Cut and run, p.55

Cut & Run, page 55

 part  #1 of  Cut & Run Series


Cut & Run

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Page 55


  Zane rolled his head around carefully. “Because six Bureau personnel had already been killed or injured,” he corrected. “You didn’t happen to work in Baltimore in 2001, did you?”

  Ross snorted unhappily but shook his head in answer as he moved away again, pacing restlessly in much the same manner Ty always did. Zane watched him with a frown until Sears came out with a glass of sparkling liquid. “This was all I could find besides water,” she said. “It’s pomegranate juice. Figured some sugar might do you good. ”

  “Thanks,” Zane murmured, taking the glass and a long drink. “So, you two get to babysit me. ”

  “We’re on the shelf right now, anyway,” Sears answered loudly before Ross could respond. “If we weren’t here,” she went on more gently as she sat on the coffee table opposite Zane and crossed her legs daintily, “we would be drowning in paperwork. ”

  Zane glanced between the two with a growing smile. Ross grimaced and started pacing again. “Gotta love paperwork,” he commented, eyes actually brightening a little. “Lately, I wish I’d had more of it and less death and destruction. ”

  Sears reached out and put a hand on his knee gently. “Are you sure you don’t want to be in the hospital?” she asked quietly. “It’s all over the wire, what happened. We could set up a guard there. You’ve got to be in a lot of pain. ”

  “Christ, Marian, leave the man alone,” Ross huffed. “And stop batting your eyelashes at him,” he added grumpily.

  “I am doing no such thing,” Sears responded calmly as she maintained eye contact with Zane. “Did they give you painkillers?” she asked.

  Zane looked at her steadily and lied through his teeth without giving anything away. “Yeah, I took some already. And I’m fine. Just worn out. ”

  Sears narrowed her eyes but then nodded as she accepted what he said for truth. She seemed out of ideas, and she looked up at her partner for help.

  Ross, who was still pacing behind Zane restlessly, just shrugged and gestured at him in agitation.

  “You should be resting,” Sears insisted as she sat and observed Zane.

  She wasn’t just watching him. She was observing. It reminded Zane of the way Ty watched people sometimes. Everything seemed to remind him of Ty lately. Ross came around to flop gracelessly into a nearby chair.

  Aware of Sears’ interest, Zane let his injured shoulder sag a little and the exhaustion show. No need for them to know exactly how bad of shape he was in … just in case. He wasn’t all that sure about Ross. “You trust Henninger enough to hop to and come running when he calls like that?” he asked. “I barely know the kid. ”

  “Henninger’s a better agent than he’s given credit for,” Sears answered neutrally. “If he says he needs help, then he needs help. ”

  “You barely know the kid and yet he’s your inside contact?” Ross asked dubiously.

  “He’s who we got tagged with by the New York office when we got here,” Zane allowed. “When we came back, we used him ’cause he’d helped us before. We needed someone who could get us information fast and dirty. ”

  “No wonder he’s been so jumpy lately,” Ross laughed softly.

  “Poor kid,” Sears added with a fond smile.

  “What? He getting flack at the office?” Zane asked.

  “Every time there was a loud noise somewhere, he would hit the ceiling,” Sears told him with a smirk she tried to hide. “Apparently, he had a guilty conscience. ”

  Zane frowned a little. “He seemed okay when he was talking with us,” he murmured. “Huh. ” He shifted and slumped in the chair a little. “So.

  What’s the story on you two?” he drawled, looking between them.

  Both agents looked back at him with suddenly unreadable expressions. Finally, Sears smiled slowly. “I’ll show you mine if you show me yours,” she answered.

  Zane immediately broke out in wheezing laughter. “You’re joking, right?”

  “Come on,” Sears wheedled with a grin. “I’ll spill on my partner if you tell me about yours. ”

  Zane snorted and peered at Sears as Ross protested noisily. “Watch out,” he told the woman with a smile. “I’ve seen how Grady behaves around a woman. He’s an utter bastard. ” He sighed and some of the amusement died away. “As for me,” he said quietly, dropped his eyes, and looked at his ring thoughtfully, “I can’t see another woman without thinking of my wife. ”

  The teasing dropped away, and Sears smiled softly. “I’m sorry,” she murmured in the tone of voice that said she knew Zane’s wife had died rather than left him.

