Arresting Anna, Part Three


Carter dealt efficiently with the police, giving them everything he had about the shooting, including Anna, who ended up alone in an interview room, since Carter threatened Nate with death if he tried to go in with her. Nate watched through the one-way window as a tough-looking detective went in and threw a clipboard on the table.

Watch it, asshole, Nate thought. If the guy got abusive, he was going in, Carter or no Carter. Okay, she’d shot somebody and she hadn’t mentioned she was mob-connected, but she was still–

“Anna Banana,” the detective said.

“Hi, Marty,” Anna said. “It was self-defense.”

“You’re not taking over Grandpa’s gig?” Marty sat down.

“I don’t even know who this mook is,” Anna said. “I didn’t kill him, did I?”

“He’ll live,” Marty said. “So he pulled a gun on you in the parking garage?”

“He wanted me to get in my car with him, like that was going to happen.” Anna shook her head. “I think somebody’s been following me since I got back on Sunday. Maybe it was him. Anyway, he wanted me to take a ride, but we know how that would have turned out.”

“I would not enjoy pulling your body out of a ditch,” Marty said. “Did you have to shoot him?”

“What else?” Anna said, exasperated. “Charm him out of taking me? I don’t have any charm.”

Oh, sure you do, honey, Nate thought, although it probably wasn’t the kind that got kidnappers to put down their guns. It was, evidently, the kind that got FBI agents into bed and Jersey detectives to call her cute names. Anna Banana?

“Did you recognize him?” Marty said, and Nate watched Anna sit on the edge of the beat-up wooden chair in the interrogation room, looking more annoyed than afraid as the detective grilled her without much menace.

That made sense. If Anna turned to crime, it wouldn’t be blowing people away in parking garages.

Carter came to stand beside him. “She doesn’t know the guy in the garage.”

“No,” Nate said.

“She knows something,” Carter said.

“Entirely possible, but I don’t think she knows she knows it yet.”

“You’re starting to sound like her.”

“She’s an art museum employee with no criminal record who drives a six-year-old car. I agree she has the brains for money laundering or art fraud, but I don’t think she has any interest in it, and she’s not showing any big spending habits. She’s lethal but she’s innocent.”

“Wishful thinking,” Carter said.

“Show me evidence I’m wrong,” Nate said.

“Something’s going on at that museum.”

“I agree.”

“The guy she shot was a Russian named Ljubov Volkov, no ties to Grandpa or anybody he worked with.”

“That makes no sense,” Nate said. “I could understand the guy coming after Grandpa, except he’s dead, but I see no reason for him to come after Anna. She’s never been part of the mob.”

“I don’t think it’s about Grandpa,” Carter said.

“So the Russians and art.” Nate took a deep breath. “We’re back to the museum then. Especially since the guy shows up right after Anna gets back from Vegas. Unless he’s her stalker. We don’t know even know if this guy is Anna’s stalker.”

“We don’t even know if Anna has a stalker,” Carter said, and Nate ignored him and went back to listening to the interrogation which was sounding more and more like a chat between pals.

A few minutes later, the detective and Anna both stood up, and Anna walked around the table, holding out her hand to shake, hitting him with that smile that had kneecapped Nate in Vegas. The detective took her hand, laughing, and she reached up and kissed him on the cheek, and then he opened the door for her, and they came out, and the detective losing his smile as he saw them.

“She’s all yours.” He nodded at Anna. “We’re not pressing charges, of course. Self-defense.”

“Always,” Anna said.

“Stay out of trouble, Banana,” the detective said and moved on down the hall.

Anna turned back to them. “So are we done here? You go back to DC and I go home to my regularly scheduled life?”

“No,” Nate said. “How do you know the detective?”

“We went to high school together.” Anna pushed her glasses back up her nose. “He knows I’m not a hit woman, and so do you, so why all this hostility?”

“How well did you know him?” Nate said. “Because that looked like a compromised interrogation.”

“You would know,” Carter said, under his breath.

“We dated senior year,” Anna said. “Then we moved on. I like his wife. She likes me. That’s it. No reason for jealousy, Charlie.”

