Thought I'd share another preview of the Work In Progress. You can read the first preview and the set up for the story here.
In this scene, the Russians have planted a listening device in the White House Situation Room and hit a major roadblock in the investigation--Secret Service Special Agent Kendel Phillips. She and Six have a history that just might bungle the investigation if J.J. doesn't do some fancy footwork.
Moments later, a stylish woman clad in a sophisticated navy suit and rimless eyeglasses, about J.J.’s height sauntered up the hall. The tight bun in her hair gave her a stuffy but elegant appearance. The closer she got to the group, the more her eyes narrowed. She barely glanced at J.J. before locking a searing gaze on Six. In her heart of hearts, she knew things were about to get ugly. And fast.
“Agent McCall. Six,” she said tersely without ever shifting her glare from him. “What brings you here…today of all days? This couldn’t wait?”
Six looked down at the vintage Omega, the gold beaming from his wrist, and backed out of arm’s reach. “I…I uhh, didn’t realize the date.”
Kendel tightened her lips. “Wouldn’t be the first time, would it Z?”
Tony leaned over to J.J. and whispered, “Z?”
“Zero,” she spoke through clenched teeth. “It was Zoro before the break-up.”
“I'm sorry, for the hundredth time, I'm sorry,” Six interrupted, his face contorted in genuine angst. “But, no, we couldn’t wait.”
After noticing Six’s flustered demeanor, J.J. glanced down at the date on her own watch—October 20th. She closed her eyes briefly and shook her head. In a flash, a colossal white elephant soaked up all the oxygen in the room…and it was dressed in a strapless Vera Wang with a lace veil.
“I think you’re the only one I’ve not met.” She turned to Tony flashing a fake smile. “I’m Kendel Phillips. You are?”
“Antonio Donato.” He extended his hand. “But Tony’s fine.”
“Yes he is,” she mumbled in a voice inaudible to just about everyone except the girlfriend.
J.J. cut her eyes at Kendel before catching the grunt that nearly seeped from her mouth.
“Uhhh…thank you Agent Donato. Shall we step into my office,” she said leading them back through the corridor. They passed a few offices on the left and right until arriving at the Secret Service section in the rear.
She led them into a small conference room, where each took seats and waited for the bustle to calm. Then she leaned back in her seat and defensively folded her arms over her chest. “So,” she said scanning each face at the table before returning her gaze to J.J. “This must be a serious matter for Six to risk his life coming here. What’s going on?”
J.J.’s gaze darted to Tony and back at Kendel. “Well, one of the Gs tracked a Russian intelligence officer conducting an op at the Ellipse a few days ago. Long story short, Russian intelligence has installed a listening device in the White House.”
Kendel let out a sharp breath, sat forward in her seat, and shook her head, incredulous at the notion. “You mean you suspect.”
“No, it’s here,” J.J. said.
“Impossible!” she yelled, appearing insulted, yet unsure. “My security team conducts weekly sweeps.”
A crawling sensation started in her hand, seeping up through her arm and shoulder. She twitched and bit her lips to maintain her composure. Kendel was lying—J.J. didn’t know about what and didn’t have time to drill deeper in that moment. She resolved to make a mental note of it. Her most pressing challenge was to get Kendel’s cooperation and doing so without applying excessive pressure now appeared unavoidable.
Six said, “Well there must be a problem with your sweeps. Otherwise, we wouldn’t be here. We all heard it.”
“You all heard it, where?”
“In the Sit Room,” Tony answered.
Kendel stood to her feet and slammed her palm against the desk. “We’ve got over 50 officers on this property every day and an upgraded security system in the Sit Room. There’s no way in hell a Russian installed a bug in the Sit Room.”
J.J. waited for a reaction, but none came. “It’s funny, you know, how you phrased it,” J.J. said, “because we don’t believe a Russian did.”
Tony continued. “Based on the evidence we’ve collected so far, Director Freeman’s authorized our investigation. We have the authority to conduct our own sweeps right now, but we’d appreciate and frankly expect full cooperation from your office.”
“I’m sure you do,” Kendel said as she returned to her seat. “But if anyone’s going to conduct a sweep in the Sit Room, it’ll be Secret Service.” She bent forward and, with her index finger, pointed to the name plate on her desk that read Chief of White House Security. “In case you hadn’t noticed, this is my house.”
J.J. jerked her head backward, looked down at her watch, and started bark out a reply but choked down her initial response. She only had a couple of hours left to gather the evidence she needed to justify the full investigation. Her patience was wearing thin and her time short. While her second-thought told her she could catch more bees with honey, a voice that vaguely sounded like her mother’s said, “Sometimes you’ve got to be a bitch to check one.”
She leaned forward, rested her elbows against her knees, and oozed a forced calmness as she retorted, “I don’t mean any disrespect, Kendel, and this situation must be difficult for you. After all, Six is, well…Six. But, I must remind you that Tony and I are FBI Special Agents conducting an espionage investigation on U.S. soil.”
“And?” Kendel snapped with a slight roll of the eye.
J.J. suppressed the “Oh no you didn’t” locked in her throat and snapped, “Well, according to the United States Congress, when a case involves Russian intelligence and espionage on American soil, my house is bigger than your house—and it includes the Situation Room.”
Kendel froze, clearly taken aback by J.J.’s brashness.
“Now I can have my director call your director,” J.J. continued, “or you can put on your big girl panties, lose the attitude, and escort us to the Sit Room. Then you can report to the President that because of your professionalism, Boris won’t be able to listen in the next time he and the National Security Council are deciding what not to discuss with the Russian National Security Chief during an upcoming visit,” J.J. cocked her head to the side. “And since this is your room in my house, I’ll allow you to decide where we go from here.”
Why is J.J. going to quit? And why did Kendal lie???
Find out in Son of a Itch coming in August. In the meantime, pick up a copy of Book 1, The Seven Year Itch! Now available on Nook and Kindle. I'll bet you can't identify the mole!
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