>Chapter 4: It Takes a Thief
The door opened and Maddox Felton stood there shirtless in track pants.
“Someone broke into my apartment!” Veronica paused, flitting over his torso. “You’re not wearing a shirt.”
Maddox smiled, a twinkle lighting up his hazel eyes. Veronica flushed despite the below freezing temperatures, her brown hair stuffed into a messy knot on her head.
“Did the person steal the disc?” he said, steering her to the gray couch.
“No. I scared him away. Or her.”
“What do you know about the person?” he said. “Ramble, if necessary, but give me everything you saw, heard, smelled.”
“Sighing doesn’t count as information.”
She glared at him then closed her eyes to better visualize the scene from just a little while ago. It happened so fast and she was unprepared to pay attention. But as a designer, Veronica tended to absorb her surroundings automatically. While she concentrated, Maddox took the opportunity to admire how her face glowed in the lamplight. She was attractive even when disheveled.
“A ponytail.” Veronica’s eyes snapped open onto Maddox, who looked back at her intently. “I saw something swing in the moonlight and it had to be hair.”
“We’re looking for a woman then. That’s interesting.”
“Wait – you were at the scene when David Moore died. Did you see someone else?”
Maddox scratched his jaw.
“I saw a young woman – a brunette with a ponytail – walking in that area. She looked like she was out for an afternoon run.”
“More like an afternoon murder.”
“Not necessarily. David had a contact.” He shook his head. “I saw her and didn’t even know it. Or think about it for that matter.”
“Yes, but the key word there is saw. You saw her. What did she look like?”
“Sighing is not information.”
He grinned, his eyes twinkling in a way that Veronica was fast getting used to.
“I deserve that,” he said. “But you’re right. It was only a glimpse, but that’s more than we had a minute ago.”
“This is all your fault, you know. I lived a simple, quiet life until you came along. Now I have people dying on top of my car and breaking into my house in the middle of the night! What is your problem?”
Maddox peeked at her slyly.
“If you worked for me, you’d find out.”
Veronica crossed her arms over her chest.
“Tell me what you have that’s causing all this hysteria and I might consider it.”
Maddox rubbed his hands together.
“That’s why I need your help. I’ve been suspicious for about six months now and did my own investigating. I thought we had a spy looking to steal information. But things took a turn, and I’m positive that’s not what’s going on.”
“Then what is going on?”
Maddox pulled his glasses off, examining the lenses in the light.
“I won’t agree to do anything until you give me the full story,” Veronica said.
Maddox traipsed over to the kitchen.
“You’ll need coffee for this one,” he said. “Buckle up.”
Come back next week for more Decode! If you missed the first three chapters, go here to catch up.