Trevor wandered out of the sushi restaurant where he had been enjoying
a solitary late lunch. His eyes slid from one face to the next as they
passed him, but he wasn't concentrating on any one individual until his
eyes met the figure of a woman strolling in his direction.
Her dark brown eyes burned with an intensity that Trevor hadn't seen
for a long time, but the rest of her facial features were relaxed. Curious
at such a contradiction, the psychic paused, clasping his hands behind
his back as he leaned against the corner of a nearby store.
Images flashed in on him, one after another, but he was adept at his
skill after so many years and rapidly sorted them into some sort of order.
This woman had a gift that revolved around sleep and dreams. That much
he could pick up, but the details were vague, intermingled with flashes
that didn't seem to belong to this fragile-looking individual. Thoughtfully,
Trevor tried to delve deeper. He didn't like dipping into people's minds,
generally waiting to see what they threw at him first, but in this case
it would have been impossible. She was unreadable in that sense. Not that
there was nothing to see. Trevor had a sense that, underneath her exterior
of calm, her personality bubbled; but she had learnt to hide it well and
so, wanting to know more, he had to go fishing.
Even as he watched her, she turned as something in a store window caught
her eye, the change in direction causing something to drop out of her
bag. It fell to the ground almost at his feet, but the woman didn't notice.
Bending down, Trevor scooped up the fallen object to discover it was a
purse. Hurrying after the woman, he placed a hand on her arm.
"Excuse me. You dropped this."
She turned, her expression unusually frank and open, as if danger of
any sort was unknown to her, becoming a mixture of embarrassment and laughter
as she accepted it from him.
"Thank you so much -- "
"Trevor," he supplied with a grin that showed off his white
"Elizabeth," she offered, slipping the purse back into her
"You're not from around here, are you?" he suggested, falling
into step beside her.
She grinned, showing dimples in her cheeks. "What gave me away?"
"The accent," he retorted at once. "You're Australian?"
"How could you tell?"
"I know one already," he admitted. "You're a long way
"Trying to find a new one," Elizabeth sighed. "But I've
lived in the US for a while. Just arrived here in Dallas today."
"Do you have a place to stay?"
She shrugged, sending him a sly grin. "You know, I thought only
Australian men were this blunt in the pick-up line department."
Trevor laughed, his eye caught by one of his favorite cafés down
the street, and nodded towards it. "How about I practice over coffee?"
The woman arched an eyebrow. "How can I trust that you're not some
The man grinned. "Don't you think you could escape in a café?"
"Probably." She looked once more into the window of the shop
that had grabbed her attention and glanced back at the man. "Let
me go in here for just a sec, while you make a concerted effort to suppress
your 'homicidal maniac' tendencies, and then I'll treat you to a coffee
for giving me back my purse without emptying it first."
He nodded smiling acquiescence, waiting until she disappeared into the
store before pulling out his cellphone. The call he made was answered
"Cam? I need your special skills, buddy. Can you get down here fast?"
* * * * * * * * *
Blue Cove, Delaware
"Embryonic stem cell research is at the leading edge of a series
of moral hazards. The initial stem cell researcher was at first reluctant
to begin his research, fearing it might be used for human cloning. Scientists
have already cloned a sheep. Researchers are telling us the next step
could be to clone human beings to create individual designer stem cells,
essentially to grow another you, to be available in case you need another
heart or lung or liver. I strongly oppose human cloning, as do most Americans.
We recoil at the idea of growing human beings for spare body parts or
creating life for our convenience."
The Chairman lifted the remote control and the gray-haired figure on
screen froze. There was a smirk on the viewer's face as he rewound and
replayed the footage.
"You hypocrite," Parker sneered softly. "If the people
listening with bated breath to that broadcast really knew where their
dollars were going
He glanced around the office in which he sat, his eyes coming to rest
on the photo of the woman in the frame on his desk, and the sneer grew
as he gazed mockingly on the face of his first wife, before looking down
at a folder on his desk that presented the latest report on the project.
"If all those people knew what we'd already done, and what we're
With a mocking laugh, he turned off the television and rose from his
seat, collecting his briefcase and switching off the television before
turning off the lights and leaving the room.
* * * * * * * * *
Sebastian turned to Cam as soon as the door shut behind Trevor and Elizabeth,
eyes demanding an explanation.
"She's harmless," the young man retorted. "And she doesn't
have to stay. It's not like she knows what goes on here, and she won't
The man's fingers drummed impatiently on the tabletop. "Can you
be sure? How do we know she isn't a Centre spy or something?"
