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ABSOLUTE POWER DAVID BALDACCI Product Details * Pub. Date: October * Publisher: Grand Central Publishing * For Author: David Baldacci. When burglar Luther Whitney breaks into a Virginia mansion, he witnesses a brutal crime involving the president—a man who believes he can get away with. Title: Absolute Power (PDF) Author(s): David Baldacci ISBN: / (USA edition) Publisher: Twtp Assorted Availability: Amazon.

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ABSOLUTE POWER. Written by. WILLIAM GOLDMAN. Based on the book by. DAVID BALDACCI. May Draft. FOR EDUCATIONAL. PURPOSES ONLY. Editorial Reviews. ppti.info Review. Can the President get away with murder ? The fictional Absolute Power - Kindle edition by David Baldacci. Download. Absolute Power PDF (Adobe DRM) download by David Baldacci Absolute Power PDF (Adobe DRM) can be read on any device that can open PDF (Adobe .

In any event, he did not have to take the hard route. He walked quickly over to the large-screen TV located against one wall of the vast chamber. The area was set up as a sitting room with matching chintz-covered chairs and a large coffee table.

Luther looked at the three remotes lying there. Each had a brand name on it, each looked pretty much like the other, but a quick experiment showed that two worked their appropriate apparatus and one did not. He walked back across the room, pointed the control at the mirror and pushed the lone red button located at the bottom of the hardware.

Ordinarily that action meant the VCR was recording. Tonight, in this room, it meant the bank was opening for business for its one fortunate customer. David Baldacci - Absolute Power Page 15 Luther watched the door swing open easily, silently on the now-revealed no-maintenance hinges. From long habit, he replaced the control exactly where it had been, pulled a collapsible duffel bag out of his backpack and entered the vault. As his light swept through the darkness he was surprised to see an upholstered chair sitting in the middle of the room, which looked to be about six feet by six feet.

On the chair's arm rested an identical remote, obviously a safeguard against being locked in by accident. Then his eyes took in the shelves down each side. The cash, bundled neatly, went in first, then the contents of the slender boxes that were definitely not costume jewelry. Luther counted about two hundred thousand dollars' worth of negotiable bonds and other securities, and two small boxes of antique coins and another of stamps, including one of an inverted figure that made Luther swallow hard.

He ignored the blank checks and the boxes full of legal documents, which were worthless to him. His quick assessment ended at almost two million dollars, probably more. He took one more look around, taking care not to miss any stray nook. David Baldacci - Absolute Power Page 16 The walls were thick-he figured they had to be fireproof, or as fireproof as man could make something.

The place wasn't hermetically sealed; the air was fresh, not stale. Somebody could stay in here for days. Inside the spacious back seat of the linio were a man and two women, one of whom was close to being drunk and who was doing her best to undress the man and herself right there, despite the gentle defensive efforts of her victim. The other woman sat across from them tight-lipped, ostensibly trying to ignore the ridiculous spectacle, which included girlish giggling and much panting, but in reality she closely observed every detail of the pair's efforts.

Her focus was on a large book that sat open in her lap where appointments and notes battled each other for space and the attention of the male sitting across from her, who took the opportunity of his companion wrenching off her spike heels to pour himself another David Baldacci - Absolute Power Page 17 drink. His capacity for alcohol was enormous.

He could drink twice the amount he had already consumed tonight and there would be no outward signs, no slurring of speech or impeded motor functions-which would have been deadly for a man in his position. She had to admire him, his obsessions, his truly raw edges, while at the same time his being able to project an image to the world that cried out purity and strength, normalcy but, at the same time, greatness.

Every woman in America was in love with him, enamored with his classic good looks, immense self-assurance and also what he represented, for all of them.

And he returned that universal admiration with a passion, however misplaced, that astonished her. Unfortunately, that passion had never pointed itself in her direction despite her subtle messages, the touches that lingered a shade too long; how she maneuvered to see him first thing in the morning when she looked her best, the sexual references used in their strategy sessions. But until that time came-and it would come, she kept telling herself-she would be patient.

