Cut & Run, page 16part #1 of Cut & Run Series
Ty looked up from the empty water glass he had been examining and stared at her, not responding otherwise.
Zane looked between them and wondered if this had been such a good idea after all. “Serena, behave,” he said lowly. She turned light, calculating eyes on him for a long moment, and Zane knew what she was doing. A day ago he would have almost looked forward to Serena and Ty going at it like he knew they were about to do.
She waited another long moment and then smiled. “Since you asked nicely,” she said finally.
“Give us a basic profile on the serial, please,” Zane requested, noting that Ty was still holding his tongue.
Ty glanced at Zane and narrowed his eyes. He didn’t know why they were here, and he didn’t think they needed to be dealing with this woman. She couldn’t tell them anything they didn’t already know, and she was a pain in the ass to be around. Ty and Serena could go back and forth at each other all night, twisting knives in old wounds and making new ones until they were both curled up in their respective corners and crying. They’d done it before.
The part she enjoyed most was watching Ty losing his temper and shouting at her. And the only way he could avoid doing that was to keep biting his tongue or drink. Or both. He preferred both.
“I believe he’s sane and sending a message of some kind. He’s an organized killer, probably plans the murders far in advance. Likely follows the victim for days, maybe weeks before he takes them,” Serena shared.
“Odds are he’s got his next victim, or possibly next two, already picked out. ”
“Do you think he’s watching the investigations?” Ty asked in a low voice, curious to see if she agreed with them in that respect as well.
“Closely,” she answered with a smug look at Ty, as if gloating about the fact that he had asked her opinion.
“And not just in the media,” Ty murmured, letting her know what they had been thinking.
“Agreed,” she responded easily, still looking at Ty and seeming to measure him.
Zane got the very distinct feeling that Serena knew a lot about Ty and his past that Zane didn’t, and he wondered if he could learn anything about his new partner from what was obviously a biased source. He might have to get Serena alone later just to pump her for information. He couldn’t force himself to stoop to reading Ty’s file yet. It just didn’t seem right.
“It’s possible he has a peripheral role in the investigation that allows him access,” she went on as Ty nodded silently. “You think it’s someone internal,” she said to him with a small smile. “Is that why they brought you two in?” she asked as she turned her calculating gaze back to Zane. “To run around in the dark and cause internal trouble? Tyler here is very good at that sort of thing. ”
Zane cleared his throat and sat back as the waitress returned with Ty’s drink and took their orders. Once that was taken care of, he blatantly ignored her last comment and continued on. “It is possible that it’s someone in the Bureau or NYPD,” he acquiesced. “I’ve flagged a list of items missing from the reports. Different pieces, all small and somewhat inconsequential. It may all be chance . . . but I doubt it. So I went looking. ”
Serena glanced between the two men, eyes lingering on Ty suspiciously. “What did you find out?” she asked Zane.
“Nothing,” Zane answered with a shrug. “I’ll need to talk to the handling agents in each case, and frankly, the details are so minor they don’t rank being worried over, other than the fact they’re missing. ”
The woman nodded. “If you need assistance with the ME, let me know. Karen and I go way back. ”
Zane’s face transformed as he smiled openly, eyes bright. “I love it when you’re so helpful. ”
“You know you’ll pay for it later,” Serena cooed as she glanced at Ty again, almost as if the continuing flirtation were a challenge to him. “So. Ty,”
she said suddenly. “I won’t say it’s nice to see you. But at least you’ve got a good man to work with on this case. ”
“Yeah, he’s a real Boy Scout,” Ty answered flatly as he met her eyes unerringly.
Though she smiled at him, her eyes were utterly frigid. “Don’t fuck him over like you did your last partner. ”
“Serena,” Zane said sharply.
She didn’t turn her chin to look at him. “What’s wrong, Zane? Surely you don’t think I’ll hurt his feelings. He doesn’t have any. ”
“I see you’re still spending more time on your colleagues than your cases,” Ty responded calmly. “How’s that workin’ out?”
