Paranoia (045 of 170)

—of —
by Joseph Finder
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Paranoia by Joseph Finder. Copyright 2004 by Joseph Finder.
All Rights Reserved. Sharing not permitted.

Part Two: 22 (Cont'd)

It was a big manila envelope with Nora's name on it in big, bold capital letters in red Sharpie marker. NORA SOMMERS. I looked around the desk for something to slide over it, to cover it up, just in case he hadn't yet read the name, but Nora kept her desk immaculate. Trying to act casual, I yanked at a page of the legal pad and ripped it out quietly, let it drop to the surface of the desk and slid it over the envelope with my left hand. Real cool, Adam. The yellow paper had a few notes on it in my handwriting, but nothing that would make any sense to anyone.

"Who's Nora Sommers?" he said.

"Ah, that's my wife."

"Nick and Nora, huh?" he chortled.

"Yeah, we get that all the time." I smiled broadly. "It's why I married her. Well, I'd better get back to the files, or I'm going to be here all night. Nice to meet you, Luther."

"Same here, Nick."

By the time the security guy left I was so nervous I couldn't do much more than finish copying the e-mails, then turn off the light and relock Nora's office door. As I turned to return the key ring to Lisa McAuliffe's cubicle, I noticed someone walking not too far away. Luther again, I figured. What did the guy want, more Mustang talk? All I wanted was to drop off the keys unseen, and I was out of here.

But it wasn't Luther; it was a paunchy guy with horn-rim glasses and a ponytail.

The last person I expected to see in the office at ten o'clock at night, but then again, engineers worked strange hours.

Noah Mordden.

Had he seen me locking up Nora's office, or maybe even in it? Or was his eyesight not that good? Maybe he wasn't even paying attention; maybe he was in his own world—but what was he doing here?

He didn't say anything, didn't acknowledge me. I wasn't even sure he noticed me at all. But I was the only other person in the vicinity, and he wasn't blind.

He turned into the next aisle down and left a folder in someone's cubicle. Fake-casually, I strolled past Lisa's cubicle and deposited the key ring in the plant, right in the soil where I'd found it, one swift movement, then I kept moving.

I was halfway to the elevators when I heard, "Cassidy."

I turned back.

"And I thought only engineers were nocturnal creatures."

"Just trying to get caught up," I said lamely.

"I see," he said. The way he said it sent a chill up my spine. Then he asked, "In what?"


"What are you caught up in?"

"I'm not sure I understand," I said, my heart pounding.

"Try to remember that."

"Come again?"

But Mordden was already on his way to the elevator, and he didn't answer.

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