As I melted in Casey’s embrace, something dark jumped at my throat. I abruptly shoved him away from me. Before I knew it, I was on my feet, halfway across the office, panting. A shiver chilled my spine with the coldness of sheer terror.
“It’s okay, Cass. Just one unfortunate prompt dive.” Casey said softly. He approached me with his palms up, one step at a time, fully conscious of my trauma and bent on helping out. I drew back. I wouldn’t let him touch me. I couldn’t.
“Talk to me, hon. I caught the feeling but not the content.” He pleaded, unmoving. My voice died in my throat, drowned by tears. The sinking feeling wouldn’t leave me. When I started to cry, Casey edged forward. My instinct drove me back. I peered into his blue eyes desperately searching for something to hold on to, something to push away the darkness.
“Read me.” I said. Casey reached to touch me. I raised a hand to stop him. “Don’t. Just read.” Worry distorting his surfer boy face, he entered my mind and blanched.
“It’s the stress, hon. Dark thoughts are normal. Don’t be afraid. I’m not disappearing any time soon.” The barbed wire around my heart dug a little deeper.
“Leave.” I murmured. He was understandably shocked. “I can’t do this Casey.” Tears dribbled twice as much. “You’re going to hurt me. You’re going to hurt me bad. And I don’t know nearly enough to prevent it without shutting you out.” My voice broke. I dropped to the floor. “It’s killing me.”
I had a hard time breathing through the stream of tears. Casey’s expression cut my heart even deeper. He understood because he read me but the crushing weight of his sorrow overwhelmed reason. He thought we had a shot and the Ocean quashed it.
“Becky will be here in half an hour.” He said from the door. “I’ll prove it wrong, Cass. I’d never hurt you in a thousand years.” He wanted to say more. Instead, he shook his head, his blond hair wobbling in a way that invited fingers to tidy it up. At last, he left.
I sat on the floor for a few long minutes, painstakingly slowing the race of my mind and heart. I grabbed my feelings for Casey and folded them into a box, somewhere in the back of my awareness. I would have to deal with this later. The direst situation was my mom’s. My love life certainly came second to her well-being.
I eyed the map of the Ocean anew. The little color dots sprinkled across the United States suddenly made sense. How could I have failed to see it? I was so obsessed by figuring out the detailed working of the whirlpools I had completely lost the big picture. Every single pushpin on my map was in a big city. At first, I hadn’t paid attention; big cities are always centers of activity. However, this layout also screamed “terrorist to-do list”.
I went over the locations of the blue pins, the ones that were set in time within two weeks from now. I added post-it notes next to the markers to write a few more precisions regarding the place and time. I went around the report two times, double checking my information. Rebecca busted in. My heart didn’t handle it well.
“The World Bank headquarters? Monday? Really?” She asked while I slowed my heartbeat.
“I don’t know if my mom will be there. But something ought to happen.”
I reached for the phone to call Daniel’s cell. He didn’t pick up, which I expected. It was a bit late. I left him a message, asking him to call a meeting with Aaron tomorrow. No one liked a meeting on a Sunday morning but we didn’t have a choice.
“I’ll ring Tweedledum and Tweedledee.” I snickered at Becky’s nickname for our FBI counterparts. Both of them meant to help us but they mostly hindered our progression with misplaced comments and doubts. They didn’t have any information when Becky met with them.
I felt good when I left the office with my partner. A small victory was better than no victory at all. Our actions had a direction now and hopefully, it would lead to my mom.
“Is there any proof?” Aaron questioned. The three readers in the room eyed each other. We hit the infamous “No move without solid proof” wall.
“We have good reasons to believe the whirlpools are linked to the events of this investigation. There has been a threat in my mom’s call and now, we have a potential target.” I explained as calmly as possible.
“You’re basing your call to action on the fact that you can’t know anything about a place at a specific time and you don’t have any proof to back up your claim. It’s called a hunch, Agent Parker, and we don’t evacuate buildings on a psychic hunch.” Tweedledum and Tweedledee nodded in agreement with Aaron’s arguments.
I always hated this law. Psychic predictions were precise and as good as facts. However, only our community recognized their value. For the non-readers, our dives merely pointed an investigation in the right direction.
“At the very least, the premises should be swept.” Daniel harrumphed.
“Now that’s a reasonable demand.” Aaron exclaimed.
Rebecca grunted faintly. If we didn’t find a bomb or something to that effect this afternoon, the building would be full of people come tomorrow. However, since the whirlpool didn’t start before tomorrow, it was very unlikely any proof would be in the building today. Better kiss our advantage good bye.
“I’d like a small team for surveillance tomorrow if nothing is found today.” Aaron looked at me, visibly pondering my request.
“That’s also a reasonable demand.” Daniel commented.
“Fine!” Aaron granted almost against his will. “You four,” he gestured toward the two FBI agents, Becky and me, “will be on point if the building is secure today.” I relaxed a little. “Should nothing come out of this, I want the whirlpools trail to be abandoned and your energies refocused. Clear?”
I had to agree to this. I knew the whirlpools where a part of the puzzle. This was my chance to prove it.