Longbow stood looking out the window while sipping his coffee. He glanced over at Mims who was mixing batter for pancakes and then to his phone for any sign of Laura having responded, but there was nothing.
Mims poured the first quarter cup of batter into the iron skillet, “Haven’t heard from her yet?”
Longbow shook his head as he made his way back to the kitchen table where his laptop sat. He clicked his calendar and to-do lists. He answered two emails, refilled his cup, and was four-deep in his email responses when he heard Mims clear her throat.
“Right, sorry,” Longbow closed his laptop and put it on the buffet to the left of the table. Mims placed the pancakes with bacon and eggs in front of Longbow. She went and got her own plate and sat across from him.
“How long has it been since you heard from Laura?”
Longbow sipped his coffee and picked up a piece of bacon, “Almost 24-hours, she’s never not answered a phone call. She knows it means a job.”
Mims chewed her bite of pancake and watched as Longbow stared through her while he ate, “Have you told Nightshade or Pitbull?”
Longbow snapped back into reality, “What, dear?”
“Nightshade or Pitbull, have you told them yet?”
Longbow shook his head, “I am trying to wait to see if she just lost her phone or decided to ignore me.”
Mims tilted her head down and looked at Longbow, “It sounds like you’re trying to convince yourself she has suddenly decided not to return your calls or even answer them. Longbow, you know she isn’t like that.”
Longbow continued to eat periodically glancing at his phone. He sighed when there was no response via text or even a returned call by the time he was finished. He stood up, collected his plates, kissed Mims on the forehead, “I will call them when I finish the dishes.”
There was a smallish woman coming in through the back door, “Hey, pop, what are we talking about?”
Mims interjects at receives a glare from Longbow, “We haven’t heard from Laura, Alicia.”
Alicia tilted her head to one side, “You mean Flashpoint?”
“Yes, would you have any idea where she went last night and why she would not call Longbow back?”
Alicia tapped her chin while looking at the ceiling, “She did say something about going to a club for a couple of drinks.”
Longbow turned around, “Did she say which club?”
Alicia shook her head as she fixed her own plate, “Nope, but there are only about three she thinks are wiz.”
Mims walked into the kitchen, “Could you write them down after you finish your breakfast?”
Alicia’s voice was muffled as she had just taken a bite of pancakes, “Sure, I can do that.”
Mims shot a look at Alicia, “Don’t talk with your mouth full of pancake.”
Alicia swallowed, “Sorry.” She sipped some juice.
“Do you know where Nightshade is?”
Alicia nodded, “He’s outside, finishing a jog.”
“I hope he showers before eating this time.”
Alicia almost spat out her juice.
“I heard that, Miss Mims.” A tall frame filled the doorway smiling, “I was in a hurry and didn’t want the food to get cold.”
Mims chuckled, “You also stunk up the breakfast nook, Nightshade. I will have your plate ready when you come back down.
Nightshade turned his blue eyes toward Longbow, “What’s this about Laura?”
“Never you mi-”
Mims cleared her throat, even louder than before, “Huh, must be some dust I missed.”
Longbow glanced at Mims and then back to Shade, “James, I can’t get ahold of Laura. She’s not answering her texts or calls.”
He stopped with his foot two stairs up. His eyes changed to that of a wolf, “What do you mean?”
Longbow held up one hand, “I am sure it’s probably nothing, and Alicia is going to give me a list of clubs Laura frequents. We will just have to track her down. She may have lost her phone.”
“Unlikely,” James growled as he made his way to the shower.
Mims cocked her hip to one side and placed her hand upon it, “See? He didn’t buy it either. I don’t know why you keep trying to convince yourself of anything out of the norm with that girl.”
Longbow finished drying off a plate as he looked at Mims, “Because whispers on the wind tell me that Mr. White is in town and looking for talent,-”
Alicia choked on a bite of sausage.
“and I don’t want to think the worst. He’s not the best at recruitment.”
Mims slammed down her towel, “That troll is nothing but trouble. The last time he recruited, three people were seriously injured, and that was before the run.”
Longbow nodded, “That is why I need to check some things before I sit down a talk to Pitbull and the hot-tempered one upstairs.”
Mims rolled her eyes, “He’s not hot-tempered. James just considers her a part of his pack now and doesn’t want anyone to hurt her, simple wolf-shifter logic.”
