image copyright: Ujin Shamoney

“Is he in?” Enora shouted over the pounding bass of intense trip-bounce song playing in the bar. Jojo looked up at her from polishing glasses below the bar and shook her head. “In that case, inform him I’m in when he returns. I’ve work to do,” she said, continuing briskly on toward the back rooms.

Bones reached in front of her and unlocked the door to the rear, waving her through. She nodded at him in courtesy. Felix shadowed him closely behind

“Mi — Bones, I want you both to stay out here. I don’t much trust Roland to keep his word,” she said curtly. “My husband will be the only guest I am to receive. Understood?”

Bones and Felix both bowed slightly and turned from the doorway as it slid shut behind them.

Enora followed the dim hallway down until she reached Silas’ door. She placed her hand on the lock until it glowed green and slid open. Inside, the squat room looked how it always had, like a dorm room, disorganized and unkempt.

Were it made of any other substance, his flat and thin plasteel desk would’ve bowed under the weight of all of the tablets, phones, and files he kept haphazardly piled upon it. The wall behind it was a flat row of overflowing bookshelves and filing cabinets.

She circled the desk and relaxed herself into the antique leather chair he so adored. She remembered the day it arrived from Ireland. She and Silas were waiting on the dock. He paid the manifest supervisor some ungodly sum to relieve him of it right then and there. “It was my father’s,” she recalled him saying, his eyes gleaming like a grade school boy’s would. “The only damned thing the sonofabitch left me in this world.”

The familiar chiming of her phone buzzed from her purse. She snapped open the clutch and there was the bright, glowing face of Declan, calling her. She slid open the call.

“What do you want?” she said, tersely, still perturbed with him from the morning’s revelations.

Declan’s sigh on the other end of the call was palpable.

“I…wanted to apologize, Nori,” he said meekly.

She couldn’t help but suck her teeth.

“You can stow your apology. I’m not in a forgiving mood, Declan.”

He went quiet again.

“I was worried,” he said. She could almost hear his lips quivering. “I was worried about you.”

She leaned forward in the chair, confused.

“Why were you worried about me?”

Another pause.

“Because you went and met with that blowhard that calls himself a boss. I just wanted to make sure you were okay.”

Enora bristled a bit at this. He must have been with Silas. Her heart always sank when she knew the two of them were in the same room. Guilt and the unease that came with it rose up in her stomach. Anger came next.

“You should be the last person who needs clarification on how clever I am,” she told him, her irritation plain in her tone.

“I know, Enora. I couldn’t help it, though. A couple of Roland’s goons were trying to shake down Old Man Hasan this morning. He nearly spiked the both of them. This is serious.”

“You haven’t the slightest clue how serious it is. I know the stakes. I was told where things stand.”

He fell silent again.

“Are you gonna share that with me or do I have to wait for my marching orders?”

“Don’t you dare be cross with me. And no, there isn’t anything I can share that will help you right now,” she lied. “We all just need to keep our heads down.”

“Yeah, yeah. I’ve already gotten that spiel once today. Listen, I gotta swing back to the apartment. I owe Ione some scratch and I’ve gotta make sure she’s not comatose. If you’re in the neighborhood…” he said slyly before trailing off.

“Maybe. May-be. I have business to attend to and you have groveling to practice,” she said, a slight smirk creeping up her cheek.

“Just be careful, Nori. Something’s up and I don’t like it,” he said. There was genuine concern his voice.

“I will, love. Take care of yourself too. Speak soon,” she spoke sweetly.

He bid her goodbye then disconnected.

I have to stop this carrying on with him. I have to end this.

“What we do in the dark…”

Just then, the door hummed and slid open. Silas stood in the doorway, almost filling it with his imposing, broad-shouldered frame. His pressed white cotton shirt sleeves were rolled tightly up to his forearms. His peach synthskin arms were pulsing.

He’s brooding, she observed.

“My love,” he said softly as he strode across the office to her, door sealing quietly behind him. Enora rose from his chair and flattened her skirt. He met her behind the desk and embraced her, gently. Raising her chin to his, he pressed his lips to hers and fanned his thumb across her cheek. Enora could hear the quiet metallic clicks of the servos in his prosthetics. He pulled back from her and stared into her eyes, his amber irises unwavering. “I’ve missed you,” he whispered lightly.

Enora shivered in his arms.

“I’ve missed you too, darling,” she said.

Why does saying that feel like such a lie?

Silas turned and collapsed into his chair.

“So, what did Uptown have to say?” he grimaced, baring his teeth.

Enora turned away, folding her arms.

“Roland assured me that his plans are already in place. They’re making a grab for your…for our territory,” she said, calmly. “He told me so as to offer us ‘mercy.’ His twisted version anyhow.”

A vicious bang startled her and she whipped around to Sila’s balled fist resting in a shallow crater on his ebony desk. She could see tears in the synthskin along the base of his palms. He pried his fist up from the crater and flexed it.

“That middling rat and his cronies think they can squeeze me out? And what the bloody hell for? The fuck else did he say?” Silas barked. The veins in his neck pulsed wildly.

Enora leaned over the desk, bringing her face close, and placed her hand on his.

“He told me things were going to get ‘inhospitable’ and that we should flee the city,” she whispered.

“Spineless bastard!” Silas shouted, shaking the desk with his fist again. “What the hell as he got moving? We need to find him out,” he cursed, springing up from behind the desk. He loomed over her and placed his hands lovingly at her chin, and tilted her head up to his. “I won’t let some limey prick on a power play make threats at my wife and tell me my neighborhood belongs to him.” He kissed her wildly and cradled her head within his hands.

Enora embraced him in kind, but desperately held tears behind her eyes. Fear welled up in her gut. Her mind began to spiral but she could not center on what his next course of action might be. In that moment, she only was sure of a single thing:

He would burn the entire city the ground to keep me.