Char didn't take the offered chair until the officers took theirs. Once seated, she perched on the edge and remained aware of their hand placement.

Not a lot of space in this nicotine-drenched hotel room. If things went south, she'd be hard pressed to find cover and get her firearm at the ready. And the furniture was cheap. Unreliable as a weapon.

Philly PD, my ass. She held tight to the screwdriver in her right palm. They were too slick, too prepared, to be locals. But they weren't her targets or they would have incapacitated her by now.

They could be FBI. It was highly likely since this whole thing involved Martin, and the FBI had been trying to get a lapdance from him for years. But why would they lie about being Feds?

She decided to play stupid-young-girl and stay atuned to any slips they made. This ploy had saved her skin more than once.

"Charlotte, we know you've been contacted." Forman set his elbows on his knees. All traces of cockiness from the airport were gone. "We'd hoped to follow you and the other party to where they have your brother and Ms. Reirdon."

"Why do you care about two criminals? Isn't someone else just taking care of the trash for you?" She inhaled through her nose, reminding herself to put the attitude aside. Play dumb, it's not that hard. Oh, but sometimes it was.

Forman swiped a hand over day-old stubble. "Being a criminal doesn't make someone less human. In fact, it makes them more so."

Char had to physically choke back a smartass response. Someone had heard too many Law and Order speeches.

She slid her eyes towards Carlson. In the short time she'd known these two, he'd proven to be the weaker-minded. He'd already complained about fatigue, had forgotten to turn off his cellphone (which had gone off twice before Forman gave him a look), and he clearly didn't know how to dress himself. At the moment, his left sock covered the bottom of his pantleg.

She cleared her throat and let her voice tremble for effect. "Look, I'm just scared - trying to do what they want. But what happened? Did you guys get them? The men on the phone, I mean." You big strong menfolk, you.

"No," Carlson said and straightened his lapels with authority. "They didn't show. But the ball is in their court still. We have to move carefully." 

"What're we gonna do?" She toyed with the collar of her blouse. "Please, tell me what's going to happen next."

Forman's eyes narrowed at her slightly. Either he was on to her or he was about to pull something.

She continued on. "Who are these guys? Please - I need to know what's going on."

Carlson said, "We're dealing with the Isaacson-"

"Gary." Forman interrupted and scowled at his partner. The two men looked at each other - one angry, the other confused.

Forman grimaced a smile. "Could you please get the file out of the car?"

"Why? We're in the middle-"

"And some coffee from the machine for our guest."

After a tense moment of chest puffing, Carlson stood up and left the room. Even though he was gone, the room still felt small. Maybe because Forman's testosterone had filled it to capacity.

"We have a problem, Charlotte." Forman stood.

Char was up immediately, feet shoulder-width apart, one in front of the other. She held the screwdriver at the low ready. "How's that, officer?"

He smiled and went to the small fridge near the door. "Because you know I'm not Philly PD, and I know you're not as stupid as you're acting." He pulled a soda from the fridge. "You want one?"

"No." Char didn't ease her grip on the screwdriver.

Even though Forman was vulnerable with his back to her and his partner was obviously inept, she wasn't taking any chances. She knew what she needed to - that it was the Isaacson bastards who'd snatched Marty and Moira. Now it was time to move out. Minus the FBI chumps.

 She stepped back to the window behind her and flicked the curtains. Carlson had to go around to the front where the parking was. No telling how long he'd be. A few minutes maybe.

Forman slammed the fridge shut and cracked open his drink. This somehow made her more nervous. She liked arrogant, over-anxious types. Guys like Forman were more dangerous when they acted casual.

She swallowed, wishing she could afford the luxury of that drink. "So, what now?" she asked.

"Now its truth or dare." He was between her and the door.

"You know I could just shoot you while your partner's away."

Forman chugged on his soda in response. She watched his throat contract, then trailed her eyes over his button down shirt, lower still to his waistband...his gun holster was unsnapped.

He tore the soda can away with a sigh of satisfaction, thumped it down on a nightstand, and took a step towards her. "You won't shoot me."

"Really?" She leaned her weight on her foward leg.

"Really." Another step closer. "You want to know what we know. And you want to know that Martin's okay. Best thing is to cooperate."

Char had nowhere to back up. The window ledge bit into the back of her upper left thigh. The screwdriver was suddenly slick in her sweaty palms.

"But mostly," Forman said, whipping off her sunglasses, "because you're not a killer."

Char clenched her jaw. "I suggest you recheck your file."

She pushed foward with the screwdriver. He blocked her with his forearm and used her momentum to fling her towards the closest bed.

The spongy fabric of the bedspread smushed into her face, stinking of urine.  Char bounced once, then flipped over in time to kick Forman in the hip with her high-heel. A fraction closer and he'd have been a new man.

Forman doubled over, but reached for her ankle on his way down. Char brought her other heel up to strike. The glock pressed against her back. She couldn't get to it in this position.

He grabbed her other leg. Char sat up to go for his face.

Forman saw it coming. He pulled her down and himself up to pin her on the mattress.

Her next blow grazed his jaw. Forman tilted to the side, but caught himself and snatched her arm. The grip was so hard she thought her wrist would snap.

Char tried for a headbutt. He dodged it and struggled to grab her other arm. She bucked, trying to use the mattress to bounce him off. It only managed to get them tangled in the nasty bedspread.

"Stop." Forman finally said.

She bit his hand. He yelled and said the f-word, but he didn't let go.  After a few seconds of wrestling, he moved their hands above her head.

"Jesus, stop." He shouted in her face. "Just listen to me. We're not going to arrest you and you're not going to kill me. So just stop."

Char beat the back of her head against the mattress in frustration. She glared up at him, wishing she could take a chunk out of his perfectly straight nose. "Get off me."

"Only if you promise not to shoot, stab, bite, or otherwise harm me."

She swallowed, trying to catch her breath. As soon as she said "fine", he rolled off her and kept a wary eye while seeking distance.

Char stood slowly. "I won't kill you," she said. She shook her hair back and smoothed out her skirt. "Unless you give me a reason to."

The End

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