Cut & Run, page 19part #1 of Cut & Run Series
There was even a little map of the ten-block area. Zane decided he might as well take a break while he could. He walked over to his duffel and pulled out a change of clothes. After getting dressed, he stuck his wallet into his back pocket and strapped on his holster, though he winced a few times. Then he pulled on his boots and a heavy button-up shirt to cover the gun, and he was ready.
Before he walked out, he shoved a couple condoms in his hip pocket, and the door shut behind him.
HE stood on the busy street corner outside the hotel Special Agents Grady and Garrett had moved their operations to. He had, of course, been keeping tabs on their location from the moment they’d stepped off the plane. When they’d declined the Bureau accommodations and moved to another hotel without telling anyone, he’d known he was in trouble. It meant they either suspected someone with inside resources or they were overly paranoid. Either scenario meant more work for him. It had taken a while to find their hotel, but they hadn’t been paranoid enough to check in under false names and he had finally tracked them down.
The new FBI team was a nuisance, but so far they weren’t proving to be as much of a threat as he had expected. When he’d gotten word that Washington was sending a crack team, it had very nearly scared him. So much so that he’d set up the computer in the FBI archives for them and removed vital bits of the files as bait before they even landed. These two, however, had turned out to be anything but a threat.
Still, it was better to be rid of them sooner rather than later.
The exploding rig he had set up in the computer of the archives had worked perfectly. Exactly to plan. The only problem with his plans to this point was the fact that Special Agents Grady and Garrett didn’t seem to give a shit about each other or about working with each other. They were both supposed to have been in that room. Even if Garrett was maimed to the point they had replace him, it still left Grady for him to deal with, and Grady was the real threat. He didn’t follow any rules, and that made him hard to keep ahead of. He had specialized training, too. Garrett just seemed to be a pushover trailing along behind him.
He took a deep drag of his cigarette as he waited. They had to come up for air soon, and when they did, he would take care of things.
y slid the room key into the electronic lock and winced as the lights blinked red. He tried it again, looking up at the door number to make T certain it was the right room as the lights blinked red again. He sighed and banged on the door with his fist. Waiting a few moments and hearing no movement inside, he banged again, harder.
“Garrett!” he called out, trying to keep his voice down. It was late, after all, and they didn’t want to attract any undue attention to themselves. He glanced up and down the hallway and grumbled to himself.
He looked at his card in annoyance, realizing that he’d put it in his wallet with his credit cards and probably demagnetized the damn thing. He muttered to himself as he tried it one last time to no avail. He turned on his heel, intending on going to his own room, but before he got even a step he remembered that his own room key was inside Zane’s room with the rest of his stuff.
He growled to himself and glanced down the hall at his own room, frowning at the Do Not Disturb sign on it. What if someone had been in there earlier? What if someone knew where they were? With that thought, a sudden cold swelled in his chest. What if his erstwhile partner was hurt? What if Ty had gone to get laid and someone attacked Zane? He had very little confidence in his new partner’s ability to protect himself when he was healthy, much less injured and relatively defenseless.
Ty hurried toward the elevators and jabbed the button for the lobby, but when it took too long he headed for the stairwell and began jogging down the eight flights of stairs. He muttered to himself impatiently, dread rising as he thought about the myriad of things that could have gone wrong. He tried to tell himself he was merely being paranoid and feeling guilty. No one knew where they were, right?
Except for Sears and Ross, who had been tailing them earlier, and probably every other agent in the New York office, including whoever they 114
were after. He pushed through the stairwell doors and stalked across the lobby, trying to get a hold on his irrational panic.
Moments later, he stood at the lobby desk. He had some difficulty at the front desk in getting Zane’s spare key reprogrammed, mainly because he wasn’t exactly Zane. Finally, he had to flash his FBI identification and growl at the woman to get it done. By the time he got back to Zane’s room, he was tense and almost shaking with dread.
