Always the Last to Know

Chapter 45

Ranger’s POV

Six Months Ago

Perfect. It was the only way to describe the mission that had made it to my inbox this morning. Absolutely perfect. How long had I been looking for a way to bring her back to Trenton, and now here was, clearly displayed on my screen. The government required me to send one of my men to join a team to disable a conflict rising in a remote area of Mexico. The exact same remote area of Mexico that I knew Stephanie Plum had just recently transferred to. That she was still alive given her proximity was amazing – almost unbelievable – but my sources told me she hadn’t been in danger even indirectly for years. I didn’t understand, though, how she could be so close to such civil unrest and not be drawn into its midst. It had always seemed that even the hint of trouble beckoned to her like a flame did a moth on a dark night.

My first instinct had been to take the mission myself, but memories of the way she’d acted in those months following the night she’d goaded me into proposing early only to reject me held me back. I knew she would not respond well to me just showing up out of the blue. My sources were unable to give me definitive reasons as to why she left, but I had a feeling it had a lot to do with me. Us. The relationship we’d been building. She’d made no secret of her confusion, her commitment issues.

Of course, I’d found ways to blame myself for her leaving. Kept a list of them in a book upstairs just to remind myself of every wrong I’d ever dealt her. In fact, it was that list that had been my unpinning five years ago. My thoughts drifted briefly to the nearly empty cabinet upstairs, catching on its sole occupant, on what it represented. I couldn’t let that happen again. I had to remain calm and send someone else in to do the dirty work. It irked me that I would not be able to manage the mission – either of them – alone, but if I wanted her back in my life in any capacity, I would just have to deal with it.

I considered the men very carefully. This wasn’t the usual, run of the mill mission where they go in, shoot some people and get out again. There was an element of discretion that needed to be upheld. I could just send any employee I have lying around. It had to be someone who knew Steph, was close to her in the old days. Someone she could trust. My options narrowed quickly with these new guidelines I’d set in place. I’d gone from an entire company-full of names to just six: Tank, Lester, Bobby, Hal, Cal, and Hector. They were the only ones I could trust with such a monumental task.

Almost as soon as I’d made the massive cuts, though, I found the list halved again. There were only really three options, and I had to think about it very carefully. Each one was absolutely capable of the tasks at hand, they’d proved so time and time again. But which was the right choice?

Bobby’s mild demeanour, stemming from his medical background, had always had the advantage of keeping Stephanie calm in even the most trying situations. She could be bleeding out on the pavement, refusing medical examination from the emergency crews that were first on the scene, but the moment Bobby started speaking to her in that soothing tone he had, assuring her she’d be alright, that he’d make sure she pulled through, she would comply with anything he suggested. It was like he alone could make her hold off putting other’s needs before her own and just admit that she needed help. I’d called him in on more than one occasion purely so that she would agree that she needed to go to the hospital. It was a dirty trick, but she’d needed treatment and he was the only one she would listen to on such matters.

If I sent Bobby, the best strategy for him to convince her to come back with him was if she had some injury or medical condition that needed attention. With none of that already pre-existing and Stephanie consistently keeping far from danger, the likelihood of Bobby being successful wasn’t as high as I’d like. This mission did not have a failure option.

Lester had similarly persuasive powers over Stephanie. He was able to coax her to smile and look on the bright side of life, even in the most trying situations. His knack for distracting her from the reality around her had been extremely useful more times than I’m willing to admit. Only he is as capable at guiding her back from the dark pit of despair as I am. But his unrequited love for her was an obstacle. If I sent him down to Mexico to with the implied duty of contacting her, would he be willing to return her to Trenton? Or would he simply take the opportunity to run away with her? Express himself as he’d never allowed himself to because of my words. Build a life with her in some unknown location.

His bitterness toward all things female following his divorce was starting to wear off. His anger at women mellowing to a simple distrust. Knowing how much he loved Stephanie, and also that he had blamed her – if only in an abstract way – for his fail relationship, was I willing to send him? I couldn’t be sure of his attitude toward her until I saw them both in the same vicinity once more. No way was I about to leave the fate of the mission up to my second cousin’s fluctuating opinion of Stephanie and the female population.

That left Tank.

Solid, dependable, intimidating. There was any number of angles he could take in order to convince Stephanie to return. And he was always discreet. I’d trusted him with my deepest secrets in the past and never once regretted it. Could I now trust him with not just my, but Stephanie’s future? Would I even have to mention this sub-mission to him? If there was a chance he could run into Stephanie, surely the fates would allow it to happen and Tank would just assume his orders from there....

