12 Days (pt. 2/12)

“Up above the world so high…”


Lila sat there for several minutes thinking about this new information. Pearson continued to purr and knead his claws on her leg.

“Ouch,” she exclaimed as his claws cut through the material in her pants to the skin underneath. Carefully dislodging the cat, she set him gently on the floor.

The time until Ian arrived home passed quickly. Lila settled into the couch to read a research article that she was co-writing with a friend of hers to boost their academic street cred. Hearing the door creak open, she set aside her laptop and petted Pearson, who had nestled in next to her leg.

“Hey,” Ian greeted her tiredly.

“Hey, yourself,” Lila replied. She hoisted herself up off the couch and followed him into the bedroom, where she sprawled on the bed to watch him change out of his work clothes and into his workout gear.

“So how did your day go?” Lila asked casually.

“It was okay,” Ian said dismissively. “Nothing special. How about yours? Did you get your paper proofread?”

“Not quite. Still working on it.” Plucking at the quilt cover, Lila inquired nonchalantly, “When did you see that drone demo last month? Was it the 23rd?”

“I think so,” he said sitting on the bed beside to lace up his running shoes. “Why?” He turned to look at her.

Lila announced bluntly, “Someone got murdered that day.”

That got Ian’s full attention. “What do you mean?” His eyes sharpened on her.

“The guy visiting from HQ, Todd Regelmeister. There was an explosion during the exhibition that apparently killed him.”

“It’s tragic,” Ian paused. “But that doesn’t mean it was murder.”

“I got this in the mail.” Lila passed over the paper that she had brought in with her.

Ian studied it carefully and handed it back to her. “Who do you think sent it?”

“I don’t know, but it seems to have something to do with that project you were working at the time.”

“You know I can’t talk about that,” Ian remonstrated.

She held up her hand in a stop gesture. “I know, I know. I’m just saying, maybe you can think of someone who may have wanted to stop that project or keep that company from moving forward with its design.”

“There are lots of people who would fit that bill,” Ian said looking pensive. “Every competitor they had would’ve killed…” His voiced trailed off. “I see what you mean. I’ll give it some thought.”

The doorbell rang at that moment and Ian rose up to answer it. The FedEx employee handed him a standard paperboard express envelope and pushed the signature pad at Ian. Before signing his name, Ian examined the address on the envelope.

He closed the door and walked back into the bedroom where he sat beside Lila. Opening the envelope quickly, he fished out a single sheet of paper and read aloud the writing on it:

San Jose. Computer History Museum. Hour of Code.

Ian looked at his watch. “That’s tomorrow.” He quickly pulled up the details on his Smartphone. “How about a trip to San Jose this weekend?”

“Sweet.” Lila perked up. “I’ll bring my article and edit on the way.”

“Looks like we’re in for a December surprise,” Ian said, smiling slightly.

Lila leaned in and kissed the corner of his mouth. “Always an adventure.”

“Pack your bag and catch a few hours of sleep before we head out,” he suggested.

Lila reached for her mobile phone, which sat on the bedside table. “I’ll call Josie,” she said referring to the cat sitter, “ since I’m figuring we’ll be gone at least through Sunday.”

Ian took Lila’s hand in his. “How about making an early anniversary weekend of it? We can stop in Monterey on the way back.”

“Nice idea.” Lila returned his smile. “Never a dull moment with you.”