“Ladies first. Mind your step. The stairs are a bit steep, though not as narrow.”
“What’s with you and odd stairs?” Kisler asked on his way down.
“Harder for someone to move around in the dark who’s not used to it. I’ve got all kinds of crazy things in place for security. Not surprised you lot chose it for your base. Got the best security money can buy. Even a fella like me’d have trouble getting in here undetected. Please tell me you’ve got the schematics on it?” He looked worried.
“Not seen them yet, kid,” Tim answered. “Why?”
“Tell your men to stay away from the fence. Ten feet back at least. And mind the lawn. Two feet off the path and you start running into the Easter eggs.”
“You’ve got the yard booby trapped?” Kisler looked concerned.
“Yeah. Won’t go boom, mind. Nothing to kill anyone, but they won’t enjoy it.”
Kisler contacted the rest of the team upstairs, giving the warning to look over the specs before expanding their perimeter. Right now, security was isolated to the house and patio areas around it.
“What else should we know about this place?” Alex Graves said.
Jason puffed out his cheeks, blowing air as he scratched the back of his head. “Better if you give it a look. I’m paranoid. Want to keep folks like me out.”
“Someone with a high powered rifle could pick you off,” Graves added.
“Don’t I know it? Why do you think I’ve let the landscaping round and about grow up? But the security cameras are clear and the gardener has instructions to keep it that way.”
“Security cameras?” Taylor Driscole was increasingly annoyed.
“Next stop, security room,” Jason said, changing direction.
He went back to the kitchen, making a right from the staircase. Going down a narrow hallway between the wall and the butler’s pantry, he stopped at another blank wall. He pressed his palm on the door and it swung open after a moment. The monitors were on, but the room was empty. A full gun rack graced one wall. There were cupboards and computers lining other walls.
Kisler and Graves eyed the rows of guns and equipment hungrily, whistling low in impressed wonder.
“Sweet set up,” Kisler said, touching the stock of one of the weapons like a lover.
“Spared no expense,” Jason said. “Oops, I see the gardener hasn’t been in awhile. Not surprising. I suppose the house has been off limits since my arrest. We’ll need to trim back some. Several cameras are obscured. You can bet, once Orchid knows I’m here, she’ll come looking. Little detail like that can make a world of difference. Oh, I suppose I should tell you about the gun mounts?”
“Gun mounts?” Driscole was livid. “You’ve got weapons? Outside?”
“Relax, love. They shoot rubber bullets and beanbags. Hurt like a mother, might break a bone or two, but they won’t kill you—well, not likely.”
“Are they on? I’ve got people out there.”
“No. Got to be turned on by security. I’ve got a spare set of keys, but I’m not quite sure how to work it. It’s new, just got it a day or two before—well….”
“Greg and me can figure it out,” Alex said. “I imagine we know a little bit about security too.” He winked at Jason.
“Ready to go bowling now?” Jason asked Taylor Driscole.
She reddened, whirling toward the door. He noticed she still hadn’t put her hair up again. He liked it down. It was long, sleek, shiny, like the fine walnut paneling in his library.
“Am I missing something?” Kisler asked in a low voice.
“Private joke, but the lady doesn’t think it’s funny.” Jason shrugged, shoving his hands in his pockets. “Oh, can’t get in this room unless it’s coded to you. That I do know how to do and I’ll be happy to put you lot on the scanner.”
“Door shuts automatically?” Graves asked.
“Yeah. Locks are complicated as shit, mostly electronic. Won’t give even if the power goes off. I’ve got a panic room off the master suite, same set up.”
“Buddy, you’re the most paranoid son-of-a-bitch I ever met.”
Jason smirked, blue eyes twinkling. “My friend, you’ve no idea. Kept me alive so far.”
“Let’s hope it continues a while longer.”
“Yeah.” He nodded toward the stairway.
Driscole was busily talking to some members of her team, ordering the trees to be cut back.
“Do they have to worry about setting anything off around the trees?”
“Keep ten feet back from the walls and set your ladders parallel to them. Cross that line, you’ll get quite a shock. Won’t kill you, but your balls will be smoking after a second or two.”
The men shared an earthy laugh. Driscole looked pinch lipped.
“Lighten up, Taylor. You know that was funny,” Kisler tapped her shoulder.
At least that’s what he was moving to do. Taylor caught his hand before it was six inches from her, grabbing his wrist as she twisted his arm up and behind his shoulder in a chicken wing. Kisler yelped, all laughter leaving his face. He was considerably taller than Driscole, making the position that much more painful.
© Dellani Oakes