Cut and run, p.15

Cut & Run, page 15

 part  #1 of  Cut & Run Series

 

Cut & Run
 



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Page 15

 

  none of it fit with the gentle touches of his fingers. Zane’s body was noticing.

  “No, thanks,” Ty responded wryly. “I prefer not to be a moron. ”

  “I’m flattered. I’ve moved up from idiot to moron,” Zane said. “And you have moved up from utterly reprehensible asshole to only moderately annoying asshole. ”

  “Only?” Ty repeated with a huff. “It takes effort to be this abrasive, I hope you realize. ”

  “Yeah, I guess so. But you just make it look so easy. ”

  “I make everything look easy,” Ty responded with a smirk that Zane couldn’t see.

  “I can’t judge that ’til I see it,” Zane said with an apologetic shake of his head as he rolled his shoulders under Ty’s fingers.

  “See what, everything?” Ty asked in amusement.

  Zane bit his lip on a smile. “You. Being easy. ”

  “I am easy,” Ty replied with a laugh.

  “Now see here, you’ve already proven the opposite. You’re not easy to get along with, you’re not easy to understand, you’re not easy to keep from getting under my skin,” Zane ticked off on his fingers.

  “I think the glass is what got under your skin. And I am perfectly understandable,” Ty said as he let his heavy Appalachian accent take over. “I enunciate,” he replied with special drawling emphasis on the last word.

  Zane chuckled, almost against his will. “I was thinking of you more as a thorn, actually. ”

  “Ouch,” Ty objected with false sincerity.

  Zane sighed and tilted his neck to each side as he felt the texture of Ty’s rubbing fingers change. The salve was sinking in and the skin was catching on skin. “We should get back to work,” he said quietly.

  “We have the rest of the day off,” Ty replied firmly as he continued to doctor.

  Looking over his shoulder, Zane raised an eyebrow. “What are you and I going to do with a day off?” he asked. Was the other agent saying they were going to spend time together? Off the clock?

  “I don’t know about you, but a few hours’ real sleep would do me wonders. And we can get plenty done right here in the room. Quite frankly, I’d prefer to stay away from Federal Plaza ’til I can figure out more about who and how. ”

  Zane nodded slowly. “All right. I agree with all that. ” Suddenly, he felt awkward, standing there with Ty still touching his back, especially because Zane didn’t want to move. Not at all. He found that a bit frightening.

  He could be partners with Ty. He could, someday, maybe, be friends with Ty.

  But anything beyond that was simply dangerous. Zane raised a hand and swiped it over his face, noticing the prickles. “I should shave,” he murmured.

  “Why?” Ty asked, genuinely curious as he finished smoothing the salve over the bloody spots.

  “Why? Why shave?” Zane asked. “Uh. ” He blinked, trying to think.

  “I don’t suppose I have a reason,” he answered with a slight shrug. “Habit.

  Have to be clean-cut, you know. Don’t want to attract negative attention. ”

  “Yeah, man, that negative attention, pffft,” Ty responded sarcastically as he stepped away, then pushed Zane slightly to the side so he could step through the bathroom door and to the sink to wash his hands. “You have to sleep in the bloody bed. ”

  “It’s just the spread that’s bloody,” Zane said mildly, still rubbing his chin as he walked out of the bathroom and toward the bed. “Food later?” he asked hopefully as he yanked the spread and sheets down.

  “No, we’re fasting ’til we catch the guy,” Ty answered with a curl of his lip as he came out of the bathroom with a hand towel in his hands.

  With an annoyed grunt, Zane snagged one of his pillows and whacked Ty upside the head with it.

  “Bastard!” Ty barked as he swatted at the pillow with the damp towel.

  Zane laughed and bapped him again. “Now who’s got a stick up his ass?”

  “Shove it,” Ty huffed as he pulled back the sheets on his own bed.

  Collapsing onto his bed, Zane was careful to stay on his side and keep an eye on Ty just in case he launched a counterattack. “You’re just a big softy,” he taunted.

  “The last person said that to me got Viagra in his coffee next morning,” Ty warned seriously.

