If you ever leave me, baby,
Leave some morphine at my door
‘Cause it would take a whole lot of medication
To realize what we used to have,
We don’t have it anymore.
There’s no religion that could save me
No matter how long my knees are on the floor (Ooh)
So keep in mind all the sacrifices I’m makin’
To keep you by my side
To keep you from walkin’ out the door.
‘Cause there’ll be no sunlight
If I lose you, baby
There’ll be no clear skies
If I lose you, baby
Just like the clouds
My eyes will do the same, if you walk away
Everyday it’ll rain, rain, ra-a-a-ain
Bruno Mars – It Will Rain
Graduation had come and gone with the absence of family to see his success. Now he was preparing to travel back home after spending two years away. Once he had moved to Langley there had only been the briefest of trips back to Washington. Most of the time he arranged to meet the family in some other mutually agreed location for a holiday. Usually he would make some claim to adventure sport and they would follow him around the world. Skiing in Aspen, snowboarding in Japan, hiking in NZ, surfing in Hawaii. Anything he could dream up so that he wouldn’t have to be back in Seattle and the temptation of Mia.
He knew that she had raced through her own studies, completing her honors degree in the same time he had taken to complete his undergraduate. Now he was ever hopeful that since they had done everything they were asked he would be able to finally make contact with her. For three months he had been dreaming about this, waking up in a cold sweat from an intense wet dream as he envisaged finally being able to hold her, to apologize, to love her.
Three days before he was due to go home he got the news that she had moved to Paris. She had taken up the opportunity to do her PhD. Her family had been told she would be in Paris for an extended time to train under a world renowned chef. His sources said that her work would be in other locations throughout Europe and the States. Whatever, she had chosen not to wait for him. She had given up and moved on.
The news hit him hard. After not drinking for two years, he went on a bender that included picking up a girl in a bar and spending 24 hours releasing two years of sexual frustration. One month after Mia’s departure he sobered up, kicked the latest girl out of his apartment and signed up for his Masters degree, telling his parents that he would be spending a year volunteering in Cambodia.
Finally I arrive back home after the longest two weeks of my life. SeaTac is heaving with people but I easily spot Elliot through the crowd. As I make my way towards him I spy her across the far side of the airport. Risk-taking yet again but it is so good to see her. Blonde hair suits her, although she looks a little too much like her mother for comfort. She smiles over the top of her magazine before skipping out of the terminal. Elliot hasn’t noticed, luckily. Every bone in my body wants to run towards her right now and I rack my brain trying to think of a way to ditch Elliot and get to the safe house.
Of course, Elliot coming anywhere near SeaTac is a risk in itself. As far as anyone knows, except for my parents and some their closest friends, Elliot and Kate are still in Barbados. Since the threat of the blackmailer became known to them they have been hatching plans to try to gather enough information to identify who it is. So now my major problem is keeping them out of the way of a major CIA operation. In an effort to keep them safe I have trailed them back to Seattle a couple of days earlier than I planned. My supervisor wants to make sure that they don’t do anything stupid and since Mia is not meant to know they are here in Seattle, the job has fallen to me. Mia kept an eye on them at the Coping Together event and she has filed a report that reads something like the Keystone Cops. Damn amateurs.
As we drive towards his house, Elliot unloads more of the plans they have hatched to try to find out more about the blackmailer. Many hours were spent discussing the issue in Barbados and I have to say that Elliot Grey has surprised me. He really cares about his family and he seems to be head over heels in love with Kate. More to the point he is incredibly astute and intelligent. It doesn’t quite fit with the media image of the playboy, high school drop out, building developer. I find it kind of reassuring given how serious he and Kate are. Certainly the agency doesn’t have this insight into him but then that is what I am here to do. Observe their behaviors, examine their motivations, create a profile that will allow us to predict their likely usefulness to the main operation.
Elliot’s house is affectionately nicknamed the treehouse and one glance around you can understand why. The house is an amazing structure, unlike anything I have ever seen before and when I discover that he not only built this but he designed it I am forced to reevaluate what I know about him again. He is a wildly creative person, an artisan. On the flight to Barbados he had shared some of his music with us, demonstrating this incredible talent as musician, composer and producer. Then in the bar in Barbados he showed that he is a natural entertainer and from the state of the women in the bar, a pretty enticing and skilled exotic dancer. Now looking around the treehouse I can see his attention to detail and form as well as his passion for eco-construction. The guy is incredible and completely underrated. Suddenly Kate’s interest in him becomes very clear. This is a man who will challenge and support her and perhaps even shake up her notions of what it means to be a high achiever.
