Mallan Park, Farmer’s Branch.
23 seconds of nervous shuffling later . . .
This is what I get for trying to tell half a story. A fraction of the truth.
“What?” I echo, realizing I’m screwed for sure.
“You said, I’m just the agent. What does that mean, agent?”
Angela, I say very softly, I’ve made some rather drastic mistakes in my short time here. And I have to make amends for my mistakes.
What the Hell. Not like there’s much difference now. I might as well tell her about . . .
Chirp, chirp, chirp!
In the game-saving pass of all time, my phone starts buzzing and making noise. It’s programed for vibrate mode only, unless it’s a super-duper emergency. And that means that they’ve found something.
Angela folds her arms across her chest, her eyes becoming thin slits, her lips tightly pressed together. She’s so cute when she’s angry and unsatisfied.
I hold up an index finger, “Just let me see who . . . ”
She sighs one of those you’re never getting laid sighs as I pick up the phone and answer. Thinking that maybe it will help my cause, I put the phone on speaker so she can hear.
“Jack . . . this is Hal.”
Oh, hello, Hal. I’m actually in the middle of talking with Angela about something extremely—
“ . . . hello, Angela. I am so sorry for your loss.”
She looks confused. Ricky must have been into the office earlier.
“ . . . Jack, we’ve just received SIG-INT,” Hal says.
I whisper, “That’s signal-intelligence,” to Angela. She still looks confused.
“ . . . that the Anonymous voice from Rome has landed in Ecuador. In fact, he is heading towards Cotopaxi with a group of investigators from the Vatican.”
Angela says, “What is he talking about?”
I shush her with my finger as Hal continues, “ . . . and Jack?”
“ . . . they found a body.”
I’ll be in as quick as I can. Do the others—
“They’ve already been alerted.”
I ended the call and slid the phone down into my pocket. Suddenly, everything seemed less important. As much as I like Angela, there are more pressing issues. If I lose her, then it was probably going to happen no matter what I told her.
I look at her, and I have no way to say the things I would like to, nor do I have the time to explain them properly.
“Angela, I like you a lot. More than any other girl, ever. But I have to go right now. There are children dying in South America and, well . . . I have to try and help them. I know you don’t believe me, and I wouldn’t either, but . . . I have to save the world.” I shrug, “Nobody else is going to do it.”
And she stands up, just looking at me. She’s probably trying to figure out how many drugs I’m on. She’s studying psychology, so I know she’s full of textbook theories right about now. The look on her face speaks volumes. Instead of long walks on the beach, she’s probably picturing long sessions of electro-shock therapy. Instead of sipping fruity drinks while the sun sets, I’ll be slobbering incoherently while they recharge the batteries.
But I don’t have time to make all this right. And at the moment I’m about to give up she grabs me on the collars of my $260 shirt and pulls me to her. We’re so close we’re no longer two different people.
And we kiss. Like, a for real kiss. Her thin lips on mine. One of those deeply passionate kisses that leaves you dizzy and wondering what just happened. It lasts just long enough that I wish it could go on forever.
And as she backs her lips from mine she smiles for the first time since I can remember. “I like you, too, Jack Pagan.”
Even if I’m a brain-broken lunatic? I ask her.
She reaches her little index finger up and pushes lightly on my nose, like it’s a button. Then she grabs my hand, turns, and we head to her car. And, even though we haven’t said it officially, I know she’s my girlfriend. Because, let’s face it, nobody in their right mind would stay with a guy like me if she wasn’t.