Almost as soon as James walked out the door, his phone rang.
"Prez!" said a voice, as soon as he clicked the call on. "Prez!"
"Yeah, yeah! Wassup, wassup?"
"Why are you saying everything twice?"
"Something good happen?"
"Yeah! I called 'n you answered."
In the background, James could hear a more moderate voice.
"Okay, okay! Sorry!" Casey said, voice coming into the phone sideways. "Kana says I'm bein too Gregorian."
"Yeah. Anyway, come visit, 'kay?"
James could hear Kanade's voice again in the background.
"O-kay," Casey said, sideways again. "Kana says to ask if you're busy first. So, like, are ya? Busy?"
"Sweeeeet." Her golden halo of hair and brilliant grin almost poured through the speakers. "We're at the studio so come listen, 'kay? 'Kay?"
When James arrived, Julia was in the observation booth with headphones on, hands gliding over the mixing gear. She had effected a Sara-like transformation; band manager mode didn't require leather or longbow. In khakis and blouse she looked almost disturbingly normal, notwithstanding the mass of raven hair that fell all the way to the base of her chair.
Kanade and Casey came out of the recording area.
"I know, right," Casey said, following his gaze to Julia. "Juju's so domestic today."
Casey's gauntlets were not in evidence, but the just-got-back-from-the-gym look was fully intact. She tossed her hair and a few droplets of sweat sailed off.
"You guys must be hard at work," James said, as Kanade came forward with a water bottle in hand. Virtual refreshment: how did that work?
"Casey's been ... as Casey as usual." Kanade smiled.
"I got pumped up 'cause the Prez was comin." Casey took Kanade's bottle, draining it in a huge gulp. "Dang, that's good. Oh man, I'm so hype today." She picked up her hot pink electric guitar. "Let's rock!"
"You can sit in the booth," Kanade said, to James. "Julia won't mind."
"Are you sure it's alright?"
"Why wouldn't it be?"
"I got chased out last time."
Casey threw an arm around Kanade and flashed a huge smile. "She was just shy 'n stuff. Y'all musta done somethin way more embarrassin by now anyway."
Kanade turned bright red and James coughed and scratched the back of his head. Casey's eyes expanded to the size of party platters.
"No way, really? Oh, man. Oh man! Oh ... man." Casey began muttering to herself in a rhyme scheme, perhaps spontaneously generating a new song out of shock.
"Don't go imagining weird things," Kanade said, finally gaining her voice.
"Oh man." Casey pushed open the glass partition door, leaning against it for support. "Details, girl. Gimme details." She shot James a furtive glance. "Uh, y'know. Later."
YOU ARE READING
No Life to LoseMystery / Thriller
James Kirkpatrick's difficult life leads him to take solace in virtual reality—a momentary peace soon shattered by mystery, intrigue, and unseen forces bent on plunging the world into chaos. An epic tale of love, loss, and the boundless influence of...