She looked out the window. Her mouth curled up in displeasure. HE flitted to a window and followed the mini-caravan as it went around back, where it would be hidden from view from the front drive. He counted four people alighting from the limo, one from the van. His mind scrolled swiftly through possible Identities.

Too small a party for it to be the owners of the house. Too many for it to be someone simply checking on the place. He could not make out any faces. For one ironic instant Luther debated whether the home was destined to be burgled twice on the same night.

But that was too enormous a coincidence. In this business, like a lot of others, you played the percentages. Besides, criminals did not march up to their targets wearing clothing more suitable for a night on the town. He thought quickly as noises filtered up to him, presumably from outside the rear of the house. It took him a second to realize that his retreat was cut off and to calculate what his plan of action would be. Grabbing his bag, he raced to the alarm panel next to the bedroom door and activated the home's security system, silently thanking his memory for numbers.

Then Luther slipped across to the vault and entered it, David Baldacci - Absolute Power Page 19 carefully closing the door behind him. He pushed himself as far back into the little room as he could.

Now he had to wait. He cursed his misfortune; everything had been going so smoothly. Then he shook his head clear, forced himself to breathe regularly. It was like flying. The longer you did it, the greater your chance of something bad happening.

He would just have to hope that the house's most recent arrivals would have no need to make a deposit in the private bank he was now occupying. A burst of laughter and then the drum of voices filtered up to him, together with the loud beep from the alarm system, which sounded like a jet plane screeching directly over his head. Apparently there was slight confusion about the security code. A bead of sweat appeared on Luther's forehead as he envisioned the alarm exploding and the police wanting to examine every inch of the house just in case, starting with his little roost.

He wondered how he would react as he listened to the mirrored door being opened, a light blazing in, without the slightest possibility of missing him. The strange faces peering in, the drawn guns, the reading of his rights. He almost laughed. Trapped like a fucking rat, nowhere to go. He David Baldacci - Absolute Power Page 20 hadn't had a cigarette in almost thirty years,"but now he desperately craved a smoke.

He put his bag down quietly and slowly let his legs out straight so they wouldn't go to sleep. Heavy steps on the oak plank staircase. Whoever they were they didn't care who knew they were there. Luther counted four, possibly five. They turned left and headed his way. The door to the bedroom opened with a slight squeak. Luther searched his mind. Everything had been picked up or put back in its place.

He'd only touched the remote, and he had replaced it right in line with the slight dust pattern. Now Luther could only hear three voices, a man and two women.

One of the females sounded drunk, the other was all business. Then Ms. Business disappeared, the door closed but wasn't locked, and Ms.

Drunk and the man were alone. Where were the others? Where had Ms. Business gone? The giggles continued. Footsteps came closer to the mirror. David Baldacci - Absolute Power Page 21 Luther scrunched down in the corner as far as he could, hoping that the chair would shield him from view but knowing that it couldn't possibly.

Then a burst of light hit him right in the eyes and he almost gasped at the suddenness of his little world going from inky black to broad daylight.


He blinked rapidly to adjust to the new level of brightness, his pupils going from almost full dilation to pinpoints in seconds. But there were no screams, no faces, no guns. Finally, after a full minute had passed, Luther peered around the corner of the chair and received another shock. The vault door seemed to have disappeared; he was staring right into the goddamned room.

He almost fell backward but caught himself. Luther suddenly understood what the chair was for. He recognized both of the people in the room. The woman he had seen tonight already, in the photos: The man he knew for an altogether different reason; he certainly wasn't the master of this house.

Luther slowly shook his head in amazement and let out his breath. His hands shook and a queasiness crept over him. He David Baldacci - Absolute Power Page 22 fought back the gri of nausea and stared into the bedroom.

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With the light on outside and darkness in his little space, it was as though he were watching a giant TV screen. Then he saw it and a fist of breath kicked out of his lungs: Two hundred thou to his practiced eye, maybe more. And just the sort of bauble one would routinely put away in a home vault before retiring for the evening. Then his lungs relaxed as he watched her take the piece off and casually drop it on the floor.

