So, as some backstory, this short story takes place probably six or seven years before the beginning of the book I have planned. This was a great exercise for me in a lot of ways. It helps me not only establish Eve’s character, but Demetrius’s and Link’s, as well.
By far, though, the most useful thing about this is getting to see Eve’s introspection. Eve, Link, and Demetrius all play large roles in the book itself so having them put together here is insanely useful to understand the way they interact later on.
* * *
“Jesus, Eve. Nicely done.”
Demetrius was looking over the file. I watched her, impassive, as she flipped through the details. It had everything: accounts of the Feline homes and neighborhoods, population count, conflict history. After Link had opened up to me that first morning, he was more willing to answer my questions. In return, I played the “girlfriend” part. I listened, comforted when I needed to, bitched when it was appropriate, and always made sure to let him know I was there for him: emotionally and physically.
“You need anything, let me know,” I would say. “I can help.”
I knew he wouldn’t ask for my help, though. That’s the only reason I offered it. He was far too proud, and really, the only help I could offer was not mine to give. Blackout did not run under me.
“I can get more than that,” I said to Demetrius as she read down the names I’d gathered. Scratching one, slightly pointed ear, she shook her head.
“Get anything you can,” she told me. “I want to know the Pride inside and out. I want to know every time a kitten is born in a back alley.” I laughed, but then Demetrius’s brow furrowed. “Wait. What about Scott? I thought we had you compiling a personal profile?”
I cast my eyes downward. Blackout was a complicated, enigmatic entity. We specialized in everything from the simplest information gathering to the most complicated infiltration, from innocent reconnoitering missions to hard-lined assassinations. Because of that, we liked to have profiles on as many high-ranking members of society, Race or not, under our belt. It made it easier to fuck with someone when you knew everything about them. Kenneth had ordered a profile on Link. I hadn’t written it yet. I hadn’t planned to for quite a while. Invading his life felt too dishonest. There was a guilt attached to giving up private information about Link himself that didn’t extend to the rest of the Pride. Collecting information on the entire house was one thing–I didn’t want to betray the details of Link’s personal life before I had to.
Demetrius sensed that. I heard her sigh and put the file back on her desk. “Eve, this is important.”
I glanced up and glared. Demetrius’s sharp, red-brown irises were focused on me. “Yes.” My voice was hard and cold. “I do.”
Demetrius watched me for a moment longer. Her thin lips were relaxed, her brows at ease, but I could tell far more from her silence than her expression could have ever indicated. It was more than doubt. It was doubt and pity. I didn’t mean to, but I sneered.
“Eve, I’m not going to accuse you.” She cut me off, flicking a slim wrist and discarding the conversation I’d been trying to have. “It’s your life. Do what you want.” She paused and watched me. “But be careful. This is your job, and you have certain loyalties you need to remember to keep.”
It wasn’t a threat–at least, not a threat from Demetrius. She was a bit eccentric, very dedicated, and extraordinarily independent. Demetrius cared about herself and her own best interests above all else–including Blackout. I had a sneaking suspicion that Demetrius would abandon the organization some day, when its jobs finally started to bore her.
But she was not stupid. I was surprised to hear the concern in her voice. Blackout didn’t mess around. If Kenneth thought I was going to turn on him, he would see to it that I was destroyed. It didn’t matter how much he liked me: Kenneth would do what he could to keep Blackout up and running.
“Don’t worry,” I said. “I know what I’m doing.”
In perhaps the first moment of weakness I’d ever seen her display, Demetrius sighed through her nose. “I hope so, Eve. I hope so.”