“I’d like to know more about this undercover agent who posed as my daughter’s date. The ubiquitous Tall, Dark, and Smoldering.'
Nick put on his best meet-the-parent smile. 'I generally prefer to go by Nick.”
“First Pallas and now you,” the gray-haired man said, shaking his head at Nick. “It’s like I’m running a goddamn dating service around here.”
“Well, Ma, see... there's this girl."
He checked to make sure the call hadn't been dropped. "You still there, Ma?"
"You can't be crying already," he said. "I haven't told you anything about her yet."
"It doesn't matter, Nick," his mother said through her tears. "Those are the three words I've been waiting thirty-four years to hear.”
“He gripped her shoulders determinedly. 'I should’ve told you this earlier, Jordan. Now that I’ve got my chance, you’re going to hear it whether you like it or not. You came into my life and messed the whole thing up and now I’m screwed. Because I’m in love with you. As in balls-out, head-over-heels, watching-Dancing-with-the-Stars-on-Monday-nights, wine-and-bubble-bath kind of love. Hell, I think I’d even wear a scarf indoors for you.”
“It's a truth universally acknowledged that an FBI special agent in possession of great skill and talent is likely to engage in trash talk every now and then.”
“Boyfriend huh? I didn't realize we had taken things to that level."
"Oh, I'm sorry--this is my first undercover operation," Jordan said. "I'm a little unclear about the rules. Are we seeing other people in this fake relationship?”
“It was time to break out the don't-fuck-with-me face.”
“Jack leaned over, “Ever get the impression that these women are way out of our league?”
“I shot the last guy who said that to me.”
“You've met Nick?"
"Yep, we've met, all right. He was kind enough to inform me that I have absolutely no say in whether you two date."
"Well, you don't."
"You know, you all could at least pretend that my opinion makes a difference.”
“At least you're learning a thing or two about wine. Good to hear you're making such an effort to improve yourself."
"Does the U.S. attorney know how much you like spending your Saturday nights eavesdropping on private conversations?" Nick asked.
"The U.S. attorney knows exactly how I like spending my Saturday nights.”
“Nick watched as Jordan sipped her wine and made The Face-the seductive, the hell-with-wine-you-should-see-what-I-look-like-having-sex face. At least that was how he interpreted it.
Watching her with a predatory gaze, the douchebag grinned.
Apparently, he had a similar interpretation of The Face.
Something inside Nick snapped.
That was his fake girlfriend in there. Sitting at the table where they had just shared cheese fries the night before. And if she thought she could throw scorching hot sex-looks to any pansy-ass scarf-boy who wandered into her shop, she had another think coming.
He had a look of his own to show the douchebag.
It was time to break out the don't-fuck-with-me-face.”
“With a chuckle, Jack mumbled under his breath to Nick. 'It's like watching the preppy, well-bred versions of you and me trash-talking.”
“Don't take this next undercover assignment. Stay with me instead."
Nick's eyes pierced hers, refusing to let her off that easily. "Tell me why."
"Because... I love you." She exhaled. No take-backs. The words were out there forever.
And it felt great.”
“Because wine means the responsible part of the day is over.”
“Thank you, I guess.
It’s good to see they’ve replaced Silas Briggs with
someone who’s a little more reasonable.” He grinned.
“Not to mention, someone with a much prettier face.”
Agent Pallas snapped the ankle monitor on, and Kyle
yelled out in pain.
“Son of a bitch, you got some skin there!” he said to
Cameron threw the FBI agent a look. “Jack.”
He shrugged. “It slipped.” He turned back to Kyle with
a look that could wilt plants.”
“He didn't care whose league Jordan was in. All that mattered was that she was his.”
“Time for Wine Tasting 101.
“So here’s how this works. When tasting a wine, as opposed to casual drinking, there are four basic steps you need to remember: sight, smell, taste, then spit or swallow.”
Nick paused at that last part and cocked his head. “And your personal preference on the latter would be…?”
“Only lightweights spit.”
His right eye twitched.”
“Jordan couldn’t keep the smile off her face. “Yeah, I like this guy. He rescued me from a crazed man with a gun, he makes me laugh, and he calls his mother Ma. I’d say he’s a keeper.”
“First off, you should know that your daughter is going to be fine.” … “Jordan’s been through an ordeal but she is…” Incredible. Strong. Smart. Gorgeous. Hot as a firecracker in bed. Probably better to keep that part to himself.
“… quite tough,” he finished.”
