Character Therapy, Part II

(For part I, be sure to visit Linda‘s blog.)

Ethan didn’t break her gaze. The tick of a clock on the wall was the only sound echoing through the room. Caitlin‘s back straightened under his intense stare.

“What I did isn’t important. It’s what I did after that matters. I could have let it break me, but I didn’t. The question is, Agent Falconetti, what are you going to do?”

She turned back to the window and crossed her arms over her chest. “The same thing I’ve been doing.”

“Wallowing in your misery?”

“Maybe I like wallowing. It’s not hurting anyone.”

“What about the people who love you?”

A disbelieving laugh rumbled through her. “Yeah, right. They’re few and far between. Don’t you listen to the rumor mill? This Betty Bureau is unlovable.”

His brow lifted. “And why is that, Agent?”

She glanced at her watch. “Isn’t our fifty minutes up?”

He relaxed, smiled. “I don’t have anything else on my calendar for the day.”

“Great.” She grimaced. “How’d I get so lucky?”

Tapping his pen against his leg, he stared at her again. She blew out a breath. “You know, if you cut me loose, I could catch a flight back to Virginia and you could sneak out for a round of golf.”

“I don’t golf.”

“Figures.” She turned away, her body vibrating with repressed stress.

“All right. Not talking about the nightmares or your feelings of inadequacy-“

“I’m not inadequate.” She shot him a glare. “My case closure percentage is close to a hundred.”

“So tell me about your partner.”

“She died.”

“That has to be difficult for you.”

With a mocking laugh, she leaned against the back of the chair. “What do they do, give you cards to memorize with those lines on them?”

He watched her, rubbing a finger over his lips. She stared back. The clock ticked. She narrowed her eyes again.

“You’re dying for a cigarette, aren’t you?”

Another smile. “As I said, we’re not talking about me, Agent. This is all about you.”

“Oh, joy.” She rolled her eyes. “I don’t think I can stand the excitement.”

With another chuckle, he glanced at her file again. “So talk to me about Georgia.”

She stilled, her expression freezing. Her chest lifted with a deep breath. “No.”

“You were involved in a shooting.”

“I’m not talking to you about Georgia.”

“I have all day.”

“You can have all year.” She crossed her arms. “So who’s your favorite famous psychology guru? Freud? Jung?”

“Hannibal Lecter.”

She laughed and shook her head. “You’re a quick one.”

“So I’ve been told.” His face sobered. “Tell me about Georgia.”

“Jesus, you’re a piece of work. You never quit, do you?” She turned back to the window. “Now I need a cigarette and I don’t even like the taste of smoke.”

His brow lifted and he nodded, a slow shift of his head. “Aha. He smokes.”

She whipped around, eyes narrowed. “He’s not important. We’re not talking about him.”

“Why not?”

“Because we’re not. Drop it, doctor.”

He reached for the file on the table in front of him, ignoring her icy warning, and flipped it open. “Georgia county sheriff’s investigator was shot. Paperwork says you two were at Quantico together. I’m guessing from your apprehension, there’s a history there.” He glanced up, but she didn’t respond, so he went back to the file. “You fired your weapon. Disarmed the suspect. Both men survived.”

Her muscles tightened, and she shifted back toward the window. “I should have shot him in the freakin’ heart.”

“Which one?”

She glanced at him over her shoulder. “Which one do you think?”

“You tell me.”

Her eyes narrowed. “You’re really irritating, you know that?”

He smiled, his lips curling in a wide grin. “It’s my job. But you still haven’t answered my question.”

She let out a breath. “If I tell you, will you let me go?”


She studied him one long minute. A sultry smile finally curled one side of her mouth. “I’m not so sure you want to hear this, Dr. McClane. It might just give you ideas.”

“Try me.”

She sauntered to the chair in front of him, ran her fingers over the back cushion as if caressing a lover. “It involved handcuffs, a coffee table and lots of hot pink latex.”