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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7. Chapter Six

- Chapter Six -

As I drove away from Bakers office thoughts whizzed round my head. Before driving there, I hadn't thought about the possibilities of what could have happened. What if Harry Baker had been dangerous? What if something bad had happened to me? 

Harry Baker could still be dangerous. Although I hadn't been harmed, I didn't know him. I didn't know if he was actually scheming against me. However, meeting him there in his office seeming so determined to work out the truth, it made me think he was on my side. I wanted to believe him, no matter how part of my brain was still angry at him. 

I entered my house, trying to busy myself with something menial like washing up. Toby wouldn't be home for a few hours, and I needed to really think about if I was going to ask him to help me. It was wrong, I knew it was, but Harry Baker wanted those files; and I wanted to see them to. He'd set my curiosity on fire and now I couldn't stop thinking about it. Maybe I could learn more about Hudgens than I ever had before. I wasn’t exactly Hudgens right hand man, she hadn't spilled the beans to me about everything she did. She didn't respect me at all. She chucked me away just like that. 

If I could get the files, I could prove myself to Baker; but I couldn't get them on my own. I needed Toby's help, or at least to ask him about it. 

When he got back at around 4, I'd made my decision. I let him settle down in front of the TV first and made him a cup of tea. I positioned myself on the sofa and looked at him for a few minutes before he realised I was staring. 

"What?" He asked and he sounded vaguely annoyed. 

"I need to talk to you about something." 

"What?" He repeated and I took in a deep breath. 

"My new boss, he needs your help," I started off, not exactly sure how I was going to ask him about this. His brow furrowed in confusion and I hastened to continue. "I know this is bad, but I just wanted to ask you about it. Could you hack into Hudgens system and find some files?" 

He stared at me for a long few seconds, seeming momentarily shocked at what I had said. Then he opened his mouth again and asked curiously, "what kind of files?" 

"We need to see who she's been financing," I replied and I felt weird saying 'we'. I'd only just met Harry Baker and I wasn't completely sure if working with him was a good idea. We weren't really a team yet, were we? 

Toby stared back at the TV for a while and then flitted his eyes back to me. "I could do it... but I'm on probation." 

"I know," I said quickly. It was a stupid idea to ask him. He'd break everything he said he wouldn't do again. 

"It's risky, but I could do it," Toby continued and I hated how he looked excited. I don't think I should have even suggested it. 

"What would you need?" I found myself asking anyway, having an internal war about how I wasn't being a responsible sister right now. 

"Well I would have to use a different IP address to ours and a different computer," he told me and it was like he'd already decided to do it, his face was lit up. I didn't like the sound of it, and I think he could see the worry on my face as he tried to remove some of the excitement from his features. "Problem is I have an electronic monitoring tag. It would tell my probation officer where I'd been. I could be linked to the hack, probably fairly easily." 

I knew it was a bad idea to ask him, why had I even thought about it? 

"You can't risk it," I told him, regaining some more sense, but Toby shrugged like he hadn't just said he could get caught. 

"I could do it," he assured me, like I needed it. I didn't doubt that he could, I just didn't like the idea of him getting in trouble. 

"We'll have to think about this some more." I got up from the sofa and left the room, uncomfortable with the situation. He seemed too excited about doing it, he seemed too up for it, and I didn't like it. It would be my fault if he got caught. It would be on my shoulders. 

It continued to bother me for the rest of the evening. 

When I woke up, Toby seemed gloomy again and I settled my worries further back in my brain that he was going to go back to law breaking. I got dressed, and without saying anything Toby made his way to the car. I followed him out, immediately noticing the unmarked envelope on the doorstep and eyeing it curiously. 

Before I could open it, Toby was poking his head out the window asking me whether I wanted to make him late or not. I hurried to the car, chucking the envelope and my bag into the back seat for further inspection later. Without another word I drove Toby to work and he got out of the car. I tried to say something before he left but he didn't give me an opportunity. 

I focused my attention on the envelope, pulling out the contents. I found pictures of destruction, clearly the bomb site, and a note attached to the front: Bomb was attached to the bottom of the refreshments table. There was no name to indicate who it had come from. 

