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At 10:20 a.m. Gavin stepped into Mike Taylor's office and found his boss sitting at his pristine, glass-topped desk, his sleeves rolled to his elbows and his dark hair sticking up in the back.
He checked his watch. Yep. 10:20.
The man's appearance was typically as neat as his office. His hair sticking up? This early? In Mike's OCD world? Unacceptable.
Whatever Gavin had been summoned for had to be a disaster. Stabbing pin pricks crawled up his neck. He shifted his gaze left. Vic Andrews, Taylor Security's executive vice president, leaned against the window sill with his arms crossed, eyes narrowed and a general I'm-pissed-off-at-the-world aura.
Gavin stepped forward. "What's up?"
Mike held his hands prayerlike in front of him, his fingers mashed together until his veins popped.
Screwed in a big way.
Vic boosted off the window sill. "Roxann has been kidnapped."
Bam! Forget the warm-up. Gavin threw his shoulders back and those pin pricks turned to dagger stabs. Had he heard right? He shifted to Mike. "Your Roxann?"
"Have they made contact? Ransom?"
"Not yet. I got a call a few minutes ago. They said no cops and to expect communication in the next hour."
"Where'd they grab her?"
Mike looked down, shook his head and scrubbed his hands over his face. "I don't know. We left together this morning. She was heading to the lake house to get ready for the Fourth of July party on Saturday. I've got Gizmo getting me a trace on her car."
That wouldn't do them any good. Even the most inexperienced kidnapper would know a high-end Mercedes would have factory-installed tracking. Couple that with the car being owned by the man who ran not only Chicago's, but one of the nation's most elite private security companies and it was a no-brainer they'd be able to locate the car. The kidnappers probably abandoned it somewhere. Mike knew that and Gavin wouldn't voice it.
"Are you considering calling the FBI?"
Vic moved to the side of the desk. "No feds."
Gavin ignored him. "Mike?"
Lost that round.
"The FBI," Mike continued, "has to play by the rules. We don't. I want my wife back without having to deal with red tape."
"Damn straight," Vic added. "We got everything we need. We find her and we go in and get her. End of story."
Gavin finally looked at him. "End of story? What's wrong with you? You and your merry men charging in there with your flash bangs and weapons will escalate the situation."
"Screw that," Vic said. "These assholes won't know what hit them. Once we find her, we'll be in there so fast they won't have time to draw on us. Besides, what the hell do we need the FBI for when we have you?"
Gavin breathed deep. A sound argument considering, prior to six months ago, he'd spent the last twelve years as an FBI hostage negotiator. "Has it occurred to you that we are not in some war-torn country? You're talking about doing a takedown on U.S. soil. In case you weren't aware, if someone gets shot, there are laws against that sort of thing."
Mike put both hands up. "Enough." He dragged his gaze from Vic to Gavin. "Look, Gavin, all due respect, I'm not calling the feds."
"Thank you," Vic said.
"But we're not going tactical either. Yet. Gavin will negotiate her release."
There it was. The assignment of his career.