Patrick Carter closed the desk computer the task force had lent him temporarily. He’d worked on the grade 12 math course all afternoon, and now he felt he was entitled to some form of rec- reation. He couldn’t think of anything of the kind. He should go out looking for work. If he couldn’t find a bartending job, he should try assistant cook. He liked cooking, he wasn’t bad at it, and he could learn more.
When his phone rang, he prayed it wasn’t Justin. The boy was distressed by the constant presence of an agent in the house and the lack of freedom; if he was invited to a friend’s house, somebody went with him. Patrick would have liked to go see him, but he didn’t want to defy Des Pres’s order. He understood that, to some degree, he constituted a danger to Justin and his grandmother. If they decided to eliminate him as a dangerous witness to the attempt at Samantha’s life, the criminals wouldn’t care if they had to kill a couple more people. So it was with some reluctance that he opened his cell.
It was Emy. “Hi, Patrick. I was wondering if you were free tonight.”
“I’m free, but I can’t go out with you. Express order of Mr. Des Pres.”
“But you don’t work for him. You’re free as a bird.”
“I gave him my word. The man is under a lot of pressure, and it seems that he got even more pressure from higher-ups because of my presence.”
“I see.” She was silent for a moment. “But we can talk on the phone, right—or is it also forbidden?”
“No, we can talk. Actually I’m very happy you called. I finished five lessons on an online course, and I was thinking of what to do next. I needed a break. Do you have Skype on your computer? We could talk and see one another. My personal cell is very basic. Doesn’t have any of the fancy stuff.”
“My computer belongs to the task force. I can’t use it for frivolous things.”
“Well, we can talk to each other about our likes and dislikes. I’d like to know you better, emy.” He heard a giggle.
“I like dark-haired men. I like to dance—I really love to dance—and I like flicks with a love story.”
“I like science fiction movies, and I watch a lot of sports.” “Like most men. How do you like your girls?” “Beautiful and nice.” There was another giggle, and then she asked, “Have you ever been in love?”
“Hmm. Yes, a couple of times.” He really didn’t want to explain what had happened, because he didn’t want to divulge his very personal stories to a woman with whom he had no chance.
“I’ve been in love many times,” emy said as an invitation to open up. “First, there was this football player—it was in high school. We went together for more than a year, and he gave me his nice ring.” She sighed. “When my father saw it, he asked a lot of questions; then he gave me a sermon about how dangerous it was to date so young and with a man who had no future.” She paused. “To be in sports was almost a sin for him. I don’t know what happened, but the boy dropped me. He had no problem finding another girl.”
“And you didn’t get another boyfriend?”
“Not until later, when I was already in college. I was in love, but it didn’t work out. But now tell me about yourself.”
“I was in second year of high school, and there was this fine girl: not too tall, blonde with blue eyes. She came to all my games; I played in several sports. I felt I was melting when she looked at me. I think she felt the same.”
“Then what happened?”
“The family got wind of my past. The school principal called me in and told me to stop dating her; he also called my foster parents to be sure I’d follow orders. I thought I was going to die. I didn’t play well for almost two months. I missed her looking and smiling at me.”