The following day, Emily got packed and Riverbend pulled her carpetbag out of the closet. They went to the airport where Riverbend, not surprisingly, had a ticket to New Jersey. She also had the required identification to go through the TSA checkpoint and to the gate, so they said good-bye to the family, Riverbend lingering on hugging David, and David looked like he did not want to give her up either, but after that, they walked to the plane. They had an hour.
They sat quietly for some time until Emily finally spoke. “So do you really love him?’ Rivebend nodded. “And does he really love you?” Riverbend just got that elfish grin on her face. “You know you neglected to return that dress.”
“I’m going to keep it. David likes it on me.”
Emily sat up. “What? You showed it to him? Well no wonder.”
“No wonder what?” Riverbend sounded innocent. The truth of the matter was not always easy to discern with an elf.
Emily did not answer right away. Her plane was pulling up to the gate and would board as soon as the luggage was aboard. “I wish I knew what that felt like,” Emily said wistfully.
“What what felt like?” Riverbend asked. She was eating ice cream. It was about the only thing she ate apart from salads.
“Oh. I think it probably feels the same. Maybe I’m an elf and he is human, but I think love is just love.”
“They were hired guns,” Marion said without preliminaries. “The FBI figures they were hired by one Ferdinand Franco who runs a drug syndicate out of Atlantic City, but there is probably no way to prove that.”
“Franco? I’ve heard that name. Where have I heard that name?”
“The question is; why would they be gunning for you? I thought you told me your friend Latasha was fighting the drug people with your Detective Schromer.”
“That is a good question.” Riverbend leaned into the conversation. Marion had tried to whisper but Riverbend had elf ears.
“All I can say is you better keep your eyes open when you get back to school. I don’t know what all you are into, but if they think you are getting close to whatever it is, they will probably move the kill Emily plan to Trenton.”
Emily nodded. She knew that, but she had apples to find and a door to close and a mystery to solve. She did not see that she had much choice. She was thinking, Marion was sipping her latte, Riverbend was flipping through a magazine when a little person in overalls with a clipboard stepped up.
“Miss Emily Hudson?” The man asked.
“Yes?” Emily looked up as the man looked down at his clipboard.
Marion stopped in mid slurp. “Friend of yours?” She looked over at the elf.
Riverbend looked up from her magazine, squinted and spoke up. “Mister Picker. I didn’t expect you.”
The Little Person squinted in the same way. “Why, Captain Riverbend. It is a small world after all.”
“Please don’t start,” Riverbend put her hand up as if fending off disaster. She confessed to Emily and Marion. “Danna, the one you know as Zoe, accidentally sang that song about three-thousand BC when she was around some fee, that is, fairies. They say for the next two thousand years you could not go anywhere on the planet without hearing fairies, dwarfs, imps or some others singing. It must have been maddening.”
“Report,” Mister Picker coughed and frowned at the interruption. He got to business as he checked his clipboard. “Airplane has been checked left to right, top to bottom, front to back, round and round, wing tip to wing tip. No explosives or other potentially offensive materials found.”
“You checked the baggage?” Riverbend asked.
“Of course.” Mister Picker looked offended. “All is fine. You should have a smooth, safe trip.”
“You checked my bags?” Emily sat up.
“Of course, with all the others. How do you think you got your sword back and forth this year and last without the TSA stealing it?”
“Don’t you mean confiscating?” Marion asked.
Mister Picker grinned for her, and it was a startling face. “I am an imp, if you don’t mind. I know stealing when I see it. I’m not bad on lying and cheating, too.”
“Could use you on the force,” Marion said as she sat back and returned to her latte.
Mister Picker pulled two business cards out of his pocket and handed one to Marion and one to Emily. “Picker, Block and Bluetooth. Reconstruction and restorations are our specialty.”
“Yes,” Mister Picker said. “Died in 1973 along the Jersey Central when the Kairos was disarming that atomic bomb.”
“What? Marion sat up again.
“Kairos?” Emily asked.
“The one you call Zoe,” Riverbend answered quietly, and then they called to start boarding the flight.
Riverbend did not board. When Emily was away and Mister Picker had blended back into the background, Marion turned to the elf.
“What now for you?”
“I will meet her there, but disguised. She won’t know me, but I have been told to shadow her. I know it is ludicrous to think anyone can guard an elect, but a second pair of eyes never hurts.”
Marion just nodded as a shimmer of light appeared in an unused corner of the terminal. She was getting used to that kind of coming and going. “Hope to see you again.”
“Oh, I hope so. I mean I plan to.”
Riverbend wrinkled her brow. “How did you know?”
“I’m a detective.”
“I’ll have to remember that.” the light flashed when the hole between here and there closed. Two TSA agents came running. Marion just showed her badge and walked passed them as she finished her latte.
Next Monday, everyone is back at New Jersey State University in Trenton, and it seems despite the snow and cold, things begin to heat up in the Elect II-14, Creatures Strike Back.