His fear receded enough to where he rose and inched over to the chair and slowly eased himself into it. So the old man sat here and watched his little woman get her brains screwed out by a procession of men. From the looks of her, Luther figured that some members of that procession included young guys making minimum wage or hanging on to freedom by the width of a green card.

But her gentleman caller tonight was in an altogether different class. He looked around, his ears focused for any sound of the other David Baldacci - Absolute Power Page 23 inhabitants of the house. But what could he really do? In over thirty years of active larceny, he had never encountered anything like this, so he decided to do the only thing he could. With only an inch of glass separating him from absolute destruction, he settled down quietly into the deep leaffier and waited.

Beer in hand he flopped down on the thread bare couch in his living room. His eyes quickly perused the tiny room as he took a drink. Quite a difference from where he'd just been. He let the beer stand in his mouth and then swallowed. The muscles of his square jaw tensed and then relaxed. The nagging prickles of doubt slowly drained away, but they would reappear; they always did.

Another important dinner party with Jennifer, his soon-to be wife, and her family and circle of social and business acquaintances. People at that level of sophistication apparently didn't have mere friends they hung with. Everyone served a particular function, the whole being greater than the sum of the parts. Or at least that was the intent, although Jack had his own opinion on the matter. Industry and finance had been well represented, brandishing names Jack David Baldacci - Absolute Power Page 25 read about in the Wall Street Journal before he chucked it for the sports pages to see how the 'Skins or Bullets were doing.

The politicos had been out in full force, scrounging future votes and current dollars. The group was rounded out by the ubiquitous lawyers of which Jack was one, the occasional doctor to show ties to the old ways and a couple of public-interest types to demonstrate that the powers that he had sympathy for the plight of the ordinary. He finished the beer and flipped on the TV. His shoes came off, and the forty-dollar patterned socks his fiance had bought for him were carelessly flung over the back of the lamp shade.

Given time she'd have him in two-hundred-dollar braces with matching hand-painted ties. Rubbing his toes, he seriously considered a second beer. The TV tried but failed to hold his interest. He pushed his thick, dark hair out of his eyes and focused for the thousandth time on where his life was hurtling, seemingly with the speed of the space shuttle.

Jennifer's company limo had driven the two of them to her Northwest Washington townhouse where Jack would probably move after the wedding; David Baldacci - Absolute Power Page 26 she detested his place.

The wedding was barely six months off, apparently no time at all by a bride's standards, and he was sitting here having severe second thoughts.

Jennifer Ryce Baldwin possessed instant head-turning beauty to such a degree that the women stared as often as the men. She was also smart and accomplished, came from serious money and was intent on marrying Jack. Her father ran one of the largest development companies in the country. Shopping centers, office buildings, radio stations, entire subdivisions, you name it, he was in it, and doing better than just about anyone else.

Her paternal great-grandfather was one of the original Midwest manufacturing tycoons, and her mother's family had once owned a large chunk of downtown Boston. The gods had smiled early and often on Jennifer Baldwin.

There wasn't one guy Jack knew who wasn't jealous as hell of him. He squirmed in his chair and tried to rub a kink out of his shoulder. He hadn't worked out in a week. His six-foot-one body, even at thirty-two, had the same hard edge it had enjoyed all through high school where he was a man among boys in virtually every sport offered, and in college David Baldacci - Absolute Power Page 27 where the competition was a lot rougher but where he still managed to make first-string varsity as a heavyweight wrestler and first-team All-Academic.

That combination had gotten him into the University of Virginia School of Law, where he made Law Review, graduated near the top of his class and promptly settled down as a public defender in the District of Columbia's criminal justice system. His classmates had all grabbed the big-firm option out of law school.

They had routinely called with phone numbers of psychiatrists who could help coax him out of his insanity. He smiled and then went and grabbed that second beer. The fridge was now empty. Jack's first year as a PD had been rough as he learned the ropes, losing more than he won.

