"That's what I want to find out. But I don't think I can do it from here."
Kelly leaned close and spoke quietly. "You want to go talk with her? Are you nuts? You've been spying on her! If she figures that out, you're not the only person around here that's going to get reamed. That feed you're using doesn't even exist officially. It's not something that you can just apologize for. There'd be a firestorm. This whole agency could get cooked."
"I know. So do you want to come with, or stay and cover for me?"
"You have to ask? I'm joining you. When do we go?"
"Now. She takes a walk to her local barista every afternoon. We ought to get there just before she does."
As an artist, Melissa Fox believed in the importance of white space, not only on the printed page, but in the hours of her life as well. She'd found that to be truly fresh when she switched gears from one kind of work to another, it helped to take a break, and to move her body in preparation for moving her mind to a new space. That was why, when she was finished with her self-imposed mid-day time for freely associated sketching, and before she turned her attention to the for-pay projects she'd lined up, she went out for a walk and a tall mocha.
The afternoon was brisk, which made the day's outward trek especially pleasant. She smiled as she passed a string of ethnic restaurants along the way, slowing now and again to sample the shifting canvas of smells wafting out their doors, ending with the intoxicating scent of slow-roasted coffee. But she came up short just after opening the door, greeted by a familiar face with an unfamiliar escort.
"Ron?" she said, walking up to him. "Good to see you!"
The woman tapped his shoulder. "Who's 'Ron'?"
Melissa considered her briefly, and then turned back to Ron. "Or would you prefer 'Craig' today?"
"I'm sorry," he said suddenly. "I should introduce you two. Melissa, this is Kelly. We work together."
She held his gaze briefly. On his second visit with Constitutional Evolution, he'd tacitly admitted to working for an unnamed intelligence agency, and to his real name. He also told them that he wanted to help, to watch their back. "I... see. So are you two here on business?"
"In a way. Come on, let's get something to drink."
Once they were settled, Craig studied Melissa for long enough to make her self-consciously withdraw before speaking. "There's something I have to ask you."