Janice’s other hand grabbed Matthew’s thigh and gently prodded. Matthew swallowed hesitantly, but then he let Janice in and she stepped between his spread thighs as if she just belonged there. “I wouldn’t tell anyone your secrets, Matthew. I keep a lot of secrets; it’s my job. If you tell me to leave you alone, I will. It’s just…I want you.”
“Why?” Matthew croaked.
Janice smiled against his ear and chuckled softly, “Because I couldn’t possibly think of anything I’d enjoy more, than your sexy ass over my knee.”
It was definitely sexy. Matthew had never come so hard, never begged so much. He’d tried to be defiant, not caring for Sloan’s invasive questions. But in the end, he wanted to come so badly, he’d have done anything, said anything. Sloan made sure to take advantage. She’d pulled confessions out of him that made him so ashamed he could barely breathe. She’d been ruthless.
Her hand followed along the path of his thigh and turned inward to cup his balls. Matthew jumped, startled, but his hands stayed gripped to the barstool. Janice’s fingernails scratched him through his jeans and he couldn’t suppress the helpless sound that came out of him.
He couldn’t face her, not today, not ever. She knew him too well now. He’d told her things he’d never told anyone.
“Okay,” he whispered.
“Okay?” she purred against his ear, her fingers alternately caressing and scratching.
She’d been so reassuring, stroking his hair and telling him it was okay, there was nothing wrong with him.
Matthew nodded, his eyes closed. Already, it was difficult not to come, right there in his jeans like a school kid having his dick touched by the head cheerleader.
“You won’t tell?” he pleaded softly.
Janice gripped the hair at the nape of his neck with enough force to make his eyes sting, “No, Matthew. I won’t tell anyone. Now get the fuck off this barstool and let’s get out of here.”
Last night it had been glorious and liberating. It had been a light to the darkness in his soul, but today…today it was all he could do not to call in sick and lie in bed and hide.
Matthew finally rolled over and let the pain have him. He closed his eyes and moved his body along the sheets, testing all of his muscles. His shoulders hurt quite a bit and his neck was stiff, but mostly it was his ass. His ass felt bruised all the way to the bone and he knew even after his hot shower the pain would remain. He’d think about Sloan all day, all night, and every time he sat down until the pain went away. And suddenly, it was his pride that hurt the most.
He slowly opened his eyes. He was supposed to go back to the hospital first thing this morning and get the rest of Olivia’s statement. He wondered if Sloan would be there and his stomach hurt. No. He couldn’t see Sloan. Ever. He couldn’t stand the idea of facing her and encountering her smug face. And really, who wouldn’t be smug?
Matthew was a notorious jerk. He knew plenty of people who would pay to hear about him being brought so low. Well, he wouldn’t give Sloan the satisfaction of getting to him again. All he had to do was avoid her. It was the coward’s way out, but Matthew figured he could be a coward every now and again. He wouldn’t let it affect his case.
With a loud sigh of resignation, Matthew rolled out of bed on unsteady legs and fumbled toward the table for balance and his phone. There was a note:
Thank you. You were better than I dreamed. Difficult to leave you, but I know you need your space. I’ll be at the hospital in the morning, stop by if you want, otherwise, I’ll be sure to give you time in the afternoon to do your job. Of course, I hope I’ll see you.
Agreement stands, my lips are sealed.
“Fuck,” Matthew sighed. Even in a note, he could sense how obviously smug she was about last night. If he didn’t show up, then he was a coward. If he did, then he was trying to prove something. It was a catch-22. Angrily, he reached for his phone and fired off a text:
Reed: Intel @ office. Busy til lunch. Pls rcrd interview.
He figured his text was vague and yet succinct enough. He hoped she would get the hint and not discuss last night. It was better if they stuck to the work. The case would be over soon and the both of them would be reassigned. With any luck, he’d have no reason to see her again. All he had to do was make it through the next few days. Less, if he could get Livvie to talk. It was all the motivation he needed.
Matthew took a long, hot shower. It helped loosen his aching muscles. The damage was fairly miniscule, only a few bruises and welts on his ass. It was a relief to know he had no marks on him that would be visible when he was dressed.
He stopped for coffee on the way to work. He didn’t want to stand around the pot at the office. The officers sometimes tried to engage him in conversation and Matthew just wasn’t in the mood. He walked in quietly, nodding in greeting to the desk sergeant and taking the elevator in silence to the chagrin of the building janitor who rode with him.
“This is Agent Reed.” Matthew set his briefcase next to his desk and his coffee next to his keyboard before he turned to acknowledge the officer’s presence.
“Message came for you late last night. The desk sergeant brought it up this morning,” the young man handed the message to Matthew and walked away.
“Thanks,” Matthew muttered toward the man’s back and looked down at the message. The agent from the FIA had called. Matthew looked at his watch and hoped their offices were still open. He was cutting it close.
He rolled out his chair and picked up his phone to dial the long number. “Hello? Staff Sergeant Patel, please.” He waited for a few minutes while they tracked the man down; relieved he’d called in time.
“Staff Sergeant Patel, speaking.”
