Cut and run, p.39

Cut & Run, page 39

 part  #1 of  Cut & Run Series


Cut & Run

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Page 39


  Walking by the answering machine, he turned up his nose at the blinking red light and lit up. The only person who called him here was the Bureau contact, and he definitely didn’t want to talk to her. Cursing under his breath, he hit the button and pulled out his guns, checking them as he disarmed.

  “Special Agent Garrett, this is Assistant Director Richard Burns. ”

  Zane’s head shot around so he could stare at the machine. “Don’t you dare ignore me. Call me. It doesn’t matter what time. ” He left an unfamiliar return number and hung up.

  Hitting the erase button, Zane frowned and tapped the ashes from his cigarette. It was odd to hear English not made rapid-fire by an accent.

  “What’s he want?” he murmured to himself, the Spanish flowing easily. He tapped his fingers on the phone for a long moment before picking up and dialing the number he had easily memorized.

  Two minutes later, he was connected to Burns, presumably at home, since it was the middle of the night.

  “Special Agent Garrett. Thank you for returning my call so promptly,” Burns said by way of greeting, no hint of censure or sleep in his voice.

  Zane walked with the handset over to the couch and pulled out a bottle of painkillers. “What do you want, Burns?” Zane muttered in his well-practiced accented English, setting his cigarette in an overfull ashtray. He poured a handful of pills into his hand and popped three into his mouth, sitting on the edge of the couch and holding his arm out to look at it.

  “Ever the conversationalist. Nice accent, by the way. Have you been following the Tri-State murders?”

  Zane’s jaw set. “No,” he said shortly.

  “Good. Get to DC. I want you here by three-thirty tomorrow. ”

  “DC?” Zane objected. “I’m in the middle of all kinds of shit here, Burns. I can’t just drop it!”

  “You will turn over all information and material to Special Agent Black, who is waiting quite patiently right outside your door. Be here, and don’t be late. ”

  Burns hung up, leaving Zane staring at the handset. After a long moment, he hurled it at the wall, foreign expletives flowing off his tongue as it shattered.

  TY didn’t sleep at night. He never had, even as a child. While the military had forced him to change that, the subsequent years of working undercover mostly at night had hardwired his body once more to sleep during the day and prowl restlessly during the late hours when he had nothing else to keep him busy. And so, when his phone rang at roughly two in the afternoon, it sent Ty straight up and into a full-out panic before he was able to track down the vibrating cell phone and growl at it.

  “What?” he answered in a huff, rubbing sleepy eyes and shaking his head to wake himself fully.

  “Special Agent Grady,” a familiar voice greeted warmly.

  “Dick?” Ty responded in shock. “I didn’t do it,” he said immediately.

  “Whatever it was, I didn’t do it. I’m on vacation,” he insisted defensively.

  There was a chuckle in response. “I know you’re on vacation, Ty.

  That’s why I’m calling. How do you feel?”

  “Uhh…. ”

  “I need you to cut it short,” Burns told him solemnly. “Have you been following the Tri-State murders?”

  “No,” Ty answered immediately.

  “Good. Get in here. One hour. ”


  “And don’t come in smelling like beer and cheap cigars!” Burns chastised before hanging up.

  ZANE let the bike coast as he pulled up at the gate to the Bureau parking lot.

  He showed his badge and was waved through, although he got a couple of odd looks. He hadn’t bothered to dress up, just bringing the basics in the saddlebags on his bike. And the leather, of course, since he was riding. His favorite jacket had that gash in the arm from last night, but he wouldn’t give it up. He parked the bike in the garage and pulled his leg over, boot hitting the pavement with a clunk. He pulled off the helmet and ran a hand through his overgrown hair. He left the helmet on the bike and stalked toward the building.

  The receptionist blinked at him as he entered the Assistant Director’s office. “They’re … waiting for you,” she stuttered at him.

  Zane offered her a rakish grin before reaching for the knob to open the door.

  “And I can assure you the cigars are not cheap,” a voice was saying conversationally on the other side of the door. “The beer is,” the man added,

  “but never the cigars. ”

  “I don’t need to know about those cigars,” Burns responded in a tired voice.

