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Captain Cook’s office had not only the door closed, but the inner blinds shut as well. And everybody at the fourth floor knew what it meant. So some people asked who was getting their ass kicked.
“Gillian,” was the answer.
The mandatory second question was, “Again?”
Inside Cook’s office, Gillian was exercising patience and tolerance as to save herself a dozen reincarnations, according to even the most radical lines of Buddhism. She stood before the desk while her captain kept pacing around like a caged beast, his face flaring a furious red, veins pumping up in his neck and temples.
New regulations—new as in some ten years ago, at least—stated he had to watch his mouth when addressing his officers under any circumstance, or they’d be entitled to fill out a report against him for verbal violence and abuse of authority. So he was forced to swallow all the things he was dying to yell in Gillian’s face, and stick his rant to the ‘keep the ******** feds out or else…’
He had paused to breathe when the phone on his desk rang, and an aide reminded him that the press waited for him to give an update on the Johnson case.
Gillian swallowed an evil smile. These were the moments she enjoyed of her perpetual state of war with Cook. He pointed at the door to dismiss her and glowered at her when she didn’t move.
“Sir, I would advise extreme caution when addressing the press about this case,” she said. “It may involve up to thirteen underage girls raped by the victim. The killers are among them, so it would be wise not to issue any statement we may regret later.”
Now she did turn around and head out.
“Wait, Gillian! What the hell are you talking about?”
She paused by the door to face him. “I’m sorry, but I still cannot give you any further information. My analysts are looking into it as we speak.”
“I cannot hold the press back forever!”
Meaning you can’t wait to show your face to the cameras, you arrogant runt.
“You better bring me something by noon, Gillian.”
Or what, stupid dinosaur? She just left.
On her way to the elevators she had to nod and smile at some colleagues, teasing her about this new round with Cook. Then she spotted Francine, her father’s secretary, and approached her to ask if he was in his office, on the sixth floor. If he was to scold her too, better be done with it sooner than later.
The woman flashed an apologetic smile. “Sorry, Reg, but he’s busy. I’ll call you if he has a gap to see you.”
Gillian managed a nod, stunned as if she had just been slapped, watching Francine hurry away down the hallway. Busy? A gap to see you? What the hell was that supposed to mean? Her father was never too busy to see her! Then she got it.
The elevator jingled open before her and she walked into it, feeling her face burning till her ears hurt. King Gillian wasn’t busy: he was ******, taking offense at the rumor of his daughter being seen ‘in league with the feds’. And this was his payback. He knew a scold would have no effect on her. So he hit where it hurt the most: now she would have to wait for him to be as kind as to find a gap to see her.
When she finally reached her office, her pale face and her cold glare were enough to keep the whole team from anything but a hesitating good-morning. She pictured she looked positively blood-thirsty when she glanced at Kurt and he turned off his music right away.
She didn’t even register the steamy mug Fred handed her, which gave the others the true measure of her state of mind—Gillian rejecting coffee was Doomsday serious. But she couldn’t help a smile when they all faced her, expecting her words like the Students of the Year.
“Lads, in case T didn’t tell you, we have thirteen girls raped by our outstanding Johnson boy, so that’s our priority from now on,” she said.
“Fifteen,” said Tanya, grimacing. “And one of them tried to commit suicide last week.”
“Okay, Al, Fred, you’re coming with me to the school. Tanya, stay on that group and try to find out if there are any more victims. Kurt, take on the tracking of the picture and the ghost user. Hank, Ron, make a timeline with the victims Tanya already found and check hospitals and police records. Find anything related to those names on the dates they say they were assaulted: a trip in the shower, a sick belly, a lost puppy, anything. We’re meeting again at noon to see what we’ve got.”