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Copyright: Although the main characters in the following do bear a strong resemblance to a cute couple with whom we are all familiar, all the characters in this work of fiction are the product of my own imagination and are therefore copyright to me.
For the rest of the disclaimers, please see the first chapter
by Helen Smith, (firstname.lastname@example.org) September, 2000
Three days later, they were in Edward's office, arguing.
"I don't like it." Quinn folded her arms, and stood her ground.
"Where have I heard that before." Ariel ran her hands through her short blond hair.
"C'mon Ariel, listen to reason. After what happened the other day, attending the book launch is just too dangerous."
"Look, Quinn. if I don't go, the bastards have won. Well, they're not going to."
"Quinn, are there measures you can take to reduce the danger?" Edward asked, tentatively.
"Oh hell, yes. By the time I was through it would look like an armed camp, between the extra security personnel, the blastproof glass shields, the semi-automatics. Is that what you want?
"No it's not," the writer said before Edward could reply. Ariel walked over to her lover who was leaning against the wall. "Quinn, please understand. I've got to do this."
"No you don't."
"Yes. I do." Ariel wanted to take Quinn's hands but the other woman stubbornly kept her arms folded. "The security must be as unobtrusive as possible. I understand the problem"
"No you don't. You don't at all." She locked eyes with Ariel, trying to make her understand what she herself was unable to say out loud, but the writer's expression told her that Ariel was determined to go ahead anyway. Quinn finally gave up and squared her shoulders. "But hey, that's ok, that's my job." Then, including Edward in her glance she said, "Now if you'll both excuse me I have some calls to make while you conclude your meeting."
But the dark-haired woman was already through the door and down the hall.
Quinn strode away, unaware of her direction. Damn it! Didn't Ariel understand? This could cost her her life, the miserable stubborn bitch! She knew that, intellectually, Ariel realized that Quinn wasn't infallible. That the security consultant might make a mistake, and that she, Ariel, could pay a high price for her error. But she also knew that, emotionally, her lover had a little-girl faith that Quinn would solve every problem, make it all go away. "Yeah," she muttered, "if only I could."
The dark-haired woman suddenly became aware of someone speaking to her. Focusing, she saw that it was Jan, Ariel's editor, who was standing in the hall, holding a coffee mug. "You ok?" the other woman said, hesitantly, as she was swept by an icy glare.
"Just peachy. why?' Quinn could see the other woman recoil slightly at her abrupt rejoinder .
"Uh, well you looked a little upset.
There's nothing wrong with Ariel is there?"
"No." Quinn made to brush by her.
"Is it the launch?"
Glacial blue eyes swung back to skewer her, and their owner took a step closer.
"What about the launch?"
"Well, we heard about the trouble the other day..."
"What do you know about it?" Quinn was suddenly inches away from Jan, who found herself backed up against a wall.
"Nothing! Not a thing. But the police were here, and asking questions, so it's not too difficult to figure out that she got some kind of threatening message."
Quinn studied the editor. Ok, she was talking about the note, not the shooting. They'd been able to keep the incident out of the media so not many knew about it. Quinn stepped back and decided to test her.
"Yeah, that's right. And after that, waiting for something to happen is a bitch." Was that a flicker? Did she know that wasn't the truth?
"How's Ariel taking it?"
The question appeared to be open and sincere. "Oh, you know Ariel." Let her make whatever she wanted out of that statement, Quinn wasn't going to help.
Jan gave a crooked smile. "Got her back up I'll bet."
"Well." Jan looked around, searching for a graceful way to end the conversation. "I'd better not keep you. If I don't see her today, tell her I said 'hi.'"
"Will do." Quinn strolled away thoughtfully, her pace much slower than before. As she turned the corner at the end of the hall, she was aware that the editor was still standing in the corridor, watching her.
Quinn's steps led her to the company cafeteria, where she got a large mug of coffee and sat down to place her calls.
