“Good morning to you, too.”
Blinked. Felt like a computer processing unexpected data. “Good morning.”
“That sounded as if you were in pain. Pleasantries can be a challenge, can’t they, Agent Hayden?”
She heard the laughter in his voice. There was a time she could have accepted good-natured ribbing about her stiff demeanor. But there wasn’t anything in this day or the hours ahead that was remotely amusing. “There’s a plaza in the center of the city. See you in thirty minutes.”
“I’ll be there.”
She packed up her backpack, left her room key on her dresser for the maid, and made her way down the elevator. She checked out at the front desk and hurried to her rental car. She loaded her suitcase in the trunk and tossed her backpack in the front passenger seat. Behind the wheel, she started the engine. She paused to again familiarize herself with the knobs and buttons. Satisfied, she drove to the plaza.
She found Mazur leaning against his car. His head was bowed as he checked his phone.
As she approached, he typed a message. He hit “Send” and looked up. “I haven’t eaten breakfast yet this morning. Been busy with a last-minute homework assignment with a teenager who needed a rundown on my side of the family for an American history project. There’s a diner over there.”
“That would be good. I’m hungry.”
“So you’re now eating and perhaps sleeping regularly?”
“Badly on both counts,” she countered.
He pushed away from the car and walked beside her. “Seems to be a hazard of law enforcement.”
“I’ve been terrible at both most of my life.”
“Because of your father’s shooting?” He slid the question in as if it were perfectly natural.
She looked at him. “Most likely. I’m a fairly easy puzzle to figure out.”
He opened the diner door and as she passed said, “Your idea of easy and mine are different.”
A hostess escorted them to a booth in the back. He took the seat that placed his back to the wall and faced the front door. She sat, and a waitress approached and offered coffee to both.
“How’s the hotel?”
She scanned the menu. “Like a million others. Very predictable and different enough that I stubbed my toe on a chair.”
“I can’t imagine being on the move all the time.”
The waitress filled the stoneware mugs and took Kate’s order for a western omelet, while Mazur ordered pancakes. He sipped his coffee and waited until the waitress was out of earshot before asking, “Has Sara Fletcher spoken yet?”
She was oddly touched that he’d remembered. “No.”
“Still on the loose.” She thought about the girl lying in her hospital bed, pale, emaciated. Her eyes had seen things that no human should ever see in a lifetime. Pivoting the conversation back to him, she said, “You seem off.”
He set his cup down carefully. “My ex announced she’s moving to Washington, DC.”
“You haven’t been here long, so I’m assuming she hasn’t either.”
“Another big promotion is in the works. She’s one talented attorney.”
“Is she taking your daughter?”
Absently he tapped his thumb on the table. “She’s going to let our daughter finish out the semester here with me.”