As time went on, he graduated to the more serious crimes. And as he poured every ounce of youthful energy, raw talent and common sense he had into each of those cases, the tide began to turn. And then he started kicking some serious ass in court. He discovered he was a natural at the role, as talented at cross-examination as he had been at throwing men much bigger than he David Baldacci - Absolute Power Page 28 across a two-inch-thick mat. He was respected, liked as an attorney if you could believe that.

Then he had met Jennifer at a Bar function. She was vice president of development and marketing at Baldwin Enterprises.

Dynamic in presence, she had the added skill of making whomever she was talking to feel important; their opinions were listened to if not necessarily followed. She was a beauty who had no need to rely solely on that asset. When you got past the eye-catching looks, there was a lot more there. Or seemed to be. Jack would have been less than human had he not been attracted to her.

And she had made it clear, early on, that the attraction was mutual. While being ostensibly impressed at his dedication in defending the rights of those accused of crimes in the Capital City, little by little Jennifer had convinced Jack that he had done his bit for the poor, dumb and unfortunate, and that maybe he should start thinking about himself and his future, and that maybe she wanted to be a part of that future.

When he finally left PD, the U. That should have told him then and there that there were a lot more of the poor, dumb and unfortunate who needed his help. He didn't expect to ever top the thrill he had felt being a PD; he figured times David Baldacci - Absolute Power Page 29 like that came around once in life and then they were gone. It was time to move on; even little boys like Jack Graham had to grow up someday. Maybe it was just his time. He turned off the TV, grabbed a bag of corn chips and went to his bedroom, stepping over the piles of dirty laundry strewn in front of the doorway.

He couldn't blame Jennifer for not liking his place; he was a slob. But what bothered him was the dead certainty that, even spotless, Jennifer would not consent to live here. For one thing it was in the wrong neighborhood; Capitol Hill to be sure, but not a gentrifled part of Capitol Hill, actually not even close. Then there was the size. Her townhouse must have run five thousand square feet, not counting the live-in maid's quarters and the two-car garage that housed her Jag and brand new Range Rover, as if anybody living in D.

He had four rooms if you counted the bathroom. He reached his bedroom, stripped off his clothes and dropped into bed. Legal caterer to hundreds of blue-chip companies, including his soon-to-be father-in-law's, representing a multimillion-dollar account that he was credited with bringing to the firm and that, in turn, guaranteed him a partnership at the next review.

Partnerships at Patton, Shaw were worth, on average, at least half a million dollars a year.

That was tip money for the Baldwins, but then he wasn't a Baldwin. At least not yet. He pulled the blanket over him. The building's insulation left a lot to be desired. He popped a couple of aspirin and washed them down with the rest of a Coke that was sitting on his nightstand, then looked around the cramped, messy bedroom.

It reminded him of his room growing up. It was a warm, friendly memory.

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Homes should look lived in; they should always give way to the screams of kids as they dashed from room to room in search of new adventures, of fresh objects to break. That was the other thing with Jennifer: Her career at her father's company was first and foremost in her mind and heart-maybe more so, Jack felt, than he was.

The wind pushed against the window and he glanced in that direction. He looked away, but then with a resigned air, his eyes drifted back over to the box. It held part of his collection of old trophies and awards from high school and college. But those items were not the object of his focus. In the semidarkness he reached out a long arm for the framed photo, decided against it, and then changed his mind again.

He pulled it out. This had almost become a ritual. He never had to worry about his financee stumbling onto this particular possession of his because she absolutely refused to enter his bedroom for longer than a minute. Whenever they slid between the sheets it was either at her place, where Jack would lie on the bed staring up at the twelve-foot ceiling where a mural of ancient horsemen and young maidens shared space while Jennifer amused herself until she collapsed and then rolled over for him to finish on top of her.

Or at her parents' place in the country where the ceilings were even higher and the murals had been taken from David Baldacci - Absolute Power Page 32 some thirteenth-century church in Rome, all of which made Jack feel that God was watching him being ridden by the beautiful and absolutely naked Jennifer Ryce Baldwin and that he would languish in eternal hell for those few moments of visceral pleasure. The woman in the photo had silky brown hair that curled slightly at the ends.

