I’m not dead. Camille pulled hard against the sensation of being pulled back. Pulled to what, in her state, she did not know, but nonetheless she instinctively knew that the her present brand of pleasant, bland nothingness, with a soothing soundtrack, was better choice to whatever she had left in her previous existence. Her annoyance seemed to engulf her when she felt the burning pain rush up her arms, something was making her feel again and she felt herself hurtling toward The Voices. Sometimes she could catch the impression of people intruding into her solitude, the place where only The Music existed. Every time before she was able to push them away, burrow deeper into her quiet place. Her mind was still whole enough to make the connection that the burning in her arm seemed to make the quiet haven unattainable. Something about sound seemed fuzzy, or far away, through a solid wall of cotton balls but she could still make out a voice somewhere above her.
“Her vitals are within range. I just gave her something that should help her come out of it.”
“Jake, I think she is waking up, her eyes are fluttering.” She definitely did not care for that voice.
“Camille, honey, squeeze my hand, if you can hear me?” Something about this other voice made her want to smile; its timbre prompted her to try to manage what it was asking her to do. She didn’t know if she had quite managed it but she felt excited movement around her before a wave of exhaustion took her under.
Mal was right by Camille’s side and suddenly clasped her hand in between his and brought them to his lips, “Bonner, she squeezed my hand. It was slight, but she definitely squeezed my hand.” Malcolm brought his attention back to her, and then he leaned over her, his face just a whisper’s breath away from her’s, ready to coax Camille into full wakefulness.
Jacob interrupted Mal from his efforts. “That is a good sign. Now it’s important for us to let her rest.” Dr. Bonner caught the eye of the nurse and quietly gave her instructions regarding the monitoring of Camille’s condition. They were at The Pride and although monitoring of Camille’s condition could be done with more efficiency in a hospital, monitoring her at a private residence, not matter how many state-of-the-art machines Carrick had handy, was still tricky, that was part of the reason that he decided to go with everyone to The Pride, but he also had a few other private motives.
“Mal, let’s leave so that Jacob can get her comfortable.” Jake threw Carrick a relieved look he watched the other man stand and try to stretch out the various kinks that resulted from sitting in a chair so long. Carrick and Mal had been in the room since they had arrived the night before, catching light cat naps, but Mal sat next her while holding her had the entire time. Jacob was considering drastic methods to dislodge him. The doctor still didn’t have a good idea of how everyone fit with everyone else, but luckily quality medical care didn’t hinge on whether those who cared about the patient had a soap opera quality about them.
“Carrick, I think I should stay. She might wake up and not know where she is.” Mal responded.
Carrick looked at Jake and received a subtle nod. “Mal, she is not going to fully wake up anytime soon, and if she does everyone knows to get us immediately. You need a breather and we have some things to discuss.” Carr reminded Mal.
“Carr, I just don’t want her to wake up and feel abandoned.” Unspoken, was the word that everyone seemed to hear, Again.
Carrick waited for his irritation and jealousy to flare and was mildly surprised when it didn’t. It was hard not to see where Mal was coming from. For the past few hours he had been with Mal, in the room, watching for her every regular breath. Even swaddled in bandages, bracketed in every conceivable way Camille looked utterly defenseless. Camille was finally unguarded. Before Carrick could not see past the secrets that were shadowed in her eyes and wanting to protect Malcolm from them. Now, he saw a young woman, who was alone and needed help. “Mal, if there is even the slightest change in her condition; Jake will make sure we are notified. I promise. She will not wake up alone.” Carrick arched he eye at Jacob for confirmation.
Jacob had been reading the complicated printout that was spewing forth from a nearby machine, but he looked up, “Mal, as soon as anything changes, either I or my nurse will make sure you know about it. She should be resting comfortably until the morning. I really don’t expect any changes.”
Mal stood up from is chair and raised her hand to press a kiss into her palm. “You are going to be fine lady. Ok?” Mal carefully replaced her arm to her side and stepped away from the bed and walked toward the door to leave.
