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The Ground Beneath Her Feet

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"Are you sure you're alright, Hayds?" Juliet asked as she led him by the arm to his front door.

"Sure I'm sure," Hayden replied, flashing a wink and a cheeky grin. "Keep paying me attention like this and Logan’s gonna get all jealous.”

Juliet laughed and pinched his arm. "He won’t complain since he’ll be mooching weed off of you all night.”

"Yeah, well, more importantly..." His gaze drifted to Logan, who was reaching through his car window to grab their coolers. "How do we get him to play along with...you know."

Juliet smirked as she followed his eyes. "I like Logan a lot, but he’s far from the sharpest knife in the drawer. Get him high enough and I promise he won't remember who was or wasn't at this party."

"I'll keep that in mind. And—whoa, check it out! We got company!" Hayden nodded to the opposite side of the street. Juliet's eyes widened as she recognized the two figures crossing over to them. “Kate! Brooke!”

Kate's brows were knitted and she pulled her cardigan tighter around her as she hurried across the lawn. Brooke followed more cautiously, shoulders hunched and her hands deep in her jacket pockets while trying to avoid their eyes.

"You came!" Juliet cried, reaching out to give Kate a hug.    

“We headed out as soon as we got your text,” said Kate. “So Jefferson really attacked Rachel and Max?”

“Nathan came after Rachel,” Hayden said, scowling. “I barely managed to stop him. As for Jefferson, he showed up and tried to kidnap Max when she followed him to the back of the gym. When that didn't work, he took Nathan and left.”

“Well, shit,“ muttered Brooke. “So it’s true after all.” She and Kate gazed unhappily at each other, and Juliet understood that they'd been hoping this was somehow going to go away on its own. 

"What's the play here then?" Brooke asked.

"A'ight, plan's simple.” Hayden said, lowering his voice. Juliet took a moment to admire his stepping up as a leader—it was something different and new. “We hang out, we drink, and we wait for Rachel, Chloe, and Max to show up. Anybody asks us, we tell them they were with us the whole night. Got that?"

"I took some selfies with them on my phone," Juliet announced. "I've already posted them online."

"We can take more when they arrive then!" Kate added, earning her a look from everyone around her. She blushed but held her ground. "If they're working to protect us, I wanna help protect them." 

Brooke stared down at her shoes. "Yeah well, if Kate’s willing to break one of the Commandments to help out, I guess I don’t have an excuse.” She kicked a pebble onto the grass. “So we provide those three an alibi. Easy enough." 

Juliet couldn't help herself. "I'm so proud of you guys!" she cried, throwing her arms around Kate and Brooke. The latter squawked and tried to push her off.  

“Yo Hayden!” Logan shambled toward them from his car. He cast a look at their group, clearly questioning the presence of half the people there, but then put his arm around Juliet and declared, “We gonna start this party or what? Booze ain’t gonna drink itself.”

"You know it. Come on in, guys!” Hayden waved them in through his front door. As their gathering trooped inside, Juliet looked out into the night and wished Rachel and the others all the luck they could possibly get.


"You sure you won’t need me for anything else?” Warren asked for what must’ve been the fifth time.

Max caught Chloe's low growl of impatience from somewhere behind her, so she shook her head and smiled. "I think we can take it from here." 

They were standing at the foothills at the edge of Arcadia Bay, the same place where they had climbed to Rachel's Aerie over a week ago. Before that, they stopped by Chloe's house to prep, changing out of their evening wear and into more practical jackets, jeans, and boots. They had also grabbed a slew of tools: flashlights, gloves, trowels, a knife, and some steel wire.

Rachel slung her satchel over her shoulder and came to stand beside Max. “We’re all good, Warren, thanks so much for the assist. And please don't worry. We’ll join you at Hayden’s as soon as we can.” She curled her fingers around Max's arm as she spoke, an act that to Max’s mind bore a touch of possessiveness.

Warren took a deep breath and stared out at the dark forest. "Okay then," he said. "I dunno what you'll be doing out here, but please—be careful. If you see Jefferson, get the hell outta there, okay?"

"We will," Max promised, knowing they'd do no such thing.

They watched him get into his car, back up until he hit asphalt, then head back into town.

Chloe approached and slung her arms around their shoulders. "You realize we could've used him as a distraction, right? He could've shown up at the front gate, pretending to be drunk and lost."