  “You girls finished getting your nails done?” Ross asked with a huff.

  “Fuck off, Ross,” Zane bit out, aggravation showing.

  “Boys, boys,” Sears murmured as she stood and rolled her eyes.

  Ross snapped his mouth closed and gave Zane an infuriating smirk.

  “You look a little restless, Garrett,” he observed with false sympathy.

  “Henninger told us about your Poe theory when we demanded to know why he needed us here. Why don’t you explain that one to us if you need something to do?”

  Rolling his eyes, Zane glanced over at the wall of bookshelves nearby. “See if you can find a copy of Poe over there,” he requested. “We’ll see what we can find. ”

  THE sound of scraping and the musty smell of something old and wet were the first things to batter Ty’s senses. He groaned involuntarily and his head lolled, his chin resting on his chest as if he were upright rather than prostrate.

  Slowly, with more effort than he liked, he forced one eye open. His eyelid was too heavy, though, and he soon closed it and raised his head to let it rest back against the cold, rough surface behind him. He was upright, he realized, but he didn’t understand how he was capable of standing, or even sitting up. He was soon aware of labored breathing that wasn’t his own coming from somewhere close, and then more scraping sounds came with it.

  There was an odd, wet sound, followed by a few thuds that echoed hollowly, and more scraping.

  “Grady? Special Agent Grady, are you okay?” The unfamiliar voice echoed in the darkness, bouncing around in the damp and distorting in a surreal manner.

  Ty wasn’t even sure he had really heard it. “Okay?” he echoed with difficulty. His tongue felt swollen and dry, and his throat was scratchy and painful as he spoke. His head pounded as if his ears had been filled with concrete. He blearily recognized the aftereffects of chloroform, and a cold fear began to twist in his chest.

  “Yes, you’re okay. I thought you might talk to me while I work.

  Make the time pass faster. ”

  Ty raised his head slightly, forcing his dry eyes open again and blinking in the weak, flickering light of a candle that was sitting on the floor next to him. It was dark otherwise, utterly so. Not a bit of natural light flowed around him, and the cold and damp gave him the distinct feeling of being in his grandmother’s root cellar.

  “Work,” he repeated as if testing the word. He swallowed painfully and then cleared his throat. The odd scraping noise stopped for a moment.

  “Well, yes. You get to hang there and rest while I’m working.

  Doesn’t seem very fair, does it? But I’m pretty sure you wouldn’t cooperate otherwise. Which is why you’re tied up. ”

  Ty let his head rest against the cold surface behind him again. It was rough, like brick or hewn rock. He had thought his limbs were just too heavy to move, but he tugged at the restraints on his arms with the sinking realization that he was restrained. A sound like a chain clanking met his ears, and he frowned in confusion. He was chained to a wall? Seriously? He realized, after hearing the man’s words, that there was a rope of some sort wound under his arms and around his chest, holding him upright even as he slumped, and there were shackles around his ankles as well, keeping him pinned to the wall.

  He squinted back out into the flickering darkness. The ma
n seemed to be working by candlelight as well. Ty glanced down at the candle sitting in a pool of melted wax at his feet. Staring at it, he remembered tidbits from his childhood that had never really surfaced in his adult life. The old miners in his hometown in West Virginia had always told stories about the candles they carried with them underground, as well as flashlights. When the light died, you had to hustle your ass out of there because the oxygen was either going or gone and you were next. It was cheaper than a canary.

  “We’re underground,” he stated stupidly.

  “Very good!” the distorted voice said sarcastically. “You must be shaking it off quicker than I expected. Luckily, I planned for that. ”

  Ty frowned harder and turned his head to the side, groaning as the motion caused his head to swim. “Did you kill the kid?” he asked the man with a tinge of anguish he was ashamed to let creep into his voice.

