Joaquin blinked at the woman’s squinting eyes and the stern expression on her face. She shifted her hands behind her back to hide something. Joaquin allowed a wide grin and took a step back from the door. “Frank told me to wait for someone.” He paused and allowed his eyes to roam over the petite woman from head to toe. “How do I know you’re the one I’m waiting for?”
The woman sighed and brought whatever she was hiding behind her back in plain sight. “Let me guess,” she declared, an amused rise in the corner of her lips, “Frank had to step out, so you got stuck waiting for this.” She waved a thick envelope at Joaquin, and let it thump soundly on a table adorning the entryway.
“So,” she continued after glancing at Joaquin, “who’re you with? CIA, FBI, NSA, DHS? Detective Frank Massey has lots of friends in a variety of federal offices.” Her eyes focused on his right eyebrow. “He also has contacts in other organizations.” She winked. “Street organizations…”
Joaquin’s smile fell. The blonde woman nodded as if he had confirmed her suspicions. “Well, uh, I…” he stammered.
She held up a hand, palm toward Joaquin. “Save it; I don’t want to know.”
Joaquin looked over his shoulder and back to the woman. “What’s your name?” he queried.
She smiled. “Just let Frank know that all the information and ancillary content he wanted is in the package.” She gestured toward the envelope balanced precariously on the edge of the table.
“Okay, uh, Betty, er, I mean, Officer Patterson.”
She smirked and turned to exit the foyer back to the street. Her pleasant smile faded when she saw a black Ford Explorer with dark tinted windows parallel parked across the street. Joaquin followed her gaze, and he noticed the slight distortion coming from the tailpipe. Whoever it was, they left the motor running. The vehicle suddenly pulled into the street and sped away. Betty and Joaquin watched it disappear over the slight rise of the pavement, noting the government license plate.
Betty tightened her jacket and turned back into Frank’s apartment. She met Joaquin’s eyes with a cold determination that made him swallow audibly. “Tell Frank that I don’t know what he’s into, but he needs to watch his back.” She reached over and pushed the envelope further on the table. “He needs to keep me out of whatever’s going on. I want no part of an operation that has spooks watching what’s going on.”
She turned and stepped across the threshold. She looked left and then right, before another glance over her shoulder at Joaquin. She descended the stairs and headed down the sidewalk opposite from the direction the black SUV went. She looked as if she hadn’t a care in the world, but Joaquin knew better.
He was certain that his destiny and Frank’s were intertwined and so very fragile. One mistake could end them both, possibly even the world.
* * *
Globe eased the clinically white door open just a crack so he could see enough of the room through the breach. Bree was quiet for most of the afternoon after she demanded that she’d rather stay in her room and play. He could have checked on her through the surveillance monitors, but a part of him played the parenting role. That role required him to stop by now and then to make sure Bree was happy; wasn’t bored; wanted or didn’t want something, and so much more. He would never admit it to anyone, but even though it would’ve put a severe curtail on his grand plans, he yearned for a family of his own.
Globe’s eyes scanned the pink painted walls; the random drawings pinned here and there, and the soft plush carpet. He let out a breath. Such innocence, he thought as he braved the door ajar some more. Bree was asleep in her bed; Mr. Puss was tightly tucked under one uncovered arm. She looked peaceful, her face calm, her hair messy. Just like any other child. He wondered what such a unique little girl dreamed of or whether she dreamed at all. What wayward house did her unconscious mind build for her to inhabit? Did her power span her waking hours and the adjoining world beyond the veil? His curiosity of her nature drove him to cast those poor children into a permanent comatose state. He imagined her watching over those children and their bouncy frolicking in a shared consciousness. He scowled at his vapid optimism. Such vain attempts to staunch his guilt were beneath him.
Globe felt a nagging voice creep in his consciousness that told him he should tuck her in and make sure she was safe. As he reached to pull the blanket, the notion disappeared as quickly as it had come. Globe recoiled from the drastic change, his mind fighting between paralysis and worry. He soon felt it was a sensation of fear and that made him feel almost vulnerable. The room despite its bright colors was quick to give him discomfort. It was cold and unnatural almost like a pretend version of happiness and calm. His eyes showed him normalcy, but his mind saw it different, and that betrayed the illusion. In Bree’s room, the weight of his plans suffocated him. Outside Bree’s room, outside, he was certain. There was no room for questions. He backed slowly out of the room and closed the white door. It was never locked allowing Bree to roam free across the entire floor. Though it connected to his office with ease, Globe had had the rest of it isolated creating just the single white door in the middle of a corridor full of empty rooms. Bree accepted it as a playground devoid of grownups, but to Globe it had always been a precautionary prison: out of reach to people other than him.
A sudden vibration of his phone in his pocket jarred him from his thoughts. He fished it out and hazarded a glance at the wildly blinking screen before he ran down the corridor, desperate for the elevator to take him down to the lab.