Happy Birthday + Bonus Content

One of the most amazing women I know has a birthday today. A U.S. Veteran and one of the sweetest, kindest women that I have ever met, Patti has supported me and my writing wholeheartedly from the very beginning.

I wanted to do a little something extra special for her as a thank you, especially in these trying times when friends and family can seem so far away.

So this bonus scene is just for her.

Happy Birthday!!

The Shortest Partnership Yet

In Search of Justice

Chapter 3, pg. 46

He had sighed internally, expecting this to be the shortest partnership yet, beating the one that had only lasted for twelve hours.

This is a short scene detailing the partnership between Lirim and another agent that lasted only 12 hours. This scene occurs shortly before Aletta joins HSI.

Lirim entered HSI early as was his want, enjoying the quiet of the office before it came alive with agents and office gossip. While the gossip was often amusing, for some reason most of the other agents seemed intimidated by him. He didn’t know why, he always made sure to treat his fellow agents with respect and courtesy, although usually he needed his solitude at the end of the day and often declined their invitations to go out drinking. Still, he did his utmost to pull his fair share of the caseloads and watch out for his fellow agents.

Making his way over to the desk, he was pleased to see a file waiting on his desk. He had wrapped up the last of his active investigations the night before and was only waiting on confirmation of a few things on the other two cases. Setting his bag in his chair, he picked up the file and started reading as he made his way over to coffee station. Pleased to see that the pot was fresh, he poured himself a mug without stopping his skimming.

Taking a sip of coffee, he frowned as he continued to skim. This seemed to be a fairly cut and dried case, a bonded criminal had failed to appear at his court day, it should just be a matter of a simple skip trace. So why had they assigned it to him instead of one of the newer agents who needed to build up their experience?

He had almost reached his desk again when Cara called, “Agent Bosk. The captain will see you now.”

Lirim sighed internally, although he kept his face impassive. He had the feeling that he knew where this was headed now. Knocking, he waited patiently for Jones to call enter. Once he did, he found his suspicions to be correct as another agent was waiting in the office along with the captain. Jones nodded at the file that Lirim still held, “Good, I see that you’ve already read the file. You’ll be working with Agent Smith on this case. It should be a fairly easy assignment, although the regular police have been having trouble ascertaining his whereabouts. Report back in at the end of the day.”

They both nodded their acknowledgement and Jones dismissed Smith but asked Lirim to stay back so he could have a word. Once the door closed behind the other agent, Lirim said wryly, “I suppose this is where I get the usual lecture not to break the other agent.”

Capt. Jones offered him an apologetic look, “His partner is retiring at the end of the month and Smith’s stated that he prefers to be a part of a team. You were next on the roster of single agents.”

Lirim shrugged, “I understand. I’ll do my best to work with him, you have my word. I swore an oath to serve HSI in any way necessary. I have nothing against being partnered, but other agents seem to find me unsuitable for some reason.”

Jones gave a bark of laughter at that, “You are single minded when you’re on a case. The others tend to find that rather unsettling.”

Lirim didn’t shrug again or sigh, as much as he wanted to. “We deal with dangerous criminals on a daily basis. Anything less than total focus could get someone killed.”

Jones nodded, “You know that and I know that. Most of the agents realize that as well, but they’re just people too. Many haven’t had to deal with the circumstances that forged you, where one wrong move guaranteed that someone would pay for it, most often with their life. So just, be patient. Dismissed.”

Lirim nodded and left the captain’s office. He would do his best, as always, but his hopes weren’t that high. This only increased when he found Smith complaining quietly to an agent about being teamed up with a robot, the other agent nodded sympathetically. Lirim thought about going back to his desk for his coffee, but abandoned it as not worth it, it was probably cold by now anyway.

Instead he made his way over to Smith’s desk, slightly amused by the way that the agent that Smith had been complaining to quickly excused herself. Lirim asked, “Have you looked at the file yet?”

Smith was a genial young man, one of the office favorites, always quick with a grin or funny story. Lirim thought that he was related somehow to Ian in IT, a brother or a cousin, although he couldn’t be completely sure. He grinned now, offering Lirim a quick shrug, “Not yet, just got in when the captain called us in.”

Biting back the words that he wanted to say, Smith had plenty of time to read instead of complaining to another agent, Lirim said instead, “Captain Jones tells me that your partner is retiring at the end of the month.”

Smith nodded, “He’s been doing this for over forty years now, says it’s time to retire before he starts losing his edge.”

Lirim agreed with this way of thinking, “Agent Williams is an incredible agent with an impressive case history. He will be missed at HSI.”

