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I Am Not Jealous

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The subway, in the morning.

 

Finch, staring at Root in an odd way: “Miss Groves, we have a new number.”

Root, a bit puzzled: “Okay, Harry, but why are you staring at me like that?”

Finch, uncomfortably: “Well, this woman looks exactly like you, that’s why.”

Root, Shaw and Reese, contemporarily: “What?”

Finch: “Yes, meet Esther Litt, mother of two, CEO and owner of a small but successful company operating in the food sector.”

Shaw, looking at the computer screen, which showed three photos of the number and some basic information: “Holy crap, you two would be indistinguishable, Root; she is also 5’ 8’’, just like you, and only some days older than you, and the other measurements are equivalent too! And she is in the food industry, what’s not to like about this woman?”

Reese, smirking: “You know exactly Root’s measurements, right Shaw?”

Shaw, angrily: “Don’t be an asshole, Reese, knowing each other in our line of work can be helpful … “

Reese: “Yes, above all the length of the legs, the shape of the ass … “

Root, beaming: “Don’t forget the nimbleness of the fingers and the softness of the tongue, John … “

Reese, not so widely smirking now: “Yeah, that too.”

Finch, highly uncomfortable: “Please, Mr. Reese, I am negatively surprised that you bring up such gross matters.”

Reese, more seriously now: “Sorry, Harold. Have you detected the threat?”

Finch: “A woman in her position can have a lot of enemies, but it’s interesting that she got divorced six months ago, and not in a friendly way.”

Shaw: “Okay, so her former husband is probably the threat; I’ll tail him.”

Finch: “I am afraid, Miss Shaw, that it could be useless. He withdrew 200,000 $ from his bank account three days ago, cash, so my guess is that he paid a killer for hire, and will probably fabricate an alibi for himself.”

Root: “So, we must see if he has some engagement which could allow him to create this alibi.”

Finch: “Yes, I already did; this evening he is attending to a meeting at the BRA, and he asked to give a speech.”

Reese: “BRA standing for … “

Finch: “Bible Readers Association. Which is remarkable, considering that he never goes to church.”

Shaw: “When are they supposed to meet?”

Finch: “at eight p.m., and these meetings usually last no less than two hours.”

Root: “Okay, presumably the killer will hit in that time slot. Do we know where Esther will be this evening?”

Finch: “I’ll let you listen to a phone call. The one with Root’s voice is Esther, the other one is Donna Paulsen, secretary of Louis Litt, lawyer.”

Shaw: “Litt? Is he … ?”

Finch, starting the recording: “Esther’s brother, yes.”

Donna: “Hallo, Esther, it’s me, Donna.”

Esther: “Hi, Donna, I hope you are not calling to cancel our dinner … “

Donna, sighing: “Not exactly, but Louis won’t come; he’s busy with an important client … he is so sorry.”

Esther: “That sucks, you know, so what do we do?”

Donna: “He said we go anyway, only me and you, and he pays. Is that good for you?”

Esther:”Mmh, that can work, but only if you tell me some funny story about him as a lawyer.”

Donna: “Yes, but you tell me something funny about his time as a child?”

Esther: “Deal! So, seven o’clock, Del Posto.”

Donna: “I’ll be there, bye!” Click

Finch: “Okay, Del Posto is a restaurant about two miles from here, and ten minutes’ ride from Ms Litt’s place. The first hour of their dinner should be uneventful, but after eight p.m. the killer could go into action at any moment.”

Root, reflexively: “I was thinking … I could take Esther’s place at the restaurant.”

Shaw, mockingly: “Please, you don’t even really eat … that Donna chick would realize immediately you aren’t her!”

Root, turning to Finch: “Do Esther and Donna know each other?”

Finch: “Barely. They have met a couple of times in the corridor of Louis’ firm, according to the Machine.”

Root: “So, I could easily take her place; John can focus on the killer, and I stay in the spotlight.”

Shaw: “I don’t like when you play bait.”

Root: “Sweetie, John will protect me and Donna, but you know I can fend for myself.”

Finch: “I am inclined to agree with Miss Groves. It’s much better to have a victim that can bite back.”

Root: “Oh, Harry, how do you know that I bite? Have you maybe seen the marks I have left on Sameen’s ass?”

Shaw, growling: “Stop this, you moronic woman, and let’s devise a plan.”

 

The doorbell rang, and Esther went to open the door. A short, vaguely exotic woman was there, staring at her in awe, then flashing a badge. “Agent Sameen Jackson, FBI; may I?”

Esther, mildly worried: “Of course, come in … what’s happening? Nothing bad, I hope.”

Shaw, sitting on the couch: “You could say that! Your ex-hubby is trying to kill you.”

Esther, scared: “What? Is this a joke?”

Finch, reproachfully: “Was that necessary, Miss Shaw?”

Shaw, shrugging: “The sooner she knows, the better, boss.”

Esther, confused: “Whom are you speaking to?”

Shaw: “Ah … my supervisor, Mr … Nightingale. We are here to protect you, so no need to worry, okay? Your ex hired a hitman, but we don’t know his face, so you have to keep calm and let us do our work. And, we have information that your children are at your mother’s place at present, is this right?”

Esther, recuperating a bit: “Yes, they will sleep there. Okay … listen, in an hour I have an appointment; should I cancel it?”

Shaw: “Not at all, but you won’t go.”

Esther, frowning: “I don’t understand.”

Shaw: “Simple, a colleague of mine, Agent King, will take your place; she is armed and good with a gun, and you are not, so ...”

Esther, shaking her head: “No, it cannot work, the person I am supposed to meet knows me … “

Shaw: “Yes, but she doesn’t know you very well, right? You met only a few times … “

Esther: “Yes, but enough to make myself recognizable.”

Shaw: “Well, you know, Agent King happens to look like you. Not approximately, but exactly like you.”

Esther, skeptical: “That’s hard to believe … “

Shaw: “She’s outside, can you let her come in?”

Esther, mildly curious: “Of course, why not?” And she turned to the door, where a woman was entering.