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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6. Chapter Five

- Chapter Five -

There were a few cars parked up outside but when I opened my car door it was eerily quiet, like no one was there. I didn't like this, something just felt... wrong. 

I pulled my black coat tighter around me and yanked my phone from the holder on the dashboard. I put it into my pocket and picked up my bag, turning. I almost shrieked when I saw a man was there; he'd noiselessly walked out of the building. He still scared me even though he was almost as short as me, which was saying something, and dressed similar to how you would imagine a butler would. I didn't think butlers were a thing any more so it was odd. Everything about this situation was odd. 

"Can I help you?" He asked, his voice was like ice as he stared at me, which didn't help as his eyes were a piercing blue.  

I cleared my throat and hoped I sounded less creeped out than I felt, "I'm here to see Harry Baker." 

"Vanessa Winters?" He questioned me and I wondered how he knew my name. At the look on my face he smiled coldly and added, "I was told to expect you at some point, I thought not until Tuesday though." 

"I wanted to speak to Mr Baker beforehand," I told him as I slammed my car door shut, as I had been momentarily holding it open ready to jump back in if the man was going to say something freaky. 

He nodded and turned back towards the large building. I hesitated before I followed him, looking up to see the windows seemed to be made of one-way glass. It made me feel like there were people watching me through them, judging my every move as I followed the man to the door. It was a tense kind of atmosphere and of course the hinges of the mahogany door he opened had to creak. Typical.  

I realised I was holding my breath and looked past the man to see where I was walking into. It was a high-ceilinged room, which was panelled with metal, making our footsteps echo. There was a marble staircase ahead of us, and when I looked all the way up at the ceiling I saw that it was intricately carved stone. It was almost like entering some kind of palace. Just how wealthy was Baker and Co.? And what sort of business was it? 

Harry Baker himself appeared at the top of the set of stairs. I felt myself involuntary shudder as he eyed me and began to decline the steps. He was wearing grey smart trousers this time and a black shirt which was uniformly ironed like someone had spent hours pressing it till it was perfect. 

"Have you got a VIP pass to come in here?" He asked with a big smirk on his face. I wanted to scream. It was not funny, not even in the slightest. 

I was saved from trying to say anything, as he beckoned me to the left of the stairs which I now saw had a door set into the wall. I didn't like how much he intimated me or tried to, I didn't want to feel small again. Forcing myself to make my legs move, I cast a look back over my shoulder but the mysterious butler man had vanished. How did he move so noiselessly? 

I found myself shuddering again as I concentrated back on Baker who was holding the door of what looked like an office open. I walked through, feeling sick as he closed the door behind me. It was cold in here, made of the same metal and dark wood flooring as the entrance hall. A large desk in the middle was bare apart from a gold engraved plaque reading: H BAKER, at the front of it. 

I watched Baker move around the desk, leaning on the mantelpiece of the stone fireplace behind it. He still had a smirk on his face and it made me feel uncomfortable. 

Everything I wanted to say was swimming in my head but I couldn't voice any of it. 

"I suppose you have numerous questions," he spoke first instead and his voice was very much the kind of drawling posh voice you would expect to come out of such a supposedly wealthy man like him. 

I nodded my head at him, as I met his eyes and then wished I hadn't. Dark blue was a mysterious colour and it matched everything about his persona all very well. I opened my mouth a little, trying to decide what to say first but only air came out. 

"There's no powerful compelling evidence that I planted the bomb," he told me and I knew that I had been right. Of course, there wasn't. "You don't have to look so scared of me." 

"I'm not," I replied firmly and was pleased that some of my former nerves had dissipated. 

He fixed me in his gaze again. 

“Who are you?” I found myself asking first. He was still smirking.  

“Harry Baker,” he answered simply. “I gave you my card, which you kept I believe because you called to scream at me.” 

I didn’t want to feel embarrassed but he made me sound pathetic, like a kid. At the time my mood had been justified, I was angry at him. 

“What does this company do?” I decided to ask next as he clearly wasn’t going to reveal more about himself.  

“Wouldn’t you like to know.” His reply was simple again and I found myself increasingly agitated. He wanted me to work for him, but he wouldn’t tell me more... That didn’t make sense.  

“Do you like to keep all your employees in the dark?” I asked bitterly and he laughed slightly. 

“Does that mean you will work here?” 

