Illusions: I spy a manila folder

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Ashley Tanner

Illusions is a novella written by Nicole Schroeder and Ashley Tanner, about a girl named Gemma who has the ability to see people’s true character at a single glance. Each post in the following blog series is one chapter of Illusions.
Elijah was pushing a grape tomato around with a fork in his salad bowl, completely zoned out. He was thinking about Gemma, as he often was these days. He missed being able to hold her hand, the smell of her hair, the way she blushed when he complimented her.
He suddenly felt a kick from under the table, he let out a startling grunt and looked up. James was glaring at him.
“Sorry.” Elijah looked down at his salad again.
“Look, I am only willing to help you if you will actually listen,” he said, a hint of irritation in his voice.
“Yeah, I know. And I really appreciate your help,” he lowered his voice. “I’ve just been — er — distracted.”
James rolled his eyes.
“Go on. What were you saying?”
“We need to find more dirt on ol’ Wolfie,” James said, letting out a slight chuckle. “We can’t take him down if we know nothing about him. We need to try and find correlations between the jobs he’s worked on, solid proof of his work with SAINT.”
“Are you sure that’s worth spending our time doing? We all have cases like Gemma’s — more than anything, we’ll look just as corrupt as he is.”
James looked cross. “Do you have any better ideas, Beckett?”
“Any better ideas about what?”
They both looked up to find Wolfgang sipping a cup of coffee from The Sprout, the same coffee shop where he’d met Gemma. Elijah froze, unsure of what to say and searching desperately for a way out.
“On where to take these twins I met at a bar last night for dinner. I scored a date with one of them, but of course she wants to bring her sister. So I asked Beckett if he wanted to come along,” James reached across the table and slapped Elijah on the shoulder. “I suggested we go to Charlie’s, but Elijah doesn’t think it’s nice enough.”
Elijah was surprised by how fast he responded, but went along with it. “It’s not, we need to take them somewhere with more class.”
“Oh, definitely. Charlie’s is second-date material. Take them to Regus, it’s not too expensive but they still know how to pick a great wine.” He winked and then walked away.
It took until his footsteps disappeared from down the hall for Elijah to let out the breath he’d been holding in. “That was impressive.”
“You don’t get a job working for Wolfgang without skill, and acting happens to be mine.”
Elijah nodded. “Obviously. So, what am I looking for in these files?”
“Take them apart. Look for the low-profile ones, the ones that are easy to bury under our bigger cases. Small lawsuits with big settlements, something that looks like a SAINTs check in disguise. Check for connections between them — if the same phrasing pops up, or the same neighborhood, stuff like that. Weird wording might be signs of the same ability — they’re going to be subtle about this stuff.” He paused momentarily and looked around. “I’ll check the online records for the same things. If you find anything, let me know.”
He got up, threw his trash away and left the room.
Elijah soon followed, throwing away his barely touched salad before heading back toward his cubicle and beginning his search.
The first intern he set his sights on was Dale. Dale had been working there for some time and he seemed to be flourishing. He was handsome, but not overly so. His dark hair was unkempt, but fit his style.
Getting up, he walked leisurely toward him, his hands in his pockets. “Hey, just a sec. I’m gonna need those files.”
“What do you need them for?”
Elijah was taken back by his question. “Wolf asked me to look at them. If you would like to take it up with him, by all means,” he offered, holding up his hands and stepping back to bring Theo’s office into view.
His threat worked like a charm. Without hesitation, the man sighed, handing over the small stack of manilla folders he held in his arms.
“Thanks. I’ll bring them back when I’m done.”
What do you think Elijah and James will discover about Wolfgang? Leave your comments and questions below.