Then a knock on the door, and at once all was silent.
Nia Fox stepped inside the office.
“Everything okay?” she said.
Feckniss glanced around the room. She must not have heard it. Or else was being really polite to a new colleague.
“Umm… yeah,” he said. “I just… Heights freak me out. I’ve never been up this high before.”
She nodded. “It takes some getting used to. But just wait until the first project that requires you to ride in an airplane.” Her looks reminded him of women from India, but her flat yet bright voice suggested the USA, perhaps the West Coast. “Few things are weirder than looking down and seeing the world look no bigger than your childhood toys. It still amazes me sometimes that we can fly.”
“Flying?” Feckniss felt his hands get clammy.
“You never know where this job may take you,” replied Nia. “Sometimes I’ve needed to accompany Guru Deep when he’s visited other parts of the company empire. The company name might be Deep Inc., but Guru Deep’s reach is broad, not just deep. We are everywhere, Feckniss. Every continent and country. ‘Every Day We Touch Every Person’s Life,’ as Guru Deep would say. So yes, you’ll travel all over. Different countries, different continents. Just getting there can take ages.” She smiled. “But I do love looking out a plane window at night and watching the stars.”
He gulped. But the fear wasn’t as acute as he was expecting. “The ocean must look so far away.”
“Don’t worry,” said Nia. “If you dislike heights, it’s too dark at night to see how high up you are.” She grinned. “When you’re flying over the ocean at least. Flying over land, the city lights are a giveaway. You’ll want to pull down your window shade for that one.”
Feckniss couldn’t help but chuckle, though at the same time he wondered if the sounds and laughter would come back. But with Nia standing there, all was silent, as if his tormentor had been scared away or else was too afraid of Nia—or at least of her proximity to Guru Deep—to continue his games with Feckniss while she was near.
Nia Fox. Feckniss realized that in the rush of people he’d met today, she was the only one he remembered. When Blanders had brought him to meet her earlier, she stood up from her desk, the guardian next to the elevator that led to Guru Deep’s private domain above. She was the same height as Feckniss and looked about the same mid-twenties as himself. A vast, serene intelligence glowed in her dark eyes, a light that you could always find your way by. Long, wavy black hair flowed down the rich brown skin of her neck to her bright blue shawl and purple dress. When she held out her hand, he could see the muscles in her arm, the power in her torso, not stick-thin like so many women in London, but healthy and confident, poised, and fully and completely herself.
He’d never encountered any woman like her before.
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