Wine Country, France
Charlotte woke with a chime in her ear, a message from Roy saying he’d pick her up in 45 minutes — not the notification she expected, from a ride-hailing service, scheduled for an hour before dawn. Radium-painted hands on an alarm clock said it was shortly after 4:00 AM. Momo was breathing softly, dead to the world — and whatever opportunity there might have been for a passionate goodbye was out the door.
She gathered up her clothes, crept into the parlor, dressed under her drones’ watchful eyes, thought about subvocalizing a reply and changed her mind, deciding to call from the kitchen. Roy sounded chipper, like he’d been up for an hour. “Hey, boss-lady; do you have clothes for Boston?”
“What’s in Boston?”
“Oh; that guy.” Her eyes wandered to the table, where she found a note next to a white tube made from card stock. “Are we going to shoot him, or what?”
“Echelon wants us to ask a few questions first.”
The note was from Isabel, saying the tube contained a watercolor Momo wanted her to have. She considered looking to see what it was, but then she’d have to put it back. “Come on, then.”
“Are you packed?”
Breakfast was a chicken-salad-stuffed croissant seasoned with horseradish dressing, washed down with iced tea from a bottle decorated with a scrap of satin ribbon, her name written upon it. Small gestures, enough to foster ambivalence.
Roy arrived in a newish PMI Commuter, graciously popping the rear hatch so she could load it up. He was all smiles and boyish enthusiasm. “What’d you do here?”
I said ‘no’ when I should have said ‘yes’. “Family business.” She thumped him on the shoulder. “Let’s go.”
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