John Carrio is assigned to guard a spoiled celebrity. He has to protect what's in her head
I glanced at my watch and noted my blind date was now over twenty minutes late. I spent thirty credits on this drink. Seemed like a waste of time and money. I decided to finish it and then head out.
A young woman approached me at my little table on the edge of the mezzanine. She held out a nut. I almost forgot it was nut and bolt night at Club Xenon. All the women got a nut and all the men got a bolt when they entered the club. Now we’re expected to wander around and find those that go together. I fished my bolt out of my pants pocket. Surprisingly, her nut fit my bolt.
“Do you want to dance?” she shouted over the din of the club.
I shook my head. “Would you like a drink?” I called back to her.
The young lady shrugged and waved at me as she walked away.
Tossing the bolt on the table in front of me, I looked out over the edge of the mezzanine at the sea of bodies. Most of these people were running the rat race that was life in a corporation. This was a small diversion from their real lives. Unfortunately, I had a problem with some of the diversions of these worker bees. From my perch, I spotted a girl pickpocketing her dance partner. I noted there was a drug dealer in the alcove by the front door and one at the end of the bar. It was easy to pick out the guys and girls who were prostitutes.
That’s when I spotted Remi Shadix. I almost mistook her for a pro, but in her own way she is. I never could understand how a person could be famous for being famous. Remi was the daughter of a high ranking CEO. Her father was on the AppleGates Union governing board. Due to his position people were constantly trying to get close to Remi. I suppose she was smart. She started charging for her time. Places like Club Xenon paid her to be seen here. She also does commercials, as well as has her own streaming vid. I’ve tried watching it, I couldn’t take more than ten minutes of the show. Remi has furthered a lot of careers simply by being around whoever wants to be the hot topic of the hour.
I guess Remi’s looks also help her. Tonight she was sporting platinum straight hair that hung down to her mid back. No girl’s boobs are that big and perky, they must be fake. She does have a nice butt though.
A man kept trying to get near Remi to dance with her, but she was quick to move away. This is the third time I’ve seen him move in close to her. Some people just can’t take a hint. Looks like this time he said something to her. Whatever he said stopped her groove. Now she’s heading for the back door and the man followed her.
It’s against my better judgment to get involved, but there was something that really bugged me about Remi’s stalker. I threw back the last of my thirty credit drink and headed downstairs. Bumping and grinding my way through the ocean of dancers, I found my way to the back door.
Outside, the cool night air hit me in the face waking me up from an unnoticed haze. I can still feel the thumping bass in the ground under my feet. This must be where the workers bring in the bar supplies and equipment. There are a couple of box vans backed up to the building.
“Let go of me!” came the shout of Remi’s voice from in front of the first van.
I rounded the front of the van just in time to see the stalker back hand Remi and she crumpled to the ground. His hand held a black cord in the night air. Instinctively, I grabbed the man’s wrist from behind, yanking his arm down into my raised knee. His elbow bent to absorb the blow. I hopped backwards and threw my foot forward into his chest. The stalker grabbed and trapped my foot. This man has had combat training. Just as he started to tug on my foot, I leapt off my grounded foot and swung it across his face. We both landed on the concrete.
Jumping up and spinning around I readied for his attack. The stalker was slow to get up holding his jaw. The side of his face was red and swelling. He still had the knife in his hand. I had to disarm him.
“What the hell is going on!” I glanced over my shoulder at the back door. A beefy bouncer was standing in the doorway.
“Call Security!” I yelled at him. I turned my attention back to the attacker. I should have never taken my eye off of him, but I got lucky. He decided it was best to run.
I dropped to one knee next to Remi. Placing my hand on her shoulder I asked, “Are you alright?”
With defiance Remi looked up at me like I was an idiot. “No, I’m not alright,” she pulled herself up off the ground and snarled at me. “That guy hit me in the face! Do you know how much my face is worth?”
She was alright, I thought as I stood up.
Two Security Officer patrol cars screeched to a halt in front of us. All four Security Officers jumped out pointing their guns at me, “Back away from Ms. Shadix!” they ordered.
I stepped back and rolled my eyes placing my hands on my head as two of the officers ran over. One kept his gun trained on me, while the other started slapping handcuffs on my wrists.
Remi got in the face of the officer cuffing me. “You idiot! He saved me from the attacker,” Still holding the side of her face. “And, why haven’t you called an ambulance for me?”
