing. Just Armond conducting business—in a legitimate way most days. Then Armond in a rare moment with his son at a Christmas gathering.

Connor studied one picture. Armond was laughing with Vanessa as they watched their son opening presents on Christmas Eve. That had been over two years ago. Lou rarely came home, but they’d all been in good moods that year. Connor had been invited to share dinner with them but he’d stayed out of the way while they opened presents.

He did remember the hostile glances Lou had given him that night. But other people had been at that dinner, too.

It struck Connor as odd that criminals could even have such loving, common moments while all the time they were destroying lives and bullying people into doing their bidding.

He was about to move on to the next shot when he noticed something else in the family picture.

Armond was wearing an open shirt that showed a gold coin dangling from an intricate necklace.

Connor lifted his hand to the chain he was still wearing. A chain that looked almost exactly like the one in the picture. Taking the necklace off, he stared down at it.

“Is this what you wanted me to find?” he said out loud. All things considered, this coin necklace had seemed insignificant. But then, everything became important when something became hidden.

Armond had told Beaux to look in the garage. Connor and Josie had found the old garage with the Camaro in it. And Connor had found this coin dangling there. Coincidence? Or had Armond left this for Connor to find?

He studied the engraved coin, flipping it over and over in his fingers. A figure of a woman was etched in the gold. What did this mean? The chain was held to the coin with what looked like a tiny nail drilled into the actual gold. Drilled into the thickness of the coin, not into the top of the coin.

Connor got a jewelry loupe and studied the coin up close. Very old and foreign, or at least it looked like an Italian or Spanish coin. Maybe from some sort of Spanish galleon?

He kept flipping it back and forth, forgetting the time for a few more minutes. When he looked at the clock, he realized more than fifteen minutes had passed since Josie had left.

Had he given her enough time? He didn’t want either Josie or Sherwood to know he was tailing her, so he put the coin back around his neck, anxious to tell Josie he thought he’d found what everyone might be looking for.

If this coin was authentic and if there were more where this one had come from, the Armond family could add even more millions to its coffers.

But was this one coin worth killing for?


Josie lifted one booted foot up and into the SUV, then slid inside. Only to find her superior waiting for her.

“Hello, Agent Gilbert.”


Sherwood sat across from her in the dark-windowed vehicle.

Surprised to see him, she glanced around. Other than the driver, they were alone. “Is something up?” she asked, her stomach tightening.

“You wanted to visit with Louis Armond,” Sherwood replied, “so I thought I’d take you to him.”

“Really?” Glad for this change of plans, Josie had to wonder what had made her superior change his mind. “Is he awake now?”

“He’s awake. But sedated.”

Josie took in that bit of information, her eyes on the road. “Which hospital?”

Sherwood shifted on the seat. “He’s not in a hospital. Too risky. We have him in a secure location.”

Shocked, Josie sat up in the seat. When she’d called the service for a driver, she’d instructed him to park down the street from Connor’s building and she’d walked to meet him. She didn’t want anyone getting too close. Now she had a feeling her SAC had purposely allowed Connor to bring her here.

What else had Sherwood kept from her?

She decided she’d had enough of people holding back on her. “Why haven’t you kept me informed on any of this, sir?”

Sherwood gave her a patronizing stare. “I told you I was trying to protect you and your CI.”

“Connor seems capable of taking care of himself,” she responded, that sick feeling still roiling through her stomach. “And I’m doing okay.”

“You two together—now, that’s an interesting piece of work.”

Lenora Worth Books | Suspense Books |