He relaxed slightly, “He’s been a good partner to me, had my back ever since I first joined HSI. I’m sorry to see him go, but he says that I’m seasoned enough that I shouldn’t have a problem working with other agents.”

Lirim nodded gravely, “A high compliment, coming from him. How long will it take you to read the file and be ready to head out?”

Glancing at the clock, Smith nodded, “Give me thirty, that’ll give me a chance to have some coffee and go over the file. Will that work, Agent Bosk?”

Resigning himself to the inevitable delay, Lirim nevertheless forced himself to say politely, “That will work fine. Please, call me Lirim or Bosk. Agent gets old fairly quickly.”

Smith seemed startled by this, but nodded, “Ok, Bosk. You can call me Bill. See ya in thirty.”

Lirim gave him a brief nod and made his way back over to his desk. Trying his coffee, he found that it was lukewarm but still drinkable. He’d drank much worse during. He quickly cut off that thought before it could fully form and glanced over at the coffee station, where Bill and his friends were laughing and chatting. Opening up the file to go over it in much greater detail, Lirim allowed a small sigh to slip out. He had the feeling that this was going to be a long day.

X

It was closer to an hour when they finally managed to leave HSI, Smith reluctantly trailing Lirim out of headquarters. Once they were firmly ensconced in the car, Lirim asked, “Where to?” Although he already had a good idea of where to start, this would help him get a better measure of the other agent. Seemingly better focused now that he wasn’t around the others, Smith flipped open the file and skimmed it.

After a moment, he found the section that he was looking for. “Ah, here we are. I thought that we could go speak with the bail bonds man first, get his take on the perp, then go from there.”

Hiding his wince at the slang, Lirim nodded, “That’s not a bad idea. Are you by any chance related to Ian?”

Bill nodded, “He’s my cousin, why?”

Making a right, Lirim asked, “Think he’d do us a favor and trace the subject’s money transactions? His purchases and spending habits can tell us a lot about a subject.”

Bill grinned at that, pulling out his phone and putting it on speaker, he called Ian. When Ian answered, Bill said, “Hey Ian, can you do me a favor? Agent Bosk and I are on the skip trace case, think you can pull the financials for us?”

Ian scoffed, “Am I a computer wiz or not? What brass did you offend to get stuck with the Ice Man?”

Bill cleared his throat awkwardly, “Um, Ian?”

They heard a loud sigh from the other end, “I’m on speaker, aren’t I? How many times have I told you not to do that, Bill? My apologies, Agent Bosk.”

Lirim laughed, “I’ve been called worse, but I appreciate your apology. Just Lirim is fine. And in answer to your questions, yes, you are a computer genius. Your skills have pulled me out of tight spots more than once. Also, your cousin and I are working together because I was the next single agent on the roster. I’m looking forward to working with him and seeing if we’re compatible or not.”

Ian laughed at that, “And the others say that you have no sense of humor. Take careful notes, Bill. Finally someone that appreciates my genius. I’ll send the information to you as soon as I have it.” Without bothering to say goodbye, he hung up.

Bill rubbed the back of his neck awkwardly, “Ian’s right, he’s told me many times not to have my phone on speaker. Sorry about that.”

Lirim shrugged, “It’s all right. Here’s the bail bonds place. Let’s go.”

X

Their talk with the bondsman didn’t reveal any new information, although it did help HSI’s information about the subject. By the time that they had finished talking, Ian had the financial records forwarded to their phones. Lirim was pleased at that, “Ian works fast. Look through these and see if you can see a pattern or not, I’ll do the same.”

Smith sighed but obediently started going through the list. After going through the list three times, Lirim was certain that he had narrowed the subject’s comfort zone to a five mile radius. When he shared his observation with Smith, Bili just joked and said, “Well, that’s one of the best areas to get a beer. Why are we even going after this guy anyway. So he skipped bail, it’s not like he hurt a super or anything. How is this even HSI’s jurisdiction?”

Lirim took a deep breath before answering, those questions showed how close of attention Smith had actually paid to the folder, “He’s a short range jumper, which makes it hard for the normal PD to pin him down. Not only that, he’s reputed to have a recreational drug habit. Although he’s shown no signs of violence in the past, such things can make the user unpredictable in the extreme. Mix in magic and it could shape up to be a major incident. No, it’s better that HSI handle this quickly and quietly before it becomes an actual situation.”

Smith nodded, “So we’d better use the magic cancelling cuffs then, if we want to hold onto him.” Tucking his phone away, he changed the subject abruptly, “When’s lunch? I skipped breakfast this morning.”