Carrick watched Mal as he departed, then turned to the doctor. “Jake, if anything changes, no matter where we are, or what time it is, please come get us. Ok?
Jacob smiled with reassurance, “Don’t worry, no matter who are monitoring her, everyone has strict orders to find both of you, if anything changes in her condition. Take a breather; make sure Mal gets something to eat. Neither of you will be any help to her if you run yourselves down.”
When Carrick stepped into the vast hallway, outside Camille’s room, he saw that Malcolm was leaning against the wall, only a few steps from the door. It took Carrick only a moment to reach Mal as he pulled him into his arms and held him tightly. “Mal, it’s going to be alright. You’ll see.”
Carrick stepped back from Mal and squeezed his shoulders. “I’ll do the trip to China.” When Mal was in Florida in the exam room with Camille he had received a call from their offices in China. It was apparent that some important deals with the country were in jeopardy and he would need to make a trip immediately. It was pretty apparent that resolving the issue would require at least two weeks and he would have to leave that evening.
Carrick’s offer was sweet and uncharacteristic, but would cause more problems than it would solve. Mal placed a soft kiss on Carr’s lips. “The fact that you would even make that offer after all the drama we’ve been through these few weeks is amazing.” Mal pulled Carrick close and then thoroughly kissed him, searching out the sweet spots that he loved so much about Carr’s mouth. After they pulled apart he continued, “If you went on this trip, you know our Chinese partners would get the wrong idea. Having the CEO of the company attend these meetings would make them believe that this deal is more important to us than it is. It would truly screw around with our negotiations and as your number two I can’t have that. I have to go. With me attending, you send a clear message that this deal is fairly important to the company, but we are not handing out any advantages. Also, your Mandarin, Chinese is pretty pathetic, o.” Mal offered with a slight smile.
“I just don’t want you to be worried about her the entire time you are away.” Carrick soothed, tracing Mal’s jaw with his thumb.
“I have the man I most trust in the world looking after her. That will make this so much easier.” Malcolm touched Carrick’s hand then threaded their fingers together. They looked into each other eyes and saw the trust that had always been evident between the two.
“Sir?” One of the house’s staff interrupted.
The moment was weighted with the interruption when Malcolm spoke, “Did I mention that for an enormous house, it offers absolutely zero moments of privacy. This place is crawling with people.” Mal offered Carrick a smile that clearly stated that if they were alone, Carrick could probably expect a bit more than hand holding from his lover.
“Yes.” Carrick turned, as he responded,-the slight tingle of is arousal adding an unintended bite of his acknowledgement of the staff person.
“There is a car at the gate, the occupants have identified themselves as the FBI. They are requesting the opportunity to talk to you.” John, a member of the staff that had been a house assistant for years, was too well trained to convey any emotion about the nature of the guests.
Carrick turned and gave a marginally wide eye look to Malcolm. “Please show them to the Blue Room. Let them stay there about twenty minutes and then show them to the library. Also, inform all our guests, including Dr. Bonner, to meet Malcolm and I in the library, immediately.”
“Certainly sir.” The staff person confirmed and quietly let himself into bed suite beside them to begin to perform as instructed.
Carrick turned back to Malcolm and noticed small changes in him at the news of their guests. Mal was on guard. There was a small furrow in the center of his forehead. After living a few years with Mal, Carrick instinctively knew that Mal was doing the math-working out all contingencies before they even stepped into the arena. That is why, even if he wasn’t in love with him, Malcolm would always be a huge part of his organization. Mal’s ability with strategy is second to none.
Carrick appraised Mal with an arched eye. “Well this certainly promises to be interesting.”
Carrick and Mal began to walk toward the library, with a score of Carrick’s ancestors watching them, framed on The Pride’s walls. In what Carrick always considered Malcolm’s “office” voice, Mal provided Carrick with a full scope analysis of the situation. “Initially I think we can be concerned about this visit from the FBI on three fronts…” Mal made suggestions regarding how the FBI should be handled, knowing full well that Carrick would consider his input and the situation, then make this meeting uniquely his own.