“I’m not jealous,” Nate said. “I just want to know why he let you off so easy. And knock it off with the Charlie stuff.”

“He let me off because I’m innocent, Nathan.” Anna’s eyes were flashing now. “I can’t believe you think I’m a hitwoman.”

“He doesn’t,” Carter told her. “He thinks you’re an innocent museum employee being harassed by the FBI.”

“What I think,” Nate said to Carter, “is that somebody’s out to get her for some reason that she may not know, and if we send her out alone after this and she dies, I’m going to be even more pissed off than I am now. So I’m taking her home and–”

“I can take care of myself,” Anna said.

“Yes, we saw,” Carter said. “He just wants to search your house and ask you questions.”

She looked from Carter to Nate and back again and gave up. “Fine. Come along, Agent Miller. I have nothing to hide.”

“We’ll see,” Nate said and followed her down the hall.


When they got to her car, Anna realized she was violating one of Grandpa’s basic rules, agreeing to get in a car with an angry man with a gun. Okay, the gun was in a shoulder holster and the angry man was an FBI agent who said he was protecting her, in spite of the fact that it was entirely unnecessary, and it was her car, and she was ninety-nine percent positive Nate wasn’t going to leave her lifeless body in a ditch (one hundred percent positive that Charlie wouldn’t), so she got in the driver’s seat, waiting to say anything until he’d talked to the other guy, Archer, and was in the passenger seat.

“Now where?” she said as he fastened his seatbelt.

“Your place,” he said. “Somebody is stalking you, and that guy just tried to take you, and I want to see how secure it is.”

She stole a look at him, and got his profile, stern and classic in the dim garage light. “So you’re still trying to protect me. I have told you–”

“And then you are going to tell me everything.”

“I’ve already told you everything,” Anna said. “My life is not that rich in detail.”

“Drive,” he said.

She put the car in gear and headed for home, stopping along the way to pick up the extra-large supreme pizza she’d ordered after she’d left the interrogation room and he’d stopped to argue with Archer again. He objected, but she pointed out that she had to eat and unless he wanted to go to the grocery with her—
“Fine,” he’d said and she wondered why she’d ever thought he was attractive.

Well, clearly because he was objectively very good-looking, but she’d didn’t like him now. Damn Fed, she thought, channeling her mother. You shoot one guy who’s trying to kidnap you and, all of a sudden, hours of athletic sex meant nothing.

“You cannot possibly think I’m guilty of anything,” she said, after a very long silence, when she was finally turning onto the street where she lived.

“So your grandpa taught you to shoot,” Nate said.

“Yes,” Anna said, defiant. “Every Sunday from the time I was six until I was sixteen and he went to prison. He didn’t teach me anything fancy, just drilled me on the basic center mass shot so I could protect myself.” She seethed for a minute. “That’s really why you’re going all Agent Miller on me, isn’t it? I can protect myself. You wanted to be the big hero and protect me and found out–”

“That you’re armed and reckless?” Nate said.

“That people who attack me go down without the need of any help from you, thank you.”

She hit the remote on her rearview mirror and turned into her mother’s drive as the gates opened, and then veered off from the front circle to take the driveway along the side of the house, hitting the remote so the gates closed again. She stopped at the side of the pool house and got out, slamming the car door hard before she walked across the flagstone patio that edged the bright blue pool and waved to her mother on the other side where she was stretched out with a martini in the twilight, wearing an orange bikini with big brass circles strategically placed.

Her mother squinted to look. “Is that you, baby? You’re late.” She looked past Anna and sat up, and Anna realized she’d seen Nate, aka A Hot Guy Holding a Pizza. “Hello, you,” Angelina said to him.

“Mrs. Jones,” Nate said politely as Anna slid open the doors to the pool house.

“No ‘Mrs,’ honey, I don’t breed in captivity. Come over here and tell me all about yourself.”

“He’s a Fed, Mama,” Anna called back and went into the pool house as her mother began to swear at him.

He wanted to protect somebody, let him protect himself.


Nate paused for a couple of minutes to appreciate the sheer variety of the invective Anna’s mother, a brunette who pretty much defined the word “voluptuous,” was spitting at him. Then he went into the pool house.

