(Catch up, here)
I know what I'm supposed to say. No, I haven't been able to locate my grandfather yet. But somehow, with these men's eyes seeing through my soul, my mouth is dry and I can't form the words with my tongue. It's sticky and tacky against the roof of my mouth.
It's like I'm on a narrow, narrow path along the side of the mountain. I can't even look down because I'll fall to my death. That's what it's like talking with these two.
"Maybe she didn't hear you," the one on the right says. I've nicknamed him Dick.
"Then I'll repeat myself," the one on the left—Tracy—says. "Have you located Abel yet?"
I push a dry swallow down my throat. "You know, obviously, as well as I do—he's a wily old man."
"Not that wily." Tracy squints down his nose at me. "So what's the hold up?"
"Fine. You wanna know the truth?" I run my hands through my hair, pacing in a small circle. "I lost him. He's an old man, and I lost him." I spin on them. "Happy?"
One of them gave a small laugh.
"But I'm right behind him. I know it."
"Do you have an idea of where he might be?"
"Where is that?" Dick asks.
"No way." I toss my red hair with a shake of my head. "My project, not yours. I'm not sharing that information."
"We're here to help." Dick says this in a soothing voice. Trying to gain my trust. It does the opposite.
"Yeah," I snort, "You're here to take my lead and bring Grampy in for your own portfolio. I may be new, but I know how the game works. So not going to happen. "
Tracy frowns and steps forward. "Fine. But the organization's getting tired of waiting."
"It's been a day," I say. "I'm expecting this to take at least a week."
"You don't have a week." Dick steps up to stand next to Tracy. "The organization wants him back by tomorrow evening, six sharp."
"W-what?" I sputter. That gives us less than 24 hours to do whatever it is we need to do.
"Six o'clock or we go and get Abel ourselves. And we won't treat him like our grampy."
They start to laugh and walk away. My eyes narrow and my fists clench. They sound like a pair of goons out of a really cheap gangster movie. Still…they mean business. I need to get back to the others and tell them our time frame has closed in.