A few minutes later, Carrick looked at his assembly of friends. Malcolm was beside him. Behind him was a huge fireplace, richly ornate, mahogany fireplace, big enough to roast a large bison. It was a focal point that easily identified the house. When permission is given to allow architectural magazines to do a piece about the home they always zoom in on that piece of old world ingenuity and craftsmanship. The Pride has always been the crown jewel of all the Caudwell’s considerable holdings. When there are guests in the house, the staff would usually light the fireplace in the evening so that it could cast a warm glow throughout the large room.
The house had an office, several in fact, but the main one was an animal wholly unto his mother. She must have paid Laura Ashley a fortune. He was always drawn to the library, funny that it used to be the domain of his father; it was essentially homage to the times where men used to retire, after a sumptuous dinner to smoke and drink. The expansive space was darkened from years of expertly lit fires, filled with substantial pieces of furniture and books that were as old as the Caudwell name itself. Somehow it gave Carrick renewed purposed that his forefathers had perused some of the same titles and thumbed their pages. The cycle will always continue and Carrick’s precision and performance in managing the family’s holdings only assured that the cycle would only grow stronger, not weaker, as the mighty transitions in the world continued. Who could count the number of strategy meetings and secrets that were buried in the history of the old room? It only seemed fitting that Carrick would gather his friend to the vast room to design yet another plan.
Storm, his best friend, had met them at the house once they arrived from Florida. He had made sure that all the equipment ordered was set up and ready for Camille when they arrived. He was standing next to the deep leather chair in which sat his wife, Dr. Lisa Weston. Julia, Storm’s ex-wife, seemed to be closely studying the volumes of books that lined the far side of the library. That in itself would not have been too startling, but it seemed like she was trying to put as much physical distance between herself and Dr. Bonner. Every few minutes, Jake would flick his eyes in her direction, tracking her slow progress around the room. Carrick glittered with amusement. Note to self: What the hell is that all about? Carrick looked over at Storm, and Storm gave a slight smile-confirming he saw the same interplay as well.
During their trip to The Pride, Carrick and Malcolm had stuck to the uncomplicated version of why they were helping Camille. She was a friend and she needed their help. Now, Carrick knew that he had to treat everyone to more extended version of the events of the prior weekend. For the FBI, he wanted to make sure everyone had their mask in place and they would back Malcolm and him up.
“So why do you have us all gathered in the Library, Miss Marple? I say it’s Miss Scarlet, with a candle stick, in the Billiard Room.” Storm smirked, as he moved toward the beverage tray a pour his wife, and them himself, a glass of juice.
“Well. now that we know what Storm was really doing on Friday nights in college, he wasn’t releasing young ladies from the bondages of their virginity. No, he was in his apartment playing Clue and watching Agatha Christie adaptations on Masterpiece Theater.” Julia moved to join Storm at the cart as she playfully razzed him. Unwittingly, her eyes strayed to Jacob and were caught by the intensity of the look he was giving her. So, Carrick what’s going on?” Julia managed to ask, while clearing her throat and taking a sip of water. All of the sudden she felt a rush of heat; somehow she doubted it had anything to do with the huge fireplace that took over one side of the room, especially since it hadn’t been lit yet.
Carrick watched as a faint smile pass Jake’s lips, as he noted her reaction to him.
Storm had a twinkle in his eye that always spelled danger ahead. “Ah! So now I know how you passed Mrs. Charles’ English literature exam, God knows you didn’t read the books. The answer to the conundrum can be found in Public Television. Before this I would swear you thought that Charlie Rose was a flower.” Storm couldn’t hold back his laughter as he walked from the tray and handed his wife her glass. Then he saw that his lovely wife was giving him the “Evil Eye.”
Julia thought a warning was in order. Storm knew she despised dumb blonde jokes. “I am surprised you know there is a channel thirteen. When we were married you were only familiar with the Playboy channel. Lisa must have taken on the arduous task of broadening your horizons.”
“Ouch!” A voice exclaimed that sounded a lot like Malcolm’s.
