Wednesday, July 29, 2015

The Fugitive Pair - Chapter 2

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After a day spent exercising Matt’s psychic ability, Matt and Michelle go out to dinner with Michelle’s parents.

Even after eight months of marriage to his daughter, I still found it odd watching Jonas in a domestic setting. I’d only known him as my chief of security and, on those occasions when I wanted to sneak off on my own, my diabolical arch-nemesis. In my mind, guarding me encompassed his whole life. I had imagined him living in a small efficiency apartment which was short on luxuries because Jonas was all business. Then came that fateful night when my foolishness forced Jonas to call on Michelle—the secret bodyguard I never knew I had—to rescue me from hired thugs intent on killing me. In the span of five minutes, Jonas morphed into a family man with a wonderful wife and a daughter who just happened to be the love of my life.

“The repulsers on my car have drifted out of alignment, Jonas,” Magda said, taking a delicate bite of her steak.

Jonas, his mind obviously elsewhere, said, “Mm hm.”

Magda gave Michelle and me an exasperated look then grinned. “There’s just enough wobble that I can’t drive naked from the hood of the car anymore.”

Chewing mechanically, Jonas answered the same way. “Is that so?”

“Yes, dear, and now I can’t teach Michelle how to do it. She’s very disappointed.”

Michelle snorted, failing to completely smother her laughter, while I marveled at the strange ways new fantasies are born.

“That’s a pity, dear.”

Michelle’s mother caught Jonas’s hand and shook it. “Dear heart, could you please join us for dinner or, at the very least, tell us what has you so distracted?”

Jonas’s eyes focused on his wife and he gave a tight smile. “I’m sorry, Magda. Work stuff. I’ll try to pay better attention.”

“We haven’t been out to dinner with Michelle and Matt in over a month, Jonas. Considering they are your work, perhaps you could pay more attention to them? Unless you’d like to share what’s distracting you?”

“I’d prefer not to discuss it in such a public location. You never know who might be eaves—”

“Oh, look! It’s Matt and Michelle!” The voice came from behind us, so the speaker didn’t see the pained look cross Michelle’s face and mine when we recognized it. “Why don’t we see you at the clubs anymore, Michelle?”

Jayna, the prettiest and least personable girl in our school walked over to the table. Brenda, second only to Jayna in both categories, trailed along. The two girls wore skirts so short I was surprised they weren’t mooning half the restaurant and shirts whose necklines plunged to their navels.

Michelle plastered on a smile just as warm and genuine as the ones Jayna and Brenda wore. “I’m married now, Jayna. Maybe you heard about it? Some people say it was part of last summer’s biggest news story.”

“Just because you’re married doesn’t mean you have to give up clubbing. Married girls can still go dancing. I suppose you can even bring him along.”  I found myself on the receiving end of a laser-hot stare from Jayna. “He’ll cut into your action, but—”

Michelle looped an arm through mine and leaned against me. “I already get all the action I desire.”

Brenda snorted. “You must not desire much, Michelle. Jayna was there before you and she told me good old Matt is about as clueless as they come.”

I grinned at Brenda. “That’s because I never wanted Jayna. I only dated her to make Michelle jealous.”

Jayna’s eyes bugged out and her mouth opened and closed a few times without anything coming out. I liked the look, but Brenda spoiled the moment by finding her voice.

“Don’t be ridiculous, Matt. Jayna is more beautiful than Michelle.”

“Yes, Jayna is beautiful—just like a perfectly wrapped empty box.” I shook my head in mock pity. “Wrapping paper is all you get. Once you get past it there’s nothing left to discover.”

“You have got to be joking, Matt.” Brenda ran a hand from her neck to her navel. “Unwrapping me is all guys ever care about. Well, unless the guy is an idiot like you. I mean seriously, what has Michelle got that Jayna and I don’t have?”

“A brain.” That earned me a sensuous kiss from Michelle. I didn’t even need a psychic ability to figure out the kiss was a promise for more when we got home.

As Michelle and I finished the kiss, my mother-in-law smiled at the two interlopers. “You’re obviously Jayna, so you just have to be Brenda. Michelle told me all about you two.” Magda turned her smile on Michelle. “It appears I owe you an apology, dear.”

Jayna and Brenda exchanged puzzled looks. Equally confused, Michelle asked, “What do you mean, Mom?”

“I always assumed you were exaggerating when you talked about these two.” Magda shook her head gently. “You’re right, Michelle. They really do put the bitch in the phrase rich bitch.”

As Jayna and Brenda sputtered, Jonas rose and took each girl by an elbow. “I think you girls have overstayed your welcome. Come along.”

Jonas steered the still-sputtering girls to the door. He exchanged a few words with the manager, who escorted the pair the rest of the way out of the restaurant under Jonas’s watchful eye.

As Jonas sat, Michelle asked, “What did you say to the manager, Daddy?”

“Hm? Oh, I just told him Mr. and Mrs. Connaught felt those two had overstayed their welcome.”

“Surely the manager noticed that my parents aren’t even here, Jonas,” I said.

Magda patted my hand. “Jonas was referring to you and Michelle.”

