Steve jogged up the flagstone steps and opened the glass door to a marbled floored lobby, smiling at the familiar academic feel of the building. He glanced at the University of Maryland logo on the inlaid floor before turning right and wandering down the hall. A few female students passed him, giving flirty smiles at the handsome man as they passed. Steve responded with a crooked grin of his own which produced heavy sighs and second glances once out of his line of sight.
The former astronaut entered the laboratory to find a tall blonde man leaning over a microscope. Steve tiptoed up behind him and made an observation. “If I’m not mistaken this is the exact same position I left you in three years ago.”
The man smiled and jumped excitedly to his feet before shaking hands. “Steve! It’s great to see you again!”
“Yeah Jerry, same here. I really appreciate you helping us out with this booster fuel problem.”
“Hey, it gives me a break from the mundane world of teaching and grading papers.”
“Well this problem will be sure to challenge that genius brain of yours.”
“Good. It sounds like fun.” The young professor responded while rubbing his hands together. He giggled and asked. “Remember the last time we were in this room together?”
Steve smiled widely and nodded, “Yeah, I came here to help you judge your student’s solid fuel projects.”
“Ah yes. I do recall one female student seemed fascinated by your explanation of how much heat could be produced by the friction between two moving objects in very close proximity.” Jerry chuckled at Steve’s embarrassment. “What ever did happen with Annie, Amy, Amber… what was her name?”
“How should I know? I ran as fast as I could in the opposite direction.” Steve explained with a giggle as he put his briefcase on the table and removed his notes. He and Rudy had been working together to create a more economical fuel source for NASA and had come to an impasse that stalled the project. NASA was anxious to see the first test results but Steve, with his frequent OSI assignments taking much of his time, had to find some assistance to overcome the final hurdle. He turned to his longtime friend who was well known for his knowledge of liquid energy.
“I’ve never known you to run away from intelligent, beautiful women.”
“I don’t. I run away from intelligent, beautiful, underage girls.” The two friends enjoyed a laugh before getting down to business.
The hours passed quickly and sometime around midnight Steve made his way through the campus, desolate on a Thursday night. Just as he walked past the front of the student union he saw a familiar name on a flyer stapled to the large bulletin board bathed in fluorescent light. He paused a moment, letting the name run through his memory. He knew he had heard it before. Then it hit him like a lightning strike. His tired face lit up with a smile as he recalled where he heard the name before. His steps were a little lighter as he finished his trek to his car.
Red-eyed and tired Steve ambled into Rudy’s lab in the late morning hours, paperwork in hand. He dropped his items on his friend’s desk and dropped into a seat.
“Good morning.” The doctor greeted tentatively as he watched his friend rub the tiredness from his face.
“Morning.” Steve mumbled reaching for a cup and the pot of hot coffee on the table next to his chair.
“Did Oscar have you out last night?”
Steve nodded negatively as he swallowed the brown liquid. “I spent seven hours at the University of Maryland with an old college buddy trying to fix our problem.”
“Why didn’t you just sleep in?”
“I couldn’t. I had to drive back to Baltimore early this morning to pick up a surprise for a friend.”
“So did you have any success last night?”
“I’m not sure. On paper it should work. I was hoping to do some testing today.” Steve retrieved his papers from the desk and held them out to Rudy. “Jerry could only come up with two solutions to overcome the problem. It looks like we only have one option. I hope we see some progress here in the lab today. ” Rudy stepped forward and read Steve’s detailed notes.
“I thought he gave you two solutions to try.”
“I said he gave us two solutions. I don’t plan on trying the second.”
“Why not?” Rudy gazed at his friend his brow furled wondering why Steve would prematurely rule out an option prior to testing.
Steve took possession of his notes from Rudy. “Because Jerry has a wicked sense of humor. The second solution he offered was removing the additive from the fuel. Remove the buffer and the power increases exponentially not to mention significantly decreasing the stability of the fuel.” The blue eyes looked into the confused brown ones. “As the pilot of the first test rocket I’d prefer NOT to be sitting on the equivalent of thousands of gallons of nitroglycerin.”
Rudy chuckled and nodded his understanding then got to work setting up the needed equipment for testing.
