Monday morning it was back to work. As usual, I beat almost everyone there so I could make the coffee. It was worth the early start just to have decent coffee. Apparently my boss had been in on the weekend. He'd opened three new files and filled them with his usual writing style. I got to work, translating them into something that made sense, with proper grammar, in business style passive. At least he was using the computer. When I'd started the job I'd had to work from his hand written tablets, complete with edits and additions with lines and arrows all over the place. Today I only had to guess at what a dozen or so words were. Checked his figures. Winced. The Old Firm wasn't doing very well. Well, my job was secure, as long as the boss's was. I crossed my fingers.
Tuesday evening I took a cab to the stables. If I kept Zeus I was definitely going to have to buy a car. In fact, it was time to buy one anyway. And maybe a girlfriend for Zeus, in case the Feds decided to take him away. I checked the bulletin board, and took a look at the three mares at the stable that were for sale. Yuk. Never mind. I'd have to look harder. Further.
Rick had an old saddle, built for a quarter horse's broad back. I borrowed it, and a bridle, and took Zeus for a spin. The arena was pretty full, so I decided to just mosey on down some roads. If we got as far as the river, there were trails . . . a crackling noise drew my eyes to a ball of spinning lightening. It was impressive, even during the day. I didn't wait for it to open, I just turned Zeus and kicked. He stretched out and ran. I glanced behind and spotted the armored soldiers, with weapons aimed my direction. "Turn! They're shooting!"
Zeus turned on to the side road, his metal shod hooves scoring the pavement as he skidded around the corner and put some trees between us and the soldiers. I heard some zip-zap sorts of noises and smelled smoke, but Zeus didn't falter, so they must have missed him. I spotted a gate up a lane, by a barn. If Zeus could jump, we could hide. Or at least get something solid between us and those laser guns. I leaned that direction, tightened the rein, and Zeus whipped into the driveway and bounced over the gate like it was nothing.
From my point of view, it was not nothing. It was something one should never do when riding in a western saddle. When one is not an expert rider. I hit the front wings of the saddle hard enough to bruise my thighs, then scrambled for something to hold onto. The horse swerved to get me back in the center of the saddle, then turned to go around the old barn. He seemed to know what he was doing, so I just concentrated on staying onboard while he jumped a fence, dodged around a cowshed, jumped another fence into an orchard, and finally slowed as he walked through the trees. Their yellow and brown leaves were half fallen. I looked back and couldn't see any pursuit. Had Eldon worked enough magic on the horse that those people could trace him? What about Tiff and Brian? I grabbed my cell phone and punched in the number of the cute guy with dimples.
The Feds swarmed all over the stables, several people had seen the whole thing. By the time Zeus and I circled around and snuck back into the stable, the cute guy, I mean, Agent Hawkins was there.
"I've sent other people to guard Mr. Keller and Miss Valaskovitch." He was all bright-eyed and cheerful. There were people with weird instruments waving them around. One person was vacuuming the road where the lightening ball had appeared.
One of them trotted over and eyed me, and then Zeus. "Humph. They look ordinary enough. Maybe we could take them someplace secure, and use them for bait."
"Dr. Jamison. Miss Pricilla Cooper." Agent Hawkins sighed. "We may take them someplace secure, to protect them. Any appearance of baiting a trap will be strictly secondary."
I snickered. "Got a nice country retreat somewhere? I could use a vacation."
Instead, I got an escort home, and a tacky panic button on a lanyard to wear around at all times. I hid it under my blouse when I went in to work Wednesday. Not that style should have been on my mind. The Boss called everyone into the conference room at ten and told us the company was folding, and we'd all be getting paid up to today, and four weeks severance. Health insurance would, by law be kept for six months. He told us to pack our personal stuff, and he'd bring around the checks. Nice working with you all. . .
Well. Fine. At least I had Eldon's money. The store room provided boxes, and I was out of there inside of an hour. I walked to the bank, box in hand, to deposit the checks, then took the muni. It was full of mothers and little kids at this time of day, but empty enough that I had a seat and didn't have to hold the box all the way home.
Tiffany was back, and opened the door as I staggered up the last flight of stairs.
"You didn't get fired, did you?"
"Well, the whole company is folding, so no, I wasn't fired, but I sure am out of a job. Darn it, this is really inconvenient with all this weird stuff happening, too."
"Ha. I still say it's your fault. All my mother did was carry on about my breath. She made me go to the dentist, and he couldn't do anything about it. If it doesn't wear off, I'm going to sue your tush off, Prissy Cooper."