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Meredith's Miscellany

Meredith's Mischief

Avendel: Markum's Place - 1

Another drink would be unwise, though, honestly, it seemed to be what he did best anymore.

Burn-out is real, he decided, rubbing his hand across the back of his neck. It was one thing to play the game, and he had, it was another to live it, which he had for a much longer period of time. Now it was catching up. All the warnings over the years had fallen on deaf ears until it was too late for him. No longer would he be able to retire to a paradise of his own devising. Oh, he had the funds, that wasn't an issue. No, the money most definately available. The problem, he decided, was this latest job.

She'd be here shortly. They'd play their roles so no one would suspect. Then he'd leave with the data until tomorrow.

Always the same routine. Always.

God he needed another drink.

Keeping her hand on the knob until the lock clicked behind her, Temporal released the breath she hadn't known she was holding. Rich waves of appatizing aroma beat against her as she allowed her eyes to adjust to the dim interior where no artificially powered device would work.

Gaining her bearings in the room, a shimmering red glow bathed her in its flattering embrace as she charted her way across the plush carpet into the main room.

The wonderful part about Markum's was the freedom.

There could be no worries of listening devices or electronic interuptions, not here. The contained dampening field in Markums which only allowed natural light sources, candles and cooking over flame saw to that. This freedom from everyday gadgets and tools proved very exotic, and very vital to the clientel which frequented Markum's. Privacy in any era was rare commodity, especially one where every street, every office, every store, every restaurant, every builing was monitored. Markum's made privacy available, and at a not entirely unreasonable rate.

Passing by the nearby private rooms, Temporal made her way to the corner of the main floor where Cadge waited for her.

She could here the slight tap of his impatient fingers on the table as she approached. A sly smile touched her lips as he failed to notice her approach. She noted the young couple just entering a privacy room which seemed to engross him. Resting her hand on his shoulder, Temporal jerked back as Cadge jumped.

"You're late," he said, his tone neutral as if just stating a fact.

"Yes," she replied taking her chair opposite his. "I hope you don't mind. Things at the office hit a slight snag so I stayed to make sure it all worked out." She couldn't tell him that she'd been using her position and workstation to illegally copy files for later use, data theft carried a sentence of death, especially when it was the Galactic Government's data.

Some tension seemed to leave him as he smiled and covered her hand with his own. "I understand. I forget that you're a big-shot now, dealing with galactic giants, archiving their data, impressing them with your superior performance." She laughed lightly. Encouraged, he continued, "I don't know if I've had the opportunity to tell you yet or not, but I am very pleased with the work you're doing, even if I don't know exacly what it is. You're a remarkable woman Temporal Bliss."

She blushed, her eyes seeking the corner of the table. Unused to receiving such praise, especially from Cadge, she could not respond. It bothered her, this need for approval, for his approval. Somehow, she was convinced that she shouldn't be so vulnerable to it, so off-balance when she received it, especially considering what he asked of her. Especially because of the payment he exacted. Yet, the fact remained, he could render her speechless with a simple complement. She sighed.

He smiled, sensing her discomfort. "Why don't you tell me about your day."

Looking up into his eyes, she relaxed slightly, the tension of confusion leaving her. "OK, though I warn you it wasn't anything too spectacular - just another day in the office." He smiled encouragement, so she began with that morning's coffee-room gossip, always an interesting starting point.

Her discourse progressed to her first job of the morning before a waiter came over for her order. She gave him her drink order and, checking briefly with Cadge, gave a dinner order as well. Once the waiter departed, she continued her narrative.

"Oh, and they were installing new security measures today," she said, her tone light, but her eyes added an unspoken weight to the words.

His eyebrows rose in query. "Oh?"

She set her mouth in a straight line, lowering her head slightly. "Nothing I couldn't handle," she intoned quietly. Lifting her chin and her voice, she continued, "I swear it's about the safest place in the galaxy already, I can't imagine why they would need more security. I didn't even think their could be more security the way they talk about it. And with Mr. Novana in charge of security, I swear sometimes I'm afraid I'll get in trouble if I sneeze wrong! He seems to know everything that goes on there."

Cadge leaned back in his chair, considering this information. "Is it too much?" he asked, his tone serious, his meaning clear to Temporal. Will you still be able to get the data?

Temporal licked her lips and let out a low, clear laugh. "Is too much security every enough? No, it's not too much. After all a mouse can find a way into even the most secure of storage bins."

"Yes," Cadge said, his jaw set, "but can it find it's way back out?"

"Your drink, madame," the waiter interrupted, setting a shimmering blue glass before her. "Your dinners will be ready in a few minutes."

"Thank you," Cadge and Temporal responded together.

Temporal took a sip of her drink, trying to ignore Cadge's direct stare. It must be Gavin on duty tonight, she thought, he always made the drinks too sweet.

"You haven't answered me. Can the mouse find its way back out?"

She sighed, "Yes." Provided the information you gave me on the latest security technology is accurate, she added to herself.

He stared at her a moment longer, trying to decide the truthfulness of her answer. Bothered by his inability to tell when she lied, he nodded his head briefly, "Fine."