Copyright © 2015 by AmyBeth Inverness
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For Grandmommy, who taught me to needlepoint.
“I’m four. I should get four cookies,” Pico reasoned. It seemed perfectly reasonable to her. Why Gramma-dinger couldn’t understand that, she had no idea.
“One cookie,” Gramma-dinger said, then closed the tin and put it back on top of the refrigerator. “That’s all you need. The rest are going up here, out of reach.”
Pico had no idea what ‘out of reach’ meant, but she did understand that the fancy blue tin belonged to her grandmother, not her mother or father. The cookies in the blue tin were Gramma-dinger’s special treat.
“How are you settling in, Mrs. Schrodinger?” the rabbi asked, sitting in Daddy’s chair with his back straight, not leaning back at all.
“Oh, everything is so different up here!” Gramma-dinger said, placing a plate with not just two, but six cookies in front of their guest. “But it’s nice to be close to my son and his family. I was heartbroken when he decided to move to the moon, but it was such a good opportunity, and he’s always been a bright young man…”
Pico sat quietly and watched while the rabbi ate one cookie, then another. The other four cookies were just sitting there, uneaten. Wasted. From where Pico sat, she could see the edge of the blue tin on top of the refrigerator. It had been almost full. It was a new box. There was no shortage of cookies. She knew that Gramma-dinger had an extra box that she kept under her bed, too.
Gramma-dinger stopped talking long enough to eat one of the remaining cookies. They were talking about Grampa-dinger and the funeral. Daddy had gone to Earth when Grampa-dinger died. He was gone for a whole month, and when he came back, Daddy and Mommy told Pico that Gramma-dinger was going to come live with them.
The house was getting crowded. First, her baby brother had arrived out of nowhere. The room she used to keep all her extra toys in had been turned into a nursery for him, even though he slept in Mommy and Daddy’s room. When Daddy got home from Earth, he’d cleaned out the small room he used as a den and they’d moved Pico’s bed into it. Her toys didn’t fit, but Mommy bought a nice toy chest and told her it would be all right to keep some in the living room. Pico’s old room was repainted bright yellow for Gramma-dinger.
The rabbi ate another cookie. Only two were left. Pico wondered what Gramma-dinger would do if there were still two cookies on the plate when the rabbi left. Pico might be able to sneak them off the plate when Gramma-dinger walked the rabbi to the door. She might not notice. She might think he ate them all.
“Rabbi! How nice of you to come,” Daddy said, striding into the room. He shook the rabbi’s hand, then picked up the last two cookies and put them both in his mouth at the same time.
Pico swallowed, watching her father’s jaw demolish the treats. She couldn’t wait until she was an adult. She’d eat as many cookies as she wanted, and she’d let her children and grandchildren eat all the cookies they wanted, too.
Later that night, while Daddy was fixing dinner and Mommy was napping with the baby, Pico heard the familiar sound of the blue metal tin opening. She turned around and saw that Gramma-dinger had some kind of cloth in her hands. The blue tin sat open beside her on the couch.
Pico quietly picked up her dolls and went to sit on the other end of the couch. She’d been very good all week, keeping Gramma-dinger company, and being quiet whenever anyone was asleep. Between her grandmother and her baby brother, it seemed like somebody was always sleeping.
Gramma-dinger put her hand into the open tin and pulled out a piece of brightly colored string. Pico dropped her dolls and leaned over, peering into the tin.
Pico blinked. There were no cookies inside. There were many little cards with bright string wrapped around them, a red ball with needles stuck in it, and several things she couldn’t identify.
“I should teach you how to embroider,” Gramma-dinger said. “But not until you’re a little older.”
“Are you sewing?” Pico asked.
Gramma-dinger held up the cloth. A plastic circle kept part of the cloth flat. It had a half-finished picture of a brightly colored bird on it.
Pico reached out her hand. Gramma-dinger smiled as she touched the taut cloth. “Are you making a picture out of thread?”
“Mmm-hmm,” Gramma-dinger said. “It’s called embroidery.”
Pico watched, fascinated, as her grandmother moved the needle in and out of the fabric, filling in the colors of the bird’s wing. It was slow, but very beautiful.
“Suppertime!” her father announced from the kitchen.
“Go wash your hands, Pico,” Gramma-dinger said, putting her embroidery back into the blue tin.
Pico polished off her dinner, then looked longingly at the box on top of the refrigerator.
