We had only driven a few blocks when Sam piped up.
“You can't be pissed at me if you don't like her,” he said.
“If I don't like her or she's some sort of psycho control freak, then there's nothing forcing me to live with her. I'll just tell her that I'll think about it and we can go our separate ways. Don't worry about it.”
“I'm just saying, you're the one who wanted to meet her. So you can't hold it against me if things don't go well.”
“What the hell is wrong with you?”
“You don't understand. Remy is – I don't even know. She's brilliant, I can promise you that, and sometimes it's amazing to be around her. But it's like she wasn't raised by humans. She just says whatever she's thinking, and a lot of the time, her thoughts don't even make sense. It can be off-putting to people. I don't know. I just can't give you much because I don't know anything about her other than what's said at the lab, which isn't much.”
“Give me an example of something she's done,” I said, challenging him.
“Last week, she had been consuming medical journals one after the other. There were four of us in the lab that day and she interrupts everyone and announces 'Half of all Americans will die of heart disease.' then she looked around the room and stared at this guy named Tiny and I; like she wanted us to know she was talking about us. Then she just goes back to what she was reading.”
I almost burst out laughing.
“It's fine, Sam. I can handle myself.”
“Alright, but don't say I didn't warn you. We're here by the way,” he said as we turned down an alley behind a row of buildings. We parked at the end of the row and I followed him down the steel staircase on the side of the building that led to the lower level. When we entered through the outer door, I was immediately hit by the stale smell of old air. Sam turned and opened the first door on his right.
“The Lab” as he called it was more like a basement hideout for an unclean, villainous comic mastermind. There were computers and parts and equipment everywhere. Wires hung from the ceiling and plastic soda and water bottles were littered over the desktops that ran along the outer walls of the room. In the middle of the mess was a high-topped laboratory table that stretched the full length of the room. I assumed that's what gave the place its name.
As I looked around the room, I noticed that I had drawn the attention of a man that had been staring at his computer screen, which was full of lined code. His stare made me uncomfortable, mostly because he was the largest human being I'd ever seen.
“That's Tiny,” Sam whispered. I remembered his story and laughed to myself before nodding in Tiny's direction. He looked at me for a few more seconds and then turned back to his monitor without saying a word.
Then my eyes caught sight of a little woman working on a laptop at the far end of the lab table. She was surrounded by papers full of charts and scribbles. The glow of the screen lit her features and I wondered to myself why Sam hadn't mentioned that his friend was so good looking. She stared at her laptop with large, bright eyes. I couldn't look away.
Sam walked towards her.
“What are you working on Remy?”
“Why would the heiress of a vast energy empire, chosen amongst nine children to take over the family business, disappear on the very day she was to be named the benefactor?” she asked without ever looking up from her computer.
“I don't know. What do you think?” Sam said back.
At first Remy didn't answer, then she said “Capulet”, mumbling under her breath as she turned to look up at Sam. He ignored the comment.
“Remy Moreau, I'd like you to meet Jacob Watts.”
“Nice to meet you, Jacob,” she said from her stool.
“The pleasure's all mine. She disappeared for love, right? The heiress, I mean.”
A look of amusement ran across Remy's face as she looked at me.
“I suspect that's the case. Tell me how you guessed.”
“Capulets, Montagues, old story,” I said.
“One made easier to unravel when you photograph the fiancé of a rival owner's son and she looks oddly like the missing girl.”
“I can image it would. Sounds like an interesting story.”
“If you only knew. Maybe I'll tell you one day.”
Sam coughed as he plopped himself down into an adjacent chair. We both looked over at him. His cheeks flushed red for having interrupted us.
“Jay and I are actually here on business, Remy. He's looking for a new place to stay and I remembered you complaining about not being able to find a roommate to split expenses with.”
An anomalous, interested look appeared in Remy's eyes as she studied me over. She perked up and seemed excited at the mention of living with me.
“I helped a woman with a break-in last week. A not-too-smart gentleman had pegged her an easy target and robbed her bakery. After I set things right, she offered me the apartment above her shop at a great rate. There's more than enough space for two, but I can make a bit of a mess when I'm focused on something else. Will that bother you?”
“I think I can manage.”
“You won't mind if I spread my papers out all over the floor?”
“No, that's fine,” I said, smiling back.
She continued, “I go through these bouts of depression. I'll go silent, sometimes for days at a time. Just leave me alone and try not to bother me and I'll find my way out. And don't take anything I say personally, especially when I’m dejected. What about you? It's best we know what we're getting into with each other before making any commitments.” She spoke like an engineer I knew in the Air Force.
“Well, I don't care for petty arguments and I'm admittedly lazy, so your messes won't bother me. I don't sleep much, I'm up at random times because of my nerves, hopefully that won't be an issue.”
“Would you consider persistent piano playing a reason for petty arguments?”
“Not if you play like Miles Davis. Now if you play more like my niece, then we might have some issues.”
Remy ignored the attempt at humor and slid from her stool. “I think we'll be great together,” she said as she made her way around the end of the lab table, her hand outstretched to shake mine. Remy took my hand and held it firmly, shaking it as she moved in close. “So which was it, Iraq or Afghanistan?”
I stared down at her for a moment. Her question took me by surprise.
“Afghanistan, how the hell did you – ”
She slowly rose onto her toes and tugged at my shirt, pulling me down towards her. Her big eyes looked up into mine. And very deliberately, she kissed me. Not a peck on the lips, but a kiss that sent shock waves through my entire frame. She lingered, pressing her soft wet lips against mine as her hand trailed up my left arm. I felt the heat of her body against me. Then suddenly, she pulled away, taking a step back.
“I'll text you the address and we can go look at the apartment together tomorrow,” she said. She grabbed her bag and walked out of the room, leaving me to stand alone in silence.
I turned and faced Sam who was staring at me with an annoying smile on his chubby face.
“What the hell was that?”
“I warned you she was odd.”
“Did you tell her I was in Afghanistan?”
“Nope. That's just what she does.”
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Genre – Mystery / Thriller / Suspense
Rating – PG13