Decision made, I hit the intercom on my desk phone and called Tank into the office. I’d brief him on the government mission only. If the plans they’d sent were followed to the letter he’d pass within a mile of the village and the volunteer compound where Stephanie was working. Tank’s instincts would kick in. Like me, he could sense when a threat, or a familiar, is nearby. He’d be drawn to her the same way I would.

One and a Half Weeks Later

I was just closing my office door after a particularly gruelling client meeting when my cell buzzed on my belt. A secure number. Slowly, taking a deep, cleansing breath – the kind I’d perfected in recent years to stop myself from doing something stupid... again – I put the phone to my ear. “Yo,” I said.

“I just found a plot twist,” Tank informed me vaguely. I knew in an instant what he was referring to, but had to wonder if he was aware I’d set it up this way. “5’7”, approximately 130 pounds, curly hair, blue eyes. How should I proceed?”

He’d just given me enough information to catch on to the supposed plot twist if I hadn’t been the one to engineer it. I still had no idea if he knew or not. I guess time would tell. “Complete the primary story arc and establish contact,” I ordered, promptly hanging up. There was no need for further discussion. Tank had a job to do and I couldn’t stand idle chit chat at the best of times, let alone in face of this new development. I had to distract myself until Tank could provide more information on the situation. My mind drifted again to the glass faced cabinet in the corner of my living room.

No.

Five Days Later

“What do you mean she refused to come back?” I demanded, slamming my fists down on the kitchen counter with more force that I’d intended. Tank stood across the kitchen of my seventh floor apartment, leaning casually against the cabinetry, like he hadn’t just failed the most important mission I’d ever given him.

“She refused to come back,” he shrugged, taking a sip from the bottle of water he held. “Did you expect me to kidnap her and smuggle her across the border?”

Yes! I thought, but immediately shook my head. Of course I didn’t want him to kidnap her. What was the point of dragging her back when she clearly didn’t want to come back? “Did she give a reason?”

“Her volunteer work,” Tank said vaguely, my stare made him continue though. “She committed herself to six months in that village, teaching kids English. She said she was just starting to break through to them. She couldn’t possibly abandon them now.”

“Did you even try to -.”

“Of course I tried, Ranger,” Tank snapped. “You know as well as I do how independent she is. Trying to bend her to your will is almost impossible, but I gave it a shot. She refused. Not much more I can do while on a government schedule.”

I held his gaze for a moment. I understood his reasons. I understood that the woman was a hard egg to crack, especially as out of practice as we were. But it didn’t ease the tense feeling I had in the pit of my stomach. I hadn’t planned for her to refuse. Somehow, I’d forgotten that she was defiant and flighty. Forgotten how she’d jumped ship without a word, without a trace. Somehow, I’d managed to convince myself that she would jump at the chance to come home.

“I made her promise we’d keep in contact,” Tank said after a long silence, crumpling the bottle and tossing it into the trash. He pushed off the cabinets and I knew instinctively that he was preparing to leave. “I’ll keep you informed,” he assured me on his way out.

Three and a Half Months Later

“What if we told her someone in her family or one of her friends was terminally ill?” I suggested. It was the crudest idea I’d come up with to date, but nothing else we’d tried had worked. We’d spun her return a million different ways in the last three months and none of them had enticed her to come back.

“Right,” Tank said, sarcasm dripping from his tone. He was sprawled in the arm chair across the from me, his feet propped on the coffee table next to his mug of coffee. We’d been brain storming for hours already. “I tell her someone she loves is on their death bed, she rushes back to find I lied, then what? She’ll never trust me again. She’d leave the moment she was done scolding me and your one connection to her would be lost.”

“But what if she didn’t leave immediately?” I supposed, grasping at straws. I’d never felt so desperate in my life. Stephanie Plum was dangling just out of reach. All I needed to do was reel her in a few inches and she’d be mine again.

“She left once because she didn’t want to be a charity case,” Tank pointed out. “You really think she’d hang around, knowing full and well that I’d deceived her just to get her back on her home turf? She’d see right through any plan to remind her why she loved Trenton and bolt. And it could be another six years before we find her again.”

