A Beautiful Lie

Page 51

Olivia and Parker slowly made their way back into Parker's hospital room after a couple of leisurely laps around the recovery floor. Both women immediately stopped talking and frowned at the man who stood up from a chair in the corner of the room to greet them.

Parker immediately thought of Agent Brad Richmond. Right before Parker was transferred to D.C. she found out her boss of eight years died in his home when he refused to give up Parker's location to two of Fernandez's guards. He was never someone she would call a friend necessarily, but at least he knew her. They shared a history even if it wasn't all rainbows and kittens. He didn't treat her like a stranger, speak to her like a child, or ignore her requests. His replacement, Agent Jeff Charles, managed to do all of those things within the first fifteen minutes of meeting her.

She hated him immediately.

As soon as Parker was transported to D.C., Agent Charles came to Parker's room three different times in an attempt to talk to Parker about what happened, and each time Olivia ordered him away when she saw how upset it made Parker. She told him Parker wasn't strong enough for visitors that would upset her. Jeff bided his time for as long as he could. Agent Parker's time was up. Jeff finally went over Olivia's head and Parker's doctor gave him the okay to question her about the mission.

Olivia was not happy.

As she helped Parker get back into bed, she shot a dirty look to the man in corner of the room wearing a black suit and tie with a perfectly pressed white shirt.

"You buzz me if you need anything," Olivia informed Parker as she helped her pull a blanket up over her legs and shot a quick glance over her shoulder at the patiently waiting CIA agent. "Even if it's some good old fashioned ass kicking."

Parker cracked a small smile even though it hurt to show even that much emotion.

"I don't think it's in your job description to beat up visitors. Especially government employed ones," Parker told her softly as she got herself comfortable.

"Something tells me you wouldn't be opposed to assault and battery in this instance," Olivia replied, hooking her thumb over her shoulder.

"I'll be fine," Parker assured Olivia. "Thank you."

After checking the IV machine and pressing a few buttons, Olivia left Parker and Agent Charles alone.

"As I've stated in the numerous voicemails I've left you, none of which you've had the courtesy to respond to, there are quite a few loose ends that need to be cleared up in regards to this case," Agent Charles said as he got right to the point, opening a briefcase he'd set on the table next to him and pulling out several file folders.

"And as I stated the first day you came here two weeks ago, I'm not answering any of your fucking questions until you tell me what's happening with Lieutenant McCarthy and his team," Parker replied, trying to keep her blood pressure down.

"Miss Parker-"

"AGENT Parker," she interrupted, correcting Jeff through gritted teeth. "I may not be active right now, but I damn well deserve the respect I've earned."

Jeff took a few calming breaths and reminded himself that losing his temper wouldn't do anyone any good. The CIA and the Navy were now in a pissing contest over who should get the credit for taking down one of the biggest prostitution rings that spanned several countries. The sad fact was the CIA couldn't get the upper hand without Parker's help. Her refusal to participate in debriefing or talk to anyone from the CIA was not helping their case.

"Please forgive me, Agent Parker."

Parker tried to ignore the obvious sarcasm in his voice, but it was impossible.

"As I informed you in two of my voicemails that I'm assuming you didn't bother listening to, as an agent with the CIA, I am not privy to the whereabouts of a Navy SEAL. However, in the interest of putting this mission to bed once and for all, I made a few calls. As the leader of his SEAL team and the contact for all of the deceased members of SEAL Team Six, Lieutenant. McCarthy is being held under tight surveillance, along with the other three members of his team, until the trial date for all the parties involved in this scandal occurs. A gag order has been placed on all of them restricting them from having any contact with anyone outside of their immediate supervisors and lawyers."

Parker heard the words he spoke and understood each and every one of them. She knew Garrett's lack of contact wasn't due to the fact that he suddenly had a change of heart. She knew without a doubt he would be there if he could. Knowing this information and coming to terms with it was a whole other matter. Not having Garrett there to hold her and keep the nightmares away each night was slowly breaking her down. Each day, even with Olivia's attempts at friendship, Parker felt herself drowning in despair. Without Garrett's smile or his arms wrapped around her, the memories of all she lost and everything she did were swallowing her whole. She didn't care about her job. She didn't care about the case…she didn't care about anything.

Agent Charles was only there because he wanted something from her. He didn't care that she was struggling to keep the demons at bay or barely holding on to her sanity. He wanted answers to what happened down in that basement. He wanted an explanation for why another agent with over thirty years of experience, her father, was shot to death in his hospital room. The morbid curiosity that lived inside of him wanted to know if Fernandez ever tried to sleep with her, if the rumors of her involvement with McCarthy were true, and if she was secretly thrilled at being the one to shoot her former fiancé in the head.

She knew his kind and had worked with entirely too many men just like him over the years. They laughed at the water cooler over crime scene photos: the dead individuals in the pictures that died by the hand of other agents, nothing more than fodder for the gossip mill. Parker knew they were doing that with her now: standing in elevators, conversing over coffee, placing bets about whether or not Parker smiled as she pulled the trigger to end Milo's life, wondering if she'd been in on all of it with Milo the entire time and killed him just to keep him quiet.

"So, now that I've went out on a limb to get the information you've requested, it's time for you to answer some of my questions," Agent Charles stated, bringing her out of her thoughts.

The first two weeks away from Parker were the hardest. Garrett didn't sleep, he barely ate, and he snapped at anyone who tried to talk to him. He gave his statements, answered all their questions, and no one would let him have any contact with Parker. They were given an official order not to talk to anyone who didn't have pre-clearance from the Navy. For the sake of the case and making sure nothing slipped through the cracks, they needed to follow their orders to a T. Garrett wasn't even permitted five minutes alone with Brady, Austin, or Cole in case they were trying to change facts about what happened and throw a wrench in the case. They were each questioned separately for hours about what happened, and then once the lawyers were satisfied that their stories matched, questioned them together . They were never left alone to talk freely about anything.

