Marka meets up with Frank for lunch and errands. She notices how careful he is with his computer, making sure it’s password protected and shut down before he leaves.
“Habit. In my former job, nothing was left sitting around and available. It’s something so ingrained, I can’t not do it. I guess it’s my form of OCD.”
He closed and locked his door behind him. Marka watched that action too. Frank paused, his hand on the knob. Her eyes lingered on his fingers. He felt suddenly self-conscious.
“No.” She shook her head, eyeing the doorknob again before heading down the hall to the front entrance.
Frank strode quickly after her, catching up as the front doors slid open. They walked to her car and she handed him the keys.
“I really need to get my rental.”
“Why bother? We’ve got my car. So far it’s okay.”
“Yeah, I like my own wheels.”
“Is that Clark waving at us?” Marka shaded her eyes, gazing across the lawn.
“Yeah. We’d better go see what’s up.” Taking her hand, he led her across the lawn.
Clark walked over to meet them, hooked their arms in his and led them to the blue house. He walked rapidly and Marka, who had on heels, had a little trouble keeping up. Frank steadied her.
“What’s up?” He asked Clark as they entered the mudroom.
“We have reason to believe the car is compromised,” Clark replied.
“My car? Why would anyone do anything to my car?” Marka asked.
“You’re with me,” Frank replied. He gazed out the window as a couple of men he didn’t know, approached the car with sophisticated bomb detecting equipment. “Can we get a secure rental?”
“I’ve got a car coming,” Clark replied, watching the men. Always one for good posture, his back was so straight, he could have been used as a plumb line. He didn’t relax until the men gave him a thumbs up. “Good. It’s okay. We’re going to take it in just to be sure. The other car looks just like it, Marka.”
“Then what’s the point of switching?” Her spine as stiff as Clark’s, she did her best to hide her anger, but Frank could see it.
“It will come equipped with some special features that I can’t share with you. Frank knows.”
The two men exchanged a look. Frank knew the car was probably armored, bullet proof glass and maybe its own threat detection software.
“Anything to keep Marka safe.”
“Me safe? What about you? No no one tore up my office, broke into my house or trashed my car. I’m good. I’m fine.” Hysteria tinged her words.
Frank took her gently by the elbows. “And we’re going to do everything we can to keep you that way. Let us have our paranoid moments, love.”
“For us, it’s as normal as breathing, Dr. Ventimiglia. We aren’t trying to alarm you or anything. We simply want you both safe.”
“I know,” she mumbled. “But this is foreign to me. I’m used to going blithely about without a care. I don’t check under my car for people who are going to grab my ankle and drug me. I rarely check the back seat—unless it’s dark. I lock my car doors when I’m sitting in the parking lot, but that’s about it as far as safety measures.”
Clark chuckled. “All of the above,” he waved his hand at her.
Frank joined him, nodding. “We used to play observation games to test each other.”
“How many blue cars in the parking lot?” Clark laughed, chucking Frank on the shoulder.
Raising an eyebrow and pursing his lips, Frank considered. “Before or after your guys checked the car?”
Clark glanced at the clock. “Five minutes ago.”
“Fifteen. Sixteen, if you count the silvery blue one coming down the driveway. How many exits in the main building?”
“Including Building three and five?”
“No, admin building only.”
“Twelve.” He paused a moment. “Make that thirteen. I didn’t count the fire exit off the dining room.”
“This is fun for you?” Cherry asked as she walked past them to the kitchen.
“Beats some things we could do.”
“What color are my eyes?” Cherry asked Frank. She averted her face, closing her eyes.
“Hazel with a hint of gold. Left one has more gold in it than the right. It’s greener.”
“He’s very good,” Cherry told Marka.
“You’ve no idea. And he’s that good at everything.” With a swish, Marka made a dramatic exit to the living room.
The two men stared after her, laughing. Cherry eyed Frank. He saw interest in her eyes.
“Really?” She tried not to sound too excited.
Frank stroked his tie, looking smug. “Why, yes.” He followed Marka.
“Dammit, why are all the good ones taken?” Cherry muttered as she watched Frank stroll away.
© Dellani Oakes