Lexi Masters kept her eyes on the parking lot around her as she slid the ID card through the computerized lock entry system to the Trent Industries, Inc. building. Ears alert to any sound, she turned her attention to the numeric key pad and punched in the top secret code. The door clicked and she yanked it open. As she slipped inside, her stomach tightened and she felt a tremor just beneath her skin.
Security camera lenses followed her path across the lobby like so many eyes of portraits in a haunted mansion.
"Stop thinking like that!" She pressed the elevator button.
"Hol'it righ' there, don' move!"
Lexi screamed at the top of her lungs, her feet actually leaving the floor, her hands flying toward the ceiling. The ID card sailed across the room and landed with a slap at the feet of the security guard. Lexi's reaction startled the guard, causing his index finger to jerk on the trigger of his 9 millimeter handgun.
It all happened in under five seconds: Lexi's scream, the guard's startled response, the gun shot, and Lexi's instinctive reaction to the sound of weapon fire. She found herself face down on the cold marble floor, arms spread, trembling, and very near tears. In the next instant, however, she reprimanded herself and regained control. As she tried to get to her feet, she felt a knee in the center of her back, pushing her onto the floor.
"I said don' move!"
"Look," she turned her head and tried to make eye contact with the guard. He was a hulk of a man. She almost giggled as her mind corrected her opinion. He looked a lot more like The Body Ventura than Hulk Hogan. "Control yourself! He shot once, he could do it again."
"Sir," using her most respectful voice. "I have Mr. Trent's permission to be here. How else could I have gotten into the building? See?" She nodded in the direction of her ID card still lying on the floor. "That's my ID. I work for my brother, Alexander Masters. He's head of Team 3 on the Time Warp Project. He forgot some papers for an important meeting and sent me to pick them up."
The guard didn't move. "Why didn' he come get 'em 'imself?"
"He'd have been late for the meeting. Look, you can call him, or Mr. Trent, they'll tell you it's true. Mr. Trent was supposed to have already called you."
At that precise moment the phone at the guard desk rang. The man holding her captive looked at her with great suspicion. Still holding his gun on her, he slowly rose to his feet.
"You stay put." He backed away, keeping his eyes--and the gun--on her as he made his way to the reception desk and picked up the phone.
"Yes sir?" He cradled the handset between his ear and shoulder, maintaining his vigilant surveillance of Lexi as he responded to the answer at the other end of the phone line.
"Yes sir. I see sir. All righ' sir." He nudged the receiver off his shoulder and placed it back on the cradle using his left hand.
Lexi noticed he let his gun hand drop to his side as he crossed the lobby, but he continued to keep his fierce gaze focused on her. When he stood above her, his feet so close she could smell the leather of his boots, he said, "All right get up!"
As Lexi got to her feet he took a few steps away, picked up her ID card and scrutinized it. His gaze shifted from the card to her, back to the card, then settled on her again. The corners of his mouth turned down in an almost angry pout as he handed the card to her.
"Mr. Trent says to let you on up."
Lexi allowed him to hear her huge sigh of relief as she took the card from him.
"Thank you." She used the meekest tone she could muster, though inside she wanted the moron to have a piece of her mind. She'd never been one to respect authority figures. Not that this rent--a--cop could in any way, shape or form, be considered to represent authority, at least not in her mind.
Lexi pressed the button, again, for the elevator. To her surprise, the guard spoke.
"An' I apol'gize about the gun goin' off. I wasn' really shootin' at ya, but ya scared the hell outta of me when ya screamt like that."
Lexi turned and gave him a small smile. "Think how I felt!"
The elevator doors slid open and she stepped inside and out of his sight. That was the last she ever saw of him.