Red Mist, Chapter 18
Updated: Apr 27
Max Koga placed his hands on the Ford Explorer and leaned in toward Nicole Shan. “For what possible reason would the FBI have for following me?”
Nicole kept her eyes fixed on Koga. “Are we going to have this conversation here or do you want to get in?”
“Will you give me a lift back to my place?”
She paused, then nodded. “Sure.”
“Don’t go anywhere,” Koga said. He jogged over to the parked Audi Q8 where Donald Rawlings sat with the driver-side door partly open and his SIG Sauer pistol resting on his lap.
“An old one-night stand?” Rawlings asked.
“It’s more complicated than that. I’m going to catch a ride with her.”
“Thattaboy, getting back in the saddle again. I knew you had some magic left in you, and from what I can see from here, she’s a solid eight, maybe a nine.”
“You’re a sexist pig.”
After sending Rawlings off, Koga returned to the Explorer, where he threw his jacket into the rear seats and slid into the cabin. “This is my first experience with a stalker. Be gentle.”
“You’re Maximilian Koga, formerly with Naval Intelligence, then the DEA, and now working at Argon Securities for Paul Verdy,” Nicole said as she punched Koga’s address into the navigation system.
“And I see that you won’t be needing directions.”
She smiled and pulled the vehicle away from the curb.
“Your boss, Director Ed Womack, wants to keep an eye on me, is that it?” Koga asked.
“It could’ve been worse. Someone else could have been assigned to follow you.”
Koga shot her a quizzical look. “And why should I be happy it’s you?”
“Because I’m on your side on this, and I happen to be good friends with General Verdy. I am also very curious about what Song Motors is up to. We’ve been monitoring them for the past several weeks.”
“What do you have on them?” Koga asked.
“Nothing much really, only that a Chinese gang called the Tangs do most of their dirty work at home and overseas.”
“Never heard of them.”
“Neither did we until recently, but it seems like the CIA has a thick file on them.”
Koga remained silent until the Explorer pulled to a stop in front of his townhouse. His bright red Mazda RX-7 was parked in the driveway, complete with a new rear glass, courtesy of ALPHAequipt.
“Thanks for the lift. It’s been fun,” Max said, stepping out of the vehicle.
Without responding, she drove away. As soon as the Explorer was out of sight, Koga took out his smartphone and dialed Paul Verdy, who picked up on the first ring.
"What have you got, Max?"he asked.
“Hi boss. I just wanted to tell you that I made a new friend today. It was someone from the Bureau.”
Verdy grunted. “Don’t tell me Womack had someone follow you.”
“He did, but this agent said she was a friend of yours. She actually mentioned you by name.”
“You must be talking about Nicole Shan, I can vouch for her. She helped me interrogate a Chinese informant a while back, and she was very effective. Speaks fluent Mandarin and Cantonese. Still, this is unacceptable. Let me make a few calls and see if I can’t get her to back off.”
“Can you hold off on that, sir?”
“Why? What are you thinking?” asked Verdy.
“She mentioned a crime organization called the Tangs. Have you heard of them?”
“Can’t say that I have.”
“Neither have I, but the CIA seems to know about them and they seem to be connected with Song Motors, which leads me to believe that neither agency is being very up-front with us.”
“Let me see if I’m reading you right. While I squeeze Langley, you’ll work the FBI angle through Agent Shan?”
“Those were my thoughts, sir,” Koga replied.
Verdy let out a boisterous laugh. “I love it, but I need to warn you. Nicole is razor sharp. Be careful that she doesn't end up playing you.”