  Zane stopped just inside, having caught words in a voice he knew he’d never forget. Instead of focusing on Burns, who looked up at him, Zane focused on the back of the man who sat across from the Assistant Director.

  “Garrett. Nice of you to join us. Over half an hour late,” Burns greeted, but he didn’t sound too perturbed.

  Ty stiffened in the chair and went still. Slowly, he turned his head to look back at Zane, and the stunned reaction was too instantaneous to conceal.

  Zane swallowed hard, looking over Ty’s face. He looked … good.

  Really good. Finally, he found the nerve to speak. “Hello, Grady. ” The words came out still tinged by an accent.

  “Garrett,” Ty greeted in shock as he stood uncertainly. He turned to Burns and asked, “What is this?”

  Zane tore his eyes away from Ty and looked to Burns.

  “Despite how your last collaboration ended, we need you two in New York again,” Burns answered. His smile faded. “The killer went quiet, without showing so much as a shadow, for about three months after you two were removed from the case. As if he … missed you,” he told them with an odd uncertainty. “Until two weeks ago. Since then there has been one more murder, and two days ago, the two agents we had on the case were seriously injured in a gas line explosion. ”

  “You’re putting us back on the Tri-State case?” Ty blurted in shock.


  The Assistant Director nodded. “In a way,” he answered vaguely.

  “You two are the only ones left who’ve worked the case at all and are around to tell about it. The others might not make it. ” He sighed. “And I know it’s important to you both. For many reasons,” he added quietly with a glance at Ty.

  Zane took a few steps toward Burns’ desk. “Are we gonna be handcuffed like last time?”

  “Handcuffed?” Burns asked in confusion. “What you two do on your own time is none of the Bureau’s concern,” he added with a wink at Ty, who rolled his eyes and sat back down slowly.

  “Very funny,” Zane said flatly. He’d just ridden over fifteen hours on a motorcycle to get there and he wasn’t amused. No matter how much he jumped inside at the chance to see Ty again, Zane knew they’d be walking right back into an uncontrolled fire that could too easily torch them both—but it was the best news he had heard in months. “We had a tail up our asses and too many people looking over our shoulders. It didn’t stop that bastard from tracking us down somewhere else. ” Zane’s words were clipped and run together, blending his accents. He glanced to Ty, trying to get some feel for him after four months apart.

  Ty sat silently, head slightly bowed and body completely still as he watched Burns from under lowered brows. There was no nervous bouncing of his knee or jittery twitching like there had always been before when he was forced to sit still. He was also clean-shaven, and his hair was still closely cropped. The only remnant of his previous wardrobe was the slightly wrinkled white dress shirt he wore beneath his suit coat, untucked and unbuttoned at the collar. He stared at Burns emotionlessly, none of the usual fire in his eyes or features.

  “You’ll be sent in unofficially with no other Bureau resources aside from what I have here for you,” Burns answered seriously as he waved a manila envelope. “The two of you have unique experience, you underst
and. ”

  Zane was still watching the other agent, seeing the stamp of medical overload and a bureaucratic smackdown all over him. He’d lived it himself, and it was a fucking mess to deal with. He’d wondered, more than once, if he’d have broken the self-enforced conditioning if he hadn’t met Ty. How in the hell was Ty supposed to break free of it?

  “Grady?” Zane asked abruptly. “Are you in?”

  “This is not really a request, gentlemen,” Burns said gently.

  Zane barked back something rough in Spanish before catching himself. “Kiss my ass, Burns. After what we went through last time, I think we have some say,” Zane growled.

  The Assistant Director narrowed his eyes, but didn’t disagree.

  Ty’s eyes moved from Burns to Zane, and he merely nodded in answer.

