Major Crimes, page 16
Hayley wanted to bang her head against the steering wheel. All the clues had led her to Senator Nelligar’s office, so she’d assumed the man himself was behind the crimes of treason. But really it could’ve been any of his close assistants. Anyone who had access to the information and his computer network.
“You work in his office.” It wasn’t a question.
“Yep. I’ve been his aide for eight years now, although I’m on a temporary leave of absence to take care of some ‘family issues.’” Mara used her fingers to make air quotes for the last two words.
“How did you find me?”
“You were nice enough to call me back a few days ago. Once I had the details from that phone I was able to track it. It was used again today. I couldn’t get inside Omega Sector, but it was easy to track where the call went. Turn left here.”
Hayley did what she said, not wanting to take a chance that Mara would send someone after Mason, especially since Ashton wasn’t home.
“Having to chase you across the country wasn’t what I had planned. I still haven’t figured out how you got out of the fire at the restaurant.”
“Cain,” Hayley muttered.
“Of course. Big Omega agent swooped in to your rescue.”
“He wasn’t even there for you or anything to do with the CET. He needed my help with another case.”
Mara blew out an irritated breath. “We couldn’t take that chance. As soon as your name showed up for a court order to get your computer privileges reinstated we knew you had to go. Although honestly I didn’t think it was you who had figured out our little scheme.”
Which was why so many of the other hackers had died and Hayley was still alive.
“Turn right at the next light.”
Mara was leading her toward the outskirts of town, Hayley realized. Somewhere she could get rid of her quietly.
“I’m not just going to let you drive me somewhere so you can shoot me and dump my body, Mara.”
“Oh, trust me, I’m not going to shoot you. That would be way too suspicious. Besides, we need you and Agent Bennett to die together in order for this story to work.”
Mara had Hayley turn again, this time into a parking lot for a three-story office building. A huge sign hanging on the front said the building was for rent.
“What is this?” Hayley said after Mara made her get out of the car with the gun.
“An empty office building,” Mara said as if that explained everything. “This is where we’re going to wait for Agent Bennett to show up.”
Mara led Hayley through the door and up the elevator to the third floor. She opened a set of doors and pushed Hayley through. The space was wide and empty except for a desk with a computer that sat over near the window.
Hayley didn’t know why Mara had brought her here, but it couldn’t be good. She did know this might be her only chance to get away, so Hayley was going to take it.
She waited until she could feel Mara close behind her, then spun and knocked the gun out of the other woman’s hands. Then it became a fight to see who could reach the weapon first. Mara dived for it but Hayley plowed into her, gasping as she felt her stitches tear from the wound at her waist.
Hayley elbowed Mara in the midsection and scrambled for the gun when the other woman doubled over, and had her finger on the tip of it, but Mara caught her leg and pulled her back. A second later Hayley cried out through the starburst of agony as Mara dug her knee into Hayley’s wound. Hayley fell to the ground, gasping for air, and Mara was able to get to the weapon.
Blood was already soaking Hayley’s shirt as Mara turned the gun on her again from where she sat breathing heavily on the floor.
“You know, you’re really starting to piss me off. You’re lucky we need you and Bennett to be here when you both die or else you’d be dead already.”
Careful to keep her distance this time, Mara gestured to the office chair by the desk and computer. “Sit there and don’t give me any grief or you’ll know what it’s like to be shot twice in one week.”
Hayley got off the ground, trying to resituate the bandage over her wound to help stop the bleeding. Handcuffs with one metal circle already linked around the chair’s armrest handle hung to the side.
“Cuff yourself to the chair.”
“I need my arm to be able to deal with my wound.”
Mara laughed, an ugly, bitter sound that filled Hayley with dread. “Believe me, that wound is going to be the least of your problems.” She pointed the gun at Hayley’s kneecap. “Cuffs, or I make sure you can’t run.”
Hayley clinked the metal band around her wrist. Mara lowered the gun and tightened it, then fastened her other wrist with a second set of cuffs.
“Now what?” Hayley asked.
“Now we wait for Agent Bennett to show up. Shouldn’t take very long.”
“I won’t call him. I won’t lead him into a trap.” Hayley prayed they wouldn’t use Mason against her to make her lead Cain to his death.
Mara leaned back against the desk and stretched her legs out in front of her. “Oh, you won’t have to call him. He’ll come on his own.”
“To rescue me? Do you really think that’s a good idea? Cain works with one of the greatest law enforcement groups on the planet. You really think they won’t be able to rescue me when they figure out I’ve been kidnapped?”
“Oh, sweetheart.” Mara tsked and Hayley wondered how she could’ve ever liked the woman. “He won’t be coming here to rescue you, he’ll be coming here to arrest you.”
“Even right now Agent Bennett is being notified of this location. Where you and a couple of your hacker buddies have been participating in a few extracurricular actives of the illegal variety.”
“Oh my God.”
