Your phone emits a low buzz atop the glass desktop beside you, ringing again for the fifth time this hour..
With an exasperated sigh, you and turn away from the computer screen that is currently running analysis on the movements of a particularly nasty identity thief..
Just another day in the life of a covert intelligence agent..
Brushing your waist-length, wavy auburn hair back over your shoulder, you pick up the high tech silver cell to see a familiar name on the screen..
Your former boss.. And a total dick..
Just the thought of him is enough to give you an instant headache, but you know if you don't answer, his calls will only grow more persistent and more frequent, so you accept the call and lift the receiver to your ear, trying your best to keep a professional tone.. "Elijah.. This isn't a great time.."
He begins speaking over the top of you almost immediately..
Typical.. He never did listen to you in all your eight years with the FBI, six of them directly under his command.. "Devereux, why do you even have a phone if you're never going to answer it!?" The condescension and arrogance that had been the final straw for you in the end is still very much intact, and instantly you regret answering his call..
Biting your tongue, you resit the urge to tell him to shove it.. "Excellent point, Elijah.. Did you call just to tell me that?" You haven't spoken to Elijah since you resigned from the FBI and left DC for a less 'political' cityscape..
The move had turned out to be much harder than you imagined..
Sure, you were used to being alone, your parents had never exactly been hands on people and had retired to the sunshine state years ago.. But at least back in DC you had friends.. Here, you feel like it's been a slow struggle to make the two friends you do have.. Honey and Yevie, both of whom began working for Spectre recently..
Being hired to work at Spectre was like a dream come true for you.. The elite private intelligence firm is the best in the country and Alpha team, the task force you were appointed to, has an unblemished record for getting the job done..
"I've been calling to tell you, an inquiry has been opened into the Everett investigation.. A subpoena to testify will soon be appearing on your doorstep.." He jeers bluntly ..
Your hand freezes on the rim of your coffee mug.. Charles Everett had been your partner at the FBI.. his widow Mikki Everett had been the primary suspect of many investigations, something that comes with the territory of being the daughter of a mob boss.. She swore she had renounced her family, and nobody believed her..
That is, until you..
You were the one who uncovered Charlie's corruption.. And you suspect he had been planning on using Mikki as a scapegoat.. "What?!"
"I trust your testimony won't include any of the confidential information you were privy to back then.." The threatening timbre of his low tone is crystal clear..
You're well enough versed in spy-speak to read between the lines.. He's telling you to keep your mouth shut about the cover up..
The ultimate reason you left the FBI..
You had pulled at a thread you shouldn't have, handing in a report on the corruption to the commissioner upon your resignation.. Obviously, now the lies are all unravelling around Elijah... "Secrets have a way of finding their way to the surface, Elijah .. No matter how deep you try to bury them.."
Your heart aches with betrayal as you recall the day you witnessed Charlie taking a bribe payment from a well known crime figure.. Mikki's father.. Angelo De'lucca..
You hadn't kept quiet then, and be damned if Elijah is going to silence you now..
There is a pause on the end of the line, clearly that is not the answer he was wanting, or expecting.. "Loose ends can always be tied, Ellerie.. I'll see you in court.."
There are two short beeps as he disconnects the call and you drop the phone to the desk.. Followed by your head..
At that moment, you make a mental note to call a lawyer.. A good one.
You're so lost in thought you don't even hear as a tall, dark and painfully gorgeous man enters your office and takes the seat opposite you at the desk.. "Will you be taking the boss up on her offer.. To move to Delta Force?"
You jump a foot in the air with a squeak when he speaks abruptly.. "Oh my g-- Knock much?"
Since joining Spectre, and being appointed to Alpha team, everything had been going so well.. Right up until you so foolishly slept with, and had the best sex of your life, with the insanely ripped six-foot-something wall of inked up, chiseled, mocha muscle that is Jackson Ford..
The guy is hotter than hell and unfortunately for you, all kinds of hung up on his ex..
He's uptight, overprotective and he takes everything so seriously..