I was quick to shake my head. “That’s not what I meant. I didn’t want this job, I wanted my other one back.” 

He stopped leaning on the mantel piece and put his hands behind his back. “Well good old Sophie dear doesn’t really like my persuasion skills enough.” 

“Did you even try?” I stabbed at him and I wasn’t sure if I really cared whether it was rude or not.  

The smirk reappeared on his face. “Bit easily angry aren’t you little one?” 

It made me feel worse. Little one, again? I wasn’t a kid. I scrunched my face up slightly but he just continued to find it amusing. 

“It will look suspicious if I join this company, it will look like something is going on. If the media finds out then they’ll make it into some kind of controversy,” I decided to let out how I really felt about it. It wasn’t just the fact that I was sour about losing my job, I didn’t want joining Bakers company to just further the issues. “I was the one who let you into the VIP room, a man who wasn’t on the list, and then a bomb goes off. Then the company sack me and I start working for you. To them it will be like we were part of the scheme to bomb the place.” 

“But we weren’t,” Baker replied shortly. He leant on the desk, leaning forwards towards me. “I have nothing to do with that bomb, in fact quite the contrary, I want to work out what happened.” He paused slightly to take a long breath. “Maybe you can help me.” 

“Me?” I questioned him but something inside me had sparked. I could help work this out.  

He nodded. “There’s more to this mysterious happening than anyone can yet see.” 

I couldn’t stop the adrenaline rising in the pit of my stomach. As much as I hated being sat here and hated how I had lost my job all I did want to know was what was the whole bomb business really about. 

“Hudgens is at the heart of this,” he continued. “Luckily for me you’re an ex security member of her team.” 

“I don’t really know a lot.” It was the truth. I didn’t have enough security clearance to get to know about the true extent of Hudgens work.  

“Does she like keeping her employees in the dark too?” he asked and he sounded like he found it all so funny again. I watched the smirk light up his face. 

I nodded my head. They really were quite similar. Both had large, wealthy businesses which had some kind of mysterious feel to them. I think Baker seemed to somehow overtake Hudgens in mysteriousness though, the location of the building for a start was way more remote and haunting. 

“So, will we be expecting you to show up tomorrow?” Baker asked me and I paused for a long time.  

I didn’t have much choice. I had no job and I needed one. Maybe accepting it would be bad and suspicious, but I knew it personally wasn’t as suspicious as everyone else might see it. I needed a job and he was offering me one, wouldn’t I be stupid to refuse? 

“I’ll be here.” I hated and liked myself at the same time for my answer.  

His smirk turned into a more genuine pleasant smile. “Excellent.” 

There was silence for a few more moments before he turned back towards me.  

“Your brother is Toby Winters, isn’t he? The hacker that was on the news?” 

I could feel an uncomfortable lump in my throat. I hated it when people worked it out, that I was related to him. Not because I was ashamed of my brother, it was just always an awkward conversation.  

I nodded and Baker’s smile was too pleased for my liking. “He could come in handy.” 

I swallowed hard.  

“I want to see Hudgens’ accounts, who she’s been financing. Perhaps your brother could find them in their protected system of theirs,” he told me and I felt uneasy about it all.  

Not only was Toby on probation, which meant doing such a thing would land him in deep trouble, but I also felt I was being used by Baker. Maybe he employed me to get to Toby?  

I felt like he must have read my mind as he added, “its pure coincidence that you have a talented hacker for a brother. I would have you in my company with or without him. You’re just as useful.” 

I didn’t like the sound of the word useful, it made me sound like some sort of machine in his mysterious game. Did I really want to be a part of that? I knew nothing about him either, he could be dangerous. 

“Toby is on probation, he wouldn’t be able to do it anyway,” I finally managed to say. Thoughts had been preoccupying my mind. 

“I need to get those files somehow.” He sounded determined and pressing at the same time. “Your brother is capable of that.” 

I knew I shouldn’t have said it but I did, “I’ll think about it.” 

Baker had the pleased smile back on his face again, it was infuriating. “Excellent.” 

I didn’t think anything about it was excellent. Far from it. I was landing myself in this mysterious business with no clue what Baker was actually capable of. 

I wanted answers though as much as Baker seemed to. Maybe I could find them working here. I just didn’t know if I was putting myself into the firing line again. And was I really going to drag Toby into this to? 

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