Contract. Observe. Validate. Entrap. Neutralize.
At First Sight
The strangest thing about starting work in a new company, in a new place, was that first day of meeting with the boss. True, the meeting was exciting, nerve-wracking, a whole slew of emotions at once, but all things had to happen in time. Calleigh Colette pondered her fate as she moved through the open atrium of her new home away from home.
Germany was far different from the United Kingdom. The weather was colder there due to the country being farther north, and the snow wasn’t nearly as wet. Calleigh felt relieved to get inside the enormous building where she could take off her scarf and heavy down jacket.
The building was vast, spacious, and very modern, so different from the Palace at Buckingham where she had served Her Majesty, the Queen of England, as a Kingdom Agent. Even the smell was different—something reminiscent of that brand new house smell; clean, crisp, and pure.
In the midst of the young woman’s amazement of the new place, a sudden voice startled her.
“May I help you, Miss?”
It had come from one of the three front desk secretaries in the atrium’s Help Desk. The lady had short dark curls that coiled around her horn rimmed glasses, making her youthful face seem ever younger. Calleigh saw from the iridescent blue glow in the girl’s eyes that she wasn’t human, a fact that made Calleigh feel all the more at peace with her relocation.
“Um, yes,” Calleigh replied in a low tone. “I’m looking for, um…” Fumbling in her bag for a moment, the fire-haired lady pulled out a thick piece of paper stamped with an official seal of InDOS. “Rosaleigh?”
“Is she expecting you, Miss?”
Calleigh nodded. “I’m the new Agent, transferring from the United Kingdom.”
“Oh.” The woman’s tone was funny to Calleigh. It wasn’t sarcastic, like any other woman seeing some competition in the workplace; it was sad, like a great loss had occurred. Noticing Calleigh’s curious look, the secretary hastily put a smile on. “Right, I have your papers right here, Miss…Colette?”
The secretary nodded. “Alright then. Just have a seat and let me pull up your file in our database. It won’t take long.”
The clicking of the keys faded quickly from Calleigh’s ears as she resumed her dazed sightseeing. It looked like a crystal palace or something from the future with how it was laid out. The wide open atrium showed off a number of levels, each with a full length walkway that spanned the width of the area, turning it into a sort of single-helix layout. Metal and glass combined to form the walls and ceilings, spilling in the warm sunlight of midafternoon across the floors and stairs like distorting water.
But that, too, soon faded from the youth’s mind. On the second floor walkway, leaning against one of the pillars, was a man. The old time apparel he wore made Calleigh think of simpler times, when carriages and horses ruled the streets and the high-tech building in which they stood didn’t even exist. She wanted to say to herself how out of place the man looked with the black cape draped elegantly over his shoulders, but she kept quiet and simply looked, taking in the sight she never thought she would have seen. His flawless features and auburn eyes bored holes into Calleigh’s mind.
It seemed as if the man was studying her, sizing her up to see if she was fit to work in the place. Calleigh had half a mind to tell him to take a picture if he liked what he saw, but something about the man made it hard for the girl to do so, or even to look away. Only after the secretary called her name four times did Calleigh return to Earth.
“You can go up to see the President now, Miss.”
“Oh,” Calleigh replied. She was disappointed when she looked back to see the man gone. “Thank you.”
“Just take the elevator in the center of the stairs up to the top floor and the President’s room is at the very end of the hall. You can’t miss it.”
Smiling in return, Calleigh took back her paper along with a thick case file and headed up to meet her new boss. Oh, how she hoped the woman was nice. The one thing that would make or break a new job was the attitude and hospitality of a new boss.
Calleigh’s thoughts were cut short as the elevator stopped. On the wrong floor. The doors opened and two more people got on. The Irish lass found herself staring against her will. The two new occupants were both male. And more gorgeous than any vampire or demon she had ever seen. The taller man had a mass of dark brown curls tied back with a pink ribbon, leaving some stray curls to dance about his fiery lime green eyes.
The other… Calleigh immediately felt a chill surround her when she looked at him. She saw empty meadows on a chill, snowy night, not even a breeze to accompany the unclouded stars.
“Adrian, look,” began the man with the curls. “It’s not that I’m asking you to go. I’m more forcing you, as you say many times about having to work with me. The Lady thinks it would do you a mountain of good to get out and…enjoy something other than the crackle of your fireplace.”
The other remained silent, his empty eyes staring blankly ahead. Had he even heard the brunette?
Regardless, the pink-endowed men frowned like a little child. “You’re going, like it or not! Hmm?”
All at once, Calleigh found herself the center of attention. Both men had their eyes on her and the young lass had no clue what to do.
“My goodness!” the brunette exclaimed. Calleigh felt small in the brightness of his inhuman eyes. “Forgive me for not noticing you, love. My name is Myles and this talkative fellow is my friend, Adrian. Might I ask yours?”
Calleigh reached for Myles’ gently extended hand. “Er, Calleigh Colette,” she found herself squeaking under that mesmerizing gaze. Turning her own to Adrian, she found herself wondering why Myles was friends with him. He didn’t seem to be the social type.
“A pleasure to meet such a flower amongst the desert sands. Adrian?” Myles lightly nudged the blonde, who had returned his gaze to the invisible abyss he had been lost within. “Say hello.”
Fierce as flame, Adrian’s gaze locked onto Myles. Yet, the jovial man seemed oblivious to the nonverbal death threat he was receiving. After a moment, Myles shrugged it off and he began talking to Calleigh like they were old friends. The lass laughed but felt sort of bad for Adrian. But no matter what Myles said, the blonde just stood there like he was in his own little world.
“I’m trying to make nice and he’s being such a grump! Hmph, haven’t the foggiest how hard it is to work with him, I’ll tell you; head full of fluff and whatnot. Oh, are you, by chance, going up, my dear?”
Calleigh nodded. She wondered, after spying unique badges on Myles’ and Adrian’s hips, if these men were some of the people she was to work with. Only there for ten minutes and she found herself liking this Myles fellow already. It was good to have enjoyable co-workers. Staying clear of Adrian, though, was a good idea for now. Just until Calleigh figured out his agenda.
“I’m meeting with the President,” she replied. “I received transfer papers a few weeks ago. This place is so different than Britain, though… It’s a bit of a shock.”
“Transfer?” Myles repeated. “What division, love?”
Noticing the brunette seemed a little on edge, Calleigh slowly replied, “C.O.V.E.N.?”
The fact it was one word, Calleigh felt like she had said the world’s worst insult. If she had had a knife, the lass could have helped herself to a slice of the thick silence for dinner. It was almost unbearable. Myles cast a glance to Adrian and Adrian… Appeared to be shaking; just barely, but shaking nonetheless.
Appearing to read her mind, Myles changed the subject. “So, you’re from Britain? It’s wonderful to have another spat of cultural diversity in this place. Haven’t been there in ages, though… How is Her Majesty holding up?”
“As eloquent and vivacious as ever. Have you met her?”
Myles grinned like a child. “Oh, yes. Back in the early eighties I had a mission in London and had a wonderful brunch with her. Bit of a disappointment… Her guards never even smiled. And I thought me pulling out a pair of pink bloomers from Her Majesty’s teapot would have done the trick…”
Unable to contain her giggling, Calleigh covered her mouth. She imagined the Queen guffawing as Myles held a pair of frilly granny-panties up in the guards’ blank faces. All the while, Adrian remained the only silent one; he seemed very intent on ignoring his so-called ‘friend.’ From the corner of her eye, in between deep breaths from laughing so much, Calleigh caught the blonde staring at her. It was more a glare than anything, and the lass felt a little rough handled.
“You have a problem with me or something?” she demanded, all laughter gone. Calleigh furrowed her brow. “Take a picture or turn your cheek, mate. I ain’t the Crown Jewels on display here.”
“And your mouth isn’t such that a maiden should have,” Adrian shot back, venom and acid abound. It was so shocking that Myles stared, jaw dropped and eyes wide.
As if to ruin the moment, the elevator dinged and its doors revealed the hall to the President’s office. Adrian headed out, his own face full of surprise at his comment. Still a little in awe, Myles remained behind. He gave a gentle nudge to Calleigh.
“I do believe he likes you,” he whispered jokingly. At Calleigh’s incredulous look, he added, “He never would have talked to you at all if he didn’t. Adrian, wait up!”
Watching Myles ramble off to Adrian like an insane man to a brick wall, all the redhead could do was shake her head. She wondered if these were some of the people she was being assigned to work with. And if that was the case, she was going to have a hell of a time.
Up ahead, the doors opened on their own, revealing a beautiful and spacious office. The three people entered and Calleigh found herself walking upon her own reflection in the immaculate smoothed sandstone floors. Her eyes traced the glyphs engraved into the walls; she noted with wide eyes they were the same as those used by the ancient Egyptians.
Following the example of the two at her side, Calleigh stopped a few feet away from a lovely walnut desk. And at the desk sat a lady whom the lass assumed to be her new boss: a petite woman of barely five feet. As she rose to greet her guests, the desk covered her up past the waist.
“Welcome to my humble organization,” she beamed, coming around and to a stop before the red-haired lass. Calleigh noticed the tiny woman’s accent; it was thick and she couldn’t place it, but it sounded Middle Eastern.
Kissing Calleigh on both cheeks in a display of friendship, the woman introduced herself. “I am Rosaleigh Korbyn, creator and owner of InDOS. I’m glad to see you’ve already met your Commander and new partner.”
Calleigh did a double-take. Did she mean Myles and Adrian? Judging from the petite lady’s grin, that was a yes.
“Now,” Rosaleigh continued. She took Calleigh by the hand and led her to the seat nearest the desk. “I am sorry to not have any time for pleasantries, but something big happened earlier this week and I need to get you in our system.”
A sudden clearing of the throat brought Rosaleigh’s gaze up. Myles stood there, silly grin plastered onto his ruggedly handsome face.
“Queen, dear,” he began, “Can’t this wait until after the opera? I was hoping to whisk our little leprechaun away into the music of the night.”
Before Rosaleigh could reply, Calleigh whirled around and, with child-like eyes, squeaked, “An opera? Here? Tonight? I’d love to go! Um, if Mrs. Korbyn would allow me…”
Instead of being the big boss anyone else would be in her position, Rosaleigh merely pursed her lips and gave a reluctant smile. Adrian, however, made no effort to hide his annoyance with the unprofessional behavior of both Myles and the ‘newbie.’ Sensing his irritation, Myles elbowed the grumpy blonde.
“Liven up, Sir Grouch-a-Lot. You’re going, too.”
“Like hell I will,” Adrian replied. His lack of emotion made his reply seem comical, further adding to his irritation as Myles giggled and Calleigh failed to hide a smile. Yet, his biggest headache came from none other than his own boss.
“Looks like Anubis is casting his hand over your fate,” Rosaleigh chirped. “I have made it a personal assignment of yours to accompany Myles and the rest of your fellow Agents tonight. I believe it would do you some good instead of locking yourself in your home.”
Had looks been able to set fire, Adrian’s would have scorched the chenille curtains framing the large wall-length windows. Rosaleigh seemed ignorant to the look, or maybe she was used to it. Calleigh knew she would have flinched a bit had it been aimed at her.
Myles’ arms wrenched themselves around both Calleigh’s and Adrian’s necks, pulling them together to almost kissing distance. Adrian snarled, threatening the brunette with all but a slow, merciful death if he didn’t let him go. Before all-out war occurred, Myles released Adrian but kept his grip on Calleigh.
“Since you’re new here to our lovely city, I shall be your companion for this evening.”
A blush befell the lass, burning from her chin all the way to her copper hair. “S-sir,” she managed, “Wouldn’t people get the wrong idea about us, though?”
Myles tilted his head. “Wrong idea? I fail to get what you mean. I don’t think my wife or daughter would mind. You’re meeting them to get ready tonight!”
A sudden crack rent the air; Myles spouted an obscenity. From behind him, Calleigh could see Adrian with a balled fist and glaring eyes. Feeling like a little child, Adrian stared daggers at the man, his entire being cursing the very fabric that made Myles who he was.
“Take that back,” Myles cried out of the blue towards the man. “I can’t even contort to get my head up there!”
“Alright, children” Rosaleigh interjected, preventing further altercations and obscenities. She shuffled the ample paperwork on her desk and placed it into a crisp manila folder for later. She gave Calleigh a wink and bade them all a good night.
As the three turned to leave, the boss called out to Adrian. “I will make you go to Simon’s rehearsal if I discover you skipped out tonight.”
“Yes, Your Majesty,” the blonde bitingly obliged.
And so the office cleared. Myles escorting the Irish lass out with an arm around her shoulders, blathering on about his wife and daughter and what they were all—including Calleigh—going to wear that night. And Adrian off in his own world most likely plotting death on all occupants within the room.
Rosaleigh watched with softened eyes as her newest Agent began to fit in without the slightest problem. Shifting her gaze, she gave a disheartened sigh as she covered up another file, one labeled “Renald, Maria; KIA.”
© Copyright 2016 JD Ledger. All rights reserved.
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