Whit finished the rest of his coffee as he saw Suzu enter the room. “Good morning, Suzu. How did you sleep?”
“Very well, thank you.” She stood near the entrance of the kitchen, hands in front of her. Whit placed the now empty mug in the dishwasher and Jason finished plating the food.
“Here, Suzu. Breakfast is served.” Jason held her full plate out and she stepped forward to take it. He gave her a small smile, and she returned it. However, her expression revealed nothing as to what thoughts were running through her mind.
When Suzu was at the embassy, she stole. People knew that. But what they didn’t know is who exactly she had stolen from. Natalie, the office worker who proved to be a secret agent named Tasha, trusted the kids in a way that no one else ever had. At the beginning of their acquaintance, Suzu had seen her as naive, unprofessional, and completely unaware of her talents. It made her the perfect target. So much so, that Suzu volunteered to take something, anything, out of her desk to beat Morrie at his latest challenge.
She was looking for Natalie’s lipstick. No one else at the embassy wore a shade quite like hers, and Suzu knew that she left her purse in the upper right drawer. Opening that drawer, she started thumbing through Natalie’s belongings. Notes, pens, portable pack of tissues. Nothing. Then something caught her eye: a small 2×3 picture. She pulled it out, careful to leave her thumb in the gap where it was so she could place it back there later. Looking at it now in its entirety, she saw a young couple at a fancy event. She saw Natalie in a stunning red floor-length dress, looking absolutely radiant. But, man, what was up with her hair? Suzu smiled at that thought, now turning her glance to the other individual. It was a man in a tuxedo. He was muscular, tall, and, actually, very good-looking, though Suzu wouldn’t ever admit it. The interesting thing was that it wasn’t a typical couple picture. In this one, the two were laughing. Something had struck them as the most hilarious thing ever, and it was frozen in time in this one small image. Suzu could only wonder what happened, who that man was, and how Natalie’s life was going before she ever came to work at the embassy. And now that man was serving breakfast for her and her brother.
Suzu had never told anybody about the picture. She didn’t know who she could trust. Was Jason somebody Tasha was trying to get away from? Somebody that got along with her before the two of them had a falling out? Was he keeping an eye on them for her? No matter the circumstance, Suzu thought it best to not let Jason know about her relationship with Tasha. It was just too soon to think clearly about the matter. However, she was leaning toward the last possibility. That was why she was determined to appear as responsible and morally correct as she could.
Suzu now sat at the kitchen table and started to eat her breakfast. It was at this point that Whit got his keys. “I’m heading out now.” He walked towards the door and opened it. “I’ll see you all tonight. Have a good day!”
“Goodbye, Mr. Whittaker!”
The door then shut, leaving an awkward silence. Suzu put her attention to her plate while Jason did so to the stovetop.
“So…” Jason started slowly as he plated the rest of the breakfast, “Any new things going on at school? Projects? Assignments?”
“I have a paper assignment due in physics on aeromechanics.”
“Aeromechanics huh? Very impressive.”
“Thank you. I love anything having to do with physics or engineering.”
“I was the same way as a kid. I was fascinated by the forces around us and the behavior of the universe. So tell me more about your project?”
Suzu thought about it for a few seconds. She still wasn’t comfortable being around Jason, much less talking to him, but the idea of sharing her project with someone, something which she rarely had the chance to do, was beyond exciting to her. Finally, she agreed to do it. “Sure. The first paragraph details—”
Jason’s phone rang, cutting Suzu off. Jason eyed the number and recognized that it was Arthur Burton’s.
“I’m sorry Suzu, but this is a very important call. I have to take it.”
“I understand. Don’t let me keep you.”
“Thanks” Jason pressed the accept button and lifted the phone to his ear. “Hello, Mr. Burton….How are you this morning?… Wonderful…..I’m fine as well sir.” Silence echoed through the room for a few moments as Jason listened intently to Mr. Burton. “I’m not sure that will work for me. You see I have to see two children off to school this morning….I see…I’ll be there….Goodbye Mr. Burton.” Jason brought the phone away from his ear and pressed the end call button. He sighed as he had just learned that his meeting with Mr. Burton was no longer taking place at 11:15 but at 8:15 due to Mr. Burton’s flight to New York being rescheduled. Though Jason was confident that he could make it to the antique shop on time, he knew he would be cutting it close.
“As I was saying earlier, the first part of my paper outlines—”
“I’m sorry but if you don’t mind, can we do this later? I have a very important meeting today that was rescheduled.”
“Oh…okay” Suzu responded, somewhat disappointedly. Just then Morrie bounded into the kitchen.
“Sorry I took a little longer coming downstairs but Suzu took forever in the shower this morning. Not to mention my body was frozen stiff by showering in ice-cold water.”
“Please don’t exaggerate the situation, Morrie,” Suzu responded.
“Who’s exaggerating? The water was so cold I nearly suffered frostbite.”
“You can be so dramatic sometimes.”
“I’m being dramatic. I couldn’t even take a hot shower this morning. Is that too much to ask?”
“Morrie Rydell you are so—”
“What! stubborn, childish, petty! Like you!”
“Okay, that’s enough.” Jason interrupted “Instead of fighting, why don’t you both make sure you get to school on time? Now finish your breakfast. I have some last-minute work I need to get done for my meeting.”
“Whatever you say” Morrