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Page 3

Author: Kirsty Moseley

I smiled at those words. Nate and I had graduated top two of our year, with me in first place and it was an honour to be assigned to a department straight from graduation. It didn’t happen particularly often, and you were only offered it if your reputation was known of in high places. The two of us were a wicked partnership, and apparently I had been headhunted for a special mission of ‘utmost importance’, or so Weston had informed me this morning.

My insides squirmed in anticipation. I was hoping for SWAT Front Line; they were the guys who were always first on site, who always saw action, but I knew it wouldn’t be that. No one had ever gone into that team without at least ten years’ field experience. They were the best of the best, and usually they only had an opening if someone died or requested a transfer. I knew that neither had happened recently, but I still couldn’t help but hope.

Officer Weston finally finished his speech, and the guys all trailed off towards the hall, where they had laid on a buffet of stale sandwiches and potato chips. No expense spared. No one minded though because my entire graduating year was hitting a bar tonight in celebration, and I was planning on getting wasted.

Nate and I waited behind as requested. “Taylor, Peters, follow me,” Officer Weston ordered, walking into his shabby office. He sat down behind his desk and motioned for us to sit. I couldn’t keep the smile off my face. “Right, Peters, your presence has been requested at Division Six,” he said proudly. I grinned happily and slapped Nate a high-five.

“Oh shit yeah! That’s what I’m talking about!” Nate shouted, jumping out of his chair and pumping the air with his fist.

“Sit down, Nate,” Weston laughed, shaking his head in amusement.

Division Six was a fantastic opportunity; he would get direct field experience, and they also had specialised areas which they could train you in. Nate wanted to be a sharp shooter and was incredible with long-range shooting.

“Okay, so they want you from Monday. You’ll report to Officer Tate at 9 a.m. sharp. Don’t be late. Here’s your file, make sure you read it,” Weston stated, handing Nate a brown envelope.

“Yes, sir, and thank you, sir,” Nate answered, saluting respectfully, yet grinning moronically.

“Okay, Nate, you go enjoy the food. I need to speak to Ashton in private,” Weston instructed, nodding for him to leave. I slapped Nate another high-five on his way past, silently praying that I got something as good as his. Officer Weston waited until the door closed before he spoke. “Ashton, you’ve been requested for something important. You’re not going to like this,” he winced, shaking his head.

My heart sank at the look on his face. This obviously wasn’t something good. “Okay, sir, I’m listening,” I said confidently. I was up for any challenge they could throw at me. I worked hard and it paid off. I had graduated first in every assessment, apart from long-range shooting, in which I came a close second to Nate. I held five different department records, including hand-to-hand combat, tactical planning, and hostage management. No one had ever graduated with the honours I had.

He sighed and held a brown envelope towards me. Frowning, I took it and tore it open eagerly, finding a police file inside for an Annabelle Spencer. I flicked it open curiously, not having a clue what this was about. On the first page, there was a photo of her. She was incredibly beautiful. According to this, she was nineteen and a college student.

I glanced up at Weston. “Who’s this?” I asked, confused as to why he had given me this girl’s file.

“That is the daughter of an extremely important man. She’s Annabelle Spencer, daughter of Senator Tom Spencer,” he said respectfully.

My interest was instantly piqued. Tom Spencer was a Presidential candidate who was expected to take over the oval office come the election later this year; he was highly respected and, from what I’d heard, was supposed to be a great man.

“Okay, so why do I have her file?” I questioned, flicking through it and scanning the pages. She was recently expelled from Stanford. She had attended four other colleges in the last year and a half, and had been expelled from every one for violence or damage to property.

“When she was sixteen, she was abducted by Carter Thomas. He killed her boyfriend in a club and then held her against her will for almost a year. The only reason she was found was because the police raided his home for drugs and discovered her there. You do know who Carter Thomas is, don’t you?” he asked, raising his eyebrows at me.

I nodded quickly. Everyone knew who Carter Thomas was; he was the head of a crime syndicate and responsible for the deaths of almost a thousand people when he’d set bombs off in the middle of rush hour in four different subways simultaneously. Everyone knew it was him, but it could never be directly proven, and key witnesses or evidence had a strange habit of going missing just in the nick of time. He regularly ran drugs and was heavily involved in human trafficking from Romania.