By late afternoon the preliminary tests were done and proved successful. Steve turned to the scientist. “I think the OSI owes Jerry a healthy consulting fee for helping us. Those seven hours last night were almost priceless.” He helped Rudy clean the equipment as they both had their minds on dinner.
“You can say that again. How about a nice expensive dinner to celebrate?” Rudy suggested.
“Well I’m afraid I have a date.” He saw the doctor’s frown and hesitated a moment to fight the smile trying to appear on his lips, enjoying the anticipation. “Besides you can’t go to dinner with me, you already have a commitment.”
“No I don’t.” He replied assertively.
“Yes you do.” Steve insisted as he reached into his pocket, perching himself on the desk. “You, Dr. Wells, are registered to attend a lecture on the Latest Advances in Microsurgery of the Brain at the University of Maryland, Baltimore Campus at 7:00 pm.”
“What? I didn’t register for any lecture?”
Steve gave his friend a lopsided grin and handed him the ticket he had picked up in Baltimore this morning. “I registered you. You don’t want to miss this.”
“Why? Do you think the topic will be that interesting to me?”
Steve’s smirk grew into a wicked grin and he shrugged, “I don’t know about the subject but you will definitely be interested in the person giving the lecture.”
Rudy was stumped. “Who?”
“Maybe you’ve heard of her, a Dr. Michelle Peirot.” Steve knew she was once a very important part of his friend’s life. Rudy never explained why they never got married.
The doctor couldn’t hide the shocked expression on his face. “You do remember her don’t you?” Steve teased.
“Of… of course I do.” Rudy uncharacteristically stuttered. He slid into his desk chair and Steve continued to enjoy his surprise. “How long has it been?”
“Almost ten years.” Rudy’s eyes held a distant focus as he recalled his past. “She moved to France.”
“Well this is your chance to say ‘hello’.” He stood and headed to the door. “I’ll see you Monday. Okay?” When Rudy didn’t respond a concerned Steve stopped at the exit. “Rudy, are you okay?”
The brown head slowly tilted down as he looked at the ticket then turned to face Steve. “Ah…yeah. Thanks Steve.” A hesitant smile grew on his face.
“You’re welcome Rudy. See you Monday. Enjoy the lecture.”
Rudy remained in his seat near the back of the theater style auditorium as the majority of the audience ambled about stretching their legs during the break. He let out a long breath thankful that the first half of the lecture was only anatomical and neurological review of the brain since he couldn’t seem to concentrate on the subject. His mind traveling through the past and the special moments he had shared with this unique woman.
From the moment she entered the room to take her place behind the podium his heart thumped excitedly against his ribs. All the intense feelings he had for her returned in an instant, effectively diluting the harsh memories of their parting.
Michelle was a brilliant doctor and scientist. She and Rudy became romantically involved when they were in their mid-twenties, just out of their medical training. During the ten years they were together the couple worked on the earliest planning stages for the creation of bionics together. She was one of the few who could follow Rudy’s unconventional vision and was instrumental in the area involving interfacing the human nervous system to the bionic system.
Rudy smiled as he recalled offering her credit for her contribution long before they even knew if bionic replacement would ever come to fruition. Her response was always, ‘It’s your baby Rudy. You deserve all the credit. Besides I plan on making a name for myself in microsurgery.’
He watched her return to the room with a glass of water to begin the second half of her presentation. He was confident she had not seen him hidden in the darkened rear seat he occupied. Rudy couldn’t believe how beautiful she still was, not seeming to age over the past decade.
As the audience returned to the seats Dr. Peirot directed their attention to the screen behind her. Rudy watched as her long silky black hair, pulled back and clipped at her neck, shined under the bright lights. Her trim body moved to and from the podium with the grace of a dancer.
It was during the second half of the lecture, when the presenter detailed her proven surgical techniques for invasive brain surgery, that Rudy became entranced. He followed her explanations with fascination. Her ideas were cutting edge and the audience sat engrossed in her ideas. When the presentation concluded and the audience filed out Rudy sat in admiration of her intelligence. She was one in a million. The chatter of the receding crowd died down and Rudy suddenly realized they were the only people left in the room.
