The shrill ring of my phone cuts through the silence of the room. I reach over and grab it. I stare at the screen, realizing I don’t recognize the number and also noting that the time says it’s around four-thirty in the morning. I hear Cody start to move around in his bed, no doubt beginning to wake up since my phone is continuing on with its shrill ringing, and I throw off the blankets covering me and duck into the hallway to answer it before he can really wake up.
The ringing stops just before I can answer it. I let out a frustrated sigh and turn to go back into the room when the phone starts ringing again.
“What?” I snap into the phone as soon as I answer it.
“Well someone certainly is pissy.”
I groan. “Jackson, it’s four-thirty in the morning.”
“Gee, that’s fantastic. Tell me more about the time. It is such a riveting subject after all. Are we going to start discussing the weather next?”
“Jackson, I swear-”
“Calm yourself,” He cuts me off. “I just called to tell you that I have that information you wanted.”
“And this couldn’t wait until morning?”
“It is morning.”
“You know damn well what I mean.”
“Yeah, yeah. Whatever. Do you want it or not?”
“Yes, I want it.”
“Well, isn't that just the greatest thing I’ve heard all week,” He says with a smug tone of voice.
I roll my eyes even though he can’t see me. “Jackson, please, just act like an adult for once in your life.”
“Whatever. Meet me in a half an hour,” He says. “There’s a café that’s open at this hour a short distance from where you are.”
“And why do you know where I am?”
“I followed you.”
“You following me wouldn’t have anything to do with you wanting information from me, would it?” I ask. It’s silent on his end.
“I’m quite sure I haven’t the slightest idea as to what it is you are referring to.”
“You almost sound convincing.”
“Ok, so if you took too long to hand over the information I was planning on stealing it from you. Alright, I admit what you already know. I would’ve still given you whatever information you wanted.”
“I doubt that. You’re not known to be the most trustworthy person.”
“I’m offended. Seriously, Is that really what people are saying about me? That’s really not good for my reputation.”
“Your reputation isn’t good already.”
“That’s a matter of opinion.”
He ends the call.
I let out an exasperated sigh before ducking back into Cody’s room and silently rifling through my backpack for a shirt, a pair of pants, and whatever else I need. I grab my jacket off the couch and quietly exit the room. I duck into the bathroom and change quickly before pulling my hair up into a ponytail and quietly rushing down the stairs. I grab the keys to my motorcycle out of the tray by the door and quickly leave.
It doesn’t take very long to get the café Jackson was talking about, and I see him sitting a booth at the back when I enter. He cheerfully holds up his coffee cup as a salute as I walk in. I give him a flat look as I take a seat across from him.
His eyes are now a chocolate brown, and his hair has also changed. It’s now golden blond, and sticking up in every direction.
“The amount of time you take to change your appearance is alarming.”
“Come now,” He says as he takes a sip from his cup. “You could try and pretend that you’re happy to see me.”
“And what good would that do either one of us?”
He shrugs and turns to stare out the window next to him. “It might make our dealings more pleasant. For one.”
“I sincerely doubt that,” I tell him.
He turns his gaze back to me and there’s a sly smile and mischievous glint in his eyes. “Well, there are always other ways to make things pleasant.” A suggestive smile crosses his face and I roll my eyes.
“Never going to happen.”
“You keep telling yourself that. I will wear you down eventually.”
“Not in my lifetime.”
“Ah, but wouldn’t it be something?” He puts his cup down and throws his hands up in a dramatic flourish as if there’s some invisible banner only he can see. “The secret agent, and the conman. That sounds like the start of a very good book. And an even better reality,” He winks at me as he picks up cup once again.
“We’re business partners, nothing more,” I tell him firmly.
“Ah, but we could be.” He says, completely ignoring me.
“We will never be-”
I give him a blank look. “I was going to say friends.”
He gives me that suggestive smile again. “So, bed buddies is still an option then.”
I place a knife on the table between us and he just laughs. “I will arrest you,” I tell him.
There’s a spark of something that lights up in his eyes. “I’d like to see you try.”
I shake my head and remove my knife from the table before any of the workers notice. They are the only ones I need to worry about since they’re the only ones here. I pull a flash-drive out of my pocket. Jackson’s eyes light up and he gets that look on his face he gets when he knows he’s going to win at something.
