“Hi,” the girl said back. “Got a cigarette?”
She was of medium height, made taller by white strap boots. Long dark hair streamed past green eyes to pool around the collar of her bomber jacket. She smelled strongly of smoke, like someone who had just run out of a burning building.
“Is he hurt?”
“Not bad,” she said in a low voice. “He’ll be okay.” As if the the health of his boss was the first thing on Wolf’s mind. It wasn’t even the third thing.
“What did he do to you?”
“Caught me and tried to keep me, but I don’t want to be caught. Not yet. I wish I could explain.” Her eyes darted to Reynolds on the floor. “I’m not a violent person, okay? You can trust me. I just need cigarettes and a uniform. Do you smoke? Do you have cigarettes?”
“Not on me!” His arm hurt and he felt nauseous. Only five minutes since he walked into work and already he wished he were dead. That usually took at least an hour. “You need cigarettes that bad?” Actually, he thought he could understand. Tense situations called for nicotine. Or stronger.
“I’ve got a lot to do.”
“What’s your name.” It wasn’t a question. Wolf wanted something –anything- to make sense. A name was something simple, at least.
“Lily,” she said. “Lily Faulkner.”
“What about your friend? The one who tried to break you out? I chased her outside, but she vanished.”
Lily offered a warm smile. “I don’t have any friends.”
“Really?” Wolf said. “What a surprise.”
She had a uniform two minutes later, taken from the laundry bag for female members of Campus Patrol. Black sleeves on an orange dirndl, a smelly but good fit. Lily kept her boots. But she wasn’t satisfied.
“You’ve got to be shitting me,” she said, after rifling the drawers of the front desk. “Nobody smokes?”
“You have a problem,” Wolf said.
“It’s not like that. I don’t smoke out of habit.” Wolf would have been surprised to learn her true motive. It had nothing to do with addiction. It was the need to replace a missing tool, cigarettes among those that Lily Faulkner was capable of using for her own ends. The smoke created a cloud which she could manipulate to create false appearances, such as a Patrol uniform. She had smoked getting onto campus but Reynolds must have thrown out her pack. Lacking her usual means of disguise, she now had to resort to wearing an actual uniform in order to move freely about campus without drawing unnecessary attention to herself.
“I’ll live.” She herded him toward the door, then stopped. “I almost forgot,” she said, “the other guy.”
“Reynolds?” Wolf said, wishing she had forgotten. Somebody had to stop her, even if that person wasn’t going to be Wolf.
“We’ll tie him up,” she said, turning just as the entrance door opened and a student walked in. Not one of his fellow Patrollers, as Wolf might have hoped, but someone he knew from his circle of friends. Most importantly, a witness.
“I’ve been calling all night!” said Kassini Vasquez. “We need your help!”
TO BE CONTINUED
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