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Arresting Aidan – a novella
Hunched over the edge of his bed, last night’s pants and dress shirt dripping from rumpled sheets, Jonathan Bryce reached over to the nightstand and collected the prize he had coveted for so long. Brand new, polished, and full of heft, it forced a minor rush of adrenaline through his veins.
Yes, he was a junky. But this drug was legal. It was, in fact, the best in the world.
He woke up yesterday as just another 27-year-old focused, driven man brimming with confidence. Today he was Special Agent Jonathan Bryce of the F.B.I. He refused to subdue the grin drawing on the edges of his dry lips. If only the kids who teased him in high school could see him now. Tracing a finger along the rim of the gleaming badge and then trailing along his new ID tucked in the protection of a clear pocket cover beside it was almost surreal, as though he were still eighteen and dreaming of this day.
This was not the kind of dream from which he wanted to awaken.
He shimmied back to give his new ID room (this morning, it was a shrine) and ran a hand through his crew cut scalp, pressing the fingers a bit too hard where a hangover nestled against the corners of his eyes. He drew in a splendid, refreshing breath, held it for a moment, closed those brown eyes, and allowed the smile to smother him. Smiles were not often to be found on or around Jon. His parents called him serious. A girlfriend once complained he ‘brooded.’ Today, none of that mattered.
He let a long rush of air escape, tinged with the aroma of stale beer and a desperate need for a toothbrush (along with about a gallon of mouthwash). He licked his lips and teeth and struggled to ignore the morning breath, to no avail.
He was in no hurry to deal with ‘proper’ this morning.
For three years he lived, breathed, and sweated Quantico training. Ranked at the top of his class, he had a target on his back. Sure, they were all on the same team, but that didn’t mean much in the real world, not when you were a brash, confident young man. Bryce grated against other egos, unapologetically embarrassed teachers and classmates when he spotted errors, and made it well known that he saw himself as the best future agent the Academy had. Part of it was for show. Part of it was to create advantage. So long as his classmates were overwhelmed in emotional rage at him, he could press forth to attain the top.
He knew there were ropes to climb, walls to scale, butts to kiss, and promotions to earn. He had little interest in playing politics; he wanted to solve crimes and put bad guys behind bars. He never played to lose; anything short of winning was failure. He knew his place, though. For now, he was one more ant marching along the massive bureaucratic maze that was D.C. and who liked or respected him made no impact in the least.
Bryce was hard on everyone and even harder on himself. He was nothing like the timid kid who graduated high school back in New York less than a decade ago. He was arrogant, confident, physically imposing, and now an official agent of the Federal Bureau of Investigation.
The ultimate law enforcement agency in the world.
He had a lot to live up to. And prove. Much of that was his own doing, an ego that often ran out ahead of him. He’d deal with it. Today he would rest. Today was his chance to sit back and relax for what may truly be the first time in almost ten years. Maybe for the next twenty as well.
Today he would savor the celebration, the after-hours club with his classmates, and the cab ride home. Today he would simply enjoy the victory.
First, he just needed some strong coffee, a cold shower, and a handful of aspirin. Oh, and a chug of mouthwash.
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