Her smile looked up at Jack and he'remembered the day he had taken the picture. A bike ride far into the countryside of Albemarle County. He was just starting law school; she was in her second year of college at Mr. Jefferson's university.

It was only their third date but it was like they had never lived without each other. Kate Whitney. He said the name slowly; his hand instinctively traced the curves of her smile, the lone dimple right above the left, cheek that gave her face a slightly lopsided look.

The almond-shaped cheekbones bordered a dainty nose that sloped toward a pair of sensual lips. Jack rolled back over and lay the photo on his chest so that she stared directly at him. He could never think of Kate without seeing an image of her father, with his quick wit and crooked smile. Jack had often visited Luther Whitney at his little row house in an Arlington neighborhood that had seen better days. They spent hours drinking beer and telling stories, mostly Luther telling and Jack listening.

Kate never visited her father, and he never attempted to contact her. Jack had found his identity almost by accident, and despite Kate's objections, Jack had wanted to get to know the man. It was a rare thing for her face to hold anything but a smile, but that was one thing she never smiled about. After he graduated they moved to D. Life seemed idyllic. She came to his first few trials as he worked the butterflies from his stomach and the squeak from his throat and tried to remember which counsel table to sit at.

But as the David Baldacci - Absolute Power Page 34 seriousness of the crimes his clients were accused of committing grew, her enthusiasm diminished. They had split up his first year in practice. The reasons were simple: At the very last breath of their lives together he remembered sitting with hex in this very room and asking, pleading, for her not to leave.

But she had and that was four years ago, and he hadn't seen or heard from her since. He knew that she had taken a job with the Commonwealth Attorney's office in Alexandria, Virginia, where she was no doubt busily putting former clients of his behind bars for stomping on the laws of her adopted state.

Other than that Kate Whitney was a stranger to him. But lying there with her staring at him with a smile that told him a million things that he had never learned from the woman he was supposed David Baldacci - Absolute Power Page 35 to marry in six months, Jack wondered if Kate would remain a stranger to him; whether his life was destined to become far more complicated than he ever intended. He grabbed the phone and dialed.

Four rings and he heard the voice. It had an edge that he didn't remember, or maybe it was new. The beep came and he started to leave a message, something funny, right out of the blue, but then right on cue he got nervous and quickly hung up, his hands shaking, his breathing accelerated. He shook his head. Jesus Christ! He had done five murder one cases and he was shaking like a goddamned sixteen-year-old sucking up the courage to call his first date.

Jack put the picture away and imagined what Kate was doing right that very minute. Probably still in her office pondering over how many years to take off somebody's life. Then Jack wondered about Luther. Was he at this very minute on the wrong side of someone's doorstep? What a family, Luther and Kate Whitney. As focused a pair as he had ever encountered, but their respective focuses occupied different galaxies.

That last night, after Kate had walked out of his life, he had gone around to Luther's to say good-bye and to drink a last beer. They had sat in the small well-tended garden, watching the clematis and ivy cling to the fence; the scent of lilacs and roses lay thick like a net over them, The old man had taken it all right, asked few questions, and wished Jack well. Some things did not work out; Luther understood that as well as anyone. But as Jack left that night he had noticed the glistening in the old man's eyes-and then the door closed on that part of his life.

Jack finally put out the light and closed his eyes with the knowledge that another tomorrow was close upon him. His pot of gold, his once-in-a-lifetime payoff, was one day closer to reality. It did not make for easy sleep.

It was an absurd Opinion to have under the circumstances, but that didn't make the conclusion any less valid. The man was tall, handsome, a very distinguished mid-forties.

The woman could not have ventured far into her twenties; the hair was M and golden, the face oval and lovely, with a pair of enormous deep blue eyes that now looked up lovingly into the man's elegant countenance. He touched her smooth cheek; she nestled her lips against his hand. The man had two tumblers and filled them with the contents of the bottle he had brought with him. He handed the Woman one. After a clink of glasses, their eyes firmly set on each other, he finished his drink in one swallow while she only managed a small sip of hers.

