“Yeah? And how many times were you there?”
They flanked him going out the door together. Jason’s blue eyes twinkled and his lips twitched.
“One hesitates to brag.”
“Three,” Taylor said as she came out of her room. “I know you all want to know. Three amazing, scintillating, sizzling, mind blowing times. Are you happy now?”
“So,” Greg said as he came out of his room. “Was it good for you?” He wasn’t smiling, but he didn’t seem angry.
“It was, yeah,” Jason replied.
“You should get your room sound proofed,” Greg said, shoving past Taylor.
“Sorry….” Jason didn’t know what else to say. “Wasn’t ever a problem before.”
“I didn’t hear a thing,” Tim said honestly. “It’s his imagination.”
“Me either,” Alex assured them. He tipped his head after Greg. “It’s the knowing that’s gotten to him.”
“I’m sorry it wasn’t him,” Taylor murmured. “I feel bad now.”
“Don’t,” Tim said, taking her elbows as he gazed into her eyes. “You had something great happen between you. The magic wasn’t there before. Hang up the guilt, soldier.”
She nodded as she donned her vest and helmet. The men did the same. They found Greg downstairs already kitted out. He was also holding a heavy assault rifle. His eyes held pain when he looked at Taylor, but he smiled at her before walking out the door. He stood on the porch, watching the perimeter as they loaded Jason into the SUV. That accomplished, he joined them, slamming the door shut behind him.
They took off, heading toward their main office downtown. Jason thought at first they were alone, but they were joined by two more cars as they drove down the street. The vehicles were identical and switched places from time to time. When they got to the federal building, the drivers headed into an underground garage.
The vehicle with the team was in the center this time. They stayed in the car until the area was secured. Greg went out first, then the rest of the team, keeping Jason between them as they headed to the open elevator. Greg followed them in and some of the others joined them as they rode upstairs.
The elevator stopped on the 12th floor. The security detail went out first, flanking the elevator. No one else was in the hallway. They proceeded to the end of the corridor, making a right. Jason grinned when he saw the blank wall, knowing someone in the FBI was as paranoid as he was.
A section of the wall opened and a keypad and card scanner slid out. Taylor slid her identity card and keyed in a sequence of letters and numbers. The door opened and they walked through. It sighed shut behind them as they stood in another corridor. There were no doors here, except at the end of a ten foot hallway.
Jason was still sandwiched between the agents. Feeling rather like a sardine, he walked with them to the door at the end. This required the card swipe and another code. Greg went through first, followed by Tim and Alex. Taylor walked through directly in front of Jason. He followed when she beckoned to him with her fingers. The team removed their helmets, leaving their vests on.
Jason found himself in a windowless room. The walls were covered with pictures of the outdoors. One wall was covered with a series of flatscreens and a bank of computers were set up below them. For the moment, the screens were a blank blue.
A solitary figure stood facing the door. He was a tall man, large and imposing. His dark skin reflected the blue of the screens, giving him an eerie appearance. He was dressed in a dark business suit. His tie was dark red, his shirt stark white. He smiled, but it was the single most disturbing smile Jason had ever seen.
“So, this is our little jailbird, hm?” His voice was deep, rumbling, like James Earl Jones.
Jason tried to conceal a shiver. He squared his shoulders, eyeing the giant of a man with polite disdain. He couldn’t quite muster a smile, but his face held a pleasant expression.
“Jason, this is our boss. Director Remington, may I present Jason Banes.”
“How do you do, sir?” Jason stepped forward, extending his hand.
The man gave him a baleful look. He didn’t step forward, nor did he take the proffered hand.
“You must have some powerful friends, Banes. All the charges dropped, your guilt expunged. It seems they’re willing to let anyone, even killers, walk the street these days.”
“I didn’t kill those people, sir.”
“So you say.”
“I don’t really care if you believe me, Mr. Remington. Your belief or not doesn’t change the facts.”
“Kid’s got spunk at least,” Remington said to the room in general. “Got to admire that. Don’t have to like it….” He frowned.
“Did you bring me here to insult me, or did you have something important to say? Not that you’re not spewing pearls of wisdom….”
“Enough! You watch your mouth, kid.”
“I will if you will.”
The director’s booming laugh filled the room. He clasped his hands behind his back, rocking from his toes to his heels.
“You’re a hell of a plucky one, aren’t you? Dammit, I like him, Taylor.” He came forward, hand extended. “I’m just jerking your chain, boy. Honoria’s a friend of mine. If she believes you, I do too.”
“Then when was the point of all this?” Jason waved his arms around.
“I wanted to see if you’d stick up for yourself. A man with no backbone won’t make it through this mission alive. You’ll do fine. He’s got chutzpah, Taylor. I like chutzpah.” He shook Jason’s hand, nearly knocking him down with a slap on the shoulder. “Come have a seat. Breakfast will be served in a few moments.”
© Dellani Oakes
To Purchase Dellani’s Books:
Under the Western Sky http://www.tirgearrpublishing.com/authors/Oakes_Dellani/under-the-western-sky.htm