New York City
Kim nodded to the doorman and headed straight for the management office
of the old brownstone. After presenting her identification to the manager,
she confirmed her appointment with Mr. Michael Steinberg. Shortly afterward,
the silver-haired gentleman met her in the lobby and escorted her into
a small salon where they could speak privately.
"What can I do for you, Ms. Argent?" he asked congenially.
You said Angus wanted me to look over some business papers.
"Yes, here they are. She handed over the investment proposition
Jarod Pendleton had presented the previous day. Hesitantly, she added,
My name isn't really Argent. It's Leone. Kim Leone. You arranged my
adoption to Terry and Sarah Leone when I was a baby. Do you remember?"
The man's smile vanished. He glanced up from the portfolio, frowning.
"I arranged a lot of adoptions, when I was a young man," he
admitted, his tone clipped and business-like. "I'd be hard pressed
to remember one out of all those."
"I think you'd remember this one," she prompted. "My parents
flew in from Africa when they heard there was a baby waiting for them.
On your advice, they flew right back out again the day after they took
me in. That's not standard procedure on any regular adoption. In fact,
you told them that the fact that they traveled so much was the main reason
why you selected them. That was what had kept them from getting a child
through regular adoption agencies. No secure residence pretty much threw
them out of that game."
Steinberg's eyes narrowed as he studied her. He glanced nervously at
the door to make sure they were alone. "All right, I know I can't
beg off. But I can't help you with much. I wasn't privy to many of the
details. The woman who brought you to me was --"
"Catherine Parker," Kim filled in. "That much I know.
Was she my mother?"
Steinberg shook his head. "No. She brought me several children,
and I saw her often enough to know they couldn't have been her own. She
told me they were rescued from
unhealthy circumstances, and I knew
her character well enough to trust her. So I didn't ask too many questions,
and she never provided any answers. That's all I know, Ms. Leone. I'm sorry
it couldn't be more."
Kim sighed, feeling her sense of hope flagging. "Thanks anyway,
Mr. Steinberg. I appreciate your time. Please call me when youre
done looking over the offer, and Ill take your comments back to
Angus." She shook his hand and headed out the door and down the steps,
preparing to walk back to the bus stop where she could catch a ride back
But as she descended the steps, she saw a gleaming Bentley parked at
the curb. Leaning against it was a man dressed from head to toe in black,
a pair of Gargoyle sunglasses covering his eyes. She recognized him instantly.
"How the hell did you find me, Delaware? I only made this appointment
Jarod slid his shades down on his nose and peered over the lenses at
her. "Find out anything more from Mr. Steinberg?"
Her mouth fell open. She knew he was good. That had been apparent on
the reservation, after she checked the details of what he had done there.
But he seemed to have gotten farther in 24 hours than she had in five
years of searching into her past.
"Nothing I didn't already know," she snapped when she could
pull her wits together to form a coherent response. "Were you following
He shrugged. "I wasn't sure you'd be here. I came to talk to him
for the same reason you did. To see if I could help you find out who you
Kim felt her belly clench. "Why would you do that for me? You hardly
know me. And the first time we met, well
that was no picnic. I certainly
couldn't have won the Miss Congeniality award then. Didn't I threaten
to shoot you if you got in my way?"
Jarod opened the passenger door of his car and gestured her inside. "I'm
doing it because I know how you feel. I'm searching for my family, too."
That shook her, and she began to wonder if he might share her same connection
with the lawyer. She came up beside him and met his steady gaze with one
of her own. "Were you one of the babies Steinberg adopted out?"
With a look of profound sadness, Jarod pushed his sunglasses back into
place. He shut the door after Kim had seated herself, skirted around the
Bentley's front bumper and climbed behind the wheel. He started the car
and pulled out into traffic without answering.
"Well, were you?" she demanded.
Eyes straight ahead, voice thick with emotion, Jarod replied, "No.
I wasn't one of the lucky ones. Catherine Parker was killed before she
could get me out."
Something cold uncurled in the pit of Kim's stomach and snaked its frigid
way up her spine. She shivered, and rubbed her arms. "Out of where?"
"Someplace you never want to be," he answered enigmatically,
and turned his attention to the drive back to Manhattan.
* * * * * * * * *
Miss Parker's Office
Morgan spent the entire day and into the night examining the files on
the disks Broots had dug up for her. When she was finished, all the pieces
had fallen into place. She knew exactly what had been done to her, and
why. The Chairman had been both brilliant and far-sighted, expecting to
use her latent talents to retrieve errant Centre property at some point
in her career. He had planned for the day when she would take over SIS,
and she had followed that plan unconsciously to the letter. But things
were not always as they seemed, and the position of power that she now
occupied would both provide her with information she needed to accomplish
her mother's plan, and put her in the same danger that Catherine had been
in before she died.
But Morgan wouldn't make the same mistakes Catherine had. She knew who
she could trust, and what should be kept from those confidants to keep
both them and herself safe. Her inner sense was fallible, and she had
to be aware of that pitfall, too. That was what had led Catherine to trust
Raines with her life, and the life of her unborn child. That false belief
in him was exactly what got her killed.
She could see, in her mind's eye, behind the door that terrible Thanksgiving,
when Raines had skulked away from the house. For so long she believed
it was him who had beaten her mother so cruelly, but now, listening to
that subtle whisper in her subconscious, she knew the truth. Raines had
come over to mediate between Catherine and her husband, and when things
turned violent, the other man had left. Raines had been on his way downstairs
when Parker had landed the first blow. There was no way he could have
gotten down the stairs, out the door and halfway across the lawn that
fast after the last blow fell.
Parker had done the damage himself, and all this time she had blamed
Raines for it.
No wonder Catherine trusted him. He had meant to save her once already,
or so she thought. She would have resisted the impulse to run away from
him, after he had pretended to help her that awful Thanksgiving night.
But her daughter would not be so easy to fool. Broots had a child who
could be held hostage, forcing him to betray her if someone found it necessary.
Sydney had too many secrets already, and though she believed she could
trust him, she also knew that he had been the one to do all those terrible
things to Jarod as a child in the name of science, with the excuse that
he was protecting the boy from worse. She cared for Sydney, but he was
an enigma, and unless he dropped the barriers between them, there was
no way she could trust him with everything.
Artemis was the Greco-Roman goddess of the hunt, a strong feminine persona
who never let a man have the upper hand with her. She was always in control,
ruthless, and indomitable. Those were hallmarks of Morgan's own personality,
drilled into her by the lessons Parker had taught her. Looking over the
material in her files, she could admire the genius of the man, but she
hated him for everything he had done to her. He was the embodiment of
evil, capable of the heartless torture of children to achieve his goals.
And she was first among them. He knew she wasn't his, and her training
had been his vengeance against his wife for being unfaithful to him, and
for trying to stop him from the cruelties he was inflicting on so many
innocents. Catherine had paid, too -- with his physical abuse, with a
forced pregnancy, and with her life.
The Chairman was going to pay for his sins. The empire he had so carefully
built was going to come crashing down around him, and the instruments
of that downfall were the women and children he had sought to destroy.
And when it was over, she would be the one standing over him, gloating
over her victory. She wanted to see him suffer, like she had suffered
her whole life under his thumb. She wanted to see him in jail, treated
like a common criminal, stripped of his fortune and his army of sweepers.
With that vision in mind, she packed up the disks and called Broots to
return them to the archives. She didn't care if Parker knew she had been
snooping into her own records. She might even thank him for the training
with a gleam in her eye. And once he was on his knees, she'd be happy
to point out that he had shot himself in the foot by making a slave out
of the child he was supposed to have loved.
* * * * * * * * *
Morgan dialed Jarods private cell phone number from memory. She
stood now on the porch of her house, watching twilight settle into full
dark. Jarod picked up on the first ring.
"Have you found Yuri yet?" she asked him.
"That message didn't look like your style," he returned. "I
was thinking Mr. Parker had sent it."
"He did. I'm just checking your progress, to see when I need to
appear on the scene, just a moment too late, as usual." She smiled.
"You haven't been sending me any clues on this one. That's out of
character for you."
"I don't tell you everything, Morgan," he challenged. "You
should know that by now."