Glasses put down, they embraced in the middle of the room. His hands slid down her backside and then back up to the bare shoulders.

Her arms and shoulders were tanned and well-toned. He grasped her limbs admiringly as he leaned down to kiss her neck. David Baldacci - Absolute Power Page 38 Luther averted his eyes, embarrassed to be viewing this very personal encounter.

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A strange emotion to have when he was still clearly in danger of being caught. But he was not so old that he could not appreciate the tenderness, -the passion that was slowly unfolding in front of him. As he raised his eyes up, he had to smile.

The couple was now engaged in a slow dance around the room. The man was obviously well-practiced at the endeavor; his partner was less so, but he gently led her through the simple paces until they again ended up beside the bed.

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The man paused to fill his glass again and then quickly drained it. The bottle was now empty. As his arms encircled her once more, she leaned into him, pulled at his coat, started to undo his tie. The man's hands drifted to the zipper of her dress and slowly headed south.

The black dress slid down' and she slowly stepped out of it, revealing black panties and thigh-high stockings, but no bra. She had the sort of body that made other women who didn't instantly jealous.

Every curve was where it was supposed to' be. Her waist Luther could have encircled with both hands, touching. The legs were lean and defined, probably from hours of: The man quickly undressed down to his boxers and sat on the side of the bed watching the woman as she took her time slipping out of her underwear.

With her last piece of clothing shed, a smile cut across anything else that this spectacle would soon be over and that these people would leave. It would only take him a few minutes to return to his car, and this night would be filed away in his memory as a unique, if potentially disastrous, experience.

That's when he saw the man grip the woman's buttocks hard and than slap them, again and again. Luther winced in vicarious pain at the repeated blows; the white skin now glowed red. But either the woman was too drunk to feel the pain or she enjoyed this sort of treatment, because her smile didn't fade.

Luther felt his gut clinch again as the man's fingers dug into the soft flesh. The man's mouth danced across her chest; she ran her finger through his David Baldacci - Absolute Power Page 40 thick hair as she positioned her body inside his legs. She closed her eyes, her mouth gathered into a contented smile; she arched her head back.

Then she opened her eyes and attacked his mouth with hers. His strong fingers moved up from the abused buttocks and started to gently massage her back.

Then he dug in hard until she winced and pulled back from him. She half-smiled and he stopped as she touched his fingers with hers. He turned his attention back to her breasts and suckled them. Her eyes closed once again, as her breathing turned perceptibly to a low moan.

The man moved his attention again to her neck. His eyes were wide open, looking across at where Luther sat but with no idea of his presence. Luther stared at the man, at those eyes, and didn't like what he saw. Pools of darkness surrounded by red, like some sinister planet seen through a telescope.

The thought struck him that the naked woman was in the grip of something not so gentle, not so loving as she probably anticipated. The woman finally grew impatient and pushed her lover the man's face.

The white teeth were straight and thick. De down on the bed. Her legs David Baldacci - Absolute Power Page 41 straddled the man, giving Luther a spite the alcohol, his eyes seemed clear and focused. As she't necologist and husband. She hoisted herself up, but then with drew within his reach, his long arms gripped her, pulled her! She rubbed up and down against his chest. Luther stiffened in his chair at the man's next movementHe grabbed her by the neck and jerked her up, pulling her head between his legs.

The suddenness of the act made her gasp, her mouth a bare inch from him there. Then he laughed and threw her back down. Dazed for a moment, she finally managed a weak smile and sat up on her elbows as he towwered over her. He grabbed his erection with one hand, spreading her wide with the other. As she lay placidly back' to accept him, he stared wildly at her. David Baldacci - Absolute Power Page 42 But instead of plunging between her legs, he grabbed heri breasts and squeezed, apparently a little too hard, because, finally, Luther heard a yelp of pain and the woman abrupt slapped the man.

He let go and then slapped her back, viciously, and Luther saw a patch of blood emerge at the corner of her mouth and spill onto the thick, lipstick-coated lips. The first words Luther had clearly: He stood up, inched toward the glass. The man grinned ' Luther froze when he saw it. It was more like the snarl of a wild animal close to a kill than a human being.

