Have to work and do all the things today, so here is a short snippet. As an aside, Gutenberg, which is the new text editor for WordPress, arbitrarily eats spaces between words when you paste from Word. Begin primal scream of rage.
The Harris County Institute of Forensic Sciences occupied a nine-story building on Old Spanish Trail. Its blocky lines, rectangular windows, and orange brick practically screamed that it housed some sort of government agency.
I maneuvered our Honda Element into the parking lot. It used to be our surveillance vehicle, but last year Grandma Frida decided to rebuild it from wheels up. Now the Element sported a new engine, a reinforced suspension, and custom dampers for enhanced shock absorption. The windows were bulletproof, and the new glass had both the safety glazing and a polycarbonate layer on the inside, so if someone did shoot at us, the windows would crack but hold together. And most importantly, the Element was now equipped with B5 level armor, which meant it would stop most handguns and shotgun blasts. It could have been armored enough to withstand a sniper shot; however, Grandma Frida reasoned that our best chance of survival was getting away fast, and armor was heavy, so she stopped at B5 and added a reinforced floor and run-flat tires.
Unfortunately, even Grandma Frida had her limits, and steering was a bit sluggish. I was used to it by now and I aimed for a parking spot in the middle row.
“So, what’s with you and Alessandro Sagredo?” Runa asked.
The steering was sluggish, but the brakes worked perfectly. I jerked forward, and my seat belt slammed me back.
“Aha.” Runa pulled on her own seat belt. “That’s why we screeched to a stop halfway into the parking space?”
“My foot slipped.” I gently eased forward and brought the Element to a smooth stop.
Last night, after Bern carried Rutger into the guest bedroom and Runa settled in on inflatable mattress next to him, I went back to my office, rescued Alessandro’s picture from my desk drawer, and brought it upstairs to my bedroom. He looked so carefree, caught in a magic moment somewhere sunny and warm. When I looked at the picture, a disquieting, unpleasant feeling squeezed my chest, not pain exactly, but a kind of discomfort. I stood in my bedroom and wished with everything I had that I was there, in the sun, with a backdrop of green mountains and Alessandro and I were going somewhere. Together.
It was stupid, and childish, and it would never be. I hid it all inside, put the picture on my nightstand, and went to bed.
“So, you’re just going to go with ‘nothing?’” Runa asked.
“Your sister said you met during your trials.”
Sistercide was not a word, but it would be after today. “Yes.”
“Yes what? Is there a story behind that?”
No. He didn’t follow me on Instagram, and he didn’t take my breath away during the trials. And he definitely didn’t show up under my window after trying to convince me to go for a drive.
“We met during the trials, and my sisters haven’t stopped trolling me about it for the last three years. There is absolutely nothing between me and Alessandro Sagredo.”
Strictly speaking, there was 5,561 miles between our warehouse and the Sagredo estate near Venice, Italy. A commercial flight with one stop could get me to Venice in thirteen hours.
“Your cheeks are turning pink,” Runa said. “Are you imagining there being nothing between you and Alessandro?”