The Auction Block (Agents of Interpol 1)

Page 66

I sit on the stool, facing the sink. Staring into the mirror, I shudder at the bags under my eyes, and my placid complexion. My black hair and blue eyes contrast so much its unnatural. Teresa walks up behind me and I stare at her through the mirror's reflection. Her lips twist upward, but it doesn't reach her eyes.
I'm going to miss it here.
"Mr. Mason says you are leaving for a while tomorrow."
"How much do you know about human trafficking, Teresa?" I scan her face in the mirror.
"Mi hija, my daughter . . . she was taken by some of those people," she says, placing her hands on my shoulders.
My body trembles at her touch. Pain flashes across her face and she lifts her hands.
"Don't. It's fine. I'll shake either way."
She gently sits her hands back down.
"Her name was Maria. Five years ago, Mr. Mason had just started working with Interpol. They found my daughter, but her injuries . . . she was broken. She died. I couldn't go back to México after that. I asked Mr. Mason if he had any room for an old, broken-hearted woman in his employment. I’ve been here ever since."
"Lo siento, Teresa. I can't imagine what you went through."
"Mr. Mason told me about what happened at the halfway house yesterday, Miss Lily. You probably saved that little girl's life. Usted es dios enviado," she says squeezing my shoulders. "Let me braid your hair, eh?" She smiles, reaching for a brush on the counter-top.
Me . . . god sent?
She styles my hair in a beautiful French-braid and brings me fresh clothes. I meander into the kitchen to find Blake and the team eating breakfast. An eerie silence hangs over them. I avert my eyes, bee lining to the coffee maker.
Teresa scoots next to me, bumping my hips with hers. I look down into her face, and she jerks her head toward the group. I glance over my shoulder to find Blake staring at me, unmistakable pain in his eyes. I shake my head.
"Is this how we're going to spend the next twenty-four hours? Everyone staring at me in horror and pity like I'm some wounded animal?" I snap, turning to face them.
"None of us wants to upset you, Lily," Sammi says softly.
"Oh, for fuck's sake, just ask your god-damned questions, so we can attempt to have a normal day. Y'all acting as if I'm a piece of glass is going to piss me off"
Dresden grins. "We don't want to invade your privacy, Lily. We had a long discussion about this last night."
"I think my privacy's a moot point, don't you? Can't say I'm comfortable with any of this, but, it is what it is, as you always say, Dres."
"Fair point," he says shaking his head.
"So, who wants to break the ice of the inquisition?" I slide to the island, bumping Blake playfully with my arm. The tension radiating off him is thick enough to cut with a butcher knife.
"Don't bump me. I'm not asking you a damn thing," he says, bumping me back.
A smile spreads across my face. "Well, that's going to ruin the game."
Jax sighs loudly. I regard him— his head hanging. My anger toward him vanishes, leaving behind shame and pity. We've both made a mess of this assignment right from the start.
"What's your issue, Jax? This makes things easier. No more hiding, no more lies, and cover stories. Just me in all my fucked-up-ness."
"You don't need to answer questions or waste time with your little crush. You need to get ready for your assignment," he scolds, his voice cold and unfeeling.
"Excuse me?" The anger floods back, heating my face.
"You heard me. This shit between you and Mason is over. You're an agent, he's an assignment, and we don't fuck our clientele. I don't care what Monroe has to say about it."
"I think I'm old enough to decide what is and isn't appropriate for me as far as my assignments are concerned." My eyes narrow.
"Your age doesn't mean shit to me. I'm your boss, and you'll do as you're told," he says sternly, standing straight.