The next morning, I pounded back mug after mug of coffee to stay awake at my desk. The Security Officers kept me tied up at the scene of the attack for several hours while they verified Remi’s story and checked my credentials as a broker. My badge and ID should have been enough for them. I think they were going the extra mile because they were taking care of her highness, Remi Shadix. I cannot believe they took her to the hospital for a slap across the face.
Mr. Coleman, my boss parked his butt on the side of my desk with his arms folded across his chest. “I hear you had a small adventure last night, with a celebrity.” he had a slight smirk on his lips.
I grunted and propped my head on my hand. The Security Officer report must have been sent up the chain of command, I wondered how high it went. “Did they tell you how I wasn’t the attacker and I fought him off?”
“Oh better than that,” Coleman slid off my desk. “Come with me.”
I took my mug in hand, groaning as I pulled myself out of my chair, and followed him through the maze of cubicles. I didn’t pay attention as he led me into the conference room, but I came to a sudden stop when I saw the officials in the room.
Around the table was the Seattle Security Officer Commandant, my CEO of the Brokerage, and their assistants. Most notably among the group was Mr. Shadix and his daughter Remi and of course their assistants.
I became very self-conscious of the way I looked. Of all the times I was not put together, it had to be in front of the big wigs. I chose a seat, when my CEO waved to a chair. Setting my coffee cup down, I adjusted my tie and sat up right at attention.
CEO Shadix took a deep breath and leaned forward on the table, with a commanding voice demanded, “Is this the man who saved my daughter last night?”
Mr. Coleman, who stayed standing behind me answered. “Yes, he is,” as an afterthought he added, “Please forgive his appearance. It was a late night for him when Security finally let him go.”
The Commandant took issue with the comment as he adjusted in his seat.
“Besides my daughter,” started Mr. Shadix. “You are the only witness of the assailant. What can you tell me about him?”
I flashed back to the moment I faced the attacker and froze the scene in my mind. “It was dark, so it was hard to make out many details, but he was a little taller than 2 meters. Caucasian. Athletic build. Well groomed. Short dark hair. And, he was a professional.”
“How could you tell he was a professional?” asked the Commandant.
“The way he fought me. He had combat training,” Something was not right about my assessment of the stalker. “But…”
“But, what?” came the question from my CEO, Mr. Jackson.
“Well, it doesn’t make sense,” unease grew while I tried to think about the attacker’s actions. “If he was a pro, why was he using a black cord? Professionals like simple, clean, and done kills. Trying to choke her with a cord is messy and takes time.”
Mr. Jackson turned to Mr. Shadix. “I have to believe the validity of my broker.”
Mr. Shadix nodded slightly as he kept his eyes locked on me. “He’ll do,” the man raised to his feet and walked out with his assistant close behind.
Once Mr. Shadix was out the door, Mr. Jackson spoke. “Commandant Cruz, can I count on you to post Security at the Shadix home and double the details at the Shadix offices?”
“I’ll take care of it.” replied Commandant Cruz.
Jackson’s well-built frame swiveled around toward me. “As for you Mr. Carrio, you’ll be assigned as Ms. Shadix personal bodyguard, until further notice.”
I felt like I had just been demoted. Brokers were assassins and spies, not bodyguards. There had to be something more going on. Remi was notorious for not having bodyguards. She said they cramped her style. This was not the first time she had had stalkers. Why the sudden demand for a bodyguard and increased security?
“Yes, sir,” I reluctantly accepted the order. “Sir, may I ask what the circumstances are?”
Mr. Jackson contemplated me for a moment.
I added, “I only ask because the information will help with guarding Ms. Shadix.”
Still studying me, my CEO explained. “This isn’t the first time Ms. Shadix has heard from this stalker, but last night was the first he made a move on her. There are a couple of different working theories. The first is, this is simply a highly motivated stalker. The second is, this attempt on Ms. Shadix is a means of getting to her father. Finally, it is possible that she said or did something to upset someone with money and power,” Mr. Jackson raised and adjusted his suit coat. “I’ll let Ms. Shadix and her assistant show you the presents she has received from the stalker.”
Once Mr. Jackson and his assistant left the room I was left facing Remi. This was the first I had looked at her. She presented herself as a lady sitting upright, legs crossed, and hands in her lap. Yet, the wavy long bright red hair and smirk on her face told me she was going to be a handful.
