Music, This Chapter: Nizar – Morning Breeze.
“What’s your bodyguard’s name by the way. ‘*?’ Aren’t you going to introduce him? What is it – something exotic no doubt. Armando? Sébastien? What?”
“Adriaan.” ‘*’ answered. She turned to the man. “Adriaan. Meet Elizabeth. She hates men. Just thought you’d like to know. And thank goodness because I won’t let you go, Adriaan! You’re mine I tell you. Mine, mine. All mine.”
“Is that your Gloria Swanson, is it, ‘*?’” Liz put to her. “So nice to meet you, Adriaan. She definitely needs protecting, our friend here.”
‘*’ was back to bouncing on her knees again on the top of the bed.
“And by the way, just exactly why are you so over-excited? Why don’t you let Adriaan here know about... ...those dreams that you’ve been having.” Liz gave her a glaring look, as if to point out that it was probably wiser to keep everything just a bit quieter than she was doing right now.
“Well you see, Liz. I have this feeling that something else is about to happen. I am filled with this... This... ...expectation that something wonderful is about to occur.”
“Oh no!” Liz complained. She was thinking more about whether she was still supposed to be on her ‘mission’ of interdicting some ‘life direction’ or something, to do with the girl.
How do I get that heads up display back on, she thought.
And then there it was. Right there, right up there in front of her eyes, an instant after she thought about it consciously.
“Am I still on this mission?” She ‘wrote’ into the holographic screen in front of her head about a meter away.
“Yes. Find something creative. Something new.”
...That seemed to be Sara replying back to her.
“Adriaan.” ‘*’ said suddenly and decisively. “Cancel all my meetings for today. I have no meetings with anyone anyway though, right? ...Anyway, just let everyone know who calls that I’m sleeping in.”
Evidently Adriaan doubled as a personal secretary.
He reminded her: “You never sleep in. People will ask if you are okay.”
“Tell them... Say to them it’s the local wildflowers.”
“Well now I really need more coffee.” She added. “Because... ...what am I going to tell my partner.”
Liz caught the look on the bodyguard Adriaan’s face, a look that flashed his opinion that something ominously bad may have happened overnight...
Liz found herself smiling at Adriaan. She shook her head and said to him: “Nothing like that. ...What you are thinking.”
There was plainly relief on his face then.
Liz ‘wrote’ into her HUD: “What is the best thing the girl should say?”
’Say – she can’t wait for her friend to arrive over with her.′
“‘*.’ Liz said.
“Don’t lie to her. Just say that you can’t wait for her to arrive over here and be with you.”
“Okay. Good. That sounds good. And which is true anyway.”
‘*’ turned her back to them and drank more coffee and started to tap away on the screen of her iPhone.
A message in bright orange-coloured letters was scrolling through the holographic HUD in front of Liz’s face.
At this point Adriaan’s own professional ‘situational awareness’ was making him profoundly aware that ‘strange and unusual things’ must have gone on overnight, and that he was not dealing with entirely the normal type of ‘normal person’s usual behaviour’ with either of these two women right in the room there with him right now.
One was talking uncharacteristic nonsense, and the other was tending to look into space a few meters away from her and apparently read lines of invisible writing before saying anything herself.
So he too went and poured himself coffee and then just took a step or two back from it all and drank the coffee, trying to ‘take it all in’ – that is, what his mind was alerting him to. Which was going to be a complete mystery anyway...
The coffee was damn good though, he mused. Proper Kenya Blue Mountain. Carefully fermented. Mild roasted. Not many people do it like this any more – not like the way this coffee was done, any more. He was Afrikaans. He knew his coffee.
Liz’s HUD read: ‘The real owner of this apartment is about to come in. Act like you expect it.’
Liz saw the man first. He was tall. He was extraordinarily good-looking. Light stubble on his face, as if he had been travelling all night from somewhere far away, on a bus-ride. He was wearing dark grey, very old-school, conservative slacks. Dusty and well-worn-in burgundy, obviously custom-made shoes, with dark silk socks. Thin, light roll-neck sweater, Persian eternal flame shawl scarf, Ultra-Fine Merino Tissura worsted tweed dark sports jacket.
