Now available exclusively fromÂ Amazon via Kindle Worlds:
After spending a holiday weekend in New York with Piz, Veronica gets an unexpected surprise back at Quantico: the FBI actually hands her a case! A New Agent Trainee needs to hire a PI to track down his wifeâ€™s cyberstalker.
Already at odds with her past, Veronica is reluctant to take the case. Even her supervisor, Agent Long, warns her against it. But how can she turn down someone whoâ€™s devoting his life to keep America secure?
As usual, she canâ€™t work on Bureau time or use their resources. Which is even more challenging than usual, because she and the other interns are going on a two-day field trip to FBI Headquarters itself.
Read the First Chapter
THE THIRD week of my summer internship with the FBI was short (thanks to the long holiday weekend), but no less amazing. As you know, the three-hour train ride to New York on Friday night had been full of unexpected surprises.
Thankfully, my time in the Big Apple with Piz was reasonably uneventful. Comparatively speaking, of course.
Since Dad and I had done most of the usual stuff last summer, Piz was determined to show me a different side of Manhattan. Meaning, the non-touristy parts. As much as he could, anyway. I mean, heâ€™d only been there for two weeks himself. Wasnâ€™t quite ready to call himself a local just yet.
Basically, the plan was to just avoid everything north of 34th Street (miracles notwithstanding). So, we pretty much just wandered around lower Manhattan, exploring both the local culture and pop culture landmarks.
On Saturday, we started our little walkabout by strolling across the Williamsburg Bridge (beginning in Brooklyn, of course) and back into Manhattan. Then we explored the Lower East Side, the Village, Little Italy, and Chinatown.
First stop was St. Markâ€™s place and a pair of brownstones that were on the album cover for Physical Graffiti. I donâ€™t think I have to tell you that all of the music-related sites were his, and the crime-related sites were mine. But this was really our only stop for Piz. Since he was there for the summer, he wanted to make the weekend â€œall about me.â€
Heâ€™s sweet that way. Either that, or he was making a very subtle point, since I hadnâ€™t exactly been as accommodating on his first weekend to Stafford-slash-DC.
He scored extra-major points when he took me over to lunch at this little bistro on Spring Street in SoHo. The meal was so-so, but the real highlight was afterwards when the owner led us down into the basement. Piz had called ahead to arrange it (these days itâ€™s a clothing store and anyone can go down there).
Went past the restrooms and through an old hallway. Iâ€™m talking really old. Like from the 1700s old. We finally stopped at a stone doorway with a big, wooden door.
Thatâ€™s when we reached the Manhattan Murder Well, scene of the first documented murder case in America. The well is made of big stones, is about seven feet high, five feet wide, and is filled in at the top (so, technically, no longer a well). It definitely looked like it had been there since the Colonial days.
Hereâ€™s the scoop: In 1799, a young woman named Gulielma Sands was supposedly keeping time with a guy named Levi Weeks. They both lived in the same boarding house. On the night of December 22, she left so that they could (allegedly) elope. Almost two weeks later, her body was found in the well, apparently strangled.
Of course, everybody thought Weeks did it (even today, most accounts make him sound guilty as hell). Word got around that sheâ€™d been knocked up and he didnâ€™t want to marry her. Some things never change.
Lucky for Weeks, he knew some people that knew some people. He went to trial on March 1, 1800, with his very own Dream Team: Henry Brockholst Livingston, who (I presume) youâ€™ve probably never heard of, but later became a Supreme Court Justice. The others might sound a little more familiar: Alexander Hamilton and Aaron Burr. Thatâ€™s right, people. Two of our Founding Fathers. And a few years before they got pissed at each other and rowed over to New Jersey. Everything is legal in New Jersey.
You guessed it, kids. They managed to get Weeks off. But since everyone thought he was guilty, he had to skip town anyway. Weeks eventually settled down in Mississippi where he got married, had four kids, and apparently had a pretty good, trouble-free life.
The Dream Team had pointed out that Miss Sands wasnâ€™t all that innocent, and may have actually been keeping time with the landlord. They also threw some shade (and I mean that literally, too, by holding a candelabra up to his face) at another guy, Richard Croucher, whoâ€™d been going around telling everyone that Weeks was guilty. Jealous much? Three months later, Croucher was convicted of raping a 13-year-old girl at the same boarding house.
Coincidence? I think not.
Afterwards, Piz â€œtook me down to Chinatown,â€ which can actually feel like stepping into a foreign country. All of the signs are in Chinese and thereâ€™s street vendors from one end of the block to the other. They sell everything under the sun on outdoor carts, from dragon beards (Chinese candy), to all sorts of fruits and vegetables Iâ€™ve never even heard of. And tons of fish and live shrimp. Iâ€™ll admit, itâ€™s a little on the aromatic side, especially in the summer heat.