"Just keep me posted," she warned him.
A moment of silence stretched between them, and she could feel his next
"How are the children?"
"They're all right, for the moment. We have time on our side, but
it's running out fast."
"Have you found out when they plan to start the Aurora protocols?"
She sighed. "We got lucky with that. They just found a contractor
to continue the delivery method research you started, so itll be
a while yet."
"And I'll just bet I know who the contractor is."
"How is Angus?"
Jarod's chuckle filled her ear. "Not happy to be out of retirement,
but worried about his people. And with good reason. Shall I send him your
"No use tipping our hand just yet. He'll remember me when he sees
me again. What he does after that, you'll have to be the judge."
"I'm on the fence about it at the moment. But I'll let you know.
When it's time."
"Keep me posted." She disconnected after a beat, knowing he
had shared all he wanted to give her. Broots was still looking for photos
of Yuri, but none had been found so far. She hoped Jarod was safe, that
he was being careful, but she knew that wasn't his style. If the situation
required putting himself in harm's way, he would do it. That's just the
way he was.
She took a deep breath of the autumn-fresh air, closed her eyes to imagine
Jarod smiling at her, and went into her house to get ready for bed.
* * * * * * * * *
Kim unlocked the door to her respectable apartment after checking the
hidden seal she had left behind. So far, her luck was holding, and no
one had been there yet to look into her life. She secured the door from
inside, swept through the empty living room and into the bedroom that
held the sum total of her possessions.
Dropping her keys on the floor beside the bedroll, she traded her chic
business suit for sweat pants and a tank top, scrubbed her face clean
of makeup and pulled her hair into a ponytail. After a vigorous workout,
she used her cell phone to call in an order for Chinese delivery and sat
down with her laptop on a small table beside her bed.
The first file she opened was an old one, a curiosity that had piqued
her interest years earlier. She had kept the Jarod file open, in case
he proved to be wanted for a crime somewhere. Occasionally she would stumble
across sightings and would add that information to what she had already
collected. But now she had a reason to do a thorough search into this
enigmatic mans identity, to find out who he really was, and what
he wanted with Angus MacCaffrey.
Nothing she had dug up on him indicated a criminal past - in fact, he
seemed to be some sort of quiet hero, saving a life here or catching a
criminal there and disappearing without claiming the publicity that often
went with such heroism. He had an agenda; that much was certain. What
he didnt seem to have was a past.
His financial resources were genuine enough. That only served to sharpen
her interest in him to a razor edge, since all of the accounts were less
than five years old, shiny and new, and incredibly large. He was privately
one of the wealthiest men she had ever encountered, his assets liquid
rather than tied up in businesses and real estate, enabling him to draw
on vast sums, should he require them. Yet his expenses, what she could
track of them, seemed random and incredibly frugal.
If he was on another of his rescue missions, then the world of the wealthy
and powerful would be strange to him. He would need her help to avoid
giving himself away. That is, if his motives were altruistic, as fit his
previous pattern. He certainly wasnt driven by greed. But who was
he, really, and why was there no trace of a birthplace, a school he had
attended, or any other link to his past?
She stared at a scan of an old newspaper article she had found shortly
after crossing paths with him on the reservation. Wearing a firemans
gear, his face dappled with soot, he held a child in his arms whom he
had just saved from a burning building. He had saved Mike Bodie's life
from the assassin out to kill him, and through some amazing legal wrangling,
had the charges against Bodie dropped. Then he had just disappeared. That
wasnt the sort of man who went looking for power. He didnt
need money. So why was he there?
The last thing she had done at work was sneak into Rostov's office for
a look at that machine in the silver briefcase. Kim had played the disk
she had purloined, but it told her nothing. She had seen Jarod strapped
into an electric chair, apparently about to be executed and protesting
his innocence of whatever crime he had supposedly committed. While horrifying
in itself, it told her nothing about him. Someone had obviously kidnapped
him and performed those terrifying experiments on him against his will.
That sort of thing might certainly enhance his desire to know more about
justice, but what exactly was he looking for?
