E x-Minneapolis cop Chance Colter rolled in bed at the sound of his phone. His wife Tika slept on, still recovering from the injuries suffered in the blast that destroyed their business in Savannah, Georgia. The Roman sun sliced through the slatted window shade, knifing a six-inch swath across the bed below their heads. Colter glanced at the clock on his phone and answered.
"Hello." Usually he answered with "Colter." But few knew Tika and he were in Italy. Anna Partanza had his number. Maybe something had happened to her or Bernadette but he didn't want to give anything away to a number he didn't recognize.
"Colter? Glad you picked up. It's Chuck Dumont. How's Rome? Where are you staying?"
"Dumont! Why are you calling me? We finished in Ecuador and didn't die. And how did you know I'm in Italy."
Dumont chuckled. "I'm hurt. Thought you might want to hang out."
"Get a life without me in it. I'm tired of getting scars because of you."
"You know, Colter, you could hurt a guy's feelings."
"Why are you calling?"
"I'm in Rome. Quite a coincidence."
"Extended vacation. "We need to meet. Now."
"Why would I do that?"
"Because I can't go over it on the phone."
"I'm not interested."
"You will be. Where's your hotel. That information I didn't get."
"Get from who?"
"I'll tell you when we meet."
"We're not meeting, Dumont."
"Does the name Irina ring a bell."
Colter hesitated. "Il Albergo Trieste , off the Piazza Navona . I'm only telling you that so I can tell you no in person."
"Good. I haven't had breakfast. I won't have much time."
"I'm not alone in case you didn't remember. I have a life."
"Neither am I."
"Not another agent. You weren't supposed to be in Ecuador. Italy won't like it either."
Dumont laughed. "Well, she is another agent but on medical leave. Like you, we're on vacation."
"Not an official visit, then."
"No. Vacation like I said."
"Good for you."
"Tika with you?"
"How's she doing?"
"Better every day." Colter's voice softened. "How are you? You do what we discussed?"
"I'll tell you when I see you. I'm not far. Half an hour."
Colter glanced at Tika who had roused at his voice.
"What's going on?" She said through a yawn.
"That was Dumont."
"The FBI agent?"
"How did he find us?"
"Hopefully not by someone I don't want to know. I didn't think the FBI cared. I was wrong."
"You spent time with Dumont. He came to our business a few times. He was better than his partner. You seemed to like him." Another yawn.
"Like you said, better than his partner, Pickler." Colter chuckled. "Who was assigned to Alaska after our last visit."
"I thought you were going to put him in the hospital that day."
"Dumont stepped between us."
"I remember. Is this social with Dumont?"
"It's never social with the Bureau. Come on. We're meeting him for breakfast downstairs in thirty minutes."
"And I'm supposed to get ready in thirty minutes?"
"You look beautiful asleep, awake and everything in between."
"Why do I have to be there?"
"Because nothing Dumont has to say to me won't involve you or happen if you say no. This way I don't have to explain it and answer five hundred questions I probably won't have answers to."
Tika smiled. "Good answer. Both of them."
Dumont beat them to the restaurant by five minutes. He stood as they entered. "Mrs. Colter. Very nice to see you again. I know you were injured in Savannah..."
"Tika is fine and thanks for asking. I'm okay." She head-nodded to Colter. "He's always Colter except to me and his mother."
"Please call me Chuck. We're all on vacatio