A Beautiful Lie

Page 14

Garrett tried his hand at digging for a few hours while he sat at the bar in the lobby of the hotel and ate dinner. He told himself repeatedly that he wasn't avoiding Parker. He just had a lot of work to do and didn't feel like going back to the room just yet.

When the bartender began cleaning up and shutting the bar down, Garrett knew it was time to face the music. He tucked his laptop under his arm and walked to the villa.

As he let himself into the room, courtesy of the extra key he got that morning from the front desk, he saw Parker's laptop in the middle of the bed surrounded by hundreds of sheets of paper. The bathroom door opened just as he started to walk over to see what was printed on them.

Parker came out of the bathroom surrounded by a cloud of steam, wearing her usual tank top and draw string pants, this time in pale blue. Garrett froze for a moment, taking in her wavy, damp hair, freshly scrubbed face, and the fact that she wasn't wearing a bra. His face heated at the memory of that morning and how she hadn't been wearing a bra then either.

Parker was still pissed at Garrett, but seeing him standing there after not being near him all day made her just want to throw her arms around him and pull him close. Waking up to him in the morning made her realize how much she missed being touched and how much she wanted to be touched by him. She resisted the urge to go to him, considering the morning's events made him run away from her and disappear all day just so he wouldn't have to deal with the embarrassment.

Parker turned and walked over to the bed, sliding some of the papers aside so she could crawl up to the pillows and lean back against the headboard. Garrett set his laptop on the counter leading into the kitchen and watched her cross her legs and pull her computer onto her lap. He realized just how stupid and immature he was being. Nothing that bad happened, nothing that couldn't be easily forgotten about so they could move on and go back to the effortless friendship they always shared.

"It's a good thing we got an invite to the palace tomorrow. Trying to break into that place would be impossible. I counted one hundred and forty-seven heavily armed guards there today," Garrett shared, trying to get her to talk and hopefully forgive him.

"It's not impossible. It can be done," Parker responded nonchalantly as she typed on her laptop and never looked up.

Garrett was still having a hard time believing the things that came out of Parker's mouth. He shook his head in wonder as he stared at her, moving closer to the bed.

"So, you've been here before?" Garrett asked.

The clicking of her fingers on the keys stilled, but she still didn't look up.

"A few times, yes."

Parker was surprised Garrett was asking her. He'd been nothing but ticked off and shocked about her job, and now all of a sudden he seemed interested. She couldn't tell him the details of why she had been here, but now that he knew what she did for a living, she could give him a little.

"The first time was the year after you guys graduated from SEAL training," she told him softly.

"Seriously? I remember that trip. You went to the Caribbean to take pictures of white marlin for Greenpeace. Or so you said."

Parker finally looked up at Garrett, gauging the look on his face to see if he was being sarcastic. She was shocked to see that he wasn't. He was smiling.

She couldn't help but smile back. Just a few days without his friendship and support and she felt lost. That smile was like a lifeline that she desperately reached for.

"I didn't lie about that. I really did take those marlin pictures for them. One of them is still hanging in their office in Amsterdam as a matter of fact," she said proudly. "I just had to get the photos completed in a day so I could "borrow" something from Fernandez's office."

Garrett let out a little laugh, and Parker's heart sped up at the sound. He moved forward until his legs came in contact with the edge of the bed.

"So what's all this?" Garrett asked as he pointed to the mess all over the bed.

"I've been doing some research on Fernandez. Found a few surprising things."

Garrett looked at her in confusion.

"I thought you were just going to relax by the pool today, maybe check out some of the stores and get your hair done or something," he said.

Parker wondered if it was physically impossible for Garrett to stop being a jerk for more than ten minutes. She slammed the lid to her laptop closed and stared him down.

"I'm not just here to be your sweet little wife and look pretty. I have a job to do as well, Garrett."

Garrett immediately started backpedaling when he saw how angry he'd made her.

"I didn't mean...I just thought you could use some down time. That's all I meant by that."

Parker shook her head at him and huffed in indignation.

"Down time? Garrett I've been on administrative leave for six months. I've had nothing but down time. What I need is to work. And to get some answers. So if you can stop being a chauvinistic ass for five minutes, we can talk about the things I found."

Garrett refused to admit that his dick swelled a little as he watched her fiery attitude take control. He ignored it and concentrated on what she'd printed out.

He picked up a few pages and stared at them wide-eyed.

"Jesus Christ, Parker! This is a list of all of the shell companies that are directly associated to Fernandez," Garrett said in amazement as he thumbed through the pages in his hand. He grabbed another piece of paper, scanning the contents. "Are these the offshore account numbers for these companies? How the fuck did you find this? Even I couldn't get in that deep."

Parker shrugged, "I have my ways."

"So what? You can tell me, but then you'd have to kill me?" Garrett joked.

The smile on Parker's face instantly fell, and Garrett watched as something erased the light in her eyes. She looked away from him and shoved the computer off of her lap, not really caring where it landed; she just couldn't look at him anymore.

"I could tell you, but then someone else could kill you," she said so softly he had to strain to hear her.

These past few days Garrett had been pissed at her for not telling him the truth, and to be honest, he'd been a little jealous that she'd lived this life of excitement and espionage and all of the things movies were made about. He took his envy and anger out on her and blamed her for his insecurities about his own life. But in reality, this was the God damn CIA she had been dealing with for eight years. Who really knew what the hell they had done to her? The thought made his blood boil that they may have done something to hurt her or threatened someone she cared about. Garrett may not have the security clearance she did, but he still worked for the same government. He heard rumors; he knew the lengths they would go to get what they wanted. Garrett suddenly felt sick to his stomach, wondering what they might have done to prove a point.

