June 21 2021 (Monday)

I looked up at the building. It wasn't the tallest building in the area, nor the largest, yet it still stood out. There seemed to be an ominous aura surrounding it and I couldn't help the shiver which passed through me. Though I wasn't sure if it was excitement or fear… probably both. The labs of ES were located across the 40 floors of the high security building. This was where the miraculous medications and vanity drugs of Essence Solutions were discovered and produced. Various other companies had tried to duplicate their success but to this day such efforts had only ended in disaster and bankruptcy. A key part of ES's success was their clean up crew, or at least they were my thoughts on the issue. Though perhaps that was because I'd just gotten a job as one and wanted to feel my roll was pivotal to the company. My interviewers had certainly made it sound like an important role. I'd had to undergo more screening than I'd had to for anything else in my life.

Reaching down to straighten my jacket I let my fingers linger on the fabric. I had been a bit surprised when my 'uniform' had been delivered. After trying it on I realised now why I'd been meticulously measured during the induction process. The suit was perfectly tailored to me and made of the most gorgeous light grey fabric. Sadly it was now very likely the most expensive clothing I owned. Though I supposed I could change that soon enough, the wages I was going to get were ridiculous for a security guard position and I was starting at the lowest level.

Taking a deep breath I finally walked into the building. I was a little disappointed that the foyer looked so ordinary. Aside from an excessive amount of security features it looked much like any other company building. I walked over to the font desk where a neat and good looking receptionist offered me an empty smile as she looked me over.

"You must be Ms Eala", she placed my new ID on the counter along with a full page form, "Just fill this out and you'll be good to go. Mr Walker will be waiting for you upstairs. Security normally start first patrol at 7 so you should try and get here before then in the future."

"Oh, right. Thanks." I filled out the form rather absent mindedly, annoyed that the receptionist had the nerve to chasten me. It was only just past 7:30 and I'd been told for my first day that any time before 8 was fine. I didn't know where the miscommunication had happened but I certainly didn't feel it was my fault. I handed the form back and took my ID. At least the photo was a good one, I'd made the right call leaving my hair out for it. I slipped the lanyard over my head, the ID and attached key-card settled comfortably against my jacket.

The receptionist's cold voice grabbed my attention again, "The Sector 1 office is on floor 10. Mr Walker will meet you there." She then offered me another smile, though this one was a little sinister, and pointed to the elevator with closing doors. "You'll want to get that, we only have one and it'll be a long time coming back down."

I dashed across the foyer, reaching my hand to the doors just as they closed. As utterly ridiculous as it was it did seem as though there was only one elevator. I dreaded the long wait I now had and could feel the cold receptionist's laughing gaze on my back. Then a miracle happened and I felt great relief as the doors reopened. Stepping in I smiled at the person who'd held the elevator for me, "Thanks".

"Mm-hmm," was his only response, dark eyes glancing at me for the briefest of moments.

Was everyone in the building so rude and self-superior? Granted he had held the elevator for me so I guess he couldn't be all bad. Since he wasn't looking at me I figured I could look my fill. He was wearing the security uniform too but he had his jacket open, shirt untucked and no tie to be seen. That coupled with his stylishly messy haircut made him look like a rakish supermodel. He looked in his early twenties and was the most beautiful man I'd ever seen. His colouring adding nicely to the effect. Smooth, light golden skin, eyes which actually appeared to be a shade of blue, one of them almost completely hidden by a fall of snowy hair.

He took a graceful sip from his take away coffee cup (ok, it was probably a regular sip but he did make it look good) and spared me another glance. "You might want to push your floor."

"Oh!" I quickly turned to the panel and pressed 10, thankful we hadn't already passed that floor. I couldn't help noticing the only other button lit up was for 40. I looked him over again, surprised someone so young was on the top security team in the building. I couldn't see any ID on him, though there was a lanyard half hanging out of his pocket. I got the impression he'd slept though his alarm and rushed into work only half ready. I wondered if the receptionist would have chastened him for being late if she'd had the chance.