“He’s currently serving a life sentence for the murder of Miss Spencer’s boyfriend, Jackson Roberts. She was a witness for the prosecution, and there was also evidence that has linked him directly to the murder. Everyone knows who he is and what he does, but he’s always slipped through our fingers. The murder of Jackson Roberts is the only thing that’s ever gotten as far as a trial. Him being convicted was one of the best things for our country,” Weston said, his expression hard.

“Okay, sir, so what does this have to do with me?” I asked, still not understanding why I was being told about this in the first place.

Weston sat back in his chair. “Well, Carter Thomas has an appeal coming up later this year. Apparently, some evidence may have been incorrectly collected or something. Miss Spencer was the only witness that made it to the trial the first time; there’s a good chance she may be called to give evidence again. There have been death threats made against her, most of them because of who her father is, but lately her family have been receiving threats which they believe are coming from Carter’s organisation.”

He seemed to be watching me, waiting for my reaction. I still didn’t get it. I’d been selected for a special assignment, yet he was telling me about some girl. What did this have to do with me? This wasn’t SWAT business.

He took a deep breath. “Okay, I’m just gonna say it; she goes through bodyguards like you do cold beers. She gets assigned a new one, and within a week she makes them quit. They refuse to work with her. She’s a real livewire from what I understand, a real hard-ass bitch. But this girl is extremely important, not only because she may be required to give evidence against Thomas, but also as the probable future President’s daughter. Her father has requested someone who will be able to deal with her on a day-to-day basis. There’s a specific age bracket because they’ll be required to attend college with her and essentially be her shadow until the end of the court case.”

It suddenly dawned on me where this meeting was going. I stared at him in disbelief, shaking my head and throwing the file onto his desk. “That’s complete bullshit! I’m SWAT; I’m not some f**king babysitter!” I shouted, pointing at the file distastefully.

“This isn’t up for debate. They wanted the best agent within an eight year age bracket, they picked the best agents across every department, sending the top ten to Senator Spencer, and he picked you specifically! You were the only graduate to be considered. You should consider this a great honour,” Weston said persuasively.

I growled in frustration. “Why are we even getting involved? If she’s the daughter of a Senator then this should be secret service, not us,” I countered.

He sighed. “She’s been through most of the guys there, Taylor. Plus, there aren’t that many agents there within the age bracket; most people go into secret service a little further down the line in their careers,” he explained, shrugging. He cocked his head to the side, his eyes boring into mine. “Ashton, it’s just until the end of the court case. Eight months, that’s all. Senator Spencer has guaranteed you your choice of posts after that time. Anything you want, even Front Line.”

My head snapped up at those words. “Seriously?”

He smiled and nodded. “I knew that would get your attention, but I need you to understand that this is a very important job. It may not sound it, but if she dies and the case falls apart, then Carter Thomas will be released and hundreds, if not thousands, of people could be killed over the coming years,” he said gravely.

Right, okay, I get it. Do a good job babysitting for eight months, get dream job. Done! “Okay, I understand, sir.” I was smiling now.

“You can’t tell anyone about this. You’ll need to say you’ve been assigned somewhere out of state. You’ll be undercover with her.” He picked up the file that I’d tossed onto his desk and handed it to me.

I flicked it open again and looked at the picture of the girl. Fuck, I sure hope I get undercover with her! I mused. She was just my type, dark hair and dark eyes, and she was the prettiest damn thing I’d ever seen. I couldn’t tell what her body was like because she was wearing baggy jeans and a hoodie, but her face was so beautiful that she could be a supermodel.

“Okay, make sure you read the briefing file. There’s a DVD in there too, which is the security footage of her old school and the reason she got expelled. Like I said, she’s kind of a badass; the reasons for it are in the file, which doesn’t make for good bedtime reading.” He grimaced and rubbed the back of his neck as he said it. I looked down at the file nervously, wondering what could be so bad that Weston was all jittery and uncomfortable about it. “Right, well I guess that’s all. I’ve mocked up a fake assignment for you in case people ask. A flight has been booked for you for tomorrow morning and your tickets are in the back of the file. Pack casual; they’ll have stuff waiting there for you too, so don’t go too overboard with the clothes. Only a few people are in the loop on this due to the sensitivity of it; they’re not sure if there’s a leak in one of the departments, so if you need anything, you call either me or Commander Erikson. His details are in the back of the file. Good luck, Ashton,” he said finally.

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