Feeling slowly returned to Laura’s arms and legs allowing her to stand and pace. Her stomach was voicing its grievances.
When was the last time I ate? Oh right, five last night.
She looked at her wrist and saw that her wrist com had been taken. She was on the far side of the room when the door opened and Grim tossed the bag into the chair.
“You couldn’t have picked a cheaper place for a burger? Frag it, that was an arm and a leg, you slit.”
“I am entitled to pain and suffering compensation, my pain, and smiling at your suffering because you had to buy actual food, tusk mouth.”
Grim dashed across the room and stopped short before throwing another punch, “I hate you.”
“I gathered that much. I am not fond of you either. Just remember you kidnapped me. I don’t have to be polite.”
Grim grunted and slammed the door behind him when he left. Laura opened the bag, placed the beer cola on the floor, and opened the burger.
Grim stepped into Mr. White’s office being careful not to mention the wrecked desk, “I’m back. That little slit had me spend 25 credits on a burger and drink.”
Mr. White slowly looked up from his computer and locked eyes with Grim, “I am well aware that you care not for humans, but can you PLEASE refrain from the slurs?”
“But boss, she-”
“According to the file I received on the young woman, she returns what she receives regarding hospitality, and right now we did unceremoniously bound her and brought her here only to be insulted by you.”
Grim returned the gaze, “I don’t care who she is and what she does. She’s trouble. She’s an entitled little slit that deserves to have her teeth knocked in.”
Mr. White stood and bent over his desk, “You will be civil to her if we are to get her to do ANYthing. Is that clear? If you cannot be civil, you can be replaced.”
There was an audible gulp from Grim, “Right, boss, got it.”
“I sure as hell hope so, Grim. Now, sit in that chair and cool off. I will go talk to her.”
Mr. White entered the room just as Laura was slowly opening the soda to prevent it from shooting out of the can. “I take it he did not deliver it responsibly.”
“He threw it into the chair. I don’t know what kind of people you have on your permanent payroll, but he’s an ass.”
“Yes, I will admit I should have gotten someone else to acquire you. He has never liked humans.”
“I can tell. He isn’t coming back in here is he?”
“I told him to calm down and be civil or he will no longer be in my employ.”
“Good luck with that.”
Mr. White paced as Laura finally opened the bottle and took her first sip, “These people you said that would be looking for you, who are they?”
“Does anyone in your family have a name?”
“Longbow.” Mr. White’s eyes widened for a second and then relaxed, “I see. He has quite the reputation.”
Laura nodded, “So, what is this job you need me to do under duress?”
Mr. White reached out to open the door, “I will come back with the details.”
Alicia scribbled down three clubs and was about to hand them to Longbow when James grabbed the list as he sat down with his plate.
Mims grabbed it from James and noticed there was a growl on his lips, “Shifter or not, don’t you forget in whose house you sleep before you growl at me.”
He jammed a piece of bacon in his mouth.
“That’s better. I will not have you stewing while you look at the list and not eat. I know you.”
She handed the list to Longbow, “Here you go. I assume you’re going to send one person to each locale?”
Longbow nodded, “Yes, Pitbull will go to one, James to another, and I will go to the third.”
Alicia’s eyes were squinted and her lips were pursed, “Why can’t I go to one? It’s not I am a kid.”
Mims looked in her direction, “They won’t believe you’re an adult, dear, and you know it. The clubs she goes to are 18 and up. You still look-”
“Like a little kid. I hate this.”
Longbow smiled, “You know where the clubs are. Can you not astrally project to see if she used any magic in any of those locations? You know her magical signature.”
“I can do that.”
The corners of Mr. White’s smile turned downward as the door shut behind him. By the time he returned to his office, he was shaking his head and lighting a cigarette.
“Of all the people she could have named.” He sat and pulled out her file. He rifled threw it three times.
“There is no mention of that man anywhere in her file. This is incomplete. Grim.”
Grim sat up in his chair, “Yeah, boss?”
“I need you to visit this person,” He scribbled something down on a strip of paper, “and ask them why they left out information on her associates.”
Grim looked at the address, “I asked him if that was all the info. He said yes.”
“He left out her associates. No one drops the name she does and lies about it.”
Grim stopped breathing for a second, “Whose name did she drop?”
Grim’s complexion went pale.