The first thing he saw was a huge bed, right in the middle of the room. It was pushed up against a kitchen island, its pillows piled high against the island’s side. On the other side of the island was a gallery kitchen; opposite that on the other wall at the foot of the bed was a fireplace and two over-stuffed blue armchairs with ottomans and side tables.

But mostly there was the bed.

Fuck me, Nate thought. He put the pizza on the island and looked around for Anna. The door he’d come through was four sliding glass panels flanked by two paned windows, so she hadn’t gone that way. The back wall had three doors in it, and as he started around the bed, Anna came out of the first one with a lot of flannel in her hands, glared at him, and went into the second door.

He opened the first door, the one she’d come out of, and found a closet with a rack along the left wall and shelves at the back and on the right wall. The shelves at the back were full of sweaters—thirty-seven twin sets, he thought—and the ones to the right had pink striped bins. He went through all of the bins looking for art or guns and found a lot of plain underwear (no lace), tank tops, bathing suits, pajamas, several different colored catseye glasses, and miscellaneous female things that weren’t illegal. Up on the top shelf was a wig stand with a bright blue wig, and he lost a minute, trying to imagine what she was doing when she wore that. Then he checked through the twin sets and rifled her hanging clothes rack and came up with nothing.

He went back out into the main room and stopped by the next door, but he heard a shower, so he tabled that for later, detoured around a desk against the wall and got to the last door, the one at the end of the galley kitchen. It opened into a room full of chemicals and inflated things, clearly pool storage except for a four-foot decorated Christmas tree. He crossed the storeroom to the door on the other side and opened it to peer out into a narrow strip of backyard, dark in the twilight, that ended in a fence. He closed the door and looked at the lock there; it was worthless.

So there was a back way into Anna’s place that anybody could use. The front way in was sliders with a lock that would easy to pop and windows that could be unlatched with any thin blade. She was about as safe here as she’d be standing naked in the street.

Which was an image he didn’t need.

He went back into the main room and met Anna coming out of the bathroom in flannel pajamas with little hearts all over them, her hair in a towel.

“What the hell are you doing?” she said.

“This place is not secure.”

“It’s plenty secure.” She went over and put the pizza in the oven to warm. “Ask your questions and get out.”

What was the blue wig for? Nate thought, but he said, “Look, there’s no need to be hostile. I’m just doing my–”

“Doing your job?” Anna swung around, fire in her eye. “You cannot possibly think I’m guilty of anything. So what is this? You need a suspect and you’re going to fit me up for it? You bastard.”

“Of course not,” Nate said, stung. “You really think I’d do that?”

“Why not? You think I’d money launder for the Russians. We really don’t know each other at all, do we, Nathan? I thought you were a warm, funny, good time with a trust fund and instead you turn out to be a goddamned fucking Fed. Just get out–”

“A trust fund?” Nate said, confused. “I don’t have–”

The door to the pool slid open and her mother eased through, pointing a gun at Nate.

Nate went for his shoulder holster and then stopped, common sense overriding instinct.

“Put the damn gun away, Mama” Anna snapped. “You can’t shoot a Fed in my pool house, I’m in enough trouble already.”

“He’s no good,” Angelina said. “The minute you said he was a Fed and then he followed you inside, I knew he was up to something, so I stuck close, and then I heard you yelling for help.”

“I was not yelling for help,” Anna said. “I was just yelling.”

Angelina sniffed. “He’ll probably try to get you into bed and then arrest you.”

“He already got me into bed, so that ship sailed. He is no longer interested.”

I’m a little interested, Nate thought, but he kept his eyes on Angelina, just in case.

Angelina looked momentarily distracted. “How was he?”

“Really damn good. So let’s not shoot him, not that I’m ever doing anything like that with him again.” Anna moved in front of Nate, blocking her mother’s shot. “Put the gun down, Mama. You’re making me look bad.”

Angelina let the gun drop to her side. “How am I making you look bad? I’m protecting my baby.”

“Your baby is one dangerous woman,” Nate said.

