Chapter 1: Rose on the Bed

It had been left on my bed, a perfect rose the color of purple. I stared at it in confused shock. How had it come to be there? Certainly my partner wouldn't have done it...would he?

Confused and worried, I left the thing there and went to my partner's room.

"Jake, come here...I need to show you something," I say to his questioning face when he opens his door.

He follows me to my bedroom, I stand to the side so he can get a clear look at my made bed (yes I make it, the military trained me well).

Frowning, Jake stares a moment then walked toward the flower and touches it gently. "It's fresh not fake," he comments. Well, obviously he hadn't left it as he was just as puzzled as I was.

"Yeah, it usually was."

He swivels his head to stare at me, frowning even harder. "Usually?"

I rub my neck in nervous embarrassment. "It was something an old flame had a habit of doing when we were together."

Jake's eyebrows raise. "Oh?" He stares down at the flower a look of concern and worry replacing his frown. "Uh, so how long ago was this and does this old flame know where you live now?"

I spread my paws in an 'I don't know' gesture. "I haven't seen them since I left the academy. We broke up when I was assigned to Enforcer Headquarters. My lover thought I would go to one of those quieter assignments outside the city so was very unhappy to learn I chose the more dangerous duty of Megakat City."

Rolling his eyes, Jake snorted. "Why on earth would they think you would take a quiet duty? And why should it be a surprise? You were on the fast track when we met."

I blushed and ducked my head. Jake groaned. "You didn't tell them. That's nasty!" He scolded me.

"Yeah, well we weren't doing so well by then. They were becoming rather over possessive and I found that confining as hell."

"Then you should have told them that," my friend said, mildly disgusted. I shrugged sheepishly. What could I say, it was true but in my defense, I was really young and stupid back then.

"Anyway, since I've not seen them for more than a decade, I have no idea where this came from or who else might have left it," I admit.

"This is serious, Chance. No one should have been able to get into our apartment. You know how good my security is."

"Yeah, that's true. Then we should check your surveillance system..." I say, turning and walking down the hall, Jake following.

We go downstairs to the garage then down the secret man hole to the hidden hangar beneath our feet. Jake immediately goes to the huge computer he has set up and calls up the security views for the time this might have happened. It didn't take long to find but it left us with more questions than answers.

"Whoever this is, knows security as well as I do, buddy. As you can see, this person managed to stop the camera without being seen, 10:05. That was fifteen minutes after we left on that tow run. They restarted the system at exactly 10:15. Long enough to do what they came for and leave. Let's go see if there are any other clues they might have left behind." Jake got up and made for the garage above.

I was feeling anger and concern as I followed my partner. If it was my former lover, why had they done this? If it wasn't, who was so skilled they could bypass Jake's superior security system to get in and why do it in the first place? What did they want? Too many questions and with our secret in jeopardy, ones that had to be answered as fast as possible. It was too scary to contemplate that whoever this was already knew more than they should about Jake and I.

Using all our Enforcer skills and ones acquired as secret super heros, we searched everywhere for clues. The intruder had to come into the yard, bypass the lock on the garage, disable the cameras, then slip back out again. But despite our careful search, we could find nothing...not even tracks of a vehicle or footsteps in the dirt covered yard outside.

"How the hell did they manage to get into the salvage yard without leaving a trace. Even if they walked in and swept their tracks, we'd see traces of that but there's nothing," I complain loudly as we stood in front of the garage scratching our heads in frustration.

Jake just frowned and looked around then up. His expression tightened and a look of suspicion filled his eyes. To my surprise, he stalked back into the garage. I followed as he went upstairs to our apartment then up the small attic stairs that lead to the small area on the roof we used for sunbathing. He looked around carefully and even climbed up on the upper roof.

"Ah hah!" He shouted. "Come here, Chance!"

Frowning at him, I climb up to see what he'd found. There, snagged in one of the shingles, was a piece of parachute material.

"They parachuted to the roof? Who the hell would want to do that?"

"Whoever it is, has to be an excellent skydiver since this roof is a very small target," Jake said, grimly.

I shake my head. This is just getting too weird. I stare around the yard, my mind going in many directions but no answers come to me.

"I'll set a trap up here and double my security. I'll leave the first one alone and secretly hide a second one to try and catch this person," Jake said, climbing off the roof and heading for his lab. I stand there for a little longer, thinking.

Why? What is the reason for the rose? Why are they targeting me? Maybe I should check up on the whereabouts of my former lover. At least it would give me a starting point. I leave the roof for my bedroom.

Entering my room, I stare at the rose a moment before removing it from my bed and placing it carefully on a shelf above my small desk. I sit down and begin my search.

Some hours later, I give up. My eyes burn and my head aches. I shut down my laptop and go to see what Jake is doing and find him in the kitchen making lunch for the two of us, looking tired but satisfied.

"You done?" I ask him as I sit at the table and pick up the sandwich he's made for me.

"Yeah. He'll have to be truly gifted to find my cameras this time," he said, setting glasses of milk on the table. He sat down with a plop and began eating.

When he was half done, he asked me, "What have you been doing?"

"Trying to see where my former lover is now," I grunt.

"Any luck?"

"Not as much as I would've liked. I'm left with even more questions, if that were possible," I grumble. I finish my sandwich and drink down my milk before I explain further.

"According to the data I was able to find, my lover left Megakat City and went on to train in computer software at a technical school in Sandeval Bay then went to work for a defense company in that area. After that I couldn't find out anymore."

Jake's eyes narrowed in thought. "Perhaps they're working in a very sensitive field. Those that do are cloaked in very heavy security so ordinary probing won't find out anything but the basics on the person. However, there isn't a system out there I can't break eventually. But I'd require a reason rather than a suspicion that it is a former lover. That kind of search is deep and intrusive enough to set off alarms though I'm too good for that to happen but why take the chance."

I shrug. "Yeah, I understand and I can't give you any surety except for that being the only person I knew who had a fetish for purple roses."

"Hmm, you know that might be the right way to track back to this person," Jake murmured.

"Huh? How?"

"Purple roses are a special hybrid and not available just anywhere. All we have to do is locate who does sell them and find out if it's the one you know."

"Good idea." I grin. Leave it to my buddy to come up with a plan. "I'll do some checking around. What will you be doing?"

"It's a Sunday. We'll do what we normally do. If someone is watching us, I don't want them to see us doing anything out of the ordinary. We especially have to be more cautious about responding to SWAT Kat emergencies. It would be easy for someone to put together clues of our extracurricular activity by noting us locking up the garage in the middle of the day and not taking the tow truck to explain why the sudden hurry, then the Turbokat appearing in the sky not far away. Whoever this is, isn't stupid and might put the pieces of our secret together," Jake warned.

A chill sweeps up my spine. I don't like the idea that I could be stalked. We needed to find our intruder and fast.