I flicked through the photos, feeling sick at the piles of rubble that lay where I had been stood only an hour before this happened. I was glad I didn't have to see any mangled bodies in the mix. It was a lucky escape for us all. 

It had been under the table, the whole time we were there. How had no one found it? How had none of the security team spotted it? We'd checked the room. 

I returned the pictures to the envelope, not wanting to look at them anymore. What could I gain from it but feeling bad? Instead, I started the engine up again and set off towards Bakers office. Technically, it was my first day and I didn't want to be late. 

When I arrived it was eerily quiet again but I was more prepared for the butler man to noiselessly walk up behind me. 

“Goodmorning,” I said instead of jumping out of my skin. 

“Goodmorning,” he repeated and I followed him inside. 

He shut the door behind me and started to walk up the stairs. I presumed that I needed to follow him. 

“The security team is situated on the second floor, down corridor A,” he explained and once we got to the top of the stairs I could understand what he meant. There were two doors, A and B. It didn’t take me long to realise it had a retinal eye scanner for access. 

I was about to ask about it when he opened up a locked hatch in the wall where there was a computer screen installed. He tapped around a few times before he gestured at the eye scanner. “You’ll need to hold your eye there for a few minutes so it can capture the right pictures.” 

I did as I was told, disliking how it was situated at a point where I really had to stretch my neck to reach it. Clearly the security department here didn’t have many short members. 

Once my retinal pictures were completed, butler man tapped some more on the computer before he closed the hatch. 

“It should now work for you,” he told me and his lips curved into a creepy looking smile. “Or if not, burn your vision into the ground.” 

I couldn’t help the sick feeling that rose in my stomach as I approached the scanner again. I held my eye to it and it beeped within seconds, a clicking sound following it. I let out my breathe more calmly as I pushed down the handle of the door, and stepped through, vision intact. 

We were in a long, dark corridor which had several black doors lining each side. The walls were stone here, a dark grey colour, and the flooring rich mahogany wood. 

Butler man led me down the corridor, seeming unfazed by the quietness of it. This was nothing like Hudgens office. For starters, when Butler man opened one of the doors it was a small office with its own desk, chair and computer. No one had their own office in Hudgens security team, we each had a desk crammed into one big room. 

I felt more valued this way. I had my own space here and it felt good. 

As I sat behind the desk Butler man watched me and I wondered if he would ever tell me his name. The creepy smile on his face had not vanished and I found myself not able to ask him. 

“Make yourself at home,” he said. “You’ll need to set yourself a password.” He nodded at the computer in front of me. “Other than that, Baker will call for you when you’re needed.” 

Then he walked to the door and left before I could ask any more. I spun round on the chair slowly, taking in the huge window which covered the entire back wall. This was one of the windows you could see from the outside and as I peered out I could see my car where I had left it. Maybe people really had been watching me that first time I came here? Yet it sounded so quiet, I didn’t know whether the rooms beside me were even full. 

I got up, pacing round the room, tracing my finger along the stone walls. Maybe they were soundproofed. Unlike in Hudgens office where it was so noisy you could hardly concentrate on anything. 

It was hard not to compare the two companies. Especially since Baker seemed like he cared a lot more for his people, giving them their own spaces to work in. 

But I found myself thinking about how clueless I was about the company. What exactly was I doing here? I’d been dragged into an elusive company, one which I had no idea about. I was supposed to be part of the security team, but for what? What was I the security for? 

I never truly understood everything about Hudgens business but at least I knew more about it than I did about this place. She funded many companies so they could start their businesses up and when they started earning she would take a percentage of that. Some of her contacts were huge now, raking in millions and billions which were shared with her. She didn’t have to lift a finger, the money just came to her as easy as the post comes through your door. 

It was crazy how wealthy some people become. 

I sat myself back down, tapping the space key of the keyboard so that the blackness revealed a log in screen. I clicked new log in and set up my own password, scrolling through what was existing already on here. The thing is there wasn’t much. Internet browser, word software, emails; nothing too special. Certainly, no more clues about the company. 

