02 – Just My Luck

“No. Wait. It’s not…Awe fuck.” I run after Elle.

Shannon’s on my heels like a yapping Chihuahua. “You’re a fucking cop! I knew it! Is your name even Thatcher? And you’re with the fucking fed? What kind of bullshit is this? Where the fuck is my sister?”

Our triangle of anger and confusion spills into the apartment parking lot as Elle’s hotly moving to her car with me desperately trying to catch her.

“I’ll explain everything, Shannon. Shut the fuck up for two seconds. Elle, she showed up twenty minutes ago. Stop and listen to me. For fuck’s sake you’re the one who avoided me, not the other way ‘round.”

That worked, not in the way I hoped, but Elle stops and whirls around like a hurricane changing trajectory.

“Oh, no, you goddamn prick, you don’t get to blame this on me!” She waves her hand in the air like she’s conjuring a bolt of lightning to strike me dead. “You fucking came to my office and started shit in front of my co-workers! When I told you I would talk to you later, you stormed out like a fucking toddler and then you didn’t fucking answer your phone all fucking night! When I come over to make sure your still fucking alive I find you with our goddamn star witness in your apartment. What the fuck am I supposed to think, Joe?”

I wish I had time to answer Elle. To tell her I’m sorry for storming out and that I spent the night moping at my uncle’s bar because I’m so fucking confused by her mixed signals. One minute we’re in love and on the way to being Mr. and Mrs. Wolfe. The next she’s screaming at me, claiming I’m trying to smother her and she’s not that kind of girl.

“Thatcher, you lying ape! I fuckin’ trusted you and you’re one of them? Where’s my fuckin’ sister? I swear to God I’ll fuckin’ murder ya twice if anything happens to her!”

I make the wrong choice in turning to face Shannon. I thought she would be the easier of the two to placate while I get us all back into the apartment. I should have addressed Elle first. The slam of her car door is enough to tell me I’ve fucked up.

She peels out of the parking lot and all I can do is watch. I’ll have to make it up to her later. She’ll understand… I hope. Once she calms down and realizes Shannon is here, with me, without her detail, she’ll want answers. Elle’s not going to let this case fall apart.

“Can we please go back inside? I will explain everything.” I grab Shannon by the forearm and tug her along, not wanting her to bolt.

“Get yer fecking hands off me!” She roars.

“Not a chance, kid. You’re a flight risk and if you don’t want me to arrest you and hand you back over to the Feds, I suggest you calm the fuck down and start listening to me.”

“You’re one of them,” she whimpers and fuck me if it doesn’t tug at my heart strings.

“Not on your life. I’m a KCPD detective. Now, you want help with your sister, or not?”

She chews on her perfect, pouty lips and shifts her weight on the balls of her feet. I half expect her to throw a punch to get me to let her go. This poor kid has been through the ringer.

I’m thankful when she relaxes and nods, allowing me to guide her back into the apartment.

“Take a seat. I’m going to finish getting dressed. Then we’re going to get some breakfast, and you’re going to calmly tell me everything. Then we’re going to call Elle and see what she knows about your replacement detail.”

“She’s one o’ them. How the fuck am I supposed to trust you, Thatcher?”

She’s tearing up again, and I guide her to the couch, forcing her to sit. What the fuck am I going to say to get her to trust me again?

Nothing. That’s what I’m going to say to her. She already chose to trust me. “Stay put,” I say as I point at her for emphasis. After watching her with as stern a look as I can muster, I leave her alone to finish getting dressed.

When I come back out, she’s right where I left her and I’m thankful she didn’t run.

“Come on.” I shrug my head to indicate she should follow me and lock up after she’s out.

I take her to a diner a few blocks away. I love this place. The food’s not too bad, but the waitress is cute and sassy. It’s also a quiet place to talk. I can see who’s coming and going, along with keeping our conversation private.

“What can I get you, honey?” Christy asks Shannon.

“Coffee with creamer and sugar.”

“And you, Wolfe?” She raises a brow at me and casts a questioning glance at Shannon.

“Coffee. We need a minute.” I shake my head no and am relieved when she wanders off.

“Joe Wolfe?” Shannon pipes up. “What kind of name is that?”

“My real one, that’s what kind.”

“I told that agent you weren’t just another dope who could box.” She offers a half smile.

I can’t help myself. I smile in return. I like Shannon well enough, even if I don’t trust her. Her being at my apartment means not everyone was caught and now I’m going to have to find a new place. Maybe I can convince Elle that moving in together is still the right idea and we move into her apartment instead of mine.

“So, you’re like… CIA or something?”

“Heh. No. I told you, I’m KCPD. I’m a detective.”

“Here you go,” Christy chirps as she sets our coffees down. “Still need a few minutes?”

“Nah. Give us the special. Add a waffle for each of us. Scrambled.” I order for the both of us as Shannon hasn’t even looked at a menu. Watching Christy’s ass as she struts away, if I weren’t with Elle, I definitely wouldn’t mind taking a few orders from Christy.

“Year a pig,” Shannon throws a sugar packet at me.

“Yeah. But you like bacon.” I wriggle my brows at her.

My stupid joke works, and she snorts with a smile ghosting her lips.

“So, you got two new Feds this morning and a note in your breakfast. Do you have the note?”

The smile fades and her shoulders droop. “No. Just wanted to get out of there before they tried anything.”

“Anything special about the two guys? Tattoos? Scars? Funny accents?”

“Nah. They were borin’ Feds. Gray suits, cheap watches, shiny shoes.”

“Did they give you names?”

“We didn’t get that far. I was scared, alright. I panicked, and you were the first person I thought of to help.”

I lean back and bring my coffee up to sip the deliciously bitter liquid. My head’s still pounding and Shannon doesn’t have much to go on. First, we’ll need to confirm her sister is missing. Then find out what happened to her original detail. Fuck, Elle really needs to be here.