Second-Hand Goods~ chapter 21

    When a man asks you to spy on his own home, there’s usually a story behind it. In Liam’s experience, the story was never worth the trouble. It was something like question seven in the bathroom book, “Questions That Should Never Be Asked EVER.” Taking this job changed all that somewhat, because if Liam was going to be sticking around in the Nair mansion for a week spying on some of the most dangerous folks in the world, he might as well know why before he got killed once or twice.

     “I suppose you want to know why we’re doing this.” Simon spoke quietly as he spread out the map of his own house.

      “That had been on my mind for the last few minutes. It just feels like a strange request coming from you. Up until now we’ve been more or less strictly business.”

     Simon looked up sharply with his right eye, registering genuine hurt, “Really, Liam, just because I’m too busy to spend much time with you doesn’t mean I see you as a cheap flunky.”

      “No, by all accounts I’m a very expensive flunky.”

     Simon rolled his left eye and groaned, “Alright, you’ve had your fun, but seriously Liam, you are my friend. I kept you at arms-length because I didn’t want you to get hurt. I guess that’s out the window now. This meeting my father called was really about the last part of the agenda, the Society for the Protection of Humankind.”

     Liam hunkered over the map with Simon, “I got the impression they’re bad news. So you want me to spy on that Adrian guy? Everyone in the room seemed pretty shook up by him, but he didn’t seem like a big deal. Just a bunch of talk.”

     “Barring my father and Jacob Rever, Adrian could have beaten everyone in that room.”

     “What about Jenny or Sam?”

     “Ha, that’s right. I forgot Samantha was there for a moment. I couldn’t honestly say who would win that fight. I would love it if you could spy on Adrian Denavi, but I doubt that you would be there long before he would kill you. Someone in the five families is helping and that’s what we need to know.”

      “So what do you need me to do?”

     “Other than the official meeting, the Family leaders are staying in the house till the end of the week, maybe a little longer, to have meetings with each other and my father. I need you to vanish and spend a little time with each family. Listen to what they have to say and report it back to me at the end of the week, sooner if needed.”

      “Simon, I won’t know what the hell they’re talking about.”

     Nodding grimly, Simon let Liam examine the map a little longer, “That’s the point. You just tell me what they said, no matter how much or little sense it makes. If you don’t know what you’re reporting, you can’t lie to me.”

      “And why would I lie to you?”

      “If you get caught, there would be…motivations.”

      Liam shuddered, “Oh.”

      “Yeah, so don’t get caught.”

     They spent the next few hours going over the map. Simon told him everything about the house. The secret passages, which guest rooms contained which family, which of the guards to look out for, vents Liam could fit into In short, he gave Liam everything a thief would need to rob a house blind or, in this case, spy on their house guests.

    Once he was done, Simon rolled up the map and tucked it back into his desk drawer. Walking to the door, he stopped and turned towards Liam one last time, “Really, Liam. Don’t get caught. I’ll expect you here in a week or so’s time, around nine at night. I’ll be here every night. Don’t knock just come in.”

    Without another word, he opened the door and slinked out into the hallway, making as little noise as possible. Liam padded softly to the door and waited for a small eternity, listening to the hallway. Footsteps passed the door at regular intervals, a patrol around the floor. Liam expected that, though. When the patrol passed the next time, he waited for a minutes and walked out into the hallway. Nobody expects an intruder to shadow the security guards. When you’re a thief or a spy, they’re the ones to follow because they tend to circle around important places like overprotective wasps with obsessive compulsive disorder.

     He followed the guards all around the floor, vanishing into dark corners when they stopped and doubled back. In the late night, nobody had bothered to leave the hall lights on, bathing corners in shadows and convenient hiding spots. Out of the four groups he was expected to spy on, only one of them was staying on the third floor, and that was the Rever family. Liam decided it was better to start with the floor that he knew than to explore the higher floor and find how lost he was while trying to work. Spying on a family renowned for their hearing would prove to be a difficult task. It would be hard to get inside their room, which meant Liam had to hope for thin walls or a duct.

    When the guards passed the guest room the Rever’s were staying in, Liam ducked into the guest room next door. It was spartan to the point of being utilitarian, only possessing a bed, and a desk with one chair. The bathroom faced the outside wall, but when Liam examined the vents, he hit pay dirt. The air vent leading into the bathroom connected to all the rooms to provide centralized heat. Since it was summer, the air conditioner was going strong on occasion, but when it wasn’t Liam could hear everything going on in both rooms on either side of him. What he heard, when he could hear the room, was nothing. Liam checked his watch. He had spent far longer between the meeting and talking with Simon than he had realized. It had gotten quite late, but surely not that late? Did people really go to bed before midnight?

     With a start, Liam realized that Revers may use hand signs when they’re in someone else’s house, in case someone like him was listening. Then, he heard a voice as clear as day.

     “I’m going out!” Thank you, Jenny Rever.

     “Where are you going?” Jacob’s voice was much quieter.

     “Out.”

     “You’re not done meditating yet.”

     “I’ll sleep later.” Liam choked back a small laugh and leaned against the wall. He had been on worse stake-outs. At least he wouldn’t be bored. The door opened and closed, leaving Jacob alone in his room. Maybe Liam spoke too soon, this could be a long wait. Jenny came across like a stray cat, she came and went whenever she felt like it. Settling down against the wall, Liam closed his eyes. Better to rest while he could, he would likely be following Jacob Rever and is daughter around the house for the next few days while they went to meetings. Drifting into a deep sleep, Liam fell into the dreamless sleep of someone expecting a long day of work.

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