“Yeah. We knew we wouldn’t be able to get Agent Bennett here alone by kidnapping you. Like you said, we’d be no match for Omega Sector. But how do you think he’s going to feel when he’s given irrefutable proof that you’ve been lying to him?”
Hayley jerked against the handcuffs and Mara laughed.
“Been lying to him about the boy. About the hacking. About the CET. Proof that you were just using Bennett as the fool who could get you unlimited computer access, so you could continue your espionage and blame it on poor Senator Nelligar.”
Mara turned and walked closer, grinning. Hayley wanted to claw the other woman’s eyes out.
“A representative from Senator Nelligar’s office fortunately became aware of your dirty deeds and has brought the info to Bennett. He’s hoping Cain will be willing to take you in without a huge scene. Nobody wants this to get into the press’s hands.”
“So Cain will come here to arrest me.” Bile itched at the back of Hayley’s throat.
“And won’t it be a shame when you both die in the process of that arrest?”
Cain wasn’t particularly interested in meeting whoever was waiting for him in the lobby of the Omega HQ. The name—Joshua Lawson—had not rung any bells, nor had the man stated why he was here when he had someone call for Cain.
Cain had a ton of stuff to do, not the least of which was helping Ashton and Steve sort through the possible targets Fawkes might be considering. Plus, Hayley would be back in a few minutes and he needed to be with her as she ran down some possibilities for where Fawkes might be planning his—or her—attack.
When the lobby guard pointed Lawson out, Cain walked briskly over to the man dressed in a suit that was probably more expensive than all of Cain’s combined.
“Mr. Lawson. I’m Agent Bennett. What can I do for you?”
Lawson shook Cain’s outstretched hand. “I was wondering if I might have a few moments of your time to discuss a case you were the lead agent for a few years ago.”
Cain very definitely did not have tim
“Mr. Lawson, I am really very sorry, but today I am totally swamped with something that is of a critical and timely nature.”
Cain didn’t want to dismiss the other man’s concerns, whatever they were. But he couldn’t deal with them today. “Would it be possible for you to come back next week? Plus I can give you the number of my office assistant and she can go ahead and pull the files for me so I can be better prepared to answer any questions you might have.”
Lawson didn’t look like he was going anywhere. “The case I need to speak with you about involves Hayley Green.”
Cain’s eyes narrowed. “I’m sorry, I didn’t get who you represented or what this was about.”
“I work for Senator Ralph Nelligar. We’ve gotten hold of some very interesting information that I think you will want to see. Preferably not here in the lobby.”
The man who had offered a reward to have Hayley killed, who was committing treason by selling state secrets to foreign countries, was sending someone to talk to Cain inside his own headquarters?
Cain didn’t know where the hell this was going, but he was definitely going to ride it out. Maybe Hayley wouldn’t need to set a trap for Senator Nelligar. Maybe he was setting one for himself right now.
But it was definitely important that she not come waltzing through the door in case Mr. Lawson wasn’t here alone. She could be arrested immediately.
“Can you wait here for a minute while I get us a conference room?” Lawson nodded and Cain grabbed the phone at the guard’s desk to call Steve.
“Steve, it’s Cain. I’m in the lobby with a representative from Senator Nelligar’s office.”
Cain had already filled Steve in on what Hayley had found with the CET situation. “That seems pretty risky for someone in danger of being arrested for treason.”
“I’m going to hear what the guy has to say. See if we can get Nelligar to hang himself. Hayley’s on her way in, actually should’ve already been in by now. I’ll need you to waylay her while I’m meeting with this guy in case this is a fishing expedition.”
If Cain had to guess why Lawson was here, it was to figure out where Hayley was, so they could take her out.
“Will do. I’ll set up conference room two for you.”
Cain led Lawson to the conference room after his briefcase and person were scanned for any dangers. He shut the door behind them and sat down at the table.
“I know you said you are busy, so I won’t waste your time, Agent Bennett. I need to talk to you about Hayley Green.”
“What about her?”
“You are aware that Ms. Green is a fugitive, correct? She was last seen at your family’s home when she was arrested.”
Looked like this was a fishing expedition. “Yes, I am, and yes, she was. But she was brought into custody by Georgia law enforcement.”
“And escaped,” Lawson said. “But really that’s not my point. We know Ms. Green has been...working with you.”
“If the question you’re ultimately asking is if Hayley Green is here, then the answer is no, she’s not. Omega Sector and their agents do not make a practice of harboring fugitives.”
All true, technically speaking.
Lawson smiled, and something about it made Cain’s gut clench.
“We know where Ms. Green is. We also know there’s a connection between the two of you that is very strong.”
Cain wanted to stop and call Steve, see if Hayley had arrived yet. Because he very definitely did not like Lawson’s assuredness about Hayley’s location.
Cain leaned back in his chair, not giving away the panic itching at his throat. “Well, sounds like you know a lot of stuff. Which also probably means you know that someone is trying to kill Hayley. That a hit has been put out on her life.” Cain watched the other man closely as he said it. Would Lawson try to deny it?
