Love Irresistibly(7)

By: Julie James



And the more practical, cynical side of him said that even unreasonable people knew not to get on the bad side of the U.S. Attorney’s and FBI offices.

Cade pushed through the glass door etched with Sterling Restaurants’ name, and stepped into the office. It was a sophisticated space, modern and airy with cream marble floors and lots of natural light streaming in through the floor-to-ceiling windows. In front of him, a receptionist sat behind a frosted-glass desk, waiting expectantly. Presumably, the lobby guard had alerted her that they were on their way up.

“You must be Cade Morgan.” Her gaze shifted as Agents Huxley and Roberts followed him into the office. “And there’s the plus two.” She picked up the telephone on her desk. “I’ll let Ms. Parker know you’re here.”

Cade nodded. “Thank you.”

The three men headed over to the waiting area, where Huxley and Vaughn took seats in adjacent cream leather chairs. Cade remained standing, hands tucked casually in his pants pockets.

Catching

sight of a row of framed photographs on the wall, he moved closer and saw that they were interior shots of Sterling’s eight restaurants.

His eyes skimmed over the photographs until he found the one taken at Sogna, Sterling’s flagship five-star restaurant located in the very building in which Cade stood, just one floor below the company’s offices. Assuming all went according to plan, it was at that restaurant that he would get the last of the evidence he needed to nail a dirty politician’s ass to the wall.

Last winter, the FBI had received a tip that Illinois State Senator Alec Sanderson had been accepting bribes in exchange for political favors.

Given the politically sensitive nature of the allegations, the FBI had brought the matter to the U.S. Attorney’s Office, and Cade had been assigned as lead prosecutor.



During a five-month investigation, Cade and the FBI had determined that the informant had indeed been correct. They’d gathered evidence that Senator Sanderson had accepted over six hundred thousand dollars in bribes, which he’d hidden via a shell company, in exchange for a virtual buffet of corrupt services: sponsoring or supporting legislation that would benefit various businesses, directing state monies to advance the interests of certain lobbyists, and lobbying other state senators and officials.

Cade was all set to bring the case to the grand jury—as soon as he and the FBI locked down one final piece of the investigation.

Via the wiretap the FBI had placed on Sanderson’s phones, they’d learned that the senator had been in discussions with Charles Torino, CEO of Parkpoint Hospital on the west side of the city, who was

extremely concerned that Parkpoint was on a short list of medical facilities that potentially were about to be closed by the state. During their discussions, Torino had suggested that the senator find a

possible alternative to the hospital’s closure, something that could “mutually benefit” them both.

Then, last night, the FBI had intercepted another call between Torino and Sanderson, during which Torino had offered to take the senator to dinner on Sunday at Sogna restaurant to discuss the details of their “potential arrangement” in person.

Cade had a feeling he knew exactly what “potential arrangement” the senator and hospital CEO

were going to discuss during that dinner. And he wanted in on that conversation.

One person—Brooke Parker—could help him with that.

Vaughn got up and moved to Cade’s side to examine the interior photograph of Sogna. “Nice restaurant. A place like that is going to have security cameras.” He kept his voice low so the receptionist didn’t overhear them.

Cade was in synch with the agent’s line of thought.

“It’d be great if we could get the meeting on video.” Even the smoothest-talking politicians couldn’t talk their way out of a conviction when they’d

been caught accepting bribes on camera.

Vaughn thought about that. “Depends on where the cameras are. We’ll have to ask the GC.”

“Assuming she ever shows up.” Cade checked his watch and saw that Brooke Parker had kept them waiting for ten minutes. Fortunately for her, he’d planned to lay on the nice-guy routine real thick; otherwise he’d tell Vaughn to start flashing his FBI badge to get things moving.



Just then, he heard Vaughn speak under his breath.

“Oh, man . . . if we’re doing good cop/bad cop as part of this, I so want to be the good cop this time.”

Hearing his friend’s appreciative tone, Cade turned around and got his first look at Brooke Parker.

Hmm.

Wearing a slim-cut gray skirt, cream silk shirt, and knockout black heels, she strode confidently past the reception desk. Her hair, which she wore in a sophisticated knot, was the color of deep, burnished gold, and her stunning light green eyes were fixed directly on Cade as she walked toward him.

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