Inspector Johnson, who's fairly confident that he's seen everything, has a new partner. But there are some things that are just a little bit odd about Ms. Shannon.
I sat in the back corner of the dingy diner, slumped in the old chair; the perfect place to see and not be seen. I considered shrugging my coat from my shoulders, but I decided against it. It was unusually cold and windy that day, and I noticed the insulation in here wasn't too great. Taking the battered hat was not an option. For one thing, my head was nice and warm, thank you very much. But for another, more important, thing was that my face was too recognisable. The lopsided nose, the prominent eyes, and especially that scar that ran along my right cheekbone were all too easily remembered and recalled.
"Whadelit be luv?" the weathered server asked. Her tone suggested the mantra of any server in a place like this: ask no questions if it's none of your business. Just don't act at all interested.
"Just a chocolate," I murmured tersely, keeping my eyes low. She scribbled something on a beaten pad then made her way to the kitchen. I let myself be swallowed by my coat and the shadows, surveying the smoky diner. I wonder why she insisted on meeting me here, of all places. It surprised me that someone who sounded so refined would insist on a place like this.
To each his own, I guess.
Then again, voices can be very deceiving...
"You Johnson?" A rich voice jerked me out of my reverie. A tall, elegant young woman stood before my table.
"Depends. You Shannon?"
"The one and only." She slid gracefully into the chair across from me. The server came back with my cinnamon-warm-chocolaty goodness, making brief eye contact with this Shannon. They nodded to each other, and the server scurried back to the kitchen. Almost instantly she reappeared with a chocolate milk shake and a small plate of dried chili peppers. I cocked my eyebrow in curiosity.
She shrugged. "Sweet and spicy's how I run my life," she replied easily, snapping one of the hell red peppers over the creamy chocolate and stirring in the flaming seeds.
I cleared my throat, trying to regain my normally unruffled nature. "So, about the job..."
"What about it?"
"You realize the challenges and dangers of this job? Especially if you work with me?" She nodded calmly, sipping her infused shake. I was taken a bit aback. "You... you sure?"
"Do I seem like I'm not sure?" she asked, nonplussed.
I blinked, sitting back. I searched her face for any sign of nerves or any indication she might back out. I could only find her face filled with anticipation, her jaw set and ready for action, and her eyes absolutely shining with a fire of enthusiasm.
Shannon smirked, lightly amused at my searching gaze. Leaning into me, she half-whispered, "I'm nothing but ready, Inspector."
I tried to hastily shush her, but a few nearby parties turned to glare at us accusingly. She whipped around to glare back. Their eyes widened in fear and turned back to their business sheepishly.
I was absolutely shocked, which is saying something. I thought I'd seen everything in this job. But what was it with this woman? The calm demeanor, the server's silent response, the reaction just now: a conglomeration of some of the lowest thugs in town, cowering in fear under the gaze of this graceful woman?
She bit into one of the peppers, surveying me with interest. "What are you thinking about, Inspector?"
I shrugged. "I can't say I've ever met such a remarkable woman, Ms. Shannon." And it was true, even though I'd only known her for about ten minutes. "I can tell there's more facets to you than even the most discerning eye can see."
She didn't respond at first. "I can tell you have good eyes Inspector." She took another thoughtful bite of pepper. "I can assure you, in the time that I work with you, more 'facets' of my character will come to light sooner or later, both the refined made for the light of day and the jagged meant for the shadow."