Aidan sorted through the scattered papers until he heard Kian’s bedroom door lock. He waited a few minutes to be sure she was not leaving her room again before he crept out onto the front porch. With all his senses, he felt around into the night air. He always seemed to know when someone was creeping up on him, when someone was watching him. Tonight he felt nothing. The only sounds were the crickets. He loved that sound, he always had.
Aidan pulled out his cell phone, brought up his contacts and punched number 2. He waited three rings before he heard his boss answer.
“Scotty, boy, about time you checked in.”
“Yes, sir,” Aidan replied.
“The locals report there was some shooting up your way.”
“Yes, sir.” Aidan was not sure why he always addressed his boss as “sir.” Must be military training.
“So what do you know?”
“Nothing that would not be in the report filed by the local police. Someone broke into the house, trashed the first floor before Ms. Buchanan interrupted them. They shot at her during their escape. She’s upstairs sleeping now, but it’s been a rough two days for her.”
“What’s she like?”
“Miss Buchanan?” Aidan was not sure how to answer that question. “Headstrong when she wants to be. Moody. Drinks too much for my taste.”
“I want you to keep an eye on her.”
“So am I babysitting now?” Aidan chuckled.
“Not exactly,” Power replied. “I need to know if she’s gotten any packages lately.”
“Not that I know of. Why?”
“Just keep your eye out for any suspicious packages.”
Aidan felt that familiar creep up his spine, the one that said something was not right. “What is it you suspect?”
Power did not answer, so Aidan tried another tack, “Do you know what might be in this suspicious package?”
“No idea.” Power was clearly irritated now. “You have anything else to report?”
“No, sir. I’m sure the local police report was quite comprehensive.” Click. His boss ended the call.
Aidan sat on the porch and listened to the crickets. His boss was withholding something–about that he was sure. And he was also sure that his spine creep meant something. But what?
Finally deciding the answer to his question would continue to allude him until he had more information, Aidan crept back into the house and, too tired to resume sorting through the scattered papers, grabbed a book from the library and made himself comfortable on the sofa.
More a shadow than a person, a single lithe figure dressed in black descended from a nearby tree and crept from the woods to the front porch. Crouching down, the shadow peered into the front window. Someone was lounging on the sofa, absorbed in a book.
Satisfied, the figure stole over to the Jeep and tried each door. When none of them opened, a jimmy was pulled out and the back hatch pried. It popped. The figure entered the Jeep and, one-by-one, began tossing the contents out onto the gravel driveway. After emptying the Jeep, the figure methodically checked under the seats and into every compartment, every crack and crevice. Satisfied the package could not be inside the Jeep, the shadow figure emerged again and started a meticulous examination of the items tossed out. A bag of tools was emptied on the ground. Nothing. Nothing with the emergency equipment either. That left two large shopping bags. Just as the figure upended the first and a comforter with sheets fell onto the ground, lightening flashed, illuminating the driveway. The figure ducked and peered around the vehicle. Shit, the agent had come to the window. The shadowy figure felt the agent send out his senses. Fuck! Lightening again, followed by crashing thunder. Stealing another glance, the figure noted the agent had left the window. Two seconds, that was all the time there was before he’d be at the door. The figure kicked the spilled comforter and sheets under the Jeep, silently closed the back hatch, grabbed the second shopping bag, and raced into the shadows, disappearing into the forest.
Aidan opened the front door but found only the magnificent power of a distant storm. Still, he was uneasy. There had been someone out there, he was sure of it. Should he call his boss? No, the man was more interested in some strange package than in the shooting and break-ins. Aidan pulled out his cell once again and this time punched in number 1.
His buddy Jimbo answered on the first ring. “Yo, Scotty boy. Fancy hearing from you. On a case?”
“That I am. What’re you doing? Busy?”
“Nope, bored as hell. Want some company?”
“Only if you want a fun-packed vacation in the Hudson Valley. Camping. Looking for perps. Getting shot at. Covering my butt.”
“Sounds exciting. Seriously, what’s up?”
Still on the front porch, Aidan plopped down into a wicker rocker and explained the situation.
When he was finished, Jimbo had one question. “Power have you ‘off the grid’ on this one?”
“Yup, another one of those.”
“Buddy, I’m on my way. Should be there in six hours.”
“No, wait until morning. No sense in driving through the night.”
“Got it. See you tomorrow. Be there before noon.”
By Katsushika Hokusai derivative work: AMorozov (Hokusai_sketches_-_hokusai_manga_vol6.jpg) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons