Pounding out the last half mile, I was relieved to cross the finish line and immediately put my hands on my knees as I sucked in some air. My heartbeat was reverberating through my ears, and if I didn’t thoroughly stretch, walking tomorrow would be a challenge.
“It’s about time,” Michael Carver remarked, tossing a water bottle in my direction. “As usual you’re still following my lead.” I glared at him as I unscrewed the cap. “How did you ever pass the physical regs? You run like a girl.”
“Is that the argument you plan to use when you let a suspect get away?” Carver could be an ass. During the last five months of training at Quantico, he had been the bane of my existence, constantly competitive, arrogant, a slight misogynistic streak, and always with the jibes.
“Who are you kidding, Alexis?” He grinned. “You know exactly what would happen.” He cocked an eyebrow up. “Do you want to come over tonight? There’s a chance we may never see one another again. We might as well go out with a bang.”
“In your dreams,” I scoffed. I finished stretching and found my keys. “Let me know who your supervisor is so I can send a sympathy card. Being forced to spend two years with you qualifies as a violation of the Constitution.”
Not waiting for a response, I continued down the path to my apartment. It wasn’t an apartment so much as a converted dorm room I had been assigned to share. The FBI and other law enforcement agencies used the Marine Corps base to conduct their own training programs, and I was relieved it was over. Although I had become close with Kate Hartley, my roommate, I preferred having a certain level of free will and privacy.
“Big surprise,” I teased. Kate had been a professional CPA for a few years before being recruited by someone at the Bureau. She wasn’t up to snuff for fieldwork, barely managing to score high enough on the firearms proficiency test, but she could work magic with numbers and bank accounts. I put the unopened envelope on the table and found a change of clothes. “I’m going to take a shower. Do you feel like going out tonight?”
She looked astonished. “Of course. It’s our last night. Everyone’s meeting at the Blue Diamond later.” I had meant dinner, not spending hours at a bar with a group of people who were going to be tooting their own horns. “Aren’t you going to open it?” She picked up the envelope and tried to hand it to me as I went past her on the way to the bathroom.
The time alone was a nice reprieve. Having a chance to think about things was typically a benefit, but I was nervous. Maybe I was going to be sent across the country to Alaska, Utah, or somewhere equally small. I liked the anonymity a large city provided. The FBI offices in the bigger cities had more divisions, plentiful resources, and opportunity for promotion and growth. I shut the water and tried not to let Carver’s constant digs get to me. The actual agents had all been impressed by my physical and mental acuity. Carver was just intimidated and jealous, I hoped.
After dressing and giving myself a final word of encouragement, I went into the main room of the apartment and tore open the envelope. I was reading and rereading the words looking for some clue as to whether or not this was a joke.
“They do more than just fight the war on terrorism. Hell, we’re all fighting the war on terrorism, but it doesn’t mean you’re going to the Middle East or anywhere overseas. They work a lot of the same cases Interpol does. Smuggling, forgeries, arms sales, et cetera.”
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