Eternity Unveiled

Eternity Unveiled

Status: In Progress

Genre: Romance

Details

Status: In Progress

Genre: Romance

Summary

Gary Sanders, as an elite soldier he faces danger everyday and he’s afraid of nothing, except the words “Do you love me?”. Similarly, Holly’s ideal relationship is swiping right on Tinder. Tasked with finding a missing priceless artefact, they find themselves undercover at an exclusive couples therapy retreat. Now, finding the artefact is only one of their problems as they discover dangers far more intimate than they bargained for, in this fast paced wild ride of action, laugh out loud fun, and hot and steamy romance.

Summary

Gary Sanders, as an elite soldier he faces danger everyday and he’s afraid of nothing, except the words “Do you love me?”. Similarly, Holly’s ideal relationship is swiping right on Tinder. Tasked with finding a missing priceless artefact, they find themselves undercover at an exclusive couples therapy retreat. Now, finding the artefact is only one of their problems as they discover dangers far more intimate than they bargained for, in this fast paced wild ride of action, laugh out loud fun, and hot and steamy romance.

Chapter6 (v.1) - Chapter 6

Chapter Content - ver.1

Submitted: April 03, 2021

Comments: 2

A A A | A A A

Chapter Content - ver.1

Submitted: April 03, 2021

A A A

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6

 “You’re not wearing that outfit are you?” Paige asked.

“What’s wrong with what I’m wearing?”  Holly frowned.  She was quite proud of her outfit.  It was one of the Salvation Army Op-shop’s finest, and she wasn’t too proud to admit it either.  They have some great clothes, you just have to be prepared to sift through the mountains of outdated crap to find them.

As hard as Holly creased her brow in consternation, each of the women surrounding her scrunched up their faces with equal despair.  She hadn’t volunteered for this mission and she wasn’t in the least bit happy about going.  And, now they want to mock her dress sense?  The ensuing internal aggravation tipped her mood in a southerly direction and prompted an equally unsavoury thought.  She wondered what they wore in the Underworld.  Did the demons wear smiley face T-shirts and bootleg jeans, or perhaps they wore burlap sacks.  Maybe wearing other people’s skin was their fashion of choice, like that Shade using that young soldier as it’s own personal meat suit last night, she thought with a shudder. 

“There’s nothing wrong with what you’re wearing, except you’re going to an exclusive retreat where the entry fee has more zeros than that outfit portrays.”

Holly looked at herself in the mirror, her black yoga pants, although they were well worn, were very comfortable.  And her kaki-green, drip-dry polyester blend top, which was her favourite, accentuated her full breasts and slim waist.  “You think this looks too drab?”

Teagan pursed her lips.  “I would’ve said bromidic, but drab works too.”

“I don’t even know what bromidic means,” Holly grumbled.

“She said it looks overused, worn-out, threadbare,” Nadia told her, which only made Holly grumble louder.

“Your outfits need to shout Money.” Paige gestured with her hands, using a little flare of magic to make an actual starburst pop from her fingers.  Not that Holly was impressed, she just rolled her eyes and huffed. 

“Why don’t we help you choose your clothes?” Abby suggested.

“I’ll let you choose two outfits, that’s all,” she huffed. 

“Fine.  I’m choosing the evening wear,” Paige delighted.

“And I’m choosing the after-evening wear,” Abby volunteered.

“What the hell is after-evening wear?  You just made that up.”

“Oh no, it’s a real thing.  It’s what you put on after the evening out, before you get ravaged by your partner in bed,” Yasmin chuckled.

“Do you mean a negligee?  I don’t own one.”  It wasn’t as though she had anything against them, specifically.  She’d just never needed one.  When she was with a guy, it was all about the sex, pure and simple.  There was none of that time wasting foreplay crap, no visual enticements with unnecessary bling.  If a guy didn’t like what was underneath her clothes, she wasn’t hanging around long enough to try to turn him on.

“We know.”  They all answered in unison. 

“I’m taking care of the daywear,” Cassie told her.

“That’s three outfits,” Holly grumbled.

“Fur each day,” Megan added after a few seconds, just long enough for Holly to stop her grumbling.

“What?  No way!”

“Yes way.  Whether you like it or not, you’re going to be playing an acting role.  Just think of it as wearing fancy costumes from the wardrobe department of an up-market stage show, only this is real.”

“Hang on, are you saying you’re not even going to let me wear my own clothes?”