“Matthew Reed, FBI,” he said quickly. “You left a message for me. What did you find out?”
There was a deep sigh on the other end of the phone, “We looked into private planes with scheduled arrivals in the next three days.” He hesitated, “You were right. There seems to be a lot more activity than usual. No information yet on Demitri Balk or Vladek Rostrovich, but we don’t have all the passenger manifests yet.”
“Can you send me a list of all the information you have available? I’d like to look through it if you don’t mind.”
“We do mind, Agent Reed. If there is something going on, then it falls within our purview and our office can handle it. Is there any other information you would like to share with us?”
Matthew ground his teeth hard enough to make his head hurt. He wasn’t in the mood for the bureaucratic games. “I’m willing to share information so long as we are coordinating. For that to be the case, information has to flow both ways. Time is limited, Staff Sergeant. Neither of us has time for a pissing contest.”
“You Americans and your colorful slang,” Patel said. “No one is ‘pissing’ on anything, Agent Reed, but I’m sure you can see the political implications of this? The world’s eyes are on Pakistan right now and we need to know the situation can be handled discreetly and without embarrassing either country.”
“If you won’t share information, I’ll have to contact my superiors and have them reach out to your government. It could take days and by then, the slave auction could be over,” Matthew said.
“I understand you have a job to do, Agent Reed. I do as well. I will continue to gather information on the private aircraft, passenger lists, arrival times and scheduled departures, etcetera. In the meantime, I suggest you get in contact with your superiors. I will do the same and perhaps we can come to a mutually beneficial agreement?”
“Fine,” Matthew growled into the receiver.
“Until tomorrow,” SSgt Patel replied coolly.
“You can bet on it,” Matthew repeated and waited until the line went dead before he placed the handset back onto its cradle. He was careful not to slam it. He didn’t need the attention.
He had a few hours before Sloan finished with Olivia, so he decided to dig out his research on Demitri Balk. If Rafiq and Caleb were set on getting to the elusive billionaire, then Matthew would have to do the same. He was hesitant to get too close to the man through traditional channels. He didn’t want him spooked. He might decide to stay clear of the auction and then Matthew wouldn’t be able to use him as bait.
Demitri Balk didn’t have much of an identity until the mid-90’s. Balk Diamond’s had appeared seemingly overnight with a long list of prominent investors that catapulted the price of the stock within minutes of it becoming public. Demitri Balk had been the primary share holder and was listed as the CEO of the company.
The large conglomerate was primarily billeted as a jewelry company, but was also supported by a myriad of other businesses. The company had its share of controversy surrounding it. More than one story claiming Balk Diamond’s were mined in Africa could be found by doing a cursory search, but ultimately no formal investigation by any government had been conducted.
Blood diamonds were highly contentious, but no one had been able to directly link Balk Diamond’s and any of the mines in Africa, probably due to the web of companies and subsidiaries associated with them. One of the subsidiaries caught Matthew’s attention. AKRAAN was established in Russia and dealt in weapon’s manufacturing and sales. More research revealed AKRAAN had been part of Balk Diamond’s when it first went public, meaning the CEO would have direct knowledge of it.
Matthew wasn’t surprised to see a diamond company involved in weapons. However, what was surprising was the weapons company existed first, as early as the 1960’s. The manufacturer, run by the government, sold weapons to several countries, most notably Iraq and Pakistan.
How did Demitri Balk come to run both companies? As CEO, no less?
Demitri was described by Forbes Magazine as a ‘self-made billionaire with humble roots in soviet Russia’.
Matthew scoffed, “Humble, my ass.” He winced at his own words, remembering the very real way his ass had been humbled the night before. Sitting was definitely a chore. He tried not to fidget.
Finally, inspiration struck and Matthew made a call to his home office. After a brief conversation with his boss, the man had finally relented and agreed to give Matthew all the resources he would need to put his case together. He also agreed to start cutting away at the red tape between Matthew and the FIA.
Within the hour, two techs were running every picture and story associated with Balk Diamond’s, AKRAAN, Demitri Balk, Vladek Rostrovich, and Muhammad Rafiq through facial recognition software and the National Security Database. Matthew predicted something would show up sooner rather than later.
He looked at his watch. He should probably get to the hospital. He called the nurse’s desk on Olivia’s floor to make sure Sloan had left for the day and then he gathered his belongings and headed for the door.
Olivia was furiously writing when Matthew walked in. She seemed in better spirits than the night before. Matthew gave Sloan credit.
“What are you writing?” Matthew asked. He put down his briefcase and took a seat. The chair was far more comfortable than the one in the recreation room. Also, sitting in her hospital room had the added benefit of making her more talkative.
“Dr. Sloan gave me a journal. Pretty sweet, huh? It’s been so long since I’ve written anything, I almost forgot how much I love it,” Olivia said. She smiled.
“Not what I asked, Miss Ruiz,” Matthew replied, but there was no bite in his words.
She sighed, “I’m…you know. I just want to preserve my memories before I stop trusting them.”
Matthew really didn’t know what to say, except, “That could get subpoenaed, you know?”
She looked stricken, dropping her pen with a rattle. “Seriously? Why would you do that?”