When I saw today’s theme was Past History, I immediately knew what story I had to feature. The whole basis of Deliberate Deceptions is overcoming the past. Here’s part of Chad’s past. I originally wrote Chad’s backstory in 2008, and this particular scene was written about a year ago. So it’s weird reading this excerpt today, considering the events of this week. I can completely imagine a “where are they now” feature being run…
Controlling the smile at Sam’s perfect imitation of their client, Chad carefully placed the pen so it lined up with his day planner. “Why are you here, Sam?”
“What do you mean?”
“You didn’t come here to discuss Jimbo Williams.” He lined the day planner up at perfect angles to the blotter that was precisely in line with the desk edge. “Or the new office in Seattle. Or how the newbie screwed up last night.” He looked pointedly at Sam. “By the way, I will talk with him about that, not you.”
Sam grimaced and slid the cigar back in his pocket. “A little birdy told me that on Sunday the Post is running a ‘where are they now’ feature and you’re one of their targets.”
His balance tilted as if someone had hit him with a sledgehammer. “Aw fuck, Sam, you know they’ve played that angle before. Hell, the fires were still burning in the Pentagon when that headline hit.”
“Yeah, I know.” Sam had been mentioned often enough but, according to press reports, he’d been following orders like a mindless robot. “I also know of the cases our office was handling back then, none involved any of those terrorists and there’s no way your decision was responsible for the attacks. You know the press. They’ve got to have their story and they’re ready to use any angle they can to boost their sales.”
Chad tilted his head to one side then the other in an effort to loosen the tightening neck muscles. “So we wait it out. It’ll be a headline for the weekend, then some other scandal will erupt and they’ll move on. Face it, Sam, it’s a non-event. I’m old news.”
“Maybe so, but why don’t you take a few days off yourself? Take a vacation. Get out of Washington.”
Chad blinked before he caught himself. “You think I’m going to run out when you and Rosie are due to leave for Hawaii in—” he checked his watch, “—nine hours? Someone has to stay and look after this place.”
“Yeah, about that.” Though Sam didn’t look away, he shifted in his seat as if he were uncomfortable. “We’ve rearranged things. Looks like I’m gonna be around for a while.”
Rosie had been fretting for weeks about finally meeting Sam’s mother but there’s no way in hell she would have cancelled out. So why…shit. Sam wanted to distance Hauberk from Chad’s sullied reputation. After all he’d done to help build up the company until it was one of the biggest on the eastern seaboard?
“You think I’m a detriment to the company.”
“Shee-it, no.” Sam’s hand drifted to his pocket, seeking the cigar again. With a curse, he lowered his hand, his fingers flexing, restless. In other words, yes, but he couldn’t admit it.
“Do you want my resignation? Because if you do, it’ll be on your desk in thirty minutes. You want to buy me out too?”
“No, I don’t want your resignation or to buy you out. You’re half of Hauberk, for fuck’s sake.”
“But you don’t want me around the office for a while, do you? You don’t want our clients reminded of why Hauberk got started. Because of my fuck-up.”
Sam stood and leaned over the desk, planting his fists on either side of the blotter. “I suggested you get away because you’re more than my partner, you’re my friend, damn it. I suggested you get away because I hate to see you hounded by the press, enduring the crap they fling at you. You took the heat for me back then, at least let me take some heat for you now.”
“I deserved the heat. And those reporters?” He flung an arm toward the window. “They were right. If you and Jill had been available for another case, it would have freed up two other agents who might have freed up two other agents somewhere else who might have tumbled onto the 9/11 conspiracy.” He played his trump card. “Maybe Jill would still be alive.”
Sam’s expression went blank, and his voice lowered, a sure warning sign he was approaching meltdown. “That’s a low blow, even for you. Especially for you.”
“But it’s true, isn’t it? I’m the one who sent you two undercover without authorization. If you hadn’t been following my orders, Jill wouldn’t have been killed, and you wouldn’t have ended up flat on your back in hospital with a bullet a half inch from your heart.”
“Maybe Jill would still be alive, but Thalia—your own sister, damn it—would be dead. Butchered.” Sam folded his arms across his chest, a sure sign he was settling in for a fight he didn’t intend to lose. “Who knows how many others Vandeburg would have killed that night? Or gone on to kill another night if I hadn’t taken him out?”
Even hearing that man’s name was like having someone twist a knife in his guts. Goddamn the bastard. How many people—living and dead—had David Vandeburg destroyed? Was he still destroying?
“It was the MPDC’s responsibility to catch him.” He was relieved that his voice stayed level as he recited the mantra his superiors had chanted right before they’d taken his FBI badge and let the door hit his ass on the way out.
“We both know they were only doing drive-bys. They wouldn’t have caught him that way. You think I haven’t gone over your decision a million times? Wondered if maybe those headlines were right? You made a decision to catch a killer when everyone else turned their backs because of who he was killing. Because of you, we stopped a serial killer.”
“The point is I went against orders. I deserve the heat, Sam. Every fucking bit of it.” His voice was flat, betraying none of the rage that roiled in his chest. Thalia might not be dead, but she’d never walk again. He’d failed to protect her despite everything he’d done.
Don’t forget to visit the other participant’s in today’s Snippet Saturday: