Frozen Stiff - Chapter 4
Just finishing up the final edits! No more delays, promise. The good news is that you guys get more free chapters. And in case you didn't know it yet, Chase Adams is a bad ass. So glad that she is getting her own series... well deserved.
Enough house keeping. To the chapter already!
“What do you mean my luggage isn’t here?” Chase demanded, feeling the effects of the long travel day already. That, mixed with the early wakeup time and the poor quality of what little sleep she had, was taking its toll on her, and she fought hard to keep her cool. The man behind the counter, a creature with fish eyes and thin lips that stretched nearly all the way across his face, appeared to pick up on these cues and leaned away from the counter. She got the impression that the glass partition that separated them wasn’t just for show. “Ma’am, for some reason your luggage was held behind.” Chase felt her blood pressure rise. “But my—” she leaned in close, “—my service revolver was in there!” The man’s eyes narrowed, and Chase produced her FBI badge that Agent Stitts had sent her. Fish eyes blinked, seemed to extend toward the FBI seal, then retracted. “Agent Adams, I’m not sure what to tell you, but your stuff isn’t here. Pistol included. I’ll make a note on your file stating that you are a government employee and hopefully…” Chase drowned this banter out. She knew how it ended. And yet, what little she heard touched a nerve. Government employee? What am I? Some sort of aide to a local congressman? She closed her eyes and breathed deeply. “Is it there?” she said, cutting the man off mid-sentence. “Excuse me?” Chase opened her eyes. “My stuff. Can you confirm that it’s in Seattle? So for, you’ve only told me that it isn’t here, in Anchorage. Did it leave New York?” The man turned to his computer and pecked at the keyboard with two index fingers. What seemed like hours later, he looked up. “Nope,” he said simply. Chase scowled. “No, what? No it’s not there or…?” The man’s thin lids slid over protruding eyeballs. “No, I can’t tell you. All I know is that your luggage was not put on the flight to Anchorage. Now, I’m sure your stuff will make it here tomorrow, or the next day.” He spun a piece of paper around and slid it under the partition. “Now, if you’d be so kind as to put down the address of the place you’ll be staying, I’ll make sure they get it to you as soon as possible.” Chase’s frown deepened as she looked over the sheet of paper, which asked for more personal information than an eHarmony profile. Problem was, she had no idea where she was going to be staying. In fact, she really had no idea what the hell she was doing here at all. Alaska, the voice on the phone had said. And that was pretty much it. Aside from bringing her badge and gun, the latter of which had promptly gone missing. Along with all of her clothes and a jacket appropriate for the weather. Chase shook her head and filled out as much of the form as she could, making sure to write out her cell number twice, before handing it back. The man looked it at, then at her. Everything he did seemed to be governed by how many times his giant eyeballs were covered with those translucent membranes. It was as if he needed to ask his eyes permission to breathe. “Your address?” he said at last. “Don’t know where I’ll be staying yet. But my number’s there. Just call me when you get it.” More staring. Chase sucked her teeth, fighting the urge to curse. “Just call me; I need my pistol.” The man frowned, and when he turned to file her paper in a stack of two dozen others, Chase fled the booth before she said or did something that would ultimately end in the man “losing” her luggage form. Her face was warm, her stomach full from the meal to the point of bursting, and she felt dizzy. What a way to make a first impression. She pressed by a middle-aged couple who were searching for their suitcase on the carousel, oddly dressed in Hawaiian shirts, and then she made her way toward the main lobby. A peek at the wall of windows across the terminal drew an instinctive shiver: it was snowing outside, and Chase, always uncomfortable on airplanes, hadn’t even worn a jacket. The only thing she had brought in her carry-on was a small makeup case, her toothbrush, deodorant, a t-shirt, several pairs of underwear, and her hair straightener. The rest had been packed neatly into the suitcase that had subsequently been left behind. Chase shook her head and hurried away from the crowds. Truth be told, she hadn’t a clue where she was going, but fueled by the frustration that this day had offered, she moved with purpose. And a need for a drink. Instead of alcohol, however, she settled for a small coffee cart from which she grabbed a Styrofoam cup full of caustic looking fluid. She was in the process of putting on the lid, which, obviously, felt just a fraction of an inch too small, when a hand gently brushed her shoulder. She jumped, and then slid her hips backwards to avoid the the scalding liquid that cascaded to the floor. Chase lost it. “Jesus Shit!” she said, spinning around. “Why the fuck would—” A man in a dark navy suit with a narrow face and the beginnings of a blond goatee stood before her, shock and fear on his young face. Chase glanced upward at the hat he was sporting—also navy, just a little lighter than the color of his suit—then at his hands. Gripped in white fingers was a wipe board roughly the size of a sheet of paper. Written on it was a single word: ADAMS. “I’m so sorry, ma’am. I just—” Chase’s eyes narrowed. “Why do you have my name on your board?” she snapped. The man looked down at his hands, then turned it around so that the word was the right way up. He did this in a manner that made Chase think that he had forgotten what he had written on it. “A-a-a-adams…” he mumbled to himself. “I thought that m-m-maybe—” “Who are you?” The man broke into a grin, and he held a hand out to her. Chase didn’t shake it. “I asked who you were.” The man’s smile faded. “F-f-f-floyd. Floyd M-M-Montgomery. Are you Chase A-a-adams? I s-s-seen a picture on the n-n-news a while back, s-s-something—” Chase cut him off before he could finish recounting a story she knew all too well. “Yes, I’m Chase Adams. What do you want?” The man looked down again. “I must have m-m-missed you getting off the p-plane. The gates changed at the last m-m-minute, and I hurried, I really d-d-did, but it’s hard to—” “What do you want?” Chase repeated, trying to save him the pain of forcing the words out with his stutter. She saw his Adam’s apple bob and he lowered his eyes before answering. “I’m here to p-pick you up. Agent M-M-Martinez sent me to come g-g-g-get you.”