He had a point, though I didn’t correct him on the fact that it had taken six years to find her, nor the fact that if she refused to talk to him I would l still have an ace up my sleeve. It had only taken four months and a very conveniently located family member to track her down. I’m sure I could do it again if I tried. Not that I was looking forward to such an occurrence. I just wanted her back where I could keep an eye on her. Where I could assure myself she was safe, rather than having others do it for me. Right now she was intangible. I couldn’t touch her. I couldn’t speak to her.

There had to be a way to get her to come back without making it feel like we were betraying her trust...

“I’ve got it!” Tank announced, jolting into an upright position for the first time in an hour. I waited for him to continue. “Every excuse she’s given always comes down to one thing, right?” he asked. I didn’t bother responding. He didn’t need me to. “The children she’s working with. She refuses to leave them halfway through the time she’s committed to them. I’m not abandoning them. They need me. I’m doing more good here than I ever could have back in Trenton. Everything comes back to her volunteer work and the children she’s teaching.” He paused, unnecessarily allowing time for it to sink in. I knew where he was going with this. “We have to make it seem like we need her. Not want. Want gets us nowhere. If we need her, she will eventually succumb.”

“What do you have in mind?” I asked. I could tell he had a plan already formulating in his head.

“We start a community support initiative,” he said, his eyes bright with clarity.

“How is that making us need her?”

He shook his head. “We’re not community supporters, Ranger,” he said, sounding exasperated. “The most we do is throw a few squatters out of windows once in a while as a favour to a landlord. We could probably manage a bit of volunteer work under someone else’s guidance, but setting up a relief centre of our own? We’d be shooting in the dark.” He paused, like he was waiting for me to say something, which is bizarre, because we both know that if I had something to say I’d have said it by now. “So we tell her we’re setting up a community aid centre and make out that we’re out of our depth. A little begging, and she’ll be flying home in no time. Stephanie Plum to the rescue.”

I gave a brief nod, thinking it through in my head. I’d purchase the building across the street months ago, thinking of turning it into a kind of bunk house to accommodate the ever growing number of onsite employees so that the fourth floor could be used for something more vital to the company. Now I had a better plan. “Make it so,” I instructed, standing from the couch.

“We’ll need to actually start work on a community project if this is to work,” Tank warned me.

“Of course. I’ll contact the builders tomorrow, we’ll draw up plans for the building across the street, you’ll put together a team and a mission statement and whatever else to start the wheels turning, and on Thursday you’ll moan about how much harder it is than you imagined, and how you’re unqualified for the job.”

“Yes sir,” he agreed, standing as well. Our gazes met briefly across the space before he gave a short nod and let himself out of my apartment. Already, I could feel Stephanie drifting closer.

The Following Thursday

I lived for Thursday nights. It was the only thing that kept me going some weeks. The opportunity to see Stephanie in more than just photographs, to hear her speak, to learn about her day to day life through her own words rather than those relayed via my spies in Mexico, to watch her reactions as she learned of the latest happenings in Trenton. She never spoke of me, and always changed the subject abruptly when Tank mentioned me, but Thursday nights were the only nights I managed to sleep without the terrifying, debilitating nightmares I’d been subjected to for as long as I can remember. It was like having the clear evidence that she was a live and not lying in some dirt ditch somewhere calmed my mind enough to keep the monsters at bay for a few hours.

I plugged the final cable into the television in Tank’s before stepping back to stare at the blank screen. Tank was still working on setting up the connection upstairs, working with the other end of the network cables and his laptop. Any moment now the screen would come alive and Tank would make the video connection with Stephanie.

I began to pace.

A few moments later, the screen lit up the dim space I was in revealing the chat program he’d been using to keep in contact with Stephanie. I stopped dead in my tracks, staring at the screen as Tank clicked call and it began it’s odd ring tone. Only a second or two passed before I could see Stephanie, sitting cross legged on a bed surrounded by random objects, on her bedside tables were stacks of paper and a document box. She must have her laptop on the bed nearby rather than on her lap like she usually did.

“Hey Tank!” she enthused, reaching over to drop a wad of papers into the document box. “How’s things?”

“Busy,” Tank replied from his little box in the corner as the web camera zoomed in on Stephanie. She’d obviously picked up the laptop to drag it closer. “What about you?”

“Busy as well,” she said, lifting a manila folder from the bedside table to wave it in frame.

“What’s that?” Tank asked, as if he could read my mind through the floor boards.

“Things the kids have given me. I’m trying to organise it all, but I keep getting side tracked.”

