54. Bloody Work

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Mr Ambrose's intertwined fingers clenched hard.

"We?" His cool voice had a dangerous undertone – and overtone and middle tone, if I was being absolutely honest. "We have not found anything nor will we find anything, because in we, a you would be included, Mr Linton. And you will have no further part in the search for the missing documents. I thought I already made that abundantly clear."

This was what I had been afraid of.

"Not clear enough for me," I shot back, matching his cold tone with fire. "Why shouldn't I help?"

"Because you will only be a liability. Keep to office work, Mr Linton, and leave the darker parts of this life to real men."

The words hit me like a fist in the stomach. I didn't know exactly why – I mean, he was right, of course, that underneath the trousers I was still absolutely female. It wasn't the words so much as the way he said them – real men, as if men were something special, something stronger, something better than women.

So this was how things stood. Nothing had changed. He was prepared to keep me, to let me work for him, but not as he would let another work for him. He was being charitable to the poor, mad girl who wanted to earn a living. Rage welled up inside of me!

"There is no need to concern yourself in any case," he continued. "Clues have been discovered as to the whereabouts of the mastermind behind the theft. Warren and his men are out on the streets searching for his hideout as we speak. They will soon discover it and this will be taken care of."

"Why won't you let me help?" I demanded. "You did last time, in the search for Simmons."

"That was different."

"Different how?"

His eyes took on a whole different level of coldness. They seemed to be staring off into icy distances, over the endless expanse of the Arctic, or some similarly desolate place I couldn't even imagine.

"That, Mr Linton, was before I found out who is behind this."

"Well, who is it then? Who is this mystery man you are so scared of?"

His eyes snapped back from the distance onto me, flashing.

"I am not scared, Mr Linton. I am cautions. There is a difference."

I bit back a comment. Men and their egos. "Very well, then. Who is this man you are so cautious of?"

Silence.

"Why won't you tell me?" My voice grew louder as my anger rose.

Silence.

"Will you at least tell me what's in this file that is worth killing for?"

Silence.

"Will you tell me anything at all?"

Silence.

He sat there, glowering, and I stood in front of him, fuming. How quickly things had turned from a relatively companionable work mood into a fierce battle.

"Um... excuse me?"

Both our heads jerked towards the door. We had been so consumed by our argument that neither of us had noticed how Mr Stone had poked his head into the room. He was nervously playing with bow tie, his eyes flicking from one of us to the other.

"I am deeply sorry to disturb you, Mr Ambrose," he hastened to assure his employer, "only I needed to deliver this memorandum." He held up a piece of paper. "I knocked twice, but you probably did not hear me over all the... err... shouting."

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