Please note that what you are about to read is copyrighted material. Copyright © 2014 by BookRhyth, LLC
~ Chapter One ~
Cristiano arrived to work early as normal, with the sun barely high enough in the sky to begin casting a shadow over the office building. With his car neatly parked in his usual space in the office’s lot, he made his way into the secured building, nodding and mumbling a quick hello to the last of the night staff as they were getting ready to check out for the day. His mind focused on the files that arrived late yesterday on his desk and wondering where this case was going to take him. Still in a daze from everything that had been happening over the last few weeks in the office, with his partner transferring to another department due to his need to be nearer his family for personal reasons. He knew that very soon he would be on the receiving end of another partner to work with and get to know all over again. Having had very few partners during his time in the FBI he considered himself a lucky one, well that was until recently. Though he would expect whatever the department threw at him as that was the type of person that he was; straight to a fault and always happy to accommodate the force…his family.
Making straight for his office and unlocking the door with his personal security code, everything had changed in recent years and the offices were more and more secure to stop the growing terrorist community trying to hit the agents right at the heart of their operations. He walked straight into the room, his eyes fixed on the new files sat on the corner of his desk. Yes he was more than ready to get started on a new case and this one from the brief he had been given so far was going to be a huge case to crack.
Remembering that he had a meeting later today, he set about his morning routine and headed straight for the coffee maker. Filling it and setting it to brew, he made his way back to his desk and what laid there. Moving the files aside he reached down and turned on his computer, the light humming almost music to his ears. In the last few years his office had become his home after everything that had happened. The screen turned on and warmed, as it sprung to life and he typed in all his passwords to access the system before heading back to the coffee machine and filling a mug just the way he liked it.
The light and airy office that surrounded him felt more like home than his apartment. On his desk sat a picture from his honeymoon, the time in his life where he felt whole and everything was perfect, well until that day…. Not wanting to think back over everything that had happened a few years ago, he paused and picked up his coffee cup from the top of his solid wood desk. Taking another few minutes to gather his thoughts and look around his office, pictures of her hung from the walls along with some of the amazing views they had seen on their travels. Sighing and turning back to his computer, he missed her and knew he needed to move on, but it was harder than he could have ever dreamed. To this day, he felt like he had a gaping wound in his heart that would never be filled again. As he sat and stared blankly at his screen, he shook his head and let his fingers brush over the keys as he cleared her from his mind and began working on his cases, doing the one thing that kept him busy and stopped him from thinking of her.
A little time passed and he glanced at the clock seeing that he was due in the meeting in ten minutes, before he collected the files and refilled his cup before leaving the office ready to get a full briefing on the case.
Cristiano’s feet made little sound as he made his was down the corridor and knocked at the meeting room’s door. Hearing a swift “Come in” he turned the cool handle and made his way into the room, being sure to acknowledge his superior as he entered and pulled out a chair from under the meeting table. Another nod to his boss and a cheery “Good morning sir” was all that was said before there was another knock at the door and the rest of the agents began to enter the room one by one, almost filling the spaces around the table.
With all but one of the seats filled and the growing noise in the room. Everyone anticipating the case ahead, all other thoughts were set aside and the room silenced as his boss stood, calling order and ready to start the meeting.
~~~~~ *** ~~~~~
With the sea of people rushing by her like the ocean during a storm, Chrystal looked down at her watch, grabbed the handle of her carry-on bag and picked up her pace; being late to her first meeting with her new team was not something she intended on happening but flying on a private plane and then transferring to a commercial jet wasn’t without its delays, especially when your destination was Miami International.
Finally seeing the shine coming through the transparent doors ahead, they opened and she stepped outside taking in her surroundings for a quick moment. Although the sun was shining and the unmistakable Florida palms were swaying in the breeze, she mourned leaving her beautiful island. There were no sidewalks or horns blaring, no people walking in your way as they tried to text and walk, no her island was just a few square miles of beach and more beach.