Standing on Remi’s doorstep with a suitcase in each hand and dressed in a fresh suit, I took in the surroundings. This was Remi’s own home. Even though her father was incredibly rich, she had her own money, from all the reality shows and appearances she made.
There was a gate and a fence around the property, but the gate had been left open and there was no sign of the Security Officers who had been assigned to Shadix’s home. The driveway up to the front door curved around and back out to the street. There was nothing blocking the house from the driveway. It was a three story house. Trees lined the front of the house, which were good for privacy, but made it easy for someone to climb up to one of the windows.
The door flung open by Shadix’s assistant. Looking a bit frazzled she demanded, “What do you want?”
“I’m John Carrio. Ms. Shadix’s new bodyguard.”
“Oh,” the assistant relaxed her composure. She was cute with her long brown hair hanging down around her shoulders. Her eyes were a light brown with a hardened fire behind them. “I’m Alia Dennison. Remi’s assistant,” She put her hand out to me as she clutched her tablet to her chest. “It’s nice to meet you.”
I accepted her firm handshake and walked into the large open foyer. My eyes followed the stairs around up to the second floor. “Where are the Security Officers that were supposed to be posted here?” I asked.
Alia’s shoulders slumped and she looked down at her feet. “Remi has one of them cleaning her car. The other two were sent into town for some food.”
“Where’s Ms. Shadix?”
Alia puffed up her resolve and pointed the way up the stairs. “In her room.”
Following Alia up the stairs, I carefully planned each word I would say to Ms. Shadix. I had to be firm and demand the Security Officers be returned to their posts, at the same time, be careful not to piss her off so that she would have me thrown out.
Alia led me down the hallway and into a large plush bedroom. I had never seen a bedroom so large before. To compound my disbelief, the assistant led me through the enormous room into a second room that was not quite as large as the bedroom, but was still bigger than my bedroom. The room was lined with shelves of shoes and rows of clothing.
Standing in the middle of the room was Remi Shadix. Kneeling at her feet was an older man who was tugging on the sports blazer she was wearing. At the sight of me, Ms. Shadix smiled and her blazer turned a warm yellow color. “Hello, John. I’m glad to see you.”
“Thank you, Ms. Shadix,” I decided to dive right in. “I’m sorry, but I must demand that you return the Security Officers to their posts. They’re not your personal servants.”
The sports coat shifted into a deep blue, but Remi maintained her smile. “The requests I made of the Officers were very important or I wouldn’t have asked.”
I folded my arms across my chest, “Grocery shopping and cleaning your car aren’t as important as your life.”
Shadix shot her assistant a look and her coat deepened into a dark red. “Very well. Alia have the Security return to their posts and find someone to finish the duties I asked of them.”
Alia bowed and disappeared out of the room.
Remi’s blazer took on a bright blue as she looked down at my suitcase. “Are you moving in?”
“I’ll be staying here during my detail.”
Remi sighed. “I suppose we can make room for you. There’s always the old servant’s room. I’ll have Alia show you to the quarters when she returns,” Remi pointed to the shelf of shoes to her right. “Now be a dear and hand me those ostrich knee high boots there.”
I picked up my two suitcases. “I’m not here to be your servant either.” I turned on my heels and marched out of the closet.
Settling in wasn’t much of a chore. The supposed servant’s quarters were practically a broom closet with a cot. One suitcase held my clothing, which I left on my cot. The other had all my weaponry and equipment. Going through the second suitcase, I strapped a small hand gun to my ankle and holstered my main weapon under my left arm. Two knives were tucked in on the back of my waist. I thought about using my stunner, but against a professional it would not slow him down. I needed to put this guy down and quick when he next attacked. Finally, I put in my ear piece and tuned it to the Security Officers’ channel. As promised, the three guards returned to their posts.
I turned at the sound of someone approaching the doorway behind me. Alia stopped at the entrance to my closet bedroom. She was still clutching her tablet across her chest.
“Are you settling in alright, Mr. Carrio?” she asked.
“There isn’t much to settle into here. And, call me John.”
“OK, John. I’m sorry about the room,” Alia looked down. “On the bright side if you need anything, I’m right next door.”
I nodded my thanks and Alia walked away.
After giving myself a quick tour of the house, I met back up with Ms. Shadix and Alia in the main living room. They were going over Remi’s schedule. I stood nearby patiently waiting for them to finish their business. Studying the room, I noticed cameras posted discreetly among the fixtures and artwork.