He didn’t. “Yes, it would seem that way, especially to you.”
“Agent Bennett, we have reason to believe that Hayley Green is the one who put the ‘hit’ on her own life.”
Cain rolled his eyes. “So you’re saying she wanted to pay someone to kill her.”
“I’m saying she wanted to pay someone to make you think someone was trying to kill her.”
“Is that so? And the fact that Hayley was shot by the would-be assassins at one point?” Cain knew he was giving away a little information, but knew he could cover if needed.
“A life-threatening wound?” Lawson asked.
Cain grit his teeth. “No.” As a matter of fact he remembered thinking that as far as getting shot went, Hayley couldn’t have possibly taken a bullet in a better place.
Lawson raised an eyebrow. “Let me ask you this. Did getting shot cause you to trust Hayley more or less?”
Cain didn’t respond. He hadn’t thought of her wound in terms of trust level.
Lawson took a different tack when Cain didn’t answer. “You arrested Ms. Green nearly four and a half years ago with the CET hacking case.”
“What if I told you that I have proof that she was using the hacking to hide even more nefarious activities? And now that she’s out of prison she’s interested in resuming those activities—using you to gain early access to a computer without bringing law enforcement down on her.”
Cain could feel tension creeping into his body at the other man’s words. “I would say that sounds pretty far-fetched.”
Lawson took sets of printouts from his briefcase. “I think this will provide proof of Ms. Green’s questionable activities.”
Cain sat as Lawson explained each paper. Showing him how someone had accessed the CET system again, for certain foreign countries like Hayley had been studying, but through a back door.
“Just like someone would do if they were going to say, sell secrets, using the exam.”
“I agree it’s suspicious.” Cain now held the paper in his hands. “But this doesn’t prove anything about Hayley.”
Lawson pointed out numbers on each set of papers. “These are the Internet protocol addresses—or as you and I would call them, IP addresses—for the actions. I think if you looked it up, the first set are for your laptop computer and the second set are for a computer here within Omega Sector.”
Cain wasn’t sure what the IP address was for the computer here, but he did know his laptop. It was the same number.
And the dates and times recorded in the printouts were the very ones when Cain had felt like Hayley had been trying to sneak something by him. That her actions seemed suspicious. He’d wondered if she’d been trying to reconnect with the hackers she’d worked with. Then he’d decided it was just her nervousness concerning Cain finding out about Mason.
But looking at it now, it seemed like very damning evidence indeed.
The other dates and times were definitely at points where she’d been working at Omega HQ, sometimes completely unsupervised.
Cain wanted to rip the papers into shreds and throw Lawson bodily from the building. Wanted to pummel the other man. But that wouldn’t solve the problem.
He couldn’t believe this was happening again. Worse.
“Agent Bennett, we know you and Ms. Green had—have—a personal relationship. I can certainly understand how you would not want to believe that someone you’ve been intimate with could betray you and your country in such a way. Treason.”
His personal feelings for Hayley had nothing to do with the situation at hand. He was about to tell Lawson when he slid across another set of papers.
“As you know, Ms. Green gave birth to a child while at the Georgia Women’s Correctional Institute about four years ago.”
Cain definitely did not want to talk about Mason with this man. Especially not with what he’d just told
Every ounce of blood drained from his face when he saw what they were.
“Complete blood work and DNA testing is done on any child born within the prison system of Georgia. For insurance purposes.”
Cain couldn’t believe what Lawson had given him to read.
“So, as you can see. Your DNA and the child’s do not match. So you could not be biologically related to that child. I don’t know that Ms. Green would’ve implied that you were. But in hopes that this makes your decision easier, we wanted to make sure you knew the truth.”
Cain didn’t want to look at the papers anymore. He folded them. “Do you mind if I keep these?”
Lawson gave a sympathetic nod. “Certainly. You might want to look it over more closely later.”
The more compassionate Lawson looked the more Cain wanted to punch him. But it wouldn’t do any good. Wouldn’t change the past or anything that needed to happen now.
Cain could see exactly where he fell as a player in a very elaborate game.
It was time to end it.
“Why are you coming to me with this? What do you want me to do?”
“I’m not in law enforcement,” Lawson said. “So I can’t make an arrest. I don’t want to lead regular police to where she is in case it gives Green a chance to warn the people she’s been in contact with. And I certainly don’t want the press involved.”
Cain just nodded.
“These are very dangerous secrets she’s been selling. Weapon and gun schematics as well as other valuable intel. Items that will give enemies of the United States the upper hand. Cost the lives of American soldiers.”
Cain just wanted this to be over. “Where is she?”
“I’ll take you to her. Right now, if that works for you. Then you can make sure she’s put away for good.”
Cain wiped a hand over his face and nodded. This was his chance to take control. To end this once and for all. He hardened himself against any thoughts of gentleness for Hayley. This wasn’t going to be easy for either of them.
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