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.


Author's note

Updates are probably going to be pretty irregular with this.

5. Chapter Four

- Chapter Four -

It took everything to go back into the office to collect my things. Kirby was following me round, kept trying to console me but I was too angry to hear any of it. I chucked my lanyard and pass at him. He caught it and looked sadly down at it in his hands. 

"I suppose I won't need that anymore." The words hurt me to say but there wasn't really anything I could do. Unless Harry Baker could get me my job back, I wasn't coming back. When Hudgens decided something, it was almost always certain. 

I turned and walked off without another word. I couldn't bring myself to say goodbye to him. He'd been the only one who didn’t seem to think I was incapable, much like the others. All anyone wants is someone to believe in them, and he had. It had meant more to me than he would ever know. 

I chucked the cardboard box of stuff into the boot of my car; there wasn't much, just old papers and a mug. After all, we hadn't often sat idly at our desks in this business, there was no need for personalising them too much. 

I texted Toby before I got in the car but I'm not sure he would have been concerned about my whereabouts. I reversed out of the parking space and watched in my wing mirror as the bright 'Hudgens Cooperative Corporation' sign faded into the distance as I drove away. I tried not to let my thoughts bother me as I thought about this being the last time I saw it and rubbed my eyes with my left hand. 

I didn't want to cry, I had to be stronger than that. 

It took less time to get home than earlier, rush hour was over and only a few cars flitted past with their flashing headlights. I sat in my car for a few minutes when I'd turned off the engine, staring up at the house. Toby had left the lights on in the kitchen and I could see the orange seeping out from behind the drawn blinds. His upstairs bedroom light was on too, and I could see him look briefly out of the window at my car before he went back to what he was doing. 

I hauled myself inside, dumping the box of my things on the kitchen table and switching the kettle on. It had been a long day and as British as it made me sound, a cup of tea would probably do me good. 

I found quarter of the pizza in the fridge and munched on it as I watched the bubbles rise and fall in the kettle. I was still angry but as I sat down with my cup of tea on the sofa, surrounding myself with the normalities of life, the comfort of it made me feel a bit better. I switched the TV on which was still on the local news channel. I wished I hadn't. 

"A member of Hudgens security has been sacked," I heard the news lady announce but I didn't let her continue as I'd already turned it off and chucked the remote at the coffee table. 

They found out so fast, I wondered whether Hudgens herself had leaked it. It would go so well with her chucking me under the bus regime. I sipped my tea angrily and closed my eyes shut, willing to not let tears seep out. 

I didn't feel like an adult when I cried, I didn't feel strong enough, and I wanted to feel strong because who wants a wuss on a security detail? No one does. I had tried so hard to prove that I was worthy to be there... but now it didn't matter. 

"What happened?" Toby asked as he came into the room. He plonked into the arm-chair he had been in earlier and I avoided his eye contact. 

"They sacked me." It was hard to say out loud without a wobble in my voice. 

Toby's brow crinkled and he actually looked concerned. "What did they do that for?" 

"They think the bomb will make the security team look weak," I explained to him. 

"But you didn't do anything wrong?" He asked me as more of a question, looking confused now. 

"I told them that," I replied as I stared into the murky brown of my tea. I didn't really want to speak to him about this but in some way, I was glad he'd decided to talk to me. 

"I don't understand," Toby muttered and he still looked confused. I met his eyes again and I actually saw sympathy and it was nice coming from him. He didn't usually display many emotions towards me, not any more.  

"They need someone to blame for the security mishap," I told him and shrugged like I wanted to dismiss it, but everything about it was a big deal. Why did it have to be me? 

The room lapsed into silence in which Toby picked up the remote and switched the news to some game show channel. I don't think either of us liked it, but the awkwardness of not knowing what to say now was too much to deal with, for the both of us. We continued to sit there, I drunk my tea, and Toby laughed dryly although it wasn't a very funny show. 

At least he was there though, I didn't feel so alone. That was something good. 

I woke up at 7 promptly although I had no job to go to, it had become a routine. I made a huge cup of coffee for Toby and slapped his exposed feet, that were sticking out of the end of his bed. I did this every morning. He told me to go away but he knew he had to get up. 

He was soon grumbling as he went to shower and change into his blue work overalls. I showered after him as he was eating breakfast and still dressed in smart clothing, although again, I knew I had no job. He chucked a letter at me when I entered the kitchen and I frowned down at it. The cream colour of it was all too familiar. 

I slit it open with a knife and pulled out the letter. I gulped as I took in the Baker and Co. gold logo printed on the letter head. What was this? 

I scanned the words quickly.

Dear Miss V. Winters, 

Baker and Co. are pleased to announce your new place on our business security team. We expect you promptly at 9pm, at the company's office address, on Tuesday the 16th of January. 

