Nate was in the saferoom, taking another stab at breaking into Rich's old files. That was good. That was a good thing. At least Nate was here, safe. And she knew where Johnny was. Mike, though... Mike had left before any of this went down. He had a date, a hot date as he'd made certain to tell them all several timeson a Monday? Sandra had thought at the timeand the asshole had either left his cell at home or turned it off. Sandra had taken a great deal of personal pleasure in siccing the local police on Mike's license plates. All cars, be on the lookout for. Maybe he'd take a swing at a cop and end the night in jail. Jail would work just fine as far as Sandra was concerned.
Her mouth tasted like dogfood and burnt coffee. Her skin felt greasy. Rubbing her hands over her face Sandra took a long breath and was vaguely pleased to note it was more or less steady. Ever since Johnny had called half an hour ago she'd been sort of afraid she was going to cry.
She tugged at the drawers. Locked. She didn't know why he bothered, when he headed up this team. For form's sake, maybe. She stood up and went to the doorway. "Nate?"
Nate jumped. She couldn't blame him. "Sandy?" he said, a bit squeaky.
"Sorry." Sandra blew out a long breath and pushed her hair behind her ear, getting a hold of her irrational temper. "I need your crowbar."
"Oh. Sure. Hang on..." Nate hit a few keys on Rich's biggest computer and pressed 'enter', looking none too hopeful. The computer did exactly nothing. He stared morosely at the screen.
"Crowbar," Sandra reminded him, as gently as she could.
The desk drawers popped open one after the other, yielding to the crowbar with almost ridiculous ease. Sandra found herself wishing that one would be stubborn. Beating the crap out of Simon's desk with the crowbar would feel really good, right about now. Instead of indulging that particular wish she put the crowbar aside and started riffling through the files, not really looking for anything in particular, just trying to get a sense of what was what.
The number was scribbled on the back of an envelope and shoved haphazardly into the top drawer, like it didn't matter. 'Archer' was slashed across it in Simon's angular handwriting. The number itself, oddly, was in the New York City area code, and in a different hand, small and precise and prone to crossing its sevens. Sandra smoothed out the crumpled envelope and considered it. It was so battered that she suspected the envelope had been crushed and smoothed back out several times.
She should call him.
Simon would be furious if she did.
Therefore, she should definitely call him.
Besides, she had this gut feeling that Jeremy ought to know about this. She hated that gut feeling. Jeremy didn't have any sort of rights to Simon, in Sandra's humble opinion. He'd worked with the team, sure, got along with them pretty well, but he wasn't really one of themhell, he was a felon. Wrong person, in the wrong place, at the wrong time. A little voice that sounded oddly like Mike's deadpanned in the wrong pants? in the back of her mind, and Sandra discovered that she'd crumpled the envelope in her fist.
I don't know that, she reminded herself, flattening the envelope back out on the desknot for the first time, apparently. It's ridiculous. Simon's not... Jeremy's a criminal, anyway. Simon wouldn't... She stared angrily at the number for a moment longer, then made up her mind and grabbed for the desk phone, only to drop it half a second later.
Instead, she dug out her own personal cell phone. Before she dialed the number, though, she checked the little black book she'd found in one of the previously locked lower drawers. Everybody else's numbers were in it, including a couple of numbers she was damned sure Simon shouldn't have; the 'Archer' number wasn't listed anywhere in it. Only on that battered envelope. Somehow that only made her gut feeling stronger. God, she hated that.
Flicking open her cell phone she started to stab out the number, then hit Cancel before the third digit; instead she programmed the number into memory and called it from there. Despite the hour, the phone only rang once before it was picked up. "Answering service," a cheerful anonymous female voice said.
Sandra almost laughed, despite everything. That was Jeremy, all right. Way too damn clever. "Ah. Yes. I'm trying to get in touch with Jeremy Archer?" Out in the other room, Nate abruptly stopped typing at the sound of Jeremy's name. It made Sandra wish the office still had a door. She knew the door was still around here somewhere. Or at least the halves of it. Maybe down the hall in the men's bathroom...?
The voice interrupted her musings. "Yes, ma'am, I can take that message for you."
"Fine. Thank you. My name is Sandra Leoneuh, he may know me better as Springheel." Sandra eyed the desk phone again, but in the end she ended up giving the voice her cell phone number.
The voice on the other end of the line didn't falter at the code name. "Yes, ma'am. And the message?"
"I... it's urgent that I speak to him as soon as possible." Sandra leaned on the last few words.
"Yes, ma'am. I'll pass that message along as soon as I can."
"Thank you," Sandra said distractedly, and broke the connection. She stared at her phone for a moment, then stabbed at the buttons. S-H-A-D-O-W, read the name above the number when she was done. She flipped the phone closed on Jeremy's code name and put it on the desk, and then put her head in her hands and waited.
Less than five minutes later it rang, and she and Nate both jumped. She thought Nate actually yelped a little. The number was a string of digits in all the wrong configurations: international call. She flicked the phone open. "Sandra," she snapped, belatedly realizing how edgy she sounded.
The pleasant Englishy voice on the other end of the line didn't seem to care. "Ms. Leone," he said, rendered tinny with distance, like a James Bond movie playing in the next room. "This is a pleasant surprise. To what do I owe the pleasure?"
And now that she actually had him on the line, she had no idea what to say, so she stalled instead. "Jeremy. I'm sorry, I just realized what time it was." She realized that she didn't exactly sound sorry. She sounded sort of flat, actually. Oh, well. "I hope I didn't wake you."
"Time...? Oh! Oh, no. It's four in the afternoon here, Ms. Leone. I assure you I was not asleep." The good humor was leaking out of his voice fast, though. He was quick, she'd give him that much. "What can I do for you?"
"Four? Where are you?" Still stalling. It was like a reflex. She sounded like her mother, she suddenly realized, all pleasant chit-chat and no substance. The realization made her feel vaguely sick.
"Tokyo. Ms. Leone"
"Tokyo! God, what are you stealing there, some kind of... gold-plated Hello Kitty statue...?" Sandra trailed off there. When she started again, her voice was harder. "I'm sorry. That was stupid. I didn't call to chat, did I."
"I suspected as much." No good humor left at all now. "Please. What is it?"
Sandra closed her eyes and fell silent for a moment. On the other end of the line, Jeremy was also silent. Sandra could hear the babble of many voices somewhere far behind him. She opened her eyes and splayed one hand out on the desk, staring down at her fingers. "Simon's been shot."
The long pause that followed this abrupt announcement told her more than she needed to know. Damn that gut feeling anyway.