The cell phone rang and shot through her dreams. She jerked awake and searched
for it amidst the sheets.
"Astrid? Astrid Barbosa?" a strong male voice came from the other end.
"Yeah. Who's this?" she said managed to say groggily.
"That doesn't matter. What matters is that you get to the corner of Sunset and Lexington within the next 20 minutes."
"What? Why the hell should I?!" She shouted as she flung her long tanned legs over the side of the bed.
"Because Gibbons wants to see you."
"Who is this?" She hissed into the phone but they had already hung up. She put down the phone, picked up her jeans and black tank top from the floor and went into the master bathroom to get dressed.
As she pulled the yellow shirt off she looked into the mirror. A young girl of about 18 looked back at her, with long flowing black hair and a long oval face. She had piercing blue eyes that sparkled even with a hangover. Her skin was naturally tanned, as was the rest of her body. Her father was Brazilian, so she knew where she got her tanned skin and hair, but her eyes were a mystery; she never knew who her mother was. Not that she ever wondered.
Astrid hopped into the shower and welcomed the hot steam that surrounded her body. She quickly showered and jumped out. She couldn't afford to be late. If the guy on the phone was telling the truth, she had to meet Gibbons in the next 14 minutes.
"Damn." she swore under her breath as she remembered that it was 7 am on Monday morning. The traffic was terrible this time of day. She decided to take her silver and blood red Hayabusa. It was sleek and fast; good for slow traffic.
As she ran down the stairs she noticed all of the people scattered throughout the hall still sleeping. 'Last night party must have really been good. No one wanted to leave.' she thought and smiled to herself. 'Oh well. Calida and Rosalia will kick them out later.'
She opened the garaged and pulled out the Hayabusa. Astrid had a lot of toys in the garage, but this was her favourite. She hopped on, touched the gas and the bike sped off down the long driveway that lead to and from the large house on the hill. The house was a present from one of her former boyfriends. A 4.5 million-dollar present. God, life was good when you're a woman.
She arrived at the meeting place with moments to spare. She knew Gibbons was not one to wait. She saw him sitting in a diner across the street and decided to make the first move.
As Astrid walked in she was hit by a strong of aroma coffee and fried food.
He watched her as she walked in. She was still as beautiful as she had been 2 years ago. Her eyes still had that wisdom and power over anyone. Even him. He loved her like his own child, but he would never let her know. Gibbons was truly sorry for what happened to her old partner, but it was no ones fault. Astrid did not know how to deal with grief, so she lashed out and blewn up his car in the process. Astrid had been young. He didn't hold it against her.
After that incident, she went on a spree. She seduced guys with pockets full of money and went through so many meaningless relationships that even she had trouble remembering them all. She did some street racing, got money, and was known for her wild parties. Gibbons knew this because he had kept a close eye on her. Astrid had potential, and he didn't want to lose her.
Nor did he want to lose Xander. The only way to keep them both was to give them partners who could match their wits. His only option was to put them together.
She walked over to the booth in the back where he was sitting and put her helmet on the table.
"So you wanted to see me?" she said crossing her arms.
"Yes. Sit down. We missed you at the age...."
"Stop right there Gibbons," she hissed. "If I knew that you were gonna bring that shit up again I wouldn't have come. What is it that you don't understand about my quitting? I would be glad to explain." Astrid forced the works out as calmly as she could, but she could feel the blood rising in her face. The nerve...
"Astrid. I know what you said before and I understand why. But I think I'd be good for you to come back."
"Cut the crap Gibbons. I don't need you or the agency. I did my bit for world piece and all that. So you'd be doing me a big favour if you took me off your 'in case of emergency' list."
"The world is not in danger. At least not right now. And that's not what I called you about. I have an agent. I think you two could work well together. You both have iron wills and big mouths."
"Let me guess. Your boy is sitting at the counter wearing the wife beater and black pants." Astrid said not glancing from Gibbons' face.
"Yeah. How did you know?"
"He's the only one here that hasn't looked at your scars, but has checked out my ass and my bike." She smiled.
"Good observation Barbosa," Gibbons laughed, glad all of his hard training had stuck with her. She was a tough one to figure out, but he once had unravelled the mystery that is Astrid. She hadn't changed much from the street-smart 16 year-old he knew. "Xander! Come here."
"I'm not your bitch, ok Gibbons?" said the Xander, getting up from the stool and walking over.
Astrid watched him as his muscles flexed like that of a tiger. He looked so familiar. She strained to recollect where she remembered him from.
"Xander, meet Astrid. Astrid, Xander," said Gibbons glancing from one to the other. He could see Xander's eyes wandering over her and her eyes lounging over his body.
'Good,' he thought and smiled. 'At least they'll have something to do together.'
Walking down that hall and listening to the voices behind the many closed doors brought back a lot of memories for Astrid. The sterile environment was unwelcoming and the people were also. That was one of the many reasons she left the agency.
As they turned into Gibbons' office, Xander snuck a peek at her. She was hot, but there was something about her that made him back off. Maybe it was her eyes, or maybe it was the way she walked, but whatever it was, he knew she wouldn't give him anything unless she wanted to.
He sat on one of the leather chairs in the spacious office while Astrid made herself comfortable on the big couch.
She had large eyes that suited her face. She could have been a model if she had wanted to, but he guessed that she was not the type to sit and pose.
"So you gonna talk or what?" asked a peeved Astrid. "It's enough that you had to drag my ass down here."
Gibbons gave her one of his looks and began, "I asked you to meet with me because I want you to work together."
Xander could feel her eyes burning into his back. "Why?" said Astrid.
"Because you two are good at what you do." said Gibbons. "Not to mention you both like high speeds and blowing stuff up."
"How much?" said Astrid.
"How much what?" said Gibbons raising his eyebrows.
"Then no deal." said Astrid getting up to leave.
"If I were you I'd sit down Astrid."
She turned to face him, standing up fully. "Or what? You gonna sick your bitch here on me?"
"No, but I will bring up your service record and email it to some people who would really be interested in knowing just who put them in jail." said Gibbons with a snarl.
Astrid stood there looking at him, her mind racing. What were her options? To leave here and have 50 very angry guys with a lot of guns chasing her down, or try and work with Xander.
"Fine Gibbons. You got me. But I have some stuff to do first." she said grabbing her helmet and walking out of the office.