Exiting the elevator, the first thing that hit me, was the strong scent of fresh coffee. Dodging past a man, who was too busy staring at his phone screen to pay attention, I brushed my hand over my tailored black pinstripe suit, dusting off the stray lint that had caught against the fabric. My heels clicked against the polished floor, my footsteps heading in the direction of my work space.
Rounding the corner, I entered the bullpen. It was teaming with people this morning, an unusually high amount for a regular day to day situation at least. Curiosity peaked, I made my way through the crowd, pausing by my desk and pretending to check my pigeon hole, all the while watching the agents that were grouped together in the office up ahead.
“Must be something major if Elmsworth’s there.” A voice muttered in my ear.
I recognised that voice well. Fellow Special Agent, and also my ex, Henry McGuire. I could always count on him to be on top of anything going on around here, and this was definitely something. Elmsworth was the Assistant Director of our field office, and his involvement was definitely a cause for intrigue, and possibly concern.
“Certainly looks like it.” I agreed, flicking through the envelopes in my in-tray.
“Don’t pretend that you’re not interested Nikki, I know you too well.” He teased, leaning against my desk and crossing his arms.
I tossed the papers down with a sigh, turning to face him, and rolling my eyes as I took in the familiar cocky smirk on his handsome face. I was pretty sure by this point, that Henry was born smug. The only thing that worked in his favour, was that he managed it in a charming manner.
“Is that so?” I asked skeptically, putting my hand on my hip and smirking back.
Just as he opened his mouth to answer, the door of the office swung inwards and the bullpen instantly went silent as SSA Douglas Chandler stepped out. He was an intimidating man, with sharp features that made him look stern and foreboding, under his light blonde hair. His dark eyes were cold and never allowed you to get any insight into what was going on in his mind. He scanned the area, his expression turned to confusion at everyone’s stillness. Realising they were caught slacking, everyone immediately began to bustle back to work, and Chandler cleared his throat.
“Special Agent Valance? Can you join us for a moment please?”
“Of course, Sir.” I replied, taken aback, but recovering quickly.
He ducked back inside and I turned to face Henry, seeing my own confusion mirrored in his widened green eyes. Sidestepping him, I swatted his legs as I passed, indicating for him to get off my desk and disappear to his own.
As I reached the door, it opened again, a bunch of people filing out past me and leaving just Chandler, Elmsworth and one other man, that I’d never met before, inside.
“Sir.” I greeted them, inclining my head to them each in turn.
“Agent Valance, please take a seat.” Elmsworth said, waving a hand at the chair opposite his desk.
He looked as formal as always, his grey hair immaculately styled in a tidy combover, and his plain, dark grey suit was pressed and crease free, fitting to his tall, thin frame. A pair of thin framed glasses sat on his nose, which he pushed higher up as they slid down.
Following his suggestion, I sat in the seat he pointed to, taking note of the thick manilla folder that sat on the desk in front of me.
“Are you familiar with the Calaway Firm?” Chandler asked, taking the seat next to me.
I nodded, things beginning to make sense.
“Brothers, into arms trafficking for the most part, but also have ties to counterfeiting operations, money laundering and murder.” I answered, reeling off what I could recall from the few times that I had brushed up against the name in my cases.
Chandler picked up the folder, handing it to me and leaning back in his seat as he continued:
“Dashiel and Luke Calaway, originally from England. Children of Duncan Calaway, the head of the family Firm in London.” He explained as I opened the folder and was greeted with surveillance photos of two identical men. “Both of them moved here two years ago for reasons unknown initially, but given the criminal activity that they have since been involved in, it’s presumed that they were sent here by their father to expand into America.”
I scanned the pages, various sheets of intel, from images taken by british police, to ones taken here by LAPD and other Agents. Crime scene photographs from shootouts that they were suspected of being involved in, and of three deceased males, all shot and dumped in random locations in the city.
“Who are these three?” I asked, reading over the notes on the murdered men.
“Unsure. They weren’t in the system, and there was never much that came up on them. Could be that they aren’t American citizens, or more likely-”
“Someone was very good at hiding their real identities.” I finished for him.
He nodded, crossing one leg over the other and tenting his fingertips in front of him, observing my continued study of the contents in the folder.
“So what are we thinking? Rival organisation? Turf war?” I asked.
“That’s what we’re hoping that you can find out.” Elmsworth intercepted. “Along with shutting the entire firm down for good.”
My eyebrows shot up in surprise as I took in the meaning of his words.
“Yes.” He leant forwards, removing his glasses and tossing them down onto the desk. “We’ve got new information that has provided us with a perfect opportunity to put someone in undercover. We have discussed it, and think that you’re the perfect fit for the job.”
Going undercover, infiltrating an organisation like this, it would be risky, and impossible to know just how long it could go on for. But this was the kind of thing that I had signed up for when I joined the FBI. To bring criminals down and ensure that they paid for what they did. To ensure that justice was served and that the law was upheld. And with that in mind, it made my decision an easy one.
“I’ll do it.”