Incandescence (Part I)

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Moving Forward

After my parents left all attention shifted to me. ‘What’s going on?’ I asked.

‘Tori, we’ve discussed what happened last night and all agree that Bradley will take you to get your burn treated. Once that is sorted, he will take you to the Police Station so that you can officially report the threats and last nights’ events.’ Leonard spoke in an authoritative tone before continuing ‘Bradley’s already arranged security and we’ve had them placed outside your home since last night, you don’t need to worry about them intruding, they’re trained to be discrete and you won’t even know they’re there’.

‘Don’t you think you’re all over reacting?’ I asked, as the level of worry in the room was making me feel anxious.

‘I hope this is an overreaction, but just to be sure we need to keep you safe while our investigators sort this out’ came Bradley’s response.

Not usually one to worry, I was surprised to find comfort when Leonard placed his hand on my shoulder and told me everything would be OK. Squeezing my shoulder, he thanked me and said his goodbyes.

Amelia and Jacob were next to leave and I felt a tinge of excitement when I saw Jacob place his hand on Amelia’s lower back as they exited my front door.

‘I appreciate you doing this, but it’s Sunday, surely there’s something you’d rather do than take one of your employees to the Doctor’ I said to Bradley in an attempt to break the silence that overshadowed us.

’Well to be honest I need to swing past the office briefly, but other than that, I have no plans for today. Do you mind if we pop into the office after your burn is checked out? Bradley asked.

I smiled and nodded in agreement as we left my home. I followed Bradley to his car, which just so happened to be a brand new Maserati. I never dreamed I’d get to ride in one, so decided to savor the moment.

Whilst Bradley drove, I found myself fidgeting with my phone – subconsciously gravitating back to my message from Unknown.

‘You’ll be OK’ Bradley stated. We were parked in front of the medical centre, I don’t know how long we’d been sitting in the car, it was as though I’d been in a trance and Bradley’s words snapped me back to reality. I smiled as I exited his car.

Fortunately there weren’t any other patients, so I was able to receive prompt treatment. It was just after 1.00pm when we left the medical centre and we made our way to a little café nearby for a quick lunch. I wasn’t very hungry after breakfast, so I ordered a Croissant and Latte; Bradley ordered a Quiche and Espresso. Service was quick and seeing as though neither of us had ordered a substantial lunch, we were back in the car in under an hour and made our way to the office.

I accompanied Bradley to work and decided to use the time to tidy my office, considering it was still cluttered with boxes after the event I’d held a week earlier. Being a Sunday afternoon we didn’t expect to find anyone on our floor, so when the elevator door opened we were both surprised to find Mandy in the office working.

I wasn’t sure if Bradley felt it, but something seemed odd. I watched Bradley as he went straight to his office and then headed over to Mandy to greet her.

‘It’s official, we’ve all gone crazy’ I said out loud gaining both Bradley and Mandy’s attention and when they both looked at me I continued ‘It’s Sunday afternoon and we’re all at work. What is wrong with us. Lunch is on me, we’re going out’.

Bradley looked at me like I had two heads, we just came from lunch. He opened his mouth but before he could say anything I interrupted him ‘No excuses from either of you, I’m famished, I haven’t eaten all day and we could all do with a break from work! Let’s go’ and with that I dragged them both to the elevator and we walked to Poppy’s Café.

I could feel Bradley glaring at me, but I had no time to explain my erratic behavior. When we sat down at our table, I quickly pulled my phone out from my handbag and sent a message to Leonard

Me: I need your help urgently. In the accounts department there are a stack of files on Adrian’s desk which is three desks across from the Chief Financial Officer’s office. I need you to go to the office now and grab them. We have less than an hour. Let me know when this is done. I’ll explain later.

Leonard: OK

‘Is everything OK’ Bradley questioned.

‘It was mum. I haven’t seen her in a few weeks so she was checking up on me. I told her I’d call tonight’. Now Bradley knew I was lying, but I was grateful he was smart enough to play along.

‘So Mandy, what’s so important that you would sacrifice a Sunday afternoon of freedom in exchange for work?’ I asked, trying my best to sound cheeky.

‘That’s rich coming from you. I noticed you also came to work’ Bradley chirmed, smirking at me.

‘My office is a mess. It’s full of boxes from last Monday’s event; but because work has been so hectic, I thought I’d use today to tidy up’ I answered Bradley’s comment, somewhat truthfully.

‘We’ll get the Junior in tomorrow to help’ Bradley offered before turning to Mandy. ‘So, what’s your excuse’ he smiled, totally oblivious to how handsome he looked when smiling.

‘I just wanted to get on top of my work. After everything you’ve done for me, I didn’t want to disappoint’. Mandy seemed sincere in her reply, but my mind kept wandering back to the files she was trying to hide on Adrian's desk when she thought I wasn’t looking.

I called the waitress over and we all ordered lunch and coffee. I wasn’t in the least bit hungry, so I opted for a salad.

‘For someone that was hungry and dragged us out so that you could eat, why for the love of God would you order a salad?’ Bradley teased.

‘I’m on a bit of a health kick, so it’ll be salads from hereon until I get sick of them. So be warned, I might be hungry and cranky this week’ I said as everyone laughed.

I was half way through my salad when my phone beeped. It was a message from Leonard:

I smiled and Bradley glanced at me sideways – I knew he wanted an explanation for my bizarre behavior, but now wasn’t the time. ‘I’m sorry, that was mum again. Would you mind if we wrap this up?’ I asked acting as though I was disappointed I had to cut lunch short.

‘No problem at all’ Bradley stated. ‘I only needed this file which I brought here with me, and we’ll have the Junior help you with your filing tomorrow, so there's no need for you to head back to the office either.’ He then turned his attention to Mandy ‘Will you be alright making your way back to the office?’

‘Sure’ she said, almost relieved to be finally left in peace.

‘Just don’t work too long, it is Sunday after all’ Bradley said as we all got up and parted ways.

When Mandy was down the road Bradley caught up with me ‘Care to explain why I had to have lunch twice today?’

‘We’ll talk in the car’. I said and we headed straight to Bradley’s car.

As we drove to the police station I could feel Bradley’s piercing stare. ‘You really should keep your eyes on the road’ I informed Bradley, his stare was so intense it was scaring me.

‘What happened back there? You knew I needed to do a few things in the office, what was with the crazy behavior?’ I could feel the anger simmering in Bradley’s voice.

‘When you walked into your office I caught Mandy trying to hide files. I have no idea what was in the files; there’s a chance I may have totally misread the situation. But just to be safe, I got us all out of the office and I messaged Leonard. The files are now safe with him and you can review them later.’

‘Really? You’re quiet the perceptive one aren’t you?’ Bradley said as his vision returned to the road.

It wasn’t long before we pulled up outside the Police Station. Bradley was kind enough to accompany me and provide me with support as I gave the Police an official statement.

It turned out that having Bradley present was a blessing. As a Director of BL Corp, everyone at the station knew him. His business had contributed millions of dollars in sponsorship and support; and now the Police Officials were happy to reciprocate.

Bradley told the Police Officials that he had arranged security guards outside my home. They advised they would increase police patrols in my street and also recommended extra security at work, which Bradley arranged as soon as we left the station.

‘We might not have gotten off on the right foot, but I really do appreciate your support today, it means a lot’ I said as we hopped back in his car.

‘Not a problem’ he said as he started to dial Leonard’s number.

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