The delivery man buzzed her from downstairs, and she let him in. Fetching
the proper amount of bills along with a generous tip, she opened the door
to his knock.
Jarod stared at her from over the top of his sunglasses, brown paper
restaurant bag in hand. One kung pao chicken, and one shrimp fried
rice, he announced. Plenty for two. And I brought my own chopsticks.
May I come in?
What do you want, Delaware? she demanded, snatching the bag
out of his hand. And how the hell did you get my address?
She did not open the door any wider.
All trace of levity left his face. He took off his sunglasses and tucked
them into his jacket pocket. I want to know if youre planning
on telling Angus what you know about me. He crossed his arms. See,
I thought about our deal this morning. Checking up on me is part of your
job, and youd be curious about my background. Maybe curious enough
to say something to Angus. Maybe not tell him outright, but cast a little
suspicion. Make him take a look himself, or have Rostov dig into my past.
What makes you think I know - or want to know - anything about
you? she challenged, stepping aside to let the door swing slowly
open. He followed her toward the kitchen after locking up behind himself.
Were both naturally curious people, Kim, he pointed
out. Youve been investigating me on Angus behalf, and
Ive been looking into your past as well. I like to know the people
Im dealing with. So do you.
Arent you supposed to have your people do that? she
snapped. Oh, thats right. You dont have people.
Youre a hands-on kind of guy, one who likes to do his own dirty
He leaned on the kitchen door frame, his eyes taking in the meager furnishings,
the lack of personal touches. It keeps me busy.
And you are a man who likes to keep busy. She took down her
only bowl from the cupboard, filled it half full of fried rice and topped
it with the spicy chicken and vegetable mixture, then handed the cartons
You shouldnt eat standing up. Its bad for digestion.
Kim shoved her fork into her bowl and hopped onto the counter, letting
her feet dangle, then attacked the food.
So are you going to tell him?
Tell him what? That youre a man with less than a handful
of years' worth of history? That youre apparently a financial genius
with a ridiculous amount of money that you hardly ever touch? That youre
a one-man crusader for justice, always trying to help the downtrodden?
She popped a small bite into her mouth and chewed it thoughtfully. If
I dont tell him, someone else will. Rostovs probably checking
on you, too.
In a week or two, someone might say something, he agreed.
But not Rostov. And by then, Ill be gone.
She cocked her head. Are you after Angus, or someone else?
Im not sure.
Then neither am I. She watched him studying her, and wondered
if he really had been investigating her, as he had said.
You like him, dont you? It was more of a statement
than a question, and Jarod picked up the carton of chicken and vegetables.
In a grandfatherly sort of way, yeah.
Is that how he sees you?
Not at all. He sees me as a smart, capable employee whom he trusts.
Which is why I should tell him everything I know about you.
Are you thinking of staying on with him, even after youve
finished using him to get what you want?
Kim almost dropped her bowl, but recovered as quickly as she could. What
makes you think Im using Angus for anything?
The knowing look on Jarods face changed into bittersweet sympathy.
Because I know why you went to work for him.
She bristled at his assumption. How could you possibly - You dont
even know my real name.
Not yet. But in time, I will. He smiled, but his eyes were
still sad. Youre a lot like me. I havent met many people
Kim couldnt swallow, couldnt speak. His pain was so evident,
so raw, and it resonated in her. Instinct told her that he was kind, that
he meant no harm. But there was something else about him that intimidated
her. Something primal.
She eyed the pepper he held so deftly in his chopsticks, then shifted
her gaze back to his eyes. Big, dark, soulful eyes full of tenderness
and longing, hope and hesitant trust. She held her tongue as he put the
pepper into his mouth and bit down on it. She couldnt help smiling,
and waited for it to have its searing effect.
His eyes watered. His face flushed, but he didnt stop chewing.
He set down the carton of food, angled toward the sink, turned on the
faucet and positioned his head to let the water flow directly into his
Water makes it hotter, she offered mercilessly. Eat
some of the fried rice to cool down.
Jarod jerked away from the faucet, turned off the water and lunged for
the fried rice carton. After he swallowed the first bite, he sighed with
relief and wiped his face with his palms. I see you like it hot,
he mouthed, his voice a hoarse whisper.