Trying to make her way around the frenzied crowd around her, she saw a large black SUV off to the side with a dark haired man, appearing to be looking for something in the back, she remembered the license plate number she was given “ILV2EAT”. Giggling to herself, she had to admit someone in the FBI had a sense of humor. Her designer heals clicking on the pavement, she walked up to the vehicle, her driver smiled at her as he took her luggage and ushered her inside the vehicle.
They merged quickly into the busy traffic as her dark haired driver handed her a manila envelope. Thanking him, she opened the envelope and pulled out her cell phone. She hadn’t seen it in almost a year and as she powered it on, a picture of her and her mother came to life on the screen. Holding the phone tighter between her fingers, she reminded herself this was not the time to let herself get wrapped up in her emotions. There would be time for that, but now was not the time.
Before she knew it, they were driving through a parking lot and stopped next to a multi-story grey building. “This is your stop Miss. The receptionist should be able to get you where you need to go.” Gathering her phone and placing it in her purse, she stepped out of the vehicle and again thanked the driver and walked up to the front door.
The stoic décor of the lobby screamed government agency as she briefly watched a few people step away from the receptionist area. The next one in line, Chrystal waited to get the woman’s attention, “Hello, I’m Chrystal Gomez and I’ve been assigned to the alpha delta division.” As crazy as that would seem to anyone else outside the bureau, the older woman behind the counter nodded while typing on her keyboard; and within a few minutes, she was given her temporary ID and brief directions to the meeting room she was to meet her team in.
Thank goodness the meeting room a short distance inside the door, as she walked to the cherry wood door, she stopped to take a deep breath and made sure that her skirt was straight and she was ready to start her new life.
Taking another cleansing breath, she knocked once and waited to be asked to come in. “Enter” was the only reply she received, turning the brass knob she knew she was late and hated every minute of it. “Sorry sir for my lateness.” She said quickly briefly looking around the room.
“Sit…anywhere” the gentleman at the front of the room said and began to finish the topic he must have been on before she entered. Looking around the room, she saw a rather handsome blond man towards her left and acknowledged the seat he pushed out next to him. Trying not to make a sound, she took her tablet out of her bag and listened to the last words that were said and then looked up when her name was called.
“Team, this is Chrystal Gomez. She and Montez will be pulled off the main investigation and will be reporting to only me. Montez’ duties will be reassigned to part of you. Now if you’ll all leave the three of us, there is much to discuss.”
~~~~~ *** ~~~~~
A look of confusion crossed Cristiano’s chiseled face as the perfumed scent of the unknown female drifted from the chair next to him; he sat wondering what was going on as the boss dismissed everyone with a wave of his hand. Wondering if he was even going to be on the case they had just discussed, he couldn’t still his mind long enough to even take in the fact that the new female in the room was going to be working with him. Was she to be his new partner? He didn’t think so, but whatever the agency needed he was here to do, no matter who his partner was or what the assignment was to be. Cristiano was dedicated to his work, even more so since everything had been turned upside down in his private life and he had thrown everything he had into his work. That was the only thing keeping him going, that and being a total professional in his job, he took it seriously.
When the boss broke his internal rambling he lifted his head and looked him straight in the eye “Yes sir” Keeping his eyes locked with those of the boss, Cristiano no longer had any sensations around him, the scent cloying his nose was gone and he could no longer feel the heat from the body sitting next to him. His only focus was on what the boss was to say next and he knew it was going to be big, since everyone else had been dismissed. Balling his hands, wringing them gently in anticipation of what was to come he sat stock still in his chair and held his breath.