“Something like that.  Although, the jeans you wore yesterday were pretty good, you can take those,” Paige told her.

“That’s all?” Holly’s voice rose an octave in frustration and distress. 

“It’s lucky you’re about the same size as Paige, Abby and myself, we’ve got loads of clothes you can borrow,” Cassie told her, and while she’d tried to sound encouraging, to Holly it sounded condescending.

“Great.  Just, great!”

“On the bright side, you’ll get to spend two whole weeks in Italy with a hunky stud-muffin,” Yasmin told her, giving her a supportive double thumbs-up sign, and an over-accentuated grin.

“And, spending so much time together, you’ll probably get to know a whole new side to him, a softer, more charming side,” Shani added, although her delivery lacked the energy of conviction.

“Sanders has a soft side?” Kaitlyn asked sceptically.

“Yeah, if you consider him handing you your own liver, right after he kicked you in the balls hard enough to make you cough it up onto the floor, as being soft,” Anna laughed, although she wasn’t exactly joking, there was more truth to that than not, she should know, she probably knew him better than anyone.  In fact, he’d stabbed her once, and that was his way of trying to save her life.  Not that she knew that at the time though, she actually thought he wanted her dead.

 Holly thought on that for a moment, maybe it wouldn’t be all that bad spending two weeks with a guy with an insanely sexy smile and an arse that makes you want to dry hump.No actual sex of course, as of last night she was determined to keep her box shelved.  She was done with having meaningless, swift romps of sex with men whose names she had no interest in remembering afterward.

Not that Sanders would be swift in bed, a renegade voice in the back of her mind whispered.  He would be fierce and demanding and outrageously dominant.  No doubt he would leave a woman feeling thoroughly ravaged…in the most gratifying way.

Nope.  Don’t go there!She reprimanded herself, quickly refocussing her thoughts on a less arousing topic.

“I have a question,” Holly said, looking at Cassie.  “What are you going to do with Tilly when we’re all in Fey for the wedding?”

“Actually, Alaric and I discussed that very question just this morning,” Cassie answered.  “We’ve decided to take her with us.  I mean, really, what other choice is there.  We’ll be gone for at least a week and we can’t leave her here by herself, she’d starve.  And, we can’t leave her with anyone to look after her for us, and we definitely can’t put her in temporary accommodation like boarding kennels.  Could you imagine what a disaster that would be if she morphed into a hellhound in front of humans, or worse, ate the other animals boarding there.”

This time they all grumbled their own versions of Ew and Arrgh and Holy crap on a cracker, scrunching their noses, pursing their lips and nodding in agreement.

“This will be the first time we’ve all left the manor at the same time for longer than a day, and Tilly has never been separated from Grace for longer than seven hours,” which was the length of a school day, plus the time it takes getting to and from school.  “There’s no telling what the mutt would do if she was separated from her for a whole week.”

Initially, when Grace had first started school Tilly accompanied her each day, but that didn’t work out very well.  In less than a week Tilly morphed into her alter ego and tried to eat one of the boys in her class.  The poor kid had developed a crush of Grace and was trying to express his interest the only way he knew how, by punching her in the arm, which, unfortunately Tilly interpreted as Grace being threatened.  Fortunately, after a stern talking to by Alaric, with Megan’s assistance, Tilly curtailed her more aggressive behaviour. 

Regardless, having Tilly at school with Grace still didn’t work out very well.  Despite the fact that the dog was now aged nearly thirteen years, she still had the mentality of a pup.  So, when all the kids had their morning recess break, Tilly took the opportunity to raid all their lunch boxes, repeatedly, and despite enduring more stern talks, it seemed the mangy mutt had developed a taste for ham and pickle sandwiches, celery sticks and carob coated nut bars.  The school was conscientiously promoting healthy eating.  Needless to say, Tilly was not very popular at school and had to learn to spend those seven hours a day, away from Grace, where she proceeded to tear up the garden and reek havoc in the duck pond, aka, the lake which took up a sizeable portion of the manor’s garden area.

Cassie and Alaric were disappointed and a little concerned for Grace’s safety when Tilly was no longer allowed at school, considering her unknown mortal/immortal status, and the fact that she would be an easy target for the Guild without her canine bodyguard.  But, as it turned out, replacing Tilly with a couple lycan bodyguards, one male and one female, worked out much better, especially when Riley started school too, a couple of years later.  It was always going to be a bit tricky having supernatural kids at a regular school, but they needed to learn to integrate into the real world and not be hidden away at the manor all day, every day. 

