Home > Point of Danger (Triple Threat #1)

Point of Danger (Triple Threat #1)
Author: Irene Hannon

1


THE PACKAGE WAS TICKING.

Eve Reilly froze . . . sucked in a breath . . . and gaped at the FedEx box propped beside her front door.

Tick.

Tick.

Tick.

Tick.

The sound was faint—but distinctive.

And was that . . . was that a wire sticking out through the tape?

She squinted.

Yeah.

It was.

Heart stuttering, she eased the door closed, snatched up the cell she’d dropped on the hall table, and jabbed in 911 as she bolted toward the back of the house.

The box definitely didn’t contain anything as prosaic as the new water filters she’d ordered for her fridge.

“911. What is the nature of your emergency?”

“There’s a package on my front porch that’s t-ticking—and a wire is hanging out of it.” Eve dug through the drawer next to the kitchen sink until her shaky fingers closed over the back-door key for her neighbor’s house.

“I’m dispatching as we speak.” The woman’s voice was calm. Like she dealt with bombs every day. “I want you to vacate the premises and find cover a safe distance away until officers arrive.”

“Got it.” She pulled open the back door and clattered down the deck steps while she answered the woman’s questions, trying to wrap her mind around this surreal turn of events.

Hate mail was one thing. An occupational hazard you learned to live with in her type of job.

But a bomb?

Way out of bounds.

She skipped the last step and leapt to the ground.

Maybe her sisters were right.

Maybe hosting a controversial talk radio show was a dangerous job.

And maybe, in the future, she wouldn’t cavalierly dismiss the venom that was sometimes spewed at her by listeners who didn’t agree with her opinions.

For now, though, she had to focus on keeping her neighbors safe. Willing as she was to put herself in the line of fire as part of her job, it wasn’t fair to endanger the innocent residents of this bucolic St. Louis suburb she called home.

The 911 operator finished her questions as Eve sprinted next door.

“I’ll stay on the line until officers arrive. Are you moving to a safe location?”

“Uh-huh.” Or she would be soon. After detouring to Olivia Macie’s. The eighty-one-year-old widow would either be watching TV with the volume sky-high or napping without her hearing aid. She wouldn’t hear her phone—and she might not even notice the noise from the emergency vehicles that would soon descend on the quiet cul-de-sac.

After bounding up the steps to the woman’s back porch, she skidded to a stop, set the phone beside the pot of geraniums on the patio table, and pounded on the door.

“Come on, Olivia. Open up. Please!” As she squeezed her other neighbor’s key, the first faint wail of a siren keened through the muggy August air.

She continued to pummel the door until the spry, white-haired woman at last pulled it open.

“Gracious, Eve.” Olivia adjusted her glasses and blinked. “I thought I was being raided.”

“Sorry. You need to go down into the basement ASAP.” She gave the woman a choppy three-sentence explanation. “Until the police get here and tell us what to do, that’s the most secure place.”

She hoped.

After all, if subterranean walls of concrete offered protection from tornados, they ought to shield a person from a bomb that was a hundred feet away . . . right?

And it had to be safer than fleeing in the open air. What if the package exploded while Olivia was outside?

Her skin grew clammy as a stream of stomach-turning images strobed through her mind.

“There’s a bomb on your front porch?” Her neighbor stared at her as if she’d just said aliens had landed in the yard.

“I don’t know for sure—but it’s ticking, and I’m not taking any chances. Can you get downstairs by yourself while I stash Ernie in the basement?” Her neighbors to the north would be devastated if anything happened to the coddled bichon frise they’d left in her charge while they attended a wedding in Chicago.

“Of course—but you should take cover too.”

“I will.” She tossed the promise over her shoulder as she hurtled down the steps and dashed across her backyard to her other neighbor’s house, the wail of the sirens louder now.

Please don’t let that package blow up while I’m out here, Lord!

With that desperate plea looping through her mind, she zoomed to her neighbor’s back porch, breaking every personal speed record.

Once she slipped through the door, Ernie pranced around her feet with a happy yip, then charged toward his food dish and gave her a hopeful tail wag.

“Sorry, buddy.” She snagged his leash off a hook and swept him up. “You can chow down later. In the meantime, you and I are going to the basement.”

The white fluff ball began to squirm as if he’d been attacked by a band of marauding fleas.

Clearly the word basement did not conjure up positive vibes.

She set her cell on the counter and tightened her grip. “Sorry again, but that’s the best place for us until this is over.”

Negotiating the stairs with a wriggling fur ball in her arms was a challenge—but self-preservation was a powerful stabilizer.

At the bottom of the steps, she snapped on his leash, secured it to the rail, and set him on the floor.

“Chill, Ernie. We won’t be down here for—”

Bam! Bam! Bam!

She jerked, hand flying to her chest as the pounding on the back door reverberated through the quiet house.

Ernie whined, and she gave him a quick pat before starting back up to the main level. “Stay.”

Instead of following her order, the pup clambered up on her heels as far as the leash allowed, almost knocking her off balance in his frenzy to avoid banishment.

Tuning out his plaintive howls, she hightailed it to the back door. A police officer in tactical vest and helmet with the visor down was visible through the window, fist raised as if he was preparing to bang again.

He spoke the instant she pulled the door open. “Ma’am, you need to leave the house. We have a possible bomb next door, and we’re evacuating the adjacent homes.”

“I know about the bomb. I called it in. I live there.” As she flapped a hand toward her modest Cape Cod house, his eyebrows rose. “I came over to take care of my neighbor’s dog, okay? They’re gone for the weekend. I have their key.” She held it up. “The basement’s safe, isn’t it? Because that’s where I told my neighbor on the other side to go too.”

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