“Ok, no blonde jokes,” Storm agreed as he felt the subtle pressure of his wife’s stiletto heel deftly ferret out one of his metatarsals in warning. Storm’s startling blue eyes positively danced-he couldn’t help himself. “Jules, you are so much more fun when you are getting laid regular. With all the help that Carrick’s got roaming around in this place, I am sure we can find someone to take one for the team.”
Storm gave a sharp cry as he wife’s heel hit home with an accuracy that U.S. military should definitely look into. “Damn. Lisa!”
Julia threw a dirty look at Carrick as she addressed Storm.
“Hey! Don’t look at me I am not any part of this.” Carrick raised his hands in protest as he settled in and enjoyed the show.
Julia didn’t buy what he was selling for a minute, “You both really make me sick.” Julia voice fairly dripped with venom. Julia could feel Jake’s warm brown eyes nailing her between her shoulder blades as she spoke. She was fluctuating madly between extreme embarrassment and her intent to kill her ex-husband. “Really Storm, you are a bastard. I don’t know why everyone is so wrapped up in my sex life-seems you lost that privilege several years ago?”
Storm was contemplating a killer comeback, but his wife’s heel’s attempting to do surgery on his foot, while it was still in his shoe, made him reconsider his need to egg Julia on. But Julia knew him and saw that he was considering actually responding. Julia went ice-cold dangerous. “I swear, if you keep playing with me, I will make what Lorena Bobbitt did to John Wayne look like a paper cut.”
Every male in the room winced.
Lisa sighed and shook her head. After the divorce it had taken them all a long time to find their footing, largely because Storm and Julia were so close. Everyone involved, trying to find some emotional distance, had been a tricky thing. Now, Storm and Julia’s relationship had turned more into a sibling one. Unfortunately, they quality was more like teenage siblings. “Okay everyone, can we harness our re-emerging adolescent and discuss why Carrick and Malcolm brought us together?” It was amazing act of multitasking, Lisa’s calm voice smoothed out everyone’s ruffled feathers, as her serene smile exuded cool calm professionalism, all the while her heel dug into a tender part of Storm’s foot.
“Honey, the foot?” Storm pressed a kiss to his wife’s temple, simultaneously trying to extricate his foot.
“Are you going to behave?” Lisa arched an eye at her husband.
“Do I have a choice?” Storm asked hopefully.
Storm swore his wife added a little extra pressure before she removed her foot. “You better watch it. I still haven’t forgotten your little foray into my panty drawer.” Lisa reminded him.
Carrick couldn’t help it; he felt a smile break though. He loved each person in the room. But damn, they were crazy.
Malcolm casually coughed into his fist as he leaned in next to Carrick.
Carrick caught the hint. “Okay children, if we can put this episode of the” Beverly Hillbillies” to rest, I need your help and cooperation.”
That sobered everyone up and within seconds. Carrick and Mal had their friends’ complete attention. “The FBI is currently sitting in my drawing room cooling their heels. I am pretty sure that they will be asking about Camille and it doesn’t take Nostradamus to realize that Camille is in a mess.”
“Carrick what do you need from us.” Lisa asked, attempting to ignore her husband and his wandering hands.
Carrick turned to Julia and Storm. “I need you all to follow my lead. I need to figure out a way to provider her some protection, but I need the full story and I need to create leverage with the Feds. Jake and Lisa, I may need support in providing these agents with the basic information regarding Camille’s condition, at least, enough to ensure that they won’t think of moving her.” Carrick smiled at everyone as he finished. “I believe I can do the rest. Any questions?”
“Of Course” Julia was the first to respond. “I have plenty, but they can wait until after we stonewall “the man.”
Storm took on a look of a man severely put upon, while he shook his head in defeat, while his wife redirected his southerly roaming hands. “We are really going to have to monitor her television.”
There was a muffled curse; Carrick guessed that Lisa had reintroduced Storm to her heel.
