Chapter 1 Part 2
by Skye Callahan
“There are no explosive devices in my head, Kaylyn.”
She bit her lip, she certainly hadn’t offered her name. “Okay, Mr. Edwards—”
“Sure….” She choked on her words as the man’s lips turned up into what she assumed was supposed to be a smile. “Gib, what’s going on here?”
“You’re trying to take my box.”
“Yeah,” Kaylyn nodded. This conversation was getting redundant fast. “We got that part. We’re quick like that, you know.”
“I do know. You thought you could find my box and take it away. But, I won.”
“So you did, Gib.” Cole took a step forward, but marionette-man hunkered over the box like it was his heir.
Cole took another step. “Where’s Mr. Edwards?”
“He took a vacation. He’s probably sipping a Mai Tais on the shores of Maui right now.”
“That’s a quick trip.”
“Yes, anything is possible when you use your imagination. You two are particularly familiar with that, aren’t you? Losing yourselves in a slightly altered unreality.”
Kaylyn shook her head and stumbled backward. For such a dim-whit he definitely had down the creepy intuition and dictionary memorization.
“The box is mine!” He pulled the box to his chest. “I told you. I never travel without my box. Now go away.”
“What about the contract?” Cole asked, stepping an inch closer.
“No!” He swung the box back to the table and grabbed Cole, forcing her toward the hallway. Cole pointed to the box, so Kaylyn ignored their altercation and grabbed it, unsure of what to do next since the only exit was blocked. From the looks of this place, the window probably wasn’t operable so, she opted to duck behind a shelving unit, hoping that when marionette-man noticed his box gone, he’d panic and she could run out.
“Alright sir, I get it,” Cole said, her voice grew higher, probably from the handful of hair Gib had grabbed. “We’ll have to call our boss.”
“You can’t have my box.”
Kaylyn watched through piles of artifacts on the shelves, and moved carefully toward the back wall until something caught her shirt. She stopped, but before she could free herself, a box of metal trinkets clattered to the floor. The noise reminded “Mr. Edwards” that there was a second girl he needed to worry about. He ran back to the center of the room and spotted Kaylyn through the shelves.
Running toward the back of the room, she planned to loop around at the end of the unit and head toward the door, but he saw her movement and met her as she rounded the corner. She tried to duck past him, but he came at her with the entire weight of his body, shoving her sideways into the shelf.
Cole tried to pull him off, but as his anger grew, so did his strength. Then, the struggle quieted with Mr. Edwards pinning Kaylyn to the floor, the box laying on the floor inches away, and Cole nowhere in sight.
Suddenly, the man became dead weight on Kaylyn’s chest. Cole helped roll him off, holding a wooden paddle in her right hand. Kaylyn crawled to her feet and grabbed the box, but as soon as she regained her footing, he lurched at her legs, pulling her to the floor again.
An elbow connected with Kaylyn’s face, she and the box dropped to the floor. She drew in a shaky breath, trying to regain her senses as the room went silent.
Mr. Edwards was laying on the floor in front of her with Cole kneeling over him and the box scattered in pieces a few feet beyond.
“What—” Kaylyn winced at the strange sound of her own voice and the vibrations it sent through her sore cheekbone.
“He collapsed when the box hit the floor.”
Kaylyn stumbled closer, pushing at the wreckage of the box with the tip of her foot. “And, Carlisle’s going to have my ass.”
“We’ll be lucky if that’s all.” Cole crossed her arms over her chest, but kept her eyes downward, waiting for Mr. Edwards to stir.
Kaylyn clenched her jaw, and stayed frozen in her place, staring at the wooden shards from the broken vessel. Supernatural objects are unpredictable. Anything could have escaped. A connection could have been formed or broken. She could have released chaos on the town. But nothing else was happening.
Mr. Edwards opened his eyes. “Whe—” his gravelly voice died off. He didn’t seem sure what he should ask first as he glanced between the girls and rubbed the back of his head.
“We heard banging noises when we arrived,” Cole said. “We found you up here up here, but it seems we weretoo late.”
“Oh dear, the box!” Mr. Anderson reached for one of the shards.
“You really shouldn’t, sir.” Cole pulled his wrist back.
He squinted at her and tilted his head.
“I mean, we should really get you checked out. It seems like you took a hard blow to the head.” Cole stood and offered a hand to pull him up. “Kaylyn will take care of the box, and I’ll help you downstairs so we can call an ambulance. Then, we’ll need to get back and explain things to our boss.”
“Seriously, Kaylyn. What’s going on?” Cole asked as she dropped the bag of shards into the trunk of her car.
Kaylyn rubbed her hands against her thighs before opening the passenger door. “I’m having a bad day.”
“You’ve been ‘off’ for weeks and it’s getting worse. We may not be hunting down bounties, but you can’t do this job without your head in the game.” Cole leaned over the roof of the car. “I’ll cover you, you know I will, but you’ve got to get it together. Soon.”
