Chapter Two

"Nora?"

Her eyelids fluttered a little before opening completely, revealing sky blue eyes.

"Nora."

She tried to sit up a little, but was struck by dizziness. Black motes danced across her field of vision, fuzzy speckles that she couldn't focus upon.

"You alright, Nora?"

"Hmm?" She clenched her eyes shut in an effort to blink back the spots. When she finally managed to sit upright she collapsed forward onto the shoulder of the man, the Leo look-alike.

"Sit tight, Quinn will be right back with something for you," he whispered into her ear.

"Quinn?" The name was unfamiliar to her, and she didn't remember seeing anyone else besides this familiar stranger.

He disregarded her question. "You were out for maybe thirty seconds, probably low blood sugar or something. Have you eaten anything recently?"

"Who's Quinn?" Nora asked softly, pulling herself from the man's shoulder.

"He's grabbing you an apple juice. It's your favourite, right?"

"How'd you know? And who's Quinn?"

The man uttered a quick laugh. "Because I'm your partner, Nora."

Nora remembered that Leo had a habit of using neutral terms, and said "partner" when others would have just said "husband." One of those quirks that she found endearing. More memories came flooding back, and she smiled, remembering the time he was still alive.

"Wait, you're not," her voice trailed off. He didn't fill the silence, but just looked into her eyes with a strange intent she couldn't fathom. It wasn't a lustful gaze, or an affectionate one. It was the almost demeaning gaze of a medical professional analyzing his patient. She was spooked. "You're not dead, Leo?"

His eyes widened at her words and a crazed look overcame him.

"Don't use that name here," he exclaimed in a savage whisper. "And of course not!"

Nora's lips moved in an attempt to speak, but no words came to her. Instead, she just looked upon his face, dumb. He stood, and hoisted her up off the Heathrow floor with him. He instructed her to sit on one of the plush chairs alongside the table, and she willingly, though with some trepidation, sank into it. Her paperback rested on the table, momentarily forgotten.

"Who are you?" she demanded in a shaky tone.

He turned to look at her from his own chair, face full of that false concern. "As I said before, I'm your partner, Nester. Something wrong?"

"My husband's name is Leo."

His face flushed red and he shot cautionary gazes about the room, which was almost empty in the early morning. He grabbed her wrist made to slap her, from which she gasped and recoiled, but was interrupted by the arrival of Quinn.

"Ah, our Sleeping Beauty has awoken I see." His eyes fell upon Nora's white wrist, and he followed Nester's hand up to his arm, his shoulder, and then finally glared at the man's face.

Releasing the woman's wrist he fell back into the upholstery. Nora, too, made a release, though of the breath she had caught in her throat.

"Here, drink up," Quinn said, presenting her with a glass bottle of apple juice.

"Thanks." She twisted the cap off with an audible pop, and then took a few sips of the juice. Nester was right - it was her favourite. But how did he know? He wasn't her Leo, and so probably wasn't her husband, either. What, then, did he mean by partner? And she still didn't know who Quinn was, either. Everything was so confusing.

"You have the boarding passes, Nestor?"

He nodded, and produced a British Airways envelope from inside his jacket. Nora reached a hand into her own jacket pocket, but it came back empty.

"Funny," she whispered to herself. Next she dug her hands into her purse, setting the bottle of juice on the floor beside her. Again, nothing.

"Did you steal my boarding pass while I was blacked out?" she exclaimed, horrified.

"I can't trust you with it, Nora," Nester replied. "Especially with you not knowing who we are."

"Wait." Quinn turned to her with a surprised look. "You don't remember us?"

"No!" Nora said, standing. "Now give me back my pass and I'll be leaving. I'm travelling alone, after all."

"No you're not," Nester smiled. "And no, I won't."

"Boss man wants all three of us there, Nora," Quinn added. "Our seats are all apart for our safety, but we go together."

Again Nora was at a loss for words. Their boss? Their safety? She knew that, working for an international development agency, she was heading into a less than peaceful environment, but she had always travelled alone and met with a contact from the local office on arrival.

Quinn chuckled at her dumbfounded stare. "You don't even know where you're going, do you?"

Her anger returned. "Of course I do. I'm flying to Nairobi. Alone. Now give me my pass or I'll call the authorities."

Nester clucked his tongue in disapproval, shaking his head at the same time. "You wouldn't want to do that, Miss Klein."

"Why ever not? And how do you know my name?"

"Apparently we know a lot more about you than you yourself do," Quinn sighed.

"I'm Nora Klein. I'm flying to Nairobi on behalf of an international development agency to ensure that the local office is up to standards."

Both men burst out laughing at her calmly executed remarks.

"Is that what you call it? International development?" Quinn laughed, holding his gut.

"Give me my pass!" Nora screamed.

Nester stood and held one of the boarding passes out toward her. When she grabbed it he in turn grabbed her shoulder, but didn't let go of the printed paper.

"Let me go," Nora said through gritted teeth.

"Stop making a scene, Nora," Nester answered through his own clenched teeth, his eyes darting back and forth to observe the whole room. "You of all people should know the importance of constant vigilance."

She narrowed her eyes and tore the pass from the man's grip.

"Go, but meet us at the baggage claim in Nairobi," he uttered softly. "We can't pull off this assassination without you."

Nora's eyes widened in shock, and, overcome by a sudden unexplained impulse, she struck Nester over the side of his head with the glass bottle still in her hand, though it did not shatter. The juice spilled to the floor, and she ran.

The End

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