Carrick continued, “Storm and Julia, I need you to go now and stay in the room with Camille. Just watch over her and make sure there aren’t any uninvited guests trying to trespass.”
Storm and Julia looked at each other, “We can handle that.” Julia replied, as they both rose and walked out the door of the library.
Carrick looked in turn at Jake, Lisa and Malcolm. “Ready?” They barely got the chance to answer “yes” before there was a light knock on the door before it opened.
John stepped through the doorway, “Mr. Caudwell, Agents Marks and Peterson, from the Federal Bureau of Investigations, to see you.”
“Thank you John. I will call you if we need anything.” Carrick dismissed him.
It took a moment for everyone to gauge each other. Agent Marks was an African American man, somewhere south of six foot. His hair was cut so close, he seem almost bald. It was clear he wasn’t a man for pleasantries. The other was an exotic mix of Asian and Latin American. He was grayer that any other color, he had to be in his early forties. He smiled in a way that one would know that he understood the concept of drawing more bees with honey, rather than vinegar. His partner looked like he missed that day of class in FBI school. On second thought, maybe the sweet, smiling, older agent was the aberration. “So gentlemen, how can I help you?’ Carrick inquired.
“We have reason believe that Camille Montgomery is somewhere on the premises. We need to speak to her immediately.”
“I’m sorry; I don’t think that I can help you.” Carrick replied enigmatically.
The young agent stepped forward, looking Carrick directly in the eye. “Sir, I hope I don’t have to advise you what the penalty is for interfering in a federal investigation.”
Carrick gave him a Cheshire grin, “No, I am sure you don’t. I have my attorney for that.” Carrick casually indicated Malcolm standing beside him.
The young man seemed a surprised that Malcolm was his attorney. “I thought he was your…” The man began thoughtlessly.
Carrick’s eyes became golden permafrost. “He’s that too.” His tone closing the subject. Something about the man seemed very familiar to Carrick. He never forgot a face¬-he needed a second, he knew it would come to him.
“You were there last weekend.” Malcolm came up with the answer first, he stepped forward staring hard at the agent. “You were one of the servers. Damn, you were the one who told me that she was on the balcony.”
Ah, the infamous balcony scene, the X-rated, ménage version-straight outside of Romeo and Juliet. This is the man that he had to thank for setting it all in motion. Carrick mused to himself. “I know that the government has a lot on its plate right now, but its ability to protect one woman is abysmal. We are unable to let you talk to Camille because she is currently unconscious, healing from a vicious beating. Somehow, I think that you and your colleague may know a little something about that.”
Both men seemed startled. In fact the younger man started to walk toward a chair as he digested information, the turned quickly as he worked something out. “That’s not possible. She was under surveillance the entire time. She missed several check-ins so when we could finally get to her, we found out she took off with you.”
Malcolm sneered, “You worked that out all by yourself “Boy Wonder?”
The young agent didn’t appreciate Mal’s tone. “Look let’s stop playing games. Take us to Camille and we will be out of your hair.”
“Actually, Carrick is telling the truth. My patient, Camille Montgomery has only, just briefly awoken from a coma. I could list the broken bones, lacerations and contusions, but I just don’t think you have that kind of time.” Jake interjected as he rose from his seat.
Agent Marks stared unbelievingly at Jake.
“She may not be ready to talk to about her experience for a good long time.” Lisa stood as well, looking official and uncompromised. “My name is Dr. Lisa Bonner. I am here to see to her mental well being. She has not been awake long enough for me to even take a guess as to when she would be ready to tell you anything. She has suffered considerable trauma.”
The older agent’s smile took on a rather patronizing bent. “Miss, who might you be? I am sure that Mr. Caudwell wouldn’t put just anyone up to saying whatever he thinks it might take to make us go away.” He gave a conspiratorial wink.
Carrick was not amused, “Dr. Jacob Bonner and Dr. Lisa Weston are top physicians in their field.” Carr then turned to the young agent. “I am sure you could “Google” them to confirm they have the right credentials. Carrick suggested the internet search site in a manner that left some doubt as to whether these agents had the intellectual acuity to manage such a task.
