Daley led the way into the building and onto an elevator. He pushed in the number five. Marrok wanted to ask what Jennifer did for the FBI, but he figured Daley would just make a smartass comment and let Jennifer speak for herself. That was his way, and so Marrok kept the question to himself. Perhaps she had INTERPOL connections if she was able to help him as Daley had suggested.
The elevator stopped on the fifth floor and Daley again led the way, down a hallway, a right turn, and then there was an office door with a gold label outside. It was engraved, “Special Operations Division.” Daley walked through the doorway and scanned the room. There were a few desks in cubicles. If there was anyone in the room, it was not obvious.
“Jen!” Daley called out just loud enough to be heard but just soft enough to not cause a scene. A woman one row of cubicles back stood up into view and waved at them. Daley motioned for Marrok to follow and made his way back to her. Jennifer remained standing and gave Daley a hug as he reached her desk.
“Uncle Bill, you never visit!”
“You never invite me,” Daley replied wittingly.
“Not true,” she said. “And who is this?”
“Kasey Marrok,” Daley replied for him. Marrok held out his hand to shake hers.
“Hello Kasey,” she said, returning his handshake.
“Hello,” Marrok replied.
“Well Uncle, what can I help you with?” Jennifer asked.
“Do you have a room?” Daley’s voice shrank to a lower volume.
“Of course,” she cocked her head at them. “Follow me.” Jennifer led them to a conference room just a few strides from her desk. She invited them in and shut the door behind them. Daley and Marrok sat on one side of the table and Jennifer sat opposite of them. She seemed friendly and confident. Big smile, questioning eyes, shoulder length hair, fit, and left handed if her handgun on her belt was any indication.
“So,” she began again, “what do you need Uncle?”
“Actually,” Daley started, “it’s what Kasey needs.”
“And what does Kasey need?” she asked, facing Marrok. Marrok let out a sigh. It pained him to have to retell the story again. He would try to keep it as short as possible.
“Korbin Drake. He escaped from a prison in Childress last week. He has since murdered four people, committed a robbery, attempted to murder the detective who originally arrested him, and has resisted arrest on two occasions now. I know he went to Mexico, to Ciudad Acuna and that he was there probably as late as yesterday. I suspect he boarded a flight there, probably yesterday, and went somewhere else. I need to know where he went.” Marrok kept eye contact with her. She did the same. She was thinking it over, maybe replaying what he had said before making any comment of her own.
“How do you know he was in Ciudad Acuna?” she asked.
“I was able to track him that far.”
“Yes, but how?” she persisted. Marrok stared blankly at her. Nothing he could say would get past her. He knew just by the short interaction thus far, she could not be talked into anything regardless of what Drake had done. She was a good agent.
“Sweetie,” Daley interrupted the staring contest that had begun between Jennifer and Marrok. “Is there anything you could do to help us find this guy?” Jennifer leaned back in her chair. She was staring at the two of them, one, and then the other. She was thinking about it, considering the lack of information provided. She was hard to read. Marrok did not like the odds. She stared hard at him for a moment, then at her uncle again. She frowned and leaned forward in her chair.
“It’s a shame you only have a guess of where he went,” she said.
“It’s not a gue-” Marrok felt Daley’s elbow jab his rib.
“Shut up,” Daley said. “It’s not nice to interrupt a lady.” Marrok glared at him.
“Thank you Uncle Bill.” Jennifer turned to Marrok. “As I was saying, it’s a shame you only have a wild guess of where he went. I’ll give it a shot, but your perfectly understandable, non-border crossing guess could be wrong.”
“You know these young guys Jen, swinging at the ball blindfolded. Thanks for your help.”
“Don’t mention it Uncle. I mean that. Your next visit will be social only. Promise me that.”
“I promise sweetheart. I’ll stop by again real soon.”
“Alright,” she said as she stood up and smiled at them both. “I’ll call you if anything comes up.”
“Thanks again,” Daley said.
“Thank you,” Marrok agreed.
Marrok and Daley made their way back to the elevator, pushed the one with a star next to it, and descended to the first floor without saying a word. Marrok broke the silence as they exited into the parking lot.
“So she’s your niece.” Marrok said.
“Caught that did you?” Daley poked. “Don’t get any funny ideas.”
“What?” Marrok asked.
“She’s not your type.” Daley said.
“Oh. No, that’s not what I was getting at. I just didn’t know you had a niece in the FBI.” Not his type. As they climbed into the truck and began making their way back to Lubbock, the statement reminded him of a girl who was his type. Alice.
Daley turned the radio back on and so Marrok ended up with most of the drive back spent on thinking about Alice. He wondered what she was doing that evening. He would certainly be free. Jennifer probably would not get back to him for at least a day or two. Maybe she was free too. He pulled out his cellphone, tilting it so Daley would not see him texting if he happened to look over.
Are you free tonight?
He waited for a few moments like a child might. Staring at the message he had sent. Wondering if she had seen it right away. It soon struck him that she was an adult with a job. She was a doctor, probably a busy one. Unlikely that she would make replying to his text message a priority. For all he knew she was in some surgery with her phone in a locker nowhere near her. He shook his head. She would get back to him when she was able. No use staring at the phone. He slid it back into his pocket and stared out the window. The reply did not come until he was back at his desk in the bullpen.
