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Chapter 22

Justin placed the last pair of cuffs on Vinnie’s wrists. “Get him out of here.” He said to one of the officers. He turned to Shyla and Henry. “You did a great job, but unfortunately, Joe Fragale is still out there. We have Vinnie, his second in command, so that is a start.” He looked at the carnage around him. “I don’t know how long he will stay in prison for though, because Liborio Fragale has spies and moles everywhere. Hopefully, he will at least stay the night. In the mean time,” he pointed at Shyla and Henry, “you two lay low. We don’t know what he will tell Joe when he gets out.”

“Glad we could help put him away for now.” Henry said, frustrated that Vinnie would be out soon. The hope was that this would be a way to get into Liborio Fragale, if they could convince Vinnie to talk. The likelihood, however, was slim at best.

Justin left the destroyed store and drove off in his non-descript grey car.

Jake turned to Shyla. “I definitely underestimated you. You got guts, girl. And apparently some extra training.”

Shyla smiled as Henry picked up a broom. She picked up the mop, and together they cleaned up the shattered glass and splattered blood from the fist fight. Jake phoned for some new glass, which would only arrive the next morning. By three o’clock, Jake told the two ninjas to pack up and go home. He would lock up himself. Shyla and Henry left the store together, and walked the long way home, hand in hand.

This time, Shaun was ready. He already knew who Shyla was, but he needed the confirmation. He stood at his upstairs window, waiting for the black shape to appear from Shyla’s window. Disappointment set in, when, after three hours of waiting, nothing happened. But Shaun knew he had seen those shapes on the roof, and he knew there had been a fight with Henry. This might have been a fruitless stakeout, but he knew he was right. He just knew it.

Henry knocked on Shyla’s front door. It was the day after the altercation at the convenience store, and the two ninjas had been ordered by Justin to stay away from the store until further notice. The sun was just starting to set, and he was dressed in soft blue jeans and a red long-sleeved shirt. Clarisse answered. “Henry.” She said, pleasantly surprised. She took in his clothing at a glance, used to seeing him in variations of the same black clothing. “How can I help you?”

“I’ve come to fetch Shyla, Mrs Evans.” Henry said softly.

“Please come in, hon.” Clarisse stepped back, allowing Henry to walk into the house. “And call me ‘Clarisse’. Mrs Evans is what clients at the firm call me.”

Clarisse was a chartered accountant, clearly having passed on her remarkable grasp of numbers onto her daughter. Henry nodded and followed Clarisse into the front hallway.

Shyla slid down the banister at that moment, carrying a backpack in one hand. She was wearing jeans and a grey and white striped shirt, paired with a pair of black boots with a low heel. Nothing she wore suggested “ninja”. “You ready?” asked Henry.

“Yup.” Replied Shyla. “Bye, mom. I love you.”

“Love you too, hon.”

“Goodbye, Clarisse.” Henry said before the door closed behind them.

Shyla turned to Henry, looking at his brown scuffed shoes and coloured clothing. “No black?” she asked, confused.

“Underneath.” Replied Henry with a laugh. “I wouldn’t be much of a ninja if I couldn’t blend in.”

Shyla smiled. They were trained to not stand out in society, another reason why Master Wong made his students take an advanced course in whatever they thought would be most complimentary to their skills. Shyla knew Henry spoke English, Spanish, and at least five other dialects of Oriental languages. He was the perfect linguist, and spoke each language fluently.

They had told the high school, when asked about the advanced courses, that their respective guardians were opening doors that the school would normally not have access to. Since the courses had had no impact on the syllabus, and the two students had managed to keep up with they work, there had been no argument from the principal concerning the extra classes.

Shyla shook her head, returning herself to the present. It was a warm evening, and they strolled side by side along the sidewalk. “Where are we going?”

“My Aunt Anita is hosting a party.” He replied, laying his arm across her shoulders and drawing her closer. “Family gathering. I was told by my spinster aunt that I must bring a date.”

“She never married?” Shyla was curious, especially since nobody used the word ‘spinster’ in daily conversation anymore. Henry shook his head.

“Anita is my dad’s sister.” He explained. “Dad was the only one who got married. My uncle is his brother.”

“And you live with your uncle?” Shyla was aware that she was approaching delicate territory. All she knew was that Henry’s parents had left when he was a few days old, abandoning him with his uncle.

He heard from them every so often, but had never met them, not since they left sixteen years earlier. He didn’t speak about them much beyond that. It was an unspoken rule, that they didn't touch on delicate territory, such as Shyla's father or Henry's parents. Both ninjas preferred it that way.

Henry slowed his stride. “Yes.” Was all he muttered. He didn’t want to ruin the start of a good evening thinking about that betrayal. He loved his uncle, and tried not to worry about his parents. It made life easier.

“I’m sorry.” Shyla looked down at her shoes. She abruptly changed the subject to lighten the tone. “So, I’m assuming Aunt Anita has no idea you’re a ninja.”

“None whatsoever.” Henry smiled half-heartedly. Shyla stretched up to kiss him on the cheek.

“That would explain the ‘no ninja talk’ text I got this afternoon.” Shyla smiled up at him.

“Just making sure.” Henry grinned.

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