Jodie pulled into a parking lot the moment she got Zach’s text. It was a quick grab-and-go errand. She told Piper she would buy their lunch on the way back. They’d planned to stay in that Sunday, yet somehow she had a feeling that her plan would change.
Entering the coffee house, she spotted Zach staring blankly into space. When she finally stood before him, she had to wave her hands in front of his face to get his attention.
“Earth to Zach,” Jodie said.
Returning to reality, Zach replied, “Sorry.” He then reached into his pocket and pulled out the USB drive.
“What were you thinking about?” Jodie asked, as she took the drive from him.
“Nothing,” he simply replied.
“I doubt that,” Jodie said.
She took a seat and called a waitress over. After ordering two sandwiches to go, she asked again, “What were you thinking about?”
Zach was easier to read than the other contestants. Maybe because he seemed more open toward her. Jodie knew he was not residing in his ‘nothing box’ when she arrived. His eyes were focused – a clear indication that his mind was occupied.
“Nothing important,” Zach answered.
“Right. Well, if you do need to tell someone, I’m all ears.”
There was no point pushing Zach, so she left it as that. But Zach seemed to have a change of heart.
“I think there’s something going on behind the whole game,” Zach stated.
“Did Matthias get into your head?” Jodie asked with a chuckle. “You’ve been spending too much time with him.”
“He’s my boss,” Zach said with a shrug. “But seriously, I feel like it’s all a set up.”
“A set up for what?”
“That I intend to find out. I don’t want to sound paranoid, but in the past few weeks, I feel like I was given a free pass for some of the challenges. And the strange thing is, the people involved know who I am.”
“Of course the people involved know who you are. How else can a challenge be executed?”
“These are Skypeak members. People who should not know about my existence, but are now well aware of my identity.”
“You think of yourself too lowly. It’s no surprise they know you. They probably envy you for the opportunity.”
Jodie did not know where Zach got the idea from, as it seemed unlikely that Matthias would be able to convince him of his theory. At the same time, Matthias had an intuition none of them possessed. Perhaps Zach was right. She didn’t want to discredit his thoughts right away.
“Maybe…” Zach trailed off.
“Maybe something is going on. I’ll try to see what I can find out. Just don’t jump into conclusion so quickly.”
The waitress returned to the table with Jodie’s packed order. She handed the waitress her credit card and told her to include Zach’s bill. Zach was quick to refuse the treat, but Jodie insisted. She didn’t give him time to argue and excused herself the moment the bill was paid.
On the way to her car, she contemplated further on Zach’s words. She’d never really given thought to any conspiracy theories surrounding the challenge. Having to deal with her upcoming case, she didn’t have the time to go on wild goose chases. Yet somehow, she knew that there was a possibility. And if there was a bigger plan at play, one of them was going to be a victim.
By the time she entered her car, she already had a mental checklist. Out of the five, Zach was the most likely. After all, he was the perfect candidate as a scapegoat. Still, she could not shake off the feeling that he would not be the only one. Just when she was about to expand her mental checklist, the abrupt knocking on her car window, along with the ring from her phone, startled her thoughts away.
Turning to the passenger side window, as she simultaneously reached for her phone, she saw Guinevere waving from outside. Her muffled voice said, “Let me in.”
Jodie hesitated and took a glance at her phone. Richard was calling and most probably about the information she had retrieved – no, stolen – from Wayne. Ignoring Guinevere for a brief moment, she answered the call.
“I know what you want,” Jodie simply said.
“Great, when can we meet?” Richard asked.
Before she could answer, Guinevere knocked on her window again.
“Hold on,” Jodie said to Richard.
Annoyed at how frequently she and Guinevere crossed paths, she winded down the window and asked, “What?”
Instead of a reply, Guinevere reached in and unlocked the door. She did not say a word, as she pulled the door open and took a seat.
“What are you doing?”
“Let’s go. You’re going to meet Richard, right?”
“Are you stalking me?” Jodie asked in disbelief.
Guinevere gave a false laughter. “Please, I have better things to do. I just happen to be here, that’s all.”
“Of course. What other reason is there?”
Jodie returned to the phone call, as she could hear Richard’s ‘you still there’ through the speaker. She decided to deal with Guinevere after.
“Sorry. Somebody hijacked me,” Jodie said.
“No worries. So, can we meet now? I don’t want to drag this out.”
“Sure, it’s just that…” Jodie trailed off.
Guinevere’s eyes were staring intently at her. There was no doubt that she knew who Jodie was speaking to. Was it wise to bring Guinevere along? Or was it better to chase her out? Jodie had to choose.
The Clubhouse © 2014 – 2015 by Jeyna Grace.
All rights reserved. No part of the series may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording, or otherwise, without prior written permission from Jeyna Grace.