It was a gorgeous day. Spring had sprung, the park was abloom, and everyone was trying like hell to get laid, from the birds, bees and educated fleas to the skate punks down by the fountain. Even sun-sensitive Vicki was rocking some skin, enjoying the frequent "What's up?" looks from boys a little too young for her.
The cell phone in her left hip pocket chirped an IM alert. Not the phone in her right pocket registered to Ms. Victoria Tam (taxpayer, daughter of Amy and Peter) but the prepaid, untraceable one. She smiled slyly, pulse quickening, but cautious habit steered her into a nearby crowd. Someone might be watching. She looked around, pulled out her phone and flipped it open.
curious_joe: u r a hard 1 2 find
That was meant to impress her, but it was getting a little stale as an opener. Vicki needed to know if this person was (a) a potential client, (b) some noob looking to chat her up and then brag about it to his friends, or (c) someone altogether more dangerous. She bit her lip and thumbed a reply.
rikku: what do u want?
curious_joe: r u a black hat?
Hmm A noob, then. But the beautiful day had her feeling charitable, so she found a bench near the fountain and played along.
rikku: idk, what is that?
curious_joe: r u that rikku?
Yeah, Vicki was a black hat. Just not in the popular sense, i.e., some kind of computer criminal. She got messages every week from people who wanted her to write a virus, or break into their company networks. The misconception actually served her pretty well. The noise about Rikku Iris the Badass Hacker that hissed around her online life drowned out what she really got up to in her spare time.
rikku: computer hax0r???
curious_joe: r u???
rikku: what if I am? eg
curious_joe: job if u want
Her stomach rumbled, demanding a gyro. This guy wasn't really going to do anything to help her pay for it.
rikku: i dont hack computers
rikku: SOZ L8
Vicki stood up, but he wasn't through with her.
curious_joe: yeah u hack girls
Suddenly Vicki wasn't sure she wanted to be having this chat out in public. There were people in this town that wanted to make her dead. Or worse. Shields at maximum, she insinuated herself into another crowd, next to two coeds deeply involved in texting, maybe even with each other.
rikku: dood what do u want?
curious_joe: which 1 of those girls r u?
Vicki tried not to freeze, or look around. She just pretended to keep typing, until the other girls began to eye her with silent hostility.
curious_joe: im here on a job
curious_joe: and shes almost here
curious_joe: and I wanna mc u 2
Vicki swallowed hard and walked as casually as she could to the subway station. Once down the steps, she hauled ass for the ticket machines.
As usual, the city was trying to piss Susan off. The first warm day of the year had the subway station smelling like eight different kinds of ass. Impatient people rudely brushed past her, like the Chinese girl with the great legs who almost knocked her down. Some of the guys bumping into her weren't really doing it because they were in a hurry. But Susan had spent a lazy day off downtown, and now she was taking her new sandals home. She decided to leave the bitchiness to everyone else.
She ducked into a hole-in-the-wall convenience store to get out of the strong rush hour tide, grabbed an OJ and a Power Bar, along with a cigarette lighter featuring a cute turtle. Susan didn't smoke - she just liked turtles. She bought a ticket home, then rode the escalator down to the platform, hugging the right side as people whizzed by her on the left.
Hilariously, she ended up standing right next to the Chinese girl who'd been in such a rush earlier, only to wait here impatiently until Susan wandered up, sucking on her OJ, giving her a little smile. It took the girl a long minute to notice Susan was looking at her, and when she did, she walked all the way down to the other end of the platform.
Her hair was caught in a sudden breeze: the train was coming. A crowd gathered around her as everyone moved toward the platform's edge. She heard the distant squeal of wheels on rails. The oil-scented wind gave her goose bumps, and she wished she'd brought along a hoodie.
Susan, like thousands of other women in the city, had been stricken with a particular strain of spring fever that morning. As she'd stuck her head outside, grown-up Susan had evaporated. Giddy from the warm sunshine that kissed her face, she'd dug through her stuff until she'd found sandals, a denim mini and peach tube top. Susan's inner 10-year-old was disappointed that she couldn't find anything with ponies on it, but had grudgingly allowed her to walk out the door.
The train's brakes shrieked as it burst out of the tunnel, the noise and wind reaching a disorienting peak. At that moment, Susan felt a curious woosh, like her head was a teapot coming to a boil. Her knees gave way as she began to faint, but a cold hand gripped her very firmly by the arm, keeping her from spilling right on her ass. She was vaguely aware of the frozen, dumb look on her face as the train's doors hissed open and the crowd surged forward. The hand on her arm moved forward too, and there she was, shuffling along helpfully. She hadn't told her feet to do that.
