A/N: Here's the first of the last three chapters! Enjoy reading!
PINUNASAN KO ang namuong pawis sa aking noo. Sa sobrang intense ng task, halos pigil-hininga ko itong ginawa.
Bakit ba ayaw bumukas nito? Ilang beses ko ba kailangang kalikutin ang butas?
"Three, two, one. Time's up!" I heard a clicking noise behind me. Manager Jameson Moria, who was watching me, pressed a button on his stopwatch. "Tut-tut-tut! Kung i-a-assign ka para i-infiltrate ang isang admin office sa university, malamang nahuli ka na ng security personnel."
Inalis ko ang mga nakapasok na paper clip sa keyhole ng employee's locker sa staff room. When Nikolai picked the lock at the faculty room, it looked so easy that even a fifth grader could do it. But I was wrong.
"Cheer up, Mav!" Nikolai said, his arms crossed across his broad chest. "May mga bagay talaga na hindi natin nakukuha sa unang subok. But we need to be persistent so we will get it right next time. Maging ang mga part-timer na nauna sa 'yo, nahirapan din sa lockpicking exercises."
"Aria got it the fourth time she tried," the manager recalled. "While it only took two tries for Vivien."
Vivien? Ngayon ko lang yata narinig ang pangalang 'yon.
"She's the first part-timer that Sig trained," paliwanag ni Nikolai nang itanong ko. "May potensyal talaga ang babaeng 'yon na maging magaling na deductionist. Sig was proud of her as his student."
"I wonder where she is right now." The manager casted a sideward glance at him. "Wala na akong balita sa kanya mula nang matapos ang kontrata niya sa atin. I wanted to hire her in the cafe."
"Ang alam ko, nag-aaral pa siya riyan sa university," sagot ni Nikolai. "Mula nang matapos ang pagiging part-timer niya, hindi ko na siya nakakasalubong sa campus. Hindi na nga siya bumibisita o dumadaan dito. I hope you can meet her, Mav. Baka may mai-share siyang tips sa 'yo."
I would be glad to share my stories with her. Gusto ko ring malaman kung paano niya nakayanan ang ilang buwan na detective training. Nakatulong ba ito sa personal niyang buhay o sa ekonomiya?
Sinubukan ko ulit ipasok ang mga paper clip sa keyhole but my efforts on unlocking the locker door were in vain. The manager (with matching tut-tut-tut) said that I could take a break and try again at a latter time. Kapag hindi ko pa raw nakuha, magkakaroon ako ng salary deduction. Unfair!
"Do you now have a master's degree in lockpicking?" Sigmund jested as I got out of the staff room and returned to the counter.
"Mukhang kailangan kong i-repeat ang lockpicking course mamaya o bukas," I answered. Pumwesto ako sa gilid ng counter habang naghihintay sa pagdating ng mga bagong customer. And needless to say, Landice paid no attention to me or whatsoever.
It has been a while since Sigmund and I collaborated to solve a case. I hate to admit it, but I missed him second-guessing my thoughts and reading my microexpressions. Mukhang balik na rin siya sa normal matapos niyang malaman ang tungkol sa misteryosong "W" na humahamon sa amin.
"Someone followed you last night," Sigmund said out of the blue, sending me in a brief moment of surprise. How did he know about that? That concern wasn't on my mind. "Did I hit the bullseye, sweetiepie?"
Dati sweetie, ngayon dinagdagan na niya ng "pie." What's with his words of endearment?
"How did you know? Pinasundan mo ba ako kay Nikolai kagabi?"
"I didn't ask our dear colleague to follow you," sagot ni Sigmund, glancing at Nikolai who's busy cleaning a table. "It was only a hunch. Thank you for confirming it!"