HUMAN/SUPER Higher Learning 114

All the basics were there: name, age, address, and so on. Her job was listed as “bartender” with no mention at all of her investigation work. The file also included a phone number, which Frederica dialed.

“How did you get this number?” Virginia asked.

“After all this, are you really still surprised by what I can do?” Frederica replied.

Virginia chuckled.

“I suppose not,” she said. “So what do you want? You finally ready to talk?”

“No,” Frederica said, “but I was thinking we might come to… an alternative arrangement.”

“Okay, I’ll bite,” Virginia said. “What kind of arrangement did you have in mind?”

“One where you call off your investigation and give me the name of your client,” Frederica said.

“Oh, is that all?” Virginia scoffed. “And what, pray tell, do I get out of this bargain?”

“If you do as I ask,” Frederica said, “then I won’t give your laptop and camera to your parole officer.”

“Is that really the best you can do?” Virginia said. “I hate to break it to you, but Paulson already knows about my work. Nothing you can show him will make any difference.”

“Well, it couldn’t hurt to try,” Frederica said. “I’m in the waiting room now. He should be coming out of his office any minute. And then we can see just how much he knows.”

Silence on the line. The phone on Jeanette’s desk started ringing. Frederica disconnected the call with her mind.

“Nice try,” she said. “Now do we have a deal or not?”

“How do I even know you’ll keep your word?” Virginia asked.

“Because I’m not you,” Frederica replied, and when Virginia said nothing, she added, “Tick tock.”

Virginia sighed loudly.

“Carter Beckett,” she said finally. “He’s the one who hired me.”

“Of course,” Frederica said. “I should have known.”