It took Dorian a split second to react to Noelle standing at his front door. His arm whipped to his waistband and seized the gun, swinging it to her face. She grabbed the muzzle and forced his arm down, sending the gun flying. Dorian grabbed the thief by her lapels and dragged her into the apartment. She used her forearms to break his grip and block his strikes as he came at her full force. She was the reason he was out of a job & under investigation. She had seduced him, made his drop his guard for one minute, and outfoxed him, something he could proudly say didn’t happen often. Dorian hated to admit it to himself, but he had a point to prove.
He didn’t account for her to be as agile as she was. Her smaller frame allowed her to dodge his attacks until he grabbed her and tried to body slam her onto the floor. In a second, she wrapped her legs around his neck and squeezed as tight as her thighs would allow, slowly cutting off his air supply. He punched her in the hip repeatedly, urging her to release him. “If I let you go, will you calm down?” she asked. He jerked again in a futile effort to regain control. He finally let his body relax, holding his hands up in surrender. Noelle held him for a second more before releasing him and rolling to her knees. Dorian coughed and tried to recover the air that his lungs had missed. He was majorly out of shape. “Well, I guess I deserved that,” she said, holding her side.
“What the hell do you want?” he asked as he rubbed his neck. “I need your help,” Noelle said flatly. Dorian snorted as he went into the kitchen and took a swig from the glass he left on the counter.
“You need my help? After what you did? You should be begging me not to turn you in.”
“Yes. It was…necessary at the time…”
“Necessary…” he repeated, bemused at her word choice. Another swallow of bourbon burned in his throat.
“If I had…you would’ve arrested me. I would’ve went to prison for a crime I didn’t commit.”
“So you didn’t burgle Trevant Jewels & RexTech? What about the National History Museum in Arizona?”
Noelle was surprised at the amount of information he’d gathered on her. She glanced down at the files on the coffee table, wondering which of them contained the information he needed to take her down finally. She only had one other card to play: “I know who bombed the Metro.” Dorian sat the glass down slowly in the kitchen and stepped from behind the wall that divided them. “What do you know?”
“I’ll tell you everything. IF you promise to help me,” she said, sitting on the couch. “You realize that you could be impeding an investigation. People died! Loved ones…” he carried on in a loud voice before Noelle interrupted him. “Li Yiao,” she said in a determined voice. Dorian cocked his head at her. “What do you know about Li Yiao?” Dorian hadn’t been a part of the team assigned to Yiao, but he’d heard about the mobster through the grapevine. He was wanted for about 30 different felonies but they could never make anything stick. “Enough.” He considered his option silently: he could either chalk her pleas up as desperation and try and take her in, at risk of losing her again, or he could listen to her and beguile her at the last minute, nabbing her AND Yiao. He’d receive enough commendations for a full reinstatement, maybe even a raise & promotion. “What do you need me to do?”
Noelle may have walked him into a few walls on purpose. Having the Fed blindfolded and completely at her constraint was slightly exhilarating. She couldn’t risk him knowing her exact location so she led him to her hiding place. “Can you take this fucking thing off now?”
“Not yet,” she barked as they walked. Dorian could smell the water and the bird shit in the air and had a good idea on where she was leading him. As they walked through the building, he could smell the sawdust that remained on the floor and her flowery perfume and it stirred him slightly. Her hand was soft on his arm, barely covering the tight muscle under his jacket. Some stairs and another hallway later, Noelle yanked the eye cover from his head. The room was large and spacious, set up as a loft instead of the office of a warehouse. He rubbed his eyes as they adjusted to the light bouncing all over the room. On the couch near the window, an older man sat, staring into a cell phone. He looked vaguely familiar to Dorian, but he couldn’t put his finger on why. “Dorian, this is my father.. Dad…This is Special Agent Dorian Shaw,” Noelle said, announcing everyone. It had suddenly occurred to Dorian that he didn’t know this woman’s name either, even after almost sleeping with her and bludgeoning her to a pulp. “Special Agent? As in ‘Special Agent for the Federal Bureau of Investigations’?” her father said, approaching them. He shot his daughter a bewildered look and a distrustful one to Dorian. “Dad…I said I would get help…”
“I thought you were talking about the little girl you squawk to, not the damn FBI,” he shouted.
The air was thick with tension for a moment as all parties took a second to gather their thoughts. “Dad…what you’re talking about doing is…With all the info we both have, we can send the bastard to the deepest, darkest hole the government can extend.”
“And what about you? Me? What’s to stop him from turning us both in as soon as a conviction comes down for Yiao?”