“So, John what do you plan to do while you mooch off me?” asked Remi.
I snapped my attention back around. “These cameras around the room, what are they for?”
“They are for Ms. Shadix’s on line stream,” Alia informed me.
“Are they throughout the house and grounds?”
“Good, at some point soon I’d like you to introduce me to the camera operators. In the mean time, I would like to see the presents my CEO mentioned at the meeting this morning.”
The two ladies led me to a guest room towards the back of the house. I felt disgruntled that I was in a broom closet while there was at least this guest room that was not being used. Once in the room, a quick scan revealed there were no cameras. At least there is a part of Remi’s life she keeps private.
Spread out on the floor were letters, pictures, and various dolls. Upon closer inspection the dolls were the likeness of Remi. Even the torn clothes were her style. These were toys from Shadix’s product line. Tiny messages were scribbled on the bodies of the dolls explaining what the stalker wanted to do to Remi. One doll was in perfect condition with no writing except the back of the head had been cut out.
The letters talked about how the person had always been a fan and dreamt of being with Remi. From there the letters became more aggressive and perverted. I noticed a running theme in the letters about wanting to get into Remi’s head. Quite literally, by the choice of the wording.
The pictures were typical shots of Shadix at different functions and clips from her streaming video show. I noticed some of the pictures were taken from over her shoulder. This guy got close to her several times. The last picture was the back of her head. Scrolled across it in red was ‘How do you know this is your brain?’ I looked back at the letters and found the same question in one of the last letters.
“This guy has a thing for your head.” I stood and turned to Remi and Alia.
“My father thinks I’m crazy, but I believe his threats about my head are literal.” Remi said.
“Why do you think that?” I asked.
Remi turned her back to me and pulled her hair over her shoulder revealing a terminal port in the base of her neck.
Alia stepped between us. “What you’re about to be shown is top secret. I’m sure you have the clearance for such things, but this cannot be reported back to your superiors.”
“Alright,” I said. “What’s with the port?”
Remi turned back around to me. “This is the culmination of my father’s work. I was diagnosed with aggressive multiple sclerosis about two years ago. Do you know what that is?”
“Yes. It attacks the brain causing dead spots.”
“Close enough,” Remi rolled her eyes at me. “The MS had quickly taken my ability to walk and was affecting my autonomous bodily functions. I was dying.”
To this day, it amazes me as to how little we’ve done to wipe out diseases. My father once said it was because it wasn’t profitable. I guess Mr. Shadix just needed the right motivation to do something.
“The cybernetic implants in my brain have been programmed to relay the signals to move my appendages and to control my heart and lung autonomous functions.” Shadix explained.
Again Alia stepped in between us. “The applications go beyond just a cure for MS. Almost any brain damage can be bypassed with this technology.”
“There’s more,” Remi added “It also allows me access to the Web and any computer system. I can download and store data depending on the storage hardware I have.”
I flashed back again to Remi’s attacker last night. The chord was not to strangle her. It was to download the cyber ware data.
Alia was right that this needed to be kept top secret. This kind of tech would be a broker’s dream, being able to hack a system with your thoughts. You could download and smuggle any information easily.
I shook myself loose from my thoughts. “Why does your father think you’re crazy about the stalker wanting this technology?”
Remi crossed her arms and shifted her weight to one foot. “My father thinks his security is impenetrable.”
“Yeah, that’s a load of crap,” I stated. “Nothing is impenetrable. Any one of his workers could easily sell this information to the highest bidder. I think you’re right. This guy is a broker from another corporation and is acting like a stalker to cover it up.” I thought for a minute. There really was no other way. “I’m sorry Ms. Shadix, but I should report this to my supervisor. They could track down the leak in your father’s department and that would lead us to the corporation that bought the information.”
“Absolutely not!” Remi shifted her weight towards me with fists balled up. “Your CEO would immediately perverse my father’s work by sticking it in every broker’s head.”
I stood fast against her outburst with a relaxed stance, but inside I relented. I cautiously spoke. “The only other way we’re going to catch this guy is to use you as bait.”
“Fine. That’s why I have you.”
I sat at a table next to Shadix’s party at the restaurant Mystique. Alia sat with me, while a couple of Remi’s girlfriends gaggled with the reality star during their meal. Alia quietly munched on a Chicken Caesar Salad. I simply sipped at some green tea.
