I counted to ten, but blood still pounded in my ears. I'd been duped.
Before I could chicken my way out of this confrontation, I tossed my camera onto the passenger seat. I grabbed my keys, hopped out, locked the door, and stomped to his building. It's not that I was afraid of confrontations. I got right in the middle of them every time I hunted down a husband. They were usually someone else's mess though.
Palm flat against the blue painted wood, I pushed past the lobby door and walked up two flights of stairs. By the time I reached Danny's floor, my panting matched my heart rate. Fast, uneven, and full of anger.
I glared at the gold painted 3C nailed to his door. I didn't bother to knock but turned the knob.
The door swung fast, slammed against the back wall, and ricocheted toward me. My heels clicked-clacked across the hardwood floors. I stopped in the middle of the room. "Where are you?" I demanded of the empty space. His place was tiny, small enough to fit neatly inside Dakota's bedroom. But, it was tidy by bachelor standards, the bulk of it being taken up by a tan sofa and a wall of photographic equipment.
Danny poked his head out from the kitchen, confusion lighting his face the second he saw me.
He stepped into the room, an empty coffee pot in hand. "James? What are you doing here?"
"I know," I told him, my words coming loud and fast.
He shrugged and tried to look nonchalant, but the corner of his mouth twitched. "You know what?"
"Everything," I bluffed.
"That covers a lot of ground."
"You really want this conversation to go down this way?" I asked him. "After everything we've been through?"
The confusion deepened, though I could see another emotion peeking through. If I had to guess, it looked a lot like guilt. "I don't know what you're talking about, Jamie."
"I'm talking about you screwing a possible murderer. Then screwing me to cover it."
His mouth twitched again. "You're not making any sense."
He was actually going to stand here and try to deny it? Would I need to run downstairs and show him the pictures?
"Why?" I asked. "Just tell me why you did it? Is she really that good in bed?"
His eyes narrowed. "Who are you talking about?"
"Dakota Hall!" I yelled, the name screeching out of me. "I saw her leaving your place, so the denial thing is just a waste of time."
He paused. "So what?"
"So what? So you slept with her!"
Danny blinked at me. "Yeah, I did. I didn't realize I needed your permission."
"Christ, Danny," I said, running a hand through my messy wig. "How could you do this to me?"
"Look," he said, taking a step backward. "I don't know what you're talking about. But whatever it is, you gotta simmer down, Bond." He turned his back on me and headed toward the kitchen.
My heart thumped against my rib cage, his suggestion to "simmer down" only having the opposite effect on me. I leapt forward and grabbed Danny's arm, squeezing his bicep, trying to hold him back.
"I'm not done with you yet," I growled.
His eyes darted to mine. Instead of their usual paleness, they reminded me of the Pacific Ocean during low tide—dark, dangerous.
We both knew I couldn't pin him down, but he must've seen the determination in my face because he tossed the empty coffee pot onto the sofa and wrapped his hand around mine.
His grip crushed my fingers, prying them off one at a time.
I snatched my hand back and slapped his face.
He took a step back, clearly stunned. "What's wrong with you?" he yelled.
"You." I raised my hand and slapped him again, feeling the bubble of hurt and anger welling up in my throat. I hit him again, his arms going up to his face protectively.
"How could you do this to me? Over some dumb bimbo? You'd throw away our entire friendship over some hot little thing."
"Stop!" Danny said, grabbing my right wrist.
But I noticed he didn't deny it, didn't defend himself.
The fingers of my left hand curled into a fist.
"Why would you frame me for murder?"
I punched his bicep.
He grunted and flashed me a look of disbelief, but didn't utter a word. No acknowledgment. No defense. No apology.
"What have I ever done to you?" I asked.
I raised my fist again and aimed for his face. But when I swung, something stopped me.
A large hand engulfed mine, preventing my next attack.
"That's enough," whispered a deep voice.
I knew that voice.
I spun around to find myself face to face with Aiden.
I blinked, trying to register his presence there.
"What are you doing here?" Danny asked, practically growling his words.
But Aiden didn't answer him, just slowly guided my arm down and around my back.
"What are you doing?" I asked, even as the slow realization hit me.
A uniformed police officer stepped into view behind Aiden and snapped a handcuff around my wrist.
Aiden let go and stood in front of me. His right eye was swollen and turning a pale shade of purple where I'd caught him the night before.
He withdrew a sheet of paper from his jacket's breast pocket. It looked like an official document, but I didn't concentrate on it.
Instead I glared from him to Danny, not sure which one I hated more.
The officer tugged my other arm around and tightened the cuffs. Then Aiden uttered the words I dreaded most.
"James Bond, we have a warrant for your arrest in the murder of Judge Thomas Waterston."