He hadn’t known the red-haired woman for more than twenty minutes, but she was acting a little strange. She paced around Sebastian’s secret office, rubbing the skin between her eyebrows, while the security guard gave Chase the low-down. Chase listened half-heartedly. The security guard had not witnessed the crime, and had no new information to reveal. In fact, the only person who might have seen the kidnapper enter Sebastian’s office was Janelle, and she had been ridiculously allowed to leave for the day.
“This is way out of my paygrade,” the guard said. “The walkies aren’t working and it’s just a mess. I’m just glad the cops got here quick. I thought youse guys would take at least half an hour.”
Of course they had called the Corver City police. Damien Dart was probably on his way to Heathrow Heights right now, booking it through the gray streets to rescue his beloved Sebastian. If Damien found Chase on scene when he was supposed to be on probation, Chase could lose his job, be arrested for accessory to murder, or even be killed like his Dad.
Chase said to the guard, “Could you step out for a minute? I need to talk alone with my investigative partner.” He pointed to Janelle’s office. “I saw fresh coffee and snacks over there.”
The guard turned, relieved, and ushered the rest of his team out the door. The woman continued to pace, but now she was holding an electronic device in her hand, fingers moving furiously over the screen. Chase could only guess who she was messaging at a time like this. Maybe her boss?
“If you could stop texting, we need to leave before my boss gets here. Otherwise, we’ll both be taken in for questioning–”
“Great,” the woman interrupted him, clicking the device shut. “I’ve contacted Sebastian’s pilot and the jet takes off in ten. Can you drive?”
He paused. “What?”
“I’m assuming you arrived in a police car. I’ll catch you up on the way. No time to lose.”
Chase took in a breath as she breezed past him. He caught a whiff of her perfume, something with notes of leather and lilac. He had no choice but to run after her, and when she ran, she ran, so quickly her feet barely touched the floor. They bypassed the security personnel, who held lukewarm cups of black coffee, and crossed the 100th floor office space, which was entirely empty of people. In the elevator, the mysterious woman pushed the button to the main level.
“I’m confused,” Chase admitted, holding onto his gun through his clothing to ground himself.
“I know who kidnapped Sebastian, and I know where to find him,” she said. “A private jet is faster than a helicopter.”
“But… do you know Sebastian? How are you using his private jet?”
“I don’t know him. But I know how to get what I want.”
Chase stared across at her, which felt like a breath of fresh air, since he usually had to crane his neck to look down at people. He didn’t like being the tallest person in the room, though sometimes it worked in his favor.
The woman had this powerful, magnetic aura. Chase did not trust her one bit. Was she working for Sebastian? No, it couldn’t be, since she had accused HIM of working for Sebastian. Was she really working for Goliath retail? He’d heard horror stories of the corruption in Goliath’s upper management. Chase didn’t want to like her, but he needed to keep her close, figure out who she was, and determine whether she knew Sebastian’s dirty secrets.
“What’s your name?” he asked.
“Braya,” she said, holding out her hand to shake.
Chase tried to bridge the gap once more, but the elevator doors opened, revealing the hunched shoulders and ruddy face of police chief Damien Dart.
Damien was shocked to see someone in the elevator, and Chase used this opportunity to push past him and sprint for the doors. Damien yelled “Put your hands up!” and Chase sensed a gun trained on his back. He darted behind a wide bronze sculpture, out of the line of fire. Adrenaline rushed in his ears. Gunshots. His vision tunneled as he made for the exit. Where was Braya? A man screaming far away. Chase’s gun in his hand, cool and heavy, the safety off and ready to fire. He burst out the door. He ran for one of the black and white police cars, its keys in the ignition and the engine still on, ready to leave at a moment’s notice.
He dove into the driver’s seat and Braya was right behind him, shutting the door. “GO!” she yelled. Chase stomped on the gas pedal and they drove down the pothole-ridden street, leaving the team of police officers dumbfounded on the bright steps leading up to Bash Industries.
“Now I’m the prime suspect!” Chase said, gasping for breath. He wiped sweat off his furrowed brow and double-tapped to turn on the sirens.
“Turn left up here,” Braya said. She was grinning, truly smiling for the first time since they’d met. She had her fingers spread out on the dashboard, and Chase couldn’t help but notice several white scars on her hands. One long slash led all the way from her pointer finger to her wrist.
“Who even are you?” he said.
“Braya,” she said, with the faintest hint of amusement.