The vampire stood silent, looking Blair up and down. For a minute he thought the vampire was going to turn him down, walk away, and blow their entire plan. Blair suppressed a shiver and swallowed, then offered his most charming smile.
“Stay cool. I’m ten feet away and will be with you the whole time,” Forge said in Blair’s ear as a gentle reminder.
Blair mentally squared his shoulders. “Just one drink and a name?” He touched the vampire’s forearm for a few seconds.
“Varian.” Varian held out his arm, motioning to the exit and the bar.
“So, how incredible is this stuff?” Blair asked as they walked. His admiration and near gushing over the art wasn’t an act. “It’s hard to imagine something so small and mundane could be turned into beautiful and valuable art.” He shook his head and slipped onto a bar stool. “And to think I’ve spent half my life working with this sort of technology.” He signaled the bartender. They ordered their drinks.
Blair’s phone announced a text. He read it quickly and scowled, grumbling, “Jerks.”
“Is there a problem?”
Sighing heavily, Blair shook his head. “Nothing I haven’t dealt with before. Juvenile records are supposed to be sealed.” He shrugged and rolled his eyes. “But if I can get into them and get information on someone, there are people who can get it on me. I’ve tried to put something I did when I was young behind me, but I can’t. I’ll never get any further in any company than I am now. Got passed over again for promotion. Kicker is, the guy who got the job can’t do a quarter of what I can and doesn’t even have a PhD, and I helped train him.”
“What do you do?”
“Computers. Specifically, cyber security. No one wants a man in charge who has a federal record, even if it’s supposed to be sealed. When I was a kid, I dabbled in the Darknet, hacking into a lot of things I shouldn’t have. I thought being a black hat was cool until I got caught.” Blair held his glass in both hands and leaned on the bar, sulking. “I can build a kickass computer and network, set up an entire system for a company, and train people how to use it, but beyond that no corporation is going to trust me. No one will allow me to have passwords for anything more than superficial layers of a system. I wanted to go into cybercrimes or analysis for the FBI or CIA. Can’t do those things either. I get to spend my life fixing font sizes.”
Varian’s phone rang. “Excuse me. Business. I have to take this,” he said and turned so his back was partially to Blair. “You’re late. Where the hell—”
Blair smiled and sipped his drink when he heard Sayyna’s voice in the phone. “He’s going to be very late, probably ten to twenty years late.”
“Who is this?” Varian snapped.
“That’s not important. I have something you want, and you have the means to help me get something I desire. Your colleague’s phone contains some very interesting information,” Sayyna said smoothly and hung up.
Varian snarled and stabbed at his phone’s screen for a minute before he shoved it into his pocket.
“Something I can help with?” Blair flicked his earlobe. “Vampire, so the hearing has improved since we last met.” He smiled. “But you knew that already.” Leaning closer to Varian, Blair lowered his voice. “Truth is, I’ve been looking for you ever since our night together. Damn hard tracking down a man who leaves no photographic evidence.”
“You came here because of me?”
Blair nodded and said, “It took me a few years, but I can be persistent.”
Forge snorted and Blair cleared his throat.
“But you didn’t even know my name.” Varian seemed very interested in this piece of news.
“You left fingerprints and some…DNA. There’s nothing I can’t find. The trick is knowing where to look and how. Do you think cybersecurity is all about putzing around online putting up firewalls to prevent viruses? For instance, I found evidence of why you’re so interested in this exhibit. Now me, I like the art for the sake of what it is and how it looks. But you…”
“You and the woman who called are working together?”
“She thinks we are. She hired me to make some… adjustments to the alarms here,” Blair said.
Varian leaned back and studied Blair. “Show me what you can do.”
Blair pulled out his phone. “Connect to the hotel private Wi-Fi, issue a few command prompts, and…” Blair looked up and grinned when the lights in the room dimmed, then brightened, then flickered.
“How would you like to make more money than any corporation will pay you in two years?”
“And if I want more than money?”
Varian smiled and laughed softly. “I think that can be arranged. The first thing I need is the phone the woman has. Bring it to me and we’ll talk some more.”
“I’ll call you when I have it.” Blair finished his drink and stood up.
“You’ll need my—” Varian stopped abruptly when Blair turned his phone around and showed him the screen.
“I can get the contacts and numbers of everyone in a twenty-foot radius.” Blair turned the phone’s screen off and pocketed it. “Like I said, nothing I can’t find in the digital world.”
Smirking, Blair tapped the top of the bar then walked away.
Click the banner to see the collection.
Welcome to My World