Rachel poked her in the ribs. "You watch too many spy movies, Chlo. He would've been an immediate suspect afterward." 

"I'm not seeing the downside here."

"Cute. Let's get started before anyone loses their nerve." 

Chloe nodded, looking around at them. "If any of you wanna back out, speak up now or forever hold your peace."

"Hell no," Max replied. 

"Ditto," Rachel said. "Jefferson and Prescott attacked us on our own turf. Now we're gonna hit them back."

Chloe shrugged. "I knew you'd say that. Well, Prescott's secret construction site ain't gonna rob itself. Let's roll." 

 

The night lay restless in the forest, pulsing around them like an irregular heartbeat. Max had camped in it numerous times before with her dad and with Chloe. But it had never seemed this...alive. The woods were filled with rustling and creaking and leaves crunching underfoot. Hidden owls hooted from the trees, and now and then something stirred among the nearby bushes. Clouds hid the moon and stars, and a soft breeze stirred the pines with a chorus of sighs. 

The forest would have scared Max half to death had she been alone, but she had Chloe, who was leading the way, and Rachel, who was a half-step behind her. Chloe was using a flashlight covered in red cellophane. She pointed the beam down at the leaf-covered ground. Occasionally, she would stop and look around, confused. 

"We left markers to point the way to the site," Rachel explained to Max. "We thought they'd be easy to see at night, except Chloe here insisted we use red flashlights. Now they're almost invisible!"

"Red light is harder to see from a distance!" Chloe retorted. "It's so we don't get spotted by the guards, Rachel!"

"You're assuming we're actually near the site and not halfway to Canada!"

"We. Aren't. Lost. Just give me a sec to find the next marker."

Chloe searched the forest floor for several minutes, turning here and there like a hound chasing a scent. Finally, Rachel reached into her pocket. 

"I'm turning on my flashlight," she announced. 

"Do it and you might as well get on a bullhorn and tell Prescott's guards we're here."

"Considering the noise we've been making, I'm surprised they haven't found us yet!"

Max hissed, “Alright, quiet you two!” As both fell silent, Max went on, "Chloe, doesn't anything here look familiar? Wouldn’t it help to just backtrack?"

"No, gimme a minute, I'll find the way." Chloe cast the light around again, searching the ground. 

"Backtracking will only take a few seconds, Chloe."

"I said I got it, Max. It's—" Chloe's light abruptly stopped moving, focusing on the ground. "Jesus Christ! What the fuck—?!" 

Max jumped at her voice. "Chloe?" She caught hold of her friend's arm; the taller girl's eyes were wide and white, staring straight into the gloom. "Chloe, what's the matter?"

Her friend didn't answer. As Max watched, the red beam of the flashlight inched up from the ground to shine at a spot in the underbrush. There was nothing there, but Chloe held the beam for a long, uncomfortable moment. 

"Chloe?" Rachel approached and put her hand on Chloe's shoulder. "Hey, you okay?"

Chloe shook herself as if waking from a dream. "Y-yeah. I'm good, I'm good." Her voice sounded different—lower-pitched, the irritation replaced by an odd, nervous energy.

"What happened?" Rachel went on. "You see something strange?"

"Me? No. Didn't see no one. Anyway, I...uh, I remember where we need to go. It's this way. Come on." She motioned with the light and stepped forward.

"Uh, you sure? I didn't see any of our markers." 

"’Course I'm sure. It's this way."

As Chloe moved ahead of them, Max exchanged glances with Rachel. "That was...weird," Rachel whispered. 

Max nodded. "I've never seen her spooked like that before."

"Yo, let's go," Chloe called over her shoulder, pointing at a path through the trees. "I think we're pretty close." 

"If you say so," Rachel replied. She held out her hand to Max. "Coming?"

"Yeah..." Max took her hand and together they followed Chloe.

It took some time for Max to realize what bothered her about Chloe's response. Rachel had asked her if she'd seen something. Chloe had replied she saw no one .


“I just don’t get it.” Juliet shook her head as she flopped down on the sofa. “Why would Nathan do this? I mean, yeah, he’s got his issues, but working with a pervert like Jefferson? That’s next level psycho!”

The rest of their group had gathered in the den where they’d partied together just a couple of weeks before. Hayden had set up Madden NFL on his Xbox for Logan to play—he was busy thrashing his co-player Warren, so he was happy to sit apart while the rest talked. Hayden then handed out coolers and beers to everyone—for Kate, who didn’t drink, he poured a glass of orange juice.