“Kyle gazed down at her. “I lied when I said I followed you to the bar because you’re hot.” He touched her cheek. “I saw you laughing with your friends, and your smile sucked me right in.”
“And then when she takes him through the whole wine tasting process, finishing with a long, languid taste that she really enjoyed “she opened her eyes and saw Nick staring at her.
“I feel like I need a cigarette and a shower after watching that.”
“She spoke under her breath to Nick. "Is there a reason he's only wearing one sock?" "He puked on his foot." "Oh." She turned back to Huxley. "Can we get you another sock? Maybe a blanket or something?”
“You are really starting to annoy me, Stanton.”
Nick didn’t blink. “Good. By the end of the night I hope to finish the job.”
“Thanks,” Jordan said. “Did you say Dad was here, too?”
Kyle threw her a you-are-so-busted look. “Why, yes, he is. He’s out in the waiting room, grilling
Tall, Dark, and Sarcastic.”
Jordan’s mouth formed a silent O. She was busted. “You’ve met Nick?”
“Yep, we’ve met, all right. He was kind enough to inform me that I have absolutely no say in
whether you two date.”
“Well, you don’t.”
“You know, you all could at least pretend that my opinion makes a difference.” Kyle shot her a
sideways glance. “You like this guy, don’t you?”
Jordan couldn’t keep the smile off her face. “Yeah, I like this guy. He rescued me from a crazed
man with a gun, he makes me laugh, and he calls his mother Ma. I’d say he’s a keeper.”
“Jack leaned over. “Ever get the impression that these women are way out of our league?”
“I shot the last guy who said that to me.”
“And people say I’m cranky.”
Nick chuckled as his eyes turned back to the television screen. As it turned out, he didn’t care
whose league Jordan was in. All that mattered was that she was his.”
“If he'd expected to be pampered and coddled through his undercover assignments, he would have gone to work for the CIA.”
“Let’s just call it an adjustment of priorities.” Nick saw no reason to beat around the bush about
this next part. Pallas was a good guy, and an excellent agent. “There’s more. You and I both know that
Davis has been thinking about retiring. I told him today that when that happens, I’d like to be
considered for the special agent in charge position. I wanted you to hear it from me first. Thought you
might be eying the job, too.”
Jack considered this. “I’ve given it some thought,” he admitted. “But politically, I doubt it would
go over well if the special agent in charge of Chicago and the U.S. attorney of the same district were
involved in a personal relationship.” His expression was one of pride. “And since Cameron got there
first, it looks like I’m adjusting my priorities, too.” He paused. “Plus, I hear that people think I’m
cranky.” He rubbed his jaw, musing. “Not sure why that is.”
“Maybe it’s all the brooding and glowering.”
“No one complains when you break out the don’t-fuck-with-me face.”
“Does the U.S. attorney know you spend your workdays listening to office gossip?”
Jack grinned in satisfaction. “The U.S. attorney is thrilled that there’s finally someone else for this
office to gossip about.”
“First Pallas and now you,” the gray-haired man said, shaking his head at Nick. “It’s like I’m running a goddamn dating service around here.” He spun around. “Wilkins! Huxley!” he barked. “Next case that involves a single woman—you’re up.”
Standing at the sidewalk, Agent Wilkins pumped his fist excitedly. “Yes.”
Huxley adjusted his glasses with a grin, looking decidedly pleased.
“That was supposed to be sarcastic. I’m getting too old for this shit,”
“Kāda gan tam ir nozīme, Vatson? - Holmss nopietni teica, nolikdams papīra lapu. - Kāds mērķis ir sasniegts ar šo bēdu, varmācības un šausmu apli? Tam ir jāvirzās uz kaut kādu mērķi, jo pretējā gadījumā taču pār mūsu pasauli valda nejaušība, kas ir neiedomājami. Bet uz kādu mērķi? Tas, lūk, ir pastāvīgais, mūžīgais jautājums, uz kuru cilvēka saprāts vēl joprojām nav spējis sniegt atbildi.”
“I remember, now, how to cry.”
“The human mind was the last thing to be commercialized but they’re doing a good job of it now;”
“I took [Kate's] hand in mine, and felt her fingers squeeze back. And I thought: home. It took me completely by surprise. But I suppose that once you bid farewell to your first home, you're always looking for another—that place where you can feel happy and strong and at your best. For three years I'd called the Aurora home. But now that I lived in Paris, it was not the city itself that was home. It was Kate.”
“She'll be imagining everything that's out in front of them, road and cloud and sky, all the elements of a future, the sort you have to put together by hand, slowly and carefully, until the world is yours once more.”
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