Kate looks drawn when I see her and it transpires that she has had some gastro. I’m not convinced that it is all it is. Part of my suspicion is fed by the way Elliot is hovering over her protectively and then there is just something in her body language that is shouting at me. That and the fact that having lived with Kate all of my life, I know when she is lying to me.
“Elliot has given me an update on Christian and Ana and the creep. Sounds like you’ve been busy since you got back.”I pile my plate up with takeout in the kitchen, making sure to wave it about, taunting Kate. She doesn’t look good and Elliot is rubbing her back. Interesting. I keep shoveling food into my mouth as I pretend not to notice.
“Yeah, well we are doing everything we can to try to work out who he is. I would feel happier knowing that you are in the apartment if Ana decides to go back there. She really shouldn’t be alone if this chick is running rogue with a gun.” Part of me is wondering if Ana and Kate ever spend any time at the apartment and how soon I can get Mia there. I’m not that worried about Leila Williams. Mia has already fed me the intel we have gathered on her and someone is tracking her already. Of course, if she has a gun then she poses a risk that we just don’t need and we may have to look at getting her out of the way. I have a feeling that I will be doing an assessment of Miss Williams fairly soon.
“Yeah, like I am going to be able to protect her. But hell I would rather be there too, after all she is expecting me.”If Leila Williams is really wanting to confront Ana, as we suspect, then the apartment is going to be the best place to remove her from the picture.
Later that evening we go up to Elliot’s studio office, which is located in a turret at the top of the house. It is an amazing space with almost 360 degree views of the landscape and Puget Sound. Once more I am blown away by what he has done with this house. Almost as impressive is the research that Kate has pulled together on their blackmailer. Of course, she has been watching too many crime shows on tv and some of her assumptions are way off but this is a good thing. I don’t really want my sister getting any closer to the truth than she needs to be. What worries me is that I will need to keep a closer eye on what she is doing here because she is just as likely to stumble onto something that could compromise the mission or place her in real danger. I need to find a way to get Mia into this room so we can examine it together.
Then Kate tells us what she has planned for gathering more information and I almost consider getting one of our teams to place her in custody. Fuck. My crazy, risk taking sister has arranged to take part in a slave auction at Sirens, a notorious Seattle sex club. The club is actually a complex of clubs, some that are the public face – a night club, Burlesque room and Male strip show venue. However, there is also Club Orpheus which is a members only sex club, famous for its BDSM clientele but which also caters to voyeurs and swingers. The slave auction is a once a year event that we are well aware of and Mia and I have already been allocated this as a possible point of contact for other aspects of our mission. Fuckity fuck. If Kate and Elliot are going to be there then our cover is blown. Seems Elliot isn’t too happy about her going there either.
“You did what?”Elliot could be blowing smoke out his ears at this point. If I wasn’t already pissed at Kate about this it would be comical.
“I trained with the girls for four hours today. Stella seems to think I have what it takes and TJ is making sure that you are on the roster for bar staff on Thursday.”Kate is barely holding herself in check. This is the tenacious part of Kate. She has decided that this is the way it will be and no one, not even Elliot, is going to stop her. I might need to step in soon.
“Kate, this guy is dangerous. If he makes either of us the whole thing is over. He has already managed to get a gun into the club once, how do you know he won’t do it again. I can’t believe that you would consider doing something so stupid.” Oh, man, don’t call her stupid. That is a nut-busting provocation if ever I heard one.
“Elliot, calm down. Stella and TJ are working on disguises for us. I have costume fittings tomorrow morning. We can’t let this opportunity pass us by. The auction is the biggest event in Club Orpheus calendar so the likelihood of his being there is high. Stupid would be if we did nothing.”Kate could be placating a child at this point. Elliot is not happy and I can see his point. I have to keep reminding myself that they are simply interested in Jack Hyde as a possible threat, when in actual fact he might not be the worst of the possible patrons they might encounter at this event. We already have the guest list so there are unlikely to be any surprises for us but now I need to find a way to be there legitimately and my mind is churning this over quickly, assessing my options.