Thankfully, their lycan bodyguards could handle any situation Grace or Riley inadvertently created with their unusual attributes, i.e. they each sported a pair of vampire fangs (unused, neither of them had any craving for blood like their fathers who they’d inherited them from), and they were both much faster and stronger than the other kids, even the few lycan kids at the school.  While Grace’s supernatural peculiarities ended there, Riley also had a pair of snow-white angelic wings (courtesy of his self appointed grandmother, the Archangel Ariel) which in times when he was caught off-guard or surprised, they would make an impromptu appearance.  He also had his own druid ability, courtesy of his mother’s lineage, of having a knack for escaping any confinement or restraint.  Fortunately that particular talent didn’t pose any issues at school.  If there was the occasional situation where the male lycan couldn’t counter the fall-out of the pair’s strength and speed issues, and the female lycan couldn’t effectively wipe an unfortunate memory from one of the humans at the school, there was a house full of vampires at the manor only a couple of miles away more than capable to picking up the slack.

Now it seemed they had a new potential situation to deal with.  Until now they had been very careful not to introduce any animals from Earth to Fey, either permanently or short term.  Kaitlyn had even given up her precious moggy to Teagan, when she moved to Fey.  One lone feline probably wouldn’t have caused any issues in the other land, but they didn’t want to take the chance.  With the hindsight of history, they knew that introducing any new species to an environment could cause unpredicted damages on native fauna and flora, and even the environment itself. 

And here they were, about to take Tilly to Fey.  Oy Vey, the other world may never be the same again. 

“Um, Megan, I don’t suppose you can ask the angels if they think we’re making the wrong choice taking her, can you?  I’d really hate to get on their bad side, I don’t think I’d enjoy spending eternity in the Underworld,” Cassie said, only half joking about the Underworld part.  The Elders had a pretty solid reputation for sending people to the Underworld who pissed them off.

“Sure, if ye like.  I can’t promise ye’ll get an answer though, they’re a bit fickle, as ye know,” Megan replied.  Closing her eyes for a moment, her brow scrunched together and her lips pursed together.  When she opened her eyes again, everyone was staring at her.

“And?” Cassie prompted.

“I’m not sure if this is a good sign or bad, but they’re actually excited ye’r taking Tilly to Fey.”

“Seriously?  Huh, I guess I’m glad.  I’m assuming they wouldn’t be so happy if Tilly was going to do something stupid like start a war by accidently eating some nobleman’s favourite pet sheep, or something.”

Abby made a sound of curiosity as she stared at Megan, each mirroring the other’s contemplative expression.

“What are we missing?” Teagan asked.

 “The angels want me to pass on a message to ye, Holly.  They say that to find the Aegis, ye need to understand the Medici’s passion.”

“What the hell does that mean?” Holly retorted.

“Don’t ask me, I’m just the messenger,” Megan told her apologetically.

It didn’t take long for the conversation to swing back towards Holly’s clothes as Cassie, Abby and Paige emptied the contents of their wardrobes on Holly’s bed, eagerly debating, selecting or discarding garments while Holly was relegated to the corner to watch. 

The three hours from the end of lunch seemed to disappear far too quickly, and before she knew it, Holly was standing on the manor’s front porch with her packed suitcase, and wearing one of Cassie’s more elegant, but casual outfits.  You know the kind, an expensive designer label in soft earthy tones, with wide legged pants, tailored to emphasise her trim waist and flat stomach, and the low cut top draped over her torso perfectly showing her greatest feminine assets, her boobs.  She hated to admit it, but the outfit did look far better than the one she’d chosen for herself.  Not that she was going to tell the other women that. 

Beside her stood Gary Sanders, his jaw clenched tight enough to crack a tooth.She felt as apprehensive as he looked. 

“I have no idea how to do this,” she blurted out with ambivalent temperance.

“Going undercover?” Sanders asked.

“No.  Pretending to be a couple whose having marital issues.  I suck at real relationships, how am I going to pretend my way through a fake one?  It’s alright for you, you’re used to this stuff,” she told Sanders.

“This might surprise you then, I’m way out of my league here too.  Send me onto a battlefield or send me undercover in the Guild’s headquarters, no problem.  But I don’t do relationships either.  I do sex and move on.  End of story.”

“Me too.  Well, except for the guy I broke up with last night, we went out for about three months, I think.  Sadly, that was the longest relationship I’ve ever had, and I’m thirty-five years old.  And, to be honest, I was only really interested in him because he was great in bed.”

Sanders shook his head and nodded simultaneously.  “I hear you there.” 

It didn’t seem to bother either of them that the entire manor household were crowded about them while they expressed their love life / sex life so openly.

“I think you’re both going to do great.  Look at you, you’re already hitting it off, just like a real couple.  You know, I couldn’t help noticing a bit of a vibe between the two of you,” Sebastian said.

“I don’t know what you’re talking about,” Holly replied snippily.

“I know it’s none of my business, so feel free to tell me to shut up or shove off, but …”

“Shove off.”  They both answered together.  It was almost a bonding moment. 

Seb ignored them.  “But,…I think that can really work in your favour.  Alright, how about we run through a few general questions you’re likely to be asked by the counsellors.”

“We’re running short on time,” Sanders replied tersely, levelling Seb with an expression that would have had lesser men cowering.

“Humour me.  You might be grateful later that you spared the extra few minutes for this.”

“How would you know what they’re likely to ask us?” Holly queried sceptically.

“What can I say, I’m a spy.  I’ve spent nearly two centuries studying people.  You pick things up here and there.  I even posed as a Psychiatrist once to…”

“Fine, whatever, just stop waffling,” Sanders agreed grudgingly.

“Okay then,” Seb replied, mildly disappointed that he didn’t get a chance to finish his story.  “How would you describe your relationship?” he asked them.

“Great,” Holly said.

“Good,” Sanders answered at the same time.

“What does Great or Good entail?”

“I don’t understand the question,” Sanders said, scratching his head.

Seb sighed with feigned dismay.  “Let’s try and make this easy.  What do you like about your partner?”

“Umm, ….”

There was more chance of this pair faking being a couple, than there was of Dido making another hit song, Seb thought to himself.  At least they weren’t expected to fake being a happy couple.  That was a bonus.

Holly huffed.  “Are these counselling sessions mandatory?”

Seb nodded sympathetically, not because he felt sorry for Holly or Sanders, no, his sympathy was directed toward the poor suckers who were going to attempt to counsel them.

 “So, we have to give up a few hours a day to talk about our feelings.  How bad could it be?” she said.

Hitching her handbag on her shoulder,…err, Paige’s handbag, Holly followed Sanders down the stairs to the car waiting for them near the fountain in the driveway.

“Ye know they’ll probably kill each other before the fortnight is out,” Philippe said.

“Or kill the counsellors,” Alaric added.

In silence, they all stood side by side nodding in agreement as they watched the car disappear around the bend in the driveway. 

x-x-x-x-x

After boarding the plane, Holly put her handbag in the compartment above her seat and turned to do the same with Sanders’ duffel bag, but couldn’t budge it off the floor.

“What the hell do you have in there?” she asked curiously.

Without speaking, he lifted the bag easily, placing it beside him on the next seat, unzipping it to showed her.  All Holly could do was stare open-mouthed at the array of weapons that filled the bag.  She wasn’t sure whether she was impressed by his collection or felt more apprehensive.  Regardless, whether she wanted to or not, she was committed to this trip and she just had to make the most of it, however it turned out. 

“I assume you’ve been briefed with everything we need to know about the Medici Palazzo?”

“I have,” he answered.

Holly waited for a few seconds, but when all he did was take out a knife from the bag and began sharpening it, she prompted him a little further.

“And?  Would you care to share, I’d like to know exactly what we’re supposed to be doing, or looking for when we get there.  You need to fill me in.”

Sanders was not accustomed to taking orders and he made that clear and firm.  “You’ll know what you need to know, when you need to.”

“Is that so?”  Her eyes flashed with uncensored anger.  If looks could kill, Sanders swore he would have just been incinerated.  “I’m not one of your soldiers you can order around.  I need to know what’s happening so I know what my own role is, and don’t you dare say it’s just to sit back and look pretty, or some crap, because you’ll be sorely disappointed if that’s what you expect of me.  I didn’t ask to be sent on this mission, I’ve never been undercover before and I’m not comfortable being kept in the dark.”

Sanders drew in a long breath.

He rubbed his temples.

He cracked his knuckles.

Then rolled his shoulders.

Holly rubbed her sweaty palms on her thighs. 

 “Hey, sorry, I didn’t mean to be a dick.  With my job, the responsibility and decisions rest solely on my shoulders.  I normally plan weeks, even months in advance for missions.  Three hours notice doesn’t sit well with me, I don’t like winging it.  Except on a personal level, then I  don’t like making plans for even a day ahead,” Sanders told her.

