“What’s biting her?” Jason asked the men quietly.
The meat shield shrugged, exchanging a knowing look. Jason wasn’t sure, but he had the uneasy feeling they might be laughing at Driscole, him or both.
He was cuffed, with his wrists in front of him, and escorted to the elevator. Driscole was nowhere to be seen, but she and more security men were waiting in the parking garage. Jason was led off the elevator, surrounded by a walking wall of muscle. He’d never seen so many big, well armed men in his life. Each man had a weapon in his hand. They all looked around carefully, checking for unknown menace. Jason didn’t know whether to feel very safe or very, very afraid.
Two black SUV’s were waiting a few feet away. He was taken to the lead vehicle and put inside. He was flanked by two members of the meat shield. Agent Driscole climbed up front and the rest of the team got in the second vehicle. She contacted the other driver and they took off.
“Why is it you lot like black?” He asked the agents.
“What?” The man on his left asked.
“Black,” Jason replied airily. “Could we be anymore obvious? Do you chaps buy every black SUV in America?”
The man on the left looked puzzled, the man on the right and the driver chuckled. Driscole stared straight ahead. Jason shrugged. He wiggled around trying to get comfortable, but his companions took up most of the seat. He was more of a wiry build himself, but he had very broad shoulders. Feeling slightly claustrophobic, he wiggled some more.
Mr. Left gave him an evil eye. Mr. Right eased slightly toward the door, angling his shoulders so the each had a little more room.
“Thanks,” Jason murmured, smiling a little.
The man said nothing, but nodded and a smile flickered for a second and was gone.
“May I ask where we’re going?” Jason directed at the group.
No one said anything. Driscole shifted in her seat, ignoring him.
“Oi,” Jason said rather more loudly. “I know I’m a criminal, but I think I’ve got a right to know if I’m going to be safe. Might I point out, that you need me—rather a lot?”
Driscole glared at him over her shoulder. Firming her lips, she inhaled slowly. “Look, Mr. Banes. I’m not here to be your friend. I’m here to protect you. The less you know about our destination the better.”
“What? Am I going to yell out the windows and give it away? Who am I gonna tell, Special Agent in Charge Taylor Driscole? Eh? And while we’re having this lively repartee, perhaps you could ask one of the kind gentlemen to undo the handcuffs? I assure you, I’m not inclined to go anywhere. Besides, they’d break me in two before I even got to a door or disabled the driver—not that I know how to do that in any case. I’m a thief, not an assassin.”
Agent Driscole nodded to the man on Jason’s right. He took a key out of his pocket and undid the cuffs, putting them back on his belt.
“Thanks, mate. Jason Banes, thief.” He extended his hand.
Somewhat surprised, the man took it. His grip threatened to crush Jason’s hand. Instead of giving in, he met the other man’s bone crushing grasp with his own. He knew how to move his hand to make the bones and sinews grind together. He didn’t quite do it, but Mr. Right got the idea and eased up.
“Greg Kisler,” he replied politely.
“Pleased to meet you.” Jason turned to the man on his left and went through the same process.
“Alex Graves. The driver is Tim Stuart. We’ve been assigned as your primary team. We’ll be seeing a lot of one another.”
“We’ll be living with you—at least until the rest of the team members are assembled. Taylor’s in charge.”
“Is she?” Jason couldn’t help being happy about that.
“Enough socializing,” Taylor snapped. “He’s our primary, not our best friend.”
“Being polite, Taylor. We’re going to be under the same roof. We might as well be friendly.”
“I didn’t come to this point in my career to be chummy with a petty criminal,” she replied.
“Hardly petty, love,” Jason corrected.
“I am not your love,” she snarled.
“Expression only, I assure you. And I’m not asking to be your best chum. A little courteous conversation, maybe knock back the odd beer…. And I haven’t been a petty criminal since I was sixteen.”
His feelings hurt, he sat back in the seat with his arms crossed petulantly. Driscole stared straight ahead, eyes fixed on the road, her back ramrod straight. The men watched their environment, never taking their eyes off their surroundings.
© Dellani Oakes