“Damn right,” Angelina said proudly.

“Don’t gloat, Mama,” Anna said. “I shot somebody today.”

Angelina looked interested. “Anybody we know?”

Anna looked back at Nate. “I didn’t recognize him, but Agent Miller got a name.”

“Ljubov Volkov,” Nate said.

“Fucking Russian.” Angelina put her gun down on the island. “You got anything to drink, Annie?”

Anna went around the island to check on the pizza and pulled it out. “Orange juice and vodka. And there’s a bottle of champagne in the fridge from the last party if you’d rather go mimosa. Also, pizza.”

I am in a Wes Anderson movie, Nate thought, and leaned against the island to observe.

“Oh, good.” Angelina opened the refrigerator. “Vitamin C. What did that lousy pinko kidnapper want?”

“For me to get in the car with him,” Anna said. “Any idea why he’d want me?”

“No.” Angelina put the orange juice carton down on the counter and rummaged in the fridge until she found the champagne.

“Is it possible that he tried to take her as leverage against you?” Nate said, keeping his voice carefully neutral.

Angelina popped the champagne cork with practiced hands and poured a slug into a glass. Then she slopped a good two fingers of juice and turned to face them, swirling the glass as she spoke. “Leverage for what? I got nothing.”

Nate nodded through the pool house glass at the big house on the other side of the water. “You’re not poor.”

Angelina swallowed a whack of mimosa. “You think he took her for money? Nobody’s that dumb.”

Nate looked at Anna for clarification, and Anna said, “My mother wouldn’t pay ransom.” Nate’s eyebrows went up, and she went on: “She’d expect me to save myself because she’d know that if she paid, whoever had me would probably kill me. I’m not saying she wouldn’t call in some favors to find me, but she’d never pay a blackmailer or kidnapper. Frankly, anybody in the business knows she too big a pain in the ass to be worth it. She has a temper, she’s loud, and she’s ruthless. Nobody fucks with my mother.”

“So why was he taking you?” Nate said.

“I have no idea,” Anna said and started to make her own mimosa.

“You’re going to drink with me here?” Nate said. “Aren’t you afraid I’ll take advantage since I’m no good?”

“No.” Anna said. “Charlie might be able to get me back to bed, but you’re a cold fish. Also, the champagne is open. We have to finish it or it’ll go flat. And after the kind of day I’ve had, getting drunk with my mother is the right thing to do.”

“Damn right,” Angelina said, and went over to settle into one of the armchairs by the fire.

Anna held up the champagne bottle. “Care to join us, Agent Miller? It’s your temperature. Chilled.”

Nate sighed.

“Mimosa or straight sparkly?” Anna said.

“Straight,” Nate said. “Orange juice doesn’t work with pizza.”


An hour later, the pizza was gone and Nate was clutching his second glass of champagne as he and Anna’s mother sat in the armchairs by the fireplace, staring across the hearth at each other with mutual distrust but with a slight lessening of hostility. After some pointed questions, Nate was pretty sure she’d emptied the bag for him: she had no idea why the Russians were after her kid.

He looked over at Anna, sitting in the center of the bed, her back against the pillows piled up against the breakfast bar, swirling the last of the champagne-and-OJ around in her glass. Her long legs were stretched out on the white comforter, and that was a memory he didn’t need evoked, especially with her mother glaring at him. He was positive she was naked under those pjs and even more positive she knew he knew, so he took control of the situation.

“Russians,” he said to Anna.

“Yeah,” She sighed. “It’s something to do with that package, although that doesn’t make sense.”

“What package?” Angelina said, slurring a little, possibly because they’d finished off the champagne and she’d moved on to vodka.

“I took a package to Vegas for the museum,” Anna said.

“Oh, baby.” Angelina shook her head. “Vegas.”

Nate waited a minute, but she was evidently done. “It would have been a great help if you’d looked inside.”

“I would have,” Anna said, “but it was a wood case bolted shut in eight places. It just didn’t seem worth the trouble. And no, I didn’t shake it or try to figure out what was inside. It didn’t rattle when I picked it up, so whatever it was must have been packed in there.” She drained her glass and put it behind her on the island next to her mother’s gun. “Explain to me about money laundering. I know it’s about making dirty money clean so nobody knows it came from crime, but I only have a vague idea of how that’s done.”

