“I’m pulling you off the case.” Karma eased into her chair as a devilish smile spread across her face, reaching her kohl lined eyes; one blue and one green.
“Understood.” Fang agreed gruffly; leaning back in a chair that was three sizes too small for him and attempting to look halfway comfortable as he prepared himself for the coming lecture.
“Isn’t this something we can discuss further?” Devon asked, sitting on the other side of Frankie. He’d cut his black hair closer to his head, eliminating the long locks she was so accustomed to seeing frame his face.
Karma shook her head, her golden curls dancing around her shoulder. “I’m sorry, this isn’t up for debate.”
“You can’t do this.” Frankie’s green eyes were large with shock.
Karma leaned back in her chair, and put her high-heeled feet on her desk. “I can, and I am.”
“But what about Willow?” Frankie asked, trying hard to keep the emotion out of her words. Her emotions were what landed them in this mess in the first place.
Karma glanced at Tucker Jackson and Persephone DeLuca sitting on the opposite side of the room of Frankie, Fang and Devon. “Tucker and DeLuca will stay on as liaisons with the FBI. Besides, I need you three on another case.”
“But we are the ones that have made progress?” Frankie continued her argument.
“Sure you have, if you consider alienating the suspects progress. The FBI, on the other hand, considers what you did harassment.” Karma removed her smile, and narrowed her dual colored eyes on Frankie, “we are a low profile agency, Francesca. We don’t need to draw attention. Our job is to keep the attention on other things.”
“All we did was try and take control of the situation. Willow has been missing for almost two days, and the longer she is gone the less likely we are going to rescue her alive.”
Karma shook her head, dropped her feet to the floor, and leaned dangerously across her desk eyeing Frankie coldly. “You are new to this position so I’m going to chalk this up as a lesson learned. We adhere to rules. People have rights which don’t include harassing a suspect at his place of work unless you have something that supports the interruption. Walking into a room full of clients, accusing him of kidnapping a little girl without any evidence to support your claims is unacceptable.” She turned her attention to Devon and Fang. “And you two know this, which is why I’m surprised we are even here having this discussion.”
“The FBI isn’t doing anything to save that little girl.” Frankie pleaded for some sort of understanding.
“The FBI happens to be the agency the public sees on this case. They take the responsibility of what all the other, non-public agencies do. Your actions put them in a very uncomfortable position, and they are insisting you be removed from the case.” Karma shot back, it was a volley of words, each person attempting to spike the ball in order to finish the discussion.
“Frankie’s actions may have been a little impulsive but…” Fang tried to intervene, but was cutoff, like a casualty of war.
“I don’t need you defending me, Fang.” Frankie shot her verbal assault at him without even turning in his direction. She was extremely unhappy with the man for so many reasons, and the last thing she wanted was the dumbass Neanderthal jumping in and saving her. “We all know Matthew and Rhonda are involved in this kidnapping, and no one is doing anything to put the pressure on them. Perhaps if there was a little pressure applied, one of the two might mess up.”
“But neither one of them did anything to implicate themselves. Instead, they called the FBI, and threatened to take legal action against all the agencies involved in the harassment unless you are removed from the case.” Karma eyed Frankie with a look that dared her to argue.
“So we let it play out and recover a corpse instead of a live child?”
“You don’t get it, do you, Frankie? What you did put Willow’s life in danger, especially if you are correct.” Which Karma was sure she was. Frankie may be impulsive, and often takes crazy risks, but her instincts were generally on point, which, when controlled, made her a good agent.
“That’s not fair, Karma.” Devon came to Frankie’s defense this time. “What Francesca did was put them on notice. Now the FBI can keep an eye on the two, and see if either of them leads the authorities to the girl.”
“Don’t you dare sugar coat the situation, Dev. She needs to understand her actions have consequences.” Karma turned her fury on Devon.
“I understand that.” Frankie defended herself, “which is exactly why I did it and I would do it again. My actions forced their hands. Just wait. They will react.” She was sure of it. She just hoped they didn’t react in a bad way by eliminating the evidence of their crime.
“I know you have a strange knack of understanding human behavior, but you aren’t always right, Francesca.” Karma stood up and walked around the desk, sitting on the other side of the cherry wood ledge in between Fang and Frankie. “Besides, the case is turning out to be as un-supernatural as possible, and in case you didn’t notice, we only investigate paranormal crimes. When they prove to not be part of the supernatural world we remove ourselves from the equation and allow the proper authorities to take over.”
“Willow is a shifter child, how much more supernatural can that be?” Fang argued.
“She has shown no indication the shifter gene has activated or transferred into her genetic makeup, and her suspected kidnappers are very human. Case closed on our end.” Karma examined her perfectly manicured blood red nails. “We’ll leave Tucker and DeLuca in the loop while I send you three on another case.”
“If I’m such a royal screw up why would you send me?” Frankie regretted the words the moment they left her mouth.
