PREVIOUS “MOUSE” POSTINGS CAN BE FOUND HERE.
Mouse Prepares for a Mission?
The days pass. For an event that was “created,” that invasion of The Compound frequents my dreams and sometimes I wake gasping as in the dream, Tom’s hands squeeze my throat. Then I lie awake, regulating my breathing, staring into the darkness, while trying to remember that I had never been in danger. During the following day, I find the dream flows too close to the surface, making it impossible to look at Tom or almost anyone else. And, Tom being quietly observant always notices. On those days, he makes Joe train me, which is always easier physically, emotionally, and for my confused libido.
Four months later I am deemed “somewhat” trained, which means I think they noticed that my biceps now have some definition. I can also mostly keep up with them for a five mile run and sometimes sprint ahead. I don’t share that it’s because of the promise of a hot fudge sundae with peanuts at the end. (Peanuts make it healthy.)
I am sitting in a briefing while my mind wanders. There are eight of us hunched (okay, I am the only one hunching) around the conference room table while Nick Ryder is passing in front of a screen, pointing out different buildings in somewhere New Mexico. Outside snow has begun to fall and I watch the fat flakes spiral down and increase in intensity.
“Am I boring you, Mouse?” Nick asks.
I glance at him. “No. Were you trying?”
“You’re attention doesn’t seem to be on this briefing.”
Eight pairs of eyes focus on me. Joe smirks.
Now Joe chuckles.
Nick shoots Joe a silencing glance. “Would you rather not be on this mission?” Nick asks.
I sit up straighter. Oh. Oh! “I’m going to be on the mission?”
“At this rate, no. Why did you think you were in here?”
“Coffee? Cookies? Honestly I hadn’t a clue,” I confess. “I thought it might be more training.”
“Which was why you were listening so intently?”
“Yes, that would be exactly why,” I say, more smart-ass-isms threaten, but I catch a look of Nick’s face which has turned a bit red. Expectation? Annoyance? Me?
“You’re wasting our time, Mary Elizabeth.”
Damn. He has invoked the “name.” The obvious thing for me to do now would be to pay attention and behave, keep my thoughts focused, which is hard when I’m facing the window, but easier than facing Tom.
“I apologize. I promise to try to pay attention.”
“Try? Just do it.”
“Nike scores!” I say.
I hear Joe’s snort. They are such military guys, so professional, such straight-shooters, well, except for Joe who seems delighted I am here.
“Joe, don’t encourage her. I don’t think she needs it,” Nick says. “Mouse, concentrate. Tom, when I’m done, go over all of this with Mouse and make sure she understands, seeing as it was your recommendation that she be here at all.”
Ouch. Burn. My foot starts bouncing on the floor now, as I listen to Nick pick up where he left off. Knowing that I’m part of this mission makes it easier to concentrate, mostly. I’m part of the team now and instead of staying back here, I’m actually going to make a difference. Finally.
In the field.
With a knife.
And a gun.
And live bullets.