Since Paul wasn’t a big conversationalist—he was the anti-Mac, in other words, and today had been the longest she’d ever heard him speak in consecutive sentences—Jena watched the scenery for a while. Then she decided to study the inside of Paul’s truck to see what she could learn about him.Technically, it was exactly like hers and Gentry’s. It had a black exterior with a blue light bar across the top and the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries Enforcement Division logo on the doors.It was tech heavy on the front dash, just like theirs, with LDWF, Terrebonne Parish Sheriff’s Office, and Louisiana State Police Troop C radios, a laptop, a GPS unit, and a weather unit.In her truck and in Gentry’s, the cords and wires were a colorful tangle of plastic and metal, usually with extra plugs dangling around like vines. Paul’s cords were all black, and he had them woven in pairs and tucked underneath the dash, where they neatly disappeared.She leaned over to see how he’d achieved such a thing, and noticed identical zip ties holding them in place.“Sinclair, I hate to ask, but what are you doing?”He sounded more bemused than annoyed, so she said, “I’m psychoanalyzing you based on the interior of your truck.”He almost ran off the road. “Why?”“Your scintillating conversation was putting me to sleep.”His dark brows knit together but he seemed to have no answer to that.She turned around in her seat, as much as the seat belt allowed, and continued her study. Paul had a 12-gauge shotgun and a .223 carbine mounted right behind the driver’s seat, same as in her own truck. The mounts had hidden release buttons so the agents could get the guns out one-handed and quickly.But where her truck had a catch-all supply of stuff, from paper towels to zip ties to evidence bags to fast-food wrappers thrown in the back, Paul’s backseat was empty but for a zippered storage container normal people used for shoes. Each space held different things, all neatly arranged. Jena spotted evidence bags in one. Zip ties in another. Notebooks. Citation books. Paperwork. A spare uniform hung over one window, with a dry-cleaner’s tag dangling from the shirt’s top button.Good Lord. She turned back around.“What did you learn?” Paul finally asked.“You’re an obsessive-compulsive neat freak,” she said. “Accent on freak.
Jackson shrugged off Gentry’s hand. “You want to worry about drugs in your parish, Agent Broussard, why don’t you check my sister’s bag? Or is it okay for your agents to be racing around with guns while they’re buzzing on painkillers? Is it okay for her to work four months after she tried to slit her wrists with a f**king utility knife?”A chill washed across Jena’s shoulders. Who was this person? The brother she’d known her whole life would never try to throw her under the squad car.“We aren’t talking about your sister, who, by the way, is a skilled law-enforcement agent who took two bullets in the line of duty a few months ago, son.” Gentry’s voice was low, but serious. “We’re talking about you, an unemployed twenty four year old who had almost an ounce of an illegal synthetic drug stashed in his bedroom, not to mention what’s probably still in your system. All we’d need is one simple blood test.”Gentry paused. “We’re talking about jail time, Jackson. Do you understand what kind of trouble you could be in?”Time seemed to stretch into slow motion. Jackson turned like an enraged devil, tightened his fingers around Gentry’s throat, and squeezed. He moved so fast that Gentry wasn’t able to get his hands up to protect himself and was left trying to breathe and pry Jacks’s hands off at the same time. Jackson wasn’t nearly as strong as Gentry, so it had to be the drugs. Jena had heard stories of users having almost superhuman strength.She ran toward them, but Adam got there first. He kicked Jacks’s legs out from beneath him and, by the time her brother hit the floor, Meizel was kneeling on his back, one hand pressing his head against the tile. The handcuffs clicked shut with a loud scrape of metal, and Meizel jerked Jacks to his feet. It was over in a matter of seconds.All four of them stood still for a moment. Until Jacks, his chin bleeding from hitting the floor, began spewing more accusations at Jena, laced with a liberal dose of f-bombs. Then life sped up again. Meizel held one of Jacks’s arms while Gentry held the other. The deputy had started his Miranda by the time they’d gotten Jacks out the front door, shoving him toward the patrol car none too gently.
There was something about a guy in a uniform most women found irresistible. Ceelie and Sonia had pondered this peculiar phenomenon over late-night glasses of moscato back in Nashville. They'd decided it had to be the belt and all the equipment that dangled from it when the guys walked, which not only was phallic but probably released extra sex pheromones into the air and turned women into nectar-seeking honeybees.