Knowing Stephanie, she’d spent more time looking at the items and smiling over memories than actually organising it all. Tank continued to prove we had a mental connection by mirroring my thoughts. “Reminiscing?”

She gave a rueful smile. “Big time,” she confirmed, a slight blush blooming on her cheeks. “So what’s keeping you busy?”

While she waited for Tank to reply she grabbed another couple of stacks of paper to slide into the document box on the other side. I watched the content expression on her face, the languid motions of her arms drifting across the frame. I was wrapped. I could watch her all night long if Tank would let me.

“My own big mouth,” Tank finally said, sounding tired, I didn’t bother glancing to his little square. I couldn’t miss a single second of the way Steph’s face moved, broadcasting all her feelings and thoughts. “I suggested to Ranger that we expand our community support initiative. Start really giving back.”

Her face split into the easy grin I loved her for. “That’s a fabulous idea!” But her expression fell a little in her pause, why was she thinking dark thoughts if she thought the community program was a fabulous idea? Before I could get too caught up in wondering what was going on in her head she shocked the breath from my lungs. “What does Ranger think?” She’d never mentioned me before in one of her conversations with Tank. Was it at all related to the expression that had crossed her face a moment ago? I hoped not.

“Unfortunately, he loves the idea,” Tank bemoaned, like I was some kind of tyrant or something.

Stephanie’s brow creased in confusion. “What do you mean, ‘unfortunately’?” she demanded. “It’s an excellent idea. Rangeman could do so much for the community. You’re a talented group of men with plenty to share.” Of course she always had the words to talk us up.

“He put me in charge of it,” Tank said flatly. A lie, he’d put himself in charge of it. It was his idea, it made sense that he would head it up.

“So you don’t really want to do extra community work?” she asked, the disappointment clear in her voice. It was that moment that I knew we’d hit the nail on the head in terms of figuring out how to lure her back to Trenton. Her whole life down in Mexico has revolved around volunteering and helping others who couldn’t help themselves. This was her soft spot.

“No, I want to,” Tank assured her. “I just never pictured myself heading up the sector.” Another lie, we both knew that his position was vital to this mission.

“But you take control of the entire company when Ranger goes in the wind,” Stephanie pointed out, making her second mention of me in ten minutes. Maybe all of our previous attempts to convince her to come back had done more than we thought. If she was willing to discuss me like this, maybe she was coming to terms with the fact that she would be making the trip to Trenton soon after all.

“Running the company is one thing,” Tank explained, while Stephanie absently picked up one of the items that were spread around her on the bed, this one looked like it a doll made of scraps of yarn. “I can do that easy,” Tank continued while I was transfixed on her actions. She stroked the doll’s head a few times before hugging it to her chest. None of the movements made me think she had any idea what she was doing. “Any day of the week. Pulling together a functioning community respite centre with around the clock workers including medically trained staff, on the other hand, is a little daunting.”

Stephanie rolled her eyes, not believing his inability for a moment. “Treat it like one of you missions?” she suggested. Little did she know this was part of a mission. A mission to bring her back where she belongs. “What’s your first step?”

“Delegate tasks?” Tank suggested, a joking tone to his voice. Steph just stared at the screen, the doll still in her arms as she attempted to raise one eyebrow. Six years and she still hadn’t figured it out. “Figure out the goal, find a location, draw up a plan, have the boss approve it, get a team together, then delegate tasks.” All of which we’d already done.

“Close enough,” she conceded.

“Speaking of close enough,” Tank said. Good, here we go. “You’ve got a week left, is there any way I can convince you to ditch now and take over for me?”

Anger crossed her expression and shone through in her voice as she replied, “How many times do I have to tell you? I’m not abandoning these kids.”

“How about if you come back and join my team when your week is up then?” he suggested. “I could really use your help and the guys would love to see you.”

Her expression was suddenly stricken as her eyes darted all over the place. I wasn’t sure what had cause her reaction, but I had to make sure we succeeded in this mission one way or another. I started pacing, thinking up scenarios that could fix her panic. Nothing was plausible.

“Relax, Steph,” Tank said soothingly. “I haven’t told anyone.”

I whipped out my phone, typing a quick text to Tank as an idea hit me. Offer her an anonymous interview with men she doesn’t know.

In the long pause that came after Tank’s assurance, I watched his little square in the corner, forgetting about Steph’s reactions for a change. Finally, he lifted his phone and read my text before turning back to the screen.