Someone put something around her neck, and she tried to blink herself awake, but the dizziness returned in spades. The next thing she knew, the train was moving and she was sitting down.
"Here's your iPod back, sweetie," someone said. Big hands pressed scratchy things into her ears, then set the music player on her lap. The current song was called "Instructions for Susan."
No one seemed to be paying the least bit of attention to her, or to the stranger sitting next to her pretending to be her boyfriend or whatever. She wanted to look at him, but somehow the headphone cords kept her from turning her head. Then the song started.
"Susan Graff, you will listen carefully to these instructions." The voice was male. Bored, like a doctor's. "You will sit where you are until the train reaches Little Hill Station. I'll be wearing a Georgia Tech baseball hat and I'll say, 'Susan we'd better get a move on or we're going to be late.' You will come with me and obey without question. You will come with me and obey without question."
There were other instructions, but she was supposed to forget them, for now. She felt a thunk, which turned out to be her head bonking against the glass behind her.
"Now Susan, if you understand, remove your headphones and say, 'I like that song, honey.'"
Susan pulled the earbuds out. "I like that song, honey," she mumbled.
The stranger collected the iPod as the train reached the next stop. Then he was gone.
She sat there like an idiot and no one noticed. She was frozen and everyone else was all time-lapse, rushing around her like she didn't exist. Susan recalled vaguely that Little Hill was three stops after hers, and before long the train was there and the doors were opening. Somehow she forced herself to scan the new people trickling into the car, zeroing in on the guy with the Georgia Tech cap, just like she'd been told.
He was older, with salt-and-pepper hair and a neatly trimmed beard. He seemed excited to see her. "Susan, we'd better get a move on or we're going to be late!" he exclaimed, not at all like he'd said it on the recording.
Susan raised her hand so he could help her up. Then she said the most retarded thing.
"I will come with you and obey without question."
For three stops, Mel tried to ignore it. After all, this was what could get her fired. Her superiors had read her the riot act and her colleagues had called her a nutjob. So she tried it on: what if she was wrong? What if the strikingly beautiful Jewish girl at the back of the car who normally got off at Cedar Heights was just tired? And what if the weird Asian girl in the next car wasn't alternating between snapping pictures of the sleepy Jewish girl and kind of leering at her?
But Mel took this train home all the time, and she'd seen this kid around. That bald guy had made her listen to something, before he vanished. Now she looked unresponsive. Vulnerable. And the Asian girl was done taking photos, but she seemed to be hanging around to see what happened next.
Mel decided that she would too. Maybe the train would roll into Little Hill and the sleepy girl would shake her head and wander off to meet some friends at a trendy little restaurant.
Or, Mel could go back there and see if she was okay. That would be sensible, sane and perfectly appropriate. But she was pretty sure what was coming, and she had to see it for herself.
Not many people at the Little Hill stop. The doors whooshed open and a few passengers boarded. Then a man in a Georgia Tech baseball cap waved at the sleepy girl and called her by name. Susan.
Mel held her breath and listened very carefully.
Susan didn't snap out of it, didn't smile back at him in recognition. She raised her hand like she needed help standing. Her lips moved and Mel strained to hear.
" will obey you completely."
Mel stood up. The older man took Susan's hand and led her off the train. Mel took the forward exit, tracking them. Susan shuffled along with him, blinking slowly, listening as he whispered into her ear. Occasionally she seemed to parrot things back to him.
It was the first time she'd seen this with her own eyes. The girl was hypnotized and the man was kidnapping her. She wasn't crazy and it was all true. It was the most obvious thing in the world and no one else took notice. Susan needed help, but if Mel fucked this up she was going to be out of a job, so she decided to follow them up to the street before making her move. Maybe Susan would wake the hell up by then.
She didn't even try to hide that she was following, and stood directly behind them on the escalator. Now she could eavesdrop.
"Are you still feeling tired, Susan?"
"Y-yes. Where are we going?"
"Let's go somewhere you can relax, okay? Would you like that?"
"Yes. Somewhere I can sit down."
"Of course. We'll go somewhere quiet where we can have a nice, relaxing talk."
"What will you do, Susan?"
"I will come with you and obey without question."
"I have a question," Mel growled, pulling the man's arm behind his back with one hand, flipping her badge open in front of his face with the other. "What the fuck are you doing to her?"