“I’ve still got the highest successful profiling record in the region, so it’s working out pretty well, thanks,” the woman answered.
“Easy to be a success when you hand off the hard ones,” Ty drawled.
“Can’t figure it out, so you hand it off on an overworked Feeb, let him take the fall if he fails. ”
She narrowed her eyes, but continued to smile. “Sometimes the white flag is all you can do for a case. You didn’t fail, though, did you, Tyler? Made quite the case out of it. ”
“After four more people died, sure,” Ty answered without flinching.
“That’s enough, Serena,” Zane broke in, voice low and serious. “I called you for information, not so you could pick a fight with my partner. ”
“But picking fights with your partner is so entertaining, Zane,” Serena drawled. “Surely you’ve found that out by now?”
“I wouldn’t know,” Zane responded coldly.
Serena sniffed and turned a disappointed moue on Zane. “You’re no fun anymore, you know? I liked you a lot better when you still drank. ” She reached over and picked up Ty’s glass, taking a dainty sip and nodding in approval.
Ty narrowed his eyes slightly, experiencing an odd feeling of possessiveness as the woman spoke. It seemed that he could bitch at Zane about his problems all he wanted, but no one else could without ruffling his feathers. “See?” he asked Zane conversationally. “Raging bitch. ”
“A raging bitch who used to care more about solving murders than picking fights,” Zane said pointedly, and Serena shifted her eyes to him.
The woman went totally still, and her cold gaze would have struck many men dead on the spot. “Don’t cross me, Zane,” she warned suddenly.
“How’s your husband?” Zane asked pleasantly. “Still no pre-nup?”
“Fucker,” she hissed in response. “Don’t call for my help again; you can figure this shit out all by yourselves,” she snapped as she stood abruptly and looked between the two men. “You know, Zane, I would never have thought to say this, but you’ve turned into a real bastard. ”
“Ha!” Ty responded in gleeful surprise. He looked from the offended woman to Zane in amusement and then threw his head back and laughed.
“You’re not officially on the case, but I know you have notes,” Zane responded seriously. “Send them to us,” he said in a tone that brooked no argument. “You owe me. ”
She was so angry that high spots of red peaked on her cheeks and the hand on her purse was curled tightly like a claw. “This makes us even, Garrett,” she spit out. “And don’t think I won’t remember this. ”
“Great to see you again, Serena. Let’s not make it so long next time,”
Zane drew out as sincerely as possible.
She gave him another dark stare and turned her back on them, flouncing out the door. Once the glass shut behind her, Zane leaned back and scowled. Ty was still laughing heartily, possibly the first time he had truly done so since their partnership had begun, and he was beginning to have trouble catching his breath. Patrons were turning to look at them, some smiling and giggling as Ty laughed contagiously.
Zane shook his head as he watched Ty. “I’m glad you’re amused,” he muttered. “She could have helped us. ”
“I’ve never seen her huff off like that!” Ty laughed breathlessly. “Oh, my God, I think I
“She’s a spitfire, that’s for sure. ” As long as she didn’t turn on them, Zane figured they’d be okay. He wouldn’t put it past her to cause them trouble just to spite him, though. “That’s one good contact I ruined for you, partner,”
Ty’s laughter trailed off, and he shook his head, still smiling slightly.
“I suppose I owe you a thank-you for putting up the Big Blue Shield,” he said to Zane sarcastically. “Thanks,” he offered sincerely.
Zane nodded slowly and sighed, finally relaxing again. “I didn’t want to pay her off anyway,” he murmured. His back hurt enough without more scratches.
“Eh. We don’t need her,” Ty responded dismissively as he took another sip of his drink.
“And why is that, All-Knowing One?” Zane asked as the waitress came by with drinks for Zane and the now-departed Serena. After a quick explanation, the waitress headed off to cancel the meals and get the check.
“She didn’t tell us anything we didn’t already know,” Ty pointed out logically. “Besides. We already got a profiler,” he added with a small smile as soon as the waitress had left.
