Disclaimer: I do not own Red Eye.
Two days passed in a blur. Lisa spent much of the first deep in sleep while her exhausted mind forced her body to simply stop until both were properly rested. When she woke, there were forty messages on her answering machine; most of them were from before the funeral, and she cried anew at hearing the condolences from co-workers. Her mother had called seven times, most recently the day before Lisa got home, each time with an entreaty for Lisa to please call her, let her know if she could expect her daughter for Thanksgiving. Lisa hoped she could make it, though the way events played out at the Ball would likely dictate whether or not Lisa was going anywhere.
She tried hard not to think about that aspect of the upcoming party. When Amanda Keefe called her late in the afternoon on the second day, Lisa was ready to go shopping for something suitable to wear and to put the whole unpleasantness out of her head. Even then, she found herself at home the night before the ball with a dress she barely remembered choosing and a list of instructions that Amanda had left for her, mostly involving a trip to a stylist.
Lisa clipped the list to her refrigerator door to remind her about the appointment, then stood back to turn in a 360-degree circle. Her gaze took in her kitchen counter, the list, her table, the divider that separated her kitchen from the main room. How had she gotten here? Hadn't she just been on the road with Frank and Jackson? Hadn't she been in South Carolina just days ago, in Georgia, Florida? Miami. She'd been in Miami, comfortably ensconced in her luxury suite after tending to the difficult death of her father…how many days ago?
That meant Joe had been dead for less than a month. Twenty days, at most.
She bit her lip, felt the prick of tears behind her eyes. She didn't belong here at this moment, getting ready for a State Ball that might or might not be Don Connolly's last, that might or might not ruin Jackson once and for all. That she might not be with her family for the holiday itself hadn't really sunk in until now. Lisa wondered if she was ever going to have just a normal life, without international assassins and death threats, bombs, and car chases. At the rate she was going, it wasn't very likely.
The take-charge part of her mind suddenly woke up. Don't cry, she chided herself. Life doesn't wait for when you're 'ready' or 'prepared'. You pick yourself up and move forward.
Perhaps another time, the reminder of her long-gone grandmother might have depressed her, but at that moment, the thought was a comfort. She had lost people, and she had a personal stake in whatever was going to happen tomorrow night. Not only that, she had a responsibility to her boss and even—regardless of the cliché—her country.
Her immediate mental image of Lisa Reisert, defender of justice made her snort and roll her eyes. "Right," she said aloud. The cat looked up, disinterested. Lisa bent to scratch the fluffy beast under the chin and then straightened. She took a step toward the living room, fully intending to call her mother back.
Movement at her door made her freeze. A hulking shape stood just past the thin cotton privacy curtain on the door's window; someone taller and broader than she, outside on the porch. How long had he been there? She stepped back at once and grabbed a knife. The doorbell rang then, its cheery chime sounding almost eerie.
Lisa shuffled forward a bit, just enough to glance around the corner again to see what the intruder was doing. He moved, the shadow's arm going toward the latch. She tensed, waiting for him to try to sneak into the house. He must have thought she was still out, and he'd lie in wait for her to return. Her fingers fanned and repositioned themselves on the handle of the knife. She was ready.
Instead, however, the doorbell only sounded once more. What kind of assassin was he?
No kind, apparently. The form shrugged, then disappeared. Lisa heard the 'thunk' of a box on her doorstep, saw the intruder put something on her window. He made a quick note with a pen, then turned and trotted away, feet audible on the steps. A moment later, a large box truck roared to life. Lisa dashed to the door just in time to see the brown 'UPS' truck grumbling down the road.
Still on alert, she opened her door carefully. An inocuous cardboard box rested on the porch, several barcoded labels stuck to the top and sides. On the door's window, a sticky note in UPS's brown and yellow corporate colors announced that the driver had check left package check no signature required check 4:33pm check no answer at door.
This was a quandary. What should she do? Open it—or not? Didn't some bombers use the mail or courier services to deliver their little packages of doom? She stared down at it, uncertain.
"Miss Reisert! Don't touch it yet!"
Lisa looked up in surprise to see a man in a grey suit and dark glasses jogging across the street toward her. Another similarly-dressed man paused to let a car go by on the street, then followed his partner at the same semi-hurried pace. They immediately examined the box, the first one motioning that she should back away while he inspected the markings. The partner looked around and spoke into a walkie-talkie. Beyond the warning to stay back, neither man paid much attention to Lisa.
She watched them, incredulous. "What the hell is all this?" she demanded. "Since when are Federal Agents just hanging around outside my door?"
The first agent ignored her, while the second muttered something into the radio and glanced her way. "Mr. Keefe instructed us to keep an eye on you, ma'am."
"It's ok, doesn't seem to be any kind of explosive," the first agent said. He sounded slightly disappointed. "I think it's legit."
"Thanks so much," Lisa snapped. "You can go now."
The first agent looked annoyed and a little hurt. "We're here for your protection, Miss Reisert. Mr. Keefe was very clear that you might be in danger from the folks who are after you."
"Well thank you for protecting me. I'll have a word with Mr. Keefe tomorrow about assigning watchdogs on me without letting me know they're even there."
The second agent had the grace to look sheepish. "Sorry, Miss Reisert. But we need to check the package contents. If you don't mind?" He produced a pocketknife and pointed at the box. "Just because it's not explosive doesn't mean it's not dangerous."
She knew better than to argue. Still peeved, she threw up her hands in dismissal. "Sure, whatever. Go crazy."
A moment later, after another warning to stay back, the box was open and the bubble wrap removed. The two agents frowned down in confusion at the contents of the package, while Lisa found herself laughing.
Her purse and overnight bag lay inside, neatly arranged to form a cushion for a pair of familiar navy-blue designer shoes.
The agents had returned to their truck (or van or whatever they were using to stake out her house) over an hour ago when Lisa finally stopped giggling enough to unpack her things. She was thrilled to have them back, silly as it seemed; they were ordinary bags and nothing special, but they were hers and they'd gone through just about as much as she had on that wild chase. The shoes were simply a bonus, and they'd match the indigo dress Amanda had found for her.
It amused her further to think that she was becoming as fashion-conscious as Jackson, and further still when she realized she wasn't facing tomorrow with as much trepidation as she had only a few hours earlier. She wasn't sure if she should be worried about that.
When the rest was put away, Lisa turned her attention once more to the shoes. They didn't look any worse for the wear, thankfully. She found a box in which to store them and set them inside. Something rustled against her finger.
A note, tucked into the toe of one perfect shoe. "You're welcome. –F"
Maybe tomorrow won't turn out too badly, she thought, smiling at the paper. After all, who ever said I was in this by myself?
AN: I promised I'd be continuing this fic, and here you go. I know this chapter is abysmally short, but rather than wait to make it longer for the sake of making it longer, I figured you'd rather I post and live up to my word. ;)
Since the last update, this is what I've done:
Lost my awesome Granddad :(
Saw my baby sister get her Master's Degree from Dartmouth
Made an historic colonial costume for my Grandma for DAR
Attended my first anime/gaming/webcomic/fantasy/whatever convention
Worked at said convention
Staffed said convention
Survived said convention
Experienced a computer hard drive crash that took me out of commission for a couple of weeks
Experienced a monitor crash (days after replacing the HDD) that took me out of commission for over a month
Started teaching an Adult Ed knitting class locally
Started working as a nanny for a friend
Worked on a large art commission and several smaller ones
Worked on a novel
Started a new art series
Designed a host of characters for a friend's story
And a bunch of other stuff that seems to fill my days. Sorry for the long wait, my dears, but I promise I'll have more soon.