She chuckled and swallowed the mouthful she had been enjoying while he
struggled with the pepper. Makes life interesting, she agreed.
So what are you here for, Delaware?
He picked up the carton of kung pao chicken again and scooped up a healthy
bite of chicken and vegetables, with a broken piece of pepper adding a
little color and flavor. Im here to try and save a life,
he answered honestly. Will you help me?
The heat of the pepper mixed beautifully with the tender chicken, the
sweet, crunchy vegetables and savory sauce in the dish. Kim saw the pleasure
in his expression as he began to enjoy the new food. It was obvious hed
never eaten anything like it. He closed his eyes and moaned softly. This
I have terms, she stated. Youve told Angus you
dont want surveillance in your suite. That raises questions for
me that I know you wont answer truthfully.
She shook her head. How would I know if you were lying? Fishing
for a piece of plump shrimp, she went on. I propose an alternative.
Angus noticed that look between us yesterday. Hes a sharp guy. So
I told him we were old friends.
She shot him a warning glare. Dont be getting any ideas,
there, Delaware. This is strictly a business proposition. I dont
want Angus hurt, so the deal is, you get a watchdog while youre
his guest. That way I can be sure you dont plot anything that I
dont know about.
As long as its you, Im okay with that.
We can pretend we had a thing for each other, that the flames are
rising again. Something about this idea alarmed her. It felt dangerous.
It felt exciting. Her pulse quickened.
Jarod frowned. You want him to think we were pyromaniacs?
Caught off-guard, Kim laughed. This guy really needed some work. Lovers,
Delaware. Only behind closed doors, its hands off. Just keep it
discreet and tasteful in front of Angus, and hell believe it. Okay?
I can do that. He set the carton down and met her eyes. But
now I have to kiss you. If were going to make it a convincing pretend,
we cant be touching each other for the first time in front of him.
The uncertainty will show.
She hesitated for a moment, but realized he was right. Setting her bowl
aside, she slipped off the counter and closed the distance between them.
Tiptoeing up to reach him, she gave him a light, impersonal peck on the
lips and resumed her seat on the counter. Surely that would be enough.
Gooseflesh rose on her arms. It had been a long time since she had kissed
anyone. That casual connection with him left her tingly and slightly disoriented.
And before she could gather her wits and her food, he was standing in
front of her, his large hands smoothing over her cheeks, holding her face
still while he moved in for the real thing.
She saw a glimpse of steel in his coffee-brown eyes before they closed,
preparing himself for the business of the coming kiss. His hands were
so warm, so gentle. His lips, when they touched hers, were so careful,
so hesitant, so uncertain, that she felt an awkward pleasure rise up inside
her. It was nice, to be kissed that way. She slid her hands up over his
shoulders and around his back, leaning closer for more. His mouth was
hot and spicy from the peppers, and as the kiss deepened she felt her
head swimming. He was intoxicating. She was losing control. And she liked
The kiss seemed endless. Her hands roved over him hungrily, exploring
his face, his shoulders, arms and back. With every touch she wanted more,
unable to recall anything but the moment, the need she felt, and the pleasure
of his responses.
His palm struck the cabinet door behind her head as if to catch his balance.
He wrenched himself away from her. Part of her cried out with disappointment,
heart pounding from the unexpected noise, but reason flooded in quickly
and she realized how she was sitting. Her knees were parted and he stood
between them, holding her close with one arm wrapped around her waist.
His forehead rested against her neck, and she had pushed his coat completely
off his shoulders, letting it fall to the floor. Both of them were trembling,
panting as if they had just run a marathon.
he whispered hoarsely. I cant
I cant let anyone close to me. Cant afford the risk.
Not to worry, Delaware, she breathed. I dont
plan on sticking around for long either. No strings, okay?
She could see when he raised his head to regard her that he wasnt
clear on that expression. Such simple clichés, so far beyond him.
She wanted to know why he was like that. But he had to understand the
limits, and not try to push past them.
Just remember, this isnt real, she warned him. Its
just for show.
Yeah, he agreed softly, a trace of bitterness in his voice.