The agent obviously caught the sly remark. “I want to see her.”
“By all means.” Carrick agreed. All the other occupants of the room were surprised at his easy acquiescence.
In a few minutes they were all in front of Camille’s room. Carrick opened the door and indicated that the agents should enter first. “Please gentlemen, after you.”
The Agent Marks boldly entered the room and seemed to stumble as he stood at Camille’s bedside. Storm and Julia looked curiously and the invaders. Carrick and Malcolm watched Agent Marks carefully. It seemed that Camille had another admirer. The young agent face seemed to crumble and reassemble. For a second it looked as if he would reach out for her hand. Then he seemed to catch himself.
The old agent coughed and tried to cover for his partner, “What happened to her?”
Carrick knew he had won this battle. “I suggest we leave the doctors to their work. Carr, subtly caught Storm and Julia eyes, thanking them for their help, "Lets discuss this further back in the library.”
The younger agent seemed to find it hard to leave her side. It took another prompting from his partner for him to remember himself and follow Carrick and Malcolm from the room.
Once in the Library, the agents tried vainly for the upper hand. “We will take her and put her in protective custody. If we found her here, Lucian Michel is probably only a few steps behind.”
“The only reason you were allowed on the grounds of my property is because I allowed it. Please don’t be mistaken Agents Marks and Peterson. Mr. Michele would not dare try to take her from this compound. He can’t be that stupid.” Carrick’s tone left no doubt to what he meant.
This time Malcolm interjected. “Now, that you know that Camille will not be leaving this house, maybe we can discuss how we can mutually helpful. We need to know what you know about whatever Camille is enmeshed in. I take it she is working for the FBI. How did that come about?
The agents were still struggling with whatever whisper of the upper hand they may have held. “We can get a Court Order for you to release her to our custody.”
Malcolm smiled at them as if they were imbeciles. “Gentlemen, do you think you are dealing with Jenny from the Block? Mr. Caudwell has a battalion of attorney’s. After the front line tires out, he has another regiment ready to take their place. If you were ever able to get said court order, your great grand children would be executing it. We will all be long dead and buried. So let’s deal with reality. We will protect Camille and you will tell us everything you know about this situation, staring with how you got her to become an informant.
“That information is classified. We are not at liberty to share it..” The older agent voice broke in.
“Oh, so you know where Lucien Michele and this Benny are?” Carrick asked. Malcolm arched an eye at Carr.
“That is confidential.” The younger man answered.
“Well, it is reassuring to know that have this situation in hand. Malcolm, please tell the investigator to call off his monitoring of Mr. Michel’s movements.” Carrick turned to walk toward his desk as if dismissing the matter.
“Wait! You know where Michel is?” The young agent trailed behind Carrick, his eagerness illuminating his face.
Carrick smiled to himself as he turned around. “So you don’t know where he is. Do you really think that I would let that cretin disappear after he touched someone under my protection? Gentlemen, the issue is how bad do you want him; bad enough to share some information?”
“If you know where Michele is, you have an obligation to tell us. Otherwise you would be interfering in an investigation and assisting a known criminal; never mind that this quid pro quo smacks of blackmail.” The friendly smile was wiped clean off of the older agent’s face as he advised Carrick.
“You know Blackmail is such an ugly word and really does not fit this situation. My client is just asserting that he would be in a better position to assist you officers in carrying out your duties if you would help him out with the context of Camille’s actions, especially since he will be going on holiday with Ms. Montgomery in the next few hours.” Malcolm’s smile was calculating.
“You can’t take her out of the jurisdiction!” The young officer exclaimed.
“Really, who’s going stop him?” Malcolm inquired.
