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“What is going on.” Piers says as he packs his bag. “What did the police say?”
“They said that they put out an alert and that I could file a restraining order.”
“So, basically that means nothing. They can’t do anything.” Piers clenches the paper in his hands. “This has got to stop. I’ll put in my notice today. I’ll have another professor cover that last of the semester for me. I don’t want you to be in danger anymore. I didn’t realize how serious this was getting.”
“Let’s get out of here for a while. Okay? Let’s take an extended stay somewhere. I’m so anxious over this whole thing.”
“I agree. Pack your things and I’ll take care of the rest.”
I spend the day packing and preparing things to close the shop for a bit of “renovation”. As I pack the last bit of clothing into my suitcase I really hope to myself that the portals will accept so much extra mass.
But where should we go? Where is somewhere safe?
“So you’re staying here for a while?” Desimae chews her purple grape gum. Piers nods in agreement.
“Eh, I don’t see why not. I’ve missed you bro.” They exchange a complex handshake that ended with three violent pelvic thrusts.
“She’ll get used to it.” Piers claps me on the back. I make an awkward smile. This dynamic is awkward, but enjoyable.
“There’s a room upstairs that you guys can stay in above the shop. Milo used to stay there…well. You know. When he was here he hardly left the shop, unless Comic-Con was around.”
“Well, we aren’t like that.” Piers shakes his hands in a “no” fashion. Desimae shrugs uninterested.
“Then she can stay with me, and you can stay here.” Desimae picks up one of my bags.
“That’s not really gunna work either.” Piers interjects again.
“Can I just-?” Desimae grabs Piers and brings him into the nearby hall. I lean in close so I can hear her speak to him.
“Listen, something is clearly going on. You don’t just bring girls around with you.”Desimae’s voice holds a serious tone which seems unusual for her personality. “You told me that if something ever came up with Milo that you would tell me. How did Cesar get in on this before me?”
“What if I am bringing home a girl I like?” Piers sounds convincing.
“Perhaps, but seriously we go too far back for me to not know something is up.” My stomach twirls around at the idea of Piers “bringing home a girl he likes.” That’s me. Isn’t it?
“I’ll let you in on it eventually. Right now it’s just too dangerous, and I already have a lot at stake. Right Cesar?” He calls to me from the hall. I quickly back up and start to fix my luggage, and clear my throat. Desimae and Piers re-appear.
“For now, I’ll be reasonable and let you rest. Tomorrow, I want in. How did you guys get here from the airport anyways?” Desimae says picking my bag up again.
“We took a cab. This whole trip is a bit impromptu so we didn’t want to bother you.” Piers says shifting uncomfortably.
“Well that’s bull.” She looks at me and shrugs. What she doesn’t know is we took the portal to the locked office and then quickly scurried out to a nearby window, pitched our stuff out the window, and then “naturally” knocked at the front door.
“Come on Cesar Salad.” She says and starts to walk out of the shop. “I live a block over. I hope you’re okay with walking. I don’t have a car so, you would have to be okay with it anyways.” So I follow.
Desimae’s house is a studio apartment only a block from the book store. She informed me that she would hang out the store so much that eventually Milo employed her.
“ ‘I figure you’re here enough, you might as well help around here.’ Or something like that.” Desimae says imitating Milo in a realistic accent. I look over to the kitchen area of the studio and there is another kitten calendar with x’s for eyes. This month sported two black and gray kittens in a bed of roses…with x’s for eyes. I feel I should be concerned.
“Whatever you see is yours. I’m not picky.” She walks over to the cabinet and pulls a box out. “Want a cookie?”
“Ya, why not.” I receive the little circle, which is odd for me because I never take things from strangers. Eventually we go back to the store to find Piers well settled into the room. Desimae shows us around the store and how they operate.
“Where’s your book drop and send out?” I ask poking around the front desk.
“There’s a separate room for it.” Desimae takes me down a hallway and unlocks a door with three different keys. The door opens to a room about the size of a small bedroom with white walls and little metal boxes in rows of six by six. They look like P.O. boxes.
“What are these?” I ask trying to open one of the boxes.
“Don’t you guys have these?” Desimae pinches a box open to reveal an empty twelve inch drop box. I notice above the metal door there’s also a small oval in the right corner. Instantly it clicks in my mind. That looks like the oval in the Book of Gateways.
“How does this work?”
“Each box is a different P.O. box from a different location. Milo has thirty-six of the thirty-eight locations up here. This particular box receives books and sends to and from his Greece location. You put the books in, close the door, and press your finger to the button until it glows and then the book is sent for shipping. I never figured out how he got this contraption to work. He always told me to keep my nose out of his inventions, so I did. Especially now, I feel like it would be rude if I went behind his back, y’know?” Piers and I both nod in agreement. Instantly it clicks that somehow Milo created this system to ship all of his books to every location necessary. It’s definitely efficient, but somehow I’m sure this caused interest in his employees. Bad interest. I look over to see Piers eyeing the wall system with a heaviness I hadn’t seen in a while.
The day continued on after Desimae locked the room behind us. She took us to a Shawarma place that supposedly Robert Downing Jr. enjoyed between movie shoots. Regardless, it was delicious. We had a great time walking the city, seeing almost all there was to see in the great city of San Diego by sunset… Or so Desimae assured me. Eventually we made our way home stuffed, sun burned, and tired although Desimae’s energetic freestyle rap about rabbits peddling daffodils as drugs on the down low was quite the opposite. All I could do was laugh and add to the rhythm she had already started with Piers.
“I hope you both had a marvelous daaaaay, goooood siiirrsss and madam!” A surprising British accent leaped from her mouth “But now me thinks it is time for you to get some shut eye!” She says showing the time on her phone: 10:30pm.
We turn in for the night and I share a bed with a stranger. It’s not so bad though, she’s comfortable in a foreign way. Her PJs consist of a Spiderman teeshirt and some purple checkered pants.
“So are you going to tell me what’s going on or am I actually gunna have to wait around for an answer?” She says plopping onto the bed. I sit up suddenly uncomfortable.
“I just think that Piers is trying to keep you safe. We’ve stepped into something unbelievable, but very dangerous.”
“Perfect! I love dangerous.”
“I know, but this is a different kind. Listen, I really don’t know how to explain this. Hopefully Piers will be able to explain it better.” Her brown eyes seem to darken at my statement. I feel bad for disappointing her. It’s only been a day and I already like her. She shrugs which brings me back to her deep eyes and she lays down next to me.
“I’ll find out soon enough.” She smiles as if to say “No hard feelings.”. I smile back and pull the covers over me.