After the Bomb

Before the bomb, Vanessa Winters was normal, or as normal as a 22-year-old could be when they’re part of a security detail, for billionaire business woman, Sophie Hudgens.

After the bomb went off things changed. Thrown into a pool of mystery and foul play Vanessa finds herself wound into the plot of something much bigger. Maybe it would have been better to keep her mouth shut, and play along, but she wants to know the truth, whether people want her to find it or not. Along with hasty alliances, mysterious clues and the help of her brother, Toby, can Vanessa really find the truth?

Money means power but it also means problems. Maybe you can hide behind the fame for a while but sooner or later someone can wash that away, and all your left with is the truth.

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Author's note

Updates are probably going to be pretty irregular with this.
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9. Chapter Eight

- Chapter Eight -

I hardly slept, I couldn't stop thinking about Toby, trying to work out where he could have gone. It was no use. I didn't know. I didn't even know if he was truly trying to get the files or he'd just run away. I hoped there was some other reasonable explanation for his disappearance. 

I realised I was running late when I woke up, supposed to be at the airfield Baker had specified in about an hour. It would probably take more than an hour to get there, so I rushed to get changed. I wanted to make a good impression, so I'd rather I wasn't late, than spend long on making my appearance nice.  

On the drive over there I thought about what Baker had said yesterday. His daughter already had a permanent two-man security team. Did she really need me as well? Why does she have to be so well protected? 

I knew that Harry Baker was wealthy, his daughter probably had more lime light than he wanted, maybe it subjected her to threatening behaviour. I just wondered what sort of business Baker had that would attract those kinds of bad people. I guess with popularity there are also as many people who dislike you. I just didn't know if Baker was popular. Hudgens definitely was, but Baker I had never heard of him. I had never seen him on the news. Maybe he was more of a secret wealthy man. 

I made it to the airfield on time. One thing I knew for sure was Baker definitely had money to spare. How else could he pay for a private jet to bring his daughter to a private airfield? I waited inside the small office attached to the airplane hangar, as the couple of workers there had informed me to stay out of the way of the plane landing. 

Soon enough a white jet came plummeting from the air, landing shakily onto the ground. I waited some more minutes before I was given the all clear to go out towards the plane. Down from the steps of the plane came a blonde girl, flanked by two stereotypically bulky body guards. I watched her as she tottered on her red high heels, reaching the bottom of the steps and instantly looked disgusted at my presence. I really hoped she wasn't some snotty, rich girl but I think that was too much to ask. 

"How was your flight, Miss?" I asked as politely as I could when she'd reached me. She was still looking at me with disgust. 

"Great, another babysitter, just what I need," she grumbled, and I could hear a twang of an American accent lingering in her former English accent. Before I could reply, she strutted away from me, towards the black car which had just pulled up, near the plane. "You should have told him, I don't need anyone else!" 

I was left to stand there, staring after her. 

"You'll get used to her eventually," one of the bodyguard men said with a roll of his eyes as he joined my side. The other one was following in the girls wake. 

I reached out my hand to shake his, introducing myself. "Vanessa Winters." 

"Baker told us about you," he replied. "I'm Magnus, guy over there is Smith, and as you know, Baker's daughter, Beverly." 

I followed him towards the car as he took the bags from one of the flight attendants who had pulled them from out of the plane. 

"I brought my own car," I informed him. "I can follow behind you to the house." 

Magnus nodded his head as he loaded up the boot. "We'll see you there." 

I quickly scurried off back towards my car, not wanting them to leave without me. I didn't understand why I couldn't have just met them at the house. I hadn't exactly done much so far but receive hate from Beverly. She seemed peeved that I had been employed. By the way she had said 'him' earlier, I expected her to dislike her father too. I liked the sound of looking after her less and less. 

The drive was no more than half an hour. I pulled up into the gravel driveway behind the car which Beverly was in, staring out at the large house. Of course, Baker had a mansion too, of course. 

I quickly got out of my car, opening the car door for Beverly but she didn't seem thankful for it at all. "I have hands you know," she spat at me, trotting her way up the steps to the front door. I tried to ignore her tone and turned to help with the bags as Beverly made her way inside. 

Magnus and Smith followed her, leaving me to lock the car. Once I was inside I looked round at the lavishly decorated hallway which was adorned with many portraits and different art works. There were four doors off from here and a set of stairs at the end of the room which were made of a beech coloured wood. Beverly was already making her way up them, Smith following with her bags. I thought we were security guards, not servants? 

"I'll show you around," Magnus said behind me and I followed him to the second door on the left. He opened it to reveal a set of stone stairs which seemed to lead to what I presumed was a basement. 

"Obviously, we're employed to protect Beverly as best we can, if it comes to something more on the dangerous side we need to be well equipped," Magnus was explaining, his voice echoing a little as we went down the steps.  

He flicked a light on and I had to stop a gasp escaping my mouth. The walls were lined with black and mounted on it were numerous weapons. Guns, knives, grenades, knuckle dusters. I wondered how on earth they had the license to hold all these here. 

"Fortunately, we've never needed to use them," Magnus told me and he looked like he might have laughed at my shock if he wasn't trying to be very serious. 