  Zane buried his face in the pillow to try to muffle the sounds of his laughter. “Oh, God. You would, too. ” His eyes were wide and dancing when he looked back up.

  “Of course I would. He had to question a guy,” Ty told him with the beginnings of a laugh in his voice. “Three hours he was in there, trying to hide this raging hard-on. I’ve never seen a suspect more terrified in my life. ” He snickered with the memory.

  Zane pulled the pillow over his face, stifling the continuing laughter as he tried to get himself under control. Finally he sighed and looked back at Ty, shaking his head. “All right, I’m warned. ” He kept a straight face for a long moment, but ruined it when his lips twitched.

  “Shut up. ” Ty groaned as he flopped onto his side, turning away from Zane, and pulled the covers up over his head.

  Chuckling, Zane shifted the pillow back under his chest and lay against it, settling where he could gaze at Ty’s figure under the sheets. As he watched, Ty lifted his head up again and reached for his pillow, then burrowed his head under it. Zane couldn’t help but smile at how innocent and almost childish the action seemed. He recognized it as a habit of someone who was accustomed to sleeping in the daylight hours, and the thought charmed him.

  Who would have thought they’d play off each other like this? He’d not wanted a drink or a cigarette all afternoon. Being in pain and keeping up with Ty was absorbing. One minute Zane hated him. The next, he thought he just might be able to like him. Conflicted, he sighed, closed his eyes, and let sleep overtake him.

  TY had barely managed to find the state of unawareness that came just before sleep when Zane’s phone began to trill demandingly. He jerked and hopped from the bed, still half-asleep and tangled in his sheets when his feet hit the floor.

  Zane lifted his head and squinted at the bedside table where his phone almost bounced around. “Great,” he muttered. He sat up carefully, reached for the phone, picked it up, and looked at the number. He glanced at Ty, who was still standing and blinking blearily at him as he flipped open the phone.

  “Hello, Serena. ”

  Ty opened his eyes wide and shook his head, reaching up to rub at his eyes like a tired toddler as he looked around the room. He had been out of the service for almost seven years, and he still got out of bed before he woke up.

  At Zane’s mention of the caller’s name he growled wordlessly and thumped down on the side of the bed with a grunt. They’d forgotten about their dinner appointment with the profiler.

  Watching Ty carefully, Zane made agreeable noises as Serena talked.

  Then she said something that got his attention. “Yeah?” Zane asked. “You heard that?” Ty merely glared at him as he listened. “I didn’t know that,”

  Zane finally answered as the profiler on the phone kept talking. “So, dinner?”

  He listened again and nodded. “All right. I’ll be there. ” Another pause, and Zane’s eyes flicked to Ty.

  Ty practically snarled at him, but gestured to him that he would be included in the meeting.

  “Yeah, he’s coming,” Zane said quietly. Then after listening for another few seconds, a soft smile curled his lips.

  “Bitch,” Ty muttered under his breath as he pushed to his feet and padded over to his bag to begin rifling through his clothing.

  “Yes, Serena. Okay. See you in a bit. ” Zane thumbed off the call. He watched Ty silently as the other man moved. He was rummaging through his duffel bag and apparently trying to find something he wasn’t able to get his hands on.

  When the silence stretched on, he looked over his shoulder at Zane. <
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  “What’d she have to say?” he asked flatly.

  Zane watched him, the mask in place. “She’s glad you’re coming to dinner. ”

  “Oh, yeah?” Ty asked, feigning interest. “Why, could you hear her loading her gun?” he asked as he pulled free a flat, folded bag and frowned at it.

  “Sharpening a knife, actually,” Zane said lowly as he got out of bed.

  Ty grumbled disconsolately as he unzipped the bag in his hand and extracted a perfectly pressed black dress shirt. “What did she really have to say?” he questioned as he laid it carefully on the bed and then reached behind him to yank his T-shirt over his head.

  Zane blinked at the shirt as he walked over to his own bag. He pressed his lips together, trying to decide how or if to answer. “She said you’re dangerous,” he finally said.

  Ty pulled the shirt over his head and peered over at Zane with a raised eyebrow. “What?” he asked incredulously.

