Much to Jason’s surprise and delight, the FBI have brought him home — not because they care if he’s comfortable, but because the house is a veritable fortress. Jason has the most sophisticated security system some of them have ever seen.
There was a tap at the door. Kisler answered, his weapon in hand. It was Tim with the coffee.
“Nice coffee maker you’ve got, Jason. Top of the line!”
“Spent a bundle on it. I love coffee. Bugger grinds the beans, gives the perfect blend, filters the water, does everything but wipe my ass.”
The men laughed at that as they drank their coffee.
“Just how much money do you have, kid?” Tim Stuart asked. He was probably 10 years or so older than Jason.
“Do you want the real answer or the one I give the IRS?”
“You pay taxes?”
“I’m in investments as a side business. It gives me an air of legitimacy and something to fall back on in my dotage. You have to realize that a chap in my profession, if he starts young, has maybe twenty good years. That’s if he’s lucky and doesn’t get caught.” He shrugged, sighing heavily. “In any case, a man needs a retirement fund. I can’t exactly file for Social Security, can I?”
“I suppose not,” Tim answered.
“My investment business brings in a modest income. Around five million a quarter.”
The men choked on their coffee.
“That’s what you clear?” Greg Kisler gasped.
“Yeah, well, thereabouts.”
“Why steal things then?”
Jason leaned forward as if he were imparting the secrets of the universe. “Because investments are boring as bloody hell, mate.”
“So you steal things for the excitement?” Alex asked.
“There’s a thrill when a plan comes together and you pull the perfect heist that nothing, not even sex, can equal. Not even thirty-six hours of the most amazingly orgasmic Tantric sex….” He stopped abruptly as Driscole entered the room.
The men all stood as she walked in. Puzzled, she looked around until she spotted Jason. He was blushing, adjusting his pants.
“Agent Driscole,” he muttered. “Sorry.”
“Never mind.” He hoped she really hadn’t heard what he was saying.
“Nice little coffee clutch we’re having. Don’t you have a job to do?” She addressed the men.
“Taylor, be nice,” Tim chided. “We’re having a coffee with Jason. It wouldn’t kill you to talk to the man. We’re going to be living together, we should be on polite terms, don’t you think?”
“Yeah, relax,” Greg said. “You’re too tense, Tay.”
“I suppose you think I’m uptight too?” She glared at Jason.
“No, I was simply wondering why you hate me so much. Have I offended you somehow? If so, please tell me so I can apologize.”
“You really don’t get it, do you? I became an FBI agent because I wanted to put people like you
behind bars, not babysit you in your own mansion! I have better things to do, Mr. Banes.”
“Like what?” His tone caustic, his expression bland, he waited.
He was angry now. She had insulted and belittled him repeatedly and all he’d tried to do was make conversation. He’d apologized, dammit! And he hadn’t even done anything wrong!
“Like—well….” She sputtered, trying to answer that question.
“Agent Driscole, I’m a decent man when you get to know me. I’m polite, friendly and some folks even find me more than a little charming. I’m a nice bloke, me. So I steal things! I take things from rich, snooty folks who have more money than God and redistribute the wealth. I’ve never stolen from anyone who wasn’t heavily insured.”
“So, you’re trying to tell me that you’re Robin Hood, eh?”
Banes sneered. “Robin Fucking Hood? That’s who you’re comparing me to? He was a rank amateur compared to me! And he killed people. I’ve never killed anyone. Spiders in the bathroom, that’s my speed. The occasional wasp. Anyone can shoot things up and do a smash and grab. My plans are like works of art. Like Mozart symphonies and Botticelli paintings. And you’re comparing me to a man who shot the sheriff and ran around in tights. Thank you, very much, Miss Driscole!”
“You’re a thief! Where’s the artistry in that?”
“Do I insult your profession? Do I compare you to a street thug who’s only interested in shooting up the town—who feels she can do it with impunity because she’s in the FBI? Your comments to me have been less than complimentary and I want to know why.”
“I got pulled off a better job to do this,” she griped. “I’ve been removed from my other case with no explanation.”
“And how is working with an international task force to catch a murderous, thieving bitch less important than what you were doing? You aren’t just babysitting me, Miss Driscole. You’re protecting an important asset. I am the only man who has worked with Orchid and survived. The bitch shot me and left me for dead, then proceeded to kill six innocent people. Do you for one moment think that their lives are less important to the people who loved them? Do you think that they aren’t important to me?”
He was yelling, mere inches from her face. Furious, he wanted to kiss her—or hit her, he wasn’t sure which. Either would have done, but neither would have been appropriate.
© Dellani Oakes