She nodded and followed him into the living room. Darren was short and stocky, with a shaved head and a full, dark brown beard. He was in his late twenties and worked from home as a freelance architect.
“Sorry for imposing,” Frederica said. “It came up kind of suddenly.”
“It’s not a problem,” Darren said, flashing a sympathetic smile. “Mind if I ask what happened?”
“Would you believe me if I told you I’m being targeted by a government conspiracy?” she asked.
“Probably,” he said. “But in any case, make yourself at home. Griff should be back in a few hours so feel free to watch TV or just chill in his room in the meantime. I’d keep you company but I’ve got a lot of work to catch up on today.”
“Is there anything I can help with?” she asked.
“Not unless you have any architectural experience,” he said.
“I don’t,” she replied, peering into his eyes, “but I’m a quick study.”
Frederica spent the rest of the afternoon helping Darren finish his work before deadline. Afterwards, while he submitted the files to his client, her phone rang from a blocked number. She answered hesitantly.
“Evening, Miss Osbourne,” a distorted voice said. “Sorry I couldn’t stay and chat earlier.”
“You bastard,” Frederica muttered. “Give me back my computer.”
“I will,” the thief said. “As soon as you give me what I want.”
“Come now, Miss Osbourne,” the thief said. “You don’t really need me to spell it out, do you?”
“I suppose not,” Frederica replied. “But do you really think I’d trade all that for a three-hundred-dollar laptop? I can just buy a new one.”