“I picked up a Babka today,” Mommy said, eating one-handed while the baby drooled on her shoulder. “Would you like some for dessert?”
“Ummm…” Pico didn’t want to lose out on Babka, but she’d rather have one of Gramma-dinger’s special cookies. She didn’t know if she’d be chastised for asking. “What are you going to have for dessert, Gramma-dinger?” she asked.
“Oh, I’ll have a piece of Babka,” she answered. “I’m eager to find out if it tastes any different, baked up here. I wonder if they make alterations for the high altitude?”
Pico bit her lip as the grown-ups discussed altitude adjustments, whatever those were. Daddy put a piece of Babka in front of her. Pico picked at it. It wasn’t nearly as good as Gramma-dinger’s cookies, but it was too late now. She finished it off, then wandered off by herself while the adults talked about terribly boring stuff.
Pico’s feet took her to her old room. She stepped inside, then paused a moment, confused. It wasn’t her room any more. It was Gramma-dinger’s.
Nothing in it was familiar any more. Nothing of her remained.
She turned around, about to leave, when she saw a flash of blue under the bed. The brand new cookie tin was there. Pico looked back down the hallway. The grown-ups were all still at the table. She sat on the floor and pulled the tin out. There was a thin piece of plastic sealing it. Pico went to the bathroom and got the nail-clippers, and soon had the tin open.
There they were, in golden buttery perfection. She took one, stuffing it in her mouth. It was heaven. She ate another, then another, casting nervous glances at the door. The sounds of adult laughter still carried from down the hall.
Pico looked at the contents of the bin. Each stack of cookies was in its own pleated white paper cup. The stacks were now uneven.
The sounds of conversation had stilled, and the dining room chairs were scraping against the floor. Hurriedly, Pico evened out the stacks so they were all the same size. She stuffed two cookies in her mouth and held a third in her hand as she put the lid back on and shoved the bin back under the bed again.
Pico tiptoed around for the next two days, waiting for someone to discover that she’d snuck into Gramma-dinger’s room and stolen the cookies, but neither Mommy, Daddy, nor Gramma-dinger herself seemed to know what she’d done.
“Pico, come sit with me. I have something special for you,” Gramma-dinger said one afternoon. Pico brought her dolls over to the couch and climbed up next to her grandmother. “You’re still too little for a sharp embroidery needle, but this—” She took out a fat plastic needle and handed it to Pico. “This is for needlepoint.”
Gramma-dinger took out a piece of plastic that was made up of lots of tiny squares. Pico held the big needle still while her grandmother pushed a fat piece of yarn through. Gramma-dinger showed Pico how to push the needle up from the bottom, then to skip a few squares and push the needle down again. She repeated the pattern across the top of the piece of plastic until there was a thick red stripe across it.
“Now we’ll change the color of yarn, and you can do another stripe,” Gramma-dinger said. “You try, and I’ll work on my embroidery.”
Gramma-dinger started the pattern for her, then Pico took the plastic canvas and plastic needle in her own hands. It wasn’t easy. Gramma-dinger’s needle flashed in and out of her taut circle of fabric, while Pico concentrated on getting her fat needle in the right little square. When she’d finished the stripe, she looked at her handiwork. She’d gotten the wrong hole several times, making the individual stitches too short or lying diagonally. “That’s fine, Pico. It’s your first try. Now let’s change colors again…”
Pico made a third thick stripe, then set her plastic needle and canvas down, watching her grandmother add little details of color to the bird. “What kind of bird is it?” Pico asked.
“It’s a bluebird,” Gramma-dinger said.
“But it’s not all blue!” Pico protested. “It’s got red on it.”
“Well, male bluebirds are like that…” Gramma-dinger went on to tell her all about the birds she used to watch at the birdfeeder behind her house on Earth. Pico listened, and watched the needle dip in and out of the embroidery hoop.
“I’ve never seen a bird,” Pico said.
The needle stopped. Gramma-dinger leaned over and placed a kiss on her forehead. “There’s a lot of things you’ll never see, living here on the Moon.” Gramma-dinger switched the color of the thread in her needle, then started sewing again. “But there are so many more things you get to do that Earth children never get to experience.”
“Suppertime!” Daddy announced from the kitchen while the baby, in a carrier on his back, squealed an echo.
Pico picked at the matzo brei. It wasn’t her favorite. She ate up her cucumber salad then poked at the rest of her food, wondering whether dessert was something that would make it worth her while to eat the matzo brei.
