An hour later, there was a knock on Rory’s door. Even before Captain Jackson had a chance to step in, Rory slapped his face. He didn’t even move, and she turned around and went inside. He rubbed his jaw, impressed, before following her.
Rory sat curled up into a ball on one side of a large couch, while Owen paced next to her.
When he saw the state he was in, he muttered a series of expletives and demanded.
“What the hell happened?”
“It’s over, Captain. I’m out.”
“Owen, listen to me…..”
“No! You listen to me. You have everything you need. The feds have all they need, It’s their turn to do their job. I’ve done enough. The meeting is set for tomorrow. I can’t leave her. I won’t, not again.” He glanced at Rory who looked lost, eyes red from crying and her jaw set. Even if he begged for her love all of his life, he wasn’t leaving her side, ever.
Captain Jackson understood when a man had given all he had to a job, and would do something stupid if he kept at it.
Only before he could say anything else, there was a pounding on the door.
“Rory? Are you okay? I saw the Captain’s car outside. Ror?”
The entire room froze, as Kyle’s voice echoed from the hallway outside. Suddenly, what had already been a complicated situation turned impossible.
“Damn it.” Owen muttered.
“He has a right to now.” Captain Jackson said gravely.
Before Rory could get up to answer Owen beat her to it, limping to the door and opening it.
Kyle’s face turned ashen when he saw who greeted him on the other side. Almost as if he’d seen a ghost.
Rory, sensing the tension rising in the room. and knowing Owen’s comeback would be as much a shock for Kyle as it had been for her, forgot her own misery, stood up and went to stand between the two men.
“What the hell is going on?”
“You better come inside.” Rory took his hand and pulled him in, but he wouldn’t budge.
“Kyle, long time no see.” Owen muttered, unsure of what to say to his ex partner and his former best friend.
“Ror?” Kyle finally unglued his eyes from Owen and fixed them on her. They widened when she averted his stare, certain he’d know she hadn’t told him the truth.
“I’m sorry I didn’t tell you.”
Lost, he turned to his Captain, who didn’t flinch under his hard stare.
“Owen has been undercover for two years.” He filled him in on the rest, without any pause or hesitation, without any emotion, like he would brief one of his people on a case. Just as Kyle had done countless times as well.
When he was done, Kyle’s face was an undecipherable mask. He gave nothing away. Owen knew he’d also damaged this relationship with his friend. It would take some time to rebuild it, as well, but the problem was they didn’t have time right now. He couldn’t dwell on his mistakes right now.
“You have some nerve coming back.” Kyle spat out.
“I wasn’t going to let anything happen to Rory.”
Owen’s former partner shook his head, shifted his body as if he was about to turn around and leave, then landed his closed fist on his jaw. Owen’s curse was met by Rory’s scared intake of breath, while the Captain stood between the two men, though he could see Kyle wouldn’t throw another punch, nor Owen would hit back.
“You bastard. You expect me to believe you care for her? You called me and asked me to tell your fiancée you’d decided not to show to the wedding. Just like that. No explanation, nothing. You were a coward and you expect me to what? Welcome you with open arms and thank you because you decided to come back to keep her safe? Go to hell, Owen. I was your damned partner, I deserved more than that shit.” He pushed his Captain aside and grabbed Rory by the wrist, pulling her toward the door.
“Let’s go, Rory.”
“Take your hands off her.” Owen warned, rage filling him up for he could see the way Rory considered his demand. And because he realized it was probably what was best for everyone. Kyle could protect her. Owen would finish this job, then……..then maybe continue to do what he’d done all this time, be away. Yet, he didn’t want to fulfill anyone’s needs but his own. To hell with duty, with saving others…….even as his gut clenched at the memory of those desolate female cries for help……. How was he ever going to get past that without her?
But first, he would have to use his brain to get all of them out of harm’s way.
“Detective, either you stay or you go, alone.” Captain Jackson warned.
“Is that an order, sir?” His voice dripped contempt, enough that Owen saw his Captain flinch away from Kyle’s words.
“They should go.” Owen heard himself say. Both Rory’s red-rimmed eyes and Kyle’s glaring ones stared at him.
“Rory, you don’t need this. Terry and I can……”
She shook her head, not sure why the comfort of her two best friends wasn’t as appealing.
“Kyle, please. I…….I want to stay.” Rory spoke for the first time since Kyle had shown up. Even though she very much felt like just letting everyone else deal with this mess, she knew after Nathan’s call and the other detective’s unexpected visit, they all had to figure out a way to end this.
For a moment, Kyle looked almost betrayed, then his eyes flared with temper before the fire subsided and he held on to his years of training. After several tense heartbeats, he nodded curtly and said.
“Fine. Then I’ll stay, too.”
His tone gave no room for argument either from his Captain or Owen, who had to focus on his goal, while Rory took Kyle’s hand and pulled him down to sit on the couch.
“So, what’s the situation, Owen? Where the hell have you been all these years?”
Because he knew his former partner deserved as much an explanation as his ex fiancée, he recounted succinctly, his undercover job. As if detailing the important facts about any case they may have worked together, Owen gave Kyle a complete rundown of the operation, the main players, and what would transpire Friday night when The Shadow arrived. It gave him the opening to explain his plan to everyone in the room.
“We need to end this, tonight. I think I know how, but you’re gonna have to trust me.”
Rory looked from Kyle to Owen, then to the Captain, who could tell he wasn’t going to like Owen’s plan.
“The FBI won’t like this.”
“I think they will, Captain.” Owen countered.
He then knelt before Rory, took her hands in his and bent his forehead to hers, and said.
“I know I don’t have a right to ask you anything, but I need you to trust me.”
He searched her eyes, and found them empty of the passion they had shared a few days ago and a few hours ago in the shower, nor any of the love he’d clung to during his time away. Still, he didn’t waver and waited before she nodded silently and whispered.
“What do you have in mind?”
“I need to make a phone call.”
Owen winced as he went into her bedroom to retrieve his bloodied clothes to find his phone. He came back out, with the device on his ear, as he waited for Nathan to pick up.
“Thought you wouldn’t be able to talk for a week after our party.”
“You’re right. We need this girl. I can get her to you.”
Owen knew he had to act fast, before awakening Nathan’s suspicions. He knew the beating had been a warning not to mess with him. If Owen went against Alexander’s wishes, then Nathan would see it as a favorable shift in loyalty from his boss to him. His ego was so big, it was no secret Nathan desired Alexander’s position.
“Now, why would you do that? Aren’t you Alexander’s pet?”
“I rather not be your bitch.”
Nathan laughed out loud, and Owen knew he had him.
“You’re right. Maybe when things change, I’ll keep you.”
Was Nathan planning his own coup against Alexander’s rule? If so, things might complicate themselves even further, but he couldn’t stop to reevaluate his plan. It had to be done.
“So, you say you can get her to me?” Nathan continued on the phone.
“She’ll be yours, not Alexander’s.”
“Okay, let’s call this your grand audition, Patrick. Tell me how.”
Owen’s eyes found Rory’s and prayed he wasn’t making a huge mistake. When she lowered her lashes, he looked away and said over the phone.
“She’s a teacher at a local school in Alexandria. She walks to it every morning.”
At Nathan’s silence, Owen said.
“I know you’ve been following her. I’ve been following you. I just dug up more.”
There was a heavy silence which caused his stomach to curl in anticipation.
“Interesting. And useful.” Nathan finally said.
“Tomorrow, seven o’clock. I’ll call you.”
Nathan’s acid laugh drilled into his brain and grated every nerve ending in his body.
“See you later, friend.”
After he hung up, the room exploded around him.