“Why’s that?” Holly asked.

“Because the word premeditated, tends to get thrown around in court.”

“Ha, that makes sense.  You do give off a dangerous, homicidal vibe, but I guess you already know that.”  Sanders raised an eyebrow at her assessment of him, but didn’t refute it.   “It also explains why you packed more weapons than clothes.  Although, you do realise we’re going to an exclusive couples retreat, don’t you?” she told him using air quotes.  “The most dangerous thing about these people will be their snobbery and sense of entitlement.”

“Darlin’, I don’t believe in taking people at face value.  I hope I won’t have to use any of these, but we’re not going there to talk about our feelings.  We have a job to do.”

“I know, finding the Aegis.  It would be much easier if we knew what it was though.  Then we might be able to just get in there, get it, and get out again without having to endure any of the touchy-feeling bullshit,” Holly added, not even trying to cover the disgust she felt.

Sanders’ mouth turned up at one corner with a half smile.  He had to admit to himself, he liked this woman’s attitude, there was certainly nothing snobbish or entitled about her.  “Keep in mind though, we’re not the only ones who want to get our hands on this artefact.”

“The Guild?”

Sanders nodded, spearing her a sobering glance as he flipped the knife in the palm of his hand before stowing it away in his bag with the rest of his weapons. 

“You know you have a few trust issues, don’t you?”

“They’re what’s kept me alive this long, so I don’t plan on changing anytime soon.”

“Have you thought that they might also be what’s kept you single until now?”

He shot her a dark glare and debated for a moment whether or not to answer.  He was inclined not to, but knew enough about women to know that if she thought this was a topic of importance she wasn’t going to let it drop anytime soon.  And, since he was about to spend virtually every waking moment with her over the next two weeks, it was probably in his best interest to not piss her off in the first five minutes.  There’d be plenty of time for that later.  Even so, he liked to keep his private life just that, private. 

“I have no intention of debating my reasons for be single with you, you’re not a counsellor.”

“No, but we are about to be interrogated by at least one ‘actual’ counsellor, don’t you think we should spend the plane trip getting to know each other a little bit.  At least put together a back story so other people will believe we’re a real couple?”

She had a point.  Dammit!!

“Are you worried the counsellors will dig out something about you that you didn’t want them to?”

“Maybe.”

“Me too,” she confessed.  “I’m quite content being oblivious to the majority of my failings, it’s worked well so far.  I’m happy being a dysfunction mess.”

Sanders looked Holly up and down, he couldn’t help mentally re-wording her self-assessment from dysfunctional mess to Hot Mess! 

“Plus, I prefer to think of myself as delightfully difficult.  It would be much easier if you agreed.”

Sanders laughed at her remark. 

“Can I ask you a personal question?” she said.

“Shoot,” he answered.

“Has there ever been anyone in your life who you considered marrying?  I’m not asking because I want to pry into your personal life, it’s just so we have something more to work with if the counsellors ask.  From what Seb and Philippe have told me, if you need to lie, it’s better to keep as close to the truth as possible.”

“That’s true.  And no.  I’m more comfortable having the Miranda rights read to me, not marriage vows.”

“You know, if you substitute the Miranda rights for wedding vows verbatim, you’re pretty much saying the say thing,” Holly told him.

“Ha, you’re right,” he replied, and they both laughed.  Even after he stopped laughing, the smile lingered on his face.  Surprisingly, he’d done that more times around her in the last couple of hours than he remembered doing in the last year.  Maybe, just maybe, the next two weeks at that damned couples retreat wouldn’t be quite as unbearable with Holly as his partner. 

They both relaxed into an easy banter style of conversation, quickly building their back story as ‘a couple with marital issues’.  And, since the idea was to stick as close to the truth as possible, Holly drew on what she knew best, her mother’s dysfunctional marriage.  Sanders, well, he contributed about as much as he did to any other conversation, nothing.  He simply let Holly decide what their issues were.

From there, they moved onto discussing their actual mission.  Finding the Aegis.

“So, basically we need to start by retracing Sebastian’s steps and look for the clues in the Duomo’s dome that he found.  You think he missed a clue there or something?”

“No.  I just need to see it for myself, get a feel of the building, check out all the nooks and crannies in the place.  It might give me a sense of how those scholars used to think back then.  And, that might give me an idea on how to interpret any other clues we find at the Medici’s Palazzo.”

