THIRTY-SEVEN

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With her radio off, Virginia had missed out on the heads-up from the captain. Simon had calmed down considerably, and after giving him some final instructions, she jerked her head in the direction of her two co-workers. "Go with them and I'll meet you there. You and I will handle this at the station. No mouthing off. Do I have your word?"

Simon nodded, looking at her with a mixture of uncertainty and appreciation. Feeling a little better about his state of mind, Virginia walked him back to Walt and Joe, who each took an arm to escort the kid out of the building.

She turned to find Louis standing behind her. "A friendly face," she said with a smile. As his hand came forward, she reached out with her own and allowed herself to relax, knowing the worst was—

The elevator doors had only partially pulled apart when Spinelli appeared mid-stride. The mood of the room crackled as his voice crowded the air. "What the hell is going on?"

Stiffening, she muttered, "Wonderful."

Louis gave her hand a squeeze. "I'll tell him," he said.

All the attention was on Spinelli while he seemed to only have eyes for her, briefly shifting his glare to the Walt-Simon-Joe trio as they passed him. Simon said nothing, but he hung his head, clearly not comfortable with his uncle's scrutiny. The two officers by the elevator rode down with Walt and Joe, leaving her alone to deal with the man bearing down on her.

It was hard to look at him without flashing back on that day in her kitchen. To fight off the embarrassment, she clenched her jaw and widened her stance. I will not be intimidated.

Stopping in front of her, he snapped, "Is this another stupid prank?"

"He was caught on surveillance robbing Smith's jewelry store," Louis said.

Spinelli tore his eyes from hers to give a hostile look to Louis. For a moment, she thought he was going to reprimand the man for speaking out of turn, but then his shoulders shifted down a little. "Call Anderson," he said, the anger in his voice diffused.

Virginia turned away and lifted her radio, switching it on to say, "They're on their way down."

Cap's voice came back at her. "Copy that. You coming?"

"You go ahead. Give me a few minutes here to wrap things up."

"You need one of us up there?"

All was quiet behind her, but she sensed Spinelli standing only a few feet away, his tension taxing the air between them. She eyed him over her shoulder, and he took a step back. Like he was concerned she might be feeling threatened.

"No. I'll meet you at the station." She clipped the radio back on her belt and turned around.

"Louis is making the call," Spinelli said as a hand rifled through his hair. "Sorry, I shouldn't be blaming you." He pointed to his office. "Can we talk?"

She nodded and followed, passing him as he held the door for her. She'd seen the office before, the day she had burst in to accuse him of involvement in Jack's death and, of course, the night she had broken into it, but she had never paid attention to its décor. It was a large space with one full wall of windows. The only thing blocking all that view was a desk which looked like it belonged in the Oval Office. A triple-screened monitor took up most of the work surface—an indication that all the lowly paper pushing was left to those in the main room outside. A small couch with two matching armchairs sat off in one corner, a large vase of fresh flowers placed on a table between them. Wood filing cabinets lined the far wall. Those she did remember.

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