Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Girl Sleuth-Chapter 41

(To read from the beginning go Here.)

Anne glanced back toward the door. Still some twenty-five or thirty feet to go. She edged backwards seeking more cover, more anything between her and that voice.

“So where is she?” Faux bonhomie rang in his voice, the forced joviality booming and out of place in the other wise silent office.

Erik stopped motioning for her to come forward. His shoulders stiffening into rigid, alert lines. “She had to step out to the ladies’ room. Time to remove the wire so we can get the tape. Mr. Anderson will be going behind bars for a good long while.”

“I didn’t authorize a wire.” The brash amiability slipped a little.

Erik surreptitiously waved her away now. Anne nodded though he couldn’t see her and continued to back away towards the door. Thank heavens she’d worn loafers. The tap of high heels would have given her away for sure.

“Your policy has always been to use the best equipment for a job. Anyway, no harm, no foul. It wasn’t injured and we’ll have it back in a few minutes.” Erik’s voice was casual, holding no hint of the tension that seemed to radiate off the back of his stiff neck.

Twelve more feet.

“So you caught Anderson?”

“Yep.” Despite the continued insouciance of his tone, Erik squared off, spreading his stance oh so slightly, torso forward as if bracing for an attack. “This thing was much bigger than I dreamed too. I believe the counterfeiting was part of a larger communist plot to destabilize the economy.”

“Hoo boy.” An avuncular chuckle rippled through the quiet office. “You sure you’re not getting paranoid? That sort of story, well, it’s not going to look good to the powers that be.”

“I disagree.” Erik’s quiet response had the directness of a challenge. It hovered in the air between them.

Anne’s fingers brushed the cold steel of the doorframe and she groped for the knob.

“How long do you think it’ll be before the girl gets back?”

Erik jerked his head her direction. “Why don’t I go check on her?”

“No, no. You just stay here with me. I’m sure she’ll be back any minute.”

“I ought to go check that Anderson has arrived.”

“Nah. It can wait. I want to hear more about this hair-brained communist theory of yours.”

Anne twisted the knob slowly, so slowly. She couldn’t make a sound.

Erik’s voice had grown impatient. “It may be even worse than that. I believe there is a traitor in this office.”

Whispering a prayer that the door wouldn’t squeak, Anne eased it open.

“You don’t say.” The wry tone made her shiver in a way that angry never could have.

She glanced back just in time to see Erik make a move for his weapon.

“Nope. Don’t even try it. Hands up. I’ve got you covered, and don’t think for a minute that I won’t shoot you.”

Monday, October 19, 2009

Girl Sleuth-Chapter 40

(To read from the beginning go Here.)

Anne tipped back in her chair. The voice quieted even more, she couldn’t make out what was said. She turned her head toward the darkened office. Strained to hear. Further. Just a little further.

“They’re gone!”

Anne windmilled wildly her hand striking and then catching hold of the edge of the desk. Panting a little, she returned the chair legs to the ground where they belonged.

Erik appeared from around a row of tall filing cabinets. His scowl was fierce enough to turn someone into stone. Dear heavens, she hoped he never had cause to look at her like that.

“What?” She asked.

“Carol’s papers are gone. I put them in the office safe this afternoon, but they’re gone.”

“What does that mean?”

“I’ll tell you what it means. It means that there’s a dirty rat in this office. Someone’s in cahoots with Armstrong, maybe even pulling his strings.” He sank into his desk chair, hands rubbing at his face as if he could scrub away the suspicion from his mind.

Anne grabbed his hand and looked directly into his eyes. She lowered her voice. “Where are the other men with Armstrong?”

“The floor below this one. We have a small holding cell there, at least until the FBI comes for him.”

Casually as she could, Anne stood. She didn’t let go of his hand, tightening her grip until his brows furrowed. “Why don’t you show me where the powder room is so that I can return your equipment.”

They turned toward the main door.

“What’s going on?” he hissed from one side of his mouth.

“There’s someone in that office behind us. I heard him talking on the phone.” She pulled him faster as they approached the door, a determined little tugboat towing a battle cruiser.

Suddenly his hand was gone, and she staggered forward alone, his voice propelling her now. “Go on and get out of here. Get downstairs and send some of the fellows up to me.”

She glanced over her shoulder to see him reaching to grip the gun in his shoulder holster.

“Ah, ah, ah. Let’s not jump the proverbial gun, shall we Special Agent Carter.”

Erik’s shoulders relaxed and his hand fell away from his weapon. “Hey, Boss. You had me going there for a minute. You don’t happen to have the documents I stowed earlier today do you.”