Top of my list in Chinatown (this is where you can really see our differences) was to check out the â€œBloody Angle.â€ Itâ€™s a block-long section of Doyers Street thatâ€™s curved, hence the name. That and because of all the Tong battles that broke out from 1900 through the 1930s. But I swear it looks just like something on a Hollywood backlot.
Not far from there is Mott Street, which used to be Little Italy. On one side of the street is the Meitz Building, which subbed for Genco Olive Oil in The Godfather. Directly across the street is where the Don was gunned down trying to buy some oranges. Forget it, Vito. Now itâ€™s Chinatown.
We also passed by Petrosino Square, which is named for Lt. Joseph Petrosino. He headed up the Italian Squad, the first division to go after The Black Hand (forerunner of the Mafia). Petrosino was assassinated in Sicily in 1909 when he went back to get criminal records on all the mobsters that had come over. Obviously, no internet back in those days.
Touring Manhattan with me is such a joy.
Found a little Italian place on the Lower East Side that had been there for over 100 years. Used to make their own hooch in the cellar and there was an actual mob hit there in 1922. My kind of place, I tell you. When I went to the bathroom, had to check for a gun behind the toilet.
Final stop on Saturday night was the top of the Empire State Building. Thank goodness they stay open until 2:00am. That was romantic as hell. What can I say? Deep down below this smart-ass exterior, Iâ€™m a girly romantic at heart. And I sure as hell wasnâ€™t about to do that last summer with Dad.
Sunday we went by Ground Zero, which at that time was still a giant construction site. Both the Freedom Tower (aka One World Trade Center) and the Memorial were just being built. It would be a few more years before Piz and I would go back and see it after it was finished.
We actually went by the Federal Building, too. Thereâ€™s a very nice plaza in the back with trees and marble shapes for sitting that I totally missed Friday night in the dark. I was tempted to jaunt up to the 23rd floor and say hello to Special Agent Raphael Dominguez.
Very tempted. Ahem.
Of course, I never heard from Nicole all weekend. And she wasnâ€™t on the train ride back Monday night. Didnâ€™t know if she went back early or what. Or if she met up with her rapper boyfriend. Or assaulted him. Honestly, the possibilities were endless, and I figured Iâ€™d find out eventually.
Was pretty relieved to see her Monday night back at the hotel. Turns out she actually did take the family jet back. When Daddy found out about her little impromptu trip, he wasnâ€™t about to make her take the train again with us plebes. Not even first class.
Beyond that, I didnâ€™t get many more details about what had happened the rest of the weekend. Other than she and her boyfriend were definitely broken up. And that she may, or may not have, given Agent Dominguez her phone number. Itâ€™s all good was the only thing sheâ€™d tell me. But just how good, I had no idea.
Tried texting Melanie all weekend, too. But no luck there, either. Even tried calling her once, until I remembered that her phone only accepted incoming calls from her parents. So, then it was back to her ignoring my texts.
The guilt had nagged at me all weekend. I hoped she at least had a good time visiting with her parents. Though I realize weâ€™re talking about two way different things here.
So, I went straight to her room as soon as I got back to the hotel late Monday night. Either she was out late herself (shades of Polina), or she just wasnâ€™t answering the door. Considering that Melanieâ€™s parents would definitely not approve of her being out on a school night, I assumed the latter.
Since weâ€™d barely known each other for more than two weeks, I had no idea how long this girl could carry a grudge. But I had a pretty good feeling I was about to find out.
On a happier note, I finally got an email from Wallace Sunday night. Getting to Uganda was no easy feat. Last Iâ€™d heard from him, he was in London (lucky bastard) for a few days before taking three flights, a train, and a nine hour bus ride to his final destination. Bathroom breaks were whenever the driver needed to stop and pee on the side of the road. Which was when he advised everyone else to do the same.
Wallace was with a group of British and American students. Mostly British, since Uganda is a former British colony. Iâ€™d be lying if I said I wasnâ€™t worried about his safety. I just knew Iâ€™d be glad when the summer was over and he was safely back home in the good old US of A.
FINALLYÂ saw Melanie Tuesday morning in home room. Knew she couldnâ€™t avoid me there. Extra points for trying, though. She didnâ€™t show up until like two minutes before, which must have killed her. And then she even sat in the back, close to the door. Which also must have killed her. I could tell she was fighting every ounce of her inner Hermione.
Tried to chat with her, or at least get her attention, but came up empty-handed on that front, too. Really batting a thousand here, Veronica.
Then she left just as soon as home room was over. She actually rushed off to go meet with Agent Robinson. Thatâ€™s how bad it was.
Would have gone after her (or at least made a valiant effort), but Long said he needed to speak with me after class. I think we all know what that was about.
You guessed it: another long discussion on trusting my fellow agents, following protocol, and listening to my superiors. Only this time it was just with Long, and thankfully didnâ€™t include Robinson. Or Mueller.
Baby steps, I guess.