Michelle was preoccupied with packing her notes and slides into boxes, assuming she was alone. His footfalls were silent as he descended the carpeted steps towards the front of the auditorium. Her back was to him and he froze, a few feet from his former love, suddenly unsure of what to say, his heart beating rapidly in response to his anxiety.
He cleared his throat softly and took a deep breath. “Michelle?”
She spun around at the sound of the unexpected, familiar voice, surprised to be hearing it after all these years. Her dark green eyes widened as she realized she was not imagining him. Fear gripped her as she instantly recalled their parting wondering if the anger would still be there. Her voice was unsure and shaky as she greeted him clumsily, “Rudy! I… I didn’t expect… I mean I had no idea you would be here… not that it isn’t nice to see you…. I mean…” She took a deep breath to get control of her emotions and stop stammering. “I’m sorry Rudy. It’s great to see you.” She smiled and he returned it easily as he chuckled at her ranting. He wondered if he looked as nervous as he felt.
“You gave a wonderful lecture. It really is fascinating what you have done with such difficult cases.” The brown-eyed man complimented softly as he stood with his hands in his pants pockets, his tie pulled loose at his neck.
“Thank you. It’s taken many years and piles of money for research but it finally came together.” She returned to putting her belongings into her briefcase and found him close to her offering his help. Forcing herself not to display the schoolgirl nervousness she felt, the woman accepted his assistance as well as his offer to grab a cup of coffee so they could talk.
Their discussion lasted for two hours and several cups of coffee at a nearby all-night diner. Rudy was curious as to what she did after leaving the United States. Michelle explained she decided to move to France reminding him of her dual citizenship from her father who was a French Diplomat. Her mother was an American citizen.
During his inquiry Rudy was very careful to avoid touching on the sensitive subject of their separation. He learned she taught at a French university while working on her research. She also explained her funding came from an older, very wealthy businessman who took an interest in her work. Rudy listened intently but took a moment to notice she didn’t have a ring on her left hand.
When her turn to question came she immediately asked if his work in bionics had become a reality. Rudy smiled, internally fighting the urge to tell this woman who shared his ideas from the very beginning that he had succeeded thanks to her help decades ago. He looked into his half-empty mug and responded vaguely, “It’s still a work in progress.” His statement was truthful but not full disclosure. Then he immediately changed the topic of conversation to find out her plans and the length of her stay in Maryland.
She explained that after her seven lectures were completed over the next two weeks she was expected back in France. Seeing his face fall she smiled and added that she may be due for a few days of vacation. Dr. Wells’ face lit up and he requested her company at dinner that night. Michelle politely accepted finding herself still attracted the handsome man who held her heart so close to his many years ago.
Rudy was anxiously waiting for Steve to arrive at work. Nearly a week had passed since last seeing him in the lab just hours before Dr. Peirot’s lecture. Over the weekend the covert agent was sent out on assignment but was expected back at any moment. As the OSI operative sauntered into Oscar’s office he was greeted with a smile and a cup of coffee from Rudy. The exaggerated hospitality caused Steve’s brow to rise in curiosity.
“Something going on?” He asked and stared back and forth between the doctor and the director who was distracted with paperwork at his desk. In the continued silence Steve noticed the unmoving smile plastered on Rudy’s face. “Rudy?” Staring into the physician’s eyes Steve mentally reviewed what had transpired the last time he saw his friend. The memory returned to him and caused a crooked grin to grow quickly. “I guess it’s safe to assume you enjoyed the lecture?”
Rudy nodded. “You could say that. I can’t thank you enough Steve. If you hadn’t noticed that flyer on campus and remembered her name I would have never knew she was even in the country.”
“I take it things went well?” Steve asked as he took a seat.
“Better then well and still going.”
“Good. Just don’t make yourself too scarce around here or Oscar might have to fire you.” This statement got Oscar’s attention away from the file his face was buried in. He was so engrossed in his reading that he didn’t hear the previous interaction between the two men.
“What?’ He asked. “What’s going on between you two?” Oscar asked pulling off his glasses after seeing the two goofy grins in front of him.
“I think Dr. Wells here is head over heels in love with a certain French scientist.”
“Well I have to get back to work. I’ll talk to you later Oscar.” With that Rudy fled the room after winking at Steve, hoping to avoid an interrogation.