Yes! Ok, third date technically. Where could they go? They’d done coffee, they’d done dinner and a movie. What else was there? He did not want to be repetitive. What to do, what to do.
Pick me up at 6
The text interrupted his panicked mental search of date ideas. Pick her up at six. He looked at his watch, it was 5:21. Quick turnaround.
Ok, see you then
He had a few more minutes before he would have to leave. He browsed the internet for “date ideas in Lubbock.” Nothing stuck out at him. It was no surprise he had not had a girlfriend in so long, he had no idea how to keep dates exciting. He looked at his watch again. 5:37, maybe he would think of something on the way.
The drive took longer than he expected and his watch read 6:03 as he strolled up to her doorstep. Marrok raised his hand to knock on the door, but it opened instead.
“You’re late,” Alice smiled.
“Yes I am,” he said.
“I’ll let it slide this time,” she said. “But this is strike one.” She made a face as if she were an upset child, but it was adorable. He liked her a lot. Strike! That was it! They were going bowling.
So he took her bowling, and it turned out to be a good decision. The lanes were not busy, the food was quick, and neither of them could bowl which made for a humorous environment. Neither of them reached a hundred in the first game, but four games in they were at least amateurs in the sport. She told a lot of jokes. He laughed more than he usually did. He caught himself wishing he had known her earlier. The feeling was unfamiliar to him. He was used to working. Work hard, go home, work hard again. It had been a pattern for a long time. He caught criminals for a living, he investigated crimes and he did not stray terribly far from that schedule. She made him want to though. Unfamiliar, but wonderfully lifting.
The drive back to her house felt somber as soon as they were in the car. It felt like a goodbye, even though he figured they would see each other again. He wanted the night to continue on. He wished again that he had met her long before now. He walked her up to the doorstep. She turned and looked at him.
“Well done Kasey Marrok,” she said, “that was another wonderful night.”
“Thank you,” he smiled, “I can’t wait for the next one.” He thought to himself that he sounded like a teenager at a job interview, he probably looked like one too.
“The next one? This one is over?”
“What?” he asked.
“Oh, I thought you were going to come in this time and meet my dog.”
Marrok choked a little. “Sure, yeah. I love dogs.”
She let him into the house and he scanned the place immediately. He didn’t mean to, it was just a pattern. It was bigger, more spacious than it looked from the outside. The entryway was large with a bench and a coat rack, both made of a dark stained wood. The floors were hardwood, lighter than the bench. The kitchen was straight ahead, nice big island in the middle of it. Table off to the left with a flower pattern cloth over it and four chairs. The adjoining room looked to be a living room, he couldn’t see it from the doorway. There was a staircase near the entry and a closed door next to that. It was a clean, well kept, and nice looking place overall.
Her dog tore down the stairs barking but stopped short of him. A chocolate lab. It was female, he could tell. The lab stared at him, cocking her head. He had that affect. Most dogs wanted attention from strangers, some would get hostile at newcomers, most just stared at him. He was different than the average house guest.
“Seems like she isn’t sure about you yet” said Alice as she hung her coat on the rack.
“I guess not.” Marrok replied.
“Don’t worry, she’ll come around. I am.” She smiled at him. “Do you watch football?”
“Yeah,” he lied. He hardly ever watched football. Hardly ever watched television to begin with.
“Good,” she said. “It’s probably halftime, but there’s a bit of the game left at least.” She wandered off into the kitchen, grabbed two beers from the fridge, and beckoned him to follow her into the living room. He did.
Sitting with her on the couch was the most relaxing thing he had done in years. She pulled a blanket from one side and slid close to him, laying her head down on his chest. He put his arm around her and they watched what was left of an early season football game. Marrok did not pay much attention to the score, he hardly sipped on his beer. He was just there, just happy.
Something nudged him awake. He opened an eye. Alice was still leaned up next to him, tapping him. “I have to go to work soon,” she said. He glanced at his watch, it was four in the morning.
“I’ve got an early shift today,” she added.
“Yeah, I should get going.” Merlin was probably staring at the door wandering about his missed dinner meal and the horses probably felt similarly.
“Ok,” she looked at him and smiled for a moment longer before getting off of the couch and going upstairs. He sat there for a moment. He had not slept in a chair for quite some time. His back was stiff. His arm was numb. But he felt great about the situation, about Alice. Korbin Drake could be standing outside and Marrok would not have felt inclined to leave.
Shortly she came back downstairs and he made his way out towards the entry to slip his boots back on. She was doing something in the kitchen. He eased into his sport coat.
“Do you want some coffee before you go?” she asked him.
“No thanks, I’ll get it later. I need to stop at home before I go in this morning.”
“Hey,” she said. He turned and looked around the corner into the kitchen. She was jogging up to him. “I like this,” she said.
“Me too,” he grinned.
“I want to see you more often.” She smiled at him. There was a light in her eye.
“I’ll agree to that.”
They reached out for each other simultaneously. Her hands were in his. Their eyes were locked. His heart was beating over a mix of several emotions. He really liked her. He leaned towards her. She leaned towards him. Their lips met. His arms moved up hers and wrapped around her. The world stopped for him. He would have let that kiss last forever if he could. They were there for a few minutes. She obviously felt the same way.
Finally, he needed a breath. “Would you like to-"
She interrupted him, “Yes.”
He smiled, “-come to my place tonight?”
“Yes,” she said again.