This is the point where our heroine, Danielle Labouleaux, meets our hero, Aiden Stone. Sparks fly to say the very least. Enjoy!
The front page article for next month's issue of Body Hunters, covered a husband who had seemingly become the world's greatest magician because he had vanished from the face of the earth. His young wife, twenty-five years his junior, was the sole beneficiary of his lucrative automotive parts factory. For fifteen years she had lived the high life with her Latin lover. The former diner waitress had become a world traveler, visiting places most people only saw in glossy travel magazines. Developing an extravagant taste, she draped her body in the finest rags and baubles her deceased husband's money could buy. The woman's fairytale came to an end when her husband's body was finally found. He had been buried on the grounds of one of the factories, which had been closed for decades. Evidence was gathered, the Latin lover sang like a canary, and the woman was locked up for her husband's murder.
Danny knew most of the facts of the cold case were true, except how the investigators really got the evidence. She hated lying to her readers who consisted of mostly C.S.I. wannabes. With all the forensic reality shows and police dramas on television, everyone wanted to be amateur detectives. She also knew how they got the evidence had to be changed. The general public wasn't quite ready to learn that their tax dollars were spent on employing psychics.
Interlacing her fingers, Danielle stretched her arms forward letting the tension of the movement crack her knuckles for her. She had spent too many hours on her computer today hunched over the keyboard. Feeling at once tired and antsy, Danielle stood up from her desk and stretched hoping to untie the knots in her back. Her hands now on her lower back she pushed out a little and groaned a bit wondering what her chances were for early onset arthritis. The pain in her ring finger seemed to also start back up. Throbbing pain was turning into little sharp jabs.
The ring on her finger now felt like little tiny thorns in the inside circlet. She twirled the diamond ring around her finger unconsciously, hoping it would ease the pain. Of course Gerard would have a meltdown if he caught her not wearing the atrocious thing. The Doctor would have none of it. No fiancée of his was going to wear something that you had to carry a magnifying glass to see! But now the ring was too tight around her finger to remove without great effort. She would have to wait for the swelling to go down. "Funny," she thought, the pain and swelling really didn't start until she started wearing the pretentious thing.
Now it seemed as if it was drawing blood. She sat back down and frowned at the ring as she now consciously twirled it and tried to remove it. As if it knew what she was trying to do, the pain started to subside. Finally she was able to look back at her work on the screen, but by now her concentration had been broken by the loud obnoxious chiming of the doorbell disturbing her ruminations. It was a big house and Gerard wanted to make sure they could hear it from wherever they were inside. The bell chimed again, seemingly with its own sense of urgency.
Who the hell could that be at this hour? She grumbled to herself. Surely Gerard would not have forgotten his key. She padded in bare feet to the big oak door letting the coolness of the ceramic tiles chill her feet. The bell chimed a third time.
"I'm coming!" She yelled with a lot of attitude in her voice. If it was one of Gerard's reality show producers coming to kiss his ass some more, she was going to blow her top!
Danny swung the big oak door open and was startled by the sight. Two men stood in the doorway, one in a dark blue suit that looked like he had gotten it off the rack at some bargain bin. He was kind of pudgy and average height. His Hispanic features made him look like any number of men that lived in the area, but he also looked like he was right out of high school. The second man was totally different and exotic. He stood at the doorway, one large arm on the doorjamb, looking extremely casual. He was a mountain she noticed. He has to be at least 6'4, she thought to herself.
"I'm Agent Aiden Stone ma'am, and this is Agent Alejandro Ramirez. I believe we spoke the other night."
I didn't know mountains could talk. Danny mused to herself, "And I believe I told you I wasn't available, Agent Stone."
Stone had the gall to look amused. "And I believe I told you that I needed your help before you hung up on me."
"You're an agent you say?" Danny retorted, never letting the door handle go. "I can believe Agent Ramirez is an agent, but you Agent Stone, really? Jeans and a polo shirt? I was unaware of the new dress code policy at the bureau. OK boys out with the shields."
Danny was not one to mess around; she was a civilian now and for all intents and purposes was practically free of the Bureau. Whatever they wanted from her, they were not going to get it.
Alejandro fumbled with his wallet in his back pocket trying to look more experienced than he was. It was clear he was a rookie. Agent Stone stood straight, and all 6'4 of him made her realize how small she now felt. His skin tone was the color of a deep Hawaiian tan and he had a very island feel about him. She could almost smell the coconuts and ocean breeze around him. He stood before her looking very smug and confident. This irritated Danny as she watched him reach into the front pocket of his impossibly tight jeans, lifting his polo shirt slightly to show a little of his tight abs. She found herself staring a little and turned her head away feeling some heat on her cheeks. Both men now had their badges in front of her and she pretended to inspect them.
