Mike stopped by this morning, on his way back from taking Caleb to a meeting. Not sure why Caleb couldn't drive himself today but I know that the literal handful of sleeping hours we amassed over the weekend collectively have made for a lot of slow starting on this rainy cold Monday morning.
He wanted to check in and see how I was. I told him he could call but he said he was in the neighborhood.
This was a visual inspection, not all that different from the one Lochlan gave me, or Mike would have simply called. I told him I was fine, that I would probably see him again in a couple of weeks. I gave him my five-hundred-watt smile to seal the deal so that he would see that I am eager, that I am okay. I kept my bruised wrists behind my back and I talked really fucking fast, too, but that's neither here nor there.
It was after he turned to leave that things got interesting.
He walked away down the steps but veered down the path to the driveway, ostensibly to say hello to New Jake, who is in the driveway keeping the Sunbeam motorcycle on life support every chance he gets. (Today was a day off from working with Sam, since Sam is on a little long-weekend vacation with Matt so they can sort out their hearts together in private). I am keeping one eye on Jake today and one eye on the clock because he is my next victim for giant rustic sandwiches. Today I'm plotting sprouts and swiss on rye, toasted with a side salad of tomatoes and oh fuck, nevermind. You really don't care what we're going to have for lunch, do you?
I went up to my balcony to water plants instead of watching the men. My balcony is off the master wing, the wrong side of the property. Instead of the water, it overlooks part of the driveway and the side yard. Brilliant design, really, but good for sun for my potted flowers. I'm done watering when I realize Mike is still here and that he and Jake have taken up some interesting posturing. I get as close as I can to the railing without being seen and I hear the defensiveness in Mike's voice.
No one's looking out for her here so I try and do what I can.
You don't know anything about any of us, so don't assume.
Actually you're the only one I haven't really been briefed on, Jake. Want to tell me how long you've been a hired gun?
Let's cut to the chase then. Jake smiles. I was hired to keep an eye on Bridget. Your boss knows that. He probably didn't tell you because he's so surprised I wound up living sixty feet away and he doesn't quite know what to do about that so he feigns ignorance and pretends that the story I give them holds. But in the interest of Bridget's safety, I think she should continue to think of me the way she does now.
How do you protect her when you can't shadow her moves?
That isn't required. I only keep my employer informed.
Mike is nodding, possibly deciding that Jake is not an imminent threat. He checks the clouds and then asks Jake if anything ever happens to give him a call, he can be here in minutes. Jake thinks for a minute and then nods and shakes Mike's hand. There's a brotherhood of a different sort, right there. Hired goonage.
I crawl off my balcony and in through the double doors.
Goonage indeed. I count to one hundred and then go downstairs. When I get outside the driveway is empty. The bike is locked away in the garage so I head back into the house and after a brief peek into the kitchenI find no one and so I head down the hall.
The door is closed. New Jake is in his room. I knock and he tells me Come in. I barely hear him. He is standing at the bureau testing his blood sugar. He holds up his numbers and I nod. I've learned more about managing diabetes in the past year than I ever knew growing up.
His room is so cozy. Stacked with books. Tidy, unlike most of the other boys. His messenger bag contents are laid out neatly on the desk, a clear and questionable departure from you would expect to find on an apprentice carpenter should you find one and ask him to empty his pockets. It's an everyday carry kit for urban survival, and I'm not as dumb as I look.
Jake had huge holes in his story and I didn't ask him to shine lights into them. I did my own investigations and I had my suspicions before today but I waited for him and I can't wait anymore.
Jake works for Batman. He is a spy, plain and simple. A plant, here to keep an eye on me as I exist under the dark wings of the brothers Grimm, one living, one dead, because Batman made a promise and a promise is a promise, after all.
Which explains why Caleb balked when new Jake arrived and won me over.
I just knew that new Jake, with his coincidental name and terrible habit of going days without eating properly, did not fall into my care by accident. Accidents like this don't happen. Everything's coming out, we're laying it all on the table at last. Every last secret, every swallowed feeling, every lie told in an effort to live transparently, pure. There's no other way we're going to make it. And besides, he's a lousy carpenter. Sam wouldn't have much use for that and so Sam obviously has chosen sides as well. I'll have to deal with him later.
Time to call in the beginnings of Jacob's truth.
How often does Batman pay you?
He whirls around, looking alarmed. Too late to check the expression but he tries, nontheless.
I work for Sam...A weak defense, maintaining position. This doesn't give me any reason to trust him if he's going to stand there and deny the truth. I tell him this and he smiles.
You know, he really wasn't kidding when he said you were addictive.
I roll my eyes. I need answers, not charm. I won't have strangers in my house, Jake.
I'm the safest man here, Bridget, I can guarantee you that.
I let that inalienable truth hit the floor and remain, a fixture.
What exactly are you doing, then?
You report my activities.
Yes, mostly. And the others, as necessary.
Caleb's movements as well?
Yes, if necessary.
What does Batman do with the information you give him? Is he plotting something?
You'll have to talk to him about that. I just provide the intel.
The intel. There's that word again. The last time I heard it I went on a wild goose chase to the other side of the country and set myself back a thousand years if a day.
Give him a call. Tell him you need him to stop by.
Just do it. Please. And come and find me when he arrives. I guess you'll know where I am.