Thats the story of my life. He stroked his fingers across
her cheek and swayed drunkenly into an upright position. Pain, longing
and loneliness gleamed in his eyes as he stepped back from her.
Just business, she reiterated. But the attraction she had
felt during that incredible kiss did not go away. He was even more dangerous
than she had first thought, and she would have to be wary of him to prevent
their conspiracy from becoming all too real. Besides, youre
not my type.
What is your type?
She shrugged. I dont know. I never found anyone who could
keep up with me.
He nodded. Just business, he agreed, and stooped to pick
up his jacket. Ill see you tomorrow.
Intellect kicked into gear. If she left him alone for even a few hours,
he could set any number of plans into motion that could have disastrous
effects on Angus. She shook her head.
Ill pack a bag. Im moving in with you tonight.
Okay, he murmured. Ill drive you.
She slipped off the counter, aware of how close to the fire she stood.
Dont get any ideas, Delaware, she warned him. Ill
be bunking on the floor next to your bed.
You know theyre going to be watching us anyway, he
observed. But Ill be a gentleman. Nothing will happen between
us. Well just make them think it has.
She looked into his eyes and wanted to believe him, but she knew the
fire had already been lit. Things had been set into motion that could
not be stopped. She left her food on the counter, no longer hungry, and
went into her bedroom to pack. Minutes later, she had shut her laptop
down and stowed it into her briefcase, hooked an airline bag over her
shoulder and draped a garment bag with several days clothing over
her left arm. She led the way out the door, locking up behind herself.
The next time she returned to that place, she would be a different person,
filled with the knowledge of a mystery she had avoided all her life. Part
of her was excited, ready for the coming adventure, but more than anything,
she was afraid. Things were about to get very complicated between her
and the handsome stranger.
Lets get it over with, she ordered, and led the way
into the night and back to his suite in MacCaffrey Towers.
* * * * * * * * *
Security Offices, Surveillance Control
Yuri sat alone in the control room, his fingers gliding across the controls
for the video panel, watching the pair move through the building. The
tension between them was even more palpable now than it had been the previous
morning in the conference room. Something had happened to up the stakes,
and he was certain it could only be one of two things: a conspiracy had
been enjoined, or things had gotten personal. Either way, he could use
their changed relationship to his advantage in controlling old Angus.
It would be fun to watch the old man squirm.
Enjoying a cup of café latte while he relaxed, Yuri nudged the
volume controls up a notch and listened as the couple entered the guest
quarters, temporarily ignoring the computer beside him as his searches
through the Internet for any scraps of information on this enigmatic man
ran on their own. Rostov might be head of security there, but Yuri followed
no ones orders except on the surface. He had business there, and
if this Pendleton fellow met his criteria, hed be next on the list.
Yuri had gotten a charge out of looking into that Halliburton the guy
carried. He had not been able to make time yet to steal into the guest
quarters and fetch one of the disks to test it out, but the machine told
him a great deal. This guy was connected with the Centre - Yuri recognized
the technology - and he was going to find out everything there was to
know about Pendleton. It was time he left MacCaffrey anyway, as soon as
he was finished with Angus.
* * * * * * * * *
Recalling the rehearsed dialogue they had discussed in the car, Jarod
began as soon as the door had closed. Youre sure Angus wont
have a problem with this? Its not a conflict of interest?
Kim set her bags on the floor and pressed herself against him. Angus
needs money. You want to give him some. I dont see a problem there.
She kissed him briefly, sensuously, and slid out of his embrace to retrieve
her things and carry them into the bedroom. Getting to spend time
together is a fringe benefit for both of us.
He followed her, his hands sliding into his trouser pockets while he
watched her hang her clothes into the closet beside his. He strolled purposefully
about the room, re-checking for surveillance devices that might have been
planted or moved during his absence. I forgot exactly why we broke
I think it was more our schedules than anything. Long distance
relationships never work, so we just sort of let go when the time came
to part ways. At least, thats how I remember it.
He nodded, continuing his sweep of the room. Im glad we got
a second chance, Kim. I missed you.
