“That’s the slimeball,” Senator Stanton Grey said. He paced the floor with crossed arms as he watched Shelby Templeton fidget in the interrogation room behind the two-way mirrored glass wall. On any other occasion, the fifty-six-year-old Texas politician looked polished and composed, but at the moment even the creases in his Armani suit looked angry.
Eleanor McKinnon-Grey dipped her chin toward her husband. “Are you sure?”
“That’s him, Elle. He had a different accent before, but that’s the same man that invited me to the party.” He tilted his head and squinted as he looked over Templeton, then turned back to his wife. “Are you going to get him?”
Eleanor nodded. “Oh, yeah. We’ll get him, honey. You go on home, and leave this one to me.” She stretched up on her tip-toes to kiss her husband goodbye. “Call if you need anything. I should be back in DC next week.” Her confident voice and tender touch seemed to smooth the wrinkles from his forehead.
Stan hugged her and gave her his signature wink as he left the room.
Eleanor loved that wink.
Now back to work. She brushed her golden hair back from her face and tugged the hem of her navy-blue jacket into place. Tucking the folder of photographs and notes under her left arm, Eleanor marched to the next room where Templeton waited.
“You can’t keep me here. I’m an American citizen,” he said when she entered. Eleanor could see in the mirrored wall that he studied her curves as she turned to close the door. His gaze settled on her narrow ankles.
Eleanor took her place on the other side of the steel-topped table from him and sat down. She stared at him for several seconds without saying a word. She considered how quickly Evan had been able to track him down and take him into custody. Good girl. Maybe she envied Evan a little. But looking at Templeton, maybe not. She’d rather be in the field than at a desk, but this—she was good at this. Eleanor would wait a few more seconds, listening to him breathe through his mouth. She allowed time for his imagination to generate a host of nightmarish consequences for all his sins.
Eleanor always appeared cool and collected. She rarely let down her guard. She knew from experience things could go south quickly if she did. She fixed her gaze on Templeton’s twitching nostrils and let her long black lashes rise and fall in rhythm with her breath.
“Did you hear me? I’m an Ameri—”
“I heard you, Mr. Templeton. I have your file right here.” Her deep alto tone rolled at an even pace.
“Then you know you can’t detain me without cause.”
“Oh, I have plenty of cause, Mr. Templeton. You’re in a great deal of trouble. We know that you sell government secrets, and we intend to stop you.” Eleanor’s full pink lips formed a Cupid’s bow as she spoke.
Templeton looked distracted by Eleanor’s perfect mouth. He seemed to strain to keep up with what she said.
“I’m sure you’re being manipulated into this treasonous business,” she added. “We can help you out of it, but you’ll have to cooperate.”
“Treason? Secrets?” He looked scared. “What are you talking about? Who are you?”
Eleanor leaned against the back of her chair and blinked serenely. Her blonde curls slipped off her shoulders as if on cue. She noticed Templeton’s breath quicken.
“I work for the American government, Mr. Templeton.” She opened the file folder and carefully placed half a dozen surveillance photos in front of him. Each shot depicted him shaking hands with a different United States Senator and the same thin blonde woman draped over each senator’s arm. The photos appeared to have been taken at parties at various times and locations.
“It’s not illegal to have friends,” Templeton said. Perspiration beaded at his hairline, and the crease across his forehead deepened.
Eleanor knew she had him. “Of course not, but you seem to only make friends with senators and other government officials.” She paused for a second. “And blondes.”
She used her Georgia peach accent to charm him. He attempted to smile casually but then appeared to surrender.
“What do you want me to tell you? I just set up parties for friends. I don’t sell secrets. I just like to help people have a good time.” Dark, damp circles formed under his arms. He twitched and shifted in his seat.
Eleanor waited for more. She could almost hear his heart pounding.
“I don’t sell drugs, either,” he pleaded. “I’ve seen them at the parties. At some of the parties. But someone else brings them. I don’t mess with that stuff.” He straightened his posture for a few seconds and then slumped back in his chair again.
She licked her lips. This was too easy. If it weren’t for Templeton’s profuse sweating and shattered nerves, she would suspect he was playing her.
“And I don’t pimp out the girls. That’s someone else, too. All I do is set up the parties and invite the right people.” Templeton tapped his fingers on the table and chewed on his lips. After a few seconds of silence, he stopped tapping and shifted his hands to fumble with the buttons on his shirtsleeves.
Eleanor nodded but said nothing. She knew Templeton was on the verge of implosion.
“His name is Hrevic,” he said with a quick burst of energy. “Anton Hrevic, the fashion designer. But he’s more than that. You’ve got to protect me. He has people. He’ll kill me if he finds out I talked to you.”
Eleanor turned to look over her shoulder at the mirrored wall. She raised her eyebrows and smiled. She knew how entertaining this must be for the two agents behind the glass.
Eleanor stood and walked around the table directly behind Templeton. She placed both hands on the back of his chair and stared coldly at his reflection. She could see the panic on his face. She could smell his fear. “I’m going to let you talk to a friend of mine, Mr. Templeton. I want you to tell him everything about these parties that you set up for Mr. Hrevic. Don’t leave anything out. Do you understand?”
Templeton sighed and nodded. “Yes. I understand.”
Two men from the next room entered, leaving the door ajar for Eleanor to exit.
When Templeton saw the open door, his flight instinct took over, and he jumped up to run. Before he managed to take a full step, Eleanor grabbed his wrist and twisted it sharply behind his back, paralyzing him in his tracks. She pushed her elbow into the center of his spine and pinned him face down against the table. The two men drew their side arms, training them on Templeton’s head.
With her free arm, Eleanor signaled them to stand down. She leaned over her suspect and whispered in his ear while she pulled tighter on his wrist.
“Don’t do that again, Mr. Templeton, or I’ll rip off your arm and feed it to you. I can’t protect you if you behave foolishly.”
She reached out and took a pair of handcuffs from the man nearest her. She cinched them around Shelby Templeton’s wrists as he blubbered, “I’ll tell you anything you want to know.”
She helped him stand upright and placed him in the custody of her fellow agents.
“Take good care of him, men. This is the one we’ve been waiting for.” She directed her icy gaze back to Templeton and said, “Don’t hold anything back. We’ll know. And we have our own ways of dealing with traitors.”