Vradin, Chapter Nineteen

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Zoe blinked up at him, tears trailing down her cheeks. “Hey,” she croaked out.

“You alright? I thought I heard you call out,” Tank said, voice soft and trying to project mellow vibes as he eased into the room. Fergusson was right behind him, trailed by Jody.

Zoe sat up, rubbing at her face. “Eh,” she said and shrugged.

“How’s your head?” Tank asked.

“Better. I think the worst of the dizziness is done. Was someone shouting?” she asked.

Jody and Fergusson both had the grace to blush, but Zoe didn’t react. Tank figured she hadn’t seen the reaction.

“If I had realized the extent of the bad blood between your cousin and your roommate, I would have kept them separated,” Tank said with a teasing grin.

Zoe groaned, then seemed to catch sight of Fergusson because she growled at him, “Out!”

“Hey, short stuff, I just need to see you’re safe. And ask you a few questions without any one looming over you,” Fergusson added.

Zoe flipped him off. “No coffee, no questions. Go away! Jody, do you know where my bag ended up last night?”

Tank turned around at that point and gestured for Fergusson to precede him. “I’ll grab it from the other room,” Tank said.

Fergusson allowed himself to be ushered out, and followed Tank down the hall. The morning sun was bright in the white room, reflecting off strategically placed mirrors. Most of the younger pack members enjoyed sleeping in the light. The older pack members remembered too well the raids of their diurnal brethren and had trouble even resting when the lights were on. The older pack had also learned to cage a much greater Rage than their younger fellows and rarely needed to stay under watchful eyes during a particularly stressful passage in their lives.

The bed sheets were still disturbed from Zoe’s slumber, and her purse still sat on the bed side table. The purple duffel bag and the rhinestone studded purple tool box she had packed the night before were sitting beside the dresser. Tank grabbed them and nodded at Fergusson to grab Zoe’s purse.

Fergusson raised his eyebrow at Tank, but followed directions. They returned to Tank’s room with Zoe’s belongings, left them with Jody at the door, and returned to the kitchen.

Tank had near enough finished his coffee. He poured out what remained and rinsed the mug, setting it in the dishwasher. He made a surreptitious sniff in the direction of the coffee maker and decided it was still fresh enough.

Zoe seemed to like purple, but the closest he had was another blue mug, so he pulled it down, poured coffee to within two finger widths of the rim, and snagged a spoon from the utensil drawer. He added the coffee mug and the spoon to the condiment tray, along with Jody’s mug, and carried the whole of it back to the girls.

Again, Jody opened the door, and she smiled in genuine pleasure at the sight of the coffee, but all she said, was, “You’re a doll, Tank! Thank you!”

Fergusson watched from the end of the hall with narrowed eyes.

Back in the kitchen, he asked Tank, “What was that about?”

“‘No coffee, no questions’, remember?” Tank answered, quoting Zoe. Changing the subject, Tank observed, “Despite the heated emotions still standing between you and Jody, you tried to go cold when this Jessica was brought up. That’s not the reaction of a man caught with his dick in the wind, but rather a hunter that’s frustrated with a difficult quarry.”

Fergusson gave Tank more blank face. “Your point?”

“I’m going to throw out a few guesses. Feel free to tell me to fuck off at any time. First, you were not romantically involved with this Jessica at the time you dated Jody. Second, she felt she had some claim on you. Either you and she did date previously–” There was a twitch in Fergusson’s jaw, confirming Tank’s guess, but he let the observation pass. “– or she started obsessing about you without that much to encourage her. Third, there had been some contact with you and Jessica within a short span of time surrounding your break up with Jody, during which she had access to your phone book. You did not immediately connect Jody’s assertion of ‘your girlfriend’ with Jessica, which tells me you haven’t had any incidents with Jessica recently, or all of this happened more than a month ago, or you’re just that damn stupid, which can happen when women are involved.”

Fergusson stayed silent, but his back was up. Tank just watched him with a disinterested inquiring expression until Fergusson asked, “Your point?” again.

“Is there a possibility that your psycho ex may be a threat to Zoe? Even a ‘caught in the cross fire’ threat if she goes after Jody and Zoe just happens to be in the wrong place, wrong time?”

Tank felt the focus of Fergusson’s tension shift off himself and on to an internal threat assessment check list. The sergeant’s jaw worked in small, nearly imperceptible slow movements while he thought it out.

“I’ll have it checked out,” Fergusson finally conceded.

Tank let it go at that. He had faith in his operatives, and Thompson had had some pretty good things to say about Fergusson. That thought reminded Tank, and he pulled a pad of paper and a pen out of the junk drawer and pulled out his phone to scroll through the contacts for Thompson’s public number. He jotted it down along with Thompson’s name.

“Before I forget,” Tank said in answer to Fergusson’s inquiring look. The sergeant took the paper and made an “aha” face when he read the name.

“Thanks,” he said, slipping the paper in his jeans back pocket.

The perimeter bell chimed in the middle of Fergusson’s “thanks”. Tank nodded an acknowledgment and stepped over to his office. He glanced at the monitor mounted beside the door and saw an unmarked sedan with government plates and discrete emergency lights mounted behind the windshield pulling onto the block at a sedate pace.