Chapter 7: Deliverance – part 9
An almost deja vu washed over Addison as she entered the brightly lit foyer of Daniel’s quarters. A few months ago she’d all but lived there. Now, with her baby boy asleep in his sling, the elegant decor felt austere, and the beginning of an old poem echoed in her mind: “‘Will you walk into my parlor?’ said the Spider to the Fly.”
Her lips formed a mirthless half-smile. Addison knew about the Faraday cage built into the walls of Daniel’s quarters. It made sense. A man of his importance needed protection from the Homo superiors who could teleport. Never before had Daniel’s protection felt like the Spider’s parlor.
“Addison,” Daniel called from the entryway to living room. “So glad you could come.” His smile was perfectly appropriate, as was his tailored but casual shirt and trousers. The occasion was two parts social call, one part business. She knew that’s what he wanted her to believe.
Addison volleyed the smile back. “Thank you for the invitation.” Daniel stepped back, ushering her into the softer atmosphere of the living room. Hand-painted murals of Mediterranean vistas made the room feel spacious. Thick carpet muffled her footfalls. Addison was surprised that she hardly missed the luxurious surroundings at all.
Daniel strode over to the bar. “Can I get you something?”
Daniel’s gaze shifted to the baby sling. “Of course. Please, have a seat.”
Addison settled on to the loveseat as Daniel poured their drinks. Again she wondered the cause for this summons. He’d asked her not to bring Ashlynn, but hadn’t mentioned Jacob. Although Daniel’s quarters no longer felt like a second home, Addison didn’t feel that she was putting her son in harm’s way. And if she were, God help anyone who tried to hurt him.
Daniel returned with Addison’s iced tea and scotch for himself. He sat on the side of the sofa nearest Addison, well outside of her personal space. He wants something, Addison supposed, suppressing a shiver from the cold glass in her free hand.
“How are you and Jacob? I hardly see you these days.”
“We’re well, thank you.” She brushed her mind against Daniel’s, but got nothing. Not surprising; she’d taught him how to shield himself. With practice even non-psionics could block surface scans. He couldn’t keep her out, and they both knew it. But it was bad form to rummage around your superior’s head, so Addison went with the direct approach. “Daniel, why am I here?”
His green eyes briefly narrowed, and a flicker of annoyance escaped Daniel’s shields. “Do you not like my company?” His hand brushed against her knee, so lightly that it could have been an accident. Addison knew better.
Addison crossed her legs, moving her knee out of reach and shifting her son closer. “Jake’s too young for the show, Daniel. I’m on a ’round the clock nursing schedule and raising a four year-old, so pardon me for lacking the energy for the charade.” She stroked Jake’s head, primarily to distract herself from mounting annoyance. She needed to stay calm for her son’s sake.
Daniel dropped the gracious host act. “You have a nanny. You could have a wet nurse.”
“I don’t want a wet nurse. I’ll feed my son.”
Daniel studied Jacob as he sipped his scotch. Addison fought the urge to cradle her son closer. “I just want what’s best for Jacob, like I do for Ashlynn. She’s becoming a remarkable young lady.”
Addison felt the sincerity of his words. He cared for Ashlynn in his own way, and Ashlynn returned it. Addison wished she knew how much of Ashlynn’s affection for her “father” was genuine and how much was from the psychic bond she’d foolishly allowed.
“She is,” Addison replied. “And she loves her brother.”
A cool smile spread across Daniel’s face. “What does she think of his father?”
Addison’s stomach lurched. She knew this would be coming, but didn’t think it would be so soon. “She’s not sure yet. Sh– Dr. Myers doesn’t have much experience with children.”
Daniel leaned back into the sofa cushions. The prat was enjoying her discomfort. “More now, I presume?”
Addison bit back a retort. “Yes.”
“Are you going domestic on me, Addison?” Daniel smirked.
Addison’s frustration boiled over. “None of your bloody bus–” Jacob stirred in the sling and wailed. Addison glared at the wanker sitting across from her as she shushed her son. “Now look what you’ve done!”
Daniel stood, frowning down at Addison. “You disobeyed a direct order from me. Twice.”
Although she knew she could defend herself and her son, the man was intimidating. Addison refused to acknowledge it. “You may run this facility, but you don’t run my life.” She stood, gently bouncing her fussing son as she met Daniel’s eyes.
They held each other’s gaze for a long, tense moment. “You’re part of this facility,” Daniel stated. “And you’re dismissed.” He turned on his heel and strode down the hall.
Jacob’s cries redoubled as Addison fumed at the wanker’s retreating back. She wouldn’t give him the satisfaction of another outburst, though. She walked–not ran–out of the spider’s lair.