Erik waved Anne forward with an it’s-all-right gesture, but she remained rooted to where she was. Something wasn’t right. That was the same voice she’d heard in the darkened office. And why wasn’t the man showing himself? Or maybe it was just the crazy conglomeration of filing and shelves and desks that hid him, not some sinister intent.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Girl Sleuth-Chapter 39

(To read from the beginning go Here.)

Exhaustion lured Anne like the Pied Piper tempting her to home and bed. But she had the tapes, and she’d heard Armstrong’s confession. Erik would do his best, but what if, in the absence of her statement, someone decided to let Rick go?

No. She couldn’t risk it. Not if there was even one thing left for her to do. She removed Erik’s jacket from around her shoulders and held it out to him. “Thanks. I’d like to go with you and give my statement tonight. While it’s all still fresh in my mind.”

“But you look ready to fall over.”

She didn’t have the energy to argue. Instead, she placed her hand on his arm. “Please. I’d feel much better.”

His gaze caught hers and held it for a long moment. The warmth she found there set her heart fluttering faster. A gentle smile twitched his lips up. “I can’t ever seem to talk sense in to you. All right, come on.” He draped an arm over her shoulder and steered her from the station.

The motion of the car soothed her and she allowed her head to rest against the seat. She awoke to the sound of Erik’s voice, and the touch of his hand on her arm.

“Sorry.” Sheepishly she covered a yawn.

“No need.” His smile sent a caramel sweet spiral through her belly.

She slid toward him and he helped her from the car. The chilly night air seemed less… chilly in his presence. He had a sort of electric personality that exuded verve. He was capable of lighting up any room he entered if he wanted to.

He led her inside and up several flights of stairs. The door he opened revealed a jumble of desks shoved together amidst filing cabinets and stacks of paper and typewriters.

“This is my desk.” He motioned for her to have a seat in the flimsy little chair beside his desk. “Wait here a minute and I’ll go grab some first aid supplies for your legs and hands.”

Anne nodded. She’d almost forgotten. The hurts had melded into a single symphony of throbbing aches so that she could hardly tell one from the other anymore. Erik disappeared into the maze of office furniture.

She sat upright but a moment later her eyes started to drift closed again. Her head bobbed forward and she jerked upright.

“No. I told you I’ll take care of it. But it ain’t gonna be all neat and tidy.” The gruff voice came from behind a half closed office door. No light escaped with the noise and Anne sat up straighter. Why would someone be making a call from a darkened room?

Monday, October 5, 2009

Girl Sleuth-Chapter 38

(To read from the beginning go Here.)

Anne threw her head back, hoping to knock him in the face, but Rick wasn’t having any of it this time. His free hand tangled in her hair and pulled her head back even further.

“Nice try, Sweetpea.” A rough shove and she tumbled onto the tracks below.

Shins and palms bruised and bleeding, Anne scrambled to her feet. She had to get off the track. A quick glance up revealed Rick standing above her.

Help me, Jesus! She darted away from his looming shadow. The train was close enough now that she could feel its rumble in the tracks. Its horn blared. She opened her mouth and let out the loudest scream she could. Flinging herself at the wall she jumped trying to gain some purchase, some grip that would enable to haul herself clear of the tracks.

The train rumbled closer. A bellowing, blinding blur of light and steel.

And then a head poked over the edge of the platform. Strong hands gripped hers, and as her feet scrabbled against the wall, dragged her to safety.

The train surged by, slowing to a stop a hundred yards from where Anne sat shaking and swallowing her tears. Erik sat on the ground with her, enveloping her in his arms, and in the soothing comfort of murmured words.

He shrugged and shifted, and a moment later placed his suit coat around her shoulders. Still she couldn’t see to stop trembling. Her head felt too heavy for her body, and she actually considered stretching out on the hard platform and going to sleep.

It couldn’t be though. Their business wasn’t finished.

When she at last spoke, the words came out sounding very small and distant. “Where’s Armstrong?”

Erik pulled away enough that he could look into her face. “It’s all right. We got him. I called in some favors and some of the guys arrived just in time to help nab him before he got away.”

“Do you want to go to the hospital? Your legs look pretty torn up.”

His comment brought into focus the throbbing in her shins. Anne straightened them out to find her stockings shredded and her shins sporting enormous twin bruises, amidst myriad cuts and abrasions.

The mere thought of a hospital made her feel a hundred years old, though. “I can take care of it myself, they just need some ointment and bandages.”

Erik stood and held out his hands to her. “Let me at least help you up.”

She groaned. “That, I will let you do. I think I’m going to be sore for a month.” She stood swaying for a moment, before taking a tentative step away from the edge of the platform. “So what will happen to Rick?”

“I’ll take him to our office and then begin interrogations.”

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