Zera and the Green Man: Chapter 28

The limo glided to a stop at Void Corporation Headquarters’ front entrance. Jerry got out, strode around the car, and opened the door for Theodore and Lily.

“You’ll be going in through the back entrance,” Lily said to Zera. “I’ll see you soon.” After smoothing her skirt and grabbing her briefcase, Lily whispered to Theodore, “Remember, Jenny Muldoon. Your former assistant at BioTech.”

The lobby was dim as most of the lights in the building had gone off after five. At the front desk sat two men in uniform. They made for an odd couple; one large and flabby, with bulldog jowls, the other smaller and pale, with sharp features and wavy hair. As Theodore and Lily approached, the smaller guard stood.

“Hello, Mr. Green,” said the large one. “We missed you today.”

“Yes . . .” Theodore eyed the man’s name badge, “. . . Fred, I had business in Colorado I needed to attend to.” He signed the check-in sheet, pressing down hard so his hand wouldn’t shake. His heart lurched as he thought, if ever there was a time to try to turn the tables, it’s now. He thought about what would be the worst that could happen. She’s not armed, and Zera has no fear of Bear and Coop, um, Drew. I don’t think they’d harm her. I’d be a hero, to some. . . hated by others . . .                               

He handed the pen to Lily and her eyes bored into his. No, I can’t consider it. I won’t risk anything happening to Zera, and . . . the next thought turned his heart to lead. There’s no winning outcome, not for me. All I wanted was to make good, and . . . everything’s gone wrong. Theodore cleared his throat. “This is my former assistant from Biotech Multinational, Penny Muldoon. We’re very lucky she’s decided to join the Void team.”

Lily beamed at the guards and held out a hand to Fred. “I’m happy to meet you.” She turned to the wavy-haired guard, whose nametag read Howard Blake. Howard extended a skinny hand. “Pleased to meet you, ma’am,” he said in a vague southern accent. As they shook hands, Theodore thought he saw Howard wink at Lily. My god, could the guards be in on this too? A weird relief that he didn’t try anything filled him, even as he felt like a coward.

“Yep,” Theodore said. “Plane just got in, and we, um, wanted to do the paperwork tonight.”

“No problem, sir,” said Fred, obviously unconcerned with Theodore’s story. Theodore and Lily walked to the elevator and Howard called after them. “We’ll see you soon.”

“Let’s hope not,” Lily said under her breath.

She turned, smiled, gave a little wave. “Thank you!”

In the “CEO Only” elevator Theodore looked at Lily. They were alone for the first time. His heart skipped a few beats, but he couldn’t help himself, he couldn’t take his eyes off her. She was gorgeous. Lily avoided his gaze and seemed preoccupied with the elevator buttons. She’d told him in the limo that the elevator would be bugged, and warned him not to say anything.

Up they went swiftly, eighty-two floors to the top. Weak-kneed with emotion, Theodore was unable to think about anything but whether Lily felt anything but disgust for him. He thought back to when they’d dated, how they’d spent almost every minute of their free time together their senior year of high school, sharing lunch every day, going out every Friday and Saturday night, taking long, romantic hikes in the mountains until nightfall . . .

The digital voice of the elevator announced with a soft, feminine tone, “Executive floor.”

They entered the lobby. A woman sat at the desk — a familiar buxom blonde. Theodore gasped. “Crystal?”

The woman looked up and smiled. She smiled differently than Crystal, not as wide. Another Crystal-look-alike, like Langston’s secretary Brigette, this one with short blonde hair and gray eyes. Theodore breathed a sigh of relief.

“You’re Mr. Green aren’t you? I recognize you from Brigette’s video directory. I’m Meg; I came in this evening for a couple of hours to finish some work for Brigette. Mr. Void worked late; he just left a little while ago.” She stood and offered a pretty hand. “I was just getting ready to leave myself.”

Theodore shook her hand, quickly and nervously, introducing “Jenny Muldoon,” and cringing as he remembered that he’d called her Penny downstairs.

“Unless you need anything; then, of course I would be happy to stay,” Meg offered.

“Oh, no,” said Theodore. “We’re quite fine . . . I’ll see you around.” He led Lily down the hallway.

“Nice going,” muttered Lily. “At least you got my name right this time.”

They walked past Langston’s office, with its gigantic double doors inlaid with the large, gold letters — “V” on one, “C” on the other. The next office, his, showed a brand-new metal sign. A gold planet Earth with three lines written across it in script: Theodore F. Green, President, Biotechnology Division. Without thinking, his hand went up to touch the lettering.

“You finally got what you wanted,” Lily said.

Theodore jerked his hand back. For an instant he felt courageous. He met Lily’s eyes and said boldly, “No, actually I never did.”

She looked away. “Let’s go in, shall we?”

They entered an office, smaller, but nearly identical to Void’s.

“Nice,” Lily said. Her sarcastic tone told Theodore that she’d obviously made a quick recovery from Theodore’s surprise statement. His heart sank. Lily opened her briefcase and took out a notebook. It held a hidden scanning device. She pressed several buttons and looked at the display.

“Great job, Drew,” she said to herself. “He successfully de-bugged it.”

“You mean the room was bugged? By Void?”

“Ted, if the situation wasn’t so serious, your naiveté would almost be cute.”

Theodore’s face felt hot. The way she said that . . . could it be possible she doesn’t totally hate my guts?

“Drew’s electronics wizardry, along with ‘Howard’s’ help down at security, is going to ensure that no one suspects a thing. At least not until it’s too late. They’re not even going to know we’re leaving the building by helicopter. All we have to do is wait for Drew to give the signal. That should occur in,” she looked down at her watch, “about ten minutes. We’ll wait it out till then.”

She walked to the leather sofa and sat down. “How about offering me a beverage?”

To purchase your own copy of Zera and the Green Man, visit the official website now. Paperback and Kindle versions are now available.

Zera and the Green Man is a novel by Sandra Knauf, a local author and sustainability advocate living in Colorado Springs.

GreenwomanPublishing

Published via US Represented by consent of the publisher:
Published by Greenwoman Publishing, LLC
P. O. Box 6587, Colorado Springs, Colorado, 80934-6587, U.S.A.

First published in the United States of America
Copyright © Sandra Knauf, 2013
All rights reserved

ISBN: 978-0-9897056-0-8 (paperback)
ISBN: 978-0-9897056-1-5 (ebook)

Cover drawing by Paul Spielman.
Cover photography by CanStockPhoto 11569383
Cover and interior design by Zora Knauf.

PUBLISHER’S NOTE

This is a work of fiction. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, or living-dead, is entirely coincidental.

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