“Nathan’s always been a weird little shit,” Hayden observed, sitting down beside Juliet. “I used to stand up for him and say it was all his asshole dad’s fault.” 

“Hey,” said Brooke, grinning as she ate Doritos from a bowl, “don’t curse around Kate. You’ll make her ears burn.”

“Right. Sorry, Kate.”

“Um, what?” Kate goggled at Brooke. “That’s not true!” 

“Brooke’s just teasing,” Juliet said. “Anyway, I get that Nathan would look for something like a father figure, if that’s what this is about. But a kidnapper like Jefferson? He’d go so far as to help that fuckface? Sorry, Kate.”

“Hey!”

“Maybe he just wants to get back at his dad,” offered Brooke, sitting down on the floor. “It’s his way of acting out. Some kids drink and stay out late, others turn into Ted Bundy Jr.”

“Nah.” Hayden lit up a reefer and lifted his eyes to the ceiling. “Nate’s always been obsessed with pleasing his dad. Maybe there’s something deeper here.” He shrugged. “Maybe it has to do with their curse.”

Kate raised her eyebrows. “I’m sorry—their what?”

Hayden peered around at their blank expressions. “What, you guys never heard of the Prescott Family Curse?”

“We’re not exactly in Nathan’s social circle,” Brooke pointed out.

“Just spill it, Jones!” Juliet exclaimed.

“A’ight, fine. I don’t normally rat on my Vortex pals, but I guess Nate’s made my shit list. Gather ‘round kiddies.” He glanced over to check that Logan was still preoccupied, then leaned his elbows on his knees and spoke in a lower tone. 

“So, sometimes Nathan likes to go hard, you know? He’d drink and do weed even after he’d taken his meds, which is a big no-no according to the docs. I stick with him when he gets like that, because it can get pretty funny to watch, but also so he doesn’t do something stupid, like smash up his car or pick a fight with a moose.

“Anyway, one night he goes off nuttier than usual. This was last year, at Josh Miller’s afterparty. Nate and I were in the garden, shootin’ the shit, you know, and he was going on and on, yelling about his dad’s gotten worse now that his sister Kristine’s run off to Brazil.

“Then Nate stops yelling and sits down. He got this weird calm look on his face, like something dawned on him. And he says to me, ‘I’m gonna die, Hayden.’

“I humor him. ‘We all gonna die someday, homes. You just gotta tick off the stuff on your bucket list before that happens.’

“He shakes his head. ‘You don’t get it. I’m gonna die because that’s what happens to the men of the Prescotts. The old pricks here in town, they hate my family not because we got money. It’s because they know we’re cursed and they want us gone.

“Then—I shit you not—he starts crying. Not bawling or anything. Quietly. These huge teardrops rolling down his cheeks as he stares out at nothing. I say, ‘Hey, Nate, you okay?’

“He says to me, ‘My grandpa died a bad death. His uncle died too, years before. Down the line to the first Prescott who ever stepped onto Arcadia Bay. One day, it’ll happen to my dad, then I’m next. I don’t blame Kristine for leaving. She didn’t want to watch it happen. Because I’m just as cursed as my dad.’ Then he gets up and walks—I dunno—home, I guess. Even left his fucking car in Josh's driveway. When I see him again in class, he’s back to his usual self. He never talked about his family like that ever again.

“But you know, something about what he said bothered me. It didn’t sound like he was making shit up. So I went and talked to my old man, asked him if it’s true that Nate’s granddad—that's Harry Aaron Prescott—died of a curse. 

"He looks at me like I was crazy. ‘Course not, Hayds. Who’ve you been talking to? Sure, it was a tragedy he died fairly young, but nothing supernatural about it. Just plain old bad luck.’"

Hayden paused to drink from his can. Scowling, Juliet said, “That’s the worst possible time ever to take a sip of beer.”

“I’m thirsty! Slow your roll.”

“Hurry up and tell us what he died of!"

“‘He got hit by lightning,’ my dad replied. ‘Got hit by lightning twice, if I heard right.’

“'Whoa,’ I said. ‘Like a bolt got him but he walked it off then after a few weeks another bolt hit him again?’