The crowd made an immediate police-hole around them. Susan was still oblivious when the escalator delivered them to the street level, so Mel let go of the man and steadied her before she fell on her face. Mel managed to pull her piece as the perp spun around to face her.
"Hey, what the hell, lady?" he demanded, in a booming radio voice.
"Shut it!" Mel ordered, taking aim at his chest. "Susan? Honey, wake up!"
A little shaking did the trick. She blinked several times before focusing on Mel with a puzzled frown. "What station is this?"
"Okay, miss? You're going to be fine," Mel soothed. "Can you stay right here for me?"
A crowd had gathered. They watched the lady cop point her gun at the older man, and watched the dazed young lady recover her senses, and they formed certain conclusions. "Hey officer, you need help with this asshole?" one particularly big guy asked. Others moved in protectively around the girl, so Mel could devote her full attention to the asshole in question.
"I got it," she assured. "Turn around!" she told him.
He was full of the usual bluster. "I don't know what you think you saw, but you couldn't be more mistaken. Just ask her!"
Mel cuffed him. "You're under arrest for attempted kidnapping. How about you just come with me and obey without question?"
"Do you want to move to Somewhere else?" Penny asked.
Olivia kissed her, brushed her hair from her face. Looked her in the eye. Penny suddenly felt small. "Are you asking me if I want to go to your room?" Her smile said that the ball was in Penny's court.
Penny bit her lip and tasted Olivia. This was happening pretty fast, but she was afraid it would stop if she didn't keep rushing it along. So she nodded.
Olivia pulled Penny down from her perch on the arm of the sofa. "C'mere. Your butt must be asleep." Olivia rubbed her shoulders, and the attention made Penny even more self-conscious. "This is Honey this is nice, but I get the feeling you don't really know what you're doing."
Penny laughed, caught herself before it could turn into embarrassed sobbing. "Are you saying I'm a lousy kisser?"
"No," Olivia answered, voice dipping low, "I'm asking you why we're making out, straight girl."
"I'm sorry!" Penny said. "I don't know why I jumped you like that." Which was a big fat lie: Olivia was funny and supportive and sultry and gorgeous. She tried again. "I mean You know, two minutes after you got here, before we even left for dinner."
She'd moved into this building three months earlier, after a disastrous, aborted engagement. Her father had rented the place for her, told her to take as long as she needed to get it together. Olivia had moved in across the hall a month later, following a nasty breakup of her own. They'd taken to each other immediately.
Now here they were.
Olivia stroked her hair. "Penelope " Penny loved hearing Olivia say it almost as much as she hated hearing it from everyone else. "You really want me to be your rebound? Maybe you should go out tonight and get yourself some nice man candy."
Penny swallowed. The idea was so totally not like making out with Olivia that she couldn't bear to respond.
Olivia's fingers found Penny's chin and pulled, and then she was gazing into lovely big brown eyes as Olivia said, "Okay. You made your move. I'm just making sure you meant it."
Penny smiled, hoping it didn't come off as crazy and desperate as she felt. "Yeah. I meant it."
Eyes sparkling, Olivia picked up the wine glass she'd been reaching for when Penny had tackled her, and took a big sip. "Do you still want to grab a bite? Or should we order in?"
Before Penny could lead Olivia to her bed, her phone rattled on the coffee table, propelled in slow circles by vibrate mode. This time of night, it had to be work. She picked up the phone but didn't recognize the number. "Fuck it," she decided.
Olivia grabbed it from her. "I'm not going anywhere, cutie pie." She answered the call. "Hi! Penny Crabtree's phone."
Penny pretended to be annoyed. When Olivia didn't notice, she mouthed Who is it?
"Yes. Of course," Olivia said, suddenly all business. She gave Penny a serious look. "Would you like to speak with her, Doctor Crabtree? She's right here. Well okay. I'll tell her."
"Oh my God! Was that my dad?" asked Penny, seized by the childish fear that her father would instantly know what she and Olivia had just been up to.
"Yeah," Olivia said, putting the phone down. She seemed to be considering her next words very carefully.
"Livvy, what happened? Tell me."
She shook her head. "Um, I'm not sure. Your dad's been arrested and he needs you to come down to the station."
It was good to be home. Vicki shut the door and turned all three deadbolts. The afternoon's events had her shaking from equal parts exhilaration and fear for her life. She peeled off her sweaty tee, tossed it over the back of the couch, grabbed a beer and made a beeline for her desk.