“So will you come back?” he asked.

“I don’t want you to just give me a job, Tank,” she stated firmly, just as I’d expected she would.

“But you’re qualified for it,” he responded. “You’re probably more qualified for this task than I am.”

“Remember what I told you about why I left?” she said, sounding exasperated and tired. “I don’t want to be a charity anymore.”

“Okay,” Tank agreed, pausing for a short moment. “I’ll see what I can do to appease you.”

“Unbiased?” Her expression was complicated. I couldn’t figure out what she was thinking.

“How do you feel about applying under a false identity to a board of Rangemen whom you’ve never met?” Tank finally suggested.

Her brows drew together in thought. “That would never work,” she said with a slight shake of her head, stroking the doll once more. “My cover would be blown within minutes of getting the job.”

“Probably,” Tank agreed with a shrug. “But you’d get the job on your skill set not your history with the company or any of its employees.”

She rolled her eyes, stifling a yawn. “This plan of yours is bound to fail, but I guess I’ll play along. I haven’t set anything up for after my time’s up here anyway.”

“Great,” Tank enthused. “I’ll lock in this flight for next Sunday then.”

The chat window disappeared as he disconnected I collapsed onto the coffee table, exhausted, but hopeful. In a week I’d see her in person for the first time in six years.

A Little Over a Week Later

The plan we’d offered Stephanie for getting the job we’d put aside for her fair and square would be all well and good if I had any men I could trust to give her the job but weren’t part of the core team. None of the men I’d hired in the last six years would dare to suggest we hire a woman. They feared me too much. The older guys had put the idea in their heads that I would never hire a woman and to even mention it was to invoke my wrath. I’d made this realisation this morning and called Tank with the change of plans. He’d yelled at me for about five minutes before finally agreeing that it had to be done. It would likely end in her feeling like a charity case after all, just like Tank said, since I couldn’t see her sitting through an entire interview with me and keeping up her appointed cover. But there was no way I was going to let her leave my office without a job. I’d managed to uproot her from her comfort zone, so the least I could do was ease her passage back into life in Trenton.

She said she didn’t want to be given a job, but I’m sure when it came down to it that she would accept. I could make her just as content here as she was in Mexico. I would give her the opportunity to help people in need if that’s what it took to keep her here. She would have free access to all of the company’s resources, just like she always had.

I sat in my office, hands clasped together on the desk as I watched the security feed displayed on the computer screen. Moments ago, she had entered the building and was being shown to the elevator. Her new look was mesmerising. It was odd to view her in business attire after years of looking at photos of her in casual clothes. And before that the only time I saw her out of jeans or cargos was either a distraction night or in the bedroom.

As she stepped onto the elevator, adjusting her tight, straight skirt and fluffing up her red, curly hair, a knock sounded on the office door.

“Enter,” I called.

“Sir,” Cal said, opening the door with a flick of his head to get the hair out of his eyes. “There’s a problem with the Nelson account. Mr. Stuart is insisting he speak with you on the matter.” I nodded my understanding, not bothering to say anything. He’d give me the information I needed. “Line two,” he said.

“Have Ms. Danger wait in a conference room,” I instructed picking up the receiver. “I’ll be with her as soon as possible.”

*o*

Upon hanging up with Mr. Stuart, I immediately contacted the guys on monitors, letting them know they could send Kit Danger in now. Waiting was agonising. I was about to get my first real look at her. I wanted to just go and collect her myself, to save myself the wait, but managed to contain myself. It wouldn’t do to appear eager.

Minutes passed and I found myself pacing to the door and back, pausing to listen for her approach on every other pass. Finally a higher voice than I was used to hearing within the walls of the building reached my ears, followed by Lester’s rumbling tone. A sharp rap on the door, and Lester announced her presence.

Both he and Cal had referred to her as Kit Danger. Had they not recognised her? I didn’t think her disguise was that convincing, then again, I knew for a fact who she really was. Perhaps it was just that knowledge that allowed me to see past the facade to who she was underneath. I wondered how long it would take before they made the connection if she were to keep her cover up for an extended period. Would I have to send half my staff back through basic training to prove a point?

