This story was so much fun to write in part because you get to see characters like Kenneth in a new light. Kenneth, in the book, is only in one or two scenes. Tops. And since the book is written from third-person perspective, as well as the fact that the scenes he’s in are high-stress scenes in which this kind of persona is unacceptable, this was a great chance for me to develop who exactly Kenneth is to the members of Blackout.
Most specifically, this is also designed to show that the Blackout organization functions under strange rules. On the one hand, Eve could be killed for letting slip information. On the other, Kenneth is allowing her relationship with Link to continue.
* * *
I can’t say I was particularly surprised when Kenneth called me into his office a few days later. Link hadn’t answered or returned any of my calls, and similarly I hadn’t answered or returned any of Demetrius’s. Kenneth was the exception. I knew I couldn’t ignore him, which was the only thing that got me out of bed. His name flashing up at me from the caller ID was like a beacon from hell.
“I will be at the office in thirty minutes, “Kenneth stated. “His voice, as always was even and unreadable. I closed my eyes. “I expect to see you there.”
He hung up without another word.
I showered, got dressed, and made my way to work. Demetrius wasn’t in her office when I got there. She was nearly never in her office. Demetrius bored easily of stagnancy. She worked more individual jobs at once than the rest of us worked in a year. Sometimes I thought she never slept.
Kenneth, however, was waiting for me. I closed the door and sat across from him, clasping my hands in my lap and holding myself upright and rigid. I didn’t want to show my boss the weakness of three days without eating.
He was a massive man. Ursine by nature, his body was a natural testament to his bloodline. His shoulders were wide, his back so straight it was as if a board were strapped against his spine. His broad face was passive.
What he lacked in aesthetic openness and approachability, however, he certainly made up for in civility. Kenneth was loved and trusted by everyone in Blackout, myself included. He was like a father to many of us, and like a father, he had somehow found the balance between being terrifying and kind.
“Eve, I want to discuss your current assignment.”
“I am aware of the romantic liaison between Lincoln Scott and yourself.” I looked at my feet. He went on as though I had not moved at all. “I cannot impress upon you enough the dangerous situation into which you have put yourself.” I have explained the risks of getting emotionally attached to your charges again and again. I have never had a problem with you in the past.”
“I’m sorry, sir.”
Kenneth raised a hand to stop me. “Dear girl, don’t apologize.” I looked up to him, and he smiled at me. “Sometimes things in life catch us off guard. You did not expect this to happen. Neither did I, or I would have never given you the assignment. However, he damage is done, and now it is time to correct it.”
I paused. “Correct it, sir?”
He nodded and leaned forward on his desk. “I am not going to reassign you. You have done far more for us than any of our other agents have been able to achieve in this particular assignment. However, you must consider your relationship with Mr. Scott. I won’t ask you to end it, but I do ask you to think about it, and remember the risks.”
For a long time, I sat there and said nothing. I didn’t know what to say, what to think. This was atypical. Finally, I shook my head. “I’m sorry for my bluntness, sir, but why?”
Kenneth smiled. Somehow even that expression reeked with authority. “There are rumors here, Eve. They claim that, if any of my agents can make this work, it’s you.”
I smiled. “Thank you, sir.”
“You may go.”
The first thing I did when I walked out of that office was call Link. He didn’t answer, but I left a voicemail that simply said, “I need to talk to you.”