“Because Mercy and Harmony requested you specifically. That and, for the most part, you’re a decent operative. As long as you follow orders and stick to procedure.”
“We’ll keep you updated on the case, Francesca.” Tucker offered a look of sincerity from his warm brown eyes. “I know what it’s like to get invested in a case.” A toothy grin lit his mocha colored face when Frankie gave him an appreciative glance.
He was a very handsome man. Strong, lean muscles, and great hair. But his personality made him extremely adorable, if she were to choose a man to date in this agency, not that she’d date a fellow agent, but if she did, he’d be on the top of her list. “Thank you.”
A growl rumbled from Fang’s chest, and when Frankie turned and glanced at the blond giant man that was a mass of muscles his brown eyes were narrowing on Tucker. Frankie couldn’t hold back the eye roll. Fang was beyond irritating with his overly protective and possessive attitude toward her, and she needed to do something about it.
“Quite frankly, I think you get far too much leeway in this agency.” Persephone stood up, straightened her black jacket over her frilly lace skirt, tossed her dyed, jet-black hair over her shoulder and asked, “May we be excused to get back to work?”
Karma nodded, “thank you, DeLuca and Tucker.” Karma straightened her own form and walked back to her position behind the cherry wood desk. “As for you, I’m sending you to Half Moon Bay, California to join the ABI in the investigation of Avalon flight 370.” She pushed the files forward on her desk and each of them picked up the one in front of them.
“The plane that disappeared over the Pacific Ocean?” Devon asked without flipping open the pages of the case file.
Frankie bit her lower lip. She wanted to point out they’d be of little use on this case, to reinforce the fact that they’re better suited for the missing person case, but she knew that argument was over. If the FBI kicked her off the case what more could she do? DeLuca, despite her snotty attitude, and Tucker were good agents and she had a feeling Tucker would keep his promise and keep her posted. Instead, she decided to focus her energy on a different issue.
“That’s a pretty high profile case, don’t you think…” Fang began as he started flipping through the pages more at ease and relaxed now that DeLuca and Tucker were gone.
“As I mentioned earlier, Mercy and Harmony asked for Francesca personally, and there are no other agents I’d rather send with her. If it were up to me, you’d be suspended.” Karma directed that last part at Frankie who shrank back in her seat a little. “The plan was to pull Tucker and DeLuca from your case and keep you there, however, that all changed when you were removed from the FBI cleared list.”
“Okay! I get it! I messed up.” Frankie held up her hands in surrender. “I’m sorry, but if it helps break the case, which I know it will, I’ll be the one getting the apologies.” She set the file on the desk. “Why did Mercy and Harmony request me?”
“I know Mercy was impressed with how you, Fang and Jasmine handled the case of the Florida outbreak. I also know Harmony is curious as to how you survived the mutated Ebola virus.”
“Well, that makes two of us.” It had been a month since she was bitten by the child carrier of the zombie-like virus which the doctors discovered was a mutated strain of Ebola. According to the newest update last week, the virus mutated because it unlocked a recessive supernatural gene in patient zero. By all accounts, Sarah said it could’ve resulted in the zombie apocalypse, and her team was the one that had closed the case. It was why she was moved into the field as a permanent agent so quickly.
Frankie was bitten by one of the carriers and she was infected. Her life was pretty much over. They all knew it, as her organs failed one after the other. Then, she was on a respirator, on the verge of a coma, and suddenly she made a miraculous recovery. She was the only person out of the twenty-four infected by the virus that survived. Defeating the virus made her stronger, physically, mentally, even spiritually. Her experience on death’s door was hazy, but she was positive there was more after this life. What it was, she had no clue. She couldn’t access the memories, only the feelings. Even the therapist she was seeing had failed to help recover those memories. After three hypnosis sessions and no results she stopped going.
Since the incident, she had the strangest feeling that people were keeping a secret from her. She and Sarah tried to discover the big mystery, but everyone who’d been involved was pretty tight lipped. She was convinced the agency injected her with some experimental drug. Why it worked on her and no one else, she had no clue. Why they wouldn’t tell her was an even more frustrating point. The supernatural strength and enhanced senses did little to ease her mind. Whatever they did to her, she would eventually find out. She needed to know.
“Half Moon Bay is the closest point to the last transmission from the airplane so the teams have set up a temporary military base just outside of town. Harmony reports there is no evidence that aliens were involved, despite the conspiracy theories that assumed this missing flight was a massive abduction. Disproving alien involvement is why they asked for the PBI to join the investigation.” Karma continued the briefing.
“What makes them think this was paranormal?” Devon asked. “I can’t think of any supernatural creature that has the ability to make an entire plane with passengers disappear. The most logical conclusion would be a crash into the ocean. I would think this is a human case.”
