Ralan and Daphne finally meet and are immediately attracted. So much so, they give in to their passions without thinking. Ralan realizes, too late, that being with her could compromise his case, but he finds it hard to care. He also realizes he must tell his Captain, Jeff Givens, what’s happened.
Givens and Ralan went to the Captain’s office. One of the office assistants brought in coffee and a platter of bagels, donuts and pastries. Ralan thanked her, Givens more or less ignored her, though he nodded slightly in her direction as she served him.
“So, who do you think these schmucks are?”
“No idea. I’m not even sure who all the players are, Jeff.”
“Then we need to find out asap. I can’t have my best agent looking over his shoulder.”
“I always look over my shoulder.” He sipped his coffee and took a cherry danish.
“I meant more than usual. Being paranoid’s kept you alive a long time. You sure no one followed you to Ian’s?”
“No. I watched for a tail, but that means nothing. I didn’t hide my plans, Jeff. What puzzles me is how they knew I was back.”
“Maybe they didn’t. Maybe they were breaking in for some other reason.”
“Armed for bear? Not a casual break in. They were after me. Maybe Daphne too.”
“Why would they think she was there?”
Ralan sipped his coffee, refusing to answer.
“Tell me.” Jeff Givens wasn’t a man to back away from confrontation. He dogged a bone better than anyone, including Ralan.
Not feeling like arguing, Ralan leaned forward, arms on his thighs. “I messed up.”
“Meaning you compromised our case by misconduct with the woman?”
Closing his eyes, Ralan nodded. Givens didn’t speak for a long time. Ralan could hear him breathing. He could almost hear the older man thinking.
“Ralan, did I ever tell you about the time I had a beautiful personal assistant I was protecting? Her boss was up to his ass in some crazy scheme and she made the mistake of doing her job and told him about some irregularities she’d found.”
The younger agent sat quietly. Jeff didn’t want a reply. Ralan waited.
“I was about your age, and they gave me this. My first witness protection as lead. We were stuck in a cabin deep in the woods. Just us two. Had some guys running patrols, but it was just us for over a week. We were bored and scared as hell we were gonna die. . . . I took that girl to bed. Damn near ruined my career.”
“What saved you?”
“I had a boss who’d been in the same situation and made the same mistake.” He paused, eyes on his desk. Glancing up at Ralan, he folded his hands in front of him. “Can you promise me this is the only time this will happen?”
Ralan looked away, unable to lie to his boss. “I’d love to tell you that, Jeff. I’m not sure I believe it.”
“Good, cause I wouldn’t either. If you’d given me a guarantee, I’d of pulled you off so damn fast your nuts would spin.”
“You could still do that.”
“I’m reserving that right,” Givens replied. “This goes no further.”
“Who’s he gonna tell? Me? If I pull you off, I have to give a reason. Do you think I want to answer questions like that? Do you?”
“Damn Skippy, no. Keep it in your pants, Agent Hendrix. Get a hobby. Needlepoint is relaxing.”
“Yes, sir.” He stood, knowing he’d been dismissed. “Thank you, sir.”
“Kid, we all make mistakes. If I canned every agent who had an inconvenient itch, I wouldn’t have a team.”
© 2014 Dellani Oakes