|UNHACKABLE HEART: Cole -- Move on to her future|
"Move on, oh yeah!" A bright future beckoned her, luring her, challenging her. Medical and biological attacks from the cyber world that would kill a person in real-time? She wanted to be on the good side; she still desperately wanted to save the world even if she'd about grown tired of so heavy a burden.
Peace of mind with her past she had previously found. She shot a grimace at the ringing like loud electronic interference coming from the chimney. She pulled Cole's hand. "Let's move on right now!"
When Glenn stepped closer to the dark shadow, Tessa yanked on the back of his shirt. "Let's go!"
Once both large men were out on the porch, she closed and padlocked the house.
Despite the paranormal phenomena happening behind closed doors, she nodded at the men. "See? I'm not crazy."
"Hey!" Cole exclaimed when Glenn elbowed him. "I'm not touching that one."
"Me neither." Glenn hopped into his truck. "Want a ride to your motorcycle, or want to walk through that foggy cemetery in the woods?"
"A ride," she announced and hopped in too.
Although he slid in beside her, Cole said, "She rides with me now."
"I do not!" she proclaimed to his possessive sounding comment to Glenn. "I ride alone."
Glenn drove around the circular driveway and turned left on the gravel road. "You hit me once, with your car. It was the same day as you pointed a gun at my heart. You were riding alone that day, bumper cars at midnight."
"Ouch," she said with recollection. "I-I didn't know it was you."
"You didn't tell me that," Cole said. "That was stupid, Tessa. There were plenty of people who would have gotten out of that car and shot a cap in your heart."
Maybe," she chanted in a singsong voice. "Maybe not. I'll never tell."
In the same singsong tone, Cole mocked her. "Rich man, poor man, beggar man, thief, doctor, lawyer, Indian Chief."
Tessa turned her face toward Glenn. "You should have stayed away from my network, stayed away from the sonar. You are lucky, Glenn, that I didn't shoot a bullet through your windshield."
"Oh," Glenn chuckled. "And that's not crazy?"
"Not for a low-tech land shark like you."
"Ouch," Cole uttered as they pulled to stop near where his motorcycle was. "Come on, Tess, before he starts to bleed all over both of us."
"Glenn doesn't bleed. It's not like that, Stone, never was."
"See ya later at Haven?" Cole asked as he shut the door.
Glenn nodded. "Sure thing. Make sure she doesn't bring her gun."
Cole laughed and she wanted to wipe the silly grin off his gorgeous face. She walked beside him though, to deserted railroad tracks where his motorcycle was parked. "I wanna drive," she announced and sure enough his smile vanished in a blink.
She rolled her eyes but swung her leg over in front of his bike. Tessa twisted around and tapped the seat behind her. "Coming?"
Although he turned the key, he murmured, "You're bold. I like that about you. You're fast too." He tapped one hand over his heart. "You're lethal." Then he settled his large hands over hers on the handlebars. "This is why I should wear a helmet."
"Shhh. I used to fly on mine. I won't kill us."
"I once authorized a GPS tag on your bike."
She slammed one elbow back and into his ribs. "I don't like my privacy invaded at all. You stole anything you think you know about me. I didn't give you permission."
"That's the breaks, babe. Your actions and all the riled up people? That was enough. Did you miss the memo from Homeland Security? Privacy is a lost art, a privilege dead and buried under bureaucracy."
"That's sad," she whispered into the wind.
"Are you mad now?"
In answer, she laid open the throttle and they raced into the wind so neither could talk. She pulled in behind her dead car. Still a tow truck had not come, but someone had marked it with a reflective sticker.
Tessa hopped off the bike, bleeped open her car locks, and started shoving laptops in bags. Once she had all six, three on each of her sides, she marched back over to the bike. The hard drives tapped her belly button with every step. Tick tap, tick tap, tick tap. "To the hotel, and it best not be run by psycho Bates."
"Yes ma'am." After she swung on behind him, he turned and navy eyes caught and held her gaze. "How long are you gonna be mad, Tessa? Don't you want to kiss and make up?"
Tessa grunted. That sounded lovely. "I might want to kick you instead."
He sighed. "Yep. Your temper is still ticking red hot."
Neither spoke again until he pulled them under the eaves of a local hotel. "High speed access," he tried with a smile.
She frowned at him and hopped off his bike. "Bye."
Tessa registered for a reserved room and followed the hallway until she slid her electronic key in a lock. She flicked on lights and carried the laptops to a bed where she fell back on the mattress. She sighed, her door still open instead of weighted and closing, and swung to her feet.
At the door, she looked both ways down the hallway. Cole. At the door next to her room? "What. Are. You. Doing. Here?" she demanded staccato style.
"Easy now, wildthing. Where did you think I was staying?" He pulled the ball cap down over his forehead and did not look up toward the camera in the hall. "You inviting me in to visit with you?"
