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Locklear Penthouse, NYC

The next morning, Avis woke up with a stiff body, sore muscles, and with a pounding headache. She looked around, confused at finding herself in her own bed. Hadn’t she been in Rhel’s headquarters? How did she get back here? Avis had no memory after she fell asleep on the couch. Avis sat up quickly in her bed, realizing that she could very well have been drugged. That tea! What the hell did Rhel do to her? She pulled back her covers and let out a sigh of relief, she was still wearing her outfit from the night before, her boots were by her bed. To some, the act of bringing her home, and tucking her into bed could be considered sweet. When a complete stranger did it, it was downright creepy.

Her phone on the nightstand gave off a vibration and a sound of a bell, indicating a text message. With another sigh, Avis reached over and read through her messages. She had to blink at the number, fifteen missed text messages? Three missed calls? Who the hell was trying to reach her?

// Are you alright? // Came from Nick, Avis had to smile at the concern. After the way she treated him, she didn’t expect to hear from him again. There was another from him, // What happened?//

//Did you hear? The warehouse exploded!// That came from Gabby, Avis could only assume Nick had given it to her.

// Last night was crazy? Are you in jail? Need to be bailed out? // Another text from Zoe, this was getting strange. Maybe Avis had fallen into some twilight zone episode where she had a group of friends she didn’t scare or push away. The text messages went on like that for a while, all associated with the fight from last night, and if she had gotten out of there in once piece.

// Please answer if you’re ok // That was the last one from Nick, that she just received. Avis didn’t really know how to respond. She felt bad for ditching them the other night, but in the end it turned out to be the right choice. She managed to face that alien again, and find another Airgryd, though if he drugged her and tucked her into bed, she wasn’t sure if she consider him an ally. She typed Nick back a simple, ‘i’m fine’, message, enough to hold him off from texting her for the next day and a half.

Setting her phone back up on the nightstand, Avis rolled back under the covers. The memories of the attack on the warehouse were brought back thanks to all those messages. She couldn’t help but feel a surge of guilt. They were there because of her, who knows how many people died last night. How were the police and government going to cover that up? It wasn’t like they were concealing their identities either. Was she even safe here? If not, why would Rhel bring her back?

“Oh… god… I promised him something…” Avis whispered pulling the blankets over her. The memories were blurry, but he was telling her something about space, and finding technology. Was that why he was working here in the labs? Avis head throbbed more painfully the more she tried to remember. Was it about breaking into her father’s work? That sounded familiar. Did she actually agree to that?

Curling up into a fetal position, Avis didn’t feel like getting up at all today, thank god her father was still away, and that it was a Saturday. Hopefully his assistant, Monroe, had the day off too. Then the sound of a fist on the door pounded Avis head hard.

“So much for wishful thinking…” Avis moaned, just as Eve Monroe forced the door open with a bang and strode into her room with hands on her waist.

“Where the hell were you last night?” She demanded.

“I… was here.” Avis said, startled. She had to keep her story straight, but with the headache, her mind didn’t want to work.

“Don’t lie Miss Rision. I have footage from the security camera’s of a dark-haired man, carrying you into the penthouse. From the balcony!” She tossed a tablet onto Avis’s bed and she carefully took it, noticing that Eve Monroe looked like she could breathe fire any second.

Dammit, those stupid cameras. She should have cut the feed before she left last night. Of course that would just draw Eve back to the building even earlier than normal. With a sigh, she saw the footage of last night displayed on the tablet’s screen. Sure enough, there was Rhel, flying onto the balcony and through the unlocked doors into the main living area. He didn’t even try to conceal himself. Avis eyes narrowed when she saw her own limp body in his arms. The footage had been pieced together from different angles to get a better look at the stranger and her. The cameras followed him, probably through some use of sensors as he walked up the stairs and into her bedroom. He exited a minute later, but didn’t leave.

Avis had been so absorbed in watching the footage, the hard evidence that she disobeyed some rule she forgotten that she forgot what she was wearing. She glanced over to Eve and saw her eyes sharpen on her blood stained outfit. Could she explain herself? Some massive food fight? No, that was ridiculous. Dammit, she was screwed.

But the footage kept going, Rhel didn’t head aback out through the balcony doors, no, to Avis’s surprise, annoyance and anger, Rhel found his way to Locklear’s study. There he began to access the personal files and most likely any classified or secret information her father had been working on during his spare time. So, was this what she had promised before passing out? To be used as a way into a secured building to find the information he wanted. Did he lie to her? Would he even come and get her when the ship was ready? Avis doubted it, why would he anyways?

“Do you know this man?” Eve asked, her hands still in front of her chest, her back straight, her eyes staring down at her, daring her to talk her way out of this. Avis bit her lip, it was a trap. Admitting she knew him meant she was indeed out on the streets last night, it also meant she had been eavesdropping in on the security feed herself. What was the American right system like again… something about pleading the fifth? It probably wouldn’t fly by Monroe, but Avis knew if she talked any more she’d only get into deeper trouble, and more questions.

“Staying quiet now are we?” Monroe said. “I’ve contacted your father. He’ll be here in a few hours, you can explain to him then.” With that her father’s assistant closed the door behind her as she left. With a groan Avis fell back into bed. How was she going to explain this to Locklear? What was she playing at anyways? Rhel was crooked, some sort of criminal and he played her. Sure he was another Airgryd, but that didn’t mean he would help her. The words of her mother’s laywer came back to her now, about not all aliens being trustworthy. How much did she screw up?