Once logged in to her laptop, she summoned a browser and went to a page buried in an off-brand social networking site. This horrifying travesty of design and bad HTML was entitled "Hotties About Town," and it featured JPEGs of (mostly beautiful) local people getting in taxis, coming out of clubs and generally going about their business.
Vicki pulled out her phone and brought up the pictures she'd taken on the train. The clearest one featured a tall, skinny girl with long brown hair and great boobs, staring off into space. Vicki smiled. She was going to have to hold onto that one. She scrolled down the web page until she found another picture of the same girl, coming out of an apartment building, dressed like she was going to work at an office. Her skirt was too short. Or maybe her legs were just long. Either way, Vicki bit her lip.
The caption read "Susan Graff ---> Helicon Apartments, # 133."
So she had just seen her first snatch-and-grab, and the snatcher had been hunting her in the park. Vicki had just about crapped herself in her rush to get out of there, and after getting off the train she'd taken a long, whimsical route home. But she wasn't being hypnotized in a dark basement somewhere, which meant he probably hadn't made her. Probably.
The "Hotties About Town" site was updated weekly from a secret list distributed to a circle of professionals like the big bald dude on the train. And someone inside that circle maintained this website. Someone more aligned with Vicki's interests, who might be dead any day for leaking this shit.
Susan was on this list because someone wanted her brainwashed, which was very expensive and involved several highly skilled criminals Who Wished To Remain Anonymous. Most people didn't even think brainwashing was for real, in large part because everyone involved Wished To Remain Anonymous. Even subjects who managed to escape kept it to themselves, because of people like Vicki.
She didn't know how to brainwash people any more than she knew brain surgery. But she and others like her knew how to hack someone once the work had been done. She specialized in hacking girls and selling them to her own clients. This tended to piss off some dangerous people, but for every rich perv that could afford to put a contract out on a girl like Susan, there were a hundred with enough scratch to make it worth Vicki's while to do her thing. The trick was in finding subjects, and staying off the radar, lest she end up dead, or someone's mindless, grinning sex toy.
So Vicki had risked shadowing Susan on the train, to see who showed up to collect her and follow them. If she could put eyes on his workshop, that meant more data on subjects, which meant more money.
But no one on that train had anticipated the lady cop. She'd definitely fucked up everyone's plans for Susan, and was no doubt on her way to being featured on "Hotties About Town." After all, she was shit hot. And she was in for a big disappointment, because Susan probably wouldn't remember ever setting foot on that train, much less her hypnotic submission to some creepy stranger. No, the arrest would fall apart, and anyone charged with Susan's attempted kidnapping would be free to try another day.
Vicki ran a finger down the monitor, tracing Susan's legs. She'd be there when it happened.
"You miss Narcotics or something, Detective Vorus?"
"No, Captain," Mel sighed.
"Miss walking the beat?"
Captain Ingram usually chewed out people without ever raising his voice, or even moving. Seated behind his desk, he delivered his verbal lashings matter-of-factly, sometimes even genially, as the recipient of his ire went pale and tried not to shit himself until he was finished. Tonight he leaned across his desk and locked eyes with her. "Then you must just hate having a job."
She blushed hotly. "Of course not!"
"Then Melanie, you'd better explain to me why we're sitting here doing this again."
"Captain, I know what I saw."
Ingram nodded. "You saw a young woman get hypnotized somehow by a tall bald man, who then left her alone, so that a respected doctor in the community could do What?"
"I don't know, I stopped him before he could hurt her!"
"You stopped him before a crime was committed, a crime that no one not even the alleged victim was even aware of, except you. Do you have superpowers, Vorus?"
"Susan was hypnotized. Of course she didn't know what was happening! That was the point!" It was a bad idea to lose her temper, but Mel was over it. "And there was a station full of witnesses."
"Those people saw a cop draw on a man with a young woman who looked confused. They connected the damned dots!"
"I saved that girl," Mel insisted, stabbing the air with her finger.
"You're seeing shit that isn't there," Ingram snapped back. "Susan Graff says she zoned out on the train and missed her stop. She says she asked the doctor what station it was, that he never even touched her."
"There was another girl there. She took pictures. If I could run down her address-"
Ingram pounded his desk, causing Mel to flinch. "Nobody's running anything down! We don't have a complaint, and I'm cutting Crabtree loose before his lawyer gets here. You'd better pray he doesn't sue."
Mel fell silent, stinging from defeat.
Ingram leaned back in his seat, sensing her embarrassment. "You know, when you first came here I looked at your little movie star face, and I said, 'This can't be the same Melanie Vorus as the one in the file. She can't be that good. She won't last a week with my guys.' But I decided to give you a shot, because you were the same age as my Regina. You didn't take shit from anybody, and you closed some tough cases.
