Quinton Mann and Mark Vincent are settling into a relationship that shouldn’t be possible. After all, Quinn is CIA, while Mark belongs to the WBIS, an agency labeled by others in the intelligence community as being staffed by sociopaths. Somehow, in spite of that, they seem to be making it work.
Surprisingly, it isn’t work that separates them but family matters and a friend’s plea for help when his partner is kidnapped. Quinn is off to London, while Mark heads for Los Angeles to solve the kidnapping. Then Mark gets called to Paris by Femme of the Division, where things are not as they seem. Quinn, thinking to meet Mark in Paris, ends up coming to Mark's rescue. Back in the States, Mark fights taking time to recover from being shot while events are happening at the CIA that could endanger both Quinn and his best friend, DB.
Between family, friends, and Mark, how will Quinn make the opportunity to talk to Mark about moving in together and even starting a family?
It seemed the piper always had to be paid, because late that Friday afternoon, I was told Major Jonathan Drum II “requested” my presence at the Pentagon, and since my department had been ordered to cooperate with the OIG in this instance -- the possibility of an audit loomed over us -- I had no choice but to go.
So now, there I was, waiting to hear what allegations might be filed, but instead of listening to Drum drone on and on about preventing or detecting fraud and abuse, to my astonishment, all he did was complain about my lover.
Of course the major had no idea Mark was my lover, but I had the feeling that either way it wouldn’t stop him.
“I’m telling you, Mann, he’s a sociopath! He needs to be put down like a rabid dog!”
“You’re going overboard.” I fully understood why Mark tended to lose his patience with Drum. I could feel my blood pressure rise and my hands curl into fists. I was known as the Ice Man, but it took the restraint I had learned from my parents as a child to keep from punching him in that perfect nose of his.
“No, I’m not! Have you heard the latest about him?”
“I don’t have the time to listen to gossip.”
“It’s not gossip! This is intelligence that will affect everyone in DC!”
“Indeed?” Had word of what had really happened to Richard Wexler -- that his having a stroke and flipping his car was no more an accident than the hit-and-run that had resulted in Mother being hospitalized -- come back to haunt us? I kept my expression neutral.
“Yes, indeed.” He looked annoyed.
“In that case, I definitely haven’t heard. Why don’t you inform me?”
“He’s taken up golf!”
I bit down hard on my inner cheek to keep from laughing. “Seriously, Major? That’s hardly indicative of someone being a sociopath.”
He scowled at me. “He’s up to something -- he has to be! Since when does a senior special agent of the WBIS golf?”
“If I recall correctly, Trevor Wallace golfs.”
“But he’s not a senior special agent!”
“If it comes to that, neither is Vincent. He’s Director of Interior Affairs.”
“What? When did this happen?”
“Didn’t he have to be Deputy Director first?”
“The spring before that.” My cell phone rang, “Such a Night,” and I cursed myself for not putting it on vibrate.
“A lady friend calling?” Drum arched an eyebrow. “You want to take that, Mann?”
“Now that would be the height of rudeness.” I let the call go to voicemail.
“Self-righteous, arrogant bastard.”
“I’m cut to the quick.”
Drum flushed, and I realized I wasn’t supposed to have heard that.
He cleared his throat. “Okay, so why wasn’t I informed of Vincent’s promotion?” He glared as if this was part of my job description, and then his eyes narrowed. “And how is it you know?”
“Really, Drum, it wasn’t a secret. Didn’t you hear about the explosion that killed Director Sperling?” I’d thought it was Mark’s body on the slab in the morgue, and I’d been stunned by the devastation I’d felt. That was when it first occurred to me that what the WBIS agent and I had going between us might be more than mind games.
“Uh ... Yeah, but I figured it was just one less sociopath on the face of the earth.”
“I know WBIS agents don’t have the best reputations, but tell me something. Where does your animosity toward Vincent come from?”
“I don’t know what you’re talking about!” He was going for lofty indifference, but I could see the unease in his eyes.
“Come, come, Major. Such hostility has to spring from somewhere.”
“It was his fault my ass ... uh ... what happened last spring happened!”