“Your grandpa was in the mob, but you don’t know how money laundering works.”

“She was a kid when he died,” her mother snapped. “You think I let any of that touch her?” She looked at Anna. “You slept with this creep?”

Anna sighed. “He’s not a creep. He’s annoying and he has no heart and there is only ice in his veins, but he treated me very well in Vegas, and he’s been prepared to protect me today, although it’s completely unnecessary, so we’re not calling him a creep.”

“And he was good in the sack?” Angelina squinted at him.

“He was very good,” Anna said. “Of course, I didn’t know he was a zombie Fed then, but he faked warm very well in Vegas.”

“Well, it’s hot in Vegas,” Angelina said.

“If you two are finished,” Nate said.

“Explain money laundering,” Anna said.

“Three steps,” Nate said. “Somebody has ill-gotten gains and wishes to conceal the origins. Step one is to put the money into the legitimate financial system; that’s called placement. Step two is to move the money through so many different transactions that it’s difficult to trace; that’s called layering. Step three is to reintroduce the money into the legitimate financial system, now all shiny and clean; that’s called integration.”

“You just keep moving it around until nobody knows what the hell is going on,” Angelina said over her vodka and orange.

“The art world is almost completely unregulated,” Nate said to Anna, “so you can get away with a lot there. Buy a Picasso for ten million dirty dollars, sell it to a collector, and you have his ten million clean dollars. Usually it passes through more hands, but since private sales happen all the time, it’s not a difficult process.”

“The Mikkelson Museum does not have a ten-million-dollar anything,” Anna said.

“That you know of,” Nate said.

“If it’s in the museum, I know of it.”

“You have no idea what Mikkelson may have stashed there.”

“Nathan, there are no secret passages or subterranean vaults. I know what’s in that museum, and we don’t have anything worth a million.”

“Small stuff,” Angelina said. “If you churn a lot of small stuff, it still washes.”

Anna shook her head. “We don’t have that kind of turnover. And how much small stuff could have been in that box? We don’t have stamps or coins. Plus, you’re talking about Mikkelson. He’s head of the museum because that’s where the family parked him. He’s the youngest son and the family idiot. I don’t see him masterminding big financial fraud. I think Teresa balances his checkbook.”

“Useful idiot,” Nate said.

“Exactly.” Angelina pointed her glass at him in agreement. “Russians love stupid Americans.”

Nate looked at her with interest. “You seem knowledgeable.”

“I am,” Angelina said, her voice sharp. “Knowing does not mean participating. We are not crooked, Nathan. You, however, I have grave doubts about.”

“I’m the law,” Nate said.

“Yeah.” Angelina snorted. “Because you guys never go bad.”

“That’s fair,” Nate said. “How about a truce? I don’t believe you or your daughter is part of a money laundering ring.”

“And that’s why I should trust you? No.” Angelina stood up, fairly gracefully for all the liquor she’d inhaled. “I am watching you, Fed. I’ll do anything to protect my kid, so don’t make any sudden moves.”

“Your gun’s over there on the island,” Nate said. “Now is the perfect time for me to make a sudden move.”

“Oh, for the love of God,” Anna said. “Mama, go to bed. Nathan, go to wherever you hang from the ceiling at night.”

“No,” Nate said. “This place is not secure. I’m staying.”

“If he makes a move,” Angelina said to Anna.

“He won’t.” Anna smiled at her. “I love you, Mama. Go to bed. I’m perfectly safe with Nathan. He’s so cold, he’s half dead already.”

Angelina stopped by the island for her gun and looked at Nate. “I will get him the rest of the way if he tries anything.”

“Good night, Mama.”

“Great meeting you, Angelina,” Nate said.

“Fuck you, Fed.”


Nate watched Anna lock the sliding door behind her mother and turn out the lights. She didn’t close the drapes, so the lights from under the water in the pool still illuminated the room with a soft blue glow, reflecting on the ceiling, and Nate closed his eyes and tried to think of something besides Anna.