Totally not your type, and with the added complication of being co-workers, he should have been totally off limits..
But something about his no nonsense attitude and, yes, extremely ripped body had revved you up beyond control.. Even now, the verbal sparring match and passive aggressive back and forth thing you two have going on gives you little tingles of excitement.. "I haven't decided.. Do you need something, or are you just here to ensure I make the 'right' decision?"
Because of all the drama, the chief of Specter, Iris Santiago, had offered to allow you to transfer to another tactical unit.. You've been struggling with the decision for a while now, which move would be best for your career.. Leaving Alpha team feels like quitting, but you can't deny you are intrigued by the opportunity to work with Delta..
Jackson picks up the colourful ball of rubber bands from your desk and tosses it up in the air a few times, catching it without taking his hypnotising eyes off you.. You scoff, attemping to remain unaffected.. Attempting and failing..
"I'm just here to warn you about Paxton.." He shrugs casually..
Hunter Paxton is the newest member of Specter, an ex-marine just like Jackson.. After leaving the Marines, Paxton had become a ranking CIA agent, but you have a suspicion he ran into many of the same problems that you had encountered in the FBI..
Several months ago Hunter had been recruited to Specter and now he is the commander of Delta Force.. Which along with Alpha Team, is one of Specter's primary strike forces...
He's a total viking babe, but the two of you are no more than work acquaintances who occasionally flirt a little with each other.. See, the thing about Hunter Paxton is, he would have you believe he's a scoundrel, but at his core, he's a decent guy..
"Oh.. Okay.." You snort sarcastically and Jackson frowns, dropping the rubber band ball back on your desk with a thud, he rises to his feet, towering over your tiny frame...
"Shit, Ellerie.. Do you take anything seriously.. Ever?"
You fight the urge to pull a mocking face or mimic his scolding tone as he stomps towards the door.. The irony of his serious attitude and immature behaviour is not lost on you..
He stops but doesn't turn around..
You sigh, swallowing your pride for the sake of your working relationship at the very least.. "If I were interested in your advice..What exactly would your warning be?"
He spins back to look at you, his chestnut eyes dark with foreboding.. His chiseled jaw squared and his teeth gritted.. Like he's biting back on words.. "That you best watch yourself since he's the kind of guy to shoot first and ask questions later.."
You stare at each other for a beat.. His rigid posture enhancing his height and those broad square shoulders that make you want to climb him like a mountaineer.. "I've considered that.. The thing is.. Alpha Team has excluded me from any meaningful field work on the last two operations.. If I didn't keep up with target practice, I'd never see any action.. So I'm thinking.. Maybe Paxton would see me as a more valuable asset to his team.." Leaning back in your seat as you challenge him, you fold your arms over your chest..
He grumbles under his breath, agitated by your attack.. "West values you as a team member, don't--"
You hold up a hand to stop him.. You're not talking about Archer West, commander of Alpha Team.. In fact, West has already instructed you to do what you feel is best, though he did express his preference for you to stay on his team.. Which honestly, meant a lot to you.. "I'm not talking about Archer.. Jackson, you pulled rank and had me cut out.. Don't try to play me!" You smack a palm down on the desk, frustrated now that he is bullshiting you..
He raises an indifferent shoulder.. "It wasn't necessary to put you in the line of fire, Ellerie.. My whole job is providing the best strategy, minimising risk.. You know that.."
Tension climbs your spine, creeping up your neck and exacerbating your already throbbing headache.. This is not the first time you've had this argument with Jackson..
And the worst part is, that you're sure he cares about you..That feels like the real reason he won't let you near anything remotely dangerous..
He just won't admit it..
The problem is, taking risks is basically your entire job description, not to mention you're a damn good agent..
"I'm not her, Ford.. I'm not Dahlia.."
His eyes narrow on you and he glares hard at the mention of her name.. You know he hates talking about her.. About her death..
You hate that you said those words as soon as they're out of your mouth.. Even if they are the truth.
He shakes his head slowly and huffs a long, tired exhale before tuning to leave.. "No.. But you're acting just like her.."