Catching Smoke: Ch. 3

catching smoke cover

“You what?” Harlem screamed into the phone.

Colin was proud of his performance the night before. He had swept onto the extravagant scene undetected. Sure, it probably had more to do with his “upscale servant” appearance than his covert ops experience (nobody casts a second glance at a butler after all), but he was still impressed by how easy it had been to find his latest recruit. In Colin's experience, recruits tended to unconsciously keep themselves hidden, but there was something different about Emmalee. It was almost like she was the opposite: unconsciously wanting to stop hiding. It was a theory Colin found incredibly intriguing.

“She could be halfway to China right now! Jesus, Colin, even I know you don’t win a girl’s heart by sexually assaulting her the very first time you meet her! You’re goddam lucky you didn’t get caught! What if you had and she had pressed charges against you? Dammit, Colin!” Harlem chastised.

“But I didn’t, and she didn’t. Like you said, I got lucky. If it makes you feel any better, I’ll be gentle from now on.”

“From now on? She’s gone!”

“No, she’s not. Look it up yourself. She’s hiding out in that swanky hotel room of hers. She’s got nowhere to run, boss. Or hide for that matter. I’m on her tail which is exactly where I’m gonna stay. If she tries to run, I’ll be right there with her, but she won’t be running anytime soon.”

“And what makes you so sure of that?”

Colin grinned. He loved having the upper hand, and there was no denying he had it. Sure, he could have handled his introduction last night a little more...elegantly. But it didn’t take a genius to figure out she was bored and ready for excitement. Anything less obnoxious would have served as confirmation that it was time for her to run. He had seen it in her face, and acted accordingly.

“I won’t let you down, boss. Just wait.” Colin said before he hung up the phone.

His phone immediately rang to life again, and Colin rolled his eyes, figuring it must be Harlem calling again to continue chastising him for his arrogant boldness. However, the number on the screen was a number he didn’t recognize which could only mean one thing…

“Well, hello Miss Whittaker. I’m glad you’ve finally decided to call.” Colin greeted. “What took you so long?”

There was silence on the other line that was just long enough to make Colin begin to doubt himself, but then she spoke.

“Who are you?” She asked, her voice coated with an icy venom that Colin immediately recognized as a disguise for fear. “And what could you possibly want?”

“Now, Miss Whittaker. There’s no need to sound so scared. I’m harmless, I promise.”

She snorted.

“I don’t take promises from strangers. Answer my questions or I’ll hang up and you’ll never hear from me again.”

“I doubt that. And by that I mean you can’t get rid of me that easily.” Colin said. “If you want the answers to your questions, I’ll be happy to accompany you to the gallery opening you’re funding tonight. Or should I say the gallery opening Madame Delveux is funding?”

“How do you know about that? It’s a private account!”

“I know everything, Miss Whittaker. Everything.”

There was a pause which was promising for Colin. A pause meant she was either curious or scared enough to be considering the offer he just gave her.

“It starts at eight.” Was all she said before she hung up.

It was all Colin needed to hear.

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