“Quite possibly, but this disaster has impacted over fifteen countries. Avalon 370 was an international flight so the president wants every agency at his disposal on the case.” Karma sighed. “There are also some strange facts to the case that have been pieced together so far.”
Fang nodded as he read the file. “Like the communication gaps?”
Karma smiled, “yes, Fang. There were only three communication checkpoints that came from the actual crew. The last one, after two failed attempts, was static and mumbled voices. The remaining communication from the flight came from the airplane communicating with ground and satellite.”
“It’s also strange that there seemed to be no warning from the crew. No distress calls.” Fang continued reading the file.
“And the flight path was not followed. The amount of air traffic over the United States would result in catastrophic events of two or more planes colliding if the plane did not stay its course.” Karma added. “Too many facts in this don’t add up.”
Devon closed his file. He wasn’t convinced this was a PBI case, but he agreed that getting Frankie off the kidnapping would be a good thing, and this case might be a decent distraction. “When do we leave?”
“Candy is working on getting a pilot and flight plan approval now.” Karma answered. “I would expect her to have everything ready within the next couple of hours.”
“Great. I’m going to take a shower and pack.” He stood and headed toward the door.
Fang and Frankie took the hint and both stood. “Karma, can I have a few minutes?” Frankie asked after almost colliding into Fang when they stood.
“Sure.” Karma’s interest was piqued.
Fang grumbled something under his breath, even with Frankie’s enhanced hearing she couldn’t understand the mumble as he left with Devon.
Frankie closed the door after them and sat back down. She had two things to discuss and didn’t know which one to approach first which left her worrying her hands as she sat down. She pushed out a breath and went for her first issue. “I was wondering if Sarah could come along on this case?”
Karma’s forehead creased in confusion. “Why?”
Frankie bit her lower lip, “well, we’ve been looking into the attack on our parents and there are some leads in northern California that I was thinking we could investigate after the case was concluded.”
Karma sat back in her chair and considered Frankie’s request. In truth, she was impressed with the human’s fearlessness. Most people keep their heads down around her. They avoid private conversations, fearing how karma would judge them, but not Francesca. She voiced her opinion. She didn’t back down when she thought she was right. She fought for those she cared for, and as a result, she’d racked up some awesome karma points. In the short time Karma had known the spunky human, she’d gained a soft spot for her, which was a bad thing since it was her job to dole out good or bad karma to everyone whether she liked them or not. It was simply an expectation. It was fine now that Francesca was on the side of good karma, but the moment she fell on the bad side, Karma worried about her ability to deliver the swift hand of justice.
“I’m impressed that you’ve been working on the cold case, but without something tangible to re-open the investigation, I can’t justify agency funding to the investigation. Besides, you have plenty to worry about with this case.”
“None of you think this has a paranormal signature to it. We are just being sent there to reinforce the use of our agency.”
“Sure, there are no signs this is paranormal, but it’s strange, and that is what we investigate. If it turns out to be void of the supernatural, I’ll pull you back.”
“Right, so if we prove it one way or the other what harm would there be in allowing my sister and I an additional day to look in on the leads?”
“Sending your sister will cost the agency, and put her behind in her studies.”
“You don’t think a forensic agent would be helpful in this matter?”
“At this point, this case is a tragedy. There has been no crime committed. Forensics use science to investigate a crime.”
“Or possible crime.” Frankie was a force to be reckoned with when she got an idea in her mind. As she pleaded her case, she realized this request would actually help her with her second request since she was sure Karma would not help her with her other issue. Her own father used to call her the great debater. It was coming in handy in this case.
Karma examined Frankie carefully. She did have a valid point about assigning forensic personnel. It would look like they were putting their best foot forward, and after last month’s debriefing with the president she needed to gain a few good points. The funding had been renewed for a year, but there were stipulations that came with that renewal. “Perhaps you’re right, but the last person I’d send on a case like this is the newest forensic analyst.”
“Okay, if you can’t help with that request, how about another one?” Frankie was disappointed but she could understand why Sarah wasn’t the right choice to go on the mission.
“And that would be?”
“What about him?”
“I’d like a different partner.”
Without any hesitation. “No.”
“Aren’t you even going to ask why?”
“I don’t care. He will protect you better than most agents, and that is why he is your partner.” Karma didn’t want any more human casualties. She couldn’t afford them with the new stipulations placed on her to keep funding going.
“Yeah, well, he makes me uncomfortable.”
“Fang isn’t known for his social skills, but he grows on you.”
“He kissed me.” Frankie answered quickly before she lost her courage. She felt like a child telling on the boy next door.
Karma couldn’t hold back the smile that crossed her lips. “And did you kiss him back?”
Frankie shook her head, “no, I slapped him.”
Karma laughed, “good for you.”
And he’s barely spoken to me since, she wanted to add, but decided to keep that to herself.
“If you have a problem with your partners you need to find a way to work it out with them.”
Get the rest of the story here on Amazon.