Glancing at the clock, it was barely ten, Lirim’s gut feeling that this partnership wasn’t going to last only grew. He only said calmly though, “Let’s talk to the family first, make sure that he hasn’t bolted there, then we can stop for lunch.”

After several fruitless stops, they finally reached the end of the list of friends and relatives and called a break. Lirim let Smith chose the restaurant, which turned out to be a mistake as their fries were abysmal, their sandwiches only slightly better. Lirim just picked at his food while Bill downed a Monte Cristo sandwich like it was going out of style.

Finally pushing his meal aside as a lost cause and reigning his increasing temper in with both hands, Lirim asked, “What’s our next course of action?”

The red head frowned slightly, “Since he hasn’t been in contact with any of his friends or family, I’m out of ideas for the moment. What do you suggest?”

Relieved, Lirim said firmly, “When under stress, people run back to what is familiar, what is comfortable. His spending habit clearly suggests that he has a very distinctive comfort zone. I suggest we start hunting there, asking questions and making it uncomfortable for him. People there know him. If he’s anywhere in the vicinity, he’ll hear about the agents asking questions about him. It’ll either bring him out into the open or it will send him out of his comfort zone where he’ll start to make mistakes.”

Smith stared at him, his expression wary, “Hunting?”

Lirim shrugged, unwilling to pretty it up by calling it something that it wasn’t. “We are hunting for him, to bring him back in for justice. What would you call it?”

Bill fiddled with his empty drink, “Locating. We’re locating him in order to bring him back for due process.”

Standing, Lirim left a tip on the table. “Hunting, locating, either way we need to get moving. The longer he’s on the run, the harder it will be to find him.”

Smith’s expression was uncertain, but he quickly smoothed it away as he rose and followed after him.

X

It had taken several hours of pounding the pavement before their inquiries finally paid off. One of their last stops, a little dive bar that was dimly lit and filled with people well on their way to being three sheets to the wind despite the fact that it was barely past five o’clock. They were showing the subject’s mug shot to the rather shady bartender when the subject himself shot out of one of the booths and ran through the back.

Immediately abandoning the bartender, they chased after the subject. For a man who was a middle tier accountant, the man was in much better shape than Lirim anticipated. Still, he couldn’t help the small grin that slipped out at they chased after him, the adrenaline and thrill of chase burning away the increasing frustration that he’d felt and being partnered with Smith.

They’d gone several blocks when he tried to escape by climbing up the fire escape of a short two-story building. It was obviously an office building of some sort, the three dumpsters out back filled three quarters of the way with paper waste. That was to their advantage as it meant that the building was most likely empty, most offices emptying out at five.

Lirim reached the ladder a good five strides ahead of Smith and was up the ladder after the subject in mere seconds. He had cleared the ladder and Smith was halfway up when the first shot ran out. Flattening himself to the roof, Lirim pulled out his own gun and called, “Thomas Reynolds! HSI Agent Bosk, cease fire at once and lay down your arms. Right now, your violation is a petty matter, you do not want to add assault of a law officer to it.”

Smith chose that moment to climb up on the roof and Lirim yanked him down just as another shot rang out. Smith cursed and pulled out his own gun as Lirim yelled, “Reynolds, last chance. I won’t give you another.”

Reynolds shouted back, “Why should I give myself up? I don’t want to go to jail.”

Since he had started talking and stopped shooting for the moment, Lirim carefully stood and started moving forward, motioning for Smith to stay behind him. “Reynolds, right now, your crimes are negligible. You allegedly embezzled some money from your company. Even if you are indicted, you probably will not serve jail time but just be ordered to repay what was taken. Now, listen to me. Surrender your weapon and I’ll tell the lawyers that you cooperated. The word of an HSI agent carries weight, as I’m sure you know.”

Lirim swore internally when Reynolds replied. He was obviously impaired and Lirim wondered what sort of drugs he had taken and what the chances were of things getting violent. “You HSI agents. You all think that you’re so high and mighty, think that you’re better than the rest of the world. Well, I am invincible. I’m not scared of you or any other law enforcement officer.” The sneer was blatantly evident, even in his slightly slurred words. “Well, you’re all going to answer to me now and I say that you can die.”

Reynolds stepped out from behind the air conditioning unit that he had been hiding behind, a small submachine gun in his hand. Lirim’s mind instantly switched to the cold calm place, the one that calculated all of the risks and odds of any given situation. Knowing that they were in deep trouble, Lirim knocked Smith’s gun from his hand before pushing him off the roof, the other agent so startled that he didn’t even have time to scream.