At her growl, he nodded toward the security camera. "Eye in the sky. Facial recognition."
Tessa stepped back into the room and exhaled slowly. Then she slammed her door hard! Her ears no sooner stopped ringing from the powerful slam than a knock sounded on the other side of the wall in her hotel room.
"Temper, temper, Tessa." She could hear him chuckle.
She decided to turn it around, if he was feeling so damned jolly, and knocked three light times on the door connecting their rooms. No eye in the sky here.
He stopped laughing when he swung open the door. "There are good choices and bad choices, babe. Letting me in while your emotions are uncorked is probably not your wisest move."
"Do you think I am afraid of you?" she asked quietly.
"Sheesh, I hope not. Are you?"
He nodded. "Okay then. What's the problem?" He grinned, a gleam of white against bronze skin. "Disappointed in how I look?"
"You are as conceited about your looks as you are about your gray matter."
He stepped into her room. "And you," he taunted, "like both."
"What do you want?" she demanded.
He shook his head, black hair catching the lamplight, and stepped closer to her. "Another not wise choice. It's too fast for you. I know you. You are going to run."
"Sex then," she answered as confidently. "Is that all?"
"Hrmm." He tapped one long finger against his chin. "Sex then? And is that all? Who are you and what have you done to Tessa?"
"Maybe that's exactly what I'm like, Cole, and you have it figured wrong. I've been living in a metropolis for years now."
He walked to her after her bold pronouncement and slid his fingers in her hair. He tilted her head up to his and slanted his mouth over hers once. "That damned journal you kept. That's how I know who you are. You may lie to everyone, but not to your journal." His mouth moved over hers again before she could sputter a protest.
He dropped back on the bed and pulled her over the top of him. "Shall we see how much you've changed, Tess?"
Knocked up side the head with a streak of impishness, truly enchanted by this man, her body humming with energy, she kissed him until his hard labored breaths let her know she was close to rocking his world. She nudged him with her hips. "Brute force vulnerability attack." She sunk her teeth into his neck. "Mmm. Where is your Achilles heel, Cole? Do you want me to pen test and exploit it, to execute my own code?"
Her cell phone sang out, but she ignored it on a table across from the bed.
"I told ya, Tessa, I like your black hat." He dropped his hands to cover her hips. "It's supposed to be like this, this slow hot burn between us."
Off to her left side, the hotel phone on a side table rang and rang and rang.
Finally she rolled off him and onto her back, where she swatted at the table until her hand came back with the receiver. "What!"
Blazing blue sapphires dropped behind his eyelids and he heaved out breaths like they had been running from the law.
She groaned. "Glenn, you have the most hellish sense of timing I've ever known."
Glenn asked in her ear, "Have you been running to answer the phone?"
"Have you seen Cole? He's not answering his IM, text, cell phone, or even the hotel phone."
She handed the phone toward Cole. "It's for you."
Cole sat up and listened before he answered. "Yeah, we're coming back to Haven tonight."
He hung up the phone and crooked his elbow toward her. "Coming, Pixie?"
"Apparently not," she growled.
He laughed and tried again. "How about Reb, is she coming out to play?"
She jumped to her feet and slid her arm through his. "Always."
"That's my girl," he said as he stopped in his room to grab another baseball cap and pull it low on her forehead. He laughed again. "No; still not invisible. Don't glance at the eye in the sky."
After they pulled into an angled parking slot in front of Haven, where Glenn stood outside awaiting them, Tessa turned off the motorcycle. She couldn't stop smiling.
Glenn gawked at Cole. "Oh no." Glenn turned toward her. "He let you drive his bike?" He pivoted back toward Cole. "Are you in love with her?"
"Maybe," Cole stated. "Maybe not."
"Thanks," Glenn grunted before walking into Haven and his office. "That's as clear as a misty cloud on a foggy morning."
"Wow!" Tessa exclaimed as she spotted a slideshow of beautiful and peaceful landscaping in each picture with her spooky house. "If you could do that . . ."
"I can," Glenn assured her. "I can do that and all that you need."
Her mental encryption lagged for a minute. "Really, Glenn?"
Cole interrupted their discussion. "Looks welcoming. Hunt out those ghosts on the inside and it could be that inviting of a place for someone new. Like a bright promise for the next owner's future."
"Thanks," Glenn said. "I'm starting tomorrow. Tomorrow night, I start on chasing out ghosts."
Cole swung back to her. "And you, Tessa? What do your plans for the future entail? Will you accept the black hat headhunter offering you an assassination assignment? Or will you continue on toward a career goal of CT tryouts where you will hack a heart?"
She gasped. Cole knew. He knew her choices. He knew what the black hat headhunter truly wanted from her. He couldn't possibly know how she'd plotted to deal with a mafia headhunter.
What does she choose?
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