“Really, you can go now,” she said, and he said, “No. Tomorrow we’re going to back to the museum and you’re going to show me everything. Then after work we’re going to Home Depot so I can get what I need to make this place more secure, although your mother’s right, you’d be safer in the big house with her. By tomorrow night, with any luck, we’ll know what’s going on and we’ll never have to see each other again.”

“You could leave now and we’d never see each other again,” Anna said. “So much simpler.”


She sighed and took the towel off her head, picked up a brush from somewhere, got into bed, and began to untangle all those red curls.

Nate looked out at the pool.

“Do not say it,” Anna said.


“Raggedy Anna. I had to put up with that crap all the way through school, I’m not taking it from the FBI.”

Nate squinted back at her. “I don’t see it and I wasn’t going to say it.”

“Ha,” Anna said and kept combing.

Nate took off his shoes and socks, and then stood up and dropped his jacket on the chair, then his shoulder holster, and took off his tie.

“And what do you think you’re doing?” Anna said.

“I am going to sleep in that bed beside you, without touching you, because you’re annoying the hell out of me and I don’t want you,” Nate said. “So save me your virgin protests.”

“I’m not protesting because I’m a virgin,” Anna said. “I’m saying no because you’re a human ice cube and I don’t want you frosting up my sheets.”

He took off his pants and shirt, walked over to the bed in his boxers, and got in beside her as she scooted over. “Just stay on your side of the bed, Banana. You won’t even know I’m here.”

She turned to look at him as he settled back against the pillows, and then she leaned in, her hand on his chest, and kissed him, slipping her tongue into his mouth as she pulled him close, and he leaned to meet her, helpless not to, sliding his hand under her pajama top and up to her breast as he kissed her back.

She pulled back. “The hell you don’t want me. That’s what you’re missing, Ice Cube Guy. Sleep well.”

She rolled away from him and slid down into her side of the bed, pulling the covers up to her ears.

“That was a really dumb thing to do,” he told her back. “You realize you’re completely at my mercy here.”

“Try anything and die,” Anna said, her voice muffled by her pillow.

“I thought you didn’t kill.”

“I’ll scream and my mother will come.”

“Good night, Miss Jones.”

“Fuck off, Agent Miller.”

Nate lay on his back, looking at the reflections from the pool on the ceiling. It was very relaxing, he thought, the play of blue light and water. A pool house wasn’t his idea of adult living, but it was bigger than his studio in DC, so he was in no position to be snotty about it.

At least not as snotty as Anna was being.



“Why are you so damn mad? You don’t really believe I’m trying to frame you.”

She was silent for so long, he almost gave up, and then she said, “I thought you were different. I had this big fantasy about you, and then you turn up and you’re just a guy with a job.”

He felt annoyed again. “I’m also the guy who gave you a damn good time in Vegas.”

She rolled over to glare at him in the weird blue light. “While I just lay there? I don’t think so. There were two of us in that bed being awesome.”

“True,” Nate said. “So why are you mad? I didn’t lie about anything.”

“Neither did I.”

“So why the anger?”

“Well, there’s the lousy way you treated me in the garage.”

“You shot somebody.”

“In self defense. You’re just mad because you didn’t see that coming.”

Nate thought about it. “That’s probably true. I had this idea of you, too, and it didn’t include you drilling people in parking garages.”

“Well, Agent Miller, what would you have had me do? Get kidnapped?”

“I was there, you know,” Nate said. “I’m trained to shoot people.”

“So am I,” Anna said. “Don’t get snotty because the government trained you and I learned from Grandpa. And I didn’t know you were there. You were stalking me.”

“To protect you.”

I can protect myself!

They lay there in silence for a few minutes, both staring at the ceiling, and then he said, “Do you really think your grandfather killed only mob guys?”

She closed her eyes. “No. I know he was a monster. He was good to me and my mother, but I know what he was. Why do you think we’re the Joneses now?”