"But this slave ring BS of yours There are no documented cases. No arrests. No witnesses. Just a bunch of fool websites and internet crazies. Kiddo, this is your third false arrest over this shit."
Mel just looked at her lap.
His tone softened to one that couldn't be overheard outside. "Did something happen to you? When you were younger? Maybe you need to talk to somebody about it?"
Mel shook her head. "No, Captain."
"Okay." He took off his glasses and rubbed his eyes: he was done with her. "You're on desk duty until I get tired of hearing you type. Go home, get some sleep."
She closed his door as quietly as she could on the way out. Eyed her desk and sighed, trying to keep it buttoned up as every detective in the room watched her. Most of them wanted her gone, and they'd be mad as hell to find out she was still around even to push paper.
Across the room, they were releasing Doctor Crabtree from the pen. She briefly considered ducking out the stairwell, but there was a young woman here to meet him a Waspy, buff little blonde with a perfect nose. Prada bag. Expensive shoes. Then Mel saw the resemblance.
He moved in to hug her and Mel stifled the urge to retch. She stood there shaking as all her colleagues watched. The daughter was a prop, to show he was a pillar of the community who didn't hypnotize young girls. Mel wondered if Captain Ingram was watching. Why didn't Crabtree just call his lawyer? Why front like this?
Her pulse quickened. He must not have been sure that Mel's case against him would fall apart so quickly. He had no idea that Mel had cried wolf one too many times, and he'd been sweating. She clenched her fists as she fantasized about getting him in the interrogation room.
His daughter was looking at her now. Officer Harris was ritually apologizing to her, but she was glaring at Mel, who saw the briefcase and realized that the daughter was Crabtree's lawyer. She'd seen Mel come out of the captain's office, noted the chilly temperature in the room, and now she was listening to Harris explain Mel away as the proverbial loose cannon. So the stare was a triumphant challenge: You're the weirdo here. No one believes you and no one will listen to you. Taking a deep breath, Mel replied with a withering size-up gaze of her own, from the steely blue eyes, to the expensive heels, then back. Then she looked at every detective in the room, drinking in their contempt.
"Well fuck each and every one of you," she told them.
Penny rolled her eyes again as they reached the police station lobby. Of all the people that bitch detective could've accused of, of She couldn't even bring herself to think of the words in the police report, but of all the people Her dad! The esteemed Doctor Richard Crabtree, neurologist at Saint Joseph's Hospital, kidnapping young women... The goofiest, most harmless man she knew: her daddy
She held open the precinct door for him. "No bail, no charges, no problem. How's that?"
He threw his jacket over his shoulder and stepped out into the warm evening air. Penny smiled at his baseball cap, t-shirt and jeans. Dad was the kind of guy who wore a tie to dinner in his own house, but here he was, dressed like he was headed down to the hardware store on a Saturday, and Penny was the one in the power suit. He took a deep, relieved breath and put his arm around her as they walked to the curb. "That's my girl. Listen, I can't thank you enough for dropping everything to come down here and-"
"Not another word, guy who put me through law school," Penny laughed, wanting to stay far away from what she'd dropped to come down here. "And speaking of, you really don't have to keep paying my rent, Daddy."
He'd been trying to hail a cab, but now he just smiled down at her. "You always loved that part of town, and I've got more money than I know what to do with."
"But the apartment's so big "
"Can't a guy just spoil his little girl rotten? At least until you meet your next Prince Charming?"
Penny blushed, putting her hand over her mouth as she giggled nervously. She hoped she was coming off more like "Aw daddy, you're embarrassing me!" than "I just made out with my first girl!"
Dr. Crabtree's big hand brushed her cheek. "Good. Now sweetie, I've got to get back to things, so I'll let you get back to your evening." He signaled a cab, gave her a quick hug.
She laughed. "Look at you! You're in a big hurry. You can't even have a beer with your lawyer after she springs you out of the joint?"
He was already piling into the back seat. "Sorry, my dear. I wasn't really planning to get arrested, you know. And I've got innocent young girls to prey on," he revealed with a wink.
Penny was livid. "That's so not funny. At least wait until you're a few miles from the police station before you start making jokes!"
But the cab was already pulling away. He blew her a kiss as she shook her head. Then she remembered the beautiful brunette waiting for her in her apartment.
