Her gaze dropped to the glove box and he could see her mind was chewing over this new possibility. Riley knew this mood too well – talk wasn’t going to stop her brooding. Riley closed his eyes and gave in. “If,” he began and she locked her gaze on his, hope in her eyes, “if I ignore Koffa’s plan today, piss him off royally, and we do what I think would flush out anyone who might be following us–”
“Which is what?”
“Oh no. You don’t get pre-approval, you’re going to have trust someone.”
She rolled her eyes.
“If we do that,” Riley continued, “and we don’t spot anyone, will you stop all this second-guessing and trust that Koffa knows what he’s doing?”
She popped up in her seat. “Yes.”
With a heavy sigh, Riley pulled his seatbelt out, plugged it back in and turned the engine over. “Pick a letter.”
“Pick a letter,” he repeated, “and a number between zero and nine.”
“M and three,” she said.
He pulled the car into the traffic.
“Now look out for those on the same number plate.”
“Then I get to punch you?”
“What? No!” He glanced at her and saw that she was smiling for the first time in a week. He couldn’t help but chuckle. “Just tell me and we’ll follow the car.”
“I in no way want to piss you off right now,” she said, “but I don’t understand.”
They passed their tail car and the agent who had expected to spend his day reading while Kitty was in the Baillieu library pretending to write her essay.
“The hardest person to follow is one who doesn’t know where they’re going, themselves,” Riley said. “If we are being followed, this should flush him out.”
Kitty’s face lit up, but her eyes welled and she put her hand on his forearm. “Thank you Riley.”
He took his right hand from the wheel and closed it over her fingers, giving them a gentle squeeze. Pulling up at the lights on Swanston Street, Riley checked the mirror. The Fed was pulling up behind them scowling through the windscreen. The phone rang.
“Let me handle this,” Riley said to Kitty before he pushed the ‘talk’ button. “Hi Koffa.”
“What do you think you’re doing?”
Kitty took a breath to speak and Riley grasped her shoulder to shut her up.
“You were right. Kitty needs a break.”
“It’s Friday, she can have a break tomorrow.”
“She needs it now. We’re going to go for a bit of a drive.” The lights went green and he turned the car into Swanston Street.
“Look,” Koffa said, “I know you’re both under a lot of stress, but you can’t go off like this.”
“Your guys are well trained,” Riley said, “they can handle it.”
He heard a splutter and a stifled giggle from Kitty.
“Of course they can handle it, that’s not the point.”
“Well, no, the point is that Kitty needs a break.”
There was a long pause and Riley held one finger up in front of Kitty to try to keep her quiet. He couldn’t look at her or he’d be infected by her increasingly silly mood.
“Alright,” Koffa said eventually – as though he had any choice – and Kitty punched the air in victory. “Where are you going?”
“We’re not sure yet,” Riley said. “That’s the point.”
“Oh for– Right. Well I guess we’ll follow you and if you do make a decision, will you kindly let us know.”
“No,” Kitty said leaning toward Riley to make sure the microphone picked her up. Riley tried to push her back but she slapped his hand away. “We’re going rogue!” She darted her hand over his arm and pushed the ‘hang up’ button on the steering wheel.
“Kitty,” Riley began, but she was lost, gasping for breath between giggles.
Koffa rang straight back and Riley hesitated before he answered – what more was there to say?
“M, three!” Kitty squealed, pointing at a white Camry four cars ahead.
Riley allowed her mood to take him, laughing as he rejected the call.
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