Glancing at him over her shoulder, she agreed. Youve been
on my mind a lot, too. She carried a gold satin slip she had taken
from her overnight bag into the bathroom. Moments later, she emerged wearing
the flimsy garment, her blonde hair down around her shoulders. Suddenly,
she didnt seem to know what to do with her hands.
Jarod couldnt help but be affected by the sight of her.
Id almost forgotten how beautiful you are, he whispered,
then shook his head. No. I could never forget that, Kim.
She smiled, her cheeks pinking slightly. One of the things I most
enjoyed about you was the time you took with foreplay. Hours and hours
of it. She took him by the hand and led him to the sofa in the next
room. How about some music?
Does the suite come with anything I like? He sat down and
waited for her, enjoying watching her move about the room in that barely-there
Let me see, she mused, running her fingers over the spines
of the CD jewel cases. She selected a half dozen discs from the same section
of the shelf and put them into the stereo. McKennitt, Brightman
and MacLaughlin, she announced. Three of your favorites.
And as the soft, sensual music began to fill the room, she settled herself
in Jarods arms, ready to play her part in the drama they had crafted
* * * * * * * * *
The Centre parking lot
Where are you going?
Miss Parker turned at the sound of Lyles voice, taking note of
his position in the parking lot. He must have just arrived from somewhere,
since he and his henchman were just getting out of Lyles car.
Since when do I report to you? she snapped, turning back
toward her car, purse and briefcase in hand, trying not to hurry away
Lyle jogged to catch up with her, while Valentine followed at a more
relaxed pace. Got news on Jarod? Lyle demanded. He was smiling
as if he knew something.
She froze him with a glance, and hit the auto-unlock on her electronic
key fob. Youll know when I bring him back. She got into
the car and hit the electronic lock, but a fraction of a second after
Lyle opened the passenger door.
He got in, unlocked the car to allow Valentine into the back seat, and
buckled himself into place. Where are we going?
Get out! she snarled. She wanted no tail on this mission.
No one needed to know where she was going. She hadnt even told Broots.
If youre out to catch Jarod, you might need some muscle.
He nodded toward the back seat. And personally, Im curious
how you located Jarod that last time. Out of all the places he could have
been in the world, how did you pick that sleazy hotel? Sorry, but Ive
just got to know."
"If you knew how Jarod's mind works, like I do," she spat,
"you'd get it. But since you don't, get the hell out of my car so
I can do my job!"
Lyle smiled smugly at her. Nope. Not this time. Where are we going?
New York. Got enough meds to keep you stable for that long a drive,
there and back?
Valentine reached into the inner pocket of his suit jacket and pulled
out a small medical case. He flipped it open to show her the vial and
sheathed syringes that would give Lyle several days worth of his
She could see that she wasnt going to get them out of the car.
But she could certainly lose them once she got to the city, just long
enough to do her business and look like she was doing her job. That would
have to be good enough.
She started the car and drove away.
* * * * * * * * *
New York City
It was nightfall when she arrived. She took the time to check into her
favorite hotel, letting the two men deal with the desk clerk on their
own. She went to her room long enough to drop off her bag, then headed
for the restaurant with the men shadowing her. She would not allow them
to sit at the table with her, and took her time looking over the menu.
When they had placed their order, she headed for the ladies room,
went out through the bathroom window, and continued on her mission.
Her notes had given her most of the information she needed, and the rest
of it she got from Broots. She knew the lawyers address, and drove
directly to Metis House. From the outside she could see that the lights
were on, and she hoped that Michael Steinberg was home.
Schmoozing her way past the doorman, she walked confidently up to his
apartment and knocked.
The man who opened it was silver haired but still attractive, and obviously
shocked to lay eyes on her.
Catherine! he whispered in awe.
No, Parker answered. Im her daughter. May I come
in, Mr. Steinberg?
His grip on the door handle tightened, and a look of alarm flared in
his eyes. Im not so sure thats a good idea.
I know how you helped my mother, she began softly. I
know how dangerous it was for you, and Im grateful. But now I need
your help, too, and no one else can answer my questions. She glanced
away, making sure they were alone. Please. I promise it wont
take long. I dont want anyone to know I was here.
He nodded, stepped aside and let her in.