It Happened One Wedding Page 82

“Not yet. We wanted to tell you first.”

“Let’s patch him in.” Vaughn made the call to Lyons and brought him up to speed. Romero said he would keep them posted on any unusual activity as his team tailed the suspects to Indianapolis, and Lyons agreed to check in as soon as he’d handed the guns off to Pritchett’s crew.

After hanging up with them, Vaughn filled in Huxley and the rest of the backup team.

“Do you think this new guy is going to be a problem?” Huxley asked.

“I think we need to be prepared for that possibility.” Granted, it was entirely possible that the only thing going on was that Mike Mahoney had heard about his brother making some cash on the side and had decided that he wanted in on the smuggling business. But regardless, Vaughn wanted to be ready for anything.

He opened one of his desk drawers and unlocked the metal case where he stored his Kimber 1911, the handgun he’d chosen to carry during this sting operation since Glocks were known for being law enforcement guns. He loaded the magazine and slid it into place.

 • • •

LATER, WHEN VAUGHN was at home and changing into one of “Mark Sullivan’s” designer suits, Lyons checked in.

“They just left with the guns,” the other agent said.

“How’s the new guy?” Vaughn asked.

“Young. Built. Big ego. I gave Pritchett crap about bringing in a new guy, and Mahoney didn’t care for that much,” Lyons said.

“He’ll be hearing the same song on my end,” Vaughn said. After hanging up with Lyons, he called Romero, who was in one of the cars tailing the cops back to Chicago. “How are we looking?”

“Business as usual,” Romero reported. “I’m tailing the van that the Mahoney brothers are in, and they’re following the standard route.”

“Just wanted to make sure our new guy doesn’t get any bright ideas about making off with my guns.”

“If that happens, and my team has to rein these jackasses in, please let me be the one to tell them the guns don’t even work,” Romero said.

“Not a chance. I’m saving that tidbit for when I arrest Pritchett.” Vaughn ended the call and put on the Rolex that had been given to him by Stagehand, the internal FBI group that provided the props used in undercover operations. Leaving his own cell phone on the kitchen counter, he slid into his suit-jacket the phone he used while undercover as Sullivan.

It was showtime.

 • • •

FROM INSIDE THE Hummer, Vaughn saw the headlights of the two vans approaching. He stepped out of the SUV and waited as the vehicles came to a stop in front of him.

Vaughn sized up Mike Mahoney as the young cop exited the second van. Twenty-three or twenty-four years old and built like a tank, he wore his T-shirt tucked into a pair of cargo pants so that his handgun was clearly on display.

Poor form.

“Who the f**k is this?” Vaughn asked Pritchett, nodding in Mike’s direction and acting the part of a gun buyer whose smugglers had just showed up with an uninvited guest.

“I’m the f**king muscle, that’s who I am,” Mike Mahoney shot back.

Clearly, the younger of the Mahoney brothers was going to be a real charmer.

Pritchett, the businessman of the group, was quick to diffuse any potential fireworks. “He’s James’s brother, Mike. Another cop. James told him about the operation we’re running, and he wanted to check it out. I figured with the amount of guns we’ve been smuggling into the city, it’s not a bad idea to have some extra manpower, you know? Just to be safe.”

Vaughn knew that Pritchett was lying—according to Romero’s intel, the cop was anything but thrilled that Mike had tagged along tonight. But he gave the guy credit for being a fairly decent bullshitter. “Sounds like James needs to work on keeping his mouth shut.” Vaughn stepped closer to Pritchett, his tone low. “Next time you think you need extra manpower for a job, you run it by me first. Understood?”

Pritchett swallowed nervously, for once not acting smug. “You’re the boss.”

“Damn right.” Vaughn gestured in the direction of the vans. “Let’s see what you’ve got for me.”

Seemingly relieved to have things back on track, Pritchett hustled over to his van and opened up the trunk. Vaughn walked over and saw two large duffle bags, just like the previous two trips. A check of the bags revealed ten AR-15 semiautomatic rifles, which Vaughn once again examined in front of the cops so that it was clear they knew what they were smuggling.

Once he’d accounted for all the rifles, he headed over to the second van. Inside were two more duffle bags, each filled with twenty-five handguns.

“Looks good,” Vaughn said. “Let’s load them up.”

He and the cops grabbed the duffle bags out of the vans and carried them over to his SUV. While loading them inside, he looked back and saw the Mahoney brothers and Howard standing by the back of the second van, where the fourth duffle bag of guns remained. The three men were huddled close together as they spoke.

And that was the moment Vaughn began to suspect that trouble loomed on the horizon.

“Something going on that I need to know about?” he asked Pritchett.

“There’d better not be,” Pritchett grumbled.

Buying time, Vaughn kept his pace unhurried as he walked over. Assuming that something was indeed afoot, he scrolled through the various possibilities. He doubted the Mahoney brothers and Howard were planning to steal his guns because three of the duffle bags were already in his SUV. More likely, they planned to shake him down for more money.

Prev Next