He reaches for it and I pull it back out of his reach. He narrows his eyes at me. “You get this, when I get what I came here for.”
He lets out a dramatic sigh, as if this is completely unfair to him, before pulling a manila folder out of the briefcase on the seat next to him. He hands it to me and I pass him the flash-drive.
“Everything on here?” He asks me.
I glance at the contents of the folder briefly before answering him. “Yep. That’s everything the agency has on Lawrence Carver.”
He smiles as he slips the flash-drive into his pocket. I can feel his eyes studying me as I flip through the papers in the folder. Finally, I bring my gaze back up to meet his.
“Get into any fights lately?” I glare at him. He smiles and reaches his hand across to stroke his thumb over the side of my jaw. “That’s quite the bruise you got there.”
I slap his hand away and go back to looking through the papers.
“What’s the other guy look like?” He asks. “Dead?”
“What are you doing?”
“Trying to make conversation.”
He continues on with his random comments and statements, so, I continue to ignore him as I scan over the documents. I frown as I eye one of the pages. I pull it out and show it to Jackson. “What’s this?” I ask him.
“Well, and I could be wrong, but it looks like a piece of paper.”
I glare at him and he keeps his face blank, but there’s the slightest twitch of his lips as he struggles to keep himself from smiling.
“What is this?” I ask again as I point to a specific line on the paper. He takes it from my hands and looks over it.
“Oh yeah, he’s a college kid. Goes to college in this area, but I told you that already,” He hands the paper back to me.
“No, I know that. That’s not what I was referring to,” I hand the paper back to him. “I was talking about the line underneath that.”
“Oh, you mean the birthday party Martin throws for his son every year?”
“What about it?”
“What do you mean, what about it? Have you met Tony Martin, he really isn’t the kind of guy to actually care about anyone other than himself.”
Jackson shrugs. “Has to do with his wife I think.”
Ah, now that made sense. Tony Martin had been completely in love with his wife. He would’ve done anything for her. She was the only person in the world that he had cared about more than himself. So I suppose, since her death, he’d like to hold on to a piece of her. And that piece of her just so happened to be his sons.
“So this is everything you’ve uncovered on Martin and his son?”
“Yep, unless of course, you want a full workup of their hopes, dreams, and aspirations as well. That’ll take a little bit of time though.”
“I swear I’ll arrest you.”
“No thanks. Not a fan of handcuffs . . . unless I’m not the one wearing them.”
“You are relentless.”
“One day Babe. One day I’ll get through to you.”
“Unless that day is my funeral, I seriously doubt it.”
He smiles and I see the excitement light up in his eyes at the suggestion of a challenge. “Have a little faith,” He says as he gestures down the length of his body. “I haven’t met a woman who could resist.”
“Then you must not meet a lot of women.”
He smiled at me again, amusement lighting up his eyes. He picked up his coffee cup and briefcase, sliding out of the booth and standing front me as I remain seated. I look up at him from my seat as he stares down at me. He eyes sparkling in the promise of a challenge.
“See you around Babe,” He says as he slides a pair of sunglasses on his face.
“Not likely,” I reply and he smiles at me.
He leans down towards me and I instinctively move back from him. My back hits the wall as I back up all the way to the end of the booth, Jackson now seated next to me and moving closer. I pull out a knife and press it into his stomach, and clear warning. He lets out an amused laugh.
He’s already way too close to me at this point, so the knife doesn’t keep him from leaning his head towards me, his jaw brushing against my cheek.
“One day,” He whispers confidently, his breath fanning over my ear.
I dig the knife deep enough into his skin to draw blood. He laughs again and then he’s gone from in front of me. He waves and shoots me a smug smile as he walks out the door.
And there goes Hurricane Jackson.
I let out a breath I hadn’t even realized I was holding and tuck the knife back into my boot. I put all the papers back into the folder and get to my feet, walking quickly out of the café and to my motorcycle.
I’m back at Cody’s house soon enough and I quickly make my back inside and then up to Cody’s room. He’s still asleep when I get in, but then again, not much time has passed. It’s still early in the morning and no one will be up for a long time.
My phone vibrates with a text message. I look down at the screen.
Missing me already? – Jackson.
I roll my eyes and type out a reply.
Only in your dreams Storm.
My phone vibrates again shortly after as his reply comes in. It’s only one word.