Chapter One

The Safe

The winter sun was setting over the thriving city of Willoughby. Another day was nearly done and those who spent the sunlit hours toiling to keep the city's healthy economy strong were turned loose from the hourly restraints of their jobs, filling the network of highways running through and around Willoughby as they commuted from work to their lives.

Willoughby was a place where a person could be absorbed into the flow of things, a place where life moved at such a speed that someone could easily go unnoticed among the hordes of citizens that gave the city life, if they wanted to. Faces came and went in the bustling population, identities were defined more by usernames and email addresses than birth names, so someone looking to hide in plain sight among droves had little trouble doing so. A little creative thinking was all that was needed.

A recently built, stately house positioned purposefully on the vast estate grounds surrounding it so that the other houses of wealthy neighbors were kept at a private distance served as the home of one such person, whose polished luxury coupe slipped through the automated gates of the driveway. The car made its way up the tree-lined driveway to the opening door of a two car garage that would be considered by most to be a bit modest for such a large house. The garage door eased down after the car parked inside, then the garage lights came on as the driver got out of the car.

A thirty-six year old man with a slender build covered by a tailored business suit set his eager eyes on a digital hand scanning device beside a door that allowed entry into the house from the garage. He walked with sophisticated steps over to the door and placed his hand on the device which came alive at his touch with a glowing light that read his hand to confirm his identity. The door locks clicked as the door opened automatically and then closed on its own after he walked through, locking itself again with a series of metallic clicks.

A direct path through the softly lit, immaculate interior of the house brought the man to another door protected by a scanner. He satisfied the device with a brief touch then the door opened for him, revealing an impenetrable steel safe a little taller and deeper than a large refrigerator standing freely inside the middle of an otherwise empty room.

The lights in the room immediately came on when he stepped through the door and approached the safe with all the delight of a child on Christmas morning. The safe was secured with another hand scanner as well as a retina scanner that were both mounted on one of its two narrow doors which were locked and sealed in the middle, so he stooped slightly to stare into the lens of the retina scanner as it checked his eyeball with a roving beam, then he placed a hand on the other scanner. With his identity accepted by the safe, it began a series of unlocking clanks followed by an exhale of pressurised air as the seals on the safes two sectional doors parted and slid open.

Standing inside the safe was the seemingly lifeless form of a young woman, her eyes closed as if she were sleeping. Full, wavy brown hair with a curious red tendril on her right side fell down past her delicate, girl next door face and draped her dainty shoulders. The short-sleeved two piece dress covering her slim body was modest, but yielded to her distinctly feminine shape.

The mere sight of her was enough to bring a cherished smile to the man's face, then he fixed his gaze so that his eyes would be staring straight into hers.

"Good evening Sara," he said softly.

The sound of his voice animated the sleeping beauty. Her charming brown eyes opened to meet his and what she saw brought a pleasing smile to her face. He offered her his hand in a courtly fashion to help her step out of the safe. She accepted, stepping lightly from the safe while keeping her gaze trained on him. They stood eye to eye with happy smiles.

"Good evening Vincent."