At first, I was against any public appearances, but as I sat pondering what the stalker’s intentions were I began to think being around lots of other people would be the best idea. I was assuming that the stalker was a broker from another corporation, which meant he had a plan. This broker had to take into account that bodyguards would be posted to Remi. He must be confident that he could overcome any protection. He must be on a time table, eventually he would get desperate.
Even though we were in public surrounded by the rich and famous in this restaurant, I could not relax. If this broker was truly playing the role of a stalker, he could be somewhere close. The unfortunate thing was I never got a good enough look at his face that night. He could be any of the no name waiters or staff that were running through the restaurant pleasing the money and power.
“You look nervous, John.” Alia said after wiping her mouth.
I sighed trying to relax a little. “I’m just trying to keep an eye on what’s going on in the restaurant.”
“You could still enjoy yourself a little.”
I took in the restaurant again. People outside the windows were taking pictures and trying to get attention from their favorite star. The rich and famous were mingling through the large room trying to glad-hand one another. “I prefer quieter places. How about you?” I said still concentrating on the surroundings of the restaurant.
“Oh…” Alia paused to think. “It would be nice to go out and not have so much noise and attention, but to soak in all the action and attention is so thrilling!”
Ms. Shadix was up and moving from her table with her girlfriends in tow. The next stop was back to club Xenon. Remi was contracted for one more appearance.
Remi’s limousine was waiting out front of the restaurant when we walked outside. I relieved the driver from holding the door for Ms. Shadix and her friends. Everyone climbed into the back, including Alia. Remi stopped next to me. Stroking my tie she said, “Now promise you’ll be a good boy.”
I gave her a slight grin. “Just as long as you do as we agreed.”
At the club, I settled Remi and her girlfriends into the VIP lounge on the mezzanine. They were happy to be able to watch over the edge as the sea of bodies gyrated and bounced to the beat of the music.
Remi obediently stayed in the lounge while her two girlfriends came and went with drinks and dancing partners. I stood at the entrance to the lounge only allowing those who could be identified with a scan from my tablet. There were some disgruntle comments from the girlfriends when I wouldn’t allow the men they brought back from the dance floor.
One of the guys who had a neck the size of my thigh tried to intimidate me by putting his heavy muscular arm around my shoulders and speaking into my ear, “Why don’t you be a good little bodyguard and get us some drinks. I’ll make sure the girls are taken care of.”
With a quick thrust of my knuckles into the meathead’s armpit, he jerked backwards. I stepped sideways into his knee collapsing him to the ground. Swinging around with my other foot I connected with his steroid diffused genitals. The man collapsed to all fours. Kneeling down I grabbed him by his hair and raised his head so I could speak into his ear. “How about you go walk it off while I stay here and do my job.”
Standing, I nodded to the crumpled man’s friend, who helped him up. The two walked away holding onto one another.
Turning to take my place back at the entrance to the lounge I noticed the stunned expressions of the girls, except for Remi. She sat back on the couch with her arms wrapped around her chest displaying a look of pride at what I had done, but Shadix didn’t look right. Her posture was more slouched. Not the squared confident shoulders of someone with status.
I approached and knelt down in front of Ms. Shadix. I placed my hand near her mouth. Her breathing was shallow. I clutched her wrist. Her pulse was weak. Touching Remi’s forehead and cheeks I could feel her rising temperature.
I tapped my ear piece. “Emergency! Bring the limo around to the front, now!”
Scooping up Ms. Shadix I looked over at her friends. “You’ll have to find your own way home.”
Alia met me at the door and we all piled into the back of the car. I called out to the driver. “Get us back to Ms. Shadix home.”
“What’s happened?” asked a frightened Alia.
“I think Ms. Shadix’s been poisoned,” I replied. “Get her doctor on the phone and tell him to meet us at the house.”
“Why don’t we take her to the hospital?” a frantic Alia asked.
“It’s still public with lots of people around. Have her doctor meet us at the house.”
At the gate to Remi’s house I found all three Security Officers. “Two of you go back to the house and search the grounds on the way.” I barked.
The car sped up the driveway. At the entrance to the house I carried Ms. Shadix, while Alia opened the door.
The onslaught was sudden and quick. The attacker slammed into Alia who flew into me. I was rammed into the wall. I could hear my shoulder crack the plaster. I dropped Ms. Shadix and turned to the attacker, but I was too slow. A lightning bolt arched from the blackness of the room and I dropped.