“Hey Rudy!” Steve called out and the doctor’s head popped back into the room. “When do we get to meet her?”
“How about lunch tomorrow at Ashley’s?”
“I’ll be there!” Steve enthusiastically replied.
“How about you Oscar?”
“I’m sorry Rudy. I have a lunch meeting tomorrow with the Joint Chiefs of Staff.”
“I’ll make reservations for three then. See you later.”
Once the director was sure Rudy was out of earshot he inquired of the doctor’s love interest, “Should I be concerned?” He looked at Steve wondering if an urgent background check was in order.
Steve knew of his boss’ concerns when it came to the safety of the doctor and his knowledge of bionics and other top secret projects. “No. Dr. Michelle Peirot and Rudy were an item more then a decade ago. She has been living in France and came here on a lecture tour. I saw she was lecturing at the University of Maryland and got Rudy a ticket so he could see her again.” The blue eyes looked off at nothing in particular while his mind accessed the situation. “No I don’t think you need to be concerned... at least not yet anyway.” Steve teased.
“What’s that suppose to mean?” Oscar demanded.
“Well they may fall in love and she may take him back to France with her…you know like a souvenir.” Steve grinned at Oscar’s fearful face that his top scientist would leave the country.
“That’s not funny Steve.”
“Oh Oscar, you worry too much. If it will make you feel any better I’ll keep an eye on him while she’s here okay?”
Steve arrived separate and met Rudy and Michelle as planned. He greeted the pretty woman who stood to shake his hand as they were introduced. While Rudy told Steve a little about Michelle’s work she gazed at Steve’s rugged face with interest. Glancing over his drink at her he noticed her head was tilted and a curious expression filled her face.
“Something wrong?” He asked with a raised eye brow.
“Haven’t we met before?” She asked.
“You looked very familiar and I rarely forget a face.”
Rudy smiled as he anticipated Steve embarrassment. “You may remember him from television.” He smiled and winked at Steve who gave his friend an annoyed look.
“You’re an actor?” She smiled.
Rudy chuckled enjoying Steve’s discomfort. “Steve is a celebrity although he hates to admit it. He was one of the astronauts who walked on the moon.”
The blush crept into Steve’s face as he nursed his drink. “That’s where I saw you. I remember now…it was in 1969 wasn’t it?” Steve nodded affirmatively while swallowing his coffee. She inquired further. “So what do you do now?”
“I work for the government as a consultant.”
“Have you known Rudy a long time?”
Rudy and Steve locked eyes briefly before the doctor answered. “I was Steve’s flight surgeon way back when he was in the Air Force. I followed him to NASA.”
“And do you two work together now?”
Steve wasn’t sure why he was suddenly uncomfortable with the conversation but his gut was trying to tell him something, unfortunately it wasn’t specific. He heard Rudy respond to her question. “You could say that.” Michelle looked at Steve but couldn’t read his expression. He seemed to quiet quickly.
“It must be nice to be able to work together when you have such a strong friendship.” She smiled hoping whatever she said to cause Steve’s introverted behavior would soon be forgotten.
By the time lunch was finished the trio had returned to casual conversation. Rudy shared with her that Steve was the reason he was at her lecture. She smiled at Steve in gratitude, “I’m glad he came.”
Steve gave her a wink and responded. “So am I. Rudy doesn’t get many play dates.” Michelle laughed along with Steve while Rudy just rolled his eyes at their teasing.
As the days passed the couple began to spend more and more time together. Moments of joking and laughter were intertwined with hours of serious intellectual conversation of scientific possibilities.
Michelle took the time to show Rudy the latest microsurgical equipment she helped design. She was giving a lecture at Johns Hopkins during her stay. Rudy promised to reciprocate and give her a tour of his lab before she had to return to France.
It was just a casual friendship until one night Rudy was taking her back to her Washington apartment located on French embassy grounds. He said his gentlemanly goodnight and she leaned forward, surprising him by placing a tender kiss on his lips. Rudy’s heart beat faster at the romantic implications as his head reminded him of the difficulties involved in long distance relationships.
