Previous “Mouse” postings can be found here.
Mouse Plays Cat and . . .
Tom is sitting on the front steps of the cabin watching me as I approach. From his expression, I can tell that he’s been nosing around and found something that makes him think I have been deceiving him. Obviously I have, but I wonder exactly what it is he’s found. And I thought I was being so discreet.
I smile. He scowls. I roll my eyes. Proof of why I call him the Sheffield Badass—he is in take-no-prisoners mode.
“What’s your game, Mouse?”
“Game?” I repeat. I hand him the bag of clothes and then remove the ball cap from my head and slide it on his. He immediately grabs my wrist.
“Um. Ow,” I say.
“Are you working for the men who attacked us?”
“No. Are you?”
He doesn’t bother answering. He jerks my knapsack from me before I can react and he’s pulling items out. When he comes to my wallet, he unsnaps it and pulls out the id cards and then the thick wad of cash. He lifts his eyes to mine.
I shrug. “What’s to explain?”
“Why do you have three different driver’s licenses with different names?”
“Because I didn’t want to ditch an id in town.”
“That’s no answer.”
“Sure it is.”
He tosses the bag down and grabs my upper arms, his face is in my face. We’re much closer than we’ve ever been and it gives me an opportunity to really study his eyes. They are bluish-green unlike any color I’ve ever seen.
“Your eyes are amazing,” I say.
“What’s your game?”
“Stay alive and out of prison at whatever cost. What’s yours?”
“Why are you worried about prison?”
“I don’t think I’d like to be in a cell.”
“I’m not in the mood for games, Georgia . . . or is it Anne? Or Morgan?”
“Could you loosen your grip? Come on, it’s not like I’m going to run away. We both know you’d catch me. And, I wouldn’t resist if you wanted to tackle me,” I say and then wink.
He continues to stare at me, thinking that I’ll break. I have no doubt that many do when he looks at them like that, so close and intense. He’s used to people folding, which is why I move my head ever so slightly and place my lips on his. No, he wasn’t expecting that, but then I wasn’t expecting him to thrust me backward either and couldn’t break my fall.
“Damn, Tom. Could you reject just a little bit softer?” Fortunately my butt is probably the most padded part of me.
“Can I trust you?” he asks.
“Probably about as much as I can trust you.”
“What’s that supposed to mean?”
I start putting things back into my bag. “It means that I know that everyone involved with The Compound has something serious to hide. That’s why all of us are there. I haven’t been able to find out what those things are for everyone. Yours is particularly difficult to track down.”
“Did you think that’s because I have nothing to hide?”
“Actually, yeah. The thought crossed my mind. But your behavior says otherwise and I trust my instincts.”
“Because they’re always right?” he asks, his tone mocking.
“I’ve needed them to be.”
I can understand why he is an interrogator. His gaze has never left my face. He looks for facial quirks, signs of lying. He was only off-balance when I kissed him.
“I saw Sandra,” I say.
“How is she?”
“I didn’t talk to her, but she looked fine.”
“You didn’t ask her to come back here?” He tries to mask his incredulity.
I sigh. “There were soldiers all over and she stuck out like a sore thumb. She could pass for a tourist, but me going and talking to her? What excuse would I have? We can go back into town if you want.”
He’s still evaluating me, no doubt surprised that I didn’t issue an engraved invitation to Sandra to join us. While I’d like for us to trust each other, it’s not going to happen any time soon, certainly not on my part until I can find out just who he is. Evidently I’ve given him no reason to trust me either. Stalemate.