Lirim turned his attention back to Reynolds just in time to see the magic glow around him before he jumped the few feet between them, firing as soon as the magic spit him out. Lirim felt burning pain along his right bicep as he threw himself forward, taking Reynolds out at the knees. Ignoring the injury, he’d had worse, they tussled for control of the gun. The drugs had granted Reynolds unnatural strength, negating any natural advantage that Lirim had. Finally Lirim managed to wrench the gun away from him and tossed it over the side.

They struggled all over the roof, Reynolds nearly escaping several times and Lirim hanging on with dogged determination. The struggle only ended when Smith rejoined them on the roof, looking rather disheveled, and hit Reynolds across the head with the butt of his gun, knocking him out cold. As Lirim struggled to catch his breath, Smith ruthlessly cuffed Reynolds, a scowl on his face.

Checking out his bicep, it was just a flesh wound as he’d thought, Lirim offered Bill a smile that was probably a little more wolfish than he intended from the way the other agent inched back slightly. “Thanks.”

Smith just nodded, “No problem. Let’s get him back to HSI and get your arm looked at.”

Lirim shrugged, bending down and hauling the unconscious Reynolds up as well, “I’ve had worse. Good work today, Bill.”

Smith didn’t reply, just took half of the unconscious man’s weight and helped maneuver him down to the street level and over to where the car was waiting.

X

Lirim was shrugging his shirt back on in the infirmary when Capt. Jones found him. Before he could speak, Lirim said tiredly, “Let me guess, Smith doesn’t want to be partnered with me.”

Jones looked at him incredulously, “You threw him off a building, Bosk. Did you really expect him to be happy about it?”

Lirim ran a hand roughly through his hair and sighed, “I knew that he’d land in the dumpster and be fine. Reynolds had a machine gun, what else was I supposed to do?”

Jones turned grim, “According to the doctors, Reynolds was high out of his mind and he’ll be facing serious charges for trying to murder two agents. As soon as he comes down from his little trip, I expect that he’ll be singing like a bird to try and save himself. How badly were you injured?”

Lirim pulled up his sleeve enough that Jones could see the bandage wrapped around his arm, “Thankfully, he was a lousy shot. Just grazed me, only took five stitches. I’ll have some nice bruises tomorrow, but nothing serious. Is Smith ok?”

Jones sighed, “Smith is fine and he’s agreed to not file a complaint as you did indeed save his life. However, he requested a transfer to a satellite branch, one that sees less action and deals with more white collar crimes. I’ve agreed to his request.”

Lirim looked down, shame and tiredness rolling through him. “I am sorry for tossing him off the roof, but my instincts just took over.”

Jones rested a hand lightly on his shoulder, “I know, Bosk. And I think that you took the right course of action. The crime techs said that it was a miracle that you were unhurt as you were and that anyone standing next to you would’ve been killed instantly. Don’t beat yourself up on this one, it’s a win in my book. And hang in there, Bosk. I know that there’s a partner out there who will be just the right fit for you.”

Jones squeezed Lirim’s shoulder lightly before turning and leaving the room. Getting slowly to his feet, Lirim wistfully wished that the captain’s words were true, that there was a person out there who would be willing to give him a true chance at partnership. Little did he know that in less than a month, a fiery, stubborn woman with a caffeine addiction would turn his world upside down and yet save him at the same time. He just had to hold on a little bit longer.

(C) Katie Holmburg – The Seeker Files

Happy Tuesday Everyone! We are strong together!!

Déjà Vu – Did I already say that?

I love to write, I’ve been writing for as long as I can remember. However, it was only recently that I became brave enough to publish my writing for other people to read. Thanks to a very dear friend who helped me successfully run the gauntlet of editing my manuscript, my books are now in print with more on the way.

During the editing process, something became apparently clear to me. I overuse several words. My editor friend reassured me that this was normal, that all writers have words that they gravitate too. Mine in this case was slightly. With her help and minute changes throughout the manuscript, I was able to whittle the amount of slightly’s down to the appropriate number. There were several places where the word slightly was indeed the correct choice, but the majority were misplaced.

So my Tuesday tip to you is this. With an open mind, go back through your writing and see if there are any words that you gravitate to. If you don’t find them, congratulations. If you do, as you most likely will, don’t be frustrated. Think of this as an opportunity to expand both your vocabulary and your characters. Does this one word always appear with a certain character? For example, in “Princess Bride”, Vizzini was always using the word “Inconceivable”

With a little bit of time and patience, you can usually work these overused words out and come up with a stronger story for it.

So what is a word that you find yourself overusing?

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