Illusions: Gone without notice

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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.
Time had escaped Elijah’s mind as he worked on a pressing case. On the rare occasions that he got to work on a real case, he was excited and put in every effort he had. He was representing a woman who had been discriminated against. She considered herself latina because she was adopted into a latino family, and endured the hardships of latino life in America. Her college, however, did not consider her to be latina and chose another minority student over her, even though she was more qualified. It was the hardest and most interesting case of his career.
He glanced down at the clock on his monitor and realized he was running late for lunch with James. He began to save his files when he realized he hadn’t gathered any new information for their case against Wolfgang.
Elijah made his way toward to lunch room, readying himself for whatever new information James had gathered. He seemed to be much better at spotting these kinds of cases than he was, he noted with some surprise as he began his search for his companion. Elijah made eye contact with a co-worker, Natalie. She had long, flowing blonde hair, and a beautifully sweet smile. He nodded at her, and she nodded back. He continued to look for James, but didn’t see him anywhere.
He pulled out his phone and brought the LCD screen to life, checking for a text from James. Nothing. With a shrug, he sat down at their usual table. Perhaps he was running late, too. Elijah opened his bag and pulled out his garden salad, pouring the dressing absentmindedly as his mind wandered. He ate his salad in silence, all the while searching for his friend and feeling his weariness increase with each passing moment.
Where was James?
He pulled his phone out again and texted James, in hopes of finding him.
After a moment, Elijah put the lid back on and stored it away, unable to finish. He had a bad feeling about James’ absence and was no longer hungry. As casually as he could, he exited the break room and went back to his desk. He hesitated as he sat down, thinking of what to do. Quickly, he printed off the first document he saw on his computer screen and walked to the printer, making sure to pass near James’ desk on his way.
His jacket was draped over his chair, but his computer was turned off, never even having booted up for the morning. It didn’t even seem like James had been here, save for his jacket resting on the back of his chair.
A short, flamboyant girl was collecting her papers when he walked up. After she left, Elijah picked up the paper he had printed, and without even looking at it, threw it away. He couldn’t figure out where James was. He mindlessly walked back to his desk, sat down and attempted to continue his work. Still, all of his thoughts brought him back to James.
There hadn’t really been any new leads for the past few weeks, and he knew both of them were growing restless in their search. So, too, were the girls, who couldn’t do much more until they had gathered enough evidence against Wolfgang and the SAINTs.
Gemma. Elijah pulled out his phone and texted her, his fingers flashing over the keys.
Have you talked to James today?
No. Why?
He isn’t at work.
Oh.
His fears escalated. Nothing good could come from James’ mysterious absence. He glanced around the office, hoping to see his red hair pop up somewhere. He checked his messages and email for a third time. Still radio silence.
His eyes searched over the edge of the cubicle, looking for any sign before starting a new text to Gemma.
Still no sign of —
Suddenly, Wolfgang appeared, startling him. He accidentally pressed send, and quickly turned his phone off to hide her name from his boss’ prying eyes.
Before Elijah could say anything, Theo spoke. His eyes flashed with anger, revealing the truth behind his calm composure.
“We need to talk. In my office. Now.”
What do you think is going to happen to Elijah and James? Leave your questions and comments below.