I was brought out of my thoughts as the elevator stopped suddenly with a jarring motion. My hand shot to the handrail for support but my companion didn't move, just sipped his coffee again and glanced at the floor number above the door. It had come to a sudden stop on 8. For a moment nothing happened, then there was a low beep and the button for 8 flashed red. Slowly the elevator doors opened revealing a corridor coloured with red light. There was no one there just the same ominous feeling I'd gotten when I'd been looking up at the building.

"Are you doing something about that?" my companion asked mildly, his slight accent becoming apparent the more he spoke. Was there anything about him that wasn't attractive? Well his attitude I supposed…

"What?" I glanced between him and the corridor, finding both equally distracting.

He reached forward with slender fingers and held my ID, glancing at it in the same dismissive way he'd glanced at me. "8 is in your sector, Ms Eala. That means the security breech is your problem." He let go of my ID and gestured towards the exit. Did he expect me to go out there?

"What? You can't be serious. This is my first day! I haven't even been issued with firearms yet..."

He glanced at his watch, "You came in at 8 on your first day?"

My breath came out in an angry puff and I glanced at my watch, "Its only 10 to. I got here at 7:30 which is early considering my team leader said I could arrive any time before 8."


"I don't appreciate your tone," I was annoyed by this man and the receptionist and I was nervous about whatever it was that was on floor 8. Not a good combination and the words left my mouth before I could stop them, "You snobby little bastard."

He froze, soft looking lips parting slightly in shock. His eyes then narrowed, "I am not little."

Unable to help myself my lips curved in amusement at that being the thing which had offended him the most. "You are shorter than me."

"Only because you are wearing heels," his dark eyes raked over me again, "Why are you wearing heels? Surely you can't run in those."

"I can run faster than you in them." I stated boldly.

He just rolled his eyes, "It's not me you have to run faster than." He gestured to the corridor again. I glanced out there, having momentarily forgotten the situation. I had a feeling he was actually serious.

"I told you, I don't have a gun," I pointed out tersely.

He reached into his jacket and pulled out a handgun before offering it to me as if I was borrowing a pen not a lethal weapon. I took it without thinking and instantly regretted it when he just went back to drinking his coffee.

"I don't know what I'm meant to be shooting," I admitted a bit reluctantly, fear winning over embarrassment.

My companion sighed, "Fine." He pulled out his phone and dialled. "Walker, eight is in lock-down." he stated briskly when they answered. So he'd called my boss, well that was a step up from wanting me to storm alone into whatever danger was out there. "Maybe you should check again." "In the elevator, it stopped and opened because your new team member is here." "No, its not my problem. It doesn't look that urgent, just use the stairs." "You still haven't gotten that fixed?" "Fine, whatever." He hung up, looking rather displeased. He stepped out of the elevator and tossed his coffee cup into the bin before pulling out another handgun. "Do you know anything about what you are meant to do?" he asked in a surprisingly civil tone.

"Umm… stop astral ghosts?"

"Close enough. They manifest physical forms as they come through, they usually have something which looks like a head, just shoot that," he offered me a comforting smile, which was distractingly cute, "They'll only be low level on this floor so don't worry too much. There might be a few but they'll be slow and stupid."

"Oh… good?" I glanced down at the gun in my hand, it felt a little inadequate, "Do you have any extra ammo?"

"No. If you need more than one clip to get rid of a few astrals then you can leave now. They aren't going to keep someone who sprays bullets around their labs." The smile was gone.

I straightened, annoyance winning over nervousness again, "I'm a damn good shot, I'll have you know. I'm just not experienced with things which 'manifest physical forms' yet and that is hardly my fault."

"Ah-huh," he took off the sunglasses he'd had perched on that very soft looking white hair and for some reason offered them to me. When I didn't immediately take them he explained, "Another thing you haven't been issued with yet. You'll be able to see them before they form so you'll know where they are coming from. It works a bit like infra-red."

I hesitated, not sure if he was making fun of me or not. In the end I felt like I had to take them. I put them on and was surprised when they didn't dim the lighting like sunglasses would. Glancing down the corridor I saw a couple of weird purple shadows through the walls.

