Chapter 7: Deliverance – part 11
The 80-pound heavy bag rocked with each of Shane’s punches. He’d only been at it for ten minutes, but his taped and gloved fists were aching already.
Shane vented his frustration on the workout bag with a punch-elbow-kick combination. The rattle of the bag’s chains was satisfying, as was the leather/rubber/sweat scent of the gym. He couldn’t remember the last time he’d visited. At least he’d managed a brief workout at the dojo the previous week.
“Hey, man. Take a break.”
Shane faced the unfamiliar voice. A bulky, dark-skinned man working the speed bag frowned with concern. When he caught his reflection in the mirrored far wall Shane understood why. His face was beet red, and his sweat-soaked T-shirt clung to his thin frame. Three weeks of not regularly working out and he was already losing muscle mass. “I’m fine,” Shane retorted.
The other man shrugged. “If you say so.” His fists flew, making the smaller bag a high-speed pendulum.
Shane turned back to the heavy bag. Ten more minutes. He could do it if he paced himself. Shane fell into a rhythm: punch-kick-punch-punch-kick, repeat.
Goal: get back in shape. The bag swayed and rattled. Task: resume workout schedule. Coordinate with Addison and Svetlana.
Having to coordinate with anyone made Shane’s jaw clench. He hammered the leather bag harder, but maintained his rhythm. For Jake. He’d adapt, like he had after arriving at the Alpha facility. Like after he’d killed Luis. Like after his alien side had first swallowed him whole.
Winded and dripping sweat, Shane glanced at the digital clock on the wall. Fifteen minutes had passed. His hands throbbed, but he’d done it. He headed for the locker room feeling better than he had in days.
Shane’s hair was still damp from showering when he called a staff meeting. Comfortably tired from his morning workout, he stood at the head of the conference table in the middle of his lab. My lab. Wresting the lab from Guzman had taken two years of subtle, methodical undermining, but it had been worth it.
Once Joon, DiPhillipo, Xue, Salim, Dodgeson, Girard, and Padilla had taken seats Shane began. “I’m sure you’ve noticed that my schedule has been… irregular lately. Nevertheless, your work has been exemplary. As a result, you’ll all receive a 10% pay increase.” The usual suspects’ faces lit up: Padilla and Joon. He’d overheard the women chattering about designer clothes and purses on occasion.
Shane continued, “I owe you an explanation for my less than professional hours lately. I’m now a father.” Several eyebrows raised. “My son Jacob was born a few weeks ago.” His staff gave him the requisite congratulations. DiPhillipo, Dodgeson, and Salim seemed sincere. Shane smiled a brief thank you. “I’m still adjusting to this new development. But I won’t let my son interfere with my work. Our work. We’re the leading edge of genetics worldwide. I expect the best from myself and you.” His employees nodded agreement. With that settled, Shane turned the meeting to more mundane matters.
Shortly after the meeting had concluded, knuckles rapped on his office door. Shane sensed with his mind. It was Joon, and she was pissed. Shane idly wondered why as he swiveled his chair to face the door. “Come.”
Joon strode inside, closing the door behind her. “So that’s why.”
Although he didn’t appreciate Joon’s tone, Shane hid his irritation. “Why what?”
Joon crossed her arms under her breasts. “Why you’re avoiding me. Because of your son.”
“Newborns are kind of time-consuming,” Shane stated.
Joon’s anger dissipated a bit. She drifted closer. “You must have some down time. When he’s sleeping. Babies sleep a lot, don’t they?”
Shane nodded. His eyes moved to the curve of Joon’s tits under her blouse. Out of proportion or not, she looked good, and he and Addison hadn’t had sex since before Jacob was born. Shane clamped down on his body’s reaction. “I don’t have any down time now.”
Joon halted. “I see.” The cold of her voice contrasted with the ire rolling off of her. “I’ll let you get back to work.”
“Good.” He nodded, and Joon turned on her heel and left. Despite the anger left in her wake, Shane wasn’t worried. There was no affection or friendship between them. She’d find another lover and get over it.