Much to his surprise, Jason has been given a reprieve, of sorts. He’s being released into FBI custody and will aid them in tracking down and capturing Orchid. It’s not as bad as being in jail, but the idea of being live bait is somewhat disconcerting.
“This case has been well publicized. She knows exactly where you are. You haven’t been exactly accessible, though she could get to you if she really wanted to. I imagine, she was waiting to see if you turned her in or not. Your silence probably saved your life.”
Jason shrugged, trying to look nonchalant.
“They’re making a special task force around you,” Kyle continued. “Representatives from fifteen countries, including the United States, are sending people to work with you and protect you. Their resources are yours. You have suddenly become everybody’s best friend. How does that feel, Mr. Banes?”
“Once the paperwork goes through, you’re a relatively free man.”
“Relatively?” Jason shifted in his chair, buttoning his suit coat nervously.
“You won’t be in jail, nor will you be in prison, but you won’t be freely roaming about either.”
“What will I be doing?”
“Exchanging all that for a gilded cage, I imagine. As the focus of this task force, you become their primary asset and concern. Your safety is their responsibility. Therefore, you’ll be in protective custody until Orchid is found.”
“Once we find her, what happens to me?”
“That hasn’t been decided.”
“Cause see, I don’t mind prison as long as I’m not in until bloody hell freezes over, aight? I’ll do my time for the robbery if I must. But I’d very much like to not do time for an accessory to murder.”
Kyle’s smile spread slowly across his face. “I believe we can arrange a satisfactory agreement. If you’re very lucky, you won’t have to do any jail time at all. However, that’s pending successful completion of the operation.”
Jason nodded, fiddling once more with his button.
“So, Your Honor,” Kyle said, turning to Honoria. “I need a ruling.”
Jason and the lawyers rose when told to by the bailiff.
“Jason Banes is found guilty of grand theft,” she said calmly. “As part of his sentence, he is assigned to the task force to find Orchid and bring her to justice. The time spent on the task force will count toward any prison time he might later be sentenced to serve.”
Her gavel struck the bench with a clack of finality. Jason bowed slightly.
“Thank you, Your Honor. I won’t let you down.”
Jason shook hands with his lawyer before being led to his cell to await his transfer. Kyle Tourney followed him down. The older man sat on a chair in the corridor outside Jason’s cell.
“I know you have questions, son. I wasn’t about to go into particulars and keep Honoria tied up any longer than necessary. She’s had a death in her family. Her husband.”
“Has she? I’m sorry to hear that. Decent woman, the judge. Grown fond of her the last few weeks.”
Kyle nodded, smiling. He liked this abrupt, twitchy young man. Had he ever had that much pent up energy? He couldn’t remember. Then again, he’d never been in jail.
“One thing,” the young thief began, hesitating slightly. “I know I’ll be in custody, but how tight is security? I mean…. will I be allowed—visitors?”
“I imagine we could see our way clear to allow them from time to time.”
“And the nature of these visitors? Oh, girlfriends, as it were? For conjugal purposes?”
“You’re asking if you can get a hooker?”
“No, no! Lord, never paid for it in my life! Former girlfriends and the like.”
“Exactly. It’s a bit embarrassing to admit that I’ve got a wicked sex drive. I find it difficult to concentrate if I don’t get it at least once a week. Do you think…?”
His dark eyes held such genuine emotions, Kyle’s heart went out to him. “I’ll see what I can do. I don’t think that’s too much to ask. Anything else?”
“I’d like to be able to see the families from time to time.”
“If we let out where you are, how can they keep you secure? More to the point, anyone who knows your whereabouts becomes a potential target.”
“I hadn’t thought of that. Then again, if we’re trying to get the psycho-bitch, a few well placed leads wouldn’t hurt. If we could get her to come to us, we’d have her.”
They boy had a point, but Kyle wasn’t willing to make promises he might have to renege on.
“I’ll ask. It’s possible we could meet them somewhere other than where you’re being held. Any contact is risky, however.”
“True, and I don’t want to endanger them. It’s just—they like me now, yeah? And I never had a proper family. Even when my mum and dad were together, it wasn’t much like family. When he bugged out, it wasn’t so bad. Then Mum left and never came back. After that, it was me and the street.”
“No other family, grandparents? Nothing?”
“No, sir. Not that I’ve met.” He shrugged, suddenly finding his folded hands of interest.
© Dellani Oakes