Kaylyn slid into the car. Flipping down the visor, she opened the mirror to check out her discolored cheek. “It won’t happen again. Let’s just get this back to the office so it can be sent to the lab-coat squad and they can figure out what it is.”
The ride back to the office was full of silent-but-pestering sideways glances and the nervous tapping of Cole’s fingers against the steering wheel. When they finally arrived, Kaylyn was relieved to get out of the car, even knowing full-well what awaited her inside.
Cole, however, didn’t move after putting the car in park. “Have you talked to Ian?”
“What?” Kaylyn ducked her head down to look back into the car.
“Maybe you should talk to him. Resolve whatever it is that’s got you all—” Cole waved her hand at Kaylyn as if it explained anything she was trying to say.
“This,” Kaylyn moved her hands in imitation, “Has nothing to do with Ian, or his moving out and moving on.”
“Then what, Kay? Are you sick? Did something else happen?” Cole’s eyes narrowed. “You haven’t been talking to Nick again….”
Kaylyn rolled her eyes, wondering if this going to turn into a rewind through every guy she’d ever dated. “He’s in Canada.”
“No. I haven’t been talking to him or any other guy. Why do you always think my problems come down to men?” Kaylyn slammed the door.
“Because they usually do.” Cole huffed, meeting Kaylyn at the trunk of the car.. “I’ve never seen you like this. I’ve seen you distant and cut off, and depressed, but even depressed you were more engaged than now. It’s like your pushing everyone and everything away.”
“I’m just tired. Maybe I need a change of scenery. A vacation.”
“Damn, you are sick. Since when does work-a-holic Kaylyn Andrews need a vacation?”
“Since OCD, perfection-seeking, work-a-holic Kaylyn burned out. I’m tired of lying to everyone about everything.”
“So, it is about Ian.”
“No. It is not about Ian. It’s about everything. Everyone in our family thinks we’re bounty hunters. You go home every night and lie to your fiancee. You don’t think that one day all this lying is going to come back to kick our asses?”
“We kind of are bounty hunters… except the crazies we bring in usually aren’t human.”
“So as long as it’s some twisted version of the truth you’re okay with it?”
Cole shrugged as she pulled the bag out of the trunk. “We save people. We make the city safer, and someone has to do it.”
Kaylyn shook her head. “Can we stop doddling and get this over with?”
As they approached the guard at the front door, Kaylyn followed slightly behind Cole, watching the black bag full of shattered artifact swing in her sister’s hand. It was like a mini-body bag, except there wasn’t a dead person inside, just the remains of Kaylyn’s dying career.
Both girls waved at Darrell, the day-shift guard, and he buzzed them inside. The offices were located in an old remodeled Victorian home, that dwarfed the surrounding structures. Not that there was much left in the area, most of the nearby buildings had been overrun with pavement for a new strip mall, but Aicil had the means to make sure this building wasn’t touched.
“I’m going to run this down to the research room, try not to break anything,” Cole smirked.
“Hardy har har.” Kaylyn rolled her eyes, then glanced in the direction of Carlisle’s office. The door was closed. Maybe he would be too busy today, but her optimism faded as she reached the empty coffee pot next to the door. “What? No one can remake coffee?”
Grabbing the glass carafe, she turned toward the sink nearly plowing down a man she didn’t recognize. “Geez, you shouldn’t sneak up on a girl!” She grabbed the table for balance.
Goody, she thought, taking him in. He was tall, but hidden away under a full suit with a tie. No one got passed Darrell and into the building unless they worked here—there was a rookie in their midst.
His gaze swept down her front.
“Can I help you?” she asked when he didn’t back away.
“A bit casual for work, don’t you think?” He spoke with a mix of accents that she couldn’t quite place.
“I call it functional, new boy. I earn my keep.” Mostly, she added in her head, but he didn’t have to know that. She pushed passed him to fill up the pot, but when she turned back, he was still staring after her, his arms crossed and one eyebrow cocked. Then, he swiveled and marched into Carlisle’s office. Kaylyn grimaced, but before she could question it, Cole bumped her in the arm.
“You’ll never believe the news around here.” She crinkled her face.
“New rookie?” Kaylyn guessed.
Cole snorted. “Carlisle’s gone. We have a new boss—”
Kaylyn’s insides flipped as her gaze flicked back to the office door.
“—apparently he’s a looker and strict so you should watch out.” Cole finished.
Kaylyn dumped the water into the reservoir and plopped in a filter and some coffee grounds.
“Okay….” Cole squinted at her. “What did you do?”
Kaylyn shook her head just as Carlson’s door—or no-longer-Carlson’s door—swung open.
“Kaylyn and Nicole?”
ARC copies will be available to those who are willing to write an honest review.
See you next week!
Fractured Legacy by Skye Callahan is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.