As he looked around the airport for a quick fast food fix, he felt someone grab his shoulder from behind. Startled, he jumped backed and prepared to defend himself, not knowing what to expect.
Needless to say, Anna Cooper was just as startled as Sebastian. She had seen him across the airport and decided to surprise him, but clearly Sebastian was not a big fan of surprises.
“Oh my God”, exclaimed Sebastian, “I’m so sorry! I didn’t know who you were. Are you okay?”
Anna, now more relaxed and recovering, just laughed. “Yeah I’m fine. I should be asking you that same question. Didn’t know you were so jumpy. My apologies.”
An embarrassed Sebastian tried to think of a good excuse. “Sorry, I guess I’ve had a little too much caffeine this morning. It’s been a hectic few weeks.”
“Oh yeah. I guess so. Now that your done with school I guess you’re working full time at Win Tech?”
Life had been so hectic lately that he actually forgot what he was supposed to be doing in the real world. Seeing Anna had brought him back to reality though, and he quickly snapped back to himself.
“Yeah, it’s been an adjustment. Going from intern to full time was a big jump. I’m just trying to keep up.”
“Something tells me you’ll do a lot better than just keep up.”
As overloaded as his brain was right now, Sebastian wasn’t so sure, but he tried not to let on. “So how about you? Last I heard you turned down the offer from SandCorp? What did you decide to do?”
“Haven’t made up my mind yet. Their offer was tempting, but it just didn’t feel right. Don’t get me wrong, I love Mr. Ellison. He’s been so good to my family over the years. But lately I’ve been getting a funny vibe around him. Like he’s distracted, not himself. Have you noticed anything? You’re around him a lot more than me lately.”
Laughing nervously, Sebastian replied, “No, not really. I know he’s anxious about retirement, but that’s understandable. Waking up and going to work at the same place for the last thirty years and then all of a sudden handing over the reins to someone else has to be hard. He’s put his heart and soul into that company.”
“Wow. Didn’t realize you were in the James Ellison fan club. Sounds like he made quite an impression on you.”
“Yeah, well, it was you that introduced us. After all, I wouldn’t have even been at that party if you hadn’t invited me. So I guess I owe you.”
“I guess you do. Especially now that he’s your boss.”
Stunned at this statement, Sebastian was reminded about his poker face but it was too late. How could she know about James being his mentor? He was about to explain but Anna continued.
“I still can’t believe that SandCorp bought Win Tech. Guess we could have been colleagues if I had accepted that job offer.”
Sebastian recovered enough to let out a laugh. “Yeah, that would have been something.”
“I saw you staring at that taco stand when I walked up”, Anna said. “How about you go get us a couple of tacos and I’ll go find a table. Then we’ll be even.”
“I won’t argue with that.”
As Sebastian headed to make his order, he couldn’t help but smile. Even after all that he had been through these past several weeks, eating tacos at an airport food court with Anna Cooper was the happiest he had been in a while. It didn’t take long however for his mind to drift back to ‘The Keepers’.
One way or another, his world was going to change forever after attempting to expose them. If they were successful, he, Alex and Stephen would be on the front page of every paper, website and cable news show. If they were unsuccessful they might never be heard from again. And no matter what, they would forever have a target on their back, not knowing how far the reach of ‘The Keepers’ really was.
As he looked across the table at Anna and managed what he hoped looked like a genuine smile, for the hundredth time he asked himself if it was worth it. He may never have moments like this again. Did he really want to give up any chance at a normal life?
He had a gut feeling that it was far too late for that. He didn’t know when he crossed that line, but he knew he was on the other side of it now.
He didn’t know how many more days like this he was going to get and he didn’t want to waste this moment.
“Are you done?”, Anna asked as she started gathering her things. “I’ve got to run. I told my roommate I would go to the gym with her after I dropped my sister off here.”
“Wait”, Sebastian snapped, not wanting this day to end yet. “Do you really want to go to the gym?”
Anna was taken aback by this question. “Did you have something else in mind?”
Not knowing what to say, he brought up the only place he could think of.
“How would you like to meet some of my friends? I know a great little bar not far from here.”
“How do you know they are there tonight?”
“Trust me. It’s Thursday night. They’re there. So, do you want to go?”
Anna thought for a moment and had to admit she didn’t really want to go to the gym.
“Okay, you talked me into it. Where are you parked?”
“Actually I was going to have to rent a car or take a taxi. Can I hitch a ride with you?
“Jeez, meeting a guy at the airport then giving him a ride to some dive bar on a Thursday night. My dad would be so proud. So what kind of place is this?”
“It’s just a small little bar that my friends and I have been going to since our sophomore year. The drinks are cheap, the music is decent. I just have one question for you.”
Confused, Anna asked, “What’s that?”
“How good are you at shooting pool?”