Crash & Burn (Cut & Run #9)


by Abigail Roux

Zane Garrett sat in his cushy chair in the Baltimore field office, staring at the frosted glass on his door. It read Special Agent in Charge, and it was the title he’d been working toward since he’d entered the academy. Aside from a post in Washington, it was the pinnacle of any agent’s ambitions. In charge of one of the fifty-six FBI field offices.

Five years ago, Zane would have been doing a Snoopy dance behind his closed door the moment he’d taken possession.

Now, though, Zane hated—no—Zane despised sitting behind this desk all day.

He tossed his feet up and clunked his heels on the corner, leaning back in his chair. Fuck this desk.

Zane glanced at his watch. It was a gift from Ty, a surprise from last Christmas. Underneath, the engraving read simply “Yours.” Classic Grady: succinct, romantic, and not at all incriminating. It made Zane smile whenever he checked the time.

He still had ten minutes to his nebulous lunch hour, so he pulled out his phone and dialed Ty.

“Grady,” Ty said after just two rings. Even though he’d resigned from the Bureau a year ago, he still answered his phone as if he expected someone to be calling him to go kill something.

“Hey, doll,” Zane drawled. “How’s your day going?”

“Pretty good, actually. What’s up?”

“I had a thought.”

“God help us,” Ty said under his breath.

“Do you think Burns was the endgame?”

On his first day in the new office, Zane had swept it for bugs. He’d only found one, which rather surprised him. He’d already known it was there, hidden beneath the desk; Richard Burns himself had shown it to Zane and Ty before he’d died. Zane had destroyed it: an opening gambit in a game of chess where pawns were people and kings lived or died on how soon they realized they were playing.

Ty was silent for a few heartbeats. “What?”

“I sweep this office every fucking day, waiting for another bug. Nada.” Zane rocked in his chair and rolled his head from side to side. “Nothing on our phones, either. Do you think it’s possible we were being watched because of our connection to Burns? That he was the target, and I’m just spinning my wheels here when I could be in bed with you all day?”

“Well. Are we still going with your chess metaphor?”

“I like my chess metaphor.”

Ty laughed, and the sound warmed Zane to an unhealthy degree. “Okay. Isn’t chess all about patience and strategy?”

Zane groaned and rubbed at his temple.

“You’re going insane, aren’t you?” Ty asked fondly.

“I feel like this must be what your brain does all the time. Squirrels juggling knives in there.”

Ty snorted. “I think, on the larger scale, it’s our move. You know? We’ve been quiet since Scotland. You’re stuck behind a desk, I’m playing Mister Fix-It. What’s there to spy on?”

“But how would they know that if they’re not spying on us?”

Ty made a clucking sound. “Maybe they are.”

When Zane hung up a few minutes later, having secured a dinner date with his fiancé, he was still frowning. Maybe they are.

Ty’s words haunted him for the rest of the day. Maybe they are. But how? He scanned the office one last time with his device, but registered nothing. He waited until most of his agents were gone for the day, until the floor was clear, and he walked through every cubicle, methodically checking every nook and cranny. He even checked the bathrooms.

Well, at least he knew the entire fucking building was clear of listening devices now.

Finding their mole was Zane’s final mission, and it was eating him alive. The mole who’d been spying on them for God knew how long. The mole whose connections and motivations were still mysteries to them. The mole who’d damn near gotten them killed in New Orleans.

The mole who’d caused Richard Burns to be murdered.

He stood waiting for the elevators, muttering to himself as he checked the batteries in the damn detector. “You’re obsessing, Garrett. You’ve been spending too much time with Ty.”

He shoved the batteries back into the thing and tucked it into his leather satchel as the elevator dinged. He glanced up, eyes wide as he realized what he’d just said.

Why the hell would anyone bug Zane at work if half of his or her interest was in Ty? It had been effective when they were partnered; they’d been together all the time. But now? Ty wasn’t here. Ty was at home.

Home. The row house.

“Fuck!”

Ty paced through the living room of the row house, listening to Zane’s voice mail greeting for the fourth time in the last hour. Zane was hours late now. He was never this late.

“Oh, I’ll leave you a message, you son of a . . .” He left a one-word message at the beep this time: “Asshole!”

He tossed his phone at the couch as he prowled by. He hated being stuck like this. And Zane knew he hated it! Zane never did anything even remotely dangerous without calling Ty first, because he knew Ty would rain down hellfire on Baltimore looking for him if he went radio silent. The cartel was still out there, lurking. And Ty didn’t have Zane’s back now.

He stomped out to the back stoop and threw himself down on the top step. This step had seen him through many of his dark moods over the years, and now he sat out here a lot, staring at his Mustang, while Zane was at work. She was Nightmist Blue, a hauntingly beautiful and historically accurate deep hue, with two thick white racing stripes going up her center and a white interior to match. She was finally done, inside and out, and Ty had stuck with vintage parts right up until he got to the electronics, when he’d found pieces online made to look vintage but that were entirely modern. She could sync with an MP3 player, keep your ass warm in the winter, and start up with the press of a button from the comfort of your home.

She was so beautiful that Ty hadn’t had the heart to cover her up since he’d finished her, even though the weather this winter had been especially harsh and dark.

Ty was fairly certain that was more about his state of mind than the weather, though. And now it seemed that Zane was going to start disregarding their dinner plans and not bother to tell Ty when he’d be late coming home.

Ty shook his head. One pass, that was all that bastard would get before Ty threw a fit of epic proportions.

He could only sit here for a few minutes before concern and restlessness got to him again and he headed back inside, going for the cabinet under the kitchen sink where he kept his new stash of Cubans.

Cote D'Ivoire | scientific workplace 6 | Rpg Metanoia