HUMAN/SUPER First Contact 81

She ran a hand through her hair, which was short and spiky now but still bubblegum pink. The usual electronic background noise filled Angela’s head as she absorbed memories of a night spent hacking into the dirty secrets of a corrupt corporation. Angela rang in the game and turned to Fuad.

“You mind if I take an early lunch?” she asked.

He smiled and said, “Go for it.”

“Thanks,” she replied.

She handed Leigh her purchase and they headed out of the store together. Angela listened to her phone as she walked, in case Genesis tried to call.

“Is that blood?” Leigh asked, staring at Angela’s hands.

Angela glanced down and noticed a streak of blood on her wrist that she’d missed while cleaning up. She licked her thumb and wiped the blood off.

“I had an accident with a boxcutter,” she said.

“Are you hurt?” Leigh asked.

“Not anymore,” Angela replied. “It’s… a long story.”

“Maybe you can tell me about it over chess,” Leigh said.

Angela chuckled.

“I don’t know why you keep doing this to yourself,” she said. “It always ends the same way.”

“I’m a gamer,” Leigh said. “If at first you don’t succeed, reload and try the level again.”

“I think that’s the definition of insanity,” Angela said.

“I have never claimed otherwise,” Leigh replied, grinning.

Angela laughed. They reached the food court and set up the chess board on a table. Angela filled Leigh in on last night’s events as they went back and forth capturing each other’s pieces.

“And I haven’t heard from her since,” Angela said. “You think she’s okay?”

“Oh, probably,” Leigh said. “My aunt had a heart attack a few years back and I sat by her bedside for so long that I completely lost track of time. But everything turned out fine.”

“I just hate to see Genesis upset,” Angela said.

“You can’t protect her from everything, you know,” Leigh said.