Chapter 43

It was two days later and they were finally out of the flat. Ray let Maya link arms with him as they both followed Leo through the streets of St. Petersburg, ducking into shop after shop, picking up item after item. 

Leo and Maya were chatty, almost overly chatty, talking to cover up the pain of the loss. And how could they spend this amount of money? How much money did they have put away? Now we're their assets not frozen by the government?

“Leo,” Ray asked, whispering. “How is it you have all this money ready to hand?”

“I put some away as cash assets.” She whispered back. “But the rest is out away under another alias. One that has no social security attached. I got a buddy in Israel to make me an alias there. So, most of our assets are in that account for emergencies.”

“You guys thought about a lot of contingencies, didn't you?”

“We had a while to think about it.” She was frowning, looking at her reflection in a window. 

“Something wrong?” He looked her up and down. Did she feel like she wasn't looking good? Did she regret having to make all these identities? 

“Nothing,” Leo shook her head. “I just thought… never mind.” 

They kept walking and Ray began looking over his shoulder, keeping tabs on who was following. He patted Maya’s hand on his bicep absent mindedly. 

“You feel alright there?” Maya grinned at him. Ray knew she would never be interested in him, that the arm through his was just a friendly comfort. It was him or her sister, so she'd chosen him. 

“I'm fine.” He smiled at her, and then leant over to whisper in her ear. “Leo's been watching behind us for a while. I think she thinks someone is following us.”

“Oh,” Maya didn't shift her own smile. “I know that someone is and I know which person it is back there. But you two need to cool it with the looking behind us. You're gonna tip them off.”

“I don't like it.” Ray shook his head.

“Just keep walking. And keep smiling.”

They took a long and meandering route back to the apartment, ducking through alleys and cutting through shops, until they finally reached the street of temporary home. Would home ever be permanent again?

“Not being followed“ Leo asked Maya, her arms full of bags of clothes and food. 

“Not that I can see.” Maya smiled. She wasn't holding on to Ray’s arm anymore, and he was surprised at his own disappointment. Maya wasn't interested in him, or any man. 

They reached the top steps of the apartment and dove in, locking behind them. 

“We lost our tail.” Leo said to Sam and Alex. 

“Tail?” Alex's eyes were large with worry. 

“Yep.” Maya said, pulling out shower accoutrements. “She was good. But we got her away from us.”

“Did you do a lap and make sure?” Alex pulled out the clothes she'd requested. There was silence. Ray hadn't thought of that either. But it was a good idea. Alex was digging up her training. Or the training was manifesting itself in ways beyond memories. 

“We didn't.” Leon said, looking at her sister with panic. “We thought our methods were enough.”

“Probably not.” Alex shook her head. “Not if they are a professional. Not if they were hired by Piwitti.”

“Are the curtains closed?” Sam asked and turned to look. They were. He went over and twitched them open to watch the street through the crack. Ray began digging out his own equipment, tools and parts to start building Herman version 2.0. 

Leo was watching Sam nervously as he peered out the window. He finally turned around and addressed them. 

“You guys are nuts,” he said. “There's no one out there acting like they were following you.”

“There was.” Maya frowned. “All three of us saw her. She was following you.”

“She was shopping, in the same places. But no one followed you.”

Ray frowned as he unboxed his new soldering iron. Sam didn't have to be a jerk about it. All three of them had seen the tail. There was a pattern there. 

He settled down at the kitchen table, his pilfered shopping bags acting as containment for the oncoming storm of building. A metaphorical line was forming for the showers. He would take one. But after he put together a motherboard. And maybe the sound board too. 

He picked up new wire strippers and bent to work. 

Zoe FleischerComment