“You better be fucking taking a bubble bath or something,” he muttered as he swiped the card and the lights blinked green.
He was further dismayed to find the hotel room empty. He stood in the entryway, calming himself before walking around the room in search of some clue as to where Zane had gone. There were no signs of struggle or a hasty departure. Everything was ordered and in its place, insofar as order went amidst the chaos of their files.
Finally, he spotted the hotel directory, open and sitting on the dresser.
He stepped over to it and placed his hand gently on the laminated pages, peering down at the small map and the list of nightclubs and bars.
With a groan, Ty realized that Zane had merely gone out to get his drink on.
“Fucker,” he snarled to the empty room.
ZANE walked along the busy street, looking idly in shop and restaurant windows, just letting his mind wander. Thinking about anything but the case was a relief. He stopped on a corner, waiting for the light to change, and lit up. He rolled his shoulders, winced just a little, and sighed. He felt pretty decent after relieving some of the tension that sparked between him and Ty. A hot grapple in the dark bathroom of a club would do that.
He glanced at his watch. 10:10. He figured Ty would take every bit of his mentioned two hours and then some, not that Zane really cared. He’d needed this break more than he’d thought.
Ty sat on one of the beds, reading a faxed list he had received earlier while he waited for the telltale slide of a key card in the door lock. When it came he lowered the fax and looked toward the door, eyes hard and angry as Zane came strolling in. The other agent glanced up and stopped short when he spotted Ty. He was obviously surprised that Ty had come back early.
“Hey,” Zane said. “Have a good time?”
Ty didn’t answer immediately, instead trying desperately to gain control of his temper. “Did you?” he finally asked curtly.
“Yeah, I did. ” Zane shrugged out of the thin shirt and looked over Ty again. “I’m guessing you didn’t?”
“I’ll give you three guesses what went through my head when I found you gone,” Ty replied calmly, simmering just beneath the surface.
Zane’s eyes narrowed. Some of the tension started rebuilding between his shoulder blades again. “You’re not my keeper. I didn’t ask where the hell you were going, did I?”
“You knew I wasn’t off getting drunk off my fucking ass,” Ty snarled as he held up the hotel directory accusingly and tossed it to the end of the bed.
It took some willpower to swallow on the flare of anger. “I told you,”
Zane said sharply. “I don’t drink anymore. ”
“Sure, Garrett. And I don’t fuck strangers ’cause I’m bored,” Ty replied sarcastically.
Quite a bit more willpower was required as Zane stared at him. “I can take care of myself, Grady. I’m not fresh out of the academy, and I don’t need my hand held,” he bit off.
Ty practically trembled with anger, the kind of anger that could only stem from a bad scare and quite a bit of guilt. He glared at Zane and then looked away, taking a long, calming breath as he stared at the map of crime scenes on the wall. “Just . . . leave a damn note next time, okay?” he finally requested softly.
Zane studied him for a long moment. Ty was truly upset, though Zane had no clue why. It was also clear that Ty was exerting qu
“If you’re gonna sit there, go take a fucking shower first,” Ty griped.
“You smell like smoke. ”
Looking over his shoulder in annoyance, Zane wrinkled his nose.
“You smell like perfume and spunk. What’s a little smoke?”
“Smoke is unpleasant,” Ty retorted. He gave a sniff and realized that, yeah, he probably did smell like sex. He found himself wondering if Zane had 116
enjoyed the same sort of distraction that he had, then shook that thought off immediately.
Zane raised a questioning eyebrow at the look on Ty’s face, earning a defensive “What?” from the man.
Zane’s lips twitched. “Sorry to have ruined your relaxing fuck,” he drawled out.
Ty gave a derogatory snort and stretched his arms over his head.
“You should be,” he declared haughtily.
Zane shook his head, but he was smiling. “At least I’m not stressed anymore,” he said as he turned back to flip through the channels.
“Well, praise be,” Ty muttered as he stood and headed for the shower.
