“But dad, I told Emily I’d meet her at the mall, then we were going to meet you at the conference”.
“I’m sorry Leehya but you’re going to your aunts, you’ll just have to call Emily from there and tell here you can’t come today” Jackson shouted through the door as he threw his daughters clothes back into the suitcase she had just dumped on the floor. Three days had gone by since his talk with John and he had completely lost track of time, working on the cure had made him shut everything else out and he still hadn’t made it work yet. He had an hour and a half until the conference started and he still had to get his daughters to finish packing and get through the hour long drive to get them to their aunts house and back.
“Daddy please,” Leehya whined walking back into her room “I don’t want to go to aunt Frans house, it smells like wet dog and her cat hates me, why can’t I just stay over at Emily’s house, daddy”
“You’re going to your aunt’s house and that’s final now quit whining and take this out to the car” Jackson said firmly holding the suitcase out to her.
“AHHHHH” Leehya screamed as she snatched the suitcase and stomped down the stairs and out the back door.
Jackson sighed heavily as he went to find Layla. He found her in the dining room zipping up her bag and talking to the cat curled on one of the high backed dining chairs.
“Are you ready to go?” Jackson asked scratching sassy on her head.
“Has Rob dropped off Lenny yet?” She asked as she picked sassy up out of the chair.
“No, was he supposed to”.
“Yeah, he doesn’t want Lenny at the conference because he doesn’t want him getting into trouble and disrupting it, you know how he is.” They both heard a car door slam outside followed by a booming voice greeting Leehya. “There he is” Layla said putting sassy down as she walked out the door. Her father followed with her bag and watched from the doorway as Layla swooped little Lenny up and spun him around causing him to giggle and swoon as she put him back down and turned to greet Robert.
At four years old Lenny was large for his age, not in weight but in height. He was tall and scraggly with sandy blonde hair and jade green eyes. He was also a bundle of energy. The boy never stopped moving, not even when he was sleeping.
Jackson smiled as Lenny jumped on Leehya as she bent to put her suitcase in the trunk of his dark green sedan. Leehya dropped the suitcase, grabbed Lenny’s hand and swung him around and upside down until she was holding him by his knees with one arm and tickling him with her free hand. Jackson walked down the steps as Leehya sat Lenny upright back on the ground and started to chase him across the yard.
“Hi Jackson” Robert said brightly not looking away from his son as he tackled Leehya “The girls goin somewhere?” he asked finally tearing his gaze away from Lenny and pointing to the suitcase in the trunk of the car.
“To their aunts for the weekend, if you want I can drop off Lenny after the conference”.
It’d be a big help if you did, with the conference, the illness, and everything else that’s going on around here I’m swamped. The first of those patients died last night followed by six more this morning and we still have no idea what this thing is, how it’s spreading, or how to stop it. I’ve got twenty different scientists working on this thing, I’ve even got that Jamison boy helping out and still nothing." He shook his head and sighed as he leaned towards Jackson so that Layla couldn't overhear and continued, "I just got word that a similar virus is swamping Africa. It has the same symptoms. There haven’t been any deaths there yet but it’s only a matter of time, it would be a big help if you’d look into it. Maybe you could come down and help on the cure a little bit it’d really help me tremendously”.
“Maybe I could” Jackson said thoughtfully “ I might be able to take some time to help out”.
“I’d be much obliged if you did” rob said glancing at his watch “But right now I have to run, we’ll talk about it later alright”.
“Sure” Jackson replied quietly.
“Great” “Bye Lenny, be good” rob called as he climbed into his brown van and started to back out of the driveway.
“Bye daddy” Lenny said through his giggles as Leehya grabbed him and swung him over her
“Come on dad we should go” Layla said as she threw Leehya’s suitcase in the back of the car and slammed the trunk shut.
~ ~ ~ ~ ~
Jackson spent the entire ride to and from Frans house in a daze . He barely remembered the kids chatting in the back-seat or Layla giving him a kiss on the cheek as she got out of the car. His entire conscious was centered on finding a solution to the problem that rob had brought up. He had to call john, they had to figure out what to do and quickly. When he got home he jumped out of the car not even bothering to turn of the ignition. He raced up the steps taking them two at a time, burst through the door, ran to his study, and snatched up the phone, dialing john’s number and cursing under his breath. John picked up on the third ring.
“He’s got that little brat working on the cure” Jackson shouted before he could say anything.
“Who…...Boss what are you talking about” John asked bewildered.
“That Jamison kid, he’s got him working on the cure with the others. If he finds it we’ll be finished” Jackson cried.
“What, Who are you… wait," John chuckled into the phone "You don’t mean Jamison Hewes do you. Jackson he’s just a kid, he couldn't be any more than eighteen. Why are you so worried about an amateur who’s still wet behind the ears?” John asked with a laugh.
“He’s not any normal kid john, I’ve worked with him, he’s got to be the brightest person I’ve ever met.”
“Well you wanted to find the cure anyway so let the kid find it then take it or ask him to help us.”
“He won’t help us, he’s brilliant and I would’ve asked him to help us already if not for the fact that he’s, he’s…….. Childish in the way that he thinks he can change everyone for the better. But if anyone's got a chance of finding the cure it’s that kid.”
“Then what are you going to do”.
“I don’t know, if he finds it and I take it he’ll know that I’m behind everything and then I’ll have to…..”
“Why don’t you just ask rob if you can help on the cure, then if it looks like the kids getting close to finding the it, steal his notes and mess up his work.”
Jackson took a deep breath and sat down "I guess I that could work. I’ll have to keep my eye on him. If he finds out what I’m doing, well I don’t want anyone suspicious of me.”
“If you need my help I’m there and be careful not to let him catch you messing with his notes or taking his work alright, you remember what you had to do last time. You didn’t act the same for a month after that.” john said worriedly.
“I will” Jackson said wistfully looking at the clock “Thanks, I have to go, today’s the big day and I don’t want to be late to the conference, I only have fifteen minutes”.
“We’ll be there within the hour”.