Gramma-dinger stood up, put her plate on the counter, and reached up to take the tin of cookies off the top of the fridge. “How about we just have some cookies tonight?” she said.
Pico polished off her matzo brei then stacked her plate on top of her grandmother’s. Daddy put not just one, but two cookies on a napkin in front of her. She ate them before her grandmother had a chance to notice Daddy had given her more than one.
Pico woke up in the middle of the night, listening to her baby brother wailing and crying. She peeked into her parents’ room and saw her mother pacing with the baby while Daddy changed the sheets in the crib.
Pico tucked herself back into bed.
As she lay there in the dark, her tummy started rumbling. Quietly, she padded to the kitchen.
A metallic glint caught her eye from the top of the fridge. Pico jumped up and grabbed the tin, setting it on the dining room table and looking back down the hallway to see if any of the grown-ups were coming.
She remembered what Gramma-dinger had said about them being ‘out of reach.’ Pico wasn’t sure what that meant, but she knew she wasn’t supposed to get into them.
As quietly as she could, she took the lid off the tin.
A beautiful bluebird looked back at her. The tin had no cookies. It was Gramma-dinger’s embroidery.
Pico ran her fingers over the delicate stitches. It was so beautiful. She could hardly believe the picture was made of thread. Carefully she replaced the lid, then jumped up again and put the tin back where it belonged.
She found a box of peanut-butter crackers and sat down to munch on them.
“You couldn’t sleep either?” Gramma-dinger said, coming into the room wearing her fuzzy yellow robe and matching slippers. “Your little brother is quite loud for such a tiny boy.”
Pico thought about how, only moments before, she’d had the blue tin open right there on the table. She wondered how much trouble she’d be in if Gramma-dinger knew she’d opened it.
“Would you like some milk to go with those?” Gramma-dinger asked.
“Yes, please,” Pico muttered, remembering too late that it was rude to talk with her mouth full.
“Your life has changed a lot, hasn’t it?” Gramma-dinger said, pouring a glass of milk for each of them. Pico wasn’t sure what to say. “First you get a baby brother. Then you have to give up your room for me.”
“I’m littler,” Pico said. “I don’t take up as much space.”
“When I was your age, I had to share a room with my big sister,” Gramma-dinger said. “But it was all right. When our little brother was born and our parents were always fussing over him, we had each other. She would always pour me a glass of milk in the middle of the night if we couldn’t sleep.”
“Was your baby brother always noisy?” Pico asked.
Gramma-dinger laughed. “Yes. Even when he was all grown up.”
Pico drank her milk and munched on the crackers while Gramma-dinger told stories about growing up in Illinois. Soon Pico’s eyes were heavy. Gramma-dinger walked her back to her room and tucked her in. Pico thought she would leave right away, but she didn’t. She sat in the little chair next to the bed and stroked her hair until Pico fell asleep.
The next day, when Gramma-dinger sat down on the couch, she had not just one, but two blue tins. “This one’s for you, Pico,” she said, handing her one tin.
Pico opened it up. A dozen stacks of buttery cookies shone inside.
Pico looked at Gramma-dinger’s blue tin. The bluebird was finished, and Gramma-dinger was adding shades of green to leaves of the branch it sat on. She looked at her cookies, and felt just a little disappointed. The cookies would be gone soon. What would she do with an empty tin?
Gramma-dinger handed Pico the plastic canvas she’d been working on. “If your little brother wakes you up in the middle of the night, now you’ll have your own cookies for a midnight snack.” She put a new color of yarn onto Pico’s plastic needle. “And when they’re all gone, maybe we’ll see about filling it with your own sewing supplies.”
Pico took one cookie out of the tin and put it in her mouth. She put the lid back on it, then went into the kitchen, jumped up, and put it on top of the fridge.
Gramma-dinger was sitting with her needle frozen in mid-air. “Well. That’s quite a trick!” she said.
“What’s a trick?” Pico asked.
“Jumping up so high!” Gramma-dinger said.
“Oh,” Pico said, looking back at the fridge before rejoining her grandmother on the couch. She’d heard that Earth children weren’t very good jumpers.
She picked up her needlepoint and examined where she’d left off. Carefully, she started stitching again.
“Gramma-dinger?” she asked.
“What does ‘out of reach’ mean?”
Gramma-dinger laughed, much louder than Pico had ever heard her laugh before.
“Well, my very talented granddaughter,” she said. “Apparently it means nothing.”