“You don’t sound too confident on finding the Aegis.”

“I’m optimistic, but we know from past experience that the majority of missing artefacts have been extremely hard to find, some because they’re well hidden and others because their importance has been forgotten and someone has carelessly lost them. I’m hoping this one has been carefully hidden with enough well placed clues to find it within the next two weeks, or less if we’re really lucky.”

“So, how is understanding the 15th century scholars going to help?”

“Every era has its own way of looking at the world according to religious beliefs, social conventions and scientific advances.  For instance, in the 15th century at Christmas, people didn’t decorate trees or wrap expensive gifts for each other like we do today.  In fact, back then in some regions, the local Lord might give his favourite peasants a bucket of pig poo to use to replaster the walls of their house, or horse poo to add to clay to make dinner plates, and some were given chicken poo to use in tanning leather, and believe it or not, that was considered an exceptionally good present.”

“Ew, remind me if they ever build a time machine, not to go back to the 15th century.  I still don’t quite follow though, how does knowing what animal dung is useful for, help us now?”

“It’s the same as us hiding information behind encrypted computer programs, they hid information through encrypted messages in artwork and manuscripts.  You need to understand the method employed to be able to figure out the cipher to decode it.”

“Ah huh, that makes sense.  So, when do we start our search for clues?”

“Tonight.  I’ll wait until after whatever bullshit formalities they have lined up for us, then head over to the Duomo.”  Sanders pulled a carefully folded map from the pocket of his duffel bag and opened it between them.  “This is a map of all the hidden passages connecting the Medici Palazzo to all these other buildings, both above street level and below it.”

Holly stared at the map of tunnels that appeared to stretch for miles across the Florentine landscape, connecting the Palazzo to not only the Duomo, but also the two other family palaces, the Piti Palace or Palazzo Piti, and the Palazzo Vechio.  The latter was connected above ground via the Vasari Corridor, which the Medici called their Bricks and Mortar Invisibility Cloak, a passage above ground on top of the public bridge and buildings.  Other tunnels led to the Ufitsy, the Tower Hall of Florence where the city’s leaders met.  Along with many more tunnels leading in all directions from the Palazzo.

“It looks like you’re not the only one with trust issues,” she commented.

“The Medici had good reason to be so secretive.  From the 13th century they were known as God’s Bankers, since they handled the Catholic Church’s money, which made them very unpopular with other wealthy and influential families, not just in Florence, but all of Italy.  Whoever controlled the Pope’s purse, pulled the strings of power within the government.  The Medici knew that to be in public was to be vulnerable.  More than one Medici family member was assassinated by rivalling families, and they in turn had quite a few assassinated.”

“So they built all these tunnels to get around the city without being seen?”

“And more.” Sanders pulled another map from his bag, this one was of the Medici’s Palazzo, where they were going to be staying.  This map showed as many hidden tunnels and rooms within this one building, as there were leading from it, throughout the city. 

“Do we have to search all this?” Holly asked incredulously, pointing at the maps.

“I don’t know yet, maybe.  I hope not, we’d need a lot longer than two weeks if we did.”

 “You seem to know a lot about the Medici’s, I wouldn’t have thought 15th century European history was your forté.”

“It’s not.  I’m pretty good with the Knights Templar stuff, but I have to admit I never thought I’d have a need to become an expert on the Medici family.  Sebastian gave me a quick briefing before we left.” 

“Hmmm…” Holly stared at him curiously.

“What?”

“Nothing.  It’s just that, I’ve heard people talk about you, they say you’re a lot like Alex.”  Sanders raised an eyebrow but said nothing. “They say you’re almost as smart as him, and like Alex, it doesn’t bother you to kill someone, except that you aren’t immune to feeling remorse for it afterwards, unlike Alex,” she told him.

“I’ll take that as a compliment,” he replied, although his tone implied it more as a question. 

Seeing she’d made him feel a little uncomfortable with her comparison, Holly quickly changed the subject.  “So, do you think we have enough to find the Aegis?”

“We’d better.”

An uncomfortable silence filled the space between them as each mentally prepared themselves for what was to come. 

Beneath them, the sea gave way to land and soon the pitch and volume of the whirring plane’s engines intensified, slowing their momentum as the wheels touched down and the brakes engaged, and it felt as though it was directly proportionate to Holly’s escalating anxiety, now bordering on panic.

What the hell had she got herself into?


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