"Just use your key-card to unlock the doors as you go. I'll go this way," he gestured to the opposite direction to where I'd been looking. "The corridor loops around so I'll met you around the other side. Take your time. Try not to die, that'd just be messy for everyone."

"You're such a compassionate person," I drawled sarcastically as I turned, pausing in surprise as I got a response.

"Sorry, Ms Eala," more surprisingly was he did actually sound sorry, "you've caught me in a bad mood." With that he headed down the corridor leaving me bewildered.

Taking a steeling breath I headed to the first room which looked like it had a shadow in it. When I swiped my card the door unlocked with a little beep and I carefully pushed the door open. The shadow was hovering in the corner but when it saw me it froze and slowly melded into its physical form. I wasn't really sure what to expect but it wasn't as startling as I'd thought it would be. It was more like a dark greeny-grey blob with a vague humanoid form. Shaped a bit like a badly drawn kids picture of a person. As the white-haired pretty boy had said it was indeed slow. I aimed carefully and shot it in the middle of the face before it was even a third of the way across the room. As the bullet hit it seemed to shatter and ripple before vanishing entirely. There was a little clink as the used bullet hit the floor. Well at least they 'died' neatly. I walked over and picked up the bullet then tossed it in the bin by the door on the way out.

I continued down the corridor, disposing of more of the astrals as I went. It was a lot easier than I'd thought it would be and I was feeling quite confident as I turned the next corner. I hadn't seen any shadows through the wall so I was rather startled when there were suddenly two of the greenish astrals right in front of me. I managed to get a shot off in one, though unfortunately only into its torso, before I was knocked back. The appendage which hit me was shockingly cold, sending a chill through my whole body. I stumbled and fell, just managing to hold onto the gun. I got one more shot off before it was knocked from my hand, sliding uselessly down the corridor. These ones were considerably faster than the others had been. I'd gotten another hit but the astrals didn't seem to be affected by it at all. I scrambled back as they floated towards me, my heart beating loudly in my ears. Surely I wasn't really going to die on my first day?

Suddenly both creatures rippled and shattered, followed by two clinks louder than the bullets falling had been. I looked at the shining white (well currently red) tiles and saw a pair of throwing knives. Crawling forward I picked one up, the smooth metal polished to a fine shine. It looked wickedly sharp and there was an elegant design featuring a fox etched into the metal of the handle. Redirecting my eyes to the direction they had been thrown from I saw my saviour sauntering down the corridor towards me. Why had the smug little bastard had to have saved me? I was pretty sure he wasn't going to let me live this down.

"Are you alright?" he questioned mildly as he came to a stop in front of me.

"Fine. Thank you," I responded curtly as I stood. I would not let him get the upper hand. I held the knife out to him, "Throwing knives?"

"Ah-huh," he didn't look as insulted by my tone as I'd hoped, "They are quieter than guns and if I'd have missed and hit you it probably would have hurt less."

"You little shithead," I was indignant, "I just nearly died and you are making smart arse jokes?!" I was further incensed as he laughed.

"Nearly died?" He shook his head, silky hair falling artfully around his pretty face. "They wouldn't have killed you… well maybe if you'd sat there and done nothing while they slowly devoured you. You didn't really think I'd leave you alone if there was a chance of you dying, did you?"

I was flabbergasted and I had the terrible feeling by the heat in my cheeks that I was blushing. Thankfully I was saved from responding as his phone rang.

"What?" his amusement had vanished, "Yes its clear." He turned and walked a couple of steps to the elevator, "We only just finished." Taking his ID out of his pocket he swiped his key-card and pressed a red button next to the arrows. It changed green with a little beep. "Well fucking do it yourself next time." With that he hung up. He gave me a dismissive glance before stalking to collect the gun I'd dropped and his other knife.

The fact that there was an elevator before me suddenly clicked, "There is more than one elevator?"


"The receptionist said there was only one," had the bitch lied to me?

"There's only one which goes to the ground floor. This one," he gestured to the one in front of us before pressing the up button, "Covers Sector 1 and floor 21. There is another one which covers Sector 2 and floor 21, and so on."

