“…procedure requires that we follow up every possible avenue.”

It was the smile that did it. Tammy Carson took one look at the practiced smile that did not reach his eyes and knew that Agent Larkin was not a man to trust. “Of course I understand,” she replied, flashing Larkin an exact duplicate of his own smile. “How can I help?”

FBI agent Larkin's visit was not a surprise. Tammy had been expecting a visit of some kind from the federal authorities ever since the explosion that had taken the life of Mike Corbin. What the ex-hooker had not expected was that the Bureau's representative would be someone so patently untrustworthy.

“You were… friends with Mike Corbin.” Agent Larkin wandered about the room examining items before replacing them with a careless disregard. He picked up the stack of mail Tammy had just retrieved from the mailbox and began to flip through them. Tammy could just see his lips move as he read the return address of each envelope.

“Did Corbin mention anything about his life being in danger?” Larkin finally ceased his wandering and dragged a chair to a spot just in front of Tammy's chair. They sat so closely that Tammy could feel Larkin's trousers brush against her knee. “Did he think maybe he was on somebody's hit list as a result of his son's illegal business operations?”

The rapid-fire questions confirmed Tammy's suspicions. Larkin was not really interested in uncovering the details of Mike's death. No, the agent's visit was all about Sonny and his mob organization. “Mike Corbin was a great guy,” Tammy said. She did not shrink from Larkin's close proximity. “But he had a bit of a problem with gambling. Maybe he owed somebody some money.”

Tammy felt awful saying such things about a man who had been her dear friend. Still, she believed that Mike would understand and approve of her tactics. If throwing a little dirt on his reputation would steer the federal authorities away from Sonny, then Tammy had no doubts Mike would be all for it.

Agent Larkin stared at Tammy for several seconds. As easily as she had read the federal agent, so did he understand Tammy. The former hooker had seen and done far too much in her lifetime to be easily manipulated or intimidated by anything Larkin might say and do. If there were any answers to be gotten about Mike Corbin's mobster son, it would not be gotten here.

“Well,” Larkin reluctantly acknowledged their stalemate, “thank you for your help. I am sure we will speak again.”

“I will be here.” Tammy responded without hesitation to his subtle threat. “I am not going anywhere.”


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