Garrett swallowed thickly, still standing at the edge of the bed.

"Who?" he asked softly.

"I don't know what you're talking about," Parker immediately replied, turning her face away from him .

Garrett shoved the papers aside and sat down on the bed next to her. He tentatively reached a hand out and ran it up and down her arm.

"I'm here, Parker. I'm not going anywhere. Talk to me."

Garrett watched a lone tear trickle down her cheek as Parker remembered her only friend from college.

Parker had met Lacie Butler the summer before her senior year of college. Lacie was another lost soul that had nowhere to go after class let out at the end of the semester. Her parents had left her to be raised by nannies for most of her life, and they traveled so much she saw them maybe once a year. That summer, they had been in San Tropez while Lacie was in the library on a Saturday evening.

When Parker walked into the library after dinner, she had her usual feelings of excitement knowing she'd have the entire place all to herself. Her happiness was short lived, however, when she spotted another girl sitting at Parker's usual table. She sighed in frustration and made her way to a different table a few rows down.

The two girls spent several hours reading and taking notes without ever looking at one another. They were perfectly content to keep to themselves and get their work done. At ten o'clock, the librarian wandered over to tell them it was closing time, and then she lightly admonished them for not going out and doing something fun on a Saturday night.

That was when Parker turned to look at the girl and found her looking right back. They shared a laugh, stood up, gathered their things, and walked out of the library together.

Parker and Lacie were friends for two months, three weeks, and twenty-two days. They talked, went to the library, went out for drinks, and just spent time together. It had been a while since Parker let herself get comfortable with someone else, and she forgot how nice it was. Lacie was sweet and shy and never questioned Parker's reluctance to open up about her past. She never pressured Parker to give more than she was willing to. Lacie was just content to have some company, and so was Parker.

After her dinner with Agent Richmond, and her agreement to begin training as a CIA agent, Parker went back to her dorm and paced back and forth like a caged animal. For the first time in years, Parker needed someone to talk to. She wanted someone to convince her that she'd made the right decision and tell her everything would be okay. Parker called the only person in her life that she felt comfortable enough with.

Parker went to Lacie's dorm room upon her insistence, and after years of keeping things bottled up, she confided in someone and asked for advice. Parker didn't give her all of the details; she skimmed over a lot of her family situation and glossed over her father's problems, but she came clean about her job offer. Parker wouldn't be given any information until she started training in a few months, so there really wasn't much to tell aside from the fact that the CIA had offered her a job.

Lacie gave Parker exactly what she needed, encouragement, hope, and the confidence she need to know she had made the right decision. It also didn't hurt that Lacie's favorite TV show of all time was "Alias", and she squealed and jumped up and down stating that she couldn't believe she was friends with a real life Sydney Bristow. Parker had left Lacie's dorm room that night feeling a sense of calm and happiness that she hadn't experienced in a very long time.

"We had a standing library date every afternoon after our last classes were finished. She didn't show up the next day or the day after that. When I tried her cell, she didn't pick up."

Garrett reached over for Parker's hand, entwining his fingers in hers and holding on tight. He sensed what was coming before she even finished the story.

"I pounded on her door and called her name, but she never answered. The RA heard me and came over to see what was going on. After I explained to him that I hadn't heard from her in two days, he got the master key and opened her room."

Parker closed her eyes and focused on the feel of Garrett's hand holding hers, on how soft and warm his skin felt against her own small, cold hand. Parker hadn't thought about Lacie in years. She wouldn't let herself remember the girl with the short blonde hair, glasses, and sweet smile. The memory of that day had been locked in the recesses of her mind, never to be thought of or spoken about, ever.

Yet here she was, letting the words float past her lips, remembering the sweet friend that touched her life for just a moment.

"I was the first to enter the room. I thought my eyes were playing tricks on me or that Lacie had decided to play some kind of prank. She was lying on her bed, like she was asleep, but there was a slice across her throat and her pillows were soaked with blood. Later that night when I got back to my room, there was a note in the middle of my bed that said, 'That was your one and only warning.' I signed a non-disclosure agreement with the CIA. I knew I wasn't supposed to tell anyone, but I also knew I could trust Lacie. She would have never told anyone. And this was the God damned United States Government. The most I thought they'd do was fire me and take back their offer. But it didn't matter if Lacie could keep my secrets. It didn't matter at all," Parker said softly as she stared straight ahead at a spot on the wall.

Garrett wanted to tell her to stop. The entire time she told the story in a monotone voice with no emotion, he wanted to pull her towards him and shake the life back into her. He'd never seen her so void of everything that made her his Parker as she told the story. The spark was gone. The smile was gone and he couldn't stand it. It killed Garrett to know that he'd been right, that they had taken something from her. He knew about her father and the abuse she took from him, but he had no idea there was more. More pain, more regret, and more guilt that she kept buried inside. But it just didn't make sense. The CIA didn't go around killing people if you told them who you worked for. The non-disclosure agreement should have just been in regards to the assignments she did for them. Someone wanted to make sure she kept quiet about what she did for a living. He'd bet his life it wasn't the CIA.

"I'm so sorry. You have no idea how…"

Parker turned to face Garrett and covered his lips with her fingertips. She didn't tell him so he'd feel sorry for her. She didn't bring forward a memory that cut into her soul just so he could look at her with pity in his eyes.

Garrett had scooted as close to Parker as possible while she spoke. He knew it was more for his benefit than hers. He had an extreme need to feel her against him, no matter how simple the touch was. Their shoulders and thighs were pressed together and they both had their backs against the headboard. When Parker turned to face him and pressed her fingers against his mouth, Garrett could feel her breath on his face they were so close. He could see the pain in her eyes, and he wanted to take it all away just to see her smile again.

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