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Also, a huge debt of gratitude to Debbie and Randy Fritter, who drove around Madison and the surrounding areas looking for just the right sections of town to set our showdown.

"His sights were always fixed on unmade discoveries, unfinished initiatives, imperfect gains, and frustrated crusades."

~from Columbus by Filipe Fernández-Armesto

"A professional thief is a man who wakes up every morning thinking about committing a crime the same way any other man gets up and goes to his job."

~Willie Sutton in Where the Money Was: The Memoirs of a Bank Robber written by Willie Sutton with Edward Linn


November 23, 1989

Serena Salim barely noticed when a third nail tore under her anxious gnawing.

"How much longer?" young Roman whispered.

Though her mothering instincts kicked in infrequently, she recognized the fear in her boy's voice. She could say or do nothing beyond reach for his hand. Without hesitation, he pulled away and put his face against the passenger window.

Nels and Zeke had been inside for so long now. Had something gone wrong? Or had Nels gotten greedy again? He was a man who would go back for just one more penny--the proverbial cherry atop a mountain of decadent cake.

This one couldn't go wrong, not with all Zeke's planning. On and on, Nels had raved about how brilliant Zeke Carfi was; he'd thought of everything. Nothing could possibly go awry.

But they should have been back a long time ago.

Serena swore under her breath in Korean. This would have solved all their problems. No more hand-to-mouth. No more of Nelson's crazy schemes to "make ends meet", most involving his shop of rare books, Antique Books, Ltd., that was never profitable on its own. When Nels met Zeke a year ago, Zeke'd taught him how to make money the easy way. This one final heist would set them all up for life.

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