Paradigm Shift

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Chapter 4

Danielle walked over to her room, and the door opened. She figured that she didn’t need to wave her hand after all. She tapped the band and said, “Lock front door.” The band didn’t beep, so she figured it worked. She opened cupboards and drawers, finding nothing. She walked into the bathroom and repeated the same thing, only this time she found her brand of shampoo, conditioner, and soap in one of the cabinets. She set them on the counter to take into the shower with her. She opened the long cabinet and found towels on the shelf at the top and a rod with a nightshirt on a hanger, an empty shirt hanger and another hanger with pant clips. She pulled the towels out and set them on the counter. She started to get undressed when she heard banging on her bedroom door. She rushed over and the door opened on Bethany, who was clearly pissed off as she clutched a towel around herself.

“What’s wrong?” Danielle asked.

“The stupid shower will not turn on,” she seethed. “This is ridiculous.”

“It seems like a dumb thing to lock up,” said Danielle. “Let me go start it. I will stay outside the door to make sure it keeps going.”

Twenty minutes later and after a lot of swearing by Bethany that Danielle ignored, she finished her shower with her mother’s arm stuck in it and her back turned. Danielle hugged her after she had gotten out and had a towel wrapped around herself. She then bent and picked up Bethany’s outfit and hung it on the hangers before handing her the nightshirt. She closed the cabinet door and saw a light near the handle light up red. She pulled on the handle, but it was locked. A few seconds later, the light turned off. Danielle pulled on the handle and it opened. On a hunch, she sniffed the shirt. It smelled fresh.

“It apparently is the washer and dryer,” Danielle smiled. “This is cool. It must be like that decontamination room we went through yesterday when we arrived.”

“Okay, I will concede that one,” said Bethany sullenly. “I am going to go to bed after I brush my teeth.” She pulled open a drawer but saw nothing like a toothbrush. She found a small bottle of clear liquid. She opened it and sniffed.

“It smells like mouthwash,” she said. “Should I use it?”

“Just don’t swallow it until we know what it is.” said Danielle.

Bethany took some into her mouth and swished it around for a few seconds and spit it out. She then rinsed her mouth out. She felt around in her mouth with her tongue. “It feels like I brushed. Huh.”

“You good?” asked Danielle.

“Yes, as long as the bed will let me lay down,” she groused.

“Okay. Try it. I am going to go take a shower,” she said and headed towards her room.

She had to hand it to them. The shower was pretty outstanding with the two different shower heads. The mouthwash wasn’t too bad. When Bethany didn’t bang on her door again, she figured the bed hadn’t locked up. She crawled into her own bed. She marveled at the size. She could easily fit four people on this thing. Even better, it felt like a cloud. She snuggled down in to it as she told the band to turn the lights off. The room went dark, and the bed warmed slightly. She sighed.

What a day it had been. After listening to the other women talk at dinner, she realized that they had been pulled from all over the United States. Each had the same story of men in hazmat suits grabbing them with no warning. Very few people who she heard had been from the same state, much less the same area except a few from New York, Los Angeles, and Chicago. Although each one had been taken without their personal effects, that wouldn’t raise any red flag in cities that size. Even as big as California was, she had only heard six people claiming the Golden State.

She blew out a big breath. She would miss her son, Kyle. It comforted her he was grown and independent. She practically had to bribe him to come home on holidays, but she would still miss him. At least Bethany was with her. There was no way she would have tolerated a separation from her. She would have had to be a total pain in the ass to get returned home. She chuckled at how well Spartak would have handled that. Or not handled it. What was with that man? Male? What the hell. The Dick. Yeah, that would work.

* * *

The beeping noise of the alarm on the band just got progressively louder. “Stop!” she huffed. The noise went silent. “Okay, that works.” The band said it was zero hour and 75 minutes. Boy, was that going to take some getting used to seeing. She tried to figure out how long she slept and gave up because the math was too hard before coffee. She got up, threw the covers over and headed into the bathroom to get ready. She had slept surprising well considering they had kidnapped her, held her in an armed camp, and ordered her to do a job she really wasn’t qualified to do. At least she got to knock that jerk to the floor. It had been worth pounding on the man just to see it take the wind out of Spartak’s sails.

She was still chuckling over Spartak’s reaction as she fiddled with the dispenser to get her coffee. It didn’t quite embrace either the concept of a strong cup of coffee or what the size of a large actually meant. After the third failed request, she was nearly shouting at the band, “Look, I want a 24-ounce strong dark roast coffee with extra sugar and extra, extra cream in a 26-ounce insulated container. Is that too much to ask?”

The dispenser finally made the correct order appear. “Thank you,” she growled. She took a big swallow and sighed. She turned to find Bethany smiling at her. “Apparently you have to be VERY specific with the damn thing.”

“I see that. Can you get me a 12-ounce regular roast with sugar?” she asked. “Oh, in a insulated cup?”

Danielle ordered it and then handed it to her daughter. “What do you want to eat?”

