Chapters 17, 18, & 19

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Chapter 17

December 8, 2000

"Savior is here sir," the man with the assault rifle muttered when he peaked around the door.

Horace Castile glanced up at the interruption, seemingly perturbed until the name rang a bell in his head.

"Really?" he exclaimed then, "Send him in!"

Hearing the exchange from the hallway, I pushed past the guard and into the study.

"Monte!" Castile shouted excitedly when he spied what was on the leash in my hand. Pushing himself to his feet, he quickly made his way around the desk and strode toward me, dropping to his knees when he reached the canine.

"Oh my God, Monte!"

His hands were cuffed around the dog's head as the Bluetick happily licked the man's face.

Looking up at me, I noticed that his glasses had been knocked askew...and that a tear was making its way down his cheek.

"How did you find her?" he implored before his face darkened. "Who did this to me?"

"I think we should sit down Mr. Castile, I have a lot to tell you...or would you prefer Mr. Aiken?"

***

"So you know," the man said after a few seconds.

Pushing himself to his feet, he took the leash from me and started toward his desk with Monte in tow.

"Have a seat Mr. Savior," he called back over his shoulder. "Can I offer you anything?"

"Coffee would be great," I replied as I sat in the same chair I had weeks before.

Nodding, he picked up his phone and punched a button.

"Brownie, would you mind bring coffee for two into the office?"

Nodding at the response of whoever he had called, he then set the receiver down without another word.

Taking his own seat, he then settled his soulful eyes on me.

"I'm not sure how I feel about you knowing my identity Mr. Savior. I had purposely kept my name from Timepiece as a matter of security."

Annoyance flashed through me for a second before I reined it in.

"Let me assure you that our discovery of your true identity has and will stay within our group alone. Once we realized however that this couldn't be a simple theft, it was imperative to learn who we were dealing with. It was, in point of fact, who you are that led to Monte's abduction."

I had his attention now, but our conversation was interrupted by a knock at the door.

"Enter," Aiken called out while his eyes continued to rest on me.

"You coffee sir," the man entering the room uttered succinctly, the same man I had seen briefly in the hallway on my first trip here.

The butler or whoever he was set the coffee service on the side table before bowing and leaving the room.

Aiken stood and moved toward the service. "You take anything in your coffee Mr. Savior?"

"Black's fine," I replied as I watched him pour two cups of the steaming brew. Setting down the pot, he then lifted one of the cups and moved toward me, the cup and saucer shaking slightly along with his hands.

He then lifted his own cup and moved back to his seat at the desk while Monte took the opportunity to lay her head on his lap.

I sipped at the strong coffee while I waited for him to speak.

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