Hey before I start, I'd like to give like 10 thousand thank yous to Spearmint! Spearmint gave me about a gazillion points to publish this, which is especially helpful because while I love reading other people's work, for some reason doing 10 reviews in a day sucks out all my energy and soul haha. ANYWAY please enjoy~
“—don’t feel confident in your place here, Rune. You’re exceptionally skilled, but you don't have the right mindset.”
“Sir, I’m sorry, but—”
“I wasn’t finished, boy. I’ll be calling you and your sister back later to discuss repercussions. For starters, you both have isolated training until I decide otherwise, and you’re suspended from any and all current assignments. Get out of my office.”
Amanda stirred, trying to make sense of the words she was hearing without opening her eyes. What was going on? Where was she, and why was she slouched in an office chair? She knew those voices belonged to Hansen and Kaden, but that didn’t clear up her confusion.
Suddenly all the memories flowed back like a punch to the face. Oh gosh. They were in Hansen’s office. They’d knocked her out somehow—oh no. But still, she didn’t move. She wanted to hear more.
She heard Kaden take a deep breath, and he must’ve stood up by the sound of the squealing wheels on the chair. “Yes, sir. But please…Amanda deserves a chance. She just wants to help.”
She felt a twinge of guilt. Yeah, sure. Just want to help. That’s exactly what she was doing with no other motive.
There was no response to Kaden’s plea, only the sound of the door opening and closing as he left. After a few seconds of silence, Hansen grumbled, “You’re an awful actress, Amanda Charlotte. Your father would be disappointed.”
Her eyes snapped open and she turned to Hansen in shock. His office was small and cluttered with paper everywhere and three separate computers on his dark wooden desk. “How do you—how do you know who I am?” she croaked. She sat up straight in her chair and moved some stray hairs from her ponytail behind her ears. Then she wiped her mouth, fairly certain she’d been drooling.
Hansen narrowed his eyes and turned around his laptop, revealing a website talking about her dad—Ricky Charlotte. Still staring her down with his stormy, angry eyes, he scrolled down to an enlarged picture that had been taken from afar of her dad and her walking back from the beach two years ago when she was sixteen. Under the picture, in bold, it read Amanda Daelyn Charlotte, second and youngest child of Ricky Charlotte, 16-years-old. Amanda sank down into her chair and covered her mouth with the tips of her finger, her face going completely red. “Oh,” was all she could say.
“Yeah, ‘oh’ is right,” he snipped, turning his computer back around. “What could’ve possibly prompted you to leave your lovely mansion in San Diego and your famous family to come here? Are you insane?”
She pulled her knees to her chest on the chair, fiddling with her earrings. How was she supposed to respond to that? Could she tell him the truth? No, because he might’ve been the one to kill Blake. So she’d just have to make up a story, and retry her acting skills.
“I just—” she looked him in the eyes and gave him a broken, pained expression that was all too easy to muster by thinking of where she was and why she was there. “—my whole life, I’ve seen awful people going around and doing anything they want. My parents always tell me not to worry about it, that the police and government take care of such things. But…if that’s really true, why do bad things still happen? Why are there still murderers and thieves and all sorts of criminals if everything is so ‘under control’?” Amanda took a deep breath to steel her nerves, preparing herself for the leap she was taking. “I thought it was about time to take matters into my own hands. I saw a problem, and this is how I’m gonna fix it.”
Hansen studied her like he was trying to read her mind, which she sincerely hoped he couldn’t. She’d thought her act hadn’t been half bad—it sounded genuine enough. But she needed him to be completely convinced, taking into account their abnormal introduction. He leaned back in his chair, placing his elbows on the armrests and steepling his hands.
“Many of our people here feel the same way, but that doesn’t mean I can recruit just anyone. How’d you find out about this place?”
Amanda scrambled for any explanation, and grabbed onto the first story that came to mind. “It’s a long story, actually. I was traveling here to London to check it out because I’ve always dreamed of living here! But when I got here I couldn’t find a place to stay, so I was going to different apartments and checking with the owners to see if they could get a room for me,” she lied, relieved that Hansen was nodding along. She continued.
“Then, I found your apartment building, and Robbie was hanging out by it. I started talking to her to see if she knew about any available rooms, but we ended up having a conversation. Then talk of that serial killer going around in London came up, and I mentioned my thoughts on crime and how I wished I could do something. She said she couldn’t get me a room, but gave me Kaden’s room number and said she thought she knew a way I could help out. So I came back later, and here I am.”
Amanda nervously bit the inside of her cheek, and Hansen opened his mouth just as a timid knock came from the closed door. He gave a tremendous sigh, rubbed his forehead with his fingers, and bellowed, “You may enter.”
