Once I had done a lap of the ballroom, I pulled aside Chloe (busy inspecting the metal-work) and whispered to her:
“I’m not satisfied about my chances outside the tower. I don’t want to face the killer- dead or not.”
“Ah, yes. That man who tried to get you earlier, I was there when he ducked back in from the exterior wall. It looked very strange, actually: a masked man climbing in through a window. Of course, he ran down the stairs pretty quickly after that.”
“Well, how convenient that you saw,” I muttered, not without sarcasm. Raising my voice, I asked, “Did he remove his mask?”
“No, he ran off as soon as he saw that we were in the room.”
Oh, well. At least I had tried.
“But…how could he have jumped through the window up here and hung onto a window on the floor below?”
“He had a rope. I guess those sorts of criminals come with utility belts-”
“Hang on! You said ‘we’. Who was with you?”
Chloe gave me an unimpressed look.
“Look, if I’m going to do some spying, I might as well get a tête à tête with a few people in the business. I’ve been here for a while now, and I’m starting to make some helpful friends. There’s even an attractive young man that I’ve got my eye on!”
“How ‘Romeo and Juliet’,” I remarked, “I hope he knows that you’re a woman.”
“Of course!” Chloe playfully punched my arm and stifled a giggle.
“Charles!” Richard called across the factory floor, his arm now resting around Mike’s shoulder. They were looking like the best of buddies already. It was almost a shame that Mike and I had only come to gather knowledge, and that Chloe was working for the other team. At this rate, nobody in Tydeus would suspect.
“Your friend Mike is great! Tell him that he can join Tydeus anytime he wants. Oh, and that he is free to buy as many products and shares of the business as possible.”
Richard pushed Mike over to us. Chloe turned triumphantly to him.
“We should go.”
“Hold on, I’m not going anywhere near my house with a killer on the loose.”
“The killer on the loose? But he fell…” Mike looked between Chloe and I again.
“He managed to climb back in. I’m not going home!”
“Wait!” Chloe stepped in between us, “We’ll discuss this outside, okay?”
There was still glass everywhere. It didn’t help to calm me down.
“What are we going to do then, Charles?” Mike asked Chloe.
She gave a thoughtful smile.
“Well, you’ll be coming with me.”
Having taken the lift she had come up in (as that seemed to be her way), Chloe led us into the reception from the other side of the ground floor. Everywhere was the same in this tower; the nice wooden floor of the ballroom turned back to hard Tydeus steel.
The receptionist started and dropped his paper as he saw us leaving; knowing the boy, he probably didn’t even see Chloe when she arrived.
“Come again soon, Charles?” He called out after Chloe.
She turned, walking backwards with ease, and winked at him.
“I’ve got a bit of Minerva business to deal with, but don’t think that you won’t see me again.”
I rolled my eyes. Chloe seemed to want to charm the whole world. Typical young adult.
Outside on the patio lay the dark, dark rifle. Having fallen from the fifth floor, it had shattered on the hard concrete, scattering its insides over a radius of about two metres. I stopped, then stared blankly, not really seeing or knowing how to move myself around the weapon which had, not long ago, been pointed at my head.
I felt Mike’s hands on my shoulders and Chloe’s on my arm, guiding me away from the mess.
As we walked away from the buildings, Chloe removed her top-hat and unpinned the rest of her tight curls, which bounced as they collided with her shoulders. Still in a daze, I noticed Mike’s eyes flick to her and hers survey him with interest.
From her handbag, Chloe removed a set of car keys, along with an automatic unlocking button, and trained it on a red Volkswagen ahead of us. There was a ‘beep’ and suddenly (it seemed that everything was whirling past me too quickly) we were inside: Mike and I passengers, Chloe in the driver’s seat.
I leant against Mike’s arm, watching as the city started to run by and started to fade and blur. One minute I was there, the next I’d gone to me own world.