Part 18

                “Good morning, Lord.”

                “Good morning, attendant.” The curious situation caused Lieder to subconsciously direct his gaze upward, even though he had no indication that the attendant’s voice was coming from the ceiling. “You just making conversation, or did you need something?”

                “It looks like you’re intending to depart, and the household is in an enhanced state of security. Would you like me to do a preliminary scan of the lower chambers?”

                Lieder sighed loudly. It seemed that Beri had ignored his request to let anyone who sought him through.      

                “No, but could you tell me if anyone visited during the hours that I was here?” Lieder at least hoped he could tell if someone had been turned away.

                “No entry by solicitation or force was attempted.”

                 “Thank you, I’m departing now.”

                “Yes, Lord.”

                Lieder deliberated over whether or not he should bring this up with Beri as he stepped onto the elevator. He most certainly wouldn’t be confrontational or authoritative about it, but perhaps he could persuade her to see things from his perspective.

                As he descended, he considered the possibility of an opposite approach. If he apologized and thanked her for her actions, perhaps he could lead her to believe his request had been the result of his fatigue. If he claimed that it was some kind of botched joke, maybe she’d have no reason to suspect that anyone was watching him, and would therefore be unprepared to stand in their way if they did attack.

                Lieder sighed and stepped towards the exit. Even without the ‘enhanced security’ the attendant had alluded to, there was no way to tell how the house’s security might react to a break-in. He should probably consult with the attendant before even bringing it up with Beri.

                Until then, he needed to seriously consider the possibility that the only way to keep Beri safe was to find new lodging.

                By the time he reached Beri’s kitchen, he’d settled on a strategy for avoiding the topic.

                “Oh, man,” Lieder groaned contently, stretching the muscles in his back and arms. “It’s worth staying up for days on end if you get to feel like this afterward.”

                Beri looked up from her breakfast, pausing in a manner that suggested her expectations had been defied.  “Did you have a good rest?”

                “The best,” Lieder exaggerated. “It’s moments like this that make me feel glad to be alive. How ‘bout you? I can’t remember yesterday evening all that well, I’m sorry if I was grouchy.”

                “No, don’t be.” Beri spoke guardedly. “I have nothing to complain about. You look like you’re ready to go.”

                “Yep, prime work is done when one is feeling primed.”

                “Would you like a meal before you leave?”

                “Nah, I’ve got something specific in mind.” The beverage that Cyril gave him had kept him satisfied for a surprising amount of time. “Thanks, though.”

                “If I’m not being too intrusive, can I at least request that you take the car? Especially if you plan to be gone as long as last time, it would help me rest more easily.”

                “That’s not too intrusive at all, it actually sounds very convenient.” He assumed that she was talking about the vehicle that had picked him up the day before. While he dreaded the idea that he might be occupying someone else’s means of transportation, setting Beri’s mind at ease was a very high priority for him. “Thanks, Beri.”

                “You are most welcome,” Beri replied humbly. “Let me show you how to configure your expander to call for it.”

The End

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