Why I wound up in a locked office, inside a high-security training base was just part of this mystery.
I was there this time to prevent a crime, not solve it after it happened.
This time I just had to figure out how and where the crime was supposed to happen – and, if I was lucky, who the villain was.
No clues. Any sound or light might give it all away.
And then the criminal gang we were chasing would again melt away into the dark.
Or worse – I’d become their target.
They already proved that they killed to get whatever they wanted.
The trick was foiling their crime and capturing them.
All without clues.
And all without losing my life…
This time, I volunteered to be the bait.
For killer criminals who were trying to steal something confidential or probably top secret.
My brother Finn disagreed with my plan. But I reminded him that we didn’t have much of a choice.
So here I was, in the Commanding Officer’s office. Shelves of books behind me while my long black tresses cascaded down my shirt-dress. It had long white sleeves, but also a short hem exposing more than a little thigh.
I was sitting, long legs crossed, hand on my chin. Waiting.
Not exactly able to blend in with the dark room.
But that was the point. I was the bait.
Of course, this isn’t where the story actually started.
– – – –
When I got outside my apartment building, he was waiting.
In the shadows, of course, which didn’t help my trust. What did help, was what he said first.
“Good morning, Erotika Jones.” The voice was deep and pleasant, disarming.
“You’re not Finn.”
The man was tall, in naval dungarees, with a blue ball cap and black boots. He started walking toward me with a cautious gait. “No, my name is Will.”
“So, Will, you know me, by my code name. But that’s just another mystery to solve.”
“Once I can tell you about me, then you’ll hear the whole story. But I have only minutes right now.”
Will stopped just out of arm’s reach. “Because you’re in danger.”
My eyebrow raised in question, and I waited.
“OK, Erotika, you wished to get here before the crime happened, to avoid someone dying. And that’s what I helped arrange for you.”
I closed my open mouth at this. Gob-smacked, as some say. And at a loss for words.
Will started to raise a hand to my shoulder, but held back. “It only means that between you and Finn, you’ll have to decide who is going to be the substitute.”
Another pause. A thousand questions rolled through my mind.
Will held up a finger and looked off to the side, then back. “Sorry to leave you with those thoughts. We’ll be in touch.”
Then he seemed to turn sideways, like a folding mirror – and vanished.
Finn appeared, walking in from the side Will looked at. Chipper as usual. His red hair covered by a blue ball cap. The rest of him in naval dungarees, just like Will.
But his smile vanished as he saw my puzzled frown. “I’d tell you good morning, Erotika, but it’s not – is it.”
“Finn, someone knows about me, about us.”
Now Finn had the troubled look.
“And he told me I’m in danger. Or maybe that we both were…”
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