"Oh. What is on 21?" I asked, feeling slightly bad about my previous words now I was calming down.

"The cafeteria and training facilities." He sighed and ran a hand through his gorgeous hair, he then seemed to realise I still had his glasses and held out a hand for them.

"Oh. Thanks," I handed them back, trying to sound pleasant, "And thank you… for helping me."

"You're welcome," he flashed his cute smile again, "I suppose I'm sorry for acting like a shithead."

I was definitely blushing now, "I'm sorry, I probably shouldn't have called you that but I was a bit stressed at the time."

"Its fine," he shrugged. The elevator door opened and he gestured for me to enter, "Your dickhead boss with be waiting for you on 10. Have fun."

I smiled, "Should you be calling a team leader a 'dickhead' in front of one of his employees? Aren't you concerned I'll tell him?"

"No, Ms Eala. You can tell him if you like, he knows what I think of him." He held out a hand to stop the doors from closing and added, "However you might want to be careful what you call the other team leaders. Otherwise you might never get promoted to another sector." He then let the doors close, heading back to the other elevator. I had the terrible feeling I'd missed something important. As the elevator started moving I took a deep breath, hoping the rest of the day went better than the start.

The rest of the day went as I'd expected when I had first headed out in the morning. Walker was a grumpy, nondescript man in his late forties, his most notable feature being his height. He had an annoying habit of standing too close so I had to keep craning my neck to look up at him. I finally got a gun of my own and some of those fancy glasses, accompanied by more paperwork of course. Then my helpful colleague, Mr Brown (or 'Travis' as he really wanted me to call him) showed me around the building. He took me on the walkthrough of the sector, checking for any signs of astrals. A task which was apparently done at least every two hours and the most important part of our jobs. One was meant to be done at 7 when we first arrived, as the annoying receptionist had said, and the last done after the labs had closed at 5. This was all so the scientist and other staff didn't have to deal with the messy by-products of Essence.

When it was lunch time Travis took me up to floor 21. I didn't really want to sit with him and eat but at least the food was good, and free! It was open until 5 too, so if I timed it right I could sneak free dinner as well. Come to think of it, I could probably get breakfast there as well… That was going to save so much money, if I was careful I'd be able to save up for a place in no time. Something which at 31 I was becoming increasingly concerned about.

The training facilities were also quite impressive, with a fully fitted out gym and showers with excellent water flow. There was even a shooting range and something called the training program. Travis didn't want to demonstrate its use to me but he explained from the control room that in the central room enemies would appear for us to fight. The program could somehow create a physical environment for obstacles then it would create mimics of astrals for you to fight. It had 50 difficulty levels and was apparently something I was going to have to book in and do in my first week to see what my skill level was. Travis announced proudly that he'd reached level 18 once. That seemed kind of low to me but not having used it yet I couldn't really judge. Apparently Mr Walker's record was 23.

I discovered the hours of the position weren't quite as cut and dry as human resources had made it sound when I'd first signed my contract. I was technically allowed to leave early or come in late on occasion but I was mostly expected to be there from 7 to 6. Advance notice had to be given for this, along with at least a month's notice for any leave, even one day. The leeway in hours was that aside from patrol time and assuming I got all my paperwork done (of which at my level there was very little), my time was my own. I was expected to spend at least an hour a day training, of which I would have done anyway, and I had to run the training program at least once a month but that was it. As long as I was in the building and ready to jump to at the sign of any astrals, my time was my own to do as I pleased.

So even though the days were long I could get all my eating and exercise done at work. At home time would be complete chill out time. I just had to find a place to live which wasn't a 45 minute drive away and I'd be set. The cheapest apartment in the area was still a good chunk more expensive than what I was currently paying but once I'd gotten a few pay cheques I was sure I'd be able to apply for a place close by. Things were looking good. Aside from having a few moments were I thought I was going to die my first day had been pretty good.