As she stood up he grabbed her arm, twisted it, and she fell hard to the floor. The man sat on the bed and looked down triumphantly. His breathing accelerating, Luther stood before the glass, his hands clenching and unclenching as he continued to watch and hoped that the other people would come back.

He eyed the remote on the chair and then his eyes shot back to the bedroom. David Baldacci - Absolute Power Page 43 The woman had raised herself half off the floor, the wind slowly coming back to her.

The romantic feelings she had been experiencing had vanished. Luther could see that in her, body movements, wary and deliberate. Her companion al , parently failed to notice the change in her movements and the flash of anger in the blue eyes, or else he would not have stood up and put out a hand for her to take, which she did. The man's smile abruptly vanished as her knee caught him squarely between the legs, doubling him over and ending any arousal he had been experiencing.

As he crumpled to the floor, no sound came from his lips, except for his labored breathing while she grabbed her panties and started to put them on. He caught her ankle, threw her to the floor, her underwear halfway up her legs. She kicked at him, again and again. Her feet thudded against his rib cage, but still he hung on. David Baldacci - Absolute Power Page 44 At the menace he heard in those words, Luther stepped toward the glass, one of his hands flying to its smooth surface as if to reach through it, to grab the man, make him let go.

The man painfully dragged himself up and his look made Luther's flesh turn cold. The man's hands gripped the woman's throat. Her brain, clouded by the alcohol, snapped back to high gear. Her eyes, now completely filled with fear, darted to the left and right as the pressure on her neck increased and her breath started to weaken. Her fingers clawed at his arms, scratching deeply. Luther saw the blood rise to the man's skin where she attacked him but his grip did not loosen.

She kicked and jerked her body, but he was almost twice her weight; her attacker didn't budge.

Luther again looked at the remote. He could open the door. But his legs would not move. He stared helplessly through the glass, sweat poured from his forehead, every pore in his body seemed to be erupting; his breath came in short bursts as his chest heaved. He placed both hands against the glass. Luther's breath stopped as the woman fixed on the night-' stand for an instant. He looked like the Army Ranger he had once been.

Luther got out of the car. Crouching behind a tree, Luther surveyed his target. The Coppers, like many country estates that were not true working farms or stables, had a huge and ornate wrought iron gate set on twin brick columns but had no fencing.

The grounds were accessible directly from the road or the nearby woods. Luther entered from the woods. It took Luther two minutes to reach the edge of the cornfield adjacent to the house. The owner obviously had no need for home-grown vegetables but had apparently taken the country squire role to heart.

Luther wasn't complaining, since it afforded him a hidden path almost to the front door. He waited a few moments and then disappeared into the embracing thickness of the corn stalks. The ground was mostly clear of debris and his tennis shoes made no sound, which was important, for any noise carried easily here.

He kept his eyes straight ahead; his feet, after much practice, carefully picked their way through the slender rows, compensating for the slight unevenness of the ground. The night air was cool after the debilitating heat of another stagnant summer, but not nearly cool enough for breath to be transformed into the tiny clouds that could be seen from a distance by restless or insomniac eyes.

Luther had timed this operation several times over the past month, always stopping at the edge of the field before stepping into the front grounds and past no-man's-land. In his head, every detail had been worked and reworked hundreds of times until a precise script of movement, waiting, followed by more movement was firmly entrenched in his mind.

He crouched down at the edge of the front grounds and took one more long look around; no need to rush. No dogs to worry about, which was good. A human, no matter how young and fleet, simply could not outrun a dog. But it was the noise they made that stopped men like Luther cold.

There was also no perimeter security system, probably because of the innumerable false alarms that would be caused by the large populations of deer, squirrel and raccoon roaming over the area. However, Luther would shortly be faced with a highly sophisticated defense package that he would have thirty-three seconds to disarm-and that included the ten seconds it would take him to remove the control panel.

The private security patrol had passed through the area thirty minutes earlier. The cop clones were supposed to vary their routines, making sweeps through their surveillance sectors every hour.