“Don’t use that logic on me Kate. I am not risking you.”Elliot looks ready to lock her up and throw away the key. I have to put a stop to this now before she hurts him.
“Guys, guys…”I step between them and Elliot looks slightly horrified but he keeps his focus on Kate.
“Stay out of this Ethan.”Man, she is not going to back down, I know my sister.
“Can you get me on the guest list?”I look Elliot directly in the eyes trying to pull his focus. I already am on the guest list under an assumed name, which would have meant disguises and more latex prosthetics than I can bear thinking about but I know that Elliot has enough contacts there to get me included without the assumed identity and that might not be a bad plan. It would simplify things moving forward.
“I don’t know…I guess so.”
“Right, so, if Kate is there with the protection of the other girls plus the club security. You and I and, I guess, TJ are on the floor. Surely we can get a look at this guy.”Elliot still looks pissed but now he is directing his ire at me too. He didn’t expect me not to back him up on this but hell, we will have agents crawling all over the place. I am convinced that we can keep Kate safe.
“Okay.” He gives Kate a look that says this isn’t over. Meanwhile I have to find a way to make sure that Mia doesn’t attend as planned. She is going to be pissed.
The next morning Elliot gives me a lift into the city on the premise of picking up the keys to the apartment from Ana. Part of my cover is to move in with Kate and Ana while I apply to graduate school to do my Masters in Psychology. The truth is I already have enough qualifications in Psychology to last me a life time but staying at the apartment allows me to spend time at the safe house whenever possible.
Arriving at the SIP offices I find myself being totally eye-fucked by the receptionist who rings through to Ana. Mia would have a field day if she could see this. Once I have the keys I race out of the building and phone Mia.
“Babe, please tell me that you are at the safe house.” For the past twenty four hours I have had visions of getting my wife alone and fucking her senseless. The thought of her body plays havoc with my cock which feels like it has been at half-mast for weeks.
Her voice is tense. “I’m here. The team is waiting for you.” Fuck! Can’t we catch a fucking break.
“ETA ten minutes.” I hang up resisting the urge to toss the phone into the nearest trash can. Is it too much to ask that I could have five minutes alone with my wife? I adjust my pants, Christ, right now five minutes is all it would take.
When I arrive at the safe house I am greeted, not by Mia, but by Rory Jensen, our handler.
“Kavanagh, good.” No, friendly greeting. No, ‘how was your trip’? Just – good. There are a couple of other agents working on analysis in one of the bedrooms. Two more are monitoring surveillance video and GPS tracking screens. I see blips all over it. Shit when did all of these people take over this space. There goes our secure fuck shack.
“Rory. Mia” I acknowledge him and then Mia, who doesn’t move away from the screen she has been looking at. Instead, she nods, picks up a clipboard and begins to flick through papers. I notice the frown on her face and I know she is frustrated too. Christ, when we took this space there was some hope that we might get it to ourselves from time to time. Looks like we might have to be more creative which is fine, but the waiting is going to kill me. “Tell me what we’ve got.”
“We’re tracking a few secondary and tertiary targets but we haven’t yet been able to put any devices in place with any of our primary targets except for the Swan.” Resisting rolling my eyes, I move over to the GPS tracker and watch. Code-naming all our targets is standard practice but feels ridiculous when we all know who we are talking about. The Swan is Elena Lincoln and Mia dealt with her in the first week back.
“So none of the other teams have managed to get to the Hawk?” I keep my eyes focused on the screen.
“No. He is eluding us at the moment but we’re hopeful that one of you will be able to get close on Thursday night.”
“Yeah, well there is an issue with that.” The conversation I had with Kate and Elliot at the treehouse has necessitated a change of plans. “Nothing we can’t handle but if I go in as planned my cover will be compromised.”
“Yes, well, we have another issue. The Bureau is stepping up on the trafficking investigation. They could end up getting in our way.”
Crap. “How close are they?”
“Too close for comfort. There has been some question of insider trading in Lincoln Timber and that raised a few profiles that we don’t want in their sights.” Mia is holding back on some details from me. This is one of those few times that I can read her clearly. She glances away.
