Reese cringed, hitching a shoulder up in a vain attempt at protecting his hearing as another bone rattling screech tore through the night. Meg Whitman looked up at him with eyes so wide the whites were showing all the way around. How such a tiny person could make such a loud noise was beyond him. He had stopped trying to calm her down several minutes ago.
“It’s just mice, they won’t hurt you.”
Of course, it didn’t help. She started crying again. Huge, racking sobs that shook every bone in her tiny frame. He rattled the dead flashlight he was carrying in frustration, annoyed he had left the smaller backup in the car. Two is one and one is none. Basic Army math.
Sighing, he tugged Meg along the corridor, navigating her around debris by the scant moonlight and trying to avoid anything that might set her off again. He was anxious to find Carter and dump the woman on someone else. His part in this number was finished.
Finally reaching the exit he had to spend another several minutes convincing Meg that he wasn’t going to off her or take her back to her husband. Convinced she wasn’t even listening to his assurances, he gave up and pulled her out the open door. She was small enough he could practically carry her in his pocket so he just ignored her resistance.
A car had pulled in through the front gates and stopped in the turn around. Squinting into the headlights, he saw Carters distinctive silhouette exit the vehicle. Thank the Lord. Pointing, he drew Meg’s attention.
“There, see? The police.”
Meg pulled her arm free from Reese’s grasp and ran for Carter. Carter hesitated for a second but seeing Reese following at a sedate pace she shrugged it off.
And was completely unprepared by the diminutive tornado that hit her. Reese smiled at the flabbergasted look on Carters face as Meg tried to burrow into her side, babbling so quickly that only every third word made was understandable.
“What took you so long?”
“I have a job, you know. And Finch said it wasn’t an emergency.”
“It became one.”
Glancing down at Meg, shivering like a scared rabbit and still incoherent, Carter could see how Reese would have been out of his element. Prying the woman off of her Carter set her directly in front of her and slapped her lightly on the cheeks several times to get her attention.
“Ms. Whitman, I’m a police officer. You need to calm down – you’re not making any sense. Do you understand me?”
Sucking in a bracing breathe Mrs. Whitman nodded.
After only a couple of minutes of continued contact and firm but gentle commands, Meg had settled into relieved compliance, exhausted from her hysterical outbursts. Reese was annoyed: he’d tried all of that. Well, except for the slapping.
“There, see? Not so bad. One of those tough guys that can’t handle a crying woman, eh?”
Reese shrugged, completely at ease now that Carter was handling Mrs. Whitman.
“She was hysterical John, why didn’t you just slap her or something?”
Eying the tiny woman cowering next to Carter Reese shuddered at the thought.
“She’s so small.”
Carter rolled her eyes.
“You wouldn’t have broken her. Geez.”
“Her husband hit her. I thought – “
He swallowed and moved his gaze above Carters head, uncomfortable with his embarrassingly emotional response but unable to articulate his hesitation any further. Carters gaze softened as understanding dawned.
“Yeah, I get it. No worries, I’ll take her back to the station.”
“Is he coming with us?”
Carter looked down at Mrs. Whitman, calm now, but still anxious and fearful.
“No, Mrs. Whitman. John works undercover – he can’t come back to the station with us. And we’ll have to leave him out of the report, okay?”
“He’s a police officer?!”
Carter hesitated, uneasy at telling an outright lie.
“Something like that.”
“Oh! Oh, that’s better than! I wasn’t sure who he was working for.”
MS. Whitman looked over at Reese with a lot more appreciation.
“Oh, thank you, officer!”
And with that she flung herself at Reese, face to his sternum, wrapped both arms around him and squeezed for all she was worth.
Reese grimaced and patted the woman on the back. He tried to pry her gently off but she was determined.
“Carter – little help here?”
But she was too busy laughing hysterically.
Reese gave up and let her hug him. Would this night never end?!