Agent Marks cast a quick look to Agent Peterson. They silently agreed to proceed. “We have been working on this case of four years. About a year and a half ago we realized that we weren’t getting anywhere and we had to take another approach.” Agent Marks’ indicated they need to sit while he told the story. Carrick nodded in assent and led the men to the side of the room that held a massive desk and he sat behind it. Malcolm’s sat on one of the desk’s corners and the agents found chairs immediately in front of the carved legs. Agent Mark’s gaze was fixed somewhere around one of the cherub carved into the priceless piece. “We received information on a call girl who was legendary. She only considered big money clients and she still didn’t take on everyone who her minimum financial requirements. She was the exact type that Michel liked. She had all the earmarks to make and keep our target intrigued. The only problem was that she had been retired for about two years. We had to get to her.”
“Talking about blackmail….” Malcolm left his statement unfinished.
“I didn’t make the deal. I came in once she was already recruited. She was assigned to me and Mike.”
“What was the leverage?” asked Carrick.
“I don’t know.” Agent Marks replied.
“Well, Agent Marks if that is all you have to offer, then I suggest you wish my client Bon Vonage!” Mal offered tersely and he made a move to stand.
Agent Marks panicked. “No! Wait! She has a mob boss who has been her protector and a business partner. They are the only people relatively close to her in the world, so we advised her that we were making a case against them and we would press it if she didn’t cooperate.”
“How did you press her?” Malcolm asked.
The older agent looked at Malcolm in surprise.
“That is why he pays me so much; I am required to know things.” Mal answered the questioning stare.
“We set her up and busted her. Another one of our agents pretended to be a customer that we knew that her partner would never pass up. We made it an explicit requirement that “Chameleon” come out of retirement. She showed up, got far enough that we got her dead to rights and we cut a deal. We made her go through adjudication so that she received a suspended sentence and was required to do community service at the high school. Getting her assignment working with kids was no small feat on our part, but the high school assignment allowed us to monitor her carefully and closely. Everything went off well, until this weekend. I knew she seemed distracted, but she’s good. I thought she would get her act together. The last time I saw her, she passed me to go outside. I thought she was going outside to get some air, and then she went off the grid. We only got lucky because one of our agents on the island saw her being carried onto your boat.” Agent Marks had the decency to look awkwardly at his hands.
Carrick and Malcolm had no sympathy to spare him. “We are going to need you the name of those friends that you mentioned. We will also need you to wash her record clean and officially recognize her as off this case.” Malcolm ticked off his demands.
“You might as well ask me to produce Santa Clause!” Marks’ replied.
“Oh, you failed to protect him too?” Carrick asked.
The older agent, Peterson tried to allow them to regroup. “We don’t have that type of authority.”
“Well, I would suggest you find the person who does. I think you have a public relations nightmare on your hands. If this story gets out, even our jaded public would be pretty disgusted. A fallen woman, trying to go the right way, being lured back to “the life” by our federal government, blackmail compounded by your negligent disregard for her safety. Of course pictures of her condition after she was beaten because of said negligence would be leaked. I think this scandal would be bigger that the public finding out about a President that likes blowjobs from women who are barely legal.” Carrick eyes gleamed with the promise of the execution of the poorly hidden threat.
“Are you kidding me?”
“Agent Peterson do I seem like a man that jokes?” Carrick voice could cut facets in a diamond.
“You can’t act like we didn’t care about her. I care about her.” Agent Marks burst out.
Carrick turned to him coldly. “Agent Marks, remind me not to allow you to “care” for me. You’re the type that forgets to feed his pets.”
Agent Peterson again persisted in resisting Carrick’s proposal. “We would have to get the authority to cut that type of deal.”
“Well, gentlemen I suggest you get back to your little bat cave and get The Joker’s and The Riddler’s permission. I am pretty sure that D.C. Comics is running your operation. In fact, riddle me this, will I have left on my “trip” before you give me your answer.” Carrick lips briefly flexed upward, give the effect of a glacier that suddenly cracked opened. Carrick rose from his seat, indicating that their meeting was over. Malcolm showed them to the door. John was waiting just outside to show them to the front door. A staff car would follow the agent’s to make sure they left the grounds.
Carrick looked at Malcolm. “How long do you think it will take them to call?”
“I give them an hour. You know the wheels of justice move slowly.” Malcolm answered.