Devastated, Ford knows his son would never take his own life and starts asking questions. When he discovers that several other young agents have also died and that they all had witnessed a strange, secret meeting involving the president at a remote Maryland farmhouse, Ford becomes obsessed with finding the truth. When the police refuse to investigate, he begins to pull strings and gather clues. To Ford, the evidence is as astounding as it is undeniable. The person behind the murder of his son is none other than the president of the United States.
Although Kurt Ford is a man at the pinnacle of power and on the verge of a new marriage, he's about to risk it all on an impossible mission: to assassinate a president who has spun out of control. Armed with a firsthand knowledge of how the Secret Service operates, Ford prepares to slip through the three outside circles of security, break through the fourth perimeter, and get out alive. But when he sets his plan in motion, he will find out how much he really has to lose-and what dark forces are waiting for him to make his next move.
Filled with brilliantly complex characters and relationships, The Fourth Perimeter is a thriller of highly charged emotion, unexpected twists and turns, and riveting action-the most impressive novel yet by Tim Green.
|Edition description:||Abridged, 4 Cassettes, 6 hours|
|Product dimensions:||4.13(w) x 6.75(h) x 1.03(d)|
Read an Excerpt
It was late Saturday in upstate New York, a perfect early summer evening on Skaneateles Lake and not the place one would expect to receive tragic news. On the water, an occasional boat droned past through the light chop that had been kicked up by a pleasant breeze. The sun had dropped behind the towering hills and already overhead the brilliant three-quarter moon danced with tattered clouds. Jupiter winked nearby, and the soft hum of crickets played background to the rustling leaves of a tall willow. On the broad covered patio of the Glen Haven Inn, groups of people sat around circular tables covered with white linen tablecloths and adorned with fresh-cut flowers. Peals of soft laughter drifted across the veranda as if the patrons too were blooming in the first true warmth of the season.
None, though, seemed happier than the couple that sat by themselves at a table by the railing on the edge of the night. The man was in his late forties. His posture was effortlessly upright and his shoulders subtly muscular. Though he had been dark-haired as a youth, his asymmetrical face was now weathered and crowned by a full head of hair frosted by time and care. Either side of his irregular visage by itself was uninspiring, but together they were somehow pleasing. His dark brown eyes were a constant contradiction, brooding fathomless pools one moment, smiling and luminescent the next.
He had the look of a man who had seen much, yet had somehow retained at least some of the joy of youth. He appeared both rugged and gentle, with the outward demeanor of a man whose livelihood relied more on his hands than his mind. The labels inside his clothes could betray his wealth if he hadn't removed them all for comfort's sake. So could his gold watch, but only on the rare occasions that he remembered to put it on.
The woman looked younger by ten years or more. Her wavy light brown hair was highlighted with long golden strands and it fell past her shoulders in wild bunches that might have given her an unkempt appearance if not for the meticulous demeanor of her clothes and the perfect features of her face. Her eyes were the color of blue glass and bright, unspoiled despite the disappointments life had shown her. Her smile too was as animated as it had been when she was a young girl, and she was always ready to laugh, even at herself.
She was laughing now while the man recounted for her the verbal abuse he had taken earlier in the day from his sister. Gracie was much older than he, and the two of them had a unique relationship. It was she who for years had helped to manage the domestic affairs of a man who seemed to care very little for money although he had vastly more than most. It was Gracie who ruled the mansion in Greenwich, if not the lake house in Skaneateles and the massive penthouse apartment on Central Park West in the city. The younger woman was quite familiar with the sister's austere demeanor as well as her unabashed and biting criticism of the many things that didn't please her.
"...So I said to her," the man continued between gleeful gasps, " 'Gracie, if I didn't know you better, I'd say you have a thing for that man!'"
The woman, Jill, let out a shriek of mirth. "You didn't!" The man laughed even harder, barely able to catch his breath. "And then she said...she said,"he howled,bursting into tears of delight. "She said...'Don't forget, Kurtis Andrew, that I used to change your diapers!'"