I took a deep breath and opened the office door and was astounded by how much better she looked in real life. I mean, she looked good in pictures and on the screen, but nothing beat the real thing. I flicked my gaze over her, taking in every detail to commit it to memory. The way the light glowed through her red curls. The way the dark swooping eye liner when combined with the frames of her glasses accented how pale her fake grey eyes were. Her tanned skin. The gentle swell of her breasts peaking out of the top of the blue green dress. The way the material hugged her curves and stopped just above her knees. The obvious smoothness of her legs. The heels. God I loved it when she wore heels.

By the time I managed to pull my gaze back up to her face she was still working her way down my body. She seemed to be committing the creases on the front of my trousers to memory, judging by the way her eyes roved hungrily over the area. I waited patiently for her to be done.

“Kit Danger,” she blurted, thrusting her hand out at me as her head snapped up, a wild look in her eyes. “You must be Mr. Ranger.”

“Nice to meet you, Ms. Danger,” I replied, being sure to keep my blank face on. She didn’t need to know how much her responses amused me.

“That rhymes,” she said suddenly, cringing at her own words. “Maybe you should call me Kit.”

“And you should call me Ranger,” I added.

“Of course,” she agreed.

I took a step to the side to allow her to enter. “Come in and take a seat,” I prompted. As she took the first step, I couldn’t help but tease her. It didn’t matter if we were pretending not to know each other, I couldn’t help my instincts. She’d always loved my humour. “Mine is the over sized, incredibly comfy and intimidating one behind the desk, but feel free to take any of the others.”

The look in her eye as she glanced over her shoulder at me, all shocked and haunted, would have made me laugh six years ago. The thought that she could be so afraid of me now dampened the merriment her reaction caused in me, though. I silently lowered myself into my chair – the big scary one I’d pointed out to her – and busied myself with re-opening the lie filled file on her Tank had delivered to my inbox late last week. I’d scoured ever last detail within it over the weekend several time. Obsessing over each and everything. Tank’s sister had done a phenomenal job, as always with her appearance, but the devil is always in the details, and between them she and Tank had put together a believable and modest fake history. Nothing within it would make me want to check details had it arrived on my desk under any other circumstances, and that was the key to success.

I started the questions with the most basic thing I was curious about. Her new bilingual status. “It says here you’re fluent in Spanish,” I said.

She was staring at me hard, like she was analysing my every move, so I avoided her gaze as much as possible, examining the file and making notes between fleeting glances. Eventually, she managed to reply, also in Spanish, giving me my first hint of how much she’d grown in our time apart. “I wouldn’t say fluent exactly,” she said, a slight hitch in her breath. “But I do okay.”

It sounded pretty fluent to me. Tank was right, she was better at it than him. She’d only said a few words, but her inflection was perfect. It was like talking to a native. She was a natural. I realised I’d have to be much more careful about what I said in her presence if we ever had the chance to be together again.

And that’s how the rest of the interview went. I’d ask a question and she’d give me a reply that awed me or reminded me why I loved her, and at no point did she reveal her true identity. There were a couple of moments that were much more Steph-like than the rest, but overall, she did a great job of staying in character, not that I should be surprised, she’d always been great at distractions. She could have been an actress if she’d so desired.

As I came to the end of my questions I battled with the decision of whether to reveal that I knew it was her or not. One thought of the clueless men who had already failed to recognise her and I’d made up my mind. I’d allow her to settle in under the safety of her cover. I’d dragged her all this way even though she didn’t want to leave her new life, and now I was going to give her time to come to terms with that before she had to deal with the confronting situation of discussing why she left in the first place.

And I’d punish the men for each day it took for them to make the connection.

“Well then, Kit,” I said, having laid out exactly what her duties would be so that she could agree or disagree with them upfront. I stood and rounded the desk, standing within her personal space bubble for a moment, revelling in the way her proximity made the tingling on the back of my neck that had been presence since the moment she entered the building increase in intensity. “I’d like to offer you a trial shift this afternoon, just to see how you fit in with the men. Come in around two this afternoon. I’ll have Aaron show you around and then you can meet the team you’ll potentially be working with.”

I extended my hand to her, flashing my two hundred watt grin and trying not to laugh when a strangled sound left her throat. She probably didn’t know she’d made it. Slowly, she accepted my hand, looking shell shocked.

“Th-thank you for this opportunity,” she stammered.

“I’ll have Tank show you out and give you the forms you need to fill out,” I informed her, crossing to the door as she gathered her bag and stood. When she was half way to the door, I opened it and quickly knocked on Tank’s door. I didn’t have to tell him anything right now. He knew what the go was, but I’d have to update him on the new plan after she was gone.



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