Chapter 21

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Cait's cheeks hurt from grinning. She felt almost drunk. The numberplate game had started off slow but had picked up and she was pointing to the fifth car in ten minutes with "m" and "three" in the number plate. Riley changed lanes to follow it.

"Maybe we should make it every third car," Riley said, "If we chop and change too much, Koffa's going to get–" he stopped short as Steve's ring tone filled the cabin. "Oops."

Cait tried not to giggle as Riley answered the call and the microphone above the rear view mirror went live.

"Are you trying to lose my men?" Koffa's voice distorted.

Cait's suppressed giggle escaped via a snort and she poked her tongue out at the speaker closest to her.

"Of course not," Riley said. "We were playing a game–"

"Cut the crap, Duncan. Cait doesn't believe there's no-one following her, so you're trying to shake him out for us. Has it occurred to you that while my men have to focus on not to losing you, they're actually less likely to spot a tail?"

"Well. I–" Riley said.

"So, in fact," Steve went on, "this is not going to prove anything – unless we lose you and Cait's attacked."

"Come on," Riley said. "That's a bit much."

"Is it? If a member of your team did this would you think it was a bit much? How can you expect me to vouch for you when pull this kind of crap?"

"Okay! I'm turning around."

"No!" It was almost a shriek. Cait felt a little guilty for getting Steve so angry. "Head back to your place. I'll meet you in the car park and we can all have a chat about our roles in this."

The call disconnected from Steve's end. Riley's jaw set and he grasped the top of the steering wheel with both hands. Cait wanted to ask why he would need Steve to vouch for him, but now wasn't the time. "I think we're in trouble," she said.

"Yup."

She attempted a commiserative grimace but Riley's focus wasn't going to move from the road.

"Sorry," she said. "I shouldn't have–"

"Not your fault."

But it was. Even if Riley wasn't officially part of the team, not co-operating with Steve was probably still disobeying orders in a semi-official way. She should never have asked him to do it. Once Henri was in custody and she was in WitSec, Riley would have his career – and his life – back. She owed it to him not to screw around and make it take any longer than it needed to.

When they pulled into Riley's spot under his building, Cait startled as her door opened by itself.

"Sorry," Steve said.

"Look," she began as she climbed out but Steve held a finger to his lips. The silence continued into the lifts and down the corridor to Riley's apartment.

"You can't do that," Steve said the moment Riley shut the door behind them. "You just can't. Do you understand? Both of you?"

Cait nodded.

"Sorry," Riley said. "I thought–"

"You don't have enough information to think, Duncan. This is my operation. You are a civilian resource and I can end that at any time."

"It's not his fault," Cait said. "I pushed him."

"Oh, I know you did, but he's the professional."

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