Still The One (Family Stone #4 Jack)(2)

By: Lisa Hughey

Fernandez had shined a spotlight on the inequities in treatment of crimes against the poor and in the process made a name for himself politically. Since that horrible tragedy—none of the girls were ever found—he had worked tirelessly to make things better and earned a reputation as a vocal champion of the poor. He’d parlayed that original protest into an eight year career culminating in his nomination for Deputy Secretary of Labor.

Congress seemed poised to approve his appointment without much fuss. The guy had almost unheard of bi-partisan support.

“So do you need intel for your trip?”

“No." Jack’s frown got deeper. Bliss’s agency was handling the intel. “That part is taken care of.”

Jack stared off into the distance. Fuck him, he really didn’t want to see her again. He rubbed a hand over his mouth and shook his head. He needed to get back to Con.

“Muscle?” Con asked with bemusement.

Another smile quirked Jack’s mouth. “Pretty sure of yourself, aren’t you?”

Con shrugged.

“It’s a Stone Consulting job,” Jack clarified. “Classified.”

Recently new evidence had been uncovered that indicated José Fernandez may have actually had a hand in the abduction of the girls and what happened to them.

They had found one living survivor. She’d been imprisoned in a house not even ten miles from where she’d been abducted eight years ago. Somehow, she’d escaped and gotten from rural California farm country to Washington DC. But Jack was sketchy on the details regarding how she got from one end of the country to the other.

Adams-Larsen International and Associates, Bliss’s agency, had given Maria Torres new papers, a new place to live, and money to hide until authorities could gather additional evidence and Fernandez could be revealed as a corrupt fake and guilty man before the Senate voted on his confirmation. However, law enforcement needed all their ducks in a row before they went after Fernandez. And the execution of revealing the details had to be handled carefully. So the plan had been to keep her sequestered and safe until the time was right. Only Maria had taken her new documents, all the money, and disappeared. Again.

They had one week to find her before the confirmation hearing.

Right now all they had was Maria’s deposition testimony, and the depositions of the people who’d helped hide her once she escaped. Only a handful of people knew that Maria Torres was alive and her accusation that José Fernandez had been behind her abduction and imprisonment.

But without Maria, they were dead in the water. No body, no person, no proof. Jack wondered what the hell she’d been thinking when she ran.

Had Fernandez somehow gotten wind that not only had she escaped but that she’d told someone about her ordeal? As far as they knew, she was the only person who could identify Fernandez as being involved in the eight-year-old case.

They needed to find her before Fernandez did.

While Jack and Bliss were looking for Maria, Jack would have Con working another angle. Jack wanted Connor to dig into Fernandez’s background. “I really need your help on a separate job.” Jack stared out the reflective glass window, the view of the Monterey Bay obscured by lingering morning fog. Wisps of clouds drifted lazily in the gray sky. He loved being back home. Loved living near the ocean again. Loved that he was making a go of the company with his siblings.

When Connor just waited patiently, Jack finally said, “You can get so quiet it’s freaky. How are we even related?”

And shit, as soon as it came out of his mouth he realized his mistake. Con stiffened but didn’t say a word. Hopefully his faith Connor’s computer abilities would make up for Jack putting his foot in his mouth again.

“Can you run an intensive background check on José Fernandez?”

“Sure.” Connor said, “Am I looking for anything specific?”

“I don’t know.” Jack rubbed his finger along his scarred eyebrow. If there was something there, any other hint of Fernandez’s complicity in the old crime or even a newer one, Con would find it. They could use whatever Con could dig up in case they couldn’t find Maria before the confirmation hearing.

The scandal was going to be crazy.

“I need anything and everything you can find on the guy. There’s got to be something there, even if no one has found it yet. I don’t want to influence your search, so I’m keeping it vague.”

Jack had given him a puzzle and he knew Con’s interest was piqued. “You got it. Anything else?”

It was extremely important that they didn’t tip Fernandez off. “Don’t tell anyone what you’re working on.”

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