A slender woman with freckled skin and soft layered hair that fell to her shoulders in strawberry blonde waves quietly opened the door. She then rushed into the office with something that looked like an Ipad in hand and a stressed expression. The lady wore leggings and a shirt that had a gear on the back and the name Helen on the front. Amanda didn’t get a good look at her face because the woman completely ignored her existence.
“Sir,” the woman said in a small voice. She held the Ipad in front of him, and Amanda noticed a tiny but elegant diamond ring on her finger. “We found some footage from about an hour ago of an unidentified girl in the apartment elevator. She looks to be about five feet and seven inches, blonde, and—”
Finally, the lady who was probably named Helen by the name on her shirt looked up from under her lashes with stunning hazel eyes, which soon widened. “O-oh! Yeah that’s—that’s her.”
Amanda gave a little wave. “Yeah, hi. And you’re right, I am five-seven, so like wow.”
Hansen nodded. “Thank you, Mrs. Vince, but I’ve got it under control. She just finished explaining her reason for being in the building.”
She nodded and tried to make a hasty exit, but he stopped her. “Oh, and Helen? Try to spend less time chatting with Mr. Vince so that I can get that footage quicker next time.”
Helen flushed from head to toe and scurried out of the room. Amanda tried not to giggle at the silly encounter and conversation. There were married people in this place? That seemed a bit like a romance novel that she’d like to read—but not live.
Hansen looked back at her. “Back to your situation. You say Robyn Rune is the one who told you about our organization? She thought you’d make a good fit and made the judgment by herself?”
Amanda felt her heart rate increase, but kept a straight face and nodded calmly. “You got it.”
She could see that tired look in his eyes that said I am just so done. The funny thing was, she felt the exact same way. It was turning into a lot of work and stress just trying to infiltrate this place to figure out who was responsible for the death of the boy she loved. That was expected, though.
He chewed on the ballpoint pen that had been tucked behind his ear a few seconds earlier. “I’ll be speaking with her later. And that’s her uniform too, I’m assuming?”
“Y-yeah,” She stuttered, guilt seeping into her voice. She was probably getting Robbie in a whole lot of trouble, on top of the fact that she'd skipped training today.
“Good to know,” he murmured. “Now…for the reason you came here. You really want me to recruit you? You’re aware of what we do here? You know the consequences that come with failure? Because we can’t just let you leave now. But we also can’t let you stay if we can’t trust you.”
All her muscles tensed. “Yes, I know what you do here and why you do it. I want to help, and I’m willing to give my life for it. All I need is for you to say yes.”
This made him chuckle, though she couldn’t understand why. “Kid, I can’t just say yes, there’s a process you must complete to gain our trust and ensure that you can handle it here.”
Amanda watched—both confused and concerned—as Hansen opened a drawer in his desk and pulled out a packet that gave her flashbacks of her highschool. With a flick of his wrist he threw it towards her like a frisbee, and she caught it with minimal crumpling.
She looked at the first page, her brows knit together as she tried to focus. Full name, age, family, birthplace, phone number, etc, etc…the first few pages she skimmed were all personal info that would tell them everything about her. She grimaced at the idea that she was about to share sensitive stuff with killers. She was a real idiot, wasn’t she?
Then she realized with a mixture of excitement and crippling terror what this meant. “Wait, so you’re gonna give me a chance?” she asked, trying not to make it sound so giddy or eager.
Hansen snorted. “That’s not what this is. You have to fill out the packet, turn it in to one of our counselors—either Valentina Braga or Oliver Kensington—then do some tests and beginner training. It’s rigorous, but if you want to be here you must prove yourself.” He paused and stared at her with her slightly slack jaw and wide eyes for a moment, then went on.
“You’ll be assigned a dorm room with a roommate, and you’ll obviously start at yellow, which is beginner level and will be on your uniform. Now get out of my hair, I need to have a word with the Rune twins."
She stuttered for a moment and then nodded and jumped to her feet. “O-okay! Yeah, awesome! I mean, great, I won’t disappoint.”
Hansen glanced at her as she walked to the door, and she couldn’t read the expression on his face. “I’m glad you think so, Miss Charlotte. I’d hate to have to kill you.”
Amanda froze completely with her hand on the door. Change the subject. Say something else. He’ll get suspicious if you break down at that. He’ll know about Blake.
“Y’know, you yell a lot less in your office,” she laughed nervously.
She thought she saw a hint of a smile on his face. “It’s best to inspire fear in anyone who works for me. They don’t get too much older than their twenties, so they’re rebellious. But those kids see enough violence outside of the training room, I’d hate to be the kind of person who gives them more of it when they return home.”
Amanda took a slow breath, and nodded. So Hansen wasn’t really that bad, she thought softly. Without saying goodbye, she opened the office door and closed it gently behind her.