Once lunch is over, I’m well fortified for the second half of my tour of Wade’s Dungeon. In fact, I’m so stuffed with burritos and nachos that I think Wade is being a proper sadist when he continues my tour of his Dungeon with a peek at his state of the art gym. ‘I hear you like to work out, K D,’ he says, and I can see his quirk of a smile threatening to break out as I scurry over to a space in front of a ceiling to floor mirror to fondle the most complete, most gorgeous set of kettle bells I’ve ever seen. I can tell they’re not just for looks. There are no pretty colors, just good, solid cast iron. ‘Thought you’d like those,’ he says.
I barely get a chance to run an appreciative hand over a proper stair machine, ogle a fantastic free-weights set up, a vicious-looking treadmill and ooh and awe over the Metrix machine before he’s herding me out the door.
From there he takes me into the Suite. I actually had breakfast in the kitchen area the other morning with Carla and Wade, but the Suite has been talked about in hushed tones for a while now. Carla calls it Wade’s fuck pad, but she knows, as do I that Wade keeps it for the rare guests he has. She has been one of the few people to take advantage of it. ‘It’s amazing!’ I say, trying to catch my breath as I stare at a marble bathtub and Jacuzzi the size of a small swimming pool, and an enormous wet room with more water sources that I can count before he’s herding me off again, blushing as we head past a bed big enough for half the employees of Pneuma Inc to have an orgy on. ‘Beverly Neumann did the decorating,’ he says still blushing. ‘She did this on purpose.’ He makes it sound like she put peanut butter in his boxers or something. ‘It’s lovely,’ I manage. ‘I’d say she did good.’
He mumbles something about overkill and herds me out of the room before I take up squatters rights as Interviewing Wade’s author and move in. I notice his pace slows considerably as we head back down the hall past several rooms that look like state of the art laboratories, spotlessly clean, well-equipped and seemingly deserted.
‘Does R&D use these?’ I ask.
He looks at me like I suddenly grew horns. ‘No. Why would they? They have their space.’
‘Then you work in them.’
He pauses mid-step to contemplate that idea. ‘I suppose I could if I wanted to, but they’re not as private as I’d like them to be. It’s too easy to be disturbed on this level. I do most of my work in the sub-basements.’
We move past a strange door that looks like the entrance to a train car.
‘What’s this,’ I ask.
‘Nothing yet,’ he answers. ‘Just an idea I have for a … space.’ He doesn’t clarify, and I’ve been around him enough to realize he won’t unless he wants to. His pace slows still further. At the end of the hall I can see a set of double doors that look like they could well belong in a hospital, but before I can ask, I realize he is standing in front of an open door, blocking my view.
‘You know what this is,’ he says, blushing furiously.
I do, and I’m desperate to see it, but I know how sensitive Wade can be. ‘You’re room,’ I replay. ‘I don’t really like people in my bedroom either,’ I add, feeling his discomfort below my breastbone almost as though it is my own.
For a moment he has trouble meeting my gaze, then he looks up at me with dark green eyes. ‘It isn’t so much that it’s my sleeping room as it as that you know … you know what happened in there.’
I nod, not quite knowing how to reply, feeling a blush rise up my own cheeks as I think about what has happened between him and Carla in that space. But as I turn to walk away, he lays a strong hand on my arm to stop me, then steps aside and motions me in.
The room is small, much smaller than even I expected. Unlike the rest of the tiled floors of the Dungeon, Wade’s room is just concrete. The only piece of furniture is a fairly sturdy camp cot with an aging Star Trek duvet made up neatly over it. I notice immediately that the bedside table is really just stacks and stack of books. There’s a gooseneck lamp on top of them. A laptop, several tablets and more books, some open and marked with pens and pencils, some stuffed with paper scribbled full of notes. Next to the books I assume Wade’s reading is an empty Coke can. Around the rest of the room books are stacked three and four deep, in some places as high as my waist. The room smells of old paperbacks and I blush as I realize that the room smells of Wade Crittenden dreaming. He might sense my thought process because he’s blushing again, shuffling from foot to foot.
I quickly change the subject. ‘The books, have you read them all?’
‘All of them, yes. Some more than once,’ he replies.
‘Because they’re books. I like the feel of them, the smell – especially once they’ve been read a time or two.’
I run my fingers along a stack threatening to avalanche against my hip and am astonished to find there is no dust. ‘How do you find anything? Do you have a system?’
He looks around and shakes his head. ‘I thought about some kind of system for them, but then it seemed like a waste of my time when I know where they all are.’ He looks up at me and the blush is there again. ‘I don’t sleep much. Some nights not at all. I read a lot.’ He shrugs and this time the smile is one I can tell isn’t meant for me. ‘Well, I don’t have quite so much time to read now with Carla here. But I still don’t sleep much.’ Then he adds. ‘Besides, Carla loves to read too.’
Once again out in the hall, we push our way through the operating room doors and find ourselves standing in front of an elevator that looks like it might very well lead to an operating theater. The elevator opens and I nearly jump out of my skin, coming face to face with a life-size poster of the monster from Aliens. Wade smiles at my response and motions me in. With a series of taps against a blue buttoned console, the elevator begins a rapid descent. My heart is racing in my chest. I realize the sub-basements are off limits to everyone but Dee and Ellis, Carla, and possibly Martin Flannery. I know that the lowest level, level four is basically a no-go zone, with good reason, and my pulse goes into overdrive at the thought of going down there.
‘I do most of my work in the sub-basements,’ Wade speaks above the hushed whisper of the elevator. ‘I can work there undisturbed.’ We pass sub-level one and then two, and I wipe sweaty hands against my jeans. ‘I have a dozen or so projects going on at any given time, and I never know which one I’ll be inspired to work on,’ Wade says, ‘Best to have a space for each one and some extras too. I never know when the idea for something new will come. The lift stops on sub-level three and I find that I’ve been holding my breath as he motions me out.