  The man responded with a short laugh. “You’ll find he’s just fine,” he answered drolly, then paused as if in thought. “Actually, no, you won’t. But someone else will. Perhaps your partner. ”

  Ty closed his eyes at the lance of pain that went through him at that thought. Zane. His mind was foggy, and he tried desperately to rally.

  “Garrett’s not gonna be amused by this,” he told the man, trying in vain to squeeze his hands through the antique shackles. They were far too tight, though, and the rough metal cut at him as he tugged. “You picked the wrong one to play with. ”

  “I don’t think so,” the man answered, his voice bouncing off the subterranean walls. “You’re much more dangerous than your partner, you see.

  He’s an addict and an alcoholic, and you were the only thing keeping him from fucking himself into the ground. You and I both know it. ” The voice sounded oddly pleased.

  Ty felt himself go cold as he listened. The man knew them well, almost as if he had been with them through their personal struggles. And Ty knew this man had no intention of leaving Zane alive, either. Ty had just been picked off first because Zane was hurt.

  “Did you see my welcome back present?” the voice asked abruptly.

  The question made him sound almost hopeful, like he was trying to please.

  Ty was silent, listening to the odd scraping sound as a violent shiver went through him. “I did,” he finally answered softly, sensing that talking about Zane would get him nowhere. “I especially liked the confetti. ”

  Another soft laugh greeted his words. “That took a lot of planning. I wanted you to know how much I appreciate people who paid attention. ” There was a thoughtful pause while the scraping “work” continued. “Shame. If you hadn’t found my file so quickly, you would have been able to keep going. ”

  “Your file?” Ty asked hoarsely.

  The man hummed in response. “I’m in that little stack you have; Baltimore ’01,” he answered regretfully. “I understand you’re the one who caught on to Poe, as well. Bravo, Ty, I must say. I expected Zane to get it first, him being the brains of your operation and all. ”

  Ty frowned. If he knew about both the files and the fact that Ty, and not Henninger, had been the one to figure out Poe, then he had to have taps.

  Probably all over the Bureau.

  “You’re still trying to solve it, aren’t you, Grady?” the distorted voice asked in amusement. “You were enjoying yourself, weren’t you? Maybe not your partner, but you were loving this case,” he said with confidence. “Where did you stash Special Agent Garrett, by the way?” he asked slyly, as if he might have already known the answer. “I do hope he’s safe. ”

  Ty swallowed heavily and licked his dry lips. As their conversation continued, the man still sounded completely sane. That was possibly more frightening than even his situation. It would have been easier to deal with him if he had been delusional or something.

  “He’s safer than you are,” Ty murmured, cursing his earlier stupidity.

  If he’d been thinking clearly he would have told the man Zane was dead or severely injured from the wreck. Now, he had practically sealed Zane’s death sentence as well.

  The scraping stopped, and the voice that responded was one of pure sympathy. “He’s hurt, isn’t he? He’s hurt, and you left him behind to go work on the case, didn’t you, Grady?” He tutted in disapproval. “You just couldn’t let it go, that need for revenge. Oh, don’t be surprised. I knew about you and Sanchez. He found the Baltimore connection, too. He even put a call into his old Recon buddy Ty Grady down in Maryland to ask him about it, but you never answered your phone, did you, Ty? You’ve been wondering what that call was about since you got here, haven’t you? You weren’t there for Sanchez, and you won’t be there for Garrett. ”

  Ty closed his eyes and lowered his head, pain lancing through his chest at the killer’s accusations.

  “Ah. You did leave him, didn’t you? Embarrassed, are you? That’s no way to treat a partner. You should be ashamed of yourself. What will he think when you don’t come back? He’ll think you abandoned him; left him because he was worthless. ”

  Ty licked his lips and opened his mouth to speak, but no words came.

  He swallowed with difficulty and then tried again, managing a hoarse, “I’m sure he’ll be relieved to be rid of me. ”

  “Hmmm. I’m not sure I believe you, Grady. Who else will he work with? Who else would work with him? He’s a loose cannon. ” There was a soft chuckle. “But then, so are you. At least you’re firing real ammunition. He’ll be even easier to take care of without you around. ”
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