An Evening At the Hillard

Marta Shearing looked around the room at the people dancing; she couldn't believe she'd let Peter talk her into attending the fundraiser but she supposed it was the least she could do to support him; after all she was never there when he needed her or so he claimed.

'Your work takes up all your time,' he'd repeatedly complained and although Marta always defended herself without actually telling him exactly what it was that she did, deep down she knew that he was right. If she intended for their relationship to work out, and she did, then she needed to invest more time in it. Hence her standing in the ballroom of the prestigious Hillard hotel watching Peter talk to some of their colleagues.

It could be worse, she told herself, and spending an evening out was not the worst way to spend one's time. In fact some of the people she'd talked to had been quite interesting.


Aaron Cross made himself comfortable at the bar of the hotel. He'd honestly been surprised when Trotter, his handler, had pulled him off the mission to Helsinki and told him to meet him at the Hillard. Something had to have gone seriously wrong; they never met in public and certainly not at five-star hotels.

He took another sip of his drink and looked at his watch again. He was in for a long wait, thirty minutes at least. He shouldn't have set off when he did but he'd been restless and figured that it would be good to see how the other half lived for a change.

As he sat at the bar, a position he'd carefully chosen so that he could see everything that he was going on around him; he absently observed the people around him. He'd already noted that there was fundraising event taking place in the nearby ballroom; many of the guests had come up to the bar. Probably to escape the boredom, he thought to himself. Fundraising events had to be some of the most boring things in the world.

He watched as a dark-haired woman in a fitting black dress entered the bar; she made her way confidently towards the bar and went past him and sat down at the end of the counter.

She was beautiful; but it wasn't her beauty that captivated him. There was something in the way that she held herself that drew his attention. He couldn't help himself, he stared at her.

As if she could feel his eyes, and he was almost sure she could, she turned and smiled at him, a radiant beautiful smile. He nodded in response and looked down into his drink.

"You're not here for the fundraiser, are you?"

Aaron looked at her and shook his head, "no."

"So what brings you to this fine establishment if you don't mind my asking?"

"Drinks," he held up his glass.

"That looks like club soda to me," she told me.

"It is," he replied sheepishly.

"You came to the bar for that?"

"What can I say?" he shrugged, "I like meeting new people."

"So how many new people have you met so far?"

"Including you," he smiled, "one."

"I guess you chose the wrong bar, then, or the wrong day."

"I don't think so," he said, "I met you, didn't I?"

She nodded. "I guess you did."

"Taking a breather from the fundraiser?"

"To be honest I had run out of small talk," she confessed.

"So you decided that you would talk to a total stranger instead?"

"You're not asking me about pharmaceuticals," she shrugged, "so that's something. And besides I was tired of smiling."

He wanted to tell her that she hadn't stopped smiling since she'd sat down next to him; he was also smiling like an idiot.

"There you are," a man joined them, "I wondered where you disappeared to and to be honest I'm a bit surprised to find you here."

"I just wanted to sit down," Marta said.

"There are chairs in the ballroom," Peter told her.

Marta stood and took the hand that Peter was holding out for her. "It was nice to meet you," she said to Aaron.

"Likewise," he smiled at her, and watched as they walked out of the room.


"Sorry we had to meet like this," Trotter told him a few minutes later, "but I wanted to see how you were doing."

"I'm fine."

"I can see that."

"There's a new regime they want to start you on," Trotter said, "it's experimental, mind, but I volunteered you for it."

"What is it exactly?"

"I honestly don't know," Trotter said, "but with the new science they say it will make you even better."

Trotter looked at Aaron; he was one of the few people on earth who knew Aaron's history and why he always volunteered for drug trials.

"I guess it can't be any worse than the one I'm on now," Aaron said.

"You'll have fewer visits to the doctors, that's for sure," Trotter assured him, "in fact you won't going to back to the warehouse."

Trotter passed him a card. "Your first appointment is tomorrow."

"That soon?"

"Aaron, you almost died when you were shot last month," Trotter shrugged, "I know gunshots do kill people but that wasn't what was killing you."

"My immunity has gone down," Aaron said.

"They say this new program will take care of all that," Trotter said.


Aaron sat in the waiting room. For a place that wasn't a hospital it certainly looked and smelt like one.

"If you would follow me," a man told him, "Dr. Shearing will meet you in room three."