Michelle saw his hesitation and understood the rebirth of their relationship would not be that easy, at least not until things could be discussed and worked through. Rudy leaned down towards the face that was only inches below his, his lips claiming hers in a sensual embrace. His arms went about her waist and he felt her relax, returning the kiss with undeniable interest. Breaking apart he smiled and said he would see her soon. She nodded, still breathless from the kiss that warmed her whole body. Watching him drive away she began to consider the possibilities.
Entering the apartment she instantly saw she was not alone. “What are you doing here?”
“I wanted to check on your progress. Since I haven’t been able to reach you by phone I came by. It seems you spend much of your time out and about. I hope it’s not all with a certain doctor you were once in love with.”
She turned her back to him to place her purse and jacket on a chair, unsure how much to tell him.
“As you know the job I was sent here to do was very clear.” Once her emotions were well hidden she turned back to the large man sitting on the couch.
“So does it exist and where can we find it?”
“I don’t know for sure… yet. I need more time.” With her arms folded across her waist she glared at her colleague who saw the determination in her eyes as well as the underlying conflict of what she was involved in. For a moment he wondered if their boss had chosen the right person for the job. Women could be so emotional. He decided to challenge her loyalty.
“If it’s taking that much time and energy maybe we should just grab Dr. Wells and go from there.”
Michelle’s heart skipped a few beats at the threat but her voice remained steady. “When I agreed to participate in this it was with the stipulation that Dr. Wells was to remain unharmed and I expect the terms to remain as such. I just need time to find out if a cyborg does exist and who that person might be. Then you can grab it and leave the country. I will stay a little longer so it doesn’t look suspicious.”
“Are you sure you don’t want to stay a little longer just to be with Wells?”
“Dammit Jack, I was forced into this situation because I have a history with Rudy Wells and a debt to repay. I’m getting the information they want and that’s it. I won’t be involved in anything else, not kidnapping, not killing and not treason.”
“Alright but I want reports every three days, Understand?”
She nodded and he headed out the door. “Don’t come here anymore Jack. I don’t want anyone to see us together. It would ruin everything.”
“Fine. You’ve got my number. Call me… soon.”
She stood stone still until she heard the door behind her close. Then slowly releasing the breath she was holding she felt the tears burn her eyes before falling down her face. Why? Why did she ever agree to get involved in this madness? The tears increased in intensity and she dropped herself on the couch, the sobbing becoming uncontrollable. Her voice was barely above a whisper, “God please don’t let them hurt Rudy.” She had been assured that her cooperation would be rewarded with protection for Rudy. Her boss just wanted the cyborg if it in fact existed. There were scientists abroad who could duplicate the bionic systems if they had possession of the working model. Her sobbing slowed and she began to doze off when the phone ring startled her.
She grabbed it quickly assuming her boss would be looking for an update also. “Hello.” She stated as she tried unsuccessfully to cover the sadness.
“Michelle?” Rudy asked unsure if it was her behind that sullen voice.
She realized how her voice sounded, stuffy and shaky, after crying for the past twenty minutes. “Ah, yeah Rudy it’s me.” She replied putting a fake smile on her face and in her voice. Rudy could hear her deception.
“Nothing. Everything is fine.”
“You sound like you were crying.”
Her brain quickly searched for an appropriate answer that would pacify him. She chose to be honest. “I’m just sad about leaving soon.”
“You could always stay.”
Michelle closed her eyes tight, the salty drops streaming down her face, remaining silent for a few seconds until she regained control of her voice. “I don’t know if that is possible. I’m sorry Rudy.”
There was quiet on the other line. She asked hopefully, “Can we talk about this tomorrow?”
“Sure Michelle. You know you can tell me anything don’t you?” He knew something was wrong, something more then her plans to leave.
“I know. I’ll see you tomorrow. Good night Rudy.”
“Good night Michelle.” Rudy slowly placed the receiver back in the cradle and sat staring off across his living room. He had been so happy these passed few days, having Michelle near him was like a breath of fresh air. He thought for sure she felt the same. His drive home only took ten minutes he wondered what could have upset her so quickly. Fighting the strong urge to go back to her place he got ready for bed but sleep would be long in coming.
