John Parker looked up from the workstation and leaned back in the very comfortable seat. The small, windowless cabin obviously didn‘t take up all of the jet‘s interior. He wondered what was in the rest of the plane but for the moment was just happy to be on his way out of China.
In the seat directly in front of him Kathy was busy at a personal computer. She’d been working non-stop ever since they’d left the ground. In the seat ahead of her Anne was also busy doing something of her own.
He was glad to see Anne again. The years at Bailey had been good ones for him. Anne and Professor Braun were his favorite two members of the faculty. They were extremely enthusiastic about anything they taught and had a great chemistry. They seemed to understand student took classes other than the one they taught.
As he sat lost in thought ‘Andrea’ leaned around the corner. “When’s your deadline?”
He blinked. “Um… one week.”
“From when?”
He thought for a moment. “Uh, Monday. And today is…”
“Wednesday. Thanks.”
She sat back in her own little workspace. Each seat had a spacious workstation equipped with a large desk, huge monitor and a keyboard. John was just using the desktop, jotting down notes by hand. He did have a deadline and so far he didn’t have much done.
Unfortunately his concentration now fully broken. He smiled at the monitor, thinking of ’Andrea’ inches on the other side of it. He liked her, a lot. And not just because she was beautiful, smart and charming. He liked her personality, the way she smiled and the way she handled so many things at once.
He’d come to realize that having her along was not just a treat, but also a privilege. The incident with the mosaic and their conversations on the train demonstrated her intuition and ability to connect the dots. He’d needed her there to figure out the puzzle on a deadline.
Suddenly he frowned as he thought of her reaction when she’d seen Anne Rutgers at the train station. He’d been watching for a tail when ‘Andrea’ had spotted the MDX. Her face hadn’t fallen, but for a moment it had shown a “oh shoot, not again” look.
His frown deepened as he thought of the past few days they’d spent together. They were definitely growing closer—at least he hoped, John thought with a grin. But the grin faded as he thought about the look on her face. He realized she considered Anne a rival.
Did she think he was interested in Anne like that? Did she care that much? His frown faded as he realized this could be a promising sign. He wasn’t interested in Anne like that. Speculation at Old Bailey ran that she and Professor Braun were an item. Besides, she was older than he was, even if she didn’t really look it.
He turned his attention back to his writing. ‘Andrea’ and he were on good terms but at the moment their relationship was… limited at best. Andrea probably wasn’t her name. Besides, so far she’d given him no indication—verbal or otherwise— she wanted to deepen their relationship. Oh well, that was the story of his life.

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