Yours sincerely, 

Harry Baker 

What? I wanted my job back, not a job at his company. I didn't even know who he was or anything about the company. Now I had a place on their security team... 

"What's that?" Toby's voice reached my ears and I stuffed the letter into my handbag. 

"Nothing," I snapped but disbelief passed over his face. However, he didn't ask any more. 

I fished my car keys out of my bag and pulled my coat on as Toby was checking his hair in the mirror in the hall. He'd tried to spike it upwards but his dark blonde, wavy locks didn't like to be controlled like that. I'd not been blessed with such nice hair, mine was more of an ashy brown but it was still wavy too. I wore it up in a pony tail on most occasions, keeping it out of my face. 

As we got into the car Toby looked gloomily out of the window. 

"It's not that bad, is it?" I asked him quietly, as I peered round at him. He wouldn't look at me. 

"Better than prison I guess," he mumbled out and I started up the engine. I knew it was a sore topic, so I didn't mention it anymore, as we started to drive in the direction of the garage, he now worked at. 

He hated it was unpaid but it was under his probation rules. He didn't want to go back to prison after all, so he had to do it whether he really wanted to or not. I had to make sure he went, otherwise I knew he'd be under review for getting sent back. 

Toby had never been the same since he'd been arrested, it was like the world had sucked any enjoyment out of him. It hurt me to think about it. Although as he constantly reminded me, it was his own fault and prison and probation was just pay back. 

"I might have a new job," I spoke up, hoping to lighten the mood in the car. I wasn't yet sure if I was even going to take Baker's job. After all, it all seemed rather sinister when I thought about it too much. He was a possible suspicious person in the bomb situation... and going to work for him would look like nothing good. 

"Already?" Toby questioned and he looked surprised. 

I shrugged. "Maybe." I could pay rent for a few weeks with the money I had saved up, but without a job in the near future I wouldn't know how we were going to pay for anything. 

Toby still looked gloomy when I pulled up outside the garage. I reached to grab his arm to stop him rushing off so quickly. "Tobz," I said softly trying to be kind, "it will get better." 

He retracted his hand from my grip and just made a huffing noise as he slammed the car door. I watched him as he walked his way inside and contemplated what I wanted to do with my time now. I would usually drive on to work on a regular day but not today. 

I wanted to speak to Harry Baker, that's what I wanted to do. I pulled my handbag towards me from the back seat and took out the crumpled letter. I looked at the business address, thinking it was odd. Sand Grove Forest. That made him seem even more mysterious but I entered it into my phones satnav all the same. It was 15 minutes away from my current location. I furrowed my brow in curiosity. There was a forest about 30 minutes away from my house? 

When the satnav route had loaded I pulled away from the curb wondering what I would find at my destination. The letter said I didn't need to go in till tomorrow but I wanted to speak to Harry Baker about it, about how I didn't think working for him was a good idea, how I wanted to take him to the police and get him to confess it was him who had planted the bomb. Truthfully, deep down I knew that he hadn’t walked in the VIP room and put the bomb there. Someone would have seen him do it, my security team would have spotted it, I knew it. 

I sighed, it wasn't my security team anymore. I wasn't a part of it. 

My guess was someone had planted the bomb beforehand but that also confused me because we had swept the room before Hudgens stepped foot in there. Why hadn't anyone found explosives then? It was all confusing me. 

I drummed my fingers on the steering wheel as I approached Sand Grove Forest, or so my satnav told me. The road was empty of cars and seemed to get narrower and narrower the further away from the dual carriage way I drove. When I took the turning onto the beginning of the road I had been sceptical but I decided I'd gone too far to go back now. 

There was certainly a large number of trees lining the edge of the road, which no doubt gave the place its name. I slowed down as there was 2 minutes till I reached my destination and I didn't want to miss it. Soon enough a left hand turning came into view. It was directing me down a sandy track and it just screamed sinister but I tried not to let it bother me as I turned into it. The wheels struggled slightly on the new terrain but I changed gear and my car stopped whirring weirdly. 

The satnav told me I had arrived at my destination but I couldn't see any building yet. I continued to drive, feeling like the trees were closing in on me, and my grip slipping on the steering wheel slightly as my palms began to sweat. What sort of business buried their office in a remote location like this? 

Finally, I spotted something ahead and I squinted my eyes, speeding up a little. There were some wrought iron gates, which curled up elaborately, so that it spelled BAKER in letters, in an arch. Behind the gates a three-storied, dark stoned building sat, the windows appearing dark and foreboding as the trees surrounding it shielded it from most of the sunlight. As I approached, the gates swung open on their own, clearly on some electronic mechanism. I took a deep breath as I drove through them. 

What was I getting myself into? 

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