Prologue

"Veronica?"

She closed her eyes, willing away her tears. Now was not the time to cry. She could cry later.

"Veronica, please. I know this is hard-"

"Yes," her voice creaked, betraying her. She wasn't fooled by them. You can talk to us. We're the good guys. We're here to help you. Hell, she had been one of them.

We know what you're going through. We understand.

They had no idea.

She knew they were studying her, searching her face for any tells, examining her body language. She had learned all the tricks. But not at the academy. By then it was old hat. No, her father taught her everything she knew.

She felt the burn of bile rise in the back of her throat. Her father.

"Veronica-"

"Don't. Just…don't."

"You have to understand-"

"I hate you for this."

The act got to be too much for her and she felt her will slipping. It took all of her strength to not scream, cry, sob. She wanted to throw something, hit something, hurt something. She leaned forward in her chair, resting her elbows on her knees as she covered her face with her hands. You can do this. You have to. He needs you.

"Veronica, if you could just go over everything that happened this morning, do your best to give us a timeline, be as specific as possible, it will help Keith."

"I already-"

"I know, I know. I'm sorry. You know how it works though. We need you to talk to us now."

She took a deep, fortifying breath. She could do this. She had to. He needed her.

"I woke up around 6:30, to make breakfast."

"Good morning, starshine!"

She paused, her head still down, and moved her hands to the back of her neck.

"Were you the only one up?"

"No."

"What'll it be? Anything you want today."

"Cake?"

"Except cake."

"He was so excited," she continued, smiling wistfully. "I'm not even sure if he actually slept."

"And Logan? Was he awake?"

She nodded. "He always got up with him. It was like an internal alarm clock." Past tense? She froze, horrified by her words. "He always gets up with him," she added quickly.

"If you get started on breakfast, I'll take care of his lunch."

"No cake for lunch either!"

"You're such a killjoy."

"Logan was excited, too. For him. It's like, whatever mood he's in, it's contagious, you know?"

Edwards's returning smile was tight. She remembered Logan's smile earlier. They came so easy now.

Present tense?

But that was all before the panic, the blood, the handcuffs.

The sob wretched from her body before she was even aware of her tears. Edwards caught her hands, curled into hard fists, and pulled her arms to his chest. "Hey now, I know. You don't have to try so hard to be strong right now. It won't hurt him if you cry. It doesn't mean he's not going to come back."

She was so tired. Physically. Mentally. But she couldn't be. Not now. Not when everything was on the line.

She pulled back from Edwards, one of the kinder FBI agents she had ever encountered, and nodded. She could do this. She had to. He needed her.

"We'll find your son, Veronica."

She looked up at him, meeting his black eyes for the first time. "I'll find him," she said, and the fire was back, burning within her. "I'll find him. And I'll find the person who really did this. I'll find them, and I'll make them pay."