I awoke to Alia sobbing over Remi’s body. Drunkenly, I scrambled to my knees and crawled over to Ms. Shadix. I could not see any wounds. I felt her neck for a pulse, which was weak, but still there. “She’ll be OK. There’s no wounds and she’s alive,” as my hand dropped I felt the cord that was still attached to the back of Remi’s neck. The attacker had the information for Remi’s cyber ware.
Tapping my earpiece, I called out. “Security, report.”
Only silence returned to me.
I got up and tried to run a straight line out the front door, but what I managed a semi drunk jog. Being stunned is rough on the body. The signals from the brain tend to be scrambled. I was impressed I was able to move this well. At least it was not a permanent condition.
I made my way down the grass along the driveway. I stumbled into two of the Security Officers, laying on the grass. Both of them had the signature scorch marks on their chests from a stunner. Continuing on, I slowly approached the guard shack at the gate.
I crouched down in the shadows on the grass, next to some bushes. Lying on the ground in the doorway to the shack was the third Security Officer. I pulled my gun from the holster under my arm and stood up. I held my gun out in front of me, trying to concentrate on my target. I could see the attacker sitting at the desk.
The attacker spun around in the chair with the stunner held out in front of him. I reacted putting three holes in his chest. He slumped sideways and fell out of the chair. I walked up and found an external drive hooked up to the computer console. The holographic display showed 46% of two terabytes had been uploaded. Quickly, I yanked out the connection to the external drive.
I’m not very good at computer hacking, but I do know enough to be able to trace internet activity. The data left the AppleGates Union. It came from the Ford Corporation. No, wait. It was bounced through one of their servers. There. It originated from the Koch Conglomerate. But, where? The display flashing red with a black skull and crossbones in the center. The holographic display disappeared.
Sighing, I dropped my chin to my chest. Red pooled around my shoes. I looked over at the body of the attacker and the Security Officer. Their blood mingled on the ground.
A car pulled up to the gate. I pointed my gun at the driver, who flung her hands in the air.
“I’m Doctor Bergen,” she called as she got out of her car. “I was called. I was told Ms. Shadix needs a doctor,” Dr. Bergen dropped her hands and looked at the ground. “What the hell happened here?”
Shadix was poisoned. A Security Officer was killed. The data on Remi’s brain cyber ware was compromised and sent to competing corporation. My only lead lay dead at my feet. What a mess.
Sitting on the floor in front of my bookshelves, I pulled a couple of books and disks out of the floor safe under the bottom bookshelf. I turned a disk over in my hands. I thought about the copy of Remi Shadix’s cyber ware for her brain that was burnt into the disk. I had no idea what I could ever use this information for. It seemed I was putting together quite the trophies from my different missions.
My mind drifted back to shooting the stalker. I could see the holes explode in his chest as I pulled the trigger each time. Thinking about it made me realize how easy killing had become for me. I don’t think of wounding enemies anymore.
A chime sounded through my apartment. I quickly dumped everything back into the safe and slammed the door closed, pushed the shelf down, and set the sailing ship back in its place on the shelf.
I jogged to the door to check the monitor. Standing outside the front door to the building was Alia. I pushed the button to allow her in. I waited for her anxiously at the door. When she knocked, I opened the door just a bit too enthusiastically. I quickly composed myself. “Hi. How’re you doing?” I asked as I motioned her in.
“Please have a seat,” I offered. “Would you like some tea?”
“How about a soda?” she asked.
After grabbing two sodas from the fridge I handed one to her and sat down in my father’s recliner. “So, how is Ms. Shadix doing?”
“She’s fine. The poison she was given was only to make her sick. It’s passed through her system,” as an afterthought she added, “A scan was done of her cyber ware. There was no evidence of a virus.”
“How about you?” Alia asked.
“I’m fine. Officially, they said there was nothing more I could’ve done and the attacker was a notorious freelancer. He’s been wanted for a long time,” I paused wondering if I should tell Alia the rest. “Unofficially, my abilities and trustworthiness have been called into question. It may be a long time before they let me back out into the field.”
We both took sips of our sodas. Alia placed her can on the glass coffee table and looked up at me doe eyed. “Sounds like you’re going to have a lot of time on your hands.”
I subtly nodded. “Yeah,” I took another sip of my soda and decided to push my luck. “Alia, would you like to get some dinner? Nothing spectacular. Just nice and quiet.”
Alia smiled at me. “I was hoping you’d ask.”
Appox: 5800 words