Again with the phone. It had been ringing at 10 minute intervals all night, each call a freaked out friend or relative wanting to know if she was okay. Apparently Randy Kessler whom she'd known since the third grade had seen her little misadventure on the train. By dinnertime everyone in her life knew about it. Her poor, sweet grandmother had even heard that Susan had been mugged. Now it was 11:00 and she'd lost count of the number of times she'd been forced to tell the story. That twitchy detective had really effed up her day. Susan grabbed a bottle of wine on her way to the phone, vowing to turn it off after this call.
First there was nothing. Then there was a click. She rolled her eyes, thinking it was another telemarketer. Wasn't she on the Do Not Call list? Before she could hang up, there was a musical chime. Her onyx choker throbbed against her neck, like a cell phone set to vibrate. Which was confusing, because her phone was against her ear, and she was already on a call. Equally confusing was the fact that she didn't own an onyx choker, but there she was, watching herself play with it in the mirror.
Detective Melanie said that Susan had been hypnotized, that some man had been taking her off to who knew where. Susan had sworn that it wasn't true. She vividly recalled waking up on the train and realizing that she'd slept through her stop, then asking some guy for directions. Next thing she knew, Melanie was arresting him and scaring the shit out of her. But now she was just standing in her kitchen with her phone to her ear, waiting. For what? There was no one on the line. If someone could do this to her over the phone in her own home, they could probably make her forget all about that, too. Detective Vorus suddenly didn't seem so crazy.
"Susan, are you nice and relaxed now?" asked an eerily familiar voice.
"Yes," she admitted, wanting very much to close her eyes.
"I'm glad. Can you get your purse?"
It was on the kitchen table. She picked it up. "Okay."
"Excellent. Leave your apartment. Stay on the line."
Susan blinked. What was she doing in the lobby of her building? She started to turn around and go back upstairs.
"Susan, step outside. A man will ask you if you're headed to the book signing. You will tell him that you are. Then you'll hang up and do whatever he asks. Understand?"
"Evening!" said a tall man standing by the curb. "Headed to the book signing?"
Susan folded up her phone. "Yes, I'm going to the book signing." She was so tired. What was she doing outside?
The man opened the sliding door of a black van. "This way, miss "
She was supposed to do whatever he asked.
"Are you still cool?" Olivia wanted to know.
Penny was anything but cool, temperature-wise. The second Penny returned, Olivia had undressed her, then asked if she was cool. Then Olivia had undressed herself and asked if she was cool. Then they had rolled around in Penny's bed for an hour, after which Olivia had asked if Penny was cool. And now, furiously strumming Penny's clitoris, Olivia was asking if she was cool.
Penny started to answer, but her body had ideas of its own. "Oh my God!" she declared to the world, as she rode her first girl-on-girl orgasm all the way home. Olivia nuzzled her neck and shook the cramps out of her sticky hand.
When Penny's breathing evened out a little, she rose up on her elbow and regarded the Peruvian bombshell in her bed.
"Are you-" Olivia began.
Penny put her finger on Olivia's lips and laughed. "Yes I'm still cool!" Her stomach grumbled, reminding her that somewhere between seducing her neighbor and getting her father out of jail, dinner had fallen by the wayside. "Hey, you hungry?"
Olivia grabbed Penny's wrists and pulled. After 15 minutes of making out, she came to a decision. "Yeah, I'm starving. Who delivers this late?"
"There's a pizza joint on Cleveland Street," Penny began, wondering whether to make the joke.
"If I feel like eating pie?" Olivia finished for her, rolling her eyes. "Weak." Then she rolled over and opened the top drawer of Penny's nightstand.
"Are you looking for a menu in there?" Penny asked, amused at Olivia's boldness.
"I just want to show you this," she mumbled, digging around in the drawer.
Penny laughed. "You want to show me something out of my own nightstand?"
"Yeah. Check it out."
Olivia showed it to her. Penny couldn't tell what it was, but her eyes closed. She sighed as her head lolled on her pillow.
Fingers tapped her cheek. Penny stirred, wiped her lips and opened her eyes. Olivia was showing something to her. She frowned, wondering why she was drifting off again.
Fingers tapped her cheek. Penny stirred, wanting five more minutes. It took forever to open her eyes. Olivia was showing something to her, but she couldn't stay awake long enough to see.
Fingers tapped her cheek. Penny moaned a soft complaint. She really didn't want to wake up. There was no way she could get her eyes open.
"Are you deeply hypnotized now, Penelope?" Olivia inquired.
What a strange question. She surprised herself by knowing the answer. "Uh-huh."
To Be Continued