>Chapter 5: Revelations
Maddox and Veronica huddled around his laptop on the couch. She squinted to see what books Maddox kept on the floor-to-ceiling shelves butted against the brick wall in front of her, surprised to spot a few poetry anthologies. Maddox tapped her arm, pointing to a few lines of code on the screen.
“Someone inserted these lines and unless you’re looking for something specific, you won’t catch them.” He leaned back, his shoulders slumping. “It took me two sleepless nights to find this, and there have to be more.”
“So what does it do? I mean, is this just code for one of your programs?”
“It’s the program that put Maddox Tech on the map. The original.” He half-smiled. “My baby.”
Veronica leaned on her elbow and yawned.
“I don’t know what these lines of code do yet,” he said, his smile disappearing. “This program is in the hands of companies across the country. And there could be bits of whatever this is,” he pointed at the screen, “on previous versions and we never knew.”
“How did you discover it then?”
“By keeping my eyes open for anomalies. I poked around until I found something. Of course, it wasn’t the something I expected.”
“You expected to find someone stealing information, meaning you spied on your employees.”
“I don’t know that I can trust anybody that works for me. So I’m careful.”
“How did that lead you to this?”
“When I couldn’t find what I wanted by casually looking around, I started examining things more closely in programming. It took a while, but I found this planted code eventually.”
Veronica rubbed her forehead, pacing around the espresso coffee table.
“How did I get mixed up in this? I don’t even work for you!”
“Do you think I would trust one of my employees to help me?”
“I need an outsider, but one who can be an insider.”
“That clarifies everything.”
“Look at you. Would anyone suspect you of spying?”
Veronica glared, then slumped over. “No, they wouldn’t.”
“What do you want me to do?” Veronica said.
“Nothing extravagant. But you might get access to more personal information because of your boyfriend.”
Veronica’s eyes flashed.
“Ha! I knew you had ulterior motives for targeting me. You want me to get gossip about your workers through Jesse.”
Maddox leaned back, surveying Veronica.
“That’s one of the reasons.”
Veronica flushed, realizing she hadn’t even brushed her hair when she flew out of her apartment. Maddox lowered his eyes, swiping his hand across his mouth.
“I’m sorry about the break-in,” he said. “I don’t think I said that earlier.”
“Me too.” She smiled slightly. “You’ll figure this thing out and fix it, I’m sure. That is if half the stories I’ve heard about you are true.”
He smiled. “They’re not.”
Maddox walked Veronica out to her car and watched her drive away into the night, hoping he could live up to her expectations.
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