A writer by birth, a redhead by choice, and an outcast of Colorado by temporary necessity, is a creator of speculative fiction and romance. She can usually be found tapping away at her laptop, writing the next novel or procrastinating by posting a SciFi Question of the Day on Facebook and Google Plus. When she’s not writing, she’s kept very busy making aluminum foil hats and raising two energetic kids and many pets with her husband in their New England home. You can find her on , , @USNessie, and @USNessie.
with Dingbat Publishing
The Cities of Luna: Grands
Faceplanting is Always an Option
One Does Not Simply Walk Into Mordor
Between the Moon and New York City
More by AmyBeth Inverness
in Precipice 1: The Literary Anthology of Write on Edge
in Precipice 2: The Literary Anthology of Write on Edge
“In the Closet”
in Felt Tips: Office Supply Erotica
edited by Tiffany Reisz
“The Genesis of the Incorporem”
in The Garden of Eden
“The Remorse of the Incorporeum”
in Sulfurings: Tales from Sodom and Gomorrah
“The House on Paladin Court”
in Real World Unreal: Theme-Thology
“Come on, Varun! There’s still room,” Usha said, beckoning to him from the bay of the utility rover.
Varun froze. It wasn’t that he didn’t want to go. It was just that his sister had gotten him into more trouble in eighteen years than most teenagers had seen in a lifetime, and he had every reason to believe this was a bad idea.
The young people in the rover were squishing together, pushing the limit of how many could fit inside. No one was wearing a surface suit. Sure, the rovers were pressurized. They were designed for carrying crews to and from various worksites out on the regolith. But the crews were trained and had all kinds of safety back-ups. Like surface suits.
While he hesitated, a pair of dark-skinned legs flashed in front of his eyes. Sunitha — the beautiful and unreachable icon of feminine perfection — climbed up into the rover then turned to him. “Are you coming, Varun?”
“Yes. Yes, I am,” he said, making up his mind and climbing into the rover just as the back started closing. Sunitha scooted over and made room for him. She smelled like roses. No girls on the far side of the moon smelled like flowers. Most of the girls in Mordor preferred spicy scents if they wore any at all.
Varun held his breath as the little convoy of rovers crept toward the public airlock. Each of them in turn stopped at the manager’s station, doing whatever official thing they needed to do in order to pass through. Varun had no idea what that was. He’d only been outside three times in his life. Once, as an eighth grade field trip. The second time had been a family vacation to the Apollo 17 Landing Site. The third time had been a few months ago, during orientation for his internship at Mertzenich Mining, even though his position was behind a desk at company headquarters.
His sister was sitting with her back to the driver’s cab. Usha was smirking. She knew he had a crush on Sunitha, and this whole excursion was probably just her way of trying to fix him up.
Usha was always trying to run his life. She was only eleven months older than he was, but their birthdays were on either side of the cut-off date for school, so they’d always been in the same grade. She took it upon herself to make sure her little brother never got left behind, even when he wanted to be.
“…going to college?” Sunitha asked.
Too late, Varun realized she was talking to him. Beautiful girls never talked to him, unless his sister tricked them into it.
“Um, yes!” he managed to say without looking at her breasts. She was wearing a perfectly normal shirt, but something about women’s breasts had a mesmerizing effect on him. He’d gotten in trouble more than once for staring. “I have an internship at Mertzenich Mining. Mornings at school and afternoons in the office.”
“What are you studying?” she asked.
Varun desperately wanted to have something exciting to tell her. The truth seemed horribly mundane. “Business management,” he said.
“That’s nice. I have to take some business classes for my degree. I’m studying urban planning.”
Varun tried to think of something clever to say. Usha was mouthing something at him. “Compliment her!” he finally figured out. On either side of Usha, her two best friends were highly amused at his situation, judging from their grins and sidelong glances in his direction.
Varun straightened his tie, giving himself a split second to prevent his foot from jumping into his mouth. “Urban planning sounds really interesting. I always thought you would go into something like that, something that takes leadership and helps others.”
For once, he was grateful for his sister’s coaching. Saying a girl had pretty eyes was nice, but didn’t leave a lasting impression. Noting what she said, proving he was paying attention, and saying something positive and relevant was key to conversation.
Sunitha’s shoulders relaxed and she brushed her hair away from her face. Her cheeks actually reddened slightly. Varun didn’t think women as beautiful and confident as Sunitha ever blushed, but she seemed to like what he’d said. “Thank you, Varun. I do like helping people.”