I blushed. “Oh yeah. I’m still getting used to that mister and missus bit. But that still doesn’t explain why the manager threw Jayna and Brenda out.”

“You own this restaurant, Matt,” Jonas said. “Actually, your family owns the company which owns it, but it amounts to the same thing.”

“Oh. I guess I need to spend more time learning all of my family’s holdings. But why did you drag Jayna and Brenda to the door? You could have just called for the manager.”

Jonas’s lips compressed into a frown. “I wanted an excuse to take a look outside.”

“Is that why you were so distracted a few minutes ago, dear?” Magda asked.

Jonas nodded. “The security team outside the restaurant reported a suspicious vehicle parked right outside the door. The team is running the plates but I think Matt should check for threats.”

Michelle took my hand and turned troubled eyes on her father. “Do you think their working for Matt’s uncle?”

“I dearly wish they were, pumpkin, but I think the car belongs to the Federation government. If they’re looking for us, it’s almost certainly Psy Corps.”

My heart leapt into my mouth. “How—?”

“Before we start worrying needlessly, please find out if they’re here for you, Matt.” Jonas gave me one of his rare smiles and his voice assumed the more formal tone he used with me before I married his daughter. “I’m not going to let anything happen to you, sir.”

Magda patted Michelle’s hand. “Perhaps you ought to help Matt open up.”

Michelle tore her gaze from me and looked at her mother. “What?”

“Kiss him like you two are back home and tearing each other’s clothes off.”

“Mom!” Michelle’s cheeks reddened slightly, but then she took my head in her hands and did just as her mother suggested.

My mind was whirling and, from the tentative way Michelle kissed me, hers was, too. Gradually, our desire for each other pushed other thoughts of our minds.

“Read the area,” Michelle breathed into my ear.

My mind opened up and I read the emotions from those all around us. Our kiss drew the attention of nearby diners, whose reactions ranged from amusement to nostalgia to disdain. Farther away from us, I picked up a wide range of emotions, none unreasonable from patrons at an expensive restaurant. Expanding my read, I picked up the familiar alertness from the security team outside, this time tinged with concern. And then I found the object of the team’s concern.

Four people close together and with a strong unity of thought. Alert, calm, and determined, the four people waited for one particular person to emerge from the restaurant—me.

I broke the kiss. “I can’t say if they’re Psy Corps, Jonas, but they’re waiting for me.”

“Understood, sir.” Jonas stuck to the formal tone, perhaps hoping its familiarity would calm me—which it did. “Michelle, I had one of the men bring your Jusair in case we needed to split up. It’s parked in an alley behind the restaurant. While you and Matt leave through the kitchen, your mother and I will go out the front and pretend to wait by our usual car for the two of you join us. With any luck, that will distract the people looking for Matt and give you two a chance to escape.”

Michelle turned all business, matching her father’s tone. “Did the security team spot anyone else suspicious in the area?”

“No, but you should assume they have backup within a block of the restaurant. I also recommend you wear your wig and keep Matt out of sight until you’re well away from here.”

“Will do, Daddy. Where do you want us to go?”

Jonas hesitated for a second. “Take a circuitous route to to the M&M. Wait inside the spaceship until you hear from me. You should also refuel and restock the ship.”

Magda paled. “Do you think it’s that bad, Jonas?”

“I hope not, but I also want Matt and Michelle prepared if it is.”

Without another word, Michelle and I got up and walked to the back of the restaurant. The manager met us there and escorted us through the kitchen. He motioned for us to hang back as he opened the backdoor and checked the alley. Then he gave us a nod and we slipped into the alley.

Michelle’s green Jusair was parked right outside the door. Michelle slid into the driver’s seat as I ran around the car and hopped into the passenger seat. My wife popped open a compartment on the dashboard and pulled out a long black wig.

As she flipped the wig over her head, Michelle said, “Lay your head in my lap and stay down whatever happens. We’re coming out onto the street within thirty meters of the people looking for you.”

I did as instructed—usually something I’d find enjoyable—and tried to slow my racing heart as Michelle drove toward the mouth of the alley. She touched the com button on the dashboard. Jonas answered immediately.

“Where are you?”

“Approaching the mouth of the alley. Time for you and Mom to leave the restaurant.”

“We’re going through the doors now. All eyes in the government car are looking at us.”

Seconds later, Michelle stopped the car and her head swiveled back and forth as she checked traffic before pulling out onto the street. With a sharp intake of breath, she muttered, “Dammit, no! Not now!”

“What is it?” Jonas asked over the com.

In answer, I heard a knock on the car’s window followed by Jayna’s voice. “So you decided to ditch boring old Matt and go clubbing with us? You know you look ridiculous in the wig, Michelle?”

Over the com, Jonas said, “The government team just spotted you, Michelle. Go! Now!”

Michelle pushed the throttle to the floor and the little Jusair shot out into the street. Horns blared as cars braked to avoid hitting us. Then more horns sounded down the street as the Federation car accelerated after us. I checked the rearview cam. The Federation car drew closer by the second!

Can Michelle get away from the Federation pursuit team? Find out in Chapter 3 of The Fugitive Pair, coming Friday!