Here are the links for the Code of Ethics e-book:
Amazon UK: https://amzn.to/3yPk4dR
Amazon CA: https://amzn.to/3xoY4VF
Amazon AU: https://amzn.to/2TXKBGC
Google Play: https://bit.ly/2TSH1xk
I reached toward the doorbell, then pulled my hand back and looked up at the camera that hung above it. I gave it a count of ten, and just as I was about to turn and leave, the door opened.
“What do you want?” Oliver said gruffly.
“Anna Masoud told me to break in.”
He raised an eyebrow, which made his too-handsome hipsterman face look snarky and interesting. “This is you breaking in?”
The corner of my mouth quirked up in the approximation of a smile. “This is me telling you that if you don’t change your security, someone else will break in.”
He stared at me for a longer minute than would be comfortable to most people. I stared back because discomfort didn’t bother me, but a part of my brain still wondered why I was there. Then he opened the door wider. “You better come in then.”
“Why?” I asked, startled into an inane question.
He sighed. “Because I’m about to eat and my food’s getting cold. There’s enough for you if you want some.”
I was suddenly aware of the food scents wafting through the open door, and my stomach growled embarrassingly.
Oliver turned and walked away, leaving the door open behind him.
And because conscious and rational choice seemed to have fled the playing field, I followed him inside.
If McCallum had installed the deadbolt on the door, it would have to be changed, I catalogued mentally as I turned it behind me. The main floor of the house was up a short staircase from the front door. It encompassed a large office, some sort of TV lounge, and a kitchen that was nearly as big as the office. Oliver was in the kitchen dishing a bowl of something that smelled like ramen but looked like an Instagram photo.
“There’s pork in it.”
“I’m a carnivore,” I said, staring at the shimmery broth filled with braised pork, greens, a soft-boiled egg, pickled ginger, soba noodles, and topped with sesame seeds and a piece of nori.
Oliver set the bowl on the island, tossed a cloth napkin next to it, handed me a spoon, and indicated the stool. “A table, s’il vous plaît,” he said as he sat at his own spot down the island.
“Merci,” I answered automatically. My private school education had been bi-lingual, as it usually was in Canada, but I wondered about Oliver’s perfectly accented French. The question must have shown on my face.
“French nanny,” he explained tersely, apparently waiting for me to take a spoonful of soup before he resumed eating.
“In Haiti?” I asked, remembering his strange recitation of his sins in the Cipher office.
He grunted agreement, and then I did taste the soup, and I nearly moaned with pleasure.
The flavors of the broth were unbelievably complex and perfectly balanced. If I hadn’t seen the big stock pot on the stove, I might have assumed he’d ordered take-out from a Michelin starred ramen restaurant.
I opened my mouth to say so, but Oliver was concentrating on his food, so I filled it with another delicious bite instead. We ate in silence, and it was remarkably companionable for being so awkward. He was deliberately not looking at me, so I found my gaze wandering around the kitchen with interest.
The spice rack was prominent and filled with small jars with handwritten labels. The pans were the kind professional chefs used with bare metal handles, and the stove was big and looked like it cost more than my last car had. A bookshelf at the entrance to the kitchen held several bookmarked cookbooks, and I wanted to pick through the titles to see which recipes each book fell open to.
We finished at the same time, so I stood and picked up both bowls. “Are you done?” I asked. Oliver seemed almost startled that I was still there.
I took the bowls to the sink and washed them. When I turned off the water I was surprised to see him waiting with a hand towel. “That was the best ramen I’ve ever had,” I said as I dried my hands.
He stepped back and leaned against the counter, watching me.
“Why are you here?” His tone wasn’t exactly suspicious, but it definitely wasn’t friendly.
I hung up the towel. “I don’t really know. You haven’t hired us, so you’re not a client.” His expression was stony, and I let my gaze drift out to the room behind him as I spoke. “I genuinely am worried about the holes in your home security. I think you should let Darius and Anna set you up with a new system.”
“You don’t know me. Why would you care about my security?”
I sighed. The question was one I’d been asking myself, and the only answer I could come up with barely made sense. “I was there when the Russian attacked you.”
“So? You didn’t make him do it, did you?”
I scoffed. “Clearly not.”
“It’s not your responsibility then, is it?” He sounded angry, which made me defensive.
“I shouldn’t have come. I don’t know why I’m here, or for that matter, why you fed me.” I moved past him and out into the office, which was really more of a living room dominated by a big desk.
I was almost to the steps down to the front door when he sighed behind me. “Hang on.”
I stopped and turned to face him. My own expression was as stony as his had been, and I crossed my arms in front of me.
“Could you show me—” He hesitated, as though the words hurt him to say. “What do I need to do to secure this place until Darius can come in and build a new system?”
Something loosened in my shoulders, and I nodded. I didn’t like feeling responsible for him. “Anna said something about upstairs.”
He winced self-deprecatingly. “She said there were at least six ways in. I’ve only found one.”
“Lead the way,” I said.
Oliver’s house was long and narrow, so it felt like it was really only three rooms big. The bedroom upstairs took up the whole floor, with a walk-in closet and large bathroom at one end and two big, gabled windows at the other. Those windows were at the front of the house and looked like eyes from the street. They were also a point of vulnerability from the roof, as gables were easy to climb down onto.
“I wasn’t up here with Darius and Anna, but I can tell you those windows are alarmed,” Oliver said confidently.
I looked out the windows. “You have above-ground power. It’s easy to cut, which renders the alarms useless and the cameras blind.”
“Okay, so that’s two,” he said grudgingly. “What else?”
I poked my head into the bathroom. It was strangely spotless for a guy living alone, with big white towels on a heated rack. I pointed to the window. “Alarmed?”
He shook his head. “No. Why would it be? I couldn’t fit through it.”
“I could,” I said.
Some product he used in the bathroom smelled kind of outdoorsy and nice, and I left before I could figure out which one. I did not need to be sniffing Oliver Curran’s skin products. The same sized window existed in the walk-in closet, and this time I merely pointed to it. He sighed and rolled his eyes.
“That’s four,” he said.
“Staircase is five,” I said. “No motion sensors inside that I could see.”
He stared at me. “People do that? Wire the inside of their houses with motion sensors? That seems … excessive.”
“Fear is a powerful motivator,” I answered.
While he contemplated whether that tidbit about humanity applied to him, I looked at the clothes hanging around the small space. He had more clothes than my sister and I put together, and everything was hung neatly—even jeans and khakis hung on the lower bars as if it were a retail store. And it smelled good too, not like sweaty running shoes or old socks. I had to get out of there before I started sniffing his shirts.
I moved back into the bedroom and looked around at the furnishings—a big bed, positioned nearly in the middle of one wall, a television mounted on the wall above a mid-century modern credenza, and a leather chair near a guitar stand between the windows. Then I looked up and pointed at the skylight positioned right over the bed.
He sighed. “It doesn’t open.”
“It breaks. That’s enough.”
“How do I protect myself from that? If someone’s up on my roof willing to break my skylight to get to me, I’m pretty much screwed.” He sounded exasperated.
“Pretty much,” I agreed. “That’s why I have a job, I guess.”