Chapter 57 & 58
“Miss Torno, do you mind if I speak with Rick alone for a moment? It won’t take long. I just need to debrief him before he’s released from the hospital.”
“Wait.” Rickie called, as she turned towards the door, “Wait until I’m able to leave and I’ll drive you home. Please.” He couldn’t stop the pleading tone. Meaghan gave a jerky nod and all but rushed from the room. Rickie cursed under his breath and laid back down on the bed as the door closed behind her. The director made a dismissive gesture.
“Once she knows you just got a scratch, she will feel better. I just wanted to go over what we found tonight.” Rickie let the words wash over him.
The body of the sniper, John, was recovered on the helipad, along with a T91 Chinese-made assault rifle, and a M77B pistol. He had died from a self-inflicted gunshot after sustaining multiple injuries from other weapons. There was no identification on him; the cabin he and Ani used yielded few clues and little forensic evidence. Both the BKN and the STAR agents determined that their belongings had been moved to their getaway boat prior to their actions on the tower.
Ani had disappeared into the night in the extremist’s boat. Other APMM vessels were scouring the waters with little success. Although Ani was wounded during her fight with Rickie, she still managed to shoot the STAR boat pilot in the shoulder and thigh before making her escape. A Be On Lookout (BOLO) had been issued, so there was little left to do besides wait for a sighting.
Specialised bomb technicians were currently combing through the remains of the explosive device, which Ani had managed to partially activate before being discovered and forced to flee. Luckily, the only damage was to several layers of casing around the subsea freshwater aquifer, which would be relatively easy to repair. The drilling was delayed by a matter of months, but no permanent damage was done to either the platform or the seafloor. No other explosive devices or sabotage had been found.
Although Rickie felt fine physically, he was exhausted mentally, unable stop thinking about the scene in his room. After giving his statement to the Director, he waited for Meaghan to return. The only person that showed up, though, was JoAnne. She carried a colorful paper bag into the room and plunked it down on the hospital couch.
“I brought you a change of clothes. Since I’ve got your medicine and have already signed your discharge papers, we can go home any time you are ready.”
“Where is Meaghan? Is she still here?” He demanded, eliciting a disapproving look from JoAnne.
“She’s at the cafeteria, having tea with Cynthia. Why are you yelling?”
“I’m not! I’m just…” Rickie threw his head back in frustration, striking the headboard. JoAnne smiled evilly at his grunt of pain, but her expression sobered as she saw the play of emotions across his face. More gently, she asked, “Okay, what happened between you and Meg?”
The hospital cafeteria was almost deserted this time of the morning, except for a few doctors eating an early breakfast. Meghan gripped the ceramic tea cup in her trembling hands as she stared across the table at her old boss.
“Cynthia, can you tell me why you picked me for the special assignment with the task force? I don’t understand why I was the one chosen.”
Cynthia looked at Meaghan with a puzzled expression. “En Ahmad specifically requested your transfer to the task force. He wasn’t going to take no for an answer. You were qualified, and, after all, he is the owner of the company.” Her smile faded as she looked at Meaghan’s expression, and quickly added, “Though I agreed with him that you were the best person for the job.”
Meaghan looked down at her white knuckles, and ruthlessly tamped down the hysteria that threatened to bubble up. The image that she had of her…boss? …friend?…lover?…was now tarnished and cracked. All the time she had known him, he had been keeping important secrets from her. Not only that, he had used the fact of his ownership to move her into his office.
Her breath hitched when she remembered their phone conversation…was it only last Wednesday? And the way he held her hands in his office just two short days before. It was all just a seduction ploy, wasn’t it. After all, what did they have in common?
It reminded her of those Korean Dramas her neighbor Shel enjoyed: the rich chaebol seducing the honest inexperienced girl.
But interspersed with this was the vision of him laughing with Tina and the other girls at the slumber party, his friendship with the restaurant owner, and his gentleness with her. It all swirled around her head until she thought it would explode. She put the cup down and clamped her hands over her face.
Cynthia walked around the table, sat next to Meaghan, and put her hand across her shoulders.
“Poor thing, you’ve got to be tired after this entire ruckus tonight. Should I drive you home?”
“No, I’ll drive her.” Meaghan dropped her hands and looked up to see Rickie, pale but determined, walked towards her, JoAnne a presence next to him. Meaghan quickly wiped her face with her hands and stood up.
“I’ll be okay. I’ll just catch a cab. I don’t want to be a bother.”
“You promised I would drive you home.” Rickie stated strongly. Cynthia also stood up and took a step towards him, but JoAnne shook her head and rolled her eyes. Cynthia looked over at Meaghan, who was staring at Rickie like she had never seen him before.
“Well, I’ll go ahead and drive JoAnne home then. You’ll be okay, Meg?” Meaghan nodded and smiled woodenly at the pair, rooted to the spot until they both had walked away, whispering furiously together. Once they were a distance away, she picked up her things without a word and walked with Rickie to the carpark.