Sean was eating breakfast when Mary’s phone chimed. Mary was still asleep. He saw that it was from Jo and he picked up.
“Hi, Jo,” Sean said.
“Oh, hi Sean. ” said Jo, “Is Mary there?”
“She’s sleeping. She had a rough night last night, the baby gets really active around midnight. I can pick you up if you are ready.”
“Oh, I can get a taxi,” said Jo, “I don’t have a lot of stuff.”
“It’s not a problem, Mary will probably be out for a couple more hours,” said Sean, “It will be easier to unload via the garage. You’re on Aloha, just off Aurora, right?”
“1228, that’s right. I’ll be out front.”
“I’ll be there in fifteen minutes.”
The skies were a dull red, with sinister black clouds fringing the horizon. Mary found herself standing on a mountain, looking down on the chaos below her—cities on fire, highways jammed with traffic—and she sensed that there was a wild animal near her. Turning around, she saw a magnificent mountain lion, its eyes lit from within by what seemed to be glowing embers. “Save us,” said the cat, and he bounded away. Mary began drifting away, higher and higher, until she could see the whole world. It was splitting apart, as if it was on the verge of total destruction. “I know what must be done,” she said to herself.“I know what must be done,” Mary said as she awoke. Putting on a bathrobe, she got up and went out to the kitchen. There was a note on the counter from Sean, stating that he had gone to help Jo move. Mary went to the bathroom to prepare for the day.
“That’s it,” said Jo, after she had put her things in Sean’s car, “Two backpacks and a trunk—all my worldly possessions.”
“Well it certainly makes it easier to move,” said Sean, “I didn’t have much more than that when I first came to Seattle. “Are you going to miss this place?”
“Transitional housing?” answered Jo, “Not much. That’s why I had to get the trunk, I needed something I could lock. It only takes one bad apple to ruin it for everyone. That place had a bushel of them.”
“Well, you’ll have a place of your own, for ten months anyway,” said Sean as they pulled into traffic, “We might have to get into the spare room once in a while, but we’ll give you notice when we need to.”
“Mary mentioned that. There are some of your grandmother’s things in there?”
“Right,” said Sean, “Some paintings, some of her clothes, papers… ”
“Are they valuable?” said Jo.
“That’s a good question,” said Sean, “The art world runs on its own peculiar logic. I’ll be contacting various experts over the next few months—after the baby comes—so I may need to take some of the paintings from time to time. I don’t want to store them where I don’t have control of them—there still might be some remnants of The Brotherhood who might have reasons for seeing them destroyed. I would prefer that no one is aware of their existence until we can release them with maximum impact.”
“Now that you mentioned The Brotherhood, there was a reporter in the coffeehouse yesterday, a woman named Elly, asking questions about you and Mary,” said Jo, “She was fishing for information—she linked my attack to Sally’s murder. I acted dumb.”
“I was wondering when the press would bring this up again,” said Sean, as they pulled into the apartment’s parking garage, “You handled that well. Both Mary and I feel somewhat responsible for what you experienced and we want to do everything we can to see that you remain safe.”
“So, I take it that this apartment has security?” said Jo, as they entered the elevator.
“A lot. The building itself has an excellent system, and both our apartment and yours have additional measures. I’ll explain them to you later. Mary might be up by now, I’ll call her, she can join us for breakfast.”
“Breakfast? I don’t have any food.”
“Oh yes you do,” said Sean, “Life is going to be a lot easier for you from now on.”
Dick Merrit and Elly Nelson, reporters for techcreeper.com, had been following Sean and Jo since Sean had picked her up. Dick had taken photos of Jo getting picked up by Sean.
“You’re sure they didn’t see you?” asked Elly, “You were pretty obvious, standing in the middle of the sidewalk.”
“I was across the street. Besides, I think our Mr. Carroll is too besotted with ‘la barista bonita’ to notice if it was day or night.”
“You think they’re lovers?” said Elly, “Where does that leave Mary Robinson?”
“Where oh where is the mysterious Ms. Mary? Oh, do tell,” answered Dick, “She hasn’t been seen since she came back to Seattle, barefoot and pregnant. It’s little wonder that Sean has arranged some action on the side.”
“I think you are quite full of shit,” said Elly.
“Think of it as manure,” said Dick, “If we want this story to grow it needs some fertilizer. They’re pulling into that parking garage under that apartment building. I’ll find out if Sean has an apartment there.”
“I already know—Sean Carroll and Mary Robinson live in apartment 1012,” said Elly.
“A three-way, huh?”
“You never fail to imagine the most sordid scenarios, do you?” Elly said.
“She’s not his sister,” replied Dick, “Although that would make it even kinkier. Whatever Sean’s game is, it has the making of a great story.”
“Pictures or it didn’t happen.”
“You’ll get your pictures, all right.”