“Agents Montez, Gomez, as you can see the Bureau a very special assignment for you. Before we move onto what it is and I give you the briefing, turn around and meet your new partner. You will be working on this case and for the rest of your time here. Montez, you have had a few partners and I know you and Gomez will work well together. I know you don’t need to hear this, you know your job and what it entails. So get to know each other as best you can, you will be working closely and the sooner you are completely comfortable in each other’s company the better. Agent Gomez, welcome to the Miami FBI division. I hope you are ready to jump in and get to work. Your reputation precedes you and I know that you and Montez will work well together”
Cristiano let out the breath he was holding with an audible sound and turned towards agent Gomez, “Pleased to meet you agent Gomez, I’m looking forward to working with you and getting the job done” He held out his and ready to greet her formally and watched as her expression almost looked confused.
~~~~~ *** ~~~~~
A chill ran up and down her spine looking down at Montez’ hand, “Sir…I’m ready to do whatever is needed, but I’m not comfortable with this.” Looking over at her new partner, she tried to look sympathetic. “This isn’t personal at all, but sir is this truly…”
She was cut off before she could finish her thought. “I believe I understand your concerns Gomez, but you were cleared for regular duty and this is it. We have a major opportunity that has been presented to us and both your backgrounds fit the profiles we deem best to deal with the situation at hand.”
Chrystal heard his words but the images of a bloody scene not too long ago flashed in her mind, some don’t believe that you can smell a bullet as it shoots past you, but she knew all too well that not only could you smell it, but she would never forget it…ever.
Her chest tightened and her breathing started to come out quickly as she heard her name called, “…Gomez…Ummm Agent Gomez!”
Looking up she saw the seriousness of the situation at hand by the blaze in her superior’s eyes. Taking a brief moment to compose herself, she had gone through months of counseling by the best in the bureau to bring her back from the hell she didn’t think would ever be put behind her. She reminded herself she had fought so long and hard to come back to the life she loved and had flatly turned down the offer to leave the bureau for good and start a new life. That wasn’t her…she wasn’t a quitter…not now…not ever!
“Sorry sir…you are right.” Turning to her new partner, she held out her hand. “Hello, I’m Chrystal Gomez, not a fruitcake, I promise you. “ The moment her partner’s hand touched hers, a warmth wave flowed over her. It was like she knew him…no not knew him…knew the feeling he instilled in her. Weird!
“Ok now that I have BOTH of your attention, I will go over this briefly since the file that has now been downloaded on both your tablets has all the details. You both will pose as an affluent Latin couple, who will be headed to Rome. You will be buying art, which is right up your alley Gomez. Price is no object but the real line of business you want is human trafficking. This is where you come into play Montez, your experience with the Italian cartel is legendary and we need someone who understands how to peak the man in charge’s interests.
You have two weeks here in Miami to get to know each other, so Montez, not only is Gomez your partner, she is now your roommate. Nothing like starting now, oh we expect you to be monitored in Rome, possibly at any time…so become…close.”
Fighting to keep her expression absolute, her mind rambled over and over. This could not be happening to her, was this really the assignment she was being given as her welcome back to the bureau…of course it was. This was typical.
There was a knock at the door and some blonde woman poked her head in and ushered their boss out for a phone call. Looking at her new partner, “I hope you don’t snore.”
~~~~~ *** ~~~~~
Watching the boss leave to take care of whoever was on the phone, Cristiano turned and faced Gomez, and the look on his face was priceless. Nothing or no one could have prepared him for this. Not only was he getting a new partner, he was going under cover and actually had to be close to another female. A female that wasn’t his wife, ok so his wife had died a few years ago in the line of duty, but what were they thinking?
They knew he had little to no interest in getting close to another female, any other female, partner or not, this was the one thing he wasn’t sure he could handle the department doing. The rush of emotions through him, left him sitting and staring, his palms started sweating before he finally managed to come back to the present, with his hand still encased on Gomez’, he knew she could feel the heat and sweat pouring from his skin. So he did the only thing he could and pulled free, looking away as she made a quick comment about him not snoring. What did they expect from him? To jump straight into bed with someone he had known five minutes? No, that just wasn’t him.