He was tired of smelling like a woman he’d never see again.
ISABELLE St. Claire had just gotten out of the shower. Her next flight didn’t leave for another four hours, a cross-country to Los Angeles that would no doubt be full of drunk businessmen who would enjoy grabbing her ass as she passed by them. At least she would have some good memories to get her through this particular flight.
She ran the towel through her long hair again, biting her lip against the guilty smile that tried to bubble up as she looked at the tussled sheets of the bed and her clothing strewn across the hotel room floor. It all belonged to her. He hadn’t left a thing behind.
An FBI agent, he had said. His badge had looked awfully official, anyway, and Ty Grady hadn’t struck her as the type to lie just to impress her.
Get her into bed and never call again, yes. But lie? No.
Isabelle knew the man would never call her again. It was just as well, because he was the type that girls like her fell hard and fast for, and he was definitely not the type she could take home to meet Daddy.
She allowed herself another little smile and wrapped the towel around her damp hair. It had been fun, anyway. She didn’t bother dealing with the mess they had made of the bed, instead beginning to bundle up her clothing into neat little rolls, the kind that you could stuff in a small suitcase easily and wouldn’t leave fold or wrinkle marks.
Finished packing and already wearing her uniform skirt, she was shrugging into her white blouse when the knock at the door came. She looked over at it in surprise. Not many people would be knocking on her door. It was either Tina or Sylvia, her fellow air hostesses on the LA flight, wanting to get a bite to eat before they caught a cab, probably. Or it could be him again.
She bit her lip, unable to restrain a hopeful grin as she padded over to the door and peered out the little peephole.
An FBI badge was all she could see, held up so close that it was obscured other than the big blue letters on the card.
She laughed quietly and shook her head as she stepped back. She could really fall for this guy if he let her. She looked down and unbuttoned the one button she had managed on her blouse, biting her tongue in anticipation.
When he had showed up before he’d merely grabbed her, dipped her backward like they had been waltzing, and kissed her. She wondered how he would greet her now that they actually knew each other’s names.
“Back for another round so soon?” she called as she unlatched the door and swung it open to let him in.
She gave a little gasp of surprise when she realized that the agent in the hallway wasn’t Ty.
“I—I’m sorry, I thought you were someone else,” she stuttered as she blushed furiously and began buttoning her blouse hastily.
“I get that a lot, ma’am,” the man said before he produced a small white handkerchief and grabbed her roughly, pressing it over her mouth and nose and pushing her back into her hotel room. She flailed and tried to scream, but his hand covered the noise she made and her attempts at hitting and kicking him seemed to go unnoticed. He kicked the door shut behind him, and Isabelle struggled as her world faded to black.
ZANE worked deep into the files, sifting through details, muttering about the missing reports he’d been looking for when the monitor exploded. He’d also found other smaller bits and pieces missing, likely the result of overworked agents and the number of departments information filtered through in the Bureau. But it didn’t make him happy, not one bit.
Ty sat cross-legged on his own bed and stared at the map on the wall.
He’d tacked crime-scene photos near each location where bodies were found, 118
and beside them pictures of the accompanying tokens, trying to make sense of them. At first, he’d hummed slightly every now and then and murmured to himself, and he’d been perfectly still as he looked over the wall and took notes. But now, he rocked slightly back and forth and seemed to merely be staring mindlessly. If there was brain activity going on, his eyes didn’t betray it.
Disgusted, Zane tossed down the files. “I need a cigarette,” he muttered, standing up. “You game for a walk?” he asked as he reached for his holster.
Ty turned his head slowly, pulling at his ear with a frown. “Is my brain leaking out my ears yet?” he asked grumpily in return.
“Is that what that gray stuff is?” Zane asked, poking at the side of Ty’s head. Ty growled and flopped onto his back to stare blankly up at the ceiling. Zane grinned down at him. The past several hours of work had successfully cooled their tempers, and they were almost getting along again.
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