A/N: Hey guys! I’m excited to tell you that I’ve started working on a new research paper to publish. Sadly, that also means that my writing time will be cut short because of it. So I have to reduce the posting to twice a week from thrice a week. New posting schedule will be Fridays and Tuesdays.
Now, get reading!
It’s only after making Tony and I promise that we won’t take any unnecessary risks that dad allows us to leave for work while he decides to take Rosalie to the police to file an official complaint just to ensure her protection.
When we walk through the doors of Inside Out, there’s an uncharacteristic calm around us … as if someone died. My guess is me, judging by the “rampant bull” look Leah is aiming at me. “So now you decide to show up for work,” she says in a way of greeting.
“What?” I feign innocence and lift Tony’s hand to check the time. “We’re barely twenty minutes late. That’s almost on time, boss.”
She heaves a sigh. “So what should I do to congratulate you, Ms. Barone? Shall I give you my desk here to thank you for gracing us with your presence?”
“Nah, I’m good, Boss,” I say, waving her off. “Besides, your desk gets way too much sun. I’ll get wrinkles if I sit here. I’m okay at my desk.”
“You, brat!” she slaps her hands on her desk as she struggles to stand up.
I pretend to be hurt and sniffle to add more effect to it. “Sure, you hate me. Why won’t you? After all, I dared to publish an article without your approval. No matter if it’s our most searched article ever or if we’re the only webloid with the exclusive news, I, a measly reporter dared to think of by myself.”
She groans. “Zip it with the theatrics, Barone.” She picks up a legal looking sheet of paper from her desk and holds it up to my face. “Guess what this is?”
“Your maternity leave announcement?” I ask rather hopefully.
“No!” she barks out. “It’s court summons. Jacob Black is suing Inside Out for defamation.”
I gape at her. “What defamation? I never named him!”
“You didn’t?” she challenges me. “Let’s see what you wrote. Here — A powerful member of the senate, having the initials of J.B. … that’s almost as good as plastering his photograph along with his name!”
I cringe. I shouldn’t be allowed to drink.
“Now,” Leah says taking a deep breath. “There’s only two options open to you. First …”
“Don’t tell me to resign. I can’t resign!” I blurt out. “Telling me to resign from my post is so unfair, Leah. I didn’t write a single word of lie …”
Leah holds a hand up to stop my word vomit. “Second …”
I straighten my back and offer her a salute. “I’ll do whatever you ask me to do.”
“Do it properly,” she says in a clear voice.
For a moment, all I can do is blink, pretty sure that I’ve heard her wrong. “What did you just say?” I finally manage to ask.
“Do it properly,” she repeats. “Whether it’s submitting evidence to back up your story or writing follow ups to the first article, do it right. Find something that we can use against Jacob Black. That’s the only way we can survive this legal battle … by proving that what we reported is the truth.”
With a smile on my face, I salute her. “Yes, ma’am.” When I turn, there’s an identical smile lighting up Tony’s face as he nods to me.
It’s on, Jacob Black.
I almost drop the coffee cup I’m holding when a voice says in my ear, “So I guess you’re going to continue with this pretence of being Superman, huh?”
Placing the cup on the counter of the break room, I swear under my breath as I press on the minuscule earpiece attached to my ear. “Jesus, Esme! Are you trying to make me crap my pants?”
She laughs. “I bet that will make Isabella fall head over heels for you, Skid marks.”
I hurramph. “Very funny.”
She seems to sober at my unamused tone and says, “Play all you want, kid, but keep one thing in mind. If you get caught by the police, I’ll ditch you.”
I can’t help but roll my eyes. “Esme, first, I’ve never seen you personally. You’re just a disembodied voice in my head. So how am I going to get you in trouble? Besides, I don’t even know where you live or what you look like. Hell, I don’t even know if your name really is Esme or not!”
She’s quiet for a moment before saying, “I’m sorry, Kid. I promise we’ll meet before you sail off to that island.”
The thought of retiring brings something up to me and pulling out my cell phone, I email the photograph to Esme before speaking again. “Es, I’ve just emailed you a photo. It’s got my dad and the teacher and some other people. I need you to find out whatever you can on the others.”
“Won’t it be easier to ask your teacher about them?”
I sigh. “It would, but he’s still unreachable. I’ve tried his number a million times.”
“Figures,” she answered. “He’s a crazy old bastard. Anyway, I’ve got it, Kid. Don’t you worry.”
“Thanks, Es …”
“Tony! Hey, Tony!” I barely manage to disconnect the call when Bella storms into the break room. “There you are! What are doing here alone?”
I hold up my coffee cup. “Just getting a coffee.”
She nods before asking excitedly, “You have a driving license, right?”
“Great!” She grabs my hand and starts to pull me out of the room. “You’re coming with me.”
Esme Platt hangs up on Virtuoso and dials a number on her phone, her eyes focused on the screen before her where the photograph Virtuoso sent is displayed. After three rings, the call connects to an answering machine. There’s no welcoming message with directions though, just a silent beep.
“Hey Mr. Biers,” she says. “Your student has grown up a lot lately. He’s now interested in your friends. What should I do? Should I help him, or should I divert him? Please tell me what to do, Teacher.” She takes a deep breath and decides to share another worry of hers with him. “Also, he’s getting rather attached to this girl. I think she’s starting to mess with his head and his work. If he continues this, we might need to let him go, Teacher. Do you have any other successors? Someone else who can be Virtuoso?” She sighs. “Call me, please. I need your guidance.”
With that she disconnects the call, hoping she hears something from the teacher soon.
A/N: And the mystery returns. *Grins toothily*
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