"‘Nah,’ he said. ‘Got hit twice on the same spot just seconds later. Like God decided to double-tap. Bam. Bam . It's rare lightning does that, sure. But like I said, it's nothing more than bad luck.’ 

"And that was the last I heard of it.” Hayden stopped and took a hit from his weed, then realized the girls were all staring at him.

“That,” said Brooke, “is the biggest load of bullcrap I’ve ever heard. All hearsay.”

Hayden put up his palms. “Hey, I just repeated what my dad said.”

"That's what hearsay means, Hayden. Who even has proof that all that happened?"

"It's probably in the newspaper archives somewhere. Or you can talk to the only person who witnessed it. My dad said Sean Prescott was there when his father died. He saw the whole thing."

Kate gasped, putting a hand over her mouth.

Juliet said, “So is it true? Did the Prescott men really die violent deaths?”

“I dunno.” Hayden shrugged. “I never looked into it. So who knows what the truth is?”

"I say Nathan made it all up for a self-pity party after getting high on meds and bad weed," Brooke concluded. “Like he’s the only guy in town who’s got family troubles.”

“Poor Nathan,” Kate said, looking down at her glass. “Do you think the Prescott Curse is real?”

“Oh, please.” Brooke picked up another nacho to munch. “There's no such thing as curses. Also, this is Arcadia Bay. Nathan aside, nothing weird ever happens here.” 


Before long, Max could feel the ground start to slope gently down. Guided by Chloe's surefooted pace and Rachel's strong grip, they negotiated the way to the bottom. And there, just above a line of underbrush, she spotted the lights of the construction site.

The place seemed somehow bigger in the dark than in the daytime. Likely it had to do with the wide halo of the floodlights placed on every corner of the wire fence. The place was lit up like a concert or a ball game. Why so bright? Max wondered to herself. Is Prescott expecting someone would try to steal from him? The thought sent a chill through her flesh, and she banished it to a dark corner of her mind. Instead, she focused on each step she took towards the bushes at the base of the slope.

Chloe pointed to a hole in the thicket before getting down on her hands and knees to crawl in. Swallowing her fear, Max followed her in and Rachel brought up the rear. 

The tunnel wound through the underbrush. They didn't even need the flashlight anymore: despite the cover of leaves and branches, the site gave off enough light to see through the tunnel. Max was more worried about all the noise they were making—no matter how slow and careful they went, every movement brought the crunch of leaves or the snap of a twig, making her clench her teeth with every foot they crawled.

An eternity later, Chloe paused, making Max stop as well. The taller girl cocked her ear and, satisfied no one was nearby, she took hold of a loose branch laying on the ground in front of her and gently lifted it out the way. Several leaves moved with the branch—it was concealing the tunnel exit. Max's jaw dropped at how clever all this was.

Chloe peered out the hole, then just as quickly pulled back. "Down!" she whispered and dropped prone. Max fell on her front, the thud of her body making her heart fall silent in her chest. Behind her, Rachel followed suit. None of them made a sound, which made it easy to hear the approaching footsteps. 

Teeth digging into her lip, all her muscles tight as wires, Max dared to peek as the footsteps grew louder. Boots scuffling on the grass. She strained to see, her eyes starting to sting as she forced herself not to blink. 

Just above Chloe's head, through the wire mesh, a pair of black boots and khaki pants marched past the field of vision allotted by the tunnel opening. A moment later, the footfalls began to recede.

"Fuck, that was close," breathed Rachel.

Chloe nodded. "Close as the Holy Ghost, but—" She trailed off, uncertain.

“...But not good enough for toast.” Max finished for her. “Something your dad used to say, right?”

“Yeah,” Chloe murmured. “He did like to say that.” Again she sounded strange. Max wanted to ask again if she was okay, but Chloe pulled herself forward with her arms, squeezing her way out of the tunnel. Max had no choice but to follow.

Moments later, they were all lying on their bellies beside the wire fence. This spot had more shadows, being far from the corners of the camp, where the lamps were located. Beyond the fence gaped the enormous hole that had been dug into the earth, only this time, it was mostly filled with concrete and steel poles. 

"See that building by the gate?" Chloe pointed out a squat wooden building elevated by stilts and with a short stairway leading up. "That's the guardhouse. They have three guards in there, and every hour, one of them makes the rounds on the perimeter. That just happened, which is good. We got a full hour before he shows up again."

"Hopefully more than enough time," Rachel added. 

