27: PARTY CRASHER

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[ BACK TO RISK ]

Finding Gray's beach house was easier than I'd anticipated it being.

Beaching the speedboat was also easier than I'd anticipated, but that was a subject I was not going to breach because Gunner had been a little displeased when the force of our impact with the shore had thrown him from the boat, into the sand.

(I'd kind of cackled at his misfortune.)

Trekking toward Gray's house on the beach was easy. I was considering overcomplicating the entire matter of getting into the house, when I decided I had had far too complicated of a day already, and so I said "Screw it," before marching myself up to the front door.

Gunner wasn't pleased by that decision, either. He was protesting and almost shouting, "Risk, I swear--"

Before I knocked on the door, planted my hands on my hips, and waited. I could hear Gunner rush up behind me, no doubt with the intent of dragging me away from it, but before he could reach me, the door swung open.

There Rebel stood with a wide grin on his face, Gray's familiar figure lurking just behind him. "About time," Rebel chided teasingly, ushering me inside.

"Risk," Gray greeted before I could conjure a sarcastic retort for Rebel. He smiled primly at me before looking past me and granting Gunner a similar nod. "Gunner. I'm glad to see you've both made it here in one piece -- and without your tails."

"I'm just happy to crash the party, Gray," I smirked up at him, striding into the house without delay. "Tails bar none," I said over my shoulder once Rebel fell into step beside me.

Gunner remained just a few steps behind me, speaking to Gray about matters which I did not bother listening to. Instead I was quick to address my partner.

"Allies?" I asked under my breath, already assessing the interior of the building as we moved.

It was, as expected, bare of any personal belongings. The warm brown walls had no pictures, and no furniture lined the hall. One of the large rooms I glimpsed into as we walked was empty of most everything, save a few large black boxes that I assumed had weaponry stored within them.

The house itself was gorgeous. The architecture was of high-end taste, with grand ceilings and intricate carvings on the supporting beams. It was nothing less than what I had learned to expect from Gray.

"Five," Rebel answered, nodding toward a room we were approaching. "All new. Though I already know you're going to hate one of them," he murmured.

Nothing else could be said before we were within the aforementioned room. This, unlike the rest of the household, had furniture. Three blasé couches were staggered about the room, mostly facing a wall that was covered in images and documents with pushpins and tape. I ignored the mess of information that the wall presented, instead focusing on those within the room.

The first individual I laid eyes on -- aside from the fleeting, amused smile I granted Sergeant and Legion -- was a woman with dark hair that was tied back tightly, her golden eyes glaring at me like I had personally executed her family.

My response was a wide, devilish smile that by no means reached my eyes. I spoke through my teeth, too quiet to be heard by any but Rebel; "Is that her?"

Rebel hummed in what sounded like amused agreement before he stepped up toward the entirety of the room, waving toward myself and Gunner. "This is my partner," he still stayed close to me, "Risk. And this is Gunner." He turned toward me then, green eyes shining in plain humor now as he winked at me before beginning to introduce everyone else.

"This is Charlotte," he purposefully pointed at the dark haired woman, who made no move to greet me. "Ilga," he continued, waving toward a woman who greeted me in Russian.

"Pleasure," she said shortly.

"Rashid," this man nodded respectfully, looking between Rebel and I cautiously as he did so.

"Elliot," he smiled in a friendly enough manner, though like my smile before, it didn't completely reach his eyes.

"And Desmond," Rebel finished, nodding at a young redhead.

I resisted the urge to frown at the obvious youth of Desmond, instead nodding promptly. He was visibly fidgeting, toggling one of the zippers on his pants, and made eye contact with me for only a half second before quickly looking back down.

"Nice to meet you all," Gunner said politely. He had already inserted himself on the couch with Sergeant and Legion, and though his words were kind enough, his features betrayed the same suspicion I felt.

"And you as well," Elliot said pleasantly. He glanced at me carefully then, his light blue eyes making contact with my own dark ones before he allowed an easy smile to lift his lips. "Gray has only good things to say of all of you."

What I intended to be a smile came off more as a sneer. "Now I know you're lying," I said in a falsely sweet tone.

Gray chuckled at that, but Charlotte spoke before he could. "He isn't, actually," she said shortly, her cutting gaze unforgiving as we engaged in a stare down. "Gray seems to consider all of you to be perfect. It's almost sickening, actually."

"Charlotte . . ." Gray began to say, an edge of warning present in his voice. I recognized it because of familiarity alone; he liked to try reigning everyone in at some point or another.

"No, no," I interrupted quickly, taking a half step closer to Charlotte. "Go on. I'd love to hear what you have to say, what with your vast knowledge of LASAR, how the system worked . . . who all of us are." My smile widened, the ferocity in it increasing. "Please, continue."

Poor girl was either stupid, or brave. In her case, I was betting on a twisted case of both -- the likes of which, in the field, would get one killed. 

"He seems to think you can do no wrong," Charlotte said, her voice expertly void of emotion. "I just have to say, I'm not sure how that could be possible, what with learning what I have about your histories." She straightened then, brushing her palms across her pants as she took a daring step toward me. "Then again, I suppose it could make sense, what with you being his pets and all."

"Oh, Risky," Sergeant practically sang, "this one has a death wish!"

"Apparently," Rebel agreed from beside me, glaring Charlotte down as he spoke.

Charlotte cocked one too-manicured brow at me, a wicked smile tugging at her lips. "What, the great Risk can't speak for herself?" she taunted, taking that one more step closer to me.

Several different people said "Charlotte," at once then, but none of them had the capacity to make a difference any more. No, enough shots had been fired, and I was over-wired from the most recent events.

Had I had less constant build-up (and perhaps more sleep) I would've reacted physically. Instead, I expelled a forceful amount of telekinetic energy and shoved her straight off her feet and into the informational wall behind her. She hit it with a loud thud, though I hardly heard the impact what with the blood roaring in my ears, and it took Rebel's familiar grasp on my wrists to draw me back to reality before I could do the woman any further harm.

Warm green eyes searched mine intensely, checking to see if I was all right, but it was that flicker of a smile that drew a proud smile of my own out of me.

Though the exasperated look from Gray . . . that, I could've done without.

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