County General Hospital
New Hebron, California
Amy glanced down at her phone and frowned before slipping it back into her coat pocket. It was late, and she hadn’t gotten a single call despite her own repeated attempts to contact her lover.
Her partner must have been angrier than she’d expected, if Alex hadn’t even bothered to phone back. Amelia had called and left several messages, but so far, she’d heard nothing. The other might have been quick to anger, but was often just as quick to cool off. Given that she hadn’t heard back suggested that her lover, would not be so forgiving this time around.
Amelia’s job was dangerous and demanding, things that strained a relationship and her romance with Alex had been no exception. Casting such thought aside, she glanced at the mirror, ensuring that her makeup remained unmarred and left the exam room where Matthew was waiting.
“Is there a problem, agent?”
“It’s Alex again.”
Matthews nodded, adjusted his necktie. Her superior wasn’t one to meddle in the affairs of his subordinates, but if anyone understood the strains, the job put on relationships it was him. He’d gone through two divorces during his time with AEGIS and while he wasn’t one to broadcast his troubles at work. Amelia had been around long enough to witness the strain, the second breakup, had put on him.
“Right, well Dr. Hassebroek tells me there doesn’t seem to be any ill effects from your episode.”
“Yes, sir, I was relieved to learn that myself. If your concern has been assuaged, I’d be happy to make an attempt at a second viewing.”
Matthews pursed his lips and slipped his hands inside his pockets. “Come with me, agent.”
Her superior turned away, moving at a brisk pace that she found difficult to keep up with in her skirt and heels, but she managed.
“This empathic bond you seem to have developed with Howard is… Going to raise some eyebrows if what you’ve told me about him is correct.”
“What do you mean, sir?”
Matthews stopped dead in his tracks and turned to her. “The situation is not unprecedented. Agents have been compromised in similar ways. If Mr. Howard can influence you in any way that represents a very real problem for the agency. We can’t have an agent whose judgement may be influenced by a civilian least of all someone with Mr. Howard’s prejudices.”
“With all due respect sir. I think I would know if I’d been compromised.”
“Agent, even if you are correct. What you are experiencing now could be just the beginning. You could find yourself thinking his thoughts or acting on his angry impulses. The point is, we don’t know what effect it will have on you.”
“Which means my objectivity as an investigator could be compromised.”
“Worse, we’re not even sure the true extent of this empathic bond and if it will evolve into something more. The last time something like this happened, the agent in question went rogue killing almost twenty bystanders all because of a voice in her head that didn’t belong there.”
“Your talking about the incident in Denver, aren’t you?” Amy met her superior’s gaze her hands shaking just a little at the mirror thought something like that might happen to her.
Matthews nodded. “There is a lot about that incident that AEGIS still doesn’t understand, but it was a public relations nightmare for the agency. I’m not sure our superiors will risk a repeat.”
“So what does that mean for me? I’ve worked damn hard to get where I am, I’m not just going to bow out because some freak accent has got me saddled with this racist asshole.”
“I really can’t say agent. That sort of decision would be above my pay grade.”
Matthews moved forward again, without giving his subordinate any warning. Accustomed to thinking on her feet, Amelia sprung forward stepping into line beside him. “Sir, what’s going on?”
“You want to attempt a viewing, Van den Broeke, didn’t you?”
“What if I’m compromised, sir? Won’t that hurt the investigation?”
“Amelia, AEGIS has been chasing Chemosh’s trail for decades, if we can turn up one lead, not only will it help us bring the bastard to justice, but it might convince the people upstairs you’re still a valuable asset.”
Amy nodded and let Matthews lead her down into the bowels of the hospital. This confused her at first, but when they approached the morgue, it made just a little more sense. AEGIS had their own facilities, but it too was part of the medical labs. Matthews must have had the bodies from the attacks brought to the hospital for examination.
When, Matthew swung the door open, she stepped inside and moved toward the body resting atop an exam table in the middle of the room. Amy recognized the man as a lab technician named Henry. She swallowed hard as she reached out to touch his lab coat. She didn’t know what to expect this time around, but was just a little relieved when she felt that familiar tugging sensation and felt herself being pulled into a viewing. The surrounding room melted away and replaced by an all too familiar luminescence.