The Drafter

Page 37

Silas put a pulse clip on her finger. “Yes.” Her arm was slack as he stuck another electrode to her, made her knee jump, and shined a light into her eyes. “No concussion. Good.”

He’s wearing jeans under his lab coat? “How long have you been in Opti?” Peri asked, lips slow from the drug.

Silas didn’t look up as he plugged both the pulse meter and the electrode into the tablet. “A while. I work nights most of the time because the light hurts my eyes.”

But you have dark eyes. And a surfer tan, Peri thought, wanting to run her fingers over its delicious smoothness. Then she smiled at the loss of inhibition that came with the muscle relaxant. The things I could do with you, lovely muscleman….

The loudspeaker crackled in the hallway, and they all listened as “Allen Swift to the reception desk, please. You have a phone call” came over it.

Allen wrangled his phone out, frowning at it. Grunting, Silas turned back to his tablet. “There’s no service this deep in the building,” he said as Allen stood. “It’s a bitch, isn’t it?”

“It might be Bill,” Allen said as he looked toward the front of the building. “Will you be okay for a minute?”

Peri’s pulse increased as her body metabolized the drug and the haze she was in eased. “I’m not a baby,” she said, sitting up when she realized she’d been slouching.

“No, you’re not.” Allen touched her shoulder and leaned close. His curls brushed her cheek, and she breathed in the scent of his shampoo, thinking it smelled all wrong but not sure why. “I’ll be right back.”

Peri touched his fingers as they slid from her shoulder. “I’m not going anywhere,” she said, feeling centered for the first time in a long while. She didn’t care if it was the drugs finding her baseline. She was calm and relaxed, hearing everything, seeing everything, and right now she was glad to be rid of Allen. He was distracting her from something important. If he left, she could probably figure it out.

Allen eased into the hall, leaving the door open a crack. Chuckling, the tech rolled over and closed it with his foot. He stood as it clicked shut, taking a card from his breast pocket and running it through the door panel to make the green light shift red. “I thought he’d never leave,” he said softly.

“You’re kind of snarky, you know that?” Peri said. He’d locked the door. She should be upset, but she just … couldn’t find it in herself … to care.

Still standing, Silas ran his finger across his screen to follow a line of text. “What else am I, Ms. Reed?”

She watched him increase the drip. “Too old to be doing intern work,” she said. “Your shoes aren’t right and jeans are a no-no, even after normal hours. Who are you?”

Turning from the IV, the man evaluated her. “And they wanted to send in a team,” he whispered, leaning over her with his palms on the arms of her chair, his face uncomfortably close as he stared at her. “I didn’t know about the no-jeans rule. Thanks.”

Peri blinked, her lethargy reasserting itself. “You’re not Opti. If you’ve hurt Ruth, I’m going to kick you in the balls.”

Surprised, he straightened, shifting out of her easy reach. “She’s fine,” he muttered.

“Who do you work for?” she asked. Everything was hitting her with a peaceful crystal clarity that felt too good to risk breaking with movement.

Silas sat back down. Something on his screen pleased him, and he smiled. “The alliance for clean timelines. Mind if I ask a question?”

She wanted to pull the electrode off, but what would be the point? “Seeing as I’m drugged out of my mind, I do. What did you give me?”

He looked at his watch, inadvertently relaying to Peri that he was in a hurry. “Nothing you haven’t had before. Relaxant, mostly. Peri, are you aware of any illegal Opti activity, recent or otherwise?”

At that, she blinked. “You mean like dirty operatives? Just rumors. You look too smart to be alliance. Who are you really?”

Frowning, he looked at the screen. Peri leaned in, catching sight of a graph before he turned it away. “Are you aware of who is giving the orders?” he asked.

“Orders for what? The illegal activity?” Peri glanced at the drip running into her arm. “I told you. I’ve only heard rumors.” It was the usual stuff, but he’d given her too much.

“Who is giving the orders?” he demanded more forcefully. “How far up does it go?”

She wanted to stop talking, but “I don’t know” came out of her mouth. Shut up, Peri.

Silas glanced at the drip, then the readout on his screen. “What do you remember from Charlotte? Did you kill Jack tonight because he found out you were taking jobs on the side? Or was it the other way around?”

Peri’s eyebrows rose. She’d been in Charlotte? Then she blinked. Taking jobs on the side? “Who’s Jack?”

That set the tech-who-wasn’t-a-tech back, and he pushed away from his tablet. “Just how much did you lose tonight?”

“Three years,” she said, distracted as she tried to process what he had said. She knew she’d been on a task yesterday, thanks to that day-old black eye. But was he implying she was corrupt, or just fishing for answers? Even with her memory missing, she’d know if she was a dirty agent. Wouldn’t I?

“Three years!” he echoed, looking disgusted. “What am I supposed to do with that?”

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