Varun kept the conversation about her, and Sunitha was more than willing to talk about herself. He had no idea where the convoy of rovers was going. For all he cared, they could do a few laps around Mordor and go right back in through the same airlock. Sunitha was talking to him. She not only knew he existed, she was carrying on a conversation with him and only him, even though there were plenty of better-looking guys all around them.
The rover stopped and Varun craned his neck to see where they were. The rover only had one tiny window on each side, and all he could tell was that it was lunar night outside. There was some kind of large building in front of them. In a minute, the rover moved forward behind the others, entering an airlock.
“Now the boring part,” Sunitha said.
“What’s that?” Varun asked, peering out the window and trying to figure out where they were.
“Waiting for the pressure to equalize… and getting the dust off,” she said. “I hope one of the guys came early and started pressurizing the place.”
“Wait…” Varun almost stammered, but he stopped himself, forcing his voice not to squeak. “…this place isn’t usually pressurized? Where are we?”
Sunitha looked at him with what he feared might be pity. He wasn’t exactly coming across as the strong, masculine type. “It’s a storage facility. They use it for a base of operations when they’re out this way.”
“They?” This time his voice did squeak a little.
“I don’t know. One of the mining companies. I don’t know which one. It’s a great place for a Diwali party, don’t you think?”
Varun did not think. His mind was racing ahead, waiting for the rover doors to open and expose them all to vacuum. Instead they rolled forward, out of the airlock and into a huge, brightly lit room. The airlock closed behind them and the rover door swung up. Since he was sitting the closest to the back, he was nearly pushed out as the others scooted and nudged each other to escape the cramped space.
It wasn’t a vacuum. His ears popped, but the air smelled sanitary and brand new, as if the exact recipe for human aspiration had been manufactured and pumped in. It was like drinking distilled water; yes, it was the exact water his body required to continue living, but it tasted strange. Loud music filled the space as men and women, some dressed up and ready to have a party, others, like Varun, still in work clothes, poured out of the other rovers from the caravan.
The otherwise sterile space was lit with an elaborate pattern of lights on the floor. They flickered, and Varun looked more closely. They were real flame candles, each in a tiny jar. Varun forced himself to continue to breathe regularly. Open flames. On the moon. Who did that? Then again, that was probably why they’d decided to come all the way out to a storage facility on the regolith. Nowhere in Mordor would they be able to celebrate Diwali with real fire.
Varun glanced around. He hoped no one had real fireworks.
Christmas Eve, noon
“No, I don’t want off the team.”
The Christmas tree lights reflected from Captain Kenneth Rutland’s USMA class ring, the matte gold flaring red, then green, then back to red in boring, predictable monotony. The least the decorator could have done was plug a random flasher in line with the light set and stir some lovely chaos into the mix. Unless, of course, the decorator had wanted to lull everyone to sleep. Maybe, but unlikely, since the lights were turned on in the middle of the day. Non-engineers just had no imagination.
And the living room around them looked like the same decorator had sprayed out holly and ivy and mistletoe and pine branches with a firehose. Little red berries; little red balls. Tradition was good; tradition held the culture together. Tradition could be overdone. Big time.
Didn’t help that the decorator in question was his boss’ sister.
“Not only no, but hell, no. You can’t get rid of me that easily.” Kennie drummed on the coffee table, in time to the lights’ flashing rhythm but throwing in a few flourishes of his own. Somebody needed to liven the place up. “I’m just asking. I went to school to learn how to build things, not destroy them.” Not that there was anything wrong with that, as the conservative snark went.
Colonel Robert “Sherlock” Holmes, in civvies topped with a sweater, peered down at the laptop balanced on his knees, his eyes scrunched into slits. The scar on his forehead stretched where it disappeared into his hairline. Gingerly, he tapped a couple keys, pausing between taps. Then he stopped and refocused on the screen. Kennie wanted to scream, just from watching that pitiful performance. How could anybody move so slowly with a keyboard at his fingertips? He could do better with a pair of pencils. Or spatulas.
And as he’d done for the last hour, Sherlock ignored him. So much for sitting down for a serious conversation. The downside of visiting his com-manding officer over the holidays: putting up with his typing. His sister’s decorating. His teenagers’ boisterous noise. And his supercilious I-don’t-want-to-deal-with-it attitude. The upside—
Well. He’d have to think about that one.