This laboratory is nothing like the ones on the upper floors. It isn’t at all what I would expect a laboratory to be like. This one looks like a nerd’s dream basement. There’s a battered brown leather sofa against the wall. On the end table next to it is a lava lamp bubbling up hypnotic red blobs. There’s a kitchen unit that looks like it came out of the 1960s to one side. In the middle of the room on battered desks and metal tables there’s a hodgepodge of monitors and keyboards and on a free-standing metal framework above a section of work table is what looks like a very sophisticated robotic arm that could have come straight from a Terminator film. ‘You know about this,’ he says, nodding to it. He reaches out to touch it. ‘It’s not ready yet. The interface is still not sensitive enough.’ He smiles to himself, running a hand over the slightly curved, nearly human looking fingers. ‘Shocked the hell out of myself the other day. Still can’t manage the electrical impulses so that they guide the operator but don’t knock him on his ass.’ He shrugs. I’ll figure it out.’
As we step back into the hall, he nods in both directions. ‘Three more laboratories on this floor,’ he says. ‘The projects in two of them are only in the conceptual stage and the other one is Nano-technology, not something I can easily show you.’ He herds me back into the elevator, and suddenly I’m having trouble breathing again as the door closes behind us and the blue buttons await Wade’s touch.
I can feel him studying me, and try though I might, I can’t meet his gaze. I can’t speak I feel frozen to the spot with the knowledge of what’s in the fourth sub-basement – no laboratories, no nerd’s hang-out. Nothing pretty, nothing sophisticated. I feel a sudden chill as he releases his breath and taps a code into the keypad. The elevator whirs to life and with the tiniest of judder … begins to ascend. I catch my breath in a little sigh.
At last he speaks. ‘I won’t take you down there,’ he says. His face is suddenly like a wall hiding so many things. His jaw is set and his eyes are nearly black in the subdued lighting. ‘You know … what it’s like down there. What I’m like when I go there.’ He swallows hard and closes his eyes, and I feel cold. When he looks back at me, I force myself to meet his gaze. ‘That you know is enough, K D.’ His voice is barely more than just a whisper. ‘Let it be enough.’
We ascend the rest of the way in silence. As we arrive in the main living area of the Dungeon, Carla meets us with two mugs of mocha – extra marshmallow cream. She kisses Wade gently on the mouth and guides him to the table, guidance which, at that moment, I can’t help but feel he needs.
‘All right?’ she speaks softly squeezing his arm after he’s had his first sip.
He nods and forces a smile. Then he reaches out and touches her cheek. ‘Fine. I’m fine.’
For a second I sip in silence, trying to figure out what I should say, under the circumstances. At last I look up at him. ‘Wade, I didn’t mean to –’
He stops me with a shake of his head. ‘If I hadn’t wanted you to see, I wouldn’t have shown you. But what’s on sub-level four, well, even though you know. I don’t like to go there. I … I only ever go there when I have no choice, when I need to. And right now, thankfully,’ he squeezes Carla’s hand, ‘I don’t need to.’
In the evening, Stacie Emerson and Carla’s father, Martin Flannery, take over the kitchen in the Suite. After toasts to the launch of Interviewing Wade, with Prosecco Stacie and Harris have brought back from a recent trip to Italy, there’s homemade spaghetti carbonara with the best tiramisu I’ve ever eaten for dessert. We end the tour and the day’s celebration in the Dungeon’s home cinema stuffing ourselves with buttered popcorn while we watch X-Men First Class.
It’s late when I get ready to leave. Carla and Wade give each other the eye and nod. Then Wade turns his attention to me. ‘It’s late, and you’ve had a busy few days, K D. Why don’t you stay in the Suite tonight.’
Carla nods her agreement, when she sees my uncertainty. ‘I’ve grown rather fond of Wade’s cot,’ she says with a wink. ‘Besides, we don’t need very much space, the two of us.’ As we say our good-nights at the door of the Suite, I watch them head down the hall arm and arm, and I figure Carla is probably right. They don’t need much space at all.
The Interviewing Wade Blog Tour and Giveaway continues throughout this week and the next. I’m over at the fabulous Lynelle Clark’s Do join us there!
For the next two weeks find Carla, Wade and me on these fabulous blogs!
Mar 23 L. C. Wilkinson http://lcwilkinson.com/
Mar 24 Jan Graham http://jangraham.blogspot.com/
Mar 25 Lynelle Clark http://lynelleclarkaspiredwriter.blogspot.com/
Mar 26 Nice Ladies, Naughty Books http://niceladiesnaughtybooks.com/
Mar 27 Love Bites & Silk Ties http://www.lovebitessilkties.co.uk/
Mar 30 Books and Banter http://locglin.blogspot.com/
Mar 31 Case Sharidan http://casesheridan.wordpress.com/
Apr 1 Lisabet Sarai http://lisabetsarai.blogspot.com
Ap 2 Gale Stanley http://galestanley.blogspot.com/
Ap 3 Illustrious Illusions http://www.illustriousillusions.com/
The Executive Decisions Trilogy may be over, but the story continues. Intrepid reporter, Carla Flannery, wants to interview Wade Crittenden, the secretive creative genius behind Pneuma Inc. But when, against all odds, Wade actually agrees to the interview, Carla suspects ulterior motives.
Carla has made a lot of enemies in her work and when Wade discovers she’s being stalked, he agrees to the interview to keep her close and safe. As the situation turns deadly, lives and hearts are on the line, and the interview reveals far more about both than either ever expected.