Halloween Surprise, (pt. 12/30)

Ian turned to Lila. “What the…” His eyes met hers as they heard a beep followed by “leave a message.”

“While you are in the research laboratory your mobile phones will not work. We have received a forwarded message from your external phone numbers.”

“Hell of an answering service,” Ian commented.

A garbled voice followed the message.

“Ian, Lila, you have 30 minutes until Haunted Hayride begins. Midnight.”

“Oh, crap.” Lila looked at her watch. “It’s the thirteenth. I totally forgot.” She grabbed her backpack and hauled Ian to his feet by grabbing his shirtsleeve.

“Easy,” he warned, “this is a new shirt.”

“I know. I bought it for you.” Lila smirked. “Looks mighty nice on you too.” She fluttered her eyelashes at him.

“No time for that,” Ian said in a grumpy voice, which he then spoiled by smiling.

“There’s always time for that,” Lila imitated Ian’s tone. He just shook his head.

They hurriedly left the room and raced down the hallway at top speed.

“Slow down,” Ian said, nearly panting.

“You should work out more,” Lila said critically.

“When do I have time?” Ian griped. “I’m always investigating crazy stuff like this.”

“Gotta make time for what’s important,” Lila quipped.

It was Ian’s turn to roll his eyes. “What-ever,” he said drawing out the word.

The elevator reached the parking garage and ran to the car. Pulling out, they headed for the 105 East and merged onto the 110 North where traffic slowed almost to a crawl through downtown. Lila stared out the window as she saw the Staples Center pass by and then the Die Hard building. “Check it out,” she nudged Ian. “I always love seeing that building.”

Ian grinned. “Yep, I have some pretty fond memories.” They had stayed there overnight after one of their latest overseas adventures, with the room paid for by their friend as a gift.

“Joe was a sweetheart to get us the room for a night.”

“We earned it.” Lila said grimly. ”Thailand was hell.”

“Yeah, it was.” Ian smiled reminiscently.

“Stop it.” Lila said. “I know what you’re thinking.”

“No, you don’t.” He flashed her that smile again. “Maybe later you can tell me what you think I was thinking.” He gave her a lecherous look.

Lila rolled her eyes and released a sigh of mock disgust.

They had driven about fifteen minutes up the 101 North and were nearing their exit.

“There’s Hollywood.” Lila pointed to the right.

“I see it,” Ian replied in a semi-annoyed voice.

“Barely in time.” Lila kept glancing at her watch and clutching the door pull as though she could make them go faster. They drove through the Griffith Park entrance, parked, and waded through the crowds.

After buying two tickets for the midnight ride, they seated themselves and waited to approach the Purgatory section. Once there they slid off the beaten path and made their way to an isolated corner.

It was dark and the gasps from other patrons were making Lila nervous. At least that’s what she told herself.

A hand grasped her shoulder from behind.