Rudy had a full schedule the following day and couldn’t get away from work until it was time for his dinner date. He felt bad that he hadn’t been able to call Michelle throughout the day to see how she was doing. Occasionally during the day his thoughts would turn to the raven-haired beauty and he struggled to figure out what would cause her such distress. On the drive to the restaurant he hoped she would confide in him so he could offer his help with whatever it was.
She looked stunning in the lavender dress that wrapped around her thin frame and tapered to her knees. Her black hair fell, unrestrained, around her shoulders. Rudy wanted nothing more then to run his fingers through the thick wavy tresses. He had difficulty keeping focused on her words as she described her busy day of lectures, finding himself getting lost her large green eyes that sparkled with happiness.
The conversation waned when the attentive waiter delivered their dinners. As they slowly ate the elegant entrees Rudy carefully broached the subject of her mood the previous night when he phoned.
She smiled at his concern and explained she was very tired and homesick, simply over-reacting to the situation she found herself in. He smiled at her attempt to keep him in the dark. He didn’t mind, he was a patient man and could wait as long as he needed to until she felt comfortable with him.
After another pause in the conversation Michelle directed the conversation to that of Rudy’s bionics project. Once again he wanted to tell her everything but held back to prevent a serious breech of security. She used sympathy in hopes of pulling some information from him, information that she could pass on.
“Rudy I’m sorry your research didn’t have the results you wanted. It makes me feel a so guilty.” She gave him a frown.
“I’ve been fortunate to have a wealthy benefactor and the freedom to build my research. You have incredible ideas with intelligence and skill to back them up. Someone should understand your dedication and vision. It’s just not fair Rudy.”
He began to feel uncomfortable that she was so upset that he supposedly never got anywhere in his research. “Michelle, I did make some progress. It’s just going to take time. All research takes time.” He looked into her eyes hoping they could put to rest the underlying issue of their parting.
His statement was one she heard before and she knew he used those exact words for a purpose. “Rudy… I’m sorry about… well, about how we left things. I know you were right it’s just that…well, you know how passionate a scientist can get when they are so close to perfecting their work.” She looked at him and he nodded. “I was blinded by the proximity of my dreams. I realize now that it was wrong to even consider testing on humans behind closed doors. Can you ever forgive me?”
He reached across the table, took her delicate hand in his and responded with sincerity. “Michelle, I forgave you a long time ago. I think every scientist who slaves day and night on their projects under the stress of funding and deadlines has the same thoughts you did. I’m sorry I was the one who had to make you understand there is a reason we must begin experiments on animals and lower life forms before humans. We all have ethics to consider.”
Looking down at her food she let out a long exhale. “I realized that soon after getting to France. Now, being here with you again, I wish I would have stayed here and worked things out but I was very angry and incredibly frustrated.” After a long silence as they each considered how their lives would be different today if she had stayed she looked up and gave him a small smile. “I’m glad that’s behind us now. I feel much better not having to avoid the subject.” She saw Rudy raise his glass and she raised hers with a smile. “To us.” He said with a wink and their glasses clinked together. “To us.” She replied.
She watched his profile as he steered the car into the driveway. When the vehicle came to a stop she leaned over and he kissed her. “Sometimes I feel like those ten years apart never existed.” The young woman commented in a whisper.
“I know what you mean.” He replied in a low voice and kissed her again, letting his tongue dance across hers.
“Would you like to come in for a drink?” Michelle offered knowing she needed to be with the man she loved, the only man she had ever loved. .
“I don’t think that would be a good idea.”
She saw him looking at the main building across the embassy grounds and chuckled. “Rudy it’s not like I’m staying in a girl’s boarding school.” She slid across the seat towards him, placed a manicured hand on his thigh and kissed his cheek before whispering in his ear. “I’m a woman…. a woman with needs and wants. Right now I need and want you to come in for a drink.” He turned his head and caught her lips with his. The kiss went so deep and so long the temperature in the car rose several degrees.
Michelle broke free with a sigh. Rudy was swiftly out of his door and at hers. She walked arm and arm with him to her apartment. Before entering he hesitated. “Michelle, are you sure about this?”
“Absolutely sure.” She replied in a sultry voice and pulled him inside.
Rudy was busy tidying up his laboratory but every now and then his mind would casually stray to last night’s unexpected ending. When he left Michelle’s apartment in the pre-dawn hours he felt refreshed, renewed…reborn. His hands stopped their circular motion as he wiped the counter and he found himself assessing the past ten years of his life.