Cam raised an eyebrow. "You don't trust Trevor and me?"
"It isn't that," Sebastian growled. "But we can't afford
to take risks."
"Geez, it's one night," the other man returned, glancing at
the screen, showing the rain that was pouring down outside, for emphasis.
"Throw her out on her ear tomorrow, if you want to, but at least
give her a chance." Cam grinned. "After all, you gave me one."
"You could prove your usefulness," his boss retorted. "I
haven't seen any sign of
"So set her cleaning the kitchens or something," the young
man interrupted. "Isn't it obvious that Trevor must have some reason
for being keen to have her here? Not everybody's different. There are
some ordinary ones as well."
"I'll ask Jarod," Sebastian mused, half to himself. "He
should be able to tell me."
"Fine, if it makes you happy," the empath responded as he stood
up and walked to the door. "But unless you start trusting people,
we'll spend the rest of our lives in this place until we rot."
Cam let the door slam as he left the room, leaving Sebastian gazing thoughtfully
* * * * * * * * *
Jarod collected Jordan's things from the back of the helicopter and walked
with his son to the building in which his father and brother were still
staying. Major Charles met them as they began to remove the snow from
"How was it?"
"Fantastic!" Jordan grinned, returning the man's hug before
scraping the snow from his boots and taking them off. Putting on a pair
of slippers, he then led the way to the living room.
Major Charles slipped an arm around his son's shoulders as they followed
the young man. "When will you go south?"
"Well, I was planning to head off soon," Jarod remarked as
they walked into the room. "That is, as long as Ethan's ready."
Ethan caught Jordan's eye and understood the young man's unspoken plea,
shaking his head. "I thought you'd stay at least one night, so I
haven't packed yet."
Jarod saw the glance and gave his brother a suspicious look. "And
just how long does it take you to pack?" he began, before seeing
the pleading expression on Jordan's face and yielding with a sigh. "Okay,
I guess there's no harm in extending my vacation by another day."
"Great!" Jordan's eyes lit up in delight before jumping to
his feet. "Want me to grab your stuff?"
"And then you'll hide it so I don't leave tomorrow either, right?"
his father offered with a knowing chuckle. "Thanks, son, but I prefer
to do that myself."
"Okay." Jordan walked over to the table where a jug of hot
chocolate waited and poured himself a mug before getting a book out of
the bag he had dumped in the doorway and settling down in a large easy-chair
Leaving the room, Jarod again donned his boots and jacket, going out
to the helicopter to get a bag containing his clothes out of the back.
He cast a glance at the DSA player, finally deciding to leave it, but
taking the laptop, and, lowering his head against the wind, crossing the
fallen snow to the building. Before he got there, however, the cell phone
in the pocket of his jacket rang. Pulling it out, Jarod cupped his hand
around the mouthpiece so that his words would be comprehensible.
"Jarod, it's Sebastian."
The Pretender's eyebrows shot up in surprise. "Hi. What's going
"I've got a favor to ask you. Would you know if there's anybody
employed by the Centre called 'Elizabeth?'"
Slamming the door behind him, Jarod dropped the bag in disbelief. "Sebastian,
do you have any idea how many people the Centre employs? How could I possibly
have all those names at my fingertips?"
There was a dry chuckle from the other end, conceding this. "Well,
can you find out? I don't want to place the whole operation here in jeopardy
by having someone working for them on the inside, but I also don't want
to be unreasonably suspicious. Is there any way for you to know?"
"One," Jarod conceded. "I'll do what I can and either
call you back or send you anything I find out, okay?"
"Thanks. I appreciate it."
Jarod picked up the bag after removing his jacket and shoes again, strolling
along the hallway to his room. Sitting down on the bed, he punched in
a number and waited for it to be answered.
There was a sound like a regretful sigh on the other end. "Jarod,
I really hope you aren't calling to try and make me
"It's not that," he interrupted before she could refer to their
last meeting, in the massage room. "I want some information about
a possible Centre staff member."
Her brusque tones revealed her relief that he wasn't going to bring up
a painful subject yet again. "What's the name?"
"Elizabeth, but I don't know a last name. Can you just send me whatever
you've got about anyone with that name, particularly with a photo if you
can manage it?"
"I'll do my best," she promised before cutting the connection.
Hanging up, Jarod returned the cell phone to his pocket, setting up the
laptop to receive any incoming messages and then leaving the room to see
what his family was up to.