Jill shrieked again, wiping tears from the corners of her own eyes.
"Holy shit!" Kurt bellowed, still crying. "Can you believe she said that? Oh God, she sounded like my mother..."
Together they emptied their laughter into the night, unconcerned with the stares they drew from everyone around them and the embarrassed smile on the lips of their waiter, who pulled up short of the table with their coffee and dessert. When they had quieted, and the waiter had moved on, Kurt reached into the pocket of his blazer and felt the velvet box he'd hidden there. He gazed lovingly across the table, moving the flowers to the other side of the candle so he could see his companion's face without obstruction.
"My God, I love you so much," he said with quiet urgency. Reaching out across the table with his other hand, he grasped her fingers tightly.
"Oh, I love you too," she said fervently. "Kurt, I love you so much."
The mirthful tears in his eyes turned sentimental. He thought of how long it had been since he had allowed himself to really love a woman, more than twenty years. The last had been his wife, and since then, although after a while there were other women who had occupied his mind, none of them had ever truly been allowed to find a place in his heart.
Even so, he chided himself for being so apprehensive. His intention had been to present the ring when the champagne arrived, but for some reason he'd come unnerved. Maybe it was because that was too formal a time. Their relationship was more casual, born out of friendship, although lust on his part had been present from the moment she walked into the boardroom with her flushed cheeks and her wild hair falling all around the padded shoulders of her trim business suit. That first jolting impression was what prompted him, but it was the person beneath that he fell so deeply in love with. She was brilliant and kind, and she seemed to adore him too.
Somehow, it seemed more appropriate to him now that he give her the ring, a seven-carat canary yellow diamond, over coffee and apple strudel. He was certain, or almost certain, that she would accept. Maybe therein lay the problem. He was either certain or he wasn't, and if he was almost certain, then he wasn't certain, not really. They had never talked about getting married, not in any concrete sense. Oh, there had been romantic whispers deep in the night about the enduring nature of their love. And it had seemed for a while now that what free time either of them had, they spent together. But they'd never really gotten down to the business of it.
She had been married once before. A mistake. Her husband, Kurt knew, had been possessive, selfish, and generally unkind. They had argued frequently and he was irrationally jealous. Then they learned that he was unable to give her children, something she had always wanted. The tempestuous nature of their relationship only worsened. He became abusive-not physically, but verbally and emotionally. Nevertheless, Jill fought hard to keep her marriage alive. She had confided to Kurt early on that she considered divorce an admission of abject failure.
Even so, Kurt had been able to become a part of Jill's life, a confidant and a friend. And, although they were truly just friends, Jill's husband finally had a palpable target for his burning jealousy. Jill was working for Kurt's company, then and now, as a scientist. It wasn't long after they started to become close that Jill quit without a word, right in the middle of the development of the project that had first thrown them together.
Kurt was no scientist himself, but he was the source of almost every successful idea the company had developed. Whenever a new product or a line of business was being pioneered, he would be heavily involved until things were up and running smoothly. That's how he had built Safe Tech into a billion-dollar business and that's how he intended to keep it that way.
But when Jill inexplicably left, Kurt forgot all about business for the first time since his son had gone away to college. He moped about for a week or so feeling sorry for himself, going through the motions of being the important CEO of a major corporation. Then he literally just went and got her. She was coming out of her house in Long Island, sharply dressed in a dark brown business suit, her wild hair tightly constrained with clips and a comb. She looked sad and beautiful and was so preoccupied that she was in the middle of the driveway with her hand on the car door before she realized he'd pulled up to the curb and was walking toward her.
"Kurt?" she'd exclaimed in a voice laced with fright. "Why are you here?"
"I had to see you," he told her. "You just left. Why didn't you say anything to me?"
"Can we go somewhere?" she asked, looking nervously around.