When Michelle suddenly ran off to France to start a new life Rudy threw himself into his work to lessen the hurt that threatened to consume him. In those years he made substantial progress in perfecting the bionic system that now gave Steve a normal existence. Although Rudy had a few romantic encounters since then none measured up to Michelle. She was his soul mate and there would never be anyone to take her place. Those isolated years in the lab prevented any further heartache but now, after last night, he felt vulnerable again and although he was happy they were a couple again he was anxious of where it would lead. His distracted stare as he cleaned got his assistant’s attention immediately. “Rudy, what are you doing?” Not getting a response Linda called again, “Rudy?”
“I asked you what you were doing.”
“Oh nothing.” He replied as he continued wiping down the counter top.
“Are we having an inspection or something?” She chuckled. “I’ve never seen you so focused on cleaning before.”
“I have someone stopping by, a fellow scientist, and I want the place to look organized.”
“I see, well I guess you want me to take a long lunch then.”
“Actually, why don’t you take the afternoon off?”
Linda smiled and responded excitedly, “You don’t have to ask me twice.” She grabbed her purse and headed out the door.
Dr. Peirot, after a hasty background check for a limited security pass, entered the building around 3:00 and found Rudy’s lab on the third floor without trouble. He enthusiastically showed her around and they reminisced about old college professors and their surgical residencies. During their conversation on advanced surgical techniques Rudy, unable to hold back any longer slowly leaned in and kissed the woman who once again stole his heart. She giggled at the sweet gesture but worried that they would be caught in an unprofessional situation should they forget where they were.
Rudy stepped even closer and smiled mischievously. “It’s after five. The building is probably empty by now.” He kissed her again, pulling her body against his.” Michelle wrapped her arms around his neck keeping his lips tight to hers.
She softly moaned as his lips made their way to her long neck. He always had this affect on her and she was almost powerless to stop him. The phone began to ring and Rudy made no move to stop his amorous gestures. After the eighth ring Michelle reminded him he might need to answer it since the caller was so insistent. The brown head came up with a frustrated expression and he took a deep breath.
“Don’t move.” He punctuated his command with a kiss on the tip of her nose and went to his office. While he was gone Michelle wandered about the lab, careful not to make noise as she opened cabinets. After checking several areas he had conveniently skipped over on the tour she came upon very specialized equipment, items that would only be needed for monitoring highly advanced bioelectric components. It was then she had confidence that there was indeed a cyborg somewhere nearby. Hearing footsteps she quickly returned to her previous position.
“Something wrong?” She asked seeing his forlorn expression.
“I’m afraid there is an urgent matter that requires my attention.”
“Can’t someone else handle it?”
“No, I’m afraid I’m the only one qualified.” He smiled. “I promise to make it up to you okay?”
“Okay.” She exhaled. “Can I stay and help?”
“Not without a high security clearance. Come on I’ll walk you out.” They entered the hall and Rudy said his goodbye. Michelle lovingly touched his cheek before turning and heading for the elevator. She waved to him as the doors slid shut and he returned to his lab to prepare for Steve arrival.
In the elevator Michelle had pushed the number two, the floor just below the location of Rudy’s lab. When the elevator stopped she immediately headed for the stairway, returning to Rudy’s floor. Peeking out the stairwell door unnoticed she saw Steve Austin amble into Rudy’s lab, dragging his left leg. She watched him disappear into the lab and waited.
Michelle was told to check out anyone who was close to Rudy Wells or spent a lot of time near his lab. The intelligent woman was beginning to put the pieces together but wasn’t sure how to verify her suspicions. Almost two hours went by before she heard voices in the hallway. Opening the door an inch she saw Rudy heading toward the elevator with Steve, now walking without difficulty. Seeing his remarkable recovery she was more confident of her information.
When the coast was clear she made a quiet exit down the stairs and out a side door, unaware a surveillance camera was taping the whole scene.
That evening Michelle contacted her boss. A plan was quickly laid out to verify Michelle’s information. If it worked her job would be completed and her debt paid in full. She could then return to a normal life hopefully with Rudy at her side, day and night.