Ty raised one eyebrow mockingly and then raised one finger with a little smirk.
Zane narrowed his eyes. “You,” he said flatly. “You’re trained to profile. ”
“I am, indeed,” Ty answered with another small sip. “How did you think I knew her?” he asked with a cock of his head as he gestured toward the door. “I was put here in New York my first year out. Any case she couldn’t handle got shuffled over to me,” he said with a sniff. “We certainly never fucked,” he continued pointedly.
Zane’s eyes sparkled. “You missed a hell of a ride, then. ”
Ty groaned with feeling and actually shivered in distaste. “I’d rather fuck you than her,” he muttered thoughtlessly as he looked over at the door she had stomped through.
Snorting, Zane lifted his glass for a drink. But his eyes stayed on Ty, and his gut cramped uncomfortably as he watched him.
ZANE’S stomach woke him a couple hours after they crashed in the hotel room. It was dark outside, and he was contemplating getting up and yanking Ty out of bed to go and find food since they had skipped dinner. When he heard Ty shift and mumble, Zane sat up with a wince and turned on the lamp between the two beds. He tilted his chin to look at the other man.
Ty rolled onto his back, body tangling in the sheets around him, and he stretched and growled and grumbled noisily. He looked different asleep; softer, somehow, which Zane supposed made sense. Younger, too. He wouldn’t have thought it before, but it was pretty clear now that Ty was younger than he was, and not by just a little.
Ty made a few more sleepy growling noises and stretched until his muscles shook with the tension. Then he flopped back down into the bed and rolled onto his side, snuggling his head against the pillow and finally cracking one eye open. “Hmm?” he hummed questioningly when he found Zane looking at him.
“Evening,” Zane greeted quietly, voice still dark with sleep. He yawned and ran his hand through his hair. The short curls were riotous. “I’m hungry. ”
“Ugh,” Ty groaned sleepily. “God, you’re worse than a date,” he muttered. “I have to feed you, too?”
“Hell, we sleep together, and you won’t spring for dinner? What kind of guy are you?” Zane climbed gingerly out of the bed and flopped his pillow over Ty’s face as he walked by to the bathroom.
“The kind who slept through the getting laid part!” Ty called after him as he grabbed the pillow and immediately confiscated it, tucking it under the covers and wrapping around it like a child with a teddy bear.
Zane leaned out the door after turning on the light. “Bad planning on your part,” he chastised before ducking back inside and pushing the door shut.
Ty gave a loud, slightly squeaky huff and snuggled back down into the bed. The mattress was hard as a rock, but he’d had worse. “You want room service?” he called.
Stretching carefully, Zane looked over his shoulder at his back in the mirror. “Yeah, that’s fine,” he answered, raising his voice. “I’ll eat pretty much anything. ”
“I’m sure you will,” Ty muttered grumpily from his warm cocoon of pillows.
Zane turned on the shower, ready to risk washing down his back. The hot water would feel good, at least. He pushed his briefs to the floor and climbed in, standing facing the shower head (which was actually tall enough for him for once) before turning slightly to see how it would feel on his damaged skin.
Ty climbed out of bed when he heard the water turn on and hopped to the bathroom door, sticking his head inside the bathroom with wide, disbelieving eyes. “You’re gonna wet it?” he asked incredulously without even giving a thought to Zane’s privacy.
Jerking his shoulder out of the water and stepping back as the door pushed open, Zane swallowed against the surprise and tried to calm his pulse.
“What the hell are you talking about? I’m in the damn shower; it’s wet by default. ”
“It’s gonna hurt,” Ty protested almost childishly.
Zane leaned back and pulled the curtain aside just enough to look at Ty. “Well, yeah?” he said, face displaying patent disbelief at Ty’s objections.
“Won’t hurt worse than the getting hurt in the first place,” he said as he pointed at Ty, catching the curtain just in time as it fell away and yanking it shut, blocking the flow of cool air. He felt like a fucking idiot, standing naked in the shower while he held the curtain between the two of them.
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