A flicker of both surprise and uneasiness went through Loren Hess when the driver of the black SUV turned into the parking lot of a local nightclub. She glanced at the backs of the heads of the two men in the front, struggling with the impulse to ask why they'd pulled in. Neither of the two hard faced men had been particularly warm or friendly, though, and she quelled the urge rather than risk a snub.
They made her nervous, anyway, as if she wasn't already a bundle of nerves!
The uneasiness went bone deep. They'd kept her so off kilter since she'd been summoned to the administrator's office that she'd hardly had a moment to sort her thoughts even if she'd had the tranquility to do it.
She supposed she couldn't blame it entirely on them. Guilt and the fear of punishment for her snooping had gotten the ball rolling, so to speak. She'd graduated at the top of her class in engineering and had been thrilled, flattered, and unnerved to be recruited by the government right after graduation. She hadn't even settled from that wild flight of euphoric triumph when she'd found herself in a top secret installation and discovered she'd been hired to reverse engineer alien technology.
Well! That had totally blown her mind, but she'd settled in after a few weeks and really focused. She'd focused so intently, in point of fact, that it wasn't until roughly four years later that she began to have a niggling suspicion that something just wasn't quite right about the picture.
She supposed she could put it down to youth, enthusiasm, and plain out naivete if came to that--not that she was excusing herself by any means! Truthfully, she thought she was embarrassed more than anything else that it had taken her long to become suspicious at all. It wounded her sense of self-worth and confidence in her intelligence once it did dawn on her that something strange--stranger than reverse engineering alien technology--was going on, or maybe something not entirely legal.
The whole cloak and dagger aspect of the operation kept her on edge, though, and her nose firmly to the grindstone. She'd been afraid, at first, even to allow herself to question anything and she certainly hadn't had the nerve to openly question anything!
She'd barely seen the light of day since she'd been recruited. It was a rare treat indeed to be allowed to leave the facility and whenever she did, she was monitored at all times to make certain she didn't divulge any secrets. Phone calls were monitored!
Not that she got that many or managed to track her parents down to call them and talk very often. It seemed they'd only been waiting to turn her out of the 'nest' to resume their field research, which they'd pretty much given up to rear her, taking teaching positions to give her a stable home until she'd gone off to college.