The guys were all supposed to meet at Chris’s ranch the next day just to get together and blow off a little steam. Buck begged off, claiming he’d forgotten about it and had made a date he couldn’t break. Chris was understandably ticked, but Buck was sure he’d get over it soon enough. He was going to do some surveillance at the Gold Star.
Buck was getting aggravated. He’d been sitting in the lobby for two hours and he hadn’t seen hide nor hair of Ez’s friend. He was real tempted to use his badge to make the clerk let him go room to room or something. But he restrained himself. That would be a serious abuse of his authority. Buck smirked. Besides, if Chris found out, he’d beat the crap out of him. Maybe he should just give it up and head on over to the… Hello. What do we have here? Well, it’s about time! Buck had planned to “accidentally” bump into the guy and strike up a conversation if he saw him, but now there was a change in plans. The curly-haired squirt wasn’t alone.
Buck watched as the two walked close together, talking and laughing. Curly’s new friend looked military. Exactly what kind of relationship did they have? They looked a little too friendly. He kept glancing at the two of them on the sly as they headed off into another area of the hotel. Buck ambled after them, trying to look casual. The two men went into a large room set up with chairs and tables. There was a podium and film screen set up at the front of the room.
“Sign here, Sir, and then I’ll check you off as having arrived. Sir?”
Buck turned to see who was talking to him. He hadn’t even noticed that there was an older woman sitting just inside the door with nametags and sign-in sheets.
“Uh…Buck Wilmington, Ma’am.” He picked up the pen and signed in, looking over the names of people who’d signed in before him. Curly and Butch couldn’t have been more than five people ahead of him. Buck quickly memorized the last few names on the list.
“I can’t seem to find your name, Mr. Wilmington. What office or department are you with?”
“Really? I don’t remember any ATF divisions sighing up for the seminar.”
Seminar? Buck looked up to see a huge banner overhead. “3rd Annual Hostage Negotiations Seminar”. That meant the guys he was following had to be involved in law enforcement somehow. He caught sight of the two of them a distance away. The older man had his arm around Curly’s shoulder, laughing. Buck could read body language pretty good. It was a talent that came in handy at work…and with the ladies. Something about the way the two of them stood next to each other and looked at each other… They were more than just friends. What was that little punk trying to pull? He was supposed to be with Ezra!
“I still can’t find your name, Agent Wilmington.”
“Well, Ma’am, there has to be some kind of mix-up. My boss is here, too. Let me just go get him and I’ll be right back to straighten this all out.” Buck left the auditorium and headed back to the lobby. He got a piece of paper and a pen from the front desk and scribbled down the names before he forgot them. Buck was pleased with himself. Now he was gonna find out who those guys were. In fifteen minutes he was at the office running the names through the law-enforcement databases.