The town car that pulled up to the curb wasn’t at all surprising. There was no escaping the evidence of her escort’s affluence. He exuded it with the ease of someone who’d known nothing else. Born to money, prestige and class. The fact that he was a killer with cultivated tastes and endless resources only made his willingness to perform menial tasks far more intimidating.
Once settled in the car, where the drapes were pulled closed against the cityscape, he seemed a bit more contemplative than talkative. Jet wished she could see where they were going, but had an inkling that was the point. If this Tula person was as powerful and important as she’d been led to believe, it would only seem appropriate to keep visitors ignorant of her location.
“Tell me your story,” he prompted. “Not the facts. I already know those. Tula would not have extended an invitation without having all of your details first, right down to the brand of your favorite products.”
Jet’s mouth popped open, her eyes widening with the aftermath of violation. “She spied on me?”
“Hm, you are so sure of certain things,” he mused. “If you’ve any hope of finding the answers you seek, it would be wise to let those preconceived notions go and open your mind to all possibilities, even those you cannot conceive, without expectations.”
“How does that answer my question?” she asked, her mind racing to catch the hidden meanings of his words, if there were any.
“Tula has many enemies. To not do a thorough background check on someone before inviting them over for tea and biscuits would be excessively dimwitted, wouldn’t you say?”
“There’s a difference between thorough and invasive.”
“Not here,” he deadpanned. “There is a war waging under the ignorant façade of this empire. You’ve already heard the whispers. Noticed the differences, however slight. The citizens don’t like it when things interrupt their normal routines, so those small offenses don’t go unnoticed, even by a simple coffee house waitress just trying to make it through university and find out who she really is.”
“You know so much about me, then?” she fumed.
“Just the facts, as I said,” he reminded her. “I know nothing of your story.”
“And why should I give you that, when you can’t even give me your name?” she countered.
“Those who matter know precisely who I am,” he replied. “That is not always a good thing. Do you want to matter, Jet? Is that the sum of your ambition?”
Despite the lingering anger from having her life whittled down to nothing more than just data in some spy report, she knew it would be dangerous to answer sarcastically. Most likely, he’d have the car stopped and leave her standing on the side of the road. Jet couldn’t risk that, when she was finally making progress after all these years. Wouldn’t she be willing to sacrifice more than just her privacy to get the answers she needed?
“Everyone wants to matter,” she whispered. “I just want to find out why I didn’t.”
“Again, you are so sure,” he noted. “Things are rarely what they seem in the end.”
“I think you’re exactly as you seem,” she returned, being braver than she felt.
His mouth quirked up in one corner and his eyes slid to hers briefly. “No, little Witch, I am the worst thing you could ever imagine, and infinitely more.”
#WIP These Darkest Hours