June 22 2021(Tuesday)

6:45 and I was already in the elevator, rather pleased that I could bypass the bitchy receptionist now. As the doors were closing I saw my pretty friend from the day before enter the building. Feeling generous I pushed the open button to hold the elevator. I noticed he looked neater than the day before, well at least in that he wore an expensive-looking woollen top which didn't require tucking in. He still had his jacket open and his hair was still artfully tousled but he had a more serious air about him today. Coffee was also absent though his ID was still in his pocket rather than around his neck.

"Thanks," he offered me a polite nod before pressing 40. He then surprised me with a friendly question, "How was your first day?" he smiled, "Well after the nearly dying part, that is."

I couldn't help returning the smile, he really was cute, "I thought you said there was no chance of me dying?"

"Did I? That doesn't sound like me. People can always find ways to kill themselves in any situation."

"Is that so?" I shoved my hands in my pockets to stop them from wanting to reach out and touch his hair, it really did look soft. "My first day went rather well actually and I at least have some idea of what I am doing now. I also see now why you don't like my boss."

"Really?" he raised one elegant dark eyebrow in question, "And why is that?"

"Because you'd have to look up so far to meet his eyes," I smiled to indicate it was a joke but he didn't look pleased.

"Is my height really that amusing to you, Ms Eala?"

"I'm sorry," I apologised quickly realising too late it was obviously a sore point, "Its just you are awfully cute."

"Ah-huh," he crossed his arms and looked to the side, clearly not wanting to interact with me any more. Before I could apologise any more the elevator stopped at my floor and I was forced to exit. I mumbled another quick apology as I left but he wasn't interested. This was why I tried to avoid talking to good looking people, they were either jerks or I ended up being a jerk to them. I supposed I was rather lucky I didn't work in sector 4, if I had to patrol regularly with the dark-eyed cutie I'd be in serious trouble.

The rest of the week went by rather quickly and I found myself settling into a comfortable routine. The only real drag being the commute to work. I also didn't see the pretty guard from sector 4 again. I briefly wondered if he was avoiding me but that was a bit self-centred. It was easy enough to miss people from the other sectors, the only real chance to meet up being meal times.

There were two notable events, the first was some astral activity on level 5, which had been much less scary and easy to handle than my first experience. The second was my first go at the training program. The operator was kind enough to give me a practice level to start so I could get the feel of it. Then I got stuck into the real thing. I'd thought it would be a bit too controlled and unrealistic but it was surprisingly challenging. It was almost like being in a video game, well except that getting hit actually hurt. I found myself enjoying it immensely and was pleased when I found out I could book into it a couple of times a week if I wanted. I also took great satisfaction in reporting to Walker that I'd gotten to level 21 on my first attempt. He seemed indifferent to the result but then he seemed indifferent to everything.

I was looking forward to the usual Sunday family gathering and telling them all about how well my new job was going. Especially my older sister who'd always frowned upon my 'mannish' career path. I think I'd even splurge on a new outfit, I could certainly afford it now.

June 28 2021(Monday)

Monday came with even better news. Apparently I'd only had to patrol with Travis because it had been my first week. We could solo patrol now which freed up nearly half my 'working' time. So instead of waiting until after first patrol I could go and get breakfast first thing. As I walked into the cafeteria I discovered another bonus to the situation. My pretty friend from 4 was sitting by himself at a table by the window eating his breakfast. Acquiring my own food as quickly as possible I then headed over to join him, hoping to get at least a few minutes with him before he finished.

I slowed down as I got closer, noticing he was having a 'messy' day. He looked to be about half-way through his breakfast and was looking at something on a tablet as he ate. I felt he really should have been looking at the nice view of the city park out the window but I supposed that wasn't my business. He actually had his ID on this time, though it was hidden from view by the table.

"May I join you?" I asked with a smile as I reached his table.

He didn't even glance up, "If you must."

I sat down despite his hostility, not sure if it was because he was still annoyed with me or he was just in a bad mood in general. Just in case I offered, "I'm very sorry about making fun of your height. You actually aren't that short. I think you're a good height."

"Whatever." He took a bite of food, still not sparing me a look.

"Will you forgive me?" I pushed.

"If I do will you leave me alone?"

"Yes," I smiled as he finally looked up.