  Zane studied him for a long moment, trying not to get lost in the details. “All right. We’re in. Give me the stuff; I want out of here. We shouldn’t have come in to the office to start with, if we’re supposed to be under the radar. Word will get around. ”

  Burns slid an envelope across the desk. “Approval for this directive comes from the Director himself. Having a killer on the inside like this is a terrible failure on the part of the system. It has to be corrected. ” He looked between them. “I won’t be able to repeat this. You have carte blanche. Those credit cards do not have limits. There are alternate identifications in that envelope, if need be. Just take this bastard out. ”

  “You don’t want him in jail?” Zane asked sharply.

  The Assistant Director turned and walked to the window. “Good luck, gentlemen. ”

  Ty stood and watched Burns for a moment, then turned to meet Zane’s eyes. He licked his lips uncertainly, unable to think of anything to say.

  He just nodded his head at the door and gave Burns one last glance.

  Zane picked up the envelope and led the way out, not another word for the Assistant Director. He assumed Ty would follow, but he still stopped in the outer room to wait and get another good look at the man he’d thought about far too much the past four months. Ty did follow, ignoring the batting eyelashes of the secretary who had previously looked at him with such disdain.

  Instead, he came to stand beside Zane, not looking him in the eye.

  “You’re looking good,” he commented softly.

  Zane raised a sardonic eyebrow, not that Ty would see it. He looked like a hell-bent-for-leather biker, with the clothes, the three-day whiskers, and his messy hair. It was an image he’d cultivated for a while now, and one he was pretty much comfortable in. But Ty….

  “You’re looking different,” Zane answered, voice low. “Good. But different. ”

  “Shut up,” Ty muttered as he began moving slowly to the elevator.

  “Glad to hear that wry sense of humor is still in there,” Zane murmured to him.

  Ty looked over at him as they walked, a small, slightly sad smile gracing his features. They were both quiet on the elevator as it took them down to the parking deck level.

  When the elevator doors opened, Zane asked, “You got a ride?”

  “I took a cab,” Ty admitted. “Wasn’t quite sober when I got the call. ”

  A grin pulled at Zane’s lips as he unzipped his jacket, slid the envelope inside, and zipped it back up. “You can ride with me, then,” he said casually as they left the elevator and stepped out into the parking deck.

  “Why do I get the feeling that’s a bad thing?” Ty asked warily as he followed.

  Zane’s answer was a low, smug chuckle, and a minute later they stood next to his cobalt blue Honda Valkyrie. Zane held the helmet out to Ty, a dare in his eyes.

  “No,” Ty answered immediately. “Hell, no,” he added.

  “C’mon, baby, don’t you want to feel this much power purring between your thighs?” Zane drawled.

  “No,” Ty answered earnestly with a shake of his head as he patted the seat of the motorcycle apologetically.

  Zane pouted. “I suppose I can just meet you somewhere,” he offered, lips twitching. He mounted the bike and turned the key and the motor came to life; a growling, rolling, beautiful purr—just like Zane had said.

  “Home,” Ty answered immediately. “I’m going home to get my shit. ”

  Glancing back to Ty, Zane sat with his legs splayed as he pulled on his gloves. “And where is home?” he asked. “You actually want me there rather than going ahead to get us some rooms somewhere?”

  Ty sighed heavily and looked Zane over as he sat on the bike.

  “Yeah,” he murmured almost dejectedly. “I want you there,” he said pointedly.

  Zane smiled slowly under Ty’s frank appraisal. Maybe they were still on the same wavelength. “Tell me where,” he requested. “Unless you want to change your mind…. ” he tilted his head to the seat behind him.

  “My dignity and common sense won’t allow it,” Ty answered as he nodded to the entrance of the garage. “Follow,” he said succinctly as he turned and began heading for the daylight.

  Chuckling, Zane waited a moment and then coasted the bike behind him. A harrowing ride through DC traffic later and they were in Baltimore, bumping over cobblestone streets as they made their way through the warren of the old city toward Ty’s home. Zane parked in the walkway that led to the row house as Ty paid the hefty cab fare.

  Ty stood back and watched the car drive off, then turned slowly to look back at Zane. He cocked his head and narrowed his eyes as Ty walked closer. “I know that jacket,” he murmured as he stopped right in front of Zane, hands in his pockets.
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