Danielle had gotten exactly four bites of her lox and bagel when her band beeped.

“Hello?” she said after she tapped the band.

“Danielle?” asked an anxious female voice.

“Yes, this is she. Who is this?” she asked the mystery caller.

“This is Celeste. I need help,” she said as loud banging pounded against a door as someone shouted something that Danielle couldn’t make out.

“Where are you?” Danielle asked, not thinking to ask her band.

“Hang on,” she said. Danielle heard her yell at whoever was on the other side of the door to stop banging. “I am on 4a,” she said before shouting to the person banging, “I don’t care what you want, you jerk.” There was more pounding. “Can you find me with your band?” she asked.

“Yes. On my way,” said Danielle as she snagged a big bite before tossing the bagel.

“Please stay with Erica,” asked Danielle.

“Like hell I am leaving you to deal with this alone,” huffed Bethany.

“Bethany,” she growled. “This is no game.”

“No, it isn’t. I am a yellow belt. I can hold my own on basic stuff,” she said.

“All right. But you stay in the background until we know what is going on, okay?” warned Danielle.

“Yes, Mom,” said Bethany.

* * *

Danielle followed the instructions on her band that took her from her floor on 8b to the 4a floor. It beeped when they got to the tenth door. Danielle knocked.

The door slid open, and a large man clad in all black stood glowering at the interruption. “What do you want?” he demanded.

“Celeste called me for help. Please let me see her,” Danielle asked firmly.

“No,” he said. “Go the hell away.”

“I do not think so. I am the Strategic Director and I will talk to her,” said Danielle.

“I do not care who the hell you think you are. I said no,” he said and turned away from the door as it started to close.

Danielle handed her coffee to Bethany and then stuck her foot into the pathway of the door to force it open. He started to turn back when he heard her footsteps, but she just grabbed his arm and kept walking forward, twisting it up behind him as she did. She then forced his wrist up between his shoulder blades as she pressed his face into the foyer wall.

“What the hell?” he said, shocked that a woman a foot smaller and a hundred and fifty pounds lighter was able to disable him. “Ow!” he grunted when she pushed harder on his wrist.

“Shut up,” Danielle snarled. “Celeste, come out.”

Celeste poked her head out of the bathroom, saw Danielle and ran over to her. “Thank God you are here. He would not leave or let me go to class!” she sobbed.

“Why is he here?” Danielle asked, glaring at her.

“I, I, uh,” Celeste stammered and then blushed.

“Did you let him in here willingly?” Danielle asked, narrowing her eyes at Celeste.

“Well, yes, but then he got all controlling,” she answered.

“When did he come here?” asked Danielle, releasing the big man’s arm. He turned and glared at her as he opened his mouth to say something before she interrupted him with, “Don’t even think about it, buster,” she warned.

He nodded and rubbed his shoulder before rotating it to ease the muscle strain.

Celeste looked at the floor. “Last night,” she admitted. She couldn’t meet Danielle’s eyes.

“Even though I specifically told you to return to your suite alone?” she asked, using a tone that should have had her puckering her butt cheeks.

“I, I was bored, so I just went to look around,” she stammered.

“Let me guess the rest. He smiled at you then one thing led to another and you found yourself not being able to leave, right?” asked Danielle.

“Pretty much,” she conceded, shifting her eyes to the floor in embarrassment.

Danielle looked at the man. “What is your name?” asked Danielle

“Ailir, ma’am,” he said, not looking her in the eyes. She realized that he had finally figured out who she was.

“She was wearing silver, and you knew she was off limits, yet you followed her here anyway, even though you knew she didn’t understand what was going on?” Danielle demanded.

“I, I thought she knew when I offered her to come to her house that what was happening,” he said.

“I am not buying that for one second so do not think you sold that bullshit story,” she told him, poking him in the chest. He at least had the common sense to look chagrinned.

“As for you,” Danielle started as she held her hand out towards Bethany for her coffee. “Guess what? You are stuck with him. I warned you to stay in your suite. Spartak was quite clear that this could not be undone, and I told you that fact. I suggest you also think about why you do not think the rules apply to you. I do not think there is any tolerance around here for those who don’t follow the rules. It will get you into trouble. Well, more trouble than you have right now.” She took a big gulp of coffee. It was already cold. It was going to be a long day. “You are just going to have to work this out with Ailir. You are his mate now.”

“What?” she stammered. “He is cute and all, but no.”

“You sleep with him?” demanded Danielle.

“You know I did,” she said, trying to show a bravado that she just wasn’t selling.

“Then you are mated. End of story. I will find out what role you are to play in the fleet besides mate. You will just have to figure the mate part out for yourself.”

“But,” Celeste started.

“You made a choice when you brought him to your suite. Grow some lady balls and accept the price that goes along with it,” said Danielle. “I don’t think you need the class now, so stay here. If there is something else you need to know, I will pass it along.” With that, she turned and walked out the way they had come in.

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