"Fine," he sighed, "I forgive you." He went back to his breakfast though paused again when he realised I wasn't leaving, "You said you'd go away."

"Did I?" I flashed him a cheeky smile, "Why would I sit somewhere else when there is something so adorably gorgeous to look at right here?"

"So I'm a 'thing' now?" he frowned, "I'm busy and I'm not here for your entertainment."

"Ah, so I can get away with calling you adorable, gorgeous and cute. Just not a thing or little."

"I'd rather you not call me any of those things actually, Ms Eala. Its disrespectful," he clarified curtly. I found him rather confusing. There were times he seemed incredibly informal and others he had a stick up his butt. Did that come from being in Sector 4? It made you feel like everyone should treat you as a superior? He might have gotten paid more than me and was on a higher floor but he was still just a guard like me. We did the same job.

"I'm not trying to be disrespectful. You are just too much fun to tease," as I spoke I couldn't stop myself from reaching out and fingering a lock of his hair. It really was as soft as it looked.

He knocked my hand away the second after his shock at the move ended, "Hey!"

"What?" I questioned innocently, "Why are you so uptight?"

"I'm busy. Fuck off," his tone then softened, "Actually… don't." He turned back to his tablet, scrolling through something.

"Don't fuck off?" I hesitantly questioned, suspicious of his sudden change of heart.

"Mm-hmm," he found what he was looking for, "Last Thursday you put in a report about a class 3 on 5?"

I was surprised, "Ah yeah. You read that?"

"Yes. You reported it was in room 4. Did it manifest there or that's just where you found it?" he questioned in a very business-like manner. It was great he was talking to me, I was noticing his lovely accent again, but he was being a bit too serious for my liking.

"I suppose it manifested there," I shrugged.

"You suppose? So you didn't actually see it form in room 4?"

"Well, no. Why are you looking at that? Why do you care?" I was getting my back up.

"Its my job," he told me patiently, "You can go now if you like, Ms Eala."

"Just so you know, Mr Uppity, you are being a shithead again." The words were out of my mouth before I could stop them but instead of being angry he actually laughed.

"Noted." He went back to eating and I decided that was consent for me to stay where I was. He finished faster than I would have liked, flipping the case on his tablet shut and clearing up his tray. He didn't leave right away however but offered, "By the way, congratulations on getting a 21 on your first go. Not bad."

"How the hell do you know that?" my cheeks flushed of their own accord. I was proud of my efforts but it was still a little embarrassing to be congratulated on it by someone I didn't really know but thought was incredibly cute.

"Walker was harping on about it at the Friday meeting," he smiled wryly, "Maybe now he's got a decent employee he'll be able to handle Sector 1 on his own."

My breath froze as my mind raced through the fact he'd been at a meeting with my boss on Friday. If I recalled correctly that had been a team leader meeting. It was then he stood and I finally saw his ID. An ID bordered in green… not the blue mine was but the green Walker's was. Mikel Siren, team leader for Sector 4…

"Have a nice day, Ms Eala," he offered politely before leaving.

I could barely choke out a "Thanks" before he left. My head was spinning. I'd called the highest ranking security officer in the building a shithead, and little, and numerous other things, not to mention other completely inappropriate remarks. His words to me on the first day about insulting other teams leaders came flashing back to my mind. No wonder he commented about my disrespectful attitude. My forehead dropped to the table… I was never going to get promoted now…

June 29 2021 (Tuesday)

I spent the next couple of days at work in a depressed stupor, sure my career was over before it had even begun. Not even food held my interest and I ended up skipping dinner both nights. The traffic was terrible on the way home and by the time I got home I only had the energy to collapse on the bed. I rolled over and stared up at the ceiling, head filled with depressive thoughts I couldn't shake. How had I been so stupid? When it was pointed out it had seemed incredibly obvious who he was. Just how had I not noticed sooner? Why did I have to insult people off-hand?

The phone rang. I was really tempted not to answer, then I realised it was the ringtone for my brother, probably the only person I was willing to talk to at that point. I answered, "Help me, Trist…"

"Jessie? What's wrong?" he sounded instantly concerned, "Dad said you had a great first week. Sorry I didn't see you on the weekend, by the way, I had a big assignment due."

