For a refresher, get the previous seven chapters of Decode here. Now, on to #8!
Chapter 8: V Gets Her Spy On
Veronica waltzed through the heavy glass doors emblazoned with the silver Maddox Technology logo, her story prepared in her mind. The disc the programming department had given her was corrupted and she'd swung by to see if they could give her a new one. Simple but believable she thought. She flashed a big smile for the receptionist behind the horseshoe shaped desk.
"I was here yesterday - not that you'd remember," Veronica said and half-laughed, "but I'm consulting with the programming department and they gave me a disc for something. Well, anyway, it's not working so I thought I'd stop by while I was in the area and see if they could replace it." Veronica grinned apologetically. So much for practicing what she was going to say.
The older woman looked a little confused but consented and called someone. Veronica dug her hands into her coat pockets to keep from fidgeting and hoped her scheme worked and they would let her in. The receptionist handed her a visitor's badge and directed her to the stairs. Veronica dashed up the emergency stairs to the top level where Maddox had told her to find David Moore's office. He hadn't left much to chance, giving her incredibly specific directions.
Out of breath and flushed, Veronica told herself to walk with purpose as she raced down the carpeted hallway in her pumps. In case anyone saw her, she wanted to appear to know where she was headed. Veronica came to the last door at the end of the hallway. She took a deep breath and pushed the door slowly, creeping into the dark office.
Veronica closed the door behind her and started opening drawers. Maddox instructed her to stay clear of the computer; any activity on David's computer would send up a red flag and send Guarini back. But none of the drawers were locked so she opened each one, peeking through the contents with a gloved hand. Veronica doubted he would keep anything important in such an open place, but it didn't hurt to look. Other than a great number of pens, a package of index cards, and a package of spearmint gum, nothing interested her. But in the bottom drawer underneath a folded up sweatshirt Veronica found something entirely out of place. She touched it absently, then retracted her hand as the door swung open.
Veronica dove under the desk, pushing the drawer shut simultaneously. She held still, praying the person had missed her. Canvas sneakers and jeans stood right in front of her and Veronica squeezed into the shadows as much as possible. If he sat down, he would see her. She held her breath, feeling dizzy, and waited for what he would do next. She heard a mouse clicking and heavy breathing. Maddox indicated that David's office was on lock down for the police - and the company - until things straightened out. She wished she could see a face. Whoever it was either didn't know about the computer security issues or didn't care. Realistically, would David have kept anything top secret on his work computer?
Desperate for oxygen, Veronica exhaled slowly. The mouse clicking stopped. Did he hear that? Veronica held still. The feet stepped back from the desk, and slowly a torso and then a face came into view. They both froze, each face equally nonplussed.
"What are you doing under the desk?" Jesse whispered.
"I'm trying to help."
"You need to get out of here," he peeked over the desk, "and so do I." With no more of an explanation, Jesse left her there.
She retreated back into the hallway, running toward the stairs. At the other end, Guarini stepped out of an office, seeing her flee from the opposite end. Veronica busted through the metal door to the stairs and out of sight.