"Are you happy now?" Aiden asked, his tone sarcastic.
Danny folded her arms across her chest. "OK, fine, what do you guys want?" she inquired, growing more irritated by the moment.
"Can we come in?" Aiden asked. "As I said over the phone I need help on a cold case. We need to talk to you about it, just to pick your brain."
Figuring that the only way to get rid of the two G men would be to let them in and hear their story, Danny decided to let them in only for a few minutes. It would be kind of awkward explaining to Gerard why the Feds were standing on their doorstep.
Danny led the way to the great room with the big round chrome wall clock that now chimed 9:15 pm. Not wanting to keep them there any longer than she had to, she purposely failed to offer them anything to drink. Agent Ramirez was looking around the big room and was just grateful to be out of the heat.
"Phew!" Aiden whistled, "Quite the fancy digs you and the good doctor have got here!"
Danny didn't know whether to be offended or pleased. Alejandro looked like a lost little boy enveloped by the huge couch. She took the matching chair opposite the men. Agent Stone slid back into the sofa and stretched out his arm along the back of it looking like he wasn't going anywhere any time soon. Those laser blue eyes of his were targeting her, and she suddenly wished she was wearing more than her AC/DC tee shirt and cotton shorts.
"Well, you've certainly done your homework. You know where I live. You know my phone number, whom I'm engaged to and where I used to work. Congratulations! You've now passed FBI 101. Now, what do you want?" Her tone took a very serious turn. Gerard was due home in forty-five minutes.
Finally the big man spoke. "Look I'm not going to fool around, I know the work you did and the special talent you possess. I need your help. We have a cold case and no leads. I was told by Agent Johnson that if I needed any help, you were the one to call."
Agent Ramirez looked a little puzzled, like he had wandered into the middle of a conversation. "Agent Stone, what special talent are we talking about?"
Danny spoke up instead, "Agent Ramirez is it? A few years ago, the Bureau decided to try a little experiment. A few people with psychic abilities were recruited, and our talents were used to solve crimes for the federal government. Things didn't go quite the way they were supposed to, and the group was disbanded. End of story."
"Uh, you're a psychic?" Alejandro now directed his gaze to Danny. Aiden spoke up quickly.
"Yes she's psychic and a prodigy according to our superiors." he said.
"You mean like Professor X." the rookie asked, referring to the wheelchair-bound leader of the X-men of comic book fame.
Danny rolled her eyes at the agent's comment. "No, I can't read minds!" she quipped. "My specialty is forensics. I gather evidence and clues and can relay that information to the authorities."
"This is exactly why we need your help." Aiden informed her again.
"You're starting to sound like a broken record, you know that?." Danny complained, feeling his eyes on her, though much to her chagrin, she couldn't keep her eyes off him either. Everything about him was big. Trying to keep cool, she had a hard time forgetting what she and her girlfriends used to joke about when talking about guys with big hands and feet.
“Are you going to help us or not?" Stone asked impatiently. "We have a dead junkie prostitute, no evidence, no motive and no clues."
The big clock now chimed 9:30, and Danny knew she needed to move these gentlemen along. The last thing she needed was FBI agents sitting in the house when Gerard came home, especially with the topic where it was at that moment.
"I'm not making any promises, but leave me your card and I'll think on it. I'm not trying to get tangled up with the Bureau again." She didn't like the fact that they sought her out. She was very happy with her work from home with the e-zine. "I must ask that you leave now, I have a deadline for an article I'm writing."
"Ah yes, The Body Hunters, isn't it?" Agent Stone once again had that smug look on his face showing he knew her more than she thought.
"That's right Agent Stone. How clever of you to know!" She gave him a little glare before she got up and headed to the door. Agent Ramirez stood up quickly and stopped fidgeting nervously with his tie. He walked behind her like a lost puppy dog without really meaning to do so.
Agent Stone stood up from the huge black couch and left a very deep indent in the sofa due to his massive muscle mass. Danny knew she would have to turn over the cushion before Gerard got home hoping it would give it time to go back to its normal shape.
Aiden swaggered to the door where Danny now held it open, He reached into his front pocket and took out his wallet and placed his card between his index finger and middle finger. When he got to the door he stopped at the frame and looked back, holding up his hand with the card still between his fingers.
"Please, if you will help, here is my card. We are staying at a motel just 2 miles from here. Call me at any time."
"Like I said, I'll think on it. Goodnight Agents." Danny closed the big oak door behind her. She went to the big picture window in the great room and pulled the white-colored curtains aside to watch the agents depart in the standard four-door bland bucar. She laughed to herself at the thought that such an big man as Agent Stone was forced to drive such a vehicle and not, as she presumed, a huge SUV.