Chloe nodded. "See over there, that long building that looks like a barracks? That's where the construction workers sleep. And over there," she made a picture frame with her fingers, "that shack with the glass windows and the red door, is the foreman's office. THAT'S what we want to hit."

"Okay," Max breathed. The building wasn't too far away, maybe some 60 feet from where they were. Seemed easy enough—assuming there was no one inside. The windows were lit, though. "Okay. So how do we get over this fence?"

"We go under ," Rachel corrected her. She reached into her bag, pulled out two trowels, and handed one to Max. "Let's get digging."

Five minutes of work, and there was a little bowl-shaped indentation beneath the bottom rail—enough for a person to squeeze through, with some difficulty. Once they were done here, they’d cover it up again and hopefully no one would notice.

Chloe took a deep breath. "Looks like it's my turn now."

Max put a hand on her shoulder. "Chloe, remember—no unnecessary risks, okay? You find what we need, then get out."

"Chillax, Max. It's not my first rodeo." Even so, there was no humor in her smile, and her blue eyes strayed to the red door of the building ahead.

Rachel asked, "You got your headset ready? And your gloves?

Chloe nodded. She pulled on her leather gloves and stuck her phone’s earbud into her left ear. "Call me when I get to the office building."

"Hey—look at me," Rachel said, brushing a blue strand from Chloe's face. "You got this."

"I know." Chloe's smile turned into a grin. "Kiss for good luck?"

"For starters," Rachel answered with a smile of her own before grabbing Chloe by her jacket and planting a searing kiss on her lips. Max turned away, hoping they wouldn't notice her reddening face.

Moments later, Chloe had pulled herself through the hole beneath the fence. With a quick look to check for guards, she scuttled towards the nearest hiding spot—a pair of plastic water barrels halfway between the fence and the buildings.

Without her, Max could readily feel the chill on her skin. She and Rachel settled back down on the grass. Rachel fitted one earpiece into her ear and offered the other one to Max. "Now the hard part," she whispered, holding up her phone between them.

"Yeah," Max sighed, her eyes trained on the guardhouse. "The waiting." 


Keeping her head low, Chloe raced across the grass towards her goal: the western wall of the foreman's office, which faced away from the guardhouse and had enough shadow for cover. She kept her eyes glued to the guardhouse window as she ran, expecting any moment to see someone to lean out and yell, "Who's there?!"

But no one did, and seconds later, Chloe had her back against the office's wall, waiting for her breath to catch up. 

Her phone vibrated in her pocket. She reached in and hit answer, and Rachel's voice seeped through the earpiece.

"Chloe? Can you hear me?"

"Like my guardian angel," Chloe panted. Thank goodness they had some reception out here; it was easier to do this with Rachel and Max talking her through. "You got eyes on the guardhouse?"

Max answered this time. "Yeah. No one’s moving. I think you're good."

"Gotcha. Let's make this quick."

The front door was a no-go, not with a lamp shining directly over the door. Chloe slid along the wall to the rear of the building and peered around the corner. The site was deserted and all the lights of the barracks were dark. So far, so good. The only thing she was afraid of now was getting surprised by some idiot stepping out for a midnight whiz after one too many beers.

Well, nothing for it . Chloe rounded the corner and inched her way along the back of the building. No backdoor, but it did have a window. She peered inside, fully expecting to see the foreman working a late night.

The room was deserted. Overhead lamps filled the room with yellow light. Large office desks were placed against three of the other walls, with a fourth dominating the center of the room. On the desk opposite the window sat a laptop, a large brown coffee mug, a desk fan, and a black ashtray filled to the brim with stubs. To the right of the table was a low cot with a single dirty pillow. To the left of the table stood a low filing cabinet. Looks like something to keep important stuff in , she thought.

Chloe tested the window but only succeeded in rattling it. "Window's locked," she muttered.

"Well, we didn't come here expecting a cakewalk," Rachel replied. 

"No big. Captain Bluebeard comes prepared." 

The window was the sliding type. Chloe pulled out a steel wire, fitted it in through a gap between the two frames, and twisted it against the latch. It gave easily. With a little push from her splayed fingers, the window slid open.

"I'm in," she whispered.

"Keep your eyes sharp, Captain," Max whispered back.

"Always, First Mate." Grabbing onto the ledge, Chloe wormed her way through the window and nearly plunged headfirst into a wastebasket sitting beneath the sill. She managed to catch herself with her arm but tipped the basket over, spilling crumpled paper onto the floor.