The first was to Tyrone Williams, head of security at the museum where the launch was to be held. Quinn was familiar with the facility but wanted to refresh her memory and at the same time touch base with Williams, someone she'd worked with before. The call was brief and to the point. As she disconnected, after arranging a meeting time with him at the museum, she mused that at least she was working with good people on this. Her next call was to Kris.
"Thanatos security, Kris Cavendish speaking."
"Hey Kris, how's it going."
"Boss lady. Not bad, how are things with you?"
Quinn made a non-committal noise. "I want to meet with you on the launch."
"You mean it's going ahead?"
"Yeah. I'm going to see the place again tomorrow morning before it opens, just to refresh my memory, then I'd like to meet with you at the office after that, so could you get John or Vanessa to spell me as bodyguard from, say, 8:30 on?"
"Sure thing." There was a pause. "The office, eh. That isn't exactly in a direct line home. I could meet you..."
"No. I don't know what we might need to look up and the office is better equipped for that."
"Uh huh. And I'm a shoo-in to win the Miss Universe pageant. Trouble in paradise?"
"A slight misunderstanding."
"Uh huh." There was a pause. "Civilians."
Quinn grinned for the first time since leaving Edward's office. Kris was ex-military. That word held a lot of meaning for her. "I'll see you tomorrow Kris. About 11:00am, I think, but I'll call you when I've got a better idea."
"Ok. Hang in there, Quinn."
"Thanks. Oh, and have Joe give me a call, would ya, please. There's something I'd like him to look into."
"Will do. See ya."
Quinn tapped her fingers on the table for a minute then headed back to Edward's office.
Kris pushed back from the table, stretched and yawned.
"Am I keeping you up?"
"Hey, its been no picnic being Thanatos Security" making quotation marks in the air with her fingers "these last few days. Ya do that job, ya gotta work!"
"Now you know how the other half lives," said Quinn.
"Yeah. The rich half!" Kris ducked away from the pretend punch that Quinn threw at her.
They were sitting in what used to be Quinn's dining room. Well, actually it was difficult to tell where the dining room began and the living room left off in the apartment's open concept layout. Until Quinn met Ariel, she'd lived here and used the apartment as a base of operations for her security business. Now she just maintained it as an office and stored her 20th century entertainment media here.
"Wanta drink?" asked Kris as she got up and walked past the counter to the refrigerator.
"Sure. Soda water if ya got it."
Kris tossed a bottle at Quinn and selected a coke for herself. Rejoining the dark-haired woman, she sat down, popped the top on her drink, tilted her chair back and put her feet up on the table. "So what's up with you and Ariel?" she asked.
"Right to the point, as always," said Quinn, twisting the top off the bottle.
"I don't believe in wasting time. And if you didn't want to talk about it you would have told me to shut up already."
Quinn contemplated the label on the bottle. "She wants to do it. I don't want her to do it. That's what it comes down to."
Kris grunted. "No way you can stop her? Tie her up maybe. Might be fun. Ok, ok, bad joke," she said, reacting to a look from Quinn. "Have you thought about setting up a schedule for the rest of us to guard Ariel and you go back to your regular work?"
"Yeah. I've thought about it." Quinn picked at the label on her bottle with a thumbnail. "No conclusions yet."
"Might be easier. The launch is the next logical chance."
"Don't remind me."
"But you got that covered pretty good. As long as she stays in until then, things should be ok. You could get back to thinking about things other than Ariel's safety. If she wants to go out, well, I know you--you wouldn't be happy unless you were the one with her, but other than that, we could handle guarding her during the day."
Quinn looked at her second-in-command. "And you could get back to what you like to do."
"Right! I knew I had a reason for suggesting this," grinned Kris.
"Alright, I'll think about it." Quinn stood up. "I better be going."
"Yeah. I got some people to see across town. I really hope you make up your mind soon. I might have to ask for a raise, otherwise."
Quinn glanced at her but declined to rise to the bait. "I'll let you know."
"Fair nuff. Call if you need me."
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