***

Avis hid in her room until noon, her stomach couldn’t take much more and she needed to clean herself up. Hiding the evidence wasn’t going to work, as she knew Eve would now be searching more throughly, not to mention keeping a closer watch on her. She was beginning to feel like a prisoner in this place that was supposed to be her new home. Cameras were everywhere, there were rooms that were off-limits, and nobody seemed to talk to her much other than to explain the rules when she broke them.

Showered and patched up, Avis meekly walked down the stairs in a pair of jeans and a red and gold tank top. A black hooded jacket was thrown over her arms, an attempt to mask some of her bruises from the other night. She had heard him arrive a couple of hours earlier but couldn’t pull herself together to face him right there and then. There was talk though, between him and Eve, even some raised voices before his assistant finally left. It probably wasn’t safe, but at least the two of them were alone to deal with the problem. Avis wouldn’t be able to talk if Eve lurked around over Malcolm’s shoulder.

Malcolm Locklear was sitting on the leather sofa, the TV was turned on to some news station that had about three different news feeds going at once, stock exchange along the bottom, something else dealing with numbers along the side. The main screen had an image of the warehouse she was at from the night before, images of the charred interior passed across the screen, of bodies and police. Eye witnesses explaining to reports what they saw, though the sound was turned down and Avis could hear exactly what they were saying. She quickly diverted her attention to the kitchen, walking past her father as she made her way to the fridge, preparing a sandwich for herself, knowing full well that her father had heard her. She was waiting to hear his voice, to address her in some way, even if it was to give her some form of punishment for her late night adventure, or even for letting Rhel Valentine in to his penthouse. Nothing came, not a whisper, a grunt, or even the movement of his head to watch her pass. Malcolm Locklear just sat and focused on his work in front of him.

The silence was getting to Avis. With her mother there would be the temper, the shouting right away, then after she was through, she’d relax and things would go back to normal. This waiting was agony. With her food in her hand, Avis approached the sofa.

“What’cha watching?” Avis asked in a small voice.

“Nothing…” Malcolm replied, not looking up at Avis. “There was a fire in the industrial end of Queens… close to some of my factories…”

“Oh.” Avis said, taking a seat and began to eat her meal.

“You wouldn’t happen to know about any of that, would you?” The tone in which her father spoke in, made the hairs on the back of Avis’s neck stand up on end. He was fishing for something, the truth? Some half-hearted lie that would appeal to him for the moment. Avis didn’t know him well enough to know which he wanted. It wasn’t as if he was one to judge though.

“No.” Avis said casually. It was then that Malcolm moved, he reached behind him and pulled out the flyer of the fight and placed on the coffee table between them. Avis’s face grew pale, and her appetite quickly left her. “Oh… that warehouse fire.”

“Eve showed me the footage.” Malcolm said. Avis couldn’t tell if he was ready to make a lecture, or if he was just disappointed in her recent choices. As with Eve, Avis remained silent. “If you were in that mess, I’m glad you got out okay. You weren’t hurt, right?”

“No… I’m fine.” Avis said, admitting to the fact she was out late finally.

“You didn’t have to sneak out.” Malcolm went on, Avis gave him a puzzled look. “I don’t believe in curfews, and let’s face it, I’m hardly one to enforce such a thing. Next time… you can tell me before you head out. Even text me if I’m not here.”

“It’s not like you would have known anyways.” Avis mumbled. Malcolm perked up his head at that, and Avis quickly diverted her gaze. “Fine… whatever.”

“I want to show you something.” Malcolm said, passing a tablet over to her. Puzzled, Avis looked down at what was displayed on it. There were a number of open files, documents, police reports, arrest records, warrants and sketches of a suspect in link with a number of criminal offences. The sketches made it clear who it was the files were all about. A hacker, a smuggler, a mercenary, by the name of Valentine. Rhel Valentine to be precise. The same person who had taken her down underground, the alien who was looking for a way off this planet and promised to take her with her. The same man who brought her home last night and used the trip to Locklear Enterprises after hours for his advantage. Avis heart sank into her stomach.

“Why are you showing me this?” Avis asked.

“Because that man you were with last night is dangerous. And should not be trusted.” Malcolm said. His tone was filled with worry, for the first time since the two met, Avis really thought that he was giving this information for her own good, that he was, after all concerned about her welfare.

“Then why is he working for you down in the labs?”

There was a silence, Avis took a deep breath, realizing she had just spilled her secret. Malcolm, she saw raised his eyebrows and straightened in his seat.

“I thought we made a deal.”

“I haven’t stepped foot below ground.” Avis assured him, but the look he gave her, she squirmed and couldn’t hold back any longer. “So… I hacked into the security feed from your labs.” He blinked, leaned back in his seat, trying to stiffen a laugh. He was trying to keep a serious face, though Avis couldn’t help but smirk at the way her father seemed to take the news rather well.

“Well… it seems my security needs an overhaul.” He responded, regaining his composure. “Mr. Valentine’s presence here is not my choice. The military has sent him here as a consultant for our project. I don’t trust him, and I don’t want you affiliated with him any further. Understood?”

Avis kept her face firm, from all that her father had shown her. Rhel was very much a dangerous person, but she knew something he did not. Rhel wasn’t from this world, trapped, he had to find work wherever he could… just like her mother. Maybe their choices were different, but with that power, doing what he did made him easy money and fast. How could she really hold it against him? Her father was right though, he couldn’t be trusted. But he was her only way off this planet at the moment, the only alien at the moment not trying to kill her. That had to count for something right? She looked up at her father’s face, knowing she wouldn’t be able to keep that promise.

“Understood.” Avis said with a nod, lying through her teeth.

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