True Blue

CHAPTER 1

JAMIE MELDON rubbed his eyes vigorously, but when he stared back at the computer screen it was still no good. He glanced at his watch; nearly two in the morning. He was toast. At age fifty he couldn’t pull these all-nighters consistently anymore. He slipped on his jacket and pushed back his thinning hair where it had drifted down to his forehead.

As he packed his briefcase he thought about the voice from out of the past. He shouldn’t have, but he’d called; they’d talked. Then they’d met. He didn’t want that part of his life dredged up again. Yet he would have to do something. He’d been in private practice for nearly fifteen years, but now represented Uncle Sam. He would sleep on it. That always helped.

A decade ago he’d been a hotshot and highly paid criminal defense attorney in New York, legally hand-holding some of the sleaziest of Manhattan’s underworld. It had been an exhilarating time in his career, and also represented his lowest point. He’d lost control of his life, been unfaithful to his wife, and become someone he’d grown to loathe.

When his wife had been told that she had perhaps six months to live, something had finally clicked in Meldon’s brain. He’d resurrected his marriage and helped his spouse beat a death sentence. He’d moved the family south, and for the last ten years, instead of defending criminals, he was sending them to prison. Everything about that felt right, even if his financial circumstances weren’t nearly as rosy.

He left the building and headed home. Even at two a.m. there was life in the nation’s capital, but once he got off the highway and rode through the surface streets toward his neighborhood it grew quiet and he grew more drowsy. The blue grille lights flashing off his rearview mirror jolted him to alertness. They were in a straightaway not a half mile from his house, but one bordered on both sides by trees. He pulled off the road and waited. His hand slid to his wallet where his official credentials were contained. He was worried that he’d dozed off or been driving erratically because he was so tired.

He saw the men coming toward the car. Not uniforms, but suits, dark ones that made their starched white shirts stand out under the three-quarter moon. Each man was about six feet tall with an athletic build, clean-shaven face, and short hair, at least that he could make out under the moonlight. His right hand gripped his cell phone and he punched in 911 and kept his thumb poised over the call key. He rolled the window down and was about to hold up his official creds when one of the other men beat him to it.

“FBI, Mr. Meldon. I’m Special Agent Hope, my partner Special Agent Reiger.”

Meldon stared at the ID card and then watched as the man flicked his hand and the familiar FBI shield appeared on the next slot in the leather holder. “I don’t understand, what’s this about, Agent Hope?”

“E-mails and phone calls, sir.”

“With whom?”

“We need you to come with us.”

“What? Where?”

“WFO.”

“The Washington Field Office? Why?”

“Questioning,” Hope replied.

“Questioning? About what?”

“We were just told to make the pickup, Mr. Meldon. The assistant director is waiting to talk to you.”

“Can’t it wait until tomorrow? I’m a United States attorney.”

Hope looked put off. “We are fully aware of your background. We are the FBI.”

“Of course, but I still—”

“You can call the AD if you want, sir, but our orders were to bring you in ASAP.”

Meldon sighed. “That’s all right. Can I follow you in my car?”

“Yep, but my partner here