But after a month of observations, Luther had easily discerned a pattern. He had at least three hours before another pass would be made. He wouldn't need nearly that long. The grounds were pitch black, and thick shrubs, the lifeblood of the burglary class, clung to the brick entryway like a caterpillar nest to a tree branch. He checked each window of the house: He had watched the caravan carrying the home's occupants parade out two days ago to points south, and carefully took inventory of all owners and personnel.

The nearest estate was a good two miles away. He took a deep breath.

He had planned everything out, but in this business, the simple fact was that you could never account for everything. He loosened the grips on his backpack and then glided out from the field in long, smooth strides across the lawn, and in ten seconds was facing the thick, solid-wood front door with reinforced steel framing together with a locking system that was rated at the top of the charts for holding force.

None of which concerned Luther in the least. He slipped a facsimile front-door key out of his jacket pocket and inserted it into the keyhole without, however, turning it. He listened for another few seconds. Then he slipped off his backpack and changed his shoes so there would be no traces of mud. He readied his battery-operated screwdriver, which could reveal the circuitry he needed to fool ten times faster than he could by hand. The next piece of equipment he carefully pulled from his backpack weighed exactly six ounces, was slightly bigger than a pocket calculator and other than his daughter was the best investment he had ever made in his life.

Nicknamed "Wit" by its owner, the tiny device had assisted Luther in his last three jobs without a hitch.

The five digits comprising this home's security code had already been supplied to Luther and programmed into his computer. Their proper sequence was still a mystery to him, but that obstacle would have to be eradicated by his tiny metal, wire and microchip companion if he wanted to avoid the ear-piercing shriek that would instantly emit from the four sound cannons planted at each corner of the ten-thousand-square-foot fortress he was invading.

Then would follow the police call dialed by the nameless computer he would battle in a few moments. The home also had pressure-sensitive windows and floor plates, in addition to tamperproof door magnets. All of which would mean nothing if Wit could tear the correct code sequence from the alarm system's grasp.

He eyed the key in the door and with a practiced motion hooked Wit to his harness belt so that it hung easily against his side. The key turned effortlessly in the lock and Luther prepared to block out the next sound that he would hear, the low beep of the security system that warned of impending doom for the intruder if the correct answer was not fed into it in the allotted time and not a millisecond later.

He replaced his black leather gloves with a pair of more nimble plastic ones that had a second layer of padding on the fingertips and palms. It was not his practice to leave any evidence behind. Luther took one deep breath, then opened the portal.

The shrill beep of the security system met him instantly. He quickly moved into the enormous foyer and confronted the alarm panel. The automatic screwdriver whirled noiselessly; the six metal pieces dropped into Luther's hands and then were deposited in a carrier on his belt. Bestsellers and latest releases. David Baldacci is a 1 New York Times bestselling author of both adult and young adult novels.

He published a novella for the Dutch entitled Office Hours, written for Absolute Power is Fantastic. David Baldacci rivets you to the chair! But what Acton may not have understood is that power, no matter how absolute, Absolute Power. In a heavily guarded mansion in a posh Virginia suburb, a man and a woman start to Click here. Copyright Wipro Furniture David Baldacci's Absolute Power has a decent story, but it was hard for me to enjoy because I found the writing so hackneyed that it distracted me from the Start reading Absolute Power on your Kindle in under a minute.From long habit, he replaced the control exactly where it had been, pulled a collapsible duffel bag out of his backpack and entered the vault.

Luther slowly shook his head in amazement and let out his breath. It was a spectacle Luther did not want to watch anymore but he could not pull his eyes away. The place wasn't hermetically sealed; the air was fresh, not stale. His fear receded enough to where he rose and inched over to the chair and slowly eased himself into it. Yes, she had two of the most capable members of the Secret Service in this house with her.

Not the President. A good many of his sixty-odd years had been spent in assorted medium- David Baldacci - Absolute Power Page 2 and then maximum-security correctional facilities along the East Coast. Cup of coffee in hand, she walked back into her office and' paused for a moment to look at her reflection in the window.

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