He was carrying a large black soft canvas Hedgren sports bag.
He dropped that onto the floor as he walked into where the rest of them all still were – which was the bedroom suite.
“Hi. Do we have any milk in the fridge?” He addressed Liz.
But he didn’t wait for her to answer, he just turned his back on all of them and went into the living room area, and from there to the kitchen-galley where the large fridge was, and opened it. And then he indeed was able to find a new as-yet-unopened glass of farm fresh milk, and split its gold-top with a thumb -, put the bottle to his lips and drank from the slit.
After a few moments, he came back to where they all were, and looked at them, one hand on a hip inside his unbuttoned sports jacket, the other around the milk bottle.
“There was a small parcel for you at the front.” He said to Liz.
Liz was absolutely sure she recognised his face. But she was just as sure that she had never seen him before. Not this particular person.
‘*’ was back, turned around facing them all again, on top of the bed, back on her knees. She was sure she recognised this man. Her phone went off briefly though just signalling a written message. She left it unattended.
‘*’ threw a look at Liz and Liz looked back at her. Well, Liz thought, maybe he is not that tall, after all -, since the bodyguard Adriaan was a good few centimetres taller...
But nevertheless there was something extremely commanding about him. And which conveyed the impression of stature, certainly. Especially with all of that ‘hands-on-hips’ thing that was going on with him.
Liz’s HUD said, simply: ‘John.’
“John -” She said to him.
Ah. He knew her name.
“This here on my right, is ‘*.’ And over there is Adriaan, her personal security exec. Well, her bodyguard, I guess.”
“How do you do.”
Oh, gosh he was so formal.
‘*’ leaned over to Liz and tugged on her elbow. “Toldya.”
This is the ‘big deal’ that ‘*’ was so excited about and looking forward to, and going all silly about?? Liz grumbled to herself in her head.
“You have something for us, don’t you?” ‘*’ asked this stranger. ...This ‘stranger’ that they both also seemed to think they knew secretly somehow.
“Nope.” He said, matter-of-factly. “Don’t think so. What do want, anyway? You don’t need money. Tips for living, maybe?”
‘*’ frowned and she genuinely seemed perplexed, to Liz’s perception.
The girl looked up at the ceiling and just disconsolately and sarcastically muttered: ’Yeah awright then, tips for living.”
“Clean living. Brush your teeth. Be good to your mom.”
He turned away from them and knelt down to his carry bag, unlocking it with small keys he had extracted from his pants, and unzipped it half way across its top.
“Anyway, I’ve got to go down to the park outside here and do Wu-Shu training with my students. So. Here’s this parcel I picked up from downstairs.”
“Yes,” Liz said to ‘*.’ “Why don’t you go with him and do a work-out. You need to do something to calm down.” She looked across at Adriaan’s face. “Oh is she not allowed to go out?”
“I don’t think the plan is for her to go anywhere out in public until after the shooting schedule is completed.” Adriaan replied.
“She can wear a baseball cap and a face mask. No one will know who she is.” Liz said.
“W-e-e-ll...” He murmured, unconvinced.
“I’m going down!” ‘*’ affirmed very positively. “I have work-out gear. I have sweat pants – Orlando has banned those from their house in Montecito but, hey, that’s them, and they are the good male-female straight couple and they are so cute and beautiful, like two little baby Yodas, and so, they’re always well-groomed, and -, they don’t sweat. But I sweat. So I’m working out with you.” She pointed at the very well-dressed stranger. “...In my sweat pants.”
“Oh well in that case I’m coming too.” Liz found herself saying.
The man slowly got up from his position over the large black duffel bag, not having taken the parcel from it, and instead, a full set of black kung fu clothes with slippers.
“Then in that case,” he said. “You may have the parcel afterwards. Which is a better idea.”
“Wait here.” ‘*’ almost yelled at them, getting off the bed and hurtling to already halfway out of the room. “While I get changed.
Liz struggled to get off the bed herself. “The question is -, do I have work-out gear?”
But she did have work-out gear - all nice and neatly folded up in a drawer. Perfect fit. Compression top and bottom. Very nice colours. Running shoes. Sweat socks. The lot.