“Why don’t we ever go to another country and put something together for them? Why are we always ripping their stuff apart?”
With a frown, Sherlock slid reading glasses from his pocket, deliberately unfolded them, and arranged them on his face. He shifted focus long enough to glare over the frames at Kennie’s drum-ming — okay, okay — then turned back to his work. “You mean, besides the irreparable damage it would cause Theresa and her pyromania? We sometimes do build stuff, ya know. Maybe you’re forgetting our drilling project—”
“Nope.” That slow Texas drawl took forever to reach a point, even when there was a chance one might be in the offing; Kennie had quit waiting for Sherlock to finish his sentences long ago. “Water wells are good. Everybody needs to drill a well once in his life. Still not what I went to school for.”
Tap a key. Flash red, flash green, flash red. Tap another. Seriously, the trip to Houston was starting to look like a massive mistake, even worse than Washington’s latest regulatory boondoggle. All he’d wanted to do was spend some private time, away from the generals and the rest of the team, convincing Sherlock to expand their job description; NATO, their overseers, gladly provided civil support to its member nations, as well as military intelli-gence and combat operations.
“Our average, median, generic job is to sneak into a third-world nation, steal an uninsured truck from some poor schmuck who can’t afford the loss, drive halfway across nowhere on roads the average highway department would declare a total loss, pass communities that need far more than a few organizers, ignore a couple hundred vital building projects where a little help would go a long way — so’s we can release a few political prisoners from jail. And blow up the place behind them.”
Another glare at his hands; somewhere during that tirade, he’d started drumming again. Kennie leaned back and grabbed the recliner’s arms, dig-ging his fingers into the smokey blue leather. If he held on hard enough, maybe he wouldn’t start drumming on the laptop’s keyboard. Or his boss’ head.
“And you know, and I know, and everybody else knows, after we leave the bad guys are just going to send their secret state polizei out on another midnight sweep. In a few months, they’ll have just as many political prisoners as before, only now they’ll be in somebody’s drafty old warehouse or stinking cold basement. One of our team will be sporting a new ache, we’ll have more blood on our hands — in the long run, what difference does any of it make? Buildings last. Dams. Roads. Even sprinkler systems. But reform-minded individuals in banana republics have a limited catch-and-release shelf life.”
Tap. Flash green. Now the lights reflected from Sherlock’s glasses, the shiny lenses and metallic frames, and from the subdued red scar encircling his wrist as he poised one finger over the keyboard. Kennie waited until the finger began its descent.
“A guy should have more to celebrate on Christmas Eve. That’s all I’m saying.”
Sherlock muttered something ugly under his breath and reached for the backspace key. “Why don’t you go out and get some exercise, ’stead of staying cooped up in here, peering over my shoulder while I’m trying to get some work done?”
Like he wasn’t fighting fit or something. “…exercise?”
“Always a good place to start.” Sherlock’s voice trailed off as he tilted his head back and stared at the screen. Sharp brown eyes sharpened further, peering through the bottoms of the lenses.
Oh, lovely. His commanding officer, the man who led them in the field, needed bifocals to see his computer screen. That wasn’t anything to celebrate, either. “Right. Well, clearly I could be spending my time in worse ways.” Kennie eyed Sherlock; for example, talking with you.
Sherlock eyed him right back; you sure could.
Kennie sighed. “Don’t y’all have some big sort of park nearby?”
“Sorta, yeah.” One eyebrow canted. “Why, you looking for a lift?”
Like hell. Kennie stalked to the door, grabbing his iPhone and punching up the map app. The comical plastic case mocked him; it looked like an engineering nerd’s pocket protector, yellow mechan-ical pencils and red and blue fountain pens perfectly aligned above its built-in amp and speakers. Cute and bright and not where his career seemed to be headed. “No, I’m not looking for a lift.” He’d rented a car at the airport. Under his breath, he added, “Not from a blind man.”
“Think I didn’t hear that?”
If his commanding officer’s ear quality matched his eye quality— “Whatever.”
“Heard that, too. You are carrying, aren’t you?”
Kennie paused, one hand on the polished brass doorknob, frustration reaching for a seismo-graphic spike. He didn’t need a mother hen, and the SIG Sauer P225, in a crossdraw above-the-belt strut holster, hidden beneath his untucked polo shirt, symbolized his dilemma and never let him forget it. “Of course. Aren’t we always?”
No answer. Again.
Kennie refused to slam the door behind him.
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