“He has a gun,” Victor reveals. “As long as he stays out of her range, he’ll be fine. Besides, she’s not here to kill anyone. This ‘game’ she’s playing is very important to her. She has gone out of her way to get this far.”
Victor does make a valid point.
“Do you think she knows the room is bugged?” I ask.
“I don’t know,” Victor answers, “but I have a feeling it doesn’t matter to her either way.”
“Victor,” Dorian says, “if anything happens to Tessa—”
“Let’s cross that bridge when we get to it, Flynn,” Victor cuts in. “One thing at a time.”
We walk alongside and behind Victor down the hall and away from the room, making our way to the elevator and into the surveillance room. Three giant flat screen TV’s are lined perfectly across the wall, surrounded by video and audio equipment set underneath it atop two massive desks and two other tables to the right and left. The screens are already alive with the scene from the interrogation room. The television in the center displays one giant image, situated on Nora and Woodard, zoomed in enough to almost count the moles and freckles on Woodard’s neck. The two televisions on the left and right of this one have four different screens within them, all showing different angles of the room.
Their voices stream from the speakers almost as audibly as if we were sitting in a small theatre, watching a movie.
We sit down in rolling desk chairs and listen, catching the beginning of their conversation barely in time.
“…oh, I know that your full name is James Carl Woodard,” Nora says smartly, folding her hands together on the table in front of her. “Born in Boston, Massachusetts on August 3, 1955 at 12:02 a.m. to Anthony and Beatty Woodard.”
Woodard can barely sit still in his chair; his right foot dressed in a wide black loafer constantly bounces up and down against the floor rapidly. His breathing is unsteady and his shirt is drenched in sweat, as well as his forehead that he continuously wipes away onto his hand, transferring it to his pants legs afterwards.
“Yes,” he says, “that’s correct. H-How do you know anything about me? Because, lady, I don’t know you. I-I mean, I can’t imagine who you could be at all really. B-But I-I, well, I’ll try to figure it out if you want. Just don’t hurt my daughters.”
She smiles softly, pityingly even, and then shakes her head.
“Your daughters,” Nora says as if bringing up a point. “What would you do for your daughters?”
“A-Anything…I-I mean I can’t give you information on this Order…b-because I don’t know much of anything—.”
With a smile, Nora looks at Woodard in a knowing, sidelong manner.
“Oh, come on now, James,” she says, “I had hoped you weren’t really as stupid as you look. Don’t you think I’m far beyond knowing you are the information go-to guy in this Order; at least one of them, anyway; the one that sits at the table right along with the leader and his best men”—her eyes look right into a hidden camera—“and woman,” she adds with a smirk.
“OK, she definitely knows about the room being bugged,” I say, though it really didn’t need to be said at this point.
“But we’re not here for that,” Nora goes on, looking at Woodard again. “You’re going to tell me about your family.”
“W-What about them?” he stutters; he always stutters when he’s nervous. “Wada’ya want to know?”
“I want to know about your children.”
Woodard looks confused.
She helps further him along.
“Look at me James,” she says leaning on the table and looking back at him under hooded eyes. “I’m not going to spell anything out for you. It’s your job to tell me your secret on your own.”
“But I don’t—”
“Oh, yes you do know,” she says and leans back again. “A man like you who isn’t as stupid as he looks—I bet there’s a lot about you that we don’t know. Isn’t there?”
He says nothing.
“I’ve been watching you for a long time,” she goes on. “I know where you live with your wife and two daughters. I know about the houses you frequent, leaving them alone…unprotected—”
“I leave to protect them,” Woodard cuts in defensively. “I love my family. I’d never deliberately put them in harm’s way.” The stuttering has subsided now that he’s getting angry.
“Of course you do,” Nora taunts him, “that’s why your daughters are no telling where, right now, tied to chairs”—she brings her hands up, the chains jangling, and then looks down at herself—“a lot like this one, in fact. But let’s skip ahead a little. About those daughters of yours and that secret you’re keeping.”
I’m not liking at all where this feels like it’s going.
Victor and I exchange a look.
“I-I don’t know what you’re t-talking about.”
“I think you do.”
My stomach is twisting in knots listening to this. If he says what I think he’s going to say—
“OK, I’ll tell you,” Woodard says and lowers his eyes.
By now, me, Victor, Dorian and Niklas are all hanging on his confession, probably all thinking the same thing.
“I-I have six other daughters,” he says, “with four other women. I-I’ve been cheating on my wife for fifteen years. I-Is t-that what you wanted to know?”
Nora smiles with satisfaction.
The four of us just sit here in a sort of shock, but I think equally relieved he wasn’t about to confess something more unforgivable. James Woodard may be a bumbling heart attack on two legs, but we’ve all grown quite fond of him.
“Shit, did he just say he has eight daughters with five different women?” Dorian says, astonished.
“I think he did,” Niklas answers with humor in his voice. “Who woulda thought he gets more pussy than you, Flynn?”
Dorian sneers and shakes his head, looking back at the screen.
Nora makes eye contact with the hidden camera again.
“See how easy that was?” she says. “Actually, that was a lot easier than I thought it’d be.” She interlaces her fingers on the table. “Now, Mr. Woodard, that wasn’t so hard, was it? Doesn’t the truth feel liberating?” She nibbles on her bottom lip and cocks her head to one side with a shrug. “Of course, it would be much more liberating if you told your wife, but you’re too much of a coward for that, aren’t you?”