Baring Mia

By: Kallista Dane


The realization galvanized her into action. She was busy scrolling through a list of law firms when Alejandro’s secretary buzzed.

“There’s…uh…some people here to see you.” Tami’s voice sounded hesitant. “They wanted to speak with Alejandro, but when I told them he’s away, they asked for you.”

Mia steeled herself. “Send them to my office,” she replied.

At the firm knock on her door, she took a deep breath, pushed her laptop aside, and arranged her face into a polite smile. “Come in.”

Three burly figures dressed in identical navy suits, white shirts, and cheap, nondescript ties marched through the door. Her spacious office suddenly seemed cramped, the air too thin to breathe.

“Are you Mia Thorne?”

She forced herself to stay calm. “Yes, I am. And you are…?”

“I’m Special Agent in Charge D. L. Patterson and these are Agents Gutierrez and Navarro. We’re with the FBI.”

He pulled his jacket aside to reveal a badge on his hip. Mia took a moment to size them up. Patterson was tall and blond and broad-shouldered, quite handsome really, easily six foot two. His co-workers, both with dark hair and eyes, nearly matched him in size. They would tower over most men in Miami with similar surnames. She found herself idly speculating about whether there was a height requirement for members of the FBI’s intimidation squad.

Pushing aside the rising tide of panic that caused her thoughts to wander, she dragged her attention back to the moment.

“What can I do for you gentlemen?”

Patterson’s voice was hard. “Tell us where Alejandro is – – and what the two of you did with the money.”

She frowned slightly and wrinkled her brow, hoping her amateur attempt at looking innocent but puzzled would pass muster. “Please, gentlemen, take a seat,” she said, waving to a pair of upholstered chairs arranged in front of her mahogany desk. “We can bring in another chair so you’re all comfortable. I’ll assist you any way I can. Mr. Cabrera is currently out of the country, visiting relatives. As for your other question, I’m afraid I don’t know what you’re talking about.”

Patterson and the others remained standing. Probably part of their intimidation training, one part of her mind observed. Shut up so I can concentrate, she told it.

Patterson misinterpreted the look on her face. “It won’t do you any good to act tough.”

Act tough? He had to be kidding. She was so terrified she reached out and cradled the tiny coffee cup in both hands just to keep him from seeing how badly they were shaking.

He came closer to the desk, and Mia suddenly wished she’d stood up to greet them. Now his height gave him a distinct advantage. He’s really good at the intimidation thing, the inane voice in her head babbled.

Patterson leaned over her, placing his palms flat on the desk. “I suggest you tell us what we want to know right now,” he said, his voice deceptively calm. “Or, if you prefer, we’ll take you to headquarters and you can answer questions there.”

Mia decided they must not know everything she’d discovered yet. Otherwise they wouldn’t be asking her questions here in the office. They’d already have hauled her off in handcuffs. She decided to stall, hoping it would buy her enough time to wedge a mean-assed shark of an attorney between her and these three.

“As I said before, I have no idea what you’re talking about. And I’m not sure you can require me to accompany you to your headquarters unless you’re placing me under arrest. Give me a moment. I’ll get my attorney on the line and ask him.” She reached for the phone, hoping he wouldn’t call her bluff, since she had no idea whose number to dial.

Patterson smiled, a cold smile that never reached his eyes. “I wouldn’t do that if I were you. Once you get an attorney involved, we can’t offer you the kind of deal we can when it’s just between us.”

He waved to his two companions, standing silently behind him, then went on, more softly. “We don’t really want you, Miss Thorne. We want your ex-boyfriend. But we have to have someone to hold accountable. And if that ends up being you, well, we’ll just have to settle for hauling your pretty little ass off to jail.”

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