She didn't move and in a voice laced with confession said, "I might be taking another assignment."
"It's why I've come back."
Logan studied her. "I'm surprised you're even giving it consideration. I thought you'd told Kate to turn down all incoming requests."
"You already know what I think," he said. If he was upset, he hid it well. "If you decide to take it, I'll be there to back you up."
She smiled, reached for his hand, and in his palm placed the medallion.
"It was perfect," she said. "Thanks."
He nodded and with a half grin said, "I'll add it to the collection."
He put his arm around her shoulders. "Come on, let's go."
They exited the office and living area through the back door that opened to the warehouse and workshop, and halfway to the end of the building they stopped. Munroe reached into a set of stacked plastic drawers, retrieving a backpack and a few personal items while Logan let down a ramp and rolled the Ducati from its storage space.
The bike was sleek black-on-black, a thing of pure beauty, and Munroe smiled as she ran her fingers over the custom race fairings. "I've taken good care of her," Logan said. "Took her out for a spin last week just to make sure everything's tweaked and peaked."
If it were possible to love a machine, Munroe loved this one. It symbolized power, life broken into split-second intervals, calculated risk. Few things were capable of providing the same adrenaline rush that the horses between her legs delivered as they tore down the roads at over 150 miles an hour. The rush had become a form of self-medicating, a narcotic sweeter than drugs or alcohol, just as addictive and equally destructive.
Three years prior she'd totaled the bike's predecessor. Shattered bones and a head injury had kept her in a hospital for several months, and when released she'd taken a taxi direct from the hospital to the dealership to pick up a new machine.
Munroe straddled the bike, sighed, and turned the ignition. She felt the surge of adrenaline and smiled. This was home: running along a razor's edge of self-induced terror, calculating mortality against probability.
Assignments were the reprieve. When she was abroad, although she would do whatever was necessary to get the job done, there was a degree of normalcy, sanity, purpose, and the destructive forces propelling her to gamble with her life were dormant.
Munroe nodded a helmeted good-bye to Logan and, with the screaming whine of the engine, shot forward. Returning home was an eventuality, but if she planned to stay alive, perhaps not all that smart.
It was early evening when she returned to the hotel. She had spent the day at the spa, had been soaked and wrapped, peeled and painted; they had given her back her dignity and femininity, and she had loved every moment.
She now wore clothes that hugged her body, accentuating long legs and model height. Hers was an androgynous figure - boyish, sleek, and angular - and she walked through the lobby with a sensual stride, subtly provocative, fully aware of the surreptitious glances coming from the mostly male guests.
...When I would comfort myself against sorrow, my heart is faint...
The attention amused her, and she took her time.
...I hurt; I am black; astonishment has taken hold...
Now, on her eighth trip back to the United States, each return more of the same and with anxiety continuing to crest wave upon wave, it was time to find a distraction. A challenge. A game.
He was in Room 319. But first there was business to attend to. Munroe glanced at the clock. Breeden would already be waiting.
Six years ago Kate Breeden had a thriving law practice in downtown Austin and was married, with a daughter in junior high, an eight-hundred-thousand-dollar home, three luxury cars, and yearly trips to faraway places. Then came the messy divorce.
Excerpted from The Informationist by Taylor Stevens. Copyright © 2011 by Taylor Stevens. Excerpted by permission of Crown. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Blood at the Root
"A gripping, timely, and important examination of American racism."
- PW Starred Review
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