Instead, I pulled my bag towards me, getting the mysterious envelope out again. I wondered again who it was from. Maybe Harry sent them, but wouldn't he have just waited till I got to the office? He could have given me them when I arrived. 

I flicked through them again and stopped on a picture of the partly destroyed bomb. It looked professional, not handmade like a pipe bomb might be, it was more like something they would use in the army. The person knew what they were doing when they made it and planted it, but they got the time wrong. It seemed odd, if they were so precise in everything else, why had they got the time wrong? 

I jumped as someone knocked on the door and I hastily shoved the photos back into my bag. I called for the person to come in and a muscly, tattooed man appeared in the doorway. I felt like I needed to stand up to make myself feel less pathetic in comparison, shaking his hand as he outstretched it. 

"Mike Ford," he told me his name and smiled at me. It looked kind of strange on his face as his appearance otherwise looked like he wouldn't be nice to anyone. 

"Vanessa Winters," I replied back, and smiled too. 

His eyes were a dark green colour, remaining still as they looked right at me. I tried not to stare too much at his arms, because I didn't want to look like I was admiring his muscles, I was simply trying to work out what he had tattooed on them. Snakes and lizards, it looked like twisting round his left bicep. A wild lion and eagle on his right. 

"Baker wants to see you," he spoke again when the silence was becoming too long. 

"What about?" I decided to ask but he just shrugged, turning away. 

I walked to the door and followed him out, and he started going in the opposite direction. "Nice to meet you." 

"You to," I called after him as I watched him enter the fourth door down from mine. 

It had only been a brief meeting but I was glad there was actually another human being in the close proximity. The silence was deafening, but at least I knew there was one other person on the team besides creepy butler man. 

I made my way back down the stairs, knocking on Baker's door. He opened it for me and I walked in. 

"Apple sixty-four, what sort of a password is that?" He chose to begin with, sitting himself back behind his desk with a smirk on his face. I found my face glowing red as I watched him shut his laptop lid, feeling that my privacy was evaded. Did he know everyone's passwords? 

I said nothing as I sat down, staring at the H BAKER sign instead of at him. He just chuckled. 

"Have you asked your bother about the files yet?" He asked me and I had feared the question. 

I shook my head at him. I had asked but I was regretting it, so I wasn't going to divulge that it could be possible. I needed to think about it more. 

Instead of persisting he changed the topic, and questioned, "what do you know about fourteen-year-old girls?" 

I looked up with confusion on my face and shrugged slightly. "I was one once." 

"Well I have a fourteen-year-old daughter," he informed me and I felt like that was one of the few facts I knew about him now. He was mysterious as bleep and he had a daughter. Needless to say, I wanted to know more than that. 

"She's been in the united states for a while," he continued to explain. "Returning tomorrow morning. I'd like you to be there when she lands, escort her back to my house." 

So, I was a Taxi service now? I still said nothing. 

"She has a two-man security team already, but I think you'd be a wonderful addition to the team." His eyes sparkled as he spoke and I found it hard to look away, even though the look in his eye scared me at the same time. "What do you say?" 

I didn't expect working for his company to mean looking after his daughter, but I didn't know what else to expect. I don't think I had much of a choice either. It could be this or sit in my office and do nothing. 

"I guess I can do it," I replied, and he smiled. 

"Excellent." 

He then passed me over a key. "You'll need one of these to get in the house and you can meet the team tomorrow. They'll show you the ropes." 

I nodded at him, pocketing the key and making a mental note not to lose it. If I did it wouldn't look like I was responsible enough to be part of a security detail for his daughter. I could do the job. 

I was soon leaving the office after Baker had reeled off the times and locations I needed to know. As I got to the door, about to close it behind me I poked my head back round it. 

"Did you send me some photos?" I asked. 

Baker looked back up at me, his brow furrowed. "Photos?" 

"It's nothing, don't worry," I mumbled quickly before I proceeded to shut the door. It wasn't nothing. If he hadn't sent them, who had? 

Once I got back to my office I sat back at my desk, laying the photos out in front of me. I studied the note, examining the handwriting. It was fairly untidy, written in non-descript black biro. Anyone could have written it. 

If not Harry Baker, who? 

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