Turning back to face Gomez, he knew there was nothing to do but suck it up and move on. If the big bosses thought he could do it, then that’s just what he would do, just another assignment. Finally finding a small smile, Cristiano slid back his chair, the low scrapping of the legs against the carpet filling the room “Well since we have been cleared of all duty today and we need to get to know each other, there’s no time like the present. right. Did you want to go and get coffee and we can sit and get to know a little more about each other before I take you back to my apartment and show you where you will be staying for the next two weeks?”
Cristiano stood behind Chrystal’s chair, holding the back, he pulled it gently so she could stand and join him. Once fully stood next to him, he turned and made towards the door. With Agent Gomez drawing up level with him as he reached the door, he grabbed the cool handle and opened. Motioning for her to go through ahead of him, he followed close behind and let the door swing shut behind them. The hall now emptied, with everyone out on cases or working in their offices, there was no one around to get in their way.
Coming up to his office door, he reached for the handle and punched in the code. On hearing the door unlock, he opened the door and looked over his shoulder “Gomez, give me a minute to take care of things here and collect my jacket and I will be right with you so we can go and get that coffee.” Leaving her stand in the doorway, the door closed in her face and he leaned against the wood on the other side. Taking a few deep breaths and trying to calm his nerves and the emotions ran through him before collecting his jacket and car keys.
Opening the door, he could do no more than meet the eyes of Gomez, there was something in them but he wasn’t sure what it was yet. Did he even want to know? He wasn’t sure of that either, but he did know there was no way he was not going to do his job and bring down whoever they needed to, no matter how long it took or how close he had to pretend to be with his new partner. It was all part of the job, the job that he loved.
“You ready, or is there anything you need to collect?” Finally realizing that they had left her case back in the meeting room, Gomez turned and hurried off to get it before returning “I’m ready now, got everything I came with”
They both turned and headed back towards the reception, turning at the elevators, pressing the button and waiting for a car to arrive. The doors swooshed open and they both set foot inside, Cristiano pressing the button for the parking garage as the doors slid shut once more and they were alone within the confines of the elevator.
Reaching the garage, they stepped out of the elevator; Cristiano guided Gomez towards his awaiting car and opened it as they neared the parked car. Stepping ahead of her, he took hold of the door and opened as he as always accustomed to do for females he was with and waited for her to get in before shutting the door and going around to the driver’s side. He started the engine and pulled on his belt, making sure Gomez had hers on too before pulling out of the lot and heading for a nearby coffee shop that he knew would be quiet at this time of day.
As they drove closer to the coffee shop, Cristiano glanced over to Gomez settled in the passenger seat, her quiet demeanor and the relaxed way her body nestled into the leather left him wondering where she had come from. Something though he couldn’t quite work out what caught his eye and made him take another long glance in her direction. Not wanting her to catch him looking as he tried to assess what Gomez was all about, he knew that in time he would find out what it was, what that little spark that had the pit of his stomach tingling like there was much more to her than the façade that he saw before him. This woman was a mystery and one he did actually hope he would solve, if not only for business since he had been out of anything else for a long time now.
They arrived at the coffee shop and Cristiano found a nearby spot to park the car before turning off the engine and climbing from the car. He hurried around to the other side, wanting to get the door for Gomez before she managed to get it open any further than she already had.
Closing the door behind her, “Agent the shop is this way” as he turned and moved in the direction of one of his favorite places to get coffee, or at least when he was not in the office. He knew the staff here and they knew him and left him alone to his work and thoughts, only stopping by his table to fill his cup or to check if he needed anything else just the way he liked it.
Letting Gomez walk a little ahead of him something had caught his eye. The sway of her hips was like none he had ever seen before…well since… Her straight spine and ease as she strode ahead of him like she was on the catwalk left something simmering deep in his gut and again a feeling came over him, but he didn’t know what it was. Snapping away from his thoughts he shook his head and cleared his mind, she was to be his new work partner and nothing more.
Copyright © 2014 by BookRhyth, LLC
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