  Zane looked over his shoulder to see Ty’s reaction. “So? You’re dangerous. ” It would be interesting to hear Ty’s reply.

  “I am not,” Ty protested in an insulted voice.

  “Bullshit,” Zane said, pulling a clean dark red shirt out of his bag.

  “What’s your problem with Serena?”

  “She’s a raging bitch,” Ty answered as if that should be obvious.

  “So?”

  “Shut up,” Ty huffed in annoyance as he picked up his shirt and slid into it fluidly. He shrugged his shoulders, flexing unconsciously against the soft, tight material to make certain he didn’t pull at the seams, and then he glanced around for his boots.

  Zane studied him closely. “She’s good at her job. One of the best,” he said, slowly and carefully pulling the shirt over his head, but his eyes returned immediately to Ty.

  “Doesn’t mean I have to like her,” Ty grumbled as he flopped down on the end of the bed to pull his boots on.

  “Apparently, she feels the same. ” Zane fell silent as they finished getting dressed. “She said I shouldn’t trust you,” he finally stated. “That you’re trouble. That you only look out for yourself. ”

  “She’s right,” Ty agreed in a clipped voice as he finished buttoning his shirt and carefully smoothed it down. “Where are we meeting her?”

  Zane slid into his holster with a wince and a grimace. “Chinatown.

  We should be able to hoof it. ”

  “Fucking great. ”

  “ZANE Garrett,” the tall, svelte woman said as she stood from the small table in the Chinese restaurant. “Almost a year is too long. ”

  He easily accepted her embrace, barely keeping himself from flinching. “Gorgeous as always, Serena,” he greeted before kissing her cheek lightly. She was, too, with the face of an angel and blonde hair to match. Too bad it didn’t fit her innate personality. Because Ty was right; she really was a raging bitch if you didn’t live up to her standards.

  Serena smiled brilliantly. “Flatterer. ” She turned to sit back down.

  “Grady,” she greeted curtly in the barest acknowledgment of Ty’s presence.

  “Miss Scott,” Ty responded as he pulled out the chair opposite her and slid into it. His tone was surprisingly more civil than it usually was.

  Zane’s eyes flickered between them as he sat down, wondering about the past between them Ty had mentioned. “I wish we could have met under better circumstances, Serena,” he said to the woman.

  “Yes, well, if you’d come to New York more often, it wouldn’t be such a problem,” she said, propping her elegant chin on one palm. “It’s been too long without a visit. ”

  Zane’s lips quirked into a smile. “What can you tell me about the murders?”

  Serena sighed. “Straight to business, huh? I miss the old you, Zane,”

  she said, glancing at Ty. “Did you read up on the serial?”

  Ty rolled his eyes and glanced around for a server. He raised his hand and got the attention of a woman passing by as the other two talked. She came over, smiling at him, and he gestured for her to come closer. When she bent over next to him he turned his head and whispered into her ear, “I’m going to need something highly alcoholic that looks like water. ”

  She remained motionless for a moment, then she straightened back up and smiled at him again. “Wednesday Night Special, yes, sir,” she said to him softly before turning away. Ty watched her walk away, smiling in appreciation of her discretion and then returned his attention to the table.

  “We’ve formed some opinions of our own,” Zane was telling Serena, though he watched Ty’s exchange with the waitress distractedly. “We’d like to hear yours, though. ”

  “You show me yours,” Serena invited with a flirtatious smirk.

  “You first, dear,” Zane responded in the same tone.

  Serena smiled warmly at Zane before giving Ty another unsavory glance.

  “Look, we’ll get business out of the way then I’ll leave you two to it.

  Deal?” Ty offered as he met her eyes.

  “Why Special Agent Grady, I didn’t realize you had the ability to be reasonable and gracious,” Serena observed sarcastically.

  “I don’t,” Ty grunted. “Call it self-preservation,” he offered.

  “Fair enough,” Serena said in her liquid-honey voice as she favored Zane with another look. “What is it exactly that you want to know?”

  “Well, first of all, why is the NYPD being such a pain in the ass?”

  Zane asked.

  “Turf wars, of course,” Serena said, rolling her eyes. “You know all about that . . . don’t you, Ty?”
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