Last week, I changed things up asking you all to go Mad Libs style with your comments. You gave me quite the variety of words, but I’ll be honest. When I sat down in front of my computer on Wednesday morning (yes, that is usually when I write, pantser style, or more accurately, pantsless) I wrote up the installment completely forgetting that I had to use one of your comments!
Have no fear. I went back, grabbed a comment, and went back to work. Thank you to Patricia Sands for her Mad Lib contribution this week: snort (v), suspicious (adj), and undies (n).
“He’s such a little worm.”
“I am sorry, Katerina. I am not surprised, but I am sorry.”
I sat on the coffee shop couch, legs tucked underneath, sipping on my coffee.
“It’s ok. I knew he wouldn’t take my giving notice well, but I didn’t expect to be escorted out of the office and off the property. Guess I won’t be coming to visit you boys on hockey night any time in the future.”
I smiled. It didn’t hurt having someone like Anton in your corner.
“So, you wanted to show me something?”
“Ah. Yes. Your new man friend. He does not exist.”
I let out a snort.
“He doesn’t exist?”
Anton pointed to his laptop, sitting on the coffee table in front of us.
“He is nowhere. I do not like it.”
“Oh, come on, Anton. What would happen if I try to search for you online?”
Anton gave a slow, mischievous grin. “You would not find me.”
“So, maybe Eli is just as paranoid as you. As shocking as it is to someone like me, some people just don’t have their information strewn across the internet. It doesn’t automatically make them a suspicious character.”
Anton shrugged. “He is not me, so I still do not like it.”
“Well, I appreciate you looking out for me, but really, I’m sure it’s fine. Just because the man doesn’t tell the world what he had for breakfast every day doesn’t mean he’s a psychopath.”
“I’d be more concerned about my roommate.”
“Well…” I thought for a moment about Eli’s call. I wasn’t worried about Red before it. Maybe Eli was like Anton. Protective. “I’m sure it’s nothing actually. She’s just a little odd. Odd, but harmless, I’m sure.”
“Give me her full name. I will find out.”
“It’s not a big deal, Anton.”
“For later, then. When I am bored.”
I rolled my eyes and complied. “It’s Red Reid.”
Anton looked at me, face straight, eyebrows raised. “This is her name?”
“Yes. This is.”
“Are you making fun of me, kotik?”
“Nyet.” I leaned in and gave Anton a peck on the cheek, before hopping off the couch. “Gotta run. Need to grab some groceries if I am going to eat tonight.”
“Just steal from your odd roommate.”
“Oh, believe me, I would if I could.” I looked around at the other patrons in the coffee shop and lowered my voice. “She’s vegan. Not terribly compatible with my tastes.”
“At least she will not be stealing your food.”
“Ah, look at you, Anton, finding the silver lining.”
“I am the ray of sunshine.”
I headed for the door, waving before making my exit.
I looked at the address in my phone for a third time before knocking on the door.
“Kate, come on in.” Eli stood in the doorway, dressed but hair rumpled and damp. “Sorry, had a call first thing that set me behind.”
I entered, glancing around at what looked more like a sparsely furnished apartment than an office.
“Is this where you live?”
He nodded. “And work.”
“Sorry. I was going to mention it, but then I realized that it might sound a bit off putting. I hope it’s not a problem.”
It didn’t really bother me. I was no less safe alone with him in his apartment than I would be alone with him in an office.
“No, it’s fine. It was just unexpected. Had you answered the door in your undies, we might be having a different conversation.” I unbuttoned my coat, taking it off and laying it over my arm. “So, what now?”
Eli grinned and took my coat, walking it to the coat closet by the door. “Have a seat at the table. I’ve a laptop for you there.”
I took a seat, checking out the various wires and hubs underneath the table, being sure not to accidentally kick anything. Eli walked over and sat down opposite me.
“I’ll have a variety of things for you to do. For now, I’ll need to rely on your knowledge of the area for setting up appointments with prospects. Taking people places that make them feel special.”
“Fancy dinners, things like that?”
“For the most part. Basically, if someone was trying to woo you, what would work?”
I shifted in my chair, not sure if I was expected to answer the question. “Do you have any preferences?”
“It’s more about the client, really. That’s where you’ll be doing some additional research. I’ll give you some names, and you see what you can find out about the person. Likes, dislikes, that sort of thing. Helps with the courting process. Make sense?”
“Yeah. Basically, check these guys out as if I wanted to date them.”
Eli laughed. “You aren’t far off.”
“I can handle that. I basically did this anytime Meera brought a new guy around. Nothing like an embarrassing Facebook photo to put an end to a relationship with a quickness.”
“That sort of thing is helpful, too, actually. Some companies don’t look well on their executives making a spectacle of themselves.”
“I bet. Well, I think I’ve got it.”
“Good.” Eli grabbed a sheet of paper and handed it to me. “Here are a few names to start. Take your time and let me know what you find.”
He stood up and walked over to the coat closet, grabbing a black coat and scarf before walking back to the table.
“I have a few appointments to get to. Feel free to help yourself to anything in the kitchen. I’ll arm the alarm, but the code is 28492 if you need to leave. Call me if you need anything.” He placed a key on the table next to my laptop. “Welcome aboard, Kate.”
As the door shut behind him I looked around the apartment. It was obvious that Eli couldn’t have been here long. The main area I was sitting in had a couch, the table in front of me, and a few chairs. The kitchen counters were void of appliances, and the glass front cabinets revealed only a few dishes. It was the perfect space for a man that didn’t exist.
Still, we were high up, so the view from the apartment was gorgeous, even on the typically overcast day. I unhooked the various cables tethering me to the table and took the laptop and sheet of paper to the couch. I waited for the computer to find a wireless network while I looked at the list of names.
There were only five there, but the fourth one down jumped out immediately.
David Vinson. Meera’s fiancé.
This week, you get to vote, although it is a blind vote of sorts.
You can choose one of the following: Anton, Eli, Meera, or Red. Your choice will have a major impact on where the story goes next. Choose wisely (and tell me why in the comments ).