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"Sector one, all clear."
"Sector two, all clear."
"We've got an unidentified hotel employee in sector three," the third voice said.
Jason Templeton tapped the keyboard of his laptop to bring up the cameras for that sector. "Detain him."
"Already on it."
Jason watched Allison, his mission leader for sector three, and one of her agents close around the young man who'd just come out of one of the conference rooms. Allison hadn't activated her com, so he couldn't hear the exchange, but all three stayed relaxed as the guy showed his ID card, nodded, and removed his wallet from his back pocket. He slipped out another cardprobably his driver's licenseand handed it over. A few seconds later, he went on his way and Allison and the agent moved back to position.
"All clear, JT, he was on the list. He cut his hair yesterday and shaved his goatee. Looks a decade younger." She sounded amused.
"Thanks, Allie. I'm coming down with Matt and the client in a few minutes. Sweep the hallways and station two agents in the Madrid room."
"You got it."
"I'm clicking off. Buzz if you need me." Jason turned to his boss and best friend as he came out of the bathroom in their top-floor hotel suite.
"Everything in place?" Matt rubbed his dark, silvered hair with a towel and automatically scanned the laptops lined up on the antique sideboard. "No flags?"
"So far, so good."
"Good." Matt turned away from the computers and leaned back against the desk. "For being a paranoid businessman, Kolanko isn't very logical."
"I know. But I couldn't convince him to hold this meeting in his offices." Hotels weren't easy to secure, even hotels used to hosting the world's leaders and other at-risk guests. But Hummingbird's job was to take the highest-risk locations and eliminate those risks. In fifteen years, they hadn't been compromised. Now their reputation was as much of a deterrent as their presence.
Normally, Jason ran a job like this one on his own. But Kolanko was one of their biggest clients, a weapons manufacturer with three dozen government contracts, most with the U.S. but some with countries the U.S. currently found less than friendly. He'd insisted on meeting military officials in a neutral location, despite Jason's advice to avoid public access. He'd also requested Matt oversee the meeting personally. Jason originally thought the guy just wanted to show off, but overseas tensions had risen lately, generating resentment between competing governments that both bought from Kolanko.
"Ready?" Matt checked his now smoothly combed hair in the mirror and straightened his suit jacket.
"As ever." Jason tapped his com onto open frequency. "Allie, we're heading to the principle's suite. We'll be down in five."
"Got it. We're ready."
As they walked down the plushly carpeted hall toward the elevators, Matt's phone beeped. He pulled it from his inside jacket pocket and checked the display. "Dammit, I forgot to call Lark. She says she's coming home next week."
"Her fellowship is over?" Jason hadn't seen Matt's daughter in years, not since she left for college and a career that took her all over the world.
Jason shook his head. "You don't know?"
Matt shrugged as he tapped out a reply to Lark's text. Jason knocked on the door of Kolanko's suite and one of their operatives opened it. He nodded at Jason and signaled to someone inside the room.