“So what are we talking here, Rory?” Even he is looking sheepish.
“We don’t want to do this but we’re talking deep cover at Orpheus.” Shit.
“So that takes us out of the picture then.” Damn, a NOC agent or non-official cover puts Mia and I back on surveillance only, if that.
“Well…no.” I look at Mia and she is furiously trying to avoid eye-contact. Then the penny drops.
“No. No way.” Fuck no. There is no way that Mia is going deep. Over my dead body. When I look around the room I realize that the only person in this room who knows about our relationship is my wife and she looks distinctly like she wants to do this. Jesus, I am going to take her over my knee as soon as I can get her alone.
“Ethan, we have no choice.” Don’t you try to reason with me, Mia. It won’t work. She seems to take in the look in my eyes and backs off, deferring to Rory.
“Look, we have one window of opportunity here. You were going into the slave auction anyway. Now we can step this up and…” I am seriously fighting the urge to punch this prick in the face.
“No, wait. We agreed that we could get Christian to place a NOC, there was never any discussion of us going in deep. We can’t just go in there and pretend. We need training.”
“Not we, me. And I have a trainer. Two in fact, both of whom are part of the scene.”
“Are you fucking kidding me? Are they agency?” Rory and Mia share a guilty look. I’ll take that as resounding no. “So we are putting Mia’s cover in the hands of two non-coms who may or may not be able to leave us uncompromised.”
“Not exactly.” Mia’s voice is very level and calm. Oh yes, Lucy, you have some splaining to do. “They won’t know.”
What? “How do you know what they will do then?” Looking at her, another lever clicks into place. Jesus H Christ. She’s talking about her mother. “Can I have a word with you outside?”
She looks from Rory to me and then nods. Rory steps aside and lets her exit the room with me following closely behind. We don’t stop at the corridor but opt to walk right outside the building. It takes us less than ten minutes to get down to the wharf where we find a quiet spot to view the incoming ferries.
“What are you doing Mia?” I keep my eyes focused on the water as my hands grip the rail. I’m so freaking livid I could warp the metal with my bare hands. She glances down at the death grip I have on the railing before turning around to face the city. She leans both elbows on the rail, grazing my arm as she does so. Her dark glasses hide her eyes but her smile is tense to match her body language. She can fool many people with this relaxed tourist routine but she can’t fool me.
“Listen, we need to get in. Elena is the way to do that. I go to her and ask for training and she will have Isaac there in a heart beat. At least with them we know that I will be relatively safe.”
“What the hell makes you think that she wants to see her own daughter become part of the scene.” I’m grasping at straws here. Relying on a mother-daughter bond that simply doesn’t exist. Mia knows this.
“Elena didn’t hesitate to fuck either of my brothers.” Her words make me cringe. “Her motivations are screwed. All I have to do is give her the slightest hint that I want in and she will be dancing for joy.”
“Alright, so she takes you on as her protegee. Then what? Do you tell her everything?”
“What? And have her go straight to the Hawk? Not on your life.” Mia stretches away from the railing before walking around to the other side of me. I let her settle back into a comfortable position, leaning on the rail. “Elena will take me on to train as a sub. I will get in and verify some of the other targets. Maybe even get plants on them. By that time you and I will have officially met as Kate and Elliot’s siblings and we begin our tenuous relationship. We play a game of cat and mouse with each other. If anyone finds out then Orpheus becomes our cover and no one needs to know about our real relationship.”
I take a deep breath, sucking in as much air as I can to calm myself down. As cool as I can manage I turn to face her. “So let me get this right. You are going to ask your mother and her lover to train you. You are going to become a legitimate member of Orpheus and enter into a BDSM arrangement. If it goes wrong then you and I will pretend that we have been involved all the time and that is preferable to finding out that we are married. Are you completely insane? On what planet is that better than the fucking truth Mia?”
“Well, with one, you get to have your nuts threatened while you wield a whip and a cane. The other you just get your nuts threatened.” Her head is tilted to one side, hand on her hip.
“This is fucking crazy. How far have you gotten talking to Elena?”
“I’ve already talked her into taking me on Thursday night.” Shit!
“Well, I am going to be there.”
“Rory and I have discussed it and we think it is preferable that you don’t go. He has arranged to have one of the others attend instead.”
