After breakfast, I drove straight to work. Jagan was going to shower and come up later.
Dani was already there. She'd walked up behind me after I got in. She looked like she had been crying. Over Crow? Then she handed me the post-it note.
My eyes quickly scanned the yellow piece of paper, taking in the information.
I have to take off for a while. Beth is in charge for as long as Steve is out of commission. She is probably the most organised and clinical after Steve and myself. I want you to back her up and stay strong. Take joint leadership if necessary. I trust you will make all the right decisions. Steve isn't guilty, but if it comes to a military court the decision is likely to be fixed. Do whatever you can to save him if it comes to extreme circumstances. That goes for the whole team. If any of you need to reach me, try a certain UK line.
My mouth just hung open for a minute. "He's gone?"
Dani nodded, solemn. She was fighting back tears I saw.
"That's all we need right now," I mumbled, "I understand why he went, but... We need him here too!"
What were we going to do without Foster? He is the strongest leader we could have! He's the sense of direction when we're lost in the dark. I'm in charge? We're doomed!
But my thoughts were interrupted by the sound of footsteps in the doorway.
A blonde man stood there in a cocky stance. "Can I help you?" I ask.
"Sort of. My name is Drake Bradens, and I'm supposed to be assisiting, and guiding this murder case. There should be a message on the phone from the Department of Justice." He said this impatiently, how a angry customer would speak to a slow waitress.
I knew how that sounded, I'd worked in a small cafe back in my teen years. I didn't like these kind of people. I never got a tip from them back then.
I just stared, open-mouthed at him, incredulous. Dani folded her arms, her eyebrows knitted together. "What?" She said.
"Go on," he motioned, "check your messages. You'll see that it's true. I'm taking over lead on this, and that's the way it's gonna be, ladies. We're gonna get this over with, convict the guy, and move on, 'kay?"
"Look here, buddy, I don't know who you are, or who you think you are, but don't you come in here like that. 'The guy' is my brother, and he's innocent. And by the order of our previous leader, I'm the one in charge for now. That's the way it is until we have confirmation from the DoJ, 'kay?"
He opened his mouth to say something, but stopped short as Dani broke in. It seemed like he wasn't used to being addressed like that. But hey, if he takes that tone, I'll give it right back to him.
"No message as of yet," Dani said, looking at the phone. Suddenly it rang. She picked it up. "Hello? Yes. Hold on one second, let me put you through to our team leader." She emphasized that last part. Drake and I both put our hands out. I shot him a dirty glance as Dani handed me the phone.
"This is Lennon from the Department of Justice. Who am I speaking to?"
"Bethany West, current team leader, as defined by our former leader, Foster Lewis. He had to take leave of us temporarily."
"Ms. West. Lewis assigned you to this position?"
"Yes, sir." I assured him.
"We have orders placing Drake Bradens in that position."
"I am now aware of that. He is here presently."
"He may relieve you as of--"
"Pardon me, sir, but I have orders here from our former leader. He has assigned--" I shook the post-it at the phone, as if Lennon could see it.
"I believe that the orders from the DoJ supersedes any that Mr. Lewis may have set."
"I beg to differ with you, sir. He has set this because he believes that it is for the best of our team, something I believe that the DoJ has no idea about."
"Ma'am, you may have a point, but this is what--"
"I don't think either of us are going to budge, whether there be risk of court martial or not. Can we compromise?"
"What do you mean?"
"Foster Lewis also said that we were to have joint leadership if it needed to be so. I assure you that this is the only way that the team as a whole will accept such orders.
"Ma'am, I'm not sure that--"
I just continued on as if he was agreeing. "So Bradens and I are joint leaders for now?"
"I didn't say that! I would have to check with--"
"So that's settled then?"
"I can't say--"
"All right then!" I said brightly, "Thank you for your time, Mr. Lennon, and I assure you that this will work out fine."
"Okay then, have a nice day, sir. Bye-bye now." I hung up and smiled up at Bradens. "I suppose that's all settled now."
"West, I don't think--" Bradens started.
He sighed exasperatedly and hissed through clenched teeth. "Ms. West. I don't think that this is best for the team."
"And how would you know? You have not been part of the team until now. The Department of Justice has spoken, Mr. Bradens. You and I are now joint leaders."
Out of the corner of my eye I saw Dani grinning, suppressing a laugh.
Drake Bradens crossed his arms and stormed out.
Dani laughed at me after he left. "Is that what the Department says?"
"It will be by the time he calls..."
And she laughed all the harder.