They went to a nearby diner and had coffee until it was time for lunch. She told him everything that day, and he had been her true confidant ever since. She'd been his as well. But even though he was able to save her, so to speak, the marriage ended quite messily. Her husband dug in and made everything as painful as possible. And although she returned to Safe Tech, she insisted on keeping their relationship purely platonic until her divorce was final. While that time had seemed agonizingly slow, Kurt thought now that their relationship was even more special for having been built on the solid rock of friendship and gen-uine respect.
That was more than three years ago. Of course she would marry him, Kurt told himself. She was still young enough that they could have children. He would do that for her. He had always sworn to himself that he would never have another wife and certainly not another child. But...well,he really believed that it was what Annie would have wanted him to do. He never told anyone, not even Jill, but instead of talking to himself, he talked to Annie, as he had done since the day she died. And so he knew that she wanted him to do this, to marry this wonderful woman-to make himself happy, and to make her happy as well.
The tears were now close to spilling from the corners of his eyes. Oh God, Annie, he said to himself. You know I wouldn't do this if I didn't think you really wanted me to.
"Jill," he said out loud, closing his fingers around the velvet box and taking it from the pocket of his blazer, "I have to tell you something. I mean, I have to ask you something..."
She gave him a puzzled look, which transformed into something between fear and excitement. He opened his mouth to speak, then stopped.
"I just..." "Yes?" she said softly.
"I love you so much," he said, exhaling his words as he fumbled with the box, "and I want to know if you'll marry me..."
He placed the black velvet box on the linen tablecloth in front of her and opened it to reveal the enormous yellow gem.
Jill felt an indescribable numbness. It was unlike any other combination of emotions she'd ever known before: pure joy mixed with a sense of relief so strong it was almost painful. This was exactly what she wanted. It was what she'd hoped for, even though lately she had begun to despair.
As her good friend Talia always told her, she was smart in everything but men. The two had been friends since high school, and they were roommates at Cornell. Through the years, Talia would openly marvel at Jill's ineptness when it came to relationships with the opposite sex. "Your IQ drops from a ski size to a shoe size," she was fond of saying.
And until this moment, because of her past, Jill had irrationally suspected that something with Kurt was about to go wrong. Their relationship had matured to the point where the next logical step was marriage, but that seemed almost too good to be true. Part of her apprehension came from the notion that she was getting old. She was secretly desperate to have a child, and time was running out. She felt the panic of a final exam coming to a close with a dozen pages left to finish. The unwarranted thought of having to find someone new and start all over from the beginning again filled her with horror.
All that was annihilated in an instant. Tears streamed down her face. Words backed up in her throat, but a bubbling laughter escaped in their stead and she nodded her head vigorously and left her chair to throw her arms around his neck.
Kurt laughed too and said, "I guess that's a yes..." "Of course it is," she said, embracing him with all her might. "Then can I kiss you?"
Jill kissed him, gently at first and then passionately before breaking, rising up from his lap and composing herself as best she could. She put the ring on her finger. Then they clasped hands over the table and beamed at each other in silence for several moments.
"Are you happy?" he asked. "I've never been happier," she told him. "When can we be married?" Kurt laughed tolerantly and replied, "Whenever you want. Tomorrow."
"Kurt, really," she said, her smile reaching up and touching the corners of her eyes. "I mean it," he said. "Whenever you want." "Mr. Ford?"
Kurt swung his head around with the smile still fixed on his face.
"Mr. Ford," the manager said in a distressed, apologetic tone. "I have an emergency phone call for you, sir."
Jill saw the alarm on Kurt's face, and her stomach dropped a million miles. She'd never received such a phone call, but she knew Kurt had. Its meaning was written clearly on the manager's face. Her expression was a universal sign. The harbinger of death.
"You can take it in my office," the manager said under her breath. The Glen Haven Inn was at the far south end of the lake, where the steep ridges of the lofty hills prevented the use of cell phones.
Kurt offered Jill a faded smile and gave her hand one last gentle squeeze before he rose from the table and followed the manager inside. With a blank face, Jill watched him cross the veranda. She fought against it, but her instincts told her that, like a young girl being rudely awakened from a dream, the most magical moment in her life was now over.
Copyright ? 2002 by Tim Green