Rose

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Chapter 43: Conspiracy theories

Lisa Giovanni’s POV

I was exhausted as we left the airport to head back to Washington. Catching the killer was a great thing, but no, nothing could be simple. Our serial killer was being helped by her brother, who was no other than a senior FBI agent overseeing the entire investigation.

I was in damage control mode the whole way back. The President was fine with the pardons of Gunny, Rose and their friends, he didn’t want to hurt relations with the Packs any more than they had been already. He was furious when I told him how deep they thought it might go. He took betrayal personally, as a leadership failure. I wouldn’t want to be in his next Cabinet meeting. Between his agencies and the military, who knew how far it went.

He wanted me in the White House as soon as I arrived, he said he would send a car for me.

I looked over at Assistant AG Charlie Watson, who was having just as much fun as I was. He spent most of the flight getting the warrant for Agent Luis’ arrest, then talking with multiple levels of government when the Pack took custody of him instead. He looked at me as we made our approach to the airport. “Lisa, we got played on this one,” he said. “Did you know that was why they were asking for the land transfer?”

“No, but it makes sense now. I didn’t know they were going to try and draw them out. It’s genius, really. It also helps us in a way.”

“How the hell does this shitshow help us?”

“It will be over quickly, that’s how. No public trial, no lawyers grandstanding, no steady drip of journalists and gossip sites. One is dead, the other soon will be. All we need to do is figure out who was helping Luis cover the tracks and take care of that. Do it right, plea deals, and the public forgets about it.”

He rubbed his eyes. “What about the Packs?”

“You can fight it, but they captured Maitea on their lands. They take her, kill the two, they’ll be happy with that. Declare victory and go home, the message is that we worked together and took down the conspiracy. Work it right and you can even make it seem like the wolves leaving the Task Force was designed to entrap Luis.” I picked up my phone, looking at the text messages, my car was waiting. “Damage control is part of my job, we can make this work in our favor.”

“Maybe. I still have to put up a show of resisting extradition, and who knows what her own lawyers will do to gum up the works. You’re right, though, if they get quick Pack justice, people will quickly move on.” The landing announcement came, we buckled up and watched as the jet landed. As soon as we had taxied to a stop, a Town Car pulled next to the plane. “Nice, you get a driver, I get to walk to my car,” he grumbled.

“Yeah, well, I have to come all the way back here and get my car when we’re done.” We walked out and I went into the back seat, immediately going to sleep for the hour-long drive downtown.

“Ma’am, we’re here,” the driver said as he shook my shoulder. I looked up, we were in the secure garage of the Executive Office Building, across from the White House. I sat up, wiping the drool off my face.

“Thank you,” I said as I got out. I checked my phone for the time, and texted my boss that I had arrived and just needed time to freshen up. I went to my office first, taking out the spare clothes I kept there for times such as this. Going to the locker room, I took a shower and dressed, putting makeup over the dark circles under my eyes. All the travel and stress was catching up to me. “Tough it out, girl,” I said as I walked back to my office. I grabbed a Red Bull, guzzling half of it before heading out for the underground hall.

The drink was gone before I got to the security checkpoint. I was taken up to wait outside the conference room where the President was holding his cabinet meeting. The normal meeting ended, and everyone was excused except those in Homeland Security and Defense. As soon as the door closed, the President stood and motioned me forward. “Thank you for handling this with the Packs, Lisa,” he said as he gave me a handshake. “I want you to brief them quickly on what you know.”

I knew that he liked these things high level and quick, if he wanted detail he would ask for it. I took five minutes going over the meeting where the Packs presented evidence of a conspiracy to aid the Scrabble Killer, their actions to lure them out and capture them, and the current situation. “In speaking with AG Watson, legally the Packs have the right to try and sentence Maitea Jennings even though she is in a human hospital. We both agree that we are better served by letting them do so; a trial in Federal court would drag this on for years, and keep bringing back the narrative that your departments are working against you. We recommend a quiet investigation to identify and remove those who helped Luis, but basically, we wash our hands of this and let them do what they do best.”

“You think this is a bigger conspiracy than just the FBI?” The Attorney General was leaning towards me as he talked.

“They had evidence that it went outside the FBI, but we don’t know what level. I’d let the investigation uncover it.” I expanded on messaging, how we could turn the captures into a positive for Pack relations.

“That would be good,” the Secretary of Defense said. “The lack of trust has to be addressed if we are ever to integrate werewolves and werecats into our government and our military. We need them with us, our military capabilities will greatly increase if they are with us openly.”

A man came into the room and whispered something in the President’s ear. His expression changed to one of shock and anger. “Tell them,” he said.

“We just got word from Albuquerque. Maitea Jennings was killed in the hospital about thirty minutes ago. A man with Homeland Security identification got past the guards at her door and slit her throat. He was gone by the time it was discovered. The surveillance cameras were disabled, so we’re going through offsite cameras now.”

My shoulders slumped, things just got worse. The President put his hand on my shoulder. “Thank you, LIsa. Turn over your information and get some rest,” he directed.

“Thank you, sir.” I turned and exited the room, the agent at the door closing it behind me. I walked back over to my office.

My counterpart with the CIA, Ron, took one look at me and pulled me away from the door. “Lisa, you look like shit,” he said as I laughed at him. “When did you last sleep?”

“I got an hour in the car. Now I have to get a cab back to the airport to get my car.”

“Later,” he said. “Come on, I’ll drive you there. I’ll take a long lunch.” He wouldn’t take no for an answer; recently divorced, he had been working patiently for months to get me to date him. He was a decent guy, but I wasn’t interested, and I was working way too hard for an office romance.

I wasn’t going to turn down the ride, though. I grabbed my stuff and followed him down to his car, a BMW convertible. I’m asleep before he enters the address of the airport into his navigation system.

He wakes me when we are parked near my car in the executive lot of the small airport. “Coffee. I need coffee.”

“There’s a Starbucks in the terminal,” he said.

“I’ll buy.” I tossed him my keys. “Can you put my stuff in my car while I order?” He caught them and walked over, leaving his car door open and running. I made it to the sidewalk when I was thrown forward from the blast.

I rolled on the sidewalk, my knees and hands taking the brunt of the fall. Looking back, I saw the fireball as my car was already fully engulfed in flames.

I ran back, the heat was too much and there was no way he survived. I jumped into his car and drove away, reaching the main road just before the fire trucks started to show up. Someone had tried to kill me, I should be dead, and the safest thing was to remain that way.

I set the navigation system for Albuquerque. I would be safer with Rose than with my own people.

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