41 ~ Ryan

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"Are you shitting me!" Harris screamed through the phone. "Donovan fooled you again? What the hell do we pay you people for? I thought you had this case locked up."

"He was gone before we arrived," Ryan explained calmly. His mood had improved significantly after he found Felix alive. Even Harris couldn't ruin it. "We believe he was alerted by his flight crew, based on a text received by one of his stooges. Fulton may have jumped the gun on that, but we apprehended everyone who was left at the house."

"Do we know where Donovan is headed next?"

"No. These jokers aren't breathing a word right now, but a few days in solitary might loosen their lips."

"We don't have a few days!" Harris had definitely woken up on the wrong side of the bed, and Ryan circled the manicured front yard as he tried to reason with the madman. He glanced at Felix, who sat on the stoop next to Fulton, answering his questions and looking uncomfortable.

"We're recovering everything we can. I've got the rookie digging through the trash. We'll have to be happy with bringing in four of Donovan's closest associates and a doctor who has been aiding their cause. I think his testimony will help us exonerate Felix in the crimes she's connected with."

"Is that all you care about, Ryan, whether your latest piece of ass is off the hook?"

"Screw you, Harris. How would your wife feel if she heard that's what you called her before you were engaged?"

"I never called her that."

"And if she knew you had a fling with that waitress at Jake's steak joint before the wedding invitations went out? Isn't that what you told me?"

"You're a prick, you know that, Clark."

"It takes one to know one."

"Just try and get back here without losing anyone else."

Ryan pocketed his cell, grateful he could share the blame with Fulton. Harris would be riding their asses until the case was closed, but at the moment, nothing short of an earthquake could upset Ryan. Felix survived the mission and the criminals were rounded up. Donovan was sure to feel the sting of this one. Ryan walked over to Fulton, who appeared to be doing a good job of ruining Felix's lucky streak. With his cop attitude and his notebook in her face, Felix looked ready to strangle him.

"Harris wants us back in Chicago pronto," Ryan said to Fulton. "I'm going inside to see if they've got everything they need. Felix, you want to join me?"

Felix jumped up like the stoop was on fire, and Fulton grumbled. "I'm not done taking your statement, Miss Taylor. You haven't told me what happened after we lost radio contact."

"I'll give Ryan a detailed blow by blow, Officer Fulton." Felix offered a curt smile as she escaped into the house, and Ryan hurried to follow, hiding his grin. Felix stopped just inside the doorway and turned around, looking like she wanted to bolt back outside.

"Are you feeling okay, Felix? I know that sounds like a stupid question, but I need to know if I should call a paramedic."

"I'm feeling fine, just a little freaked out." She stared unfocused through the open door, probably not admiring the colonial architecture of the home across the street. "Donovan is still out there somewhere, which means my family is still in danger."

"We'll arrange to put them under surveillance or move them to a safe house until Donovan is found. Don't worry, Felix. We're a lot closer than we were a few days ago. What you did here has helped us tremendously."

Felix smirked but her usual fiery attitude was missing. "I'm glad I could be of assistance, Agent Clark, but I'd really like to go home now. I've had enough NCIS action for a while." Her smirk faded and a frown replaced it. "I hope I'm still allowed to stay with you."

"I'll do my best to make that happen." Employing his poker face, Ryan slipped his hand behind her back and pulled her close, enjoying the feel of her hip pressed against his. He wasn't looking forward to telling Felix she was facing a more serious charge than accessory to a criminal hacker. He would rather carry her off to some remote island where they could...

"Agent Clark. You want to sign off on these papers so we can get out of here?"

A clipboard was shoved into Ryan's hands, reminding him he had a job to do, the job he had given up relationships for. Without the distraction of Felix, he might have guessed Donovan had instructed his flight crew to call if anything seemed out of the ordinary, helping their well-paying boss evade an arrest. Instead, he focused solely on Felix's safety. But despite Donovan's evasive tactics, Ryan felt they had apprehended the right man, the man who could keep Felix out of federal prison. It all came down to Dr. Florence's testimony, and Ryan hoped the good doctor was as skilled at confessions as he was at hypnotherapy.

PLAYLIST SONG: Wake Up The Dead by The Pineapple Thief

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