The Price of Entanglement - Chapter 4 (Complete)

Transient

CHAPTER FOUR

A week later she and Quinn arrived a little early for their first day on the job. The Westall Holdings office reception was well appointed, with a large front desk staffed by a professional-looking young man dressed business casual. They’d been given instructions to dress similarly; seemed to be the culture at this place. David usually wore a suit, Jo knew, but he was much farther up the company ladder than they were.

The young man acknowledged them with a nod as they entered, and with another, directed them to a couch that looked like it had been bought for appearance rather than comfort. Sitting in it confirmed that impression; she hoped they wouldn’t have to use it too long.

The rest of the place looked similar; everything seemed designed to look good at a glance, but didn’t invite you to stay for long. She found herself on the edge of her seat, partly out of a subconscious desire to get moving, and partly because it was actually more comfortable than trying to relax in it would be.

A little more than five minutes later, the young man apparently received a signal. “Quintrell Hickson? If you’ll come this way, sir.” Quinn looked at her in surprise; they’d been under the impression they’d been hired to do the same type of work. “Josie Rush? Your contact is on his way down to greet you,” he continued while Quinn got himself up off the chair to go.

“I’ll catch up with you in a bit then, I guess,” Jo said to Quinn when he looked back.

“Sure thing! Try not to climb the walls,” he called back as they vanished out a door to the interior of the building.

Jo waited less than two minutes before her contact arrived to collect her. He was tall and sharp dressed; sharp-featured, too, she noticed, though he seemed pleased to see her and gave off a generally warm and friendly sort of feeling. “You must be David’s friend!” he started off. “I’m Gerrold Dunn. It’s a pleasure to meet you, Jo. I’ve been hearing a lot about you,” he said, giving her an appraising look.

“Nothing too terrible, I hope?” she offered. The look wasn’t surprising; she wasn’t unattractive. She got the feeling, though, that he was sizing her up rather than checking her out.

“No, certainly not,” he said with a smile. “In fact, quite the opposite. You’ve had quite a career these last few years, and an impressive suite of hobbies, too. Your reputation as a climber precedes you. We can use someone with your talents, Jo, if you think you’re up for the challenge. I’m here to walk you through our proposal.”

“It’s not the mail room, I take it?” She tried to hide her surprise, probably not well enough. He smiled.

“Actually it is, more or less. ‘Mail room’ is such an antiquated term, don’t you think? Yes, we still do move physical pieces of mail around, though we don’t do that much of it. We use the term loosely here.”

“Okay, I’ll bite—how do you use it?”

“It serves a variety of purposes, from pickups and deliveries, as you’d expect, up to serving as a sort of in-house investigation branch.”

“Like spies?” Her eyebrows rose sharply, but she smiled.

“Nothing so dramatic, I’m afraid,” he grinned. “We deal mostly in property holdings, so our investigations are usually site inspections and trips to the public archives to fact-check and dig into details. We go out, we get information, we deliver it back to home base.”

She nodded. Made sense, sort of. “Okay. Doesn’t sound like something you need to be seriously athletic for, though.”

“True, for the most part. Most of our staff are average in that respect. It can come in handy for the on-site inspections of older buildings though, and we do have some projects coming up that would benefit from a representative who knows the ropes, so to speak.”

“Hadn’t thought about it that way before, but it makes sense,” she said, considering. Dunn stopped by a door stood slightly open, leading to what looked like a small interview room.

“Here we are,” he said, opening the door for her.

The interview was a relatively quick twenty minutes or so, covering all the usual job interview stuff. After the initial interesting and unusual conversation, it was a breeze, and she walked out of the place with a bit of a spring in her step, confident that things had gone well.

She waited around for a few minutes but didn’t see Quinn anywhere. The young man at the reception desk hadn’t seen him either when she asked. She considered sending a message for a second, but dismissed the thought; if he was still talking, it could throw him off. Instead, she signaled for a cab.

She’d been en route for no more than five minutes when her phone buzzed her.

Sorry I missed you, just got out. Went well. How ‘bout yours?

Went great! Glad yours did too.

Capital Cappuccino again?

Sounds good, could use one. Rerouting; see you there in a few.