Captain Risner managed to get a few messages to Garrett about Parker's status, each one short and barely containing any real information.

"She's awake."

"She's been transported to another hospital."

"She has a long road ahead of her."

Captain Andrews made sure Garrett knew just how grateful he should be that the Navy was allowing him to have even that little bit of information. They didn't want Garrett to lose focus or forget his reason for joining the Navy in the first place. But most of all, they didn't want anything to mess up one of the biggest scandals the Navy had ever been responsible for bringing to light.

Luckily for everyone involved, the chaos the Dominican Republic was plunged into with the sudden knowledge of their President's activities and the unclear line of succession since he was removed from his position as head of the country, negotiations were handled quickly and efficiently. The Dominican Republic wanted the "problem" removed from the country as fast as possible so they could begin to rebuild their crumbling government. Having the former head of their country right under everyone's noses was just a reminder of the mistakes they made by turning a blind eye on his illegal activity. They agreed to allow Fernandez to be transported to the United States for a trial since they had more immediate stability issues that needed to be addressed.

One week before the trial was scheduled to begin, Garrett was in a conference room with a representative from the Navy's JAG office being prepped for testimony. Garrett was having a hard time concentrating since he knew today was the day Fernandez would be transported from the Dominican to a private corrections facility in California until the day before the trial. It was still hundreds of miles away from where he was, but having him on U.S. soil was enough to make Garrett feel murderous. An hour into the prep meeting and four ignored cell phone calls, the JAG officer finally excused himself to see who it was that kept calling.

Several minutes later he returned to the room with a stunned look on his face.

President Emilio Fernandez was dead. It came as a shock to the legal team, but not so much to the Navy SEALS who brought him down. They knew karma had a way of coming back to bite you in the ass.

While awaiting transport at La Victoria, the largest prison in the Dominican Republic, Fernandez got what was coming to him. Word traveled fast, even in a third world country. Too many people knew what he did. Too many inmates, guards, and visitors wanted him to pay for what he'd done to their sisters, cousins, nieces…

A riot broke out and chaos ensued. When the fighting was under control and the prisoners were all back in their cells, Fernandez's holding area remained empty. His body was found within the hour. His head was no longer attached to his body, three of his fingers were sawed off with a crude instrument, and his testicles were stuffed down his own throat.

No one mourned his death.

The authorities turned a blind eye on the parties responsible.

After a few chaotic hours and the rearrangement of testimonies, the trial went ahead as planned. All individuals accused of wrongdoing were found guilty and charged. It would be many years before any of them would see the light of day.

Within fifteen minutes of leaving the courthouse, Garrett was handed back his military identification, weapon, and his cell phone. He immediately placed a call to Parker.

After four rings a computerized message informed him that his call could not be completed as dialed because the number he was trying to reach was no longer in service.

Parker checked herself out of George Washington University Hospital six weeks after she got there with a promise to Olivia that she would call her as soon as she got settled. Parker conveniently didn't tell her that she wouldn't be going back to her condo in California, feeling like she didn't need to divulge that type of information to her nurse.

Her cell phone was confiscated by Agent Charles since it was property of the CIA, and she had no idea when or even if she'd resume her employment there. She programmed Olivia's number into the new phone she ordered just to make the woman stop hounding her about it. As they said their goodbyes, Olivia raised an eyebrow and stared at Parker suspiciously, making her wonder if the woman knew Parker had no intention of ever calling it. Caring about someone, sharing secrets with them, relying on them, and letting them rely on you…it never seemed to work out very well for Parker. She decided then and there she would never make any more mistakes where friendship was concerned.

As Parker's plane touched down and she held onto the armrest with white knuckles, she remembered the flight into the Dominican. Garrett had tried to make her forget about her nerves by informing her they'd have to pretend to be husband and wife. The memory was bittersweet and made her chest ache.

She refused to think any more about that now. Thinking about Garrett only made things worse. Parker winced as she pulled her small suitcase out from under her seat. The bullet wound in her side was healed, but any bit of movement made a dull ache form where the hole had been. She stood up, pressed her hand to her side, and followed the small handful of other passengers down the aisle. Parker tried to smile back at the pilot who stuck his head out of the cockpit to bid her goodbye on the way out the door of the small plane that had taken her on the second leg of her journey, but being in that place, knowing what she was about to face, made it impossible for her to even fake happiness.

When she walked into the airport that morning and up to the counter to check-in, her palms started to sweat and grief began to overwhelm her. For the last few days, she did nothing but dream about sinking into her own bed in her own condo, turning off the lights, and ignoring the world around her for the.

In a split-second decision she changed her flight plans.

As she stepped out of the charter plane and made her way down the short set of stairs, she quickened her pace, trying to distance herself from the chipper words of airport security as they gave the same parting words to each and every flier.

"Thank you for flying with us today! We hope you enjoy your stay in Manchester, Michigan!"

"I'm sorry, sir. No amount of yelling or harsh language is going to make me break the rules. Patient files are strictly confidential. Unless you are an immediate family member, I cannot give you the information you want."

Garrett had reached the end of his patience ten hours earlier when he kept getting the run-around about what hospital Parker was transported to after she left the Dominican. After seven phone calls and a poorly executed threat to beat the crap out of each and every person at CIA headquarters if they didn't tell him what hospital Parker went to, Risner stepped in to help before Garrett got himself arrested.

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