I was glad they hadn’t used them. If they had I’d have been more skeptical about taking this position. Maybe it was more like babysitting like Beverly said, but that didn’t bring me much joy either. I was capable of more than that. 

I tuned back into Magnus' speech about how things operated here, as he passed me over a comms. set which linked up with his own and Smith's. I wouldn't be here all the time as I wasn't assigned for overnight too like himself and Smith so I had to return the comms. to this room at the end of every day. 

We then went back up the stairs and he showed me through each of the other doors. Baker's office, a large dining room and a room set up with a large TV. The fourth door was locked tight and I chose not to ask about it, fearing what was in there. If a door to a basement full of weapons wasn't locked, then whatever was in that room was probably worse. 

Upstairs, there were several large bedrooms and a bathroom but apart from that it was a normal house. If you could call a mansion normal that is. Beverly's room was about as big as the entire ground floor of my house. Laden with red and black, the room was perfectly mimicking the colours which she wore as she sat on her big double bed, tapping on her phone. 

"Do you need anything, Miss?" I asked as Magnus had left me on my own in the room 'to get to know Beverly'. I just didn't think Beverly wanted to get to know me.  

She continued to stare at her phone and said nothing. I remained standing where I was hoping if I persisted I could get something more out of her. I didn't. She was doing a fine job of ignoring me. 

"I'll be downstairs if you need anything," I decided to say before I walked back to the door to exit the room. Of course, there was no reply. 

There wasn't point standing around if she wasn't going to say or do anything. Instead I could investigate the house further, see if I could find any clues about who Harry Baker was, or what his business entailed. 

When I reached the ground floor again I looked around at the doors. His office was probably the best bet for information. I strained my ears; Smith was still upstairs patrolling around the top floor and Magnus outside by the front door. It was perfect timing. 

I swung the door open, taking in the room more carefully. It was lined with bookshelves, books which looked like they'd never been touched or read or even thought of. It was almost like they were an accessory, there for show, not for purpose. I ran my hand along some of the spines as I walked. There was no categorisation or pattern to them, no obvious genre which could be Harry Baker's favourite. None of them indicated anything about him, they were just a whole mismatch of books shoved into random places. Maybe that was a clue in itself - he had things to hide so there were no clues. 

I focused on the big desk in the middle. It was almost identical to the one in Baker's office in Sand Grove Forest, apart from there was no plaque engraved with his name. There were no papers on his desk to help me, it looked like it was rarely used until I peered closer, running my hand along the surface of it. There were slight indents in the table, indicating where a laptop might have sat and a few light cup rings on the table. Baker did use this desk, he just did most of his work on a laptop. 

I ran my hand over the draw underneath the desk, pulling at the handle but it wouldn't open. There was definitely something more inside it. That was the thing about finding something locked, it means it usually contains something you don't want people to find. That only means the curiosity of someone is spiked when they stumble across it.  

It meant I had to try and get into it. 

I bent down to look at the lock more closely. Harry Baker didn't seem the sort of guy to leave the key laying around which meant I would have to break in. I'd done it before with an old lock that was practically broken, and in theory I did know how to pick a lock. It's just whether I could pick this lock without any proper tools which was the big question. 

I reached into my pocket, finding a hair grip, feeling a little like a person in a movie. Maybe it was possible to pick a lock with a hair grip but unlike in the movies it was a lot harder than it looked. Tongue between my teeth I placed the end of the hair grip into the lock, concentrating as much as I could. 

That's when I heard Magnus enter the hall and call my name. 

I stood up quickly, shoving the hair grip back in my pocket and running to the door. I exited the room to see Magnus looking confused. I didn't really have a viable explanation for being in Baker's office. 

"Everything okay?" He asked me, still eyeing me curiously. 

"Yeah," I replied trying to keep my voice level. "I just thought I heard something in there." It was a lie, but Magnus seemed to accept it. 

"We'll do a swap around, you can go out to the front," he informed me and I nodded, quickly going around him. 

I'd have to be more careful if I tried to get into the draw again. It wouldn't exactly give me a good record if I was found breaking into my employers' desk.  

As I shut the front door behind me, taking my position of surveillance, I felt a buzz in my pocket. I pulled out my ringing phone hoping it was Toby but instead it was Vincent Kirby again. The last time he called me had been to tell me bad news, I seriously hoped it wasn't going to be the same kind of situation. 

I picked up. "Vin?" 

"Vanessa," I could already tell by his tone that it wasn't good news. "Toby's been arrested." 

Confirmed - this was not good news. My heart almost exploded out of my chest. 

"What?" I was breathless as I gripped the phone tight. How did he know before me? What was going on? 

"He was..." Kirby started but I cut across him. 

"Where is he?" I snapped. "What police station?" I needed to get to him. 

"Marlsebrook," he replied trying to add more to his sentence but I couldn't hear it right now. I'd already hung up and was running to my car, muttering over the comms. that I had to leave due to an emergency. 

If Toby had been arrested, he'd be sent back to prison. If this was because of the files, it was my fault. If it wasn't for the files, then what was going on? Whatever it was, there had to be some way to fix this. 

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