“Well, he can attend using my cover but I am still going.”
“But you said yourself that your cover could be compromised.” Now it is my turn to be evasive and sheepish.
“Kate and Elliot are going to be there. So Elliot has me on the guest list as myself. I’m going to claim to have written a book that SIP turned down so I can talk to Jack Hyde. And all of that means that you can’t go in as yourself, not if your brother is going to be there.”
Thinking that I have her cornered on this is a big mistake. “Well, in that case, I will just have to make sure that my costume is a good one. I have already arranged this and I am going in whether you want me to or not.”
“Don’t I get any say in this at all?”
“Jesus Ethan, this is what we are trained to do. What the hell is your problem?”
“I don’t want some asshole thinking that he has any right to manhandle you, is my problem. I certainly am not going to stand back while you get your ass smacked by some sicko.”
“So you’re calling my brother a sicko? And my mother?”
“If the gag fits, babe. And besides, if your brother knew what you were doing I am pretty sure he would lock in a fucking cage.” Her arms wrap around me and she leans her head on my shoulder.
“Sweetheart, you are going to have to trust me on this. I will be okay.”
I look at my watch. I need to get back to the apartment. “I’m not happy and we will talk later but for now I have to go. I’m supposed to be meeting Ana.” Wrapping her up in a hug I all but devour her with my kiss, thrusting my tongue into her mouth with frustration. Her risks are going to give me fucking heart failure and I want her to understand the depth of my anger. In true Mia fashion she thrusts back and matches me completely, her hands rubbing over my shirt.
“Just remember, Ethan Kavanagh, you are mine. Nothing comes between us. Not even this case.”
“Mmmm…ditto…by the way what did Rory mean by insider trading? Who is involved?” She pulls back and looks into my eyes.
“Seems my brothers have been buying up stock in Lincoln Corp companies. This goes beyond Lincoln Timber. However, Linc has been a naughty boy and importing substandard materials again. His stock values are about to plummet and it doesn’t look good for GEH to be involved in a share buy out when that happens. The corporate fraud geeks are looking for personal links and at the moment Elena has two major investors. GEH and Lincoln Corp. Christian could end up in the firing line.”
“I thought Elena wanted nothing to do with Linc? How the hell did he get any investment leverage with her?”
“That I don’t know. Elena might be a hard nosed bitch but I wonder if she really has the ability to run a multi-million dollar business like Esclava. She would be totally in the shit if Christian ever pulled his investment out. I think she is only afforded any respect in the business world by his indirect involvement.”
“So the upshot is that the FBI is now looking closely at Christian?” She nods. “So are we telling him yet?”
“I think we need to consider telling him very soon. She might be my mother but there is no way that I am letting that bitch or her dodgy ex-husband take apart everything that he has worked for. My brother might be a sick fuck in his personal life but he is a good man, an honest businessman. He gave the best years of his life to her depravity and I won’t let this happen without a fight.”
“You know your brother is not sick. BDSM is a lifestyle choice not a sickness.” Her eyes are cast down and I see the tears glistening on her cheeks. I reach down and brush them away. “I know that you were scared of him baby, and yes, there are some residual issues from his childhood that would have brought most people to their knees but you have to accept that even though your mother committed a crime, it was the lifestyle that allowed Christian to begin to deal with those issues.” Ana is going to be the litmus test here. She is already reaching him on a level that no psychologist would think possible. Mia wraps her arms around me and snuggles into my chest as I stroke her hair.
“I love him so much Ethan. There is just so much at stake.”
“Listen, if the agency thought that Christian was the bad guy here then you wouldn’t have been allowed to work this case. Even they wouldn’t go for that conflict of interest.” Which begs the question, how deep is Elena in this? If they believed that she was truly a major player in any of this then surely Mia wouldn’t have been assigned on that basis either. However, given the way the agency has used the relationship between Elena and Mia so far, nothing would surprise me. As soon as this one is over, I have got to get us out of this fucking business. The sooner, the better.
A/N: My apologies for slowing down the updates. Real life is hectic at the moment and the complicated story lines take time to think through. I hope that you will be patient while this is happening and keep reading. Thank you all for your support and your kind comments. Your reviews and questions do keep me on my toes and I appreciate the way you are helping me to shape the story. Sasha xoxo