The Wardens Series (S01E03: Lust) – 2012

S01E03 – Chapters 21 – 30

Chapter 21

Erin shook rainwater from her hair as she sat in Palace Industries’ waiting room. A woman manning the front desk looked on disapprovingly and Erin glared at her, her honey-brown eyes daring the Asian beauty to say something. In the end the woman averted her gaze, focusing instead on the steady stream of calls that was coming in.

            Erin usually enjoyed visiting Hong Kong as it was so different from anywhere else she’d been since being sent out into the field. It had been her third assignment, long before she’d been paired with Zach, so being in China alone again seemed fitting almost, though the reasons behind it were far from nostalgic.

She approached the front desk, “How much longer?” she asked the woman, Fen, her nametag read.

            “You may have a seat Miss Erin, only a few more minutes,” she replied graciously. Praesidium had a rule of no last names, but Erin still found it strange to be called ‘Miss’ in any sense.

            “I’d rather stand,” she replied and Fen nodded.

            “Coffee? Tea?” the assistant asked and stood as if about to go get it before she got an answer.

            “No.” The word escaped her mouth in a sharper tone than she had intended, but Erin had found it difficult to be her usual polite and good-natured self in the last weeks. Fen nodded again, her smile still in place and Erin was thankful for her cordiality. In other parts of the world she was pretty sure she’d already be being cursed at among the office pool.

            She looked around the foyer for what seemed like the hundredth time. She was the only one there and the blue and yellow pastels of the seating area matched with paintings featuring some of the mostpicturesque landmarks around the world, should have made Erin feel a little more at ease, a little happier, but each time she tried to drown out the thoughts that were plaguing her, they re-emerged, ignoring her need to be rid of them. Zach lied to me.

            She pulled her black leather jacket close to her body, a sudden chill coursing through her at the thought. Then, disgusted by her reaction, dropped her hands and leaned against a nearby wall. She wouldn’t let this get to her, there was work to be done, that was why she was there. Her issues could wait.

            “How much longer,” she called to Fen again. The dark-haired woman looked up, her pretty smile not nearly reaching her dark eyes,

            “I will call Miss Wong and find out for you.” Erin watched as Fen pressed a button on her headset and listened as she spoke in Cantonese to the person on the other end. A few moments passed and she pressed the button again before turning to Erin.

            “Miss Wong is still in her meeting. She has asked that you wait just ten more minutes and apologises for the delay.” Erin tried to control her growing annoyance,

            “Fine,” she managed and settled again on the wall, putting one of her feet up against it, which made Fen stare at her military-style black boots hard, but she said nothing. Yup, the crazy black girl strikes again she thought, amusement almost replacing frustration. Almost. No matter what she did, all roads led back to Zach. She hadn’t even had time to process the rest of it yet. The fact that there had always been more to her past and no one had told her, like she was some fragile piece of glass that needed to be protected from the truth. She shifted legs, her anger building again.

            It was this anger that had led to Damian separating her and Zach. He’d ordered that they both clear their heads before returning to work together, but at this point, Erin wasn’t sure how she could do the kind of work they, with someone she didn’t trust.

            She’d known something was different when she’d given into her powers during the fight with Kaleb back in Toronto. Her entire body had come alive, her nerves had felt as though they were electrified and she’d been almost tingling from her fingertips to her feet. It was this feeling, added to the fact that she’d been able to levitate and distance herself from the explosion just before it had happened – a thing she’d never done before – that had led Erin to ask Zach exactly what she was.

            He hadn’t answered. Even though she’d fought to get it out of him all the way back to Containment Unit 4, during the breaks in their hours of debriefing, on the plane ride back to England and on the train to Middlesbrough, whatever she did, however she asked, whenever she threatened, Zach simply clammed up and said nothing.

            It would have been okay if he’d told her, if he’d given up his loyalty to Praesidium just once, in favour of loyalty to her. In the end it was Damian who’d revealed the truth, while Zach had sat there knowingly, his green eyes giving nothing away, simply listening to information he’d had all along and it made Erin furious whenever she thought of it.

            When Damian suggested they work on different cases for a while, Erin had jumped at the chance. As far as she knew, Zach was still in Middlesbrough, doing what she didn’t know and didn’t care. If she didn’t see his face for the next six months, it would be too soon.

Her cell phone rang and she put her foot back on the floor, ignoring another disapproving look from Fen as her ringtone echoed across the room. As she only used her phone for work, Erin fully expected it to be her handler on the other line checking in.

She pressed the answer button, “I haven’t seen her yet Damian, you know how it is with these types,” she began, when another familiar voice piped up.

            “Erin, we have to talk about this.” It was Zach. When she remained silent, he continued, “If I could have told you I would have Erin, but Mr. Kjaer didn’t want you to know yet, how was I supposed to disobey the Director of Praesidium? Let’s be real here.” It was true, seldom did anyone deliberately get on Anders Kjaer’s bad side, but Erin was unmoved. They were partners, friends, at least that’s what she’d thought. She didn’t trust herself to speak and didn’t. “Erin? Come on, I know you’re there.”

            “Miss Erin,” Fen’s voice cut in on her stand-off and phone still to her ear, she looked over questioningly, “She’s ready for you,” Fen continued, still smiling prettily.

            “You’re not even going to answer—?”

Erin ended the call.

Note: Apologies for formatting issues in this or subsequent chapters. This seems to be a technical problem in the WordPress backend.

Read on to Chapter 22 . . .

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