Hero Inside

Chapter 3

By the time Annie's sister and her husband finally came home from their meeting, it was after eleven-thirty. When Annie asked her what took them so long, she said that they decided to go out to dinner afterwards because they haven't had the opportunity to do so in a very long time.

Annie said goodnight to her sister before she had a chance to start up a conversation with her. She was tired and had to wake up early for work. Most likely, Joan was going to ask her to take more pictures or tail Richert some more. As she expected, this assignment was boring and made the day last much longer. She couldn't wait for the assignment to end. Little did she realize how difficult it was going to get.

The next day, Joan sent Annie right out to tail Richert as she predicted. She didn't even get the chance to see Auggie beforehand. It was then that she realized today was actually his day off. Auggie rarely took time off and even when he wasn't scheduled to work, he would end up coming in anyway. She discovered that today was one of those days, like she knew he would. She talked to him on the phone a few times when asking for specific information. Annie felt that working probably made him feel more useful, even though he didn't have anything to prove to anyone, except to maybe himself.

Even though Auggie constantly joked about being blind, Annie could tell that it bothered him deep down. When they first met, Auggie said that it helps to keep a healthy sense of humor. There were some advantages to this job, but there were also a lot of disadvantages too, that seemed to overwhelm the positives. He was right about the sense of humor. It really did help make the day better when he cracked a joke about something, especially something about either Joan or her husband, Arthur.

The surveillance of Don Richert was once again slow going and Annie couldn't help but feel that the guy knew he was being tailed by some kind of authority. All that he did was go out for breakfast or lunch with some of his regular business associates. Then, he went to the gym for several hours, after which he went swimming to cool down. Finally, he went home and stayed inside the rest of the day. He made several business calls, but nothing was illegal, as far as she could tell.

Once again, she made it back to the office later than she would have liked, but she had just enough time to go over the details of her day with Joan, before she would have to leave in order to get home in time for her sister's dinner.

After she walked out of Joan's office, she went to go change into the dress which she brought from home and then found that Auggie was sitting at her desk, dressed in a nice suit. She was surprised to see that he dressed up for dinner. She hoped that she didn't make him feel like he was obligated to do so. He was doing this as a favor to her. She wanted him to be as comfortable as possible.

As she walked over to him, other people from the office started to whistle and Auggie said, "From the sound of the whistles from the peanut gallery, I'd say that you look pretty hot. I just wish I could see for myself. Are you ready to go?"

She replied, "Yeah, I am. Danielle will kill me if we're late. You certainly know how to clean up as well. You look great!"

"Thank you," Auggie responded. "I'm looking forward to tonight."

"You don't have to say that," Annie explained. "It isn't a requirement in order to be my friend. My sister is going to be all over you, asking you questions such as, are you dating anyone, or how is work, which reminds me; since you're always telling me facts about History, I figured that our cover story could be that we are friends from the Smithsonian."

Auggie nodded his head and said, "That'll work just fine. I think I can pull off being a curator. Don't worry so much about tonight, Annie. Just relax and have fun. You won't have to worry about me embarrassing you and you won't have to worry about her setting you up on a date either. It's just dinner with a group of friends. I'll be right there beside you."

Annie smiled at him and replied, "I don't know what I would do without you, Auggie. You're a life saver."

"I try," he agreed.

When they arrived at her sister's home, it was about eight o'clock and there were already several people inside. Annie got out of the car and walked around to the passenger side to help Auggie out and guide him inside. As they came in, Danielle and her husband were in the living room talking to one of his business partners, while her daughters were running around with some of the other children who came with their parents.

As soon as Danielle spotted her sister, she excused herself from the conversation they were in the middle of and walked over to Annie to introduce herself to her guest saying, "Annie, thank God, you both showed up. That man is so boring. Hi, I'm Danielle. It is so good to finally meet a friend of Annie's. She doesn't tell me much about her job or about who her friends are these days."

Auggie raised his right hand in attempt to shake hers, but missed as he replied, "My name is Auggie Anderson. It's a pleasure to meet you as well. Annie tells me nothing but good things about you and your family."

Danielle noticed that he was blind as he stared straight ahead and reached out to shake her hand, so she nervously asked, "So, do you work with Annie at the Smithsonian? She's been pretty busy there, so I am assuming that that is where you two know each other from. Am I right?"

"Yes, I'm a curator there," Auggie responded. "Whenever I have a break, I'll go talk with Annie in her office. She's a great girl."

"That she is," Danielle replied. "Auggie, feel free to have whatever you'd like and let me know if you need anything. I'm afraid I have to go talk to some of our other guests. I will talk to you later. Annie, can I see you for a minute?"

Annie excused herself from Auggie's side and walked out of earshot as Danielle said, "Auggie seems like a great guy. Was he born blind?"

Annie looked over at Auggie who was just waiting for her to come back and answered, "No, he was in some kind of an accident a few years ago. He doesn't really talk about it. Look Danielle, he will joke about it if you say something to him because that is who he is, but deep down he's a sensitive guy. Please don't say anything to him. Just treat him like you would anyone else; bye."

Before Danielle went back to join her husband, she observed her sister as she walked back over to her friend and watched as they laughed about something that he had said. Danielle could tell by the way Annie looked up at Auggie and interacted with him, that they were more than just good friends. She only hoped that Annie was brave enough to let someone else in her life again.

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