Chapter 9: Détente – part 1
Addison hesitated outside of Myers’ quarters. She didn’t want to see the prat. Speaking with him resulted in an argument more often than not, and the arguments upset Jake. But Jake’s well-being spurred her to press the door chime.
A full minute later Addison felt Myers’ mind touch hers. She’d expected the fleeting contact, which conveyed his annoyance and worry before he retreated.
The door slid open, revealing a barefoot Myers standing with his arms crossed. Although his T-shirt and sweatpants still hung on him, he looked much better than he had when he’d picked up Jake from her quarters two weeks ago. Healthier.
Resisting the urge to wrap her arms around him, Addison shoved her hands in the back pockets of her jeans. “I’m not here to take Jake. He’s enjoying being with you after you were… apart. But I need to talk to you.”
“About what?” His voice was neutral, but his eyes had hardened.
“You lost something. Valuable.” She projected the image of his silver crystal. “I want to talk to you about it, and I might be able to help you find it. Now, might I come in or shall we discuss it in the hallway?”
Emotion surged from Myers: hope, lust, and roiling anger. No sooner had she identified them than they’d disappeared behind the man’s shields. He stepped back and motioned for her to enter.
Addison did so, glancing around the living room. None of the dark, contemporary furniture or decor had changed since the brief time they’d been together. The only difference was Jake’s toys scattered about. The yellow-green fire truck on the floor in front of the TV and stuffed tiger on the leather armchair should have looked incongruous, but didn’t.
“Jake’s asleep,” Myers informed her. “We wore each other out playing basketball.”
The thought of two year-old Jakey playing basketball with his father brought a smile to Addison’s face. Myers’ expression had softened, too. “You’ve got a bit of an advantage, don’t you think?”
Myers grinned. “I play with one arm behind my back.” Affection trickled from him, then vanished along with his smile. What do you know about my prism?
Annoyed with Myers and herself–she shouldn’t have expected anything less from the git–Addison perched on the arm of the couch. I know that your talisman was stolen, and before you hurl accusations, I wasn’t the one who took it. I know because Ashlynn told me.
Myers frowned. Clairvoyance? Addison nodded, oddly pleased that he’d remembered. Then his frown turned to a scowl. When did she tell you?
Sighing, Addison crossed her arms. Don’t start. It was two days ago, in a dream she had. Ashlynn had no idea what it meant. It took me a while to suss out.
Myers nodded. What did she see?
A face, but no names. I can go through the employee data files and see if I recognize the person. But– Myers’ scowl returned. Before he started a row, Addison pressed on. Is it true that not having your crystal caused you to… be more susceptible… did it contribute to your addiction? Is Jake in any danger?
Thoughts of reclaiming his prism, murdering the fool who’d stolen it, and Harris’ mere presence broke through Shane’s alien calm. Resigning himself to inefficient, embarrassing emotion, he double checked his mental shields. If Harris found a chink, she’d exploit it.
Shane decided to answer her last question first. Jake’s not in danger. Although I’m stronger with the crystal, I’m not helpless without it. Now that Ri’s been dealt with, I don’t know of anyone else here with a grudge to settle.
After glancing down the hall toward Jake’s bedroom, Shane decided to divulge another piece of information. He fished the half-inch long, unfinished prism from his pocket, holding in the palm of his hand for Harris to see. I’ve been working on this for Jake. It was slow going before my prism was stolen. Now it’s… elephantine. Shane turned his eyes from the fledgling crystal to Harris. The sooner I get my crystal back, the sooner Jake’s will be finished. He doesn’t need it, but he’s better able to protect himself with it.
Harris stared at the miniature prism for a few long moments. When she met his eyes again, Shane returned the tiny crystal to his pocket. Thank you for being truthful. I’ll see what I can do to identify the thief. It might take a few days, but– A flicker of something–amusement?–crossed Harris’ face. I’ll do it, she continued. For Jake.
“For Jake,” Shane agreed, despite wondering what evil the woman was concocting now.
Harris rose to her feet. “That’s everything.” Shane thought he saw a flicker of emotion in Harris’ eyes, but only politeness was evident in her voice. “I’ll be in touch.”
Shane accompanied her to the door. “Good. Good night.”
“Good night.” He caught a glimpse of her ass before the door closed.
After staring stupidly at the door for a few moments, Shane strode to the kitchen, poured a shot of tequila, and slammed it. Only fifteen minutes were required to shower, shave, brush his teeth, and don one of his Ingrid-approved outfits. Then he woke Rose, informing the nanny that he was going out for a few hours. He didn’t mind that she went back to sleep. She’d be there in the unlikely event Jake awoke, and he’d know if something was wrong with his son anyway.
The bar on the other side of the complex was half-full with similarly lonely, horny Triptych employees. In the time it took for Shane to slowly drink a scotch, several men and women flirted with him. The men and the women who knew who he was were dismissed empathically.
In the end he bought a few drinks for Anise, a young, dark-skinned Latina who’d recently started in Electrical Engineering. Shane was well aware that her curves and lips mirrored Harris’. He despised the fact that he was obsessed with the Brit bitch. But he couldn’t go to therapy for it. He didn’t trust Triptych shrinks to keep the information confidential.
Pleased that he hadn’t needed to use any empathic tricks or pheromones, Shane and Anise fucked each other in her quarters. After two stiff drinks she was close enough.
Anise didn’t want Shane to stay the night any more than he did. “You’ll do well here,” he assured her, and left.