That tell-tale smirk was a dead giveaway. Vivian probably knew, too, but she was more mature in her way of handling it. Still, Martin saw how Viv’s eyes softened when Samantha was near him. He didn’t know about Jack; that man was hard to read at any time.
It was Martin’s first Monday back at the office. The elevator ride to the Missing Person’s Unit floor seemed longer than normal but when he stepped into the hallway he felt a zing of excitement. He strode down the hall, shoulders back, eyes cast aside to watch the busy agents and staff already at work.
He first saw Samantha behind the glass walls of their office space, sitting at her desk, her head tipped aside as she studied the papers in her hand. The other hand held a large cup of coffee, index finger unconsciously tapping the vessel. Thick blonde hair flowed over her shoulder and under her chin, softly framing her face in gold.
It took his breath away and his step faltered. Finally, he forced his gaze to the office door, cleared his throat and pushed it open. When he raised his head, the first thing he saw what that signature smirk.
Yep, Danny knew.
Circumstance forced Martin and Samantha to take things very slowly since the Full Moon case. Between interviews, Martin’s required doctor and psychiatrist appointments and his mother, father, sister, nieces and nephews; he hadn’t been alone for over two months. Now that he was cleared for full duty things would finally fall back into the old routine and Martin could finally continue his interrupted life. He hoped that life would include Samantha.
But first he had to deal with smirking Danny. Martin paused inside the door as Danny walked to him, hand extended.
“Hey, glad to see you back, compadre!” he greeted.
Martin grinned. “Thanks. Good to be back.”
Vivian then swept by, giving him a quick one-armed hug. “You look great, Martin.”
“Thanks. I feel great.” Then he’d turned to find Samantha right there in front of him. Danny faded back toward his desk with that know-it-all smile. Martin easily dismissed it as his gaze met hers.
“Hey,” she breathed, blushing slightly. Samantha reached out and touched his arm, the connection electric.
“Hey yourself,” he replied easily.
“All cleared, huh? We’ve missed you.”
“Yeah. I finally have my place back to myself, too. Guess I have to get used to being on my own again.”
She brightened. “Really? No more company?”
“Finally,” he chuckled, “no!”
They didn’t have time for anymore as Jack entered the room with their newest case in hand. Samantha indicated the conference table with a nod of her head and they moved in that direction. Danny and Viv arrived at the same time and they all settled into chairs.
Jack started the meeting with a crooked grin. “Good to have you back, Martin. You doing okay?”
Martin leaned back and returned the smile. “Yep, I’m great. It’s good to be back.”
“Nothing like hitting the ground running,” Jack stated. “Let’s do it.”
Their latest missing person seemingly disappeared in the middle of the New York Stock Exchange’s trading floor just after the closing bell. Martin and Danny were tasked with interviewing the Exchange members present at the time.
One day later the amount of information they had gathered was staggering, most of it proving to be worthless. The pair had been chasing down people all morning. This guy may have well disappeared from the middle of Yankee Stadium in playoff season by the number of names yet to be interviewed.
“Damn,” Danny mumbled, flexing his hand. “I’m running out of notebooks and my fingers are cramping.” He glanced back at the Stock Exchange entrance. “I do not want to go there again.”
“I feel your pain,” Martin said.
Their lunch break consisted of sidewalk vendor hot dogs on a crowded sidewalk.
“So,” Danny started as he chewed, “hasn’t Full Moon filed their last motion? Is the trial finally set?”
Martin angled his hot dog to keep the crowning sauerkraut from sliding down his arm. “The DA thinks their last motion will be denied today. The trial date should be set then.” He managed a clean bite.
“When? Any idea?”
“They’re guessing about two weeks. Zhan’s been tucked away too long and they’re afraid he’ll bolt if this is put off too much longer. The guy’s pretty nervous.”
“Yeah, I would imagine that thinking about the Triad coming after you would cause a few sleepless nights. When the trial date’s set are they going to assign agents to guard you?”
“Don’t know. We’ll cross that bridge when we get to it, I suppose. No one’s made any threats yet.”
Zhan had been Full Moon Shipping’s bookkeeper and held the financial information that would put suspected Triad chief Mee Liang away. Martin was the only witness that could physically put Liang in the company of murders and kidnappers, and thus undeniably connecting Liang with the Triad. Whereas Zhan’s testimony linked Liang to the financial crimes, Martin’s testimony linked the man to capital crimes and guaranteed the man would never see freedom again.
Martin just wanted it to be over. He’s already sacrificed nearly three months to the accidental case that he’d become involved with while off-duty.
“Maybe the Triad’s just has happy to see Liang out of the picture,” Danny thought out loud.
“We can only hope,” Martin replied tiredly. His cell phone rang just as they finished their hurried lunch. The conversation was brief and he disconnected with a sigh. “Well, that’s that. The trial’s set for one week from Monday.”
Danny’s eyes widened. “That’s quick. It’ll be good to have it over, huh?”
“Yeah,” Martin answered, rubbing his eyes. “It will be nice to move on.”
With that, Danny’s insufferable smirk appeared and his eyebrow waggled. “Or move in?”
Martin laughed, shaking his head. “At this point I’d be happy with a normal date.”
“Which is when?” There was nothing subtle about Danny’s encouragement.
Martin shrugged, his eyes twinkling. “Friday. I hope. It depends on this case.”
Giving his partner a sidelong look, Martin grinned lopsidedly. “Forget it, Danny. That, I’ll keep to myself.”
Danny shook his head and nudged Martin’s side. “What, you don’t trust me?”
“No,” Martin replied without hesitation. “Now let’s get back to work so we can hopefully wrap this up before Friday and I can embark upon a rewarding personal life again.”
“Is that shrink-speak?”
“Shut up, Danny.”
The Federal holding facility hummed with activity now that visiting hours were in full swing. The cramped rooms set aside for attorney visits were a far cry from the plush offices Mee Liang was used to and it served to focus his energies in planning his departure from all of this. He’d fought his entire life to get ahead in the Triad family and this was no different.
“The motion was denied,” his attorney said lowly to his client in rapid Chinese. “The trial begins on the 25th.”
Liang’s expression was unreadable. Even dressed in the denim uniform of the holding facility the Triad chief carried himself with an aristocratic air. The way he sat at the visiting room table was no different than how he carried himself in one of his many plush executive suites. “Then we shall move on to the next phase immediately, Mr. Wu. Any questions?”
“No, sir. The contract has already been announced and we expect bids immediately. It will not take long to find a suitable candidate.”
The Triad leader forced the younger attorney to meet and hold his gaze to make his message clear. “You will handle negotiations personally. You must find someone outside the family. There cannot be a link between this contract, my family, or you. Do what you must. ”
“I will be careful.”
“I expect an initial report in seven days.”
Wu hesitated, thinking quickly, then stood and bowed shortly. “I will be in touch.”