"Did you get it finished ok?" my voice sounded pathetic even to me.

"Yeah, of course, but never mind that. Tell me?" he pushed gently. Sometimes my brother talked too much but he was also a really good listener and I never felt he was judging me. Pretty much the exact opposite of my sister. So I told him all about my disastrous mistake and how I'd stuffed up any chance at moving up to a better team. He listened patiently until I finally trailed off. There was a pause as he thought about it.

"Well..." he said eventually, "I think maybe you are overreacting. From what you said he didn't sound angry with you when you last saw him. It actually sounds like you've been flirting with each other, at least in your weird way."

"You think so?" I felt a touch of hope. Tristian was so much better with people than I was, maybe he was right?

"Yeah. He congratulated you on your score either because he likes you or he was impressed with you. Maybe both. Either way I'd say that sign alone means your career isn't over." He paused and when he spoke again I could hear the smile in his voice, "Besides, you have to do well there. Get some influential friends before I finish Uni so you can get me a job."

I was a bit surprised, "I thought you hated 'for the rich' companies like ES?"

"I do, and at first that's what I thought it was but I've been looking into it lately and I'm not so sure any more."

"But their biggest money maker is a ridiculously priced anti aging drug."

"Well, yes but did you know that for every paying cancer patient they cure they treat one for free? And they have a pretty strict selection system so only people who can't afford it and need it the most get it. Its not a perfect system but I think maybe they are genuine in wanting to help people. As long as they keep making money too, of course."

"But you've said yourself before, why don't they just mass produce the drug and sell it at a reasonable price so everyone can be cured?" I countered.

"I don't know. I was reading an interview with the CEO of the company," the smile came back, "Also there was a photo of him and a few staff members, including your security friend. And geez, sis, he is stunning."

I sighed, "I know, right… he is so out of my league."

"Probably in a few ways."

"Aw," I groaned, "You think he's gay?"

"Well I'm not sold either way. Maybe you should bring me to work with you and I'll find out?" When I growled he added quickly, "I'm joking, sis. I mean I would like to meet him but not for that. Did you know he's been with the company since it was founded? Apparently he was there when essence with discovered. Which brings me back to the point I was trying to make."

"Oh, there is a point, is there?" I sighed but I was feeling a lot better than when I'd first answered the phone. I could always trust my little brother to cheer me up.

"Yes there is. Anyway in the interview Bryant claimed it wasn't possible to mass produce any of their drugs. He didn't go into detail about the process but cited quite a few instances when other companies had tried to reproduce their drugs. Did you know there has been quite a few deaths because of it?"

I shivered as I remembered the icy touch of the astral on that first day, "Yeah. I can see why now too."

"Wanna tell me?" he asked sweetly.

"Sorry but you know I can't, its in my contract. However if you are serious about wanting a job here I can try to help you out."

"Yeah, I think I am. If nothing else I'd really like to find out what essence is and why it is so hard to make."

"Alright, well keep getting excellent grades and I'll try and work on my people skills." The former part was definitely the easier one. My brother was the smart one in the family and had topped every class since primary school. I was certain if he really did want a job at ES he'd get one, with or without my help.

"Yeah you do that," he chuckled, "Not calling people 's'heads' is probably a good start."

"Hey!" I laughed, "I don't always do that."

"Yeah, yeah. So are you feeling better, Jessie? You sound better."

"I do, thanks," I really did love my brother, "You're the best."

"I know. I have to go though but I'll see you on Sunday. There is just one thing I want you to do for me."

"Yeah?" I asked, a little suspicious.

"Talk to Siren at least once before Friday, if you don't run into him just go and see him. You'll feel better afterwards I'm sure."

I sighed, "How am I meant to do that? Just walk into this office and say hi?"

"Sure, why not? You are both adults just let him know you are interested, it'll be fine," he stated reasonably. He made it sound so easy. I had a feeling it wouldn't be but agreed to do it anyway. I had another 3 days before the end of the week, I'd probably run into him without having to resort to going to his office anyway.