“All of this came from crime,” Nate said. “The big house, the pool, the–”

“And what would you have us do with it?” Anna said. “Find all his victims? He didn’t steal from them, he wasn’t a swindler. Give it back to the men who hired him? They were criminals, too. Besides, it isn’t mine. When Grandpa felt you guys closing in, he bought this house and put it in Mama’s name and then took the rest of his money and put most of it in trust for her. He transferred almost everything to her. Then he moved us to the big house and he moved in here.” She gestured to the room around her. “Of course, he got money from her whenever he needed it, but it’s legally hers now. Who would you have my mother give it back to? And good luck convincing her to do that.”

Nate sighed. “I don’t know. I’m too tired to figure it out now. You’re an exhausting woman, Anna Jones.”

“Yeah, you were tired in Vegas, too.”

“I’d been working all day.”

“I’d been getting dumped. That’s just as exhausting.” She was quiet for a minute and then she said, “Who did you think I was?”


“You said you had an idea of me. What was it?”

Nate thought about it. “A cute librarian. Conservative woman taking a big risk to be wild. You kept talking about debauchery, but I was pretty sure you wanted the basics. Which was fine, we did well with the basics.”

“Vanilla,” Anna said, her voice like doom.

“Pretty damn good vanilla.” He thought about the vanilla for a while, but it wasn’t helpful, so he said, “What did you think I was?”

“Some rich trust fund guy.”

He squinted at her in the darkness. “You thought I had money?”

She shook her head. “Jason hates the trust fund guys in their fancy suits and their confidence and their the-world-owes-me-a-living assumptions, and I just looked at you and thought, Jason would hate this guy, and went for you. Also, you’re very good looking and I liked your body and I thought you might be, you know, good.”

“I look like the world owes me a living?”

“You look confident, okay? You look competent. Like you know what you’re doing in every situation. I just kind of wanted somebody else to take care of everything for a change.”

“I’m not rich,” Nate said.

“Yeah, I figured that out when you showed up with government ID.”

“Big disappointment?”

“What?” She looked at him. “Nathan, it was a one-night stand. I was thrilled you paid for the room and breakfast, I wasn’t planning on marrying you for money. You just weren’t my fantasy, like I’m not yours.”

“So maybe we should just get to know us.”

“Don’t pretend to be sensitive and understanding,” Anna said. “I will take your gun from you and shoot you.”

The pool lights went off.

It was pitch black now, but he felt Anna sit up.

“What?” he said, sitting up, too.

“Those lights do not go off,” she said, sliding out of bed. “And you took my gun. Where’s yours?”

He had crossed the room, grabbed his holster, and taken out his gun when he heard the lock on the sliding door pop, and then the door sliding open. His eyes were accustomed enough to the dark to see a vague crouching shape step into the room, and where normally he’d have just tackled the guy, he wasn’t completely sure it wasn’t Angelina, so he waited.

Then the lights came on, and he saw Anna by the light switch and a man with a stocking over his head jerk back and point a gun at her. Nate was bringing his gun up when Angelina came up behind the guy, whipped a garotte over his head, and climbed up his back, using all her weight to pull it tight. The guy dropped his gun and staggered around, trying to shake her off or pry off the garotte, probably driving the wire deeper into his neck, and Nate went over and kicked the gun away.

“Don’t touch that,” he told Anna, and then to Angelina he said, “Ease up, Mom, you’re killing him.”

Angelina had her teeth clenched, her eyes blazing as the guy struggled, and Nate remembered she was drunk and moved in closer before she decapitated him.

“Mama, don’t kill him, we need to talk to him,” Anna was saying, very calmly. “Maybe he knows what’s going on.”

Angelina tightened the garotte, so Nate tapped her on the side of the head with the barrel of his gun, and she jerked back, surprised, and dropped off the intruder’s back, leaving him to fall to his knees, gasping. “You want to die, Fed?”

“No.” Nate rolled the heaving guy onto his stomach and pulling his hands behind him, only to realize he was in his boxers and didn’t have his cuffs.

He looked up to see Anna holding them out to him.

“Thank you,” he said, and cuffed the guy.

Then he rolled him over, pulled the stocking mask off, and blinked.

“Hello, Fairfax,” he said.

Carter was going to love this.