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A Hard Blow
Tricia burst through the door, strode across the room, and slammed her fist into my jaw before I could even turn around to see what she wanted.
I fell out of my chair onto the floor, but as I popped back up I discovered that she had her gun drawn and aimed at me.
For a second I just stood there dumbly until my brain reengaged.
“What the heck was that for?!”
“I could ask you the same,” she snarled.
I must have looked confused, because she elaborated. “I was just with Chase. I found out what happened, you filthy lying little-”
So much for an explanation that made sense. “Tricia, what the heck are you talking about?”
The air in the apartment seemed to grow cold. “I can’t believe you have the audacity to lie to me, Alex. I can’t believe what you did, you traitor! You rat, you sadistic dirty double crossing %$#@!”
My mouth hung open. “I…”
“Chase- trusted- you!” she barked, hurling the words at me one at a time. “I trusted you! And this whole time you’ve been working against us, this whole time you’ve been just waiting to betray us-”
“Tricia, please, I swear, I have no idea what you’re talking about-”
She took a step forward, brown eyes flashing dangerously. Whatever she thought I’d done, it was serious…
“You’ve always been a good liar, Alex. I can’t believe that we fell for it- for three months! Garret was such a fool, taking you on with us. I told him you couldn’t be trusted, I told him you’d ruin everything- the project, the planning, everything- and I was right, %$#@!”
Her knuckles whitened as she tightened her grip on the gun. We’d never been exactly close, but now she looked murderous. What on earth was going on?
“Chase- Chase trusted you. And look what happened to him! Look what you did to him! I swear, I want to rip you apart, you disgusting-”
“Tricia- Tricia! What’s wrong with Chase?”
Maybe she noticed that I was still looking lost. A flicker of doubt crossed her face. “Alex,” she said warningly. “Don’t toy with me.”
“I’m not trying to toy with you, I’m trying to find out what’s going on. One minute I’m sitting here looking over the blueprints and the next you punch me. What’s wrong?”
The silence seemed to echo. A vague feeling of dread was crawling though my stomach. I noticed through the large window that a cloud covered the sun.
She took a step closer to me, and then another, and then she reached up with her free hand and placed it on my neck. Feeling my pulse- the most basic of lie detectors.
“I’ll kill you.” Her voice trembled with quiet fury. “You lie to me, Alex, and I swear I’ll kill you.”
She looked me in the eye and waited for my response.
“Tricia,” I said, looking right back at her. “I would never betray us. I’d never try to hurt you. And I swear that I have no idea what the heck is happening.”
She froze for a moment, pulled away, and then seemed to collapse into herself. “Garret. Garret. %$#@. Of course, Garret. Gosh, I’ve been such an idiot…” She addressed me. “I- I’m sorry I hit you. And shouted. I’m so sorry… I thought you’d… you’d…”
“Done something really bad,” I finished. “Tricia, what’s going on?”
She didn’t answer, but instead looked up, dyed blonde hair swishing. “Where’s Garret?”
“This is serious- where’s Garret!?”
“He was his way to plant some of the minor surveillance…”
“He’ll have vanished,” she said grimly. “Just what we need.” And then she explained, kind of. “We were betrayed. And I thought it was you… but it’s Garret. Our location was given away- in half an hour this place will be swarming with Hale’s guys.”
I felt a chill sweep over me. “That’s not much time to clean up and get out.”
“No, it’s not. We’ve gotta move, gotta track down Garret- I’ll make him pay. He can’t hide- what he did to Chase…”
She kept mentioning Chase. I felt a sense of foreboding. “Tricia, what’s wrong with Chase?”
She didn’t answer right away, turning, beginning to gather up the most sensitive documents. I repeated myself. “What happened to Chase?”
Tricia looked up, and I realized with a jolt that there were tears in her eyes.
Tricia didn’t cry. Ever.
“Alex,” she whispered, “Chase is dead.”