"Chloe?" came Max's alarmed voice. "What was that noise?"

"Nothing, nothing, it's under control," Chloe muttered as she hurried to clean up. Smooth, Double-0 Chlo

Pulling herself to her feet, she surveyed the room again. A low hum emanated from the fan on the desk—the foreman clearly wouldn't be gone for long. The laptop was on, displaying a screensaver of ribbons floating in a breeze. 

Keeping low and avoiding the windows, Chloe approached the laptop and touched the mousepad. She scowled when the screen prompted her for a password. Dead end here. Too bad—this probably has the data we need, if I only knew how to hack.

She crept toward the file cabinet instead. There were three drawers in all. Pulling the lowest one out revealed some survey documents on Arcadia Bay and the surrounding area. Not much interest there. 

The second drawer had piles of invoices for building materials and transport trucks, all by a firm named Pastoral State, Inc. That's interesting , Chloe thought. She made a mental note of the name. I might be able to research something about it later. 

Finally, she pulled on the last drawer. Locked

"Dudes,” she whispered, “are the guards getting restless yet?"  

After a second, Rachel answered. "There's someone at the guardhouse window. I can see his silhouette. He doesn't seem to be alerted, more like he's looking around. But I don't like it. Hurry, Chlo."

"It's not like I'm on vacation here, Amber." Chloe fished the wire out from her pocket again and produced a hairpin from another pocket. Bending the wire into an L, she stuck it into the keyhole and turned it slightly to the right. While maintaining light pressure there, she pushed the hairpin inside, scrubbing gently at the lock's tumblers. This was a skill she learned from Frank. Little by little, the lock began to give, until finally it yielded a satisfying click that brought a smirk to her face. She turned the lock all the way and yanked the drawer open.

There was only one document inside—a folded piece of vellum paper. Chloe picked it up and spread it open. The grin on her face widened. 

"Guys, found a blueprint for whatever it is they're making here. It's a building alright. A weird one."

"Can you snap a photo?" Max asked.

"Already on it."

Chloe laid the blueprint flat on the table, then took a step back and opened up her phone's camera. It was difficult to get an angle that got the whole thing, but eventually she found one that worked. It was only after a bright flash accompanied the click of the camera that she realized her mistake.

"Fuck!" Chloe said, staring down at the screen and, yes, the flash had been set to auto.

"Chloe?" came Max's voice. "Chloe, we saw a flash from the window. Was that you?"

"Yeah, shit, yeah. I forgot about the setting. Did anyone—"

Rachel interrupted her, her words coming rapidly through the phone. "A guard just walked out of the outpost. I think he saw it. He's heading towards you!"

"Fuck!" Chloe grabbed the blueprint and stuffed it back into the file cabinet. Adrenaline was flooding through her veins; her fingers were shaking as she pushed the drawer shut. She eyed the open window and wondered if she had enough time to squeeze her way out.

"Chloe, he's almost at the door! You gotta hide!"

No time , she thought. She scurried to the center office desk and ducked beneath it. At that instant, the door opened.

Footsteps tramped into the room and paused by the door. The guard was surveying the place. Chloe's breathing went shallow; her pulse was throbbing in her throat. She thought of her penknife but feared the sound of drawing it might give her away. Thankfully, she was concealed on three sides by cabinets and the desk's wooden panel. 

It’s fine. The only way he can spot me is if he walks over to the other side of this desk and—

The footsteps started moving again, catlike against the wooden floor; the guard was doing a slow sweep of the area. Fuck, he's gonna be thorough . Chloe pressed herself deeper into shadow until her back was flush against the desk's panel. A bead of sweat stung her eye. In her earpiece, Max was whispering her name. Chloe dared not reply.

A pair of scuffed work boots and khaki pants appeared at the edge of her vision. The guard stood beside the desk, close enough for her to touch. If he stooped just a little, he'd have no problem seeing her there, squeezed into her cubbyhole like a terrified mouse.

But before he could make a move, a voice called out from the direction of the doorway.

"Can I help you with something, Madsen?"

Chloe’s breath hitched as the guard responded with a gruff and distinctly familiar voice. "It's fine, sir. I just thought I saw something through the window. A...flash of some kind."

Holy fuck! Chloe fitted a hand over her mouth to choke back a gasp. David!?