“Don’t be so naive, Noelle!” Noelle glared at her father. “I’m not killing anymore people, Dad. You either get hip to my plan or you continue on with the brilliant ass 20 year plan. Let’s see how that works out for you.”
Kyle glared at both of them and walked away, disappearing behind the partition on the far side of the room. Noelle’s eyes apologized before she sat down on the couch. Dorian followed her and sat on the edge of the loveseat next to her. “You told me you would explain everything. Now would be a good time to start,” Dorian said. Noelle looked over at him and rested her elbows on her knees. “My dad…he taught me everything I know. He saved me, back when I thought being rescued only happened in movies or books. He was everything to me for a while. He…just came back around and I found out that it’s all because of Yiao, everything that happened to us. I want payback,” Noelle said, her teeth gritted to keep her tears from spilling over. “He used me. He used me to hurt people. Nobody gets away with that,” she continued. “So what do you want me to do?”
“I don’t want to kill him,” she said, looking in the direction of the other room. Dorian read behind her silence that murder was her father’s intention. “I just want him to pay for what he did.”
“I don’t have any more pull in the FBI. I’ve been benched. Plus Yiao is a tricky customer. One bad move and he’s back on the streets and I’m out permanently.”
“I know it’s a lot. But you’re all I’ve got,” Noelle said, her gaze going over to him. It softened him, seeing her this vulnerable. “So how do we get him?” Dorian asked with a sigh.
“With this,” Kyle said, returning from the other room. In his hand he balanced the Markov bracelet in his hand. Dorian’s instincts went wild in his head for a moment. He needed to be patient and wait for the right time to strike. “Yiao uses contracts for his large scores. He blackmails professionals into doing his bidding, escalating until they are caught, killed or dismissed.” Dorian glanced over at Noelle, who was biting her lip nervously. “You?” he asked, his eyebrow raised. She nodded quickly without looking at him. “We need him gone. He took something precious from me. Something I’ll never get back,” Kyle said, his eyes going towards his daughter. “I’m a federal agent. I can’t condone premeditated first-degree murder. Just sitting in this room discussing it implicates us all.”
“No one is killing anyone,” Noelle said as her eyes shot up to her father. “There is only one sure fire way to make sure he doesn’t hurt anyone ever again,” Kyle said, his voice higher with annoyance. “That’s fine and all but you all should let the professionals do their job,” Dorian said, trying to take control of the situation. Kyle snorted and tossed the bracelet on the coffee table. “Yeah, like you all have done such a bang up job in the last 30 years,” Kyle said.
“Ok, let’s reign it back in. We do want Yiao finished but murder is out. What next?”
“You could set up a sting. Give him the bracelet and have us catch him in the act,” Dorian said, his mind turning.
“Wouldn’t that implicate us?” Noelle asked.
“No, not if you were working as official informants.”
“Snitches? So you can tie us to your string and have a new master?” Kyle said. Noelle didn’t remember her father being this cynical. Maybe this is how he really was. “Dad…we don’t have time to argue. You wanted help, this was my condition. If you don’t like it, then you’re on your own,” Noelle said, standing. Kyle stopped talking but it was written all over his face that he had more to say. “When are you supposed to make the exchange?”
“Tomorrow. I told him I had to hide it while I shook the police,” Noelle said, a small grin spreading on her face.
“How do you feel about wearing a wire?”
Her father had left the two of them alone for a supply run. Dorian sat on the couch, holding the Markov bracelet in his hand and Noelle rattled away on her computer. “Ok, I told him I’m laying low and I won’t go back for the bracelet for a few more days. That should give us time to prepare,” she said as she closed the Macbook. “I have one more request before I go all in on this plan,” Dorian said as he placed the bracelet on the table. “And that is?” Noelle asked, her heart quickening.
“I need to know your real name.”
“No dice,” she said quickly. Her name was all she had, all that protected her from a life on the lam. Working with him was one thing, but to give him the ammo he needed to destroy her was another. Dorian stood from his seat and headed towards the door without a word. “Wait!” Noelle yelled to him. He stopped and turned back, waiting for her response. “This is ridiculous. How do I know once we’re done, you want spread my name to every government agent and media outlet at your disposal?”
“I guess you don’t.”
“So I’m just supposed to trust you?”
“Doesn’t look like you have much of a choice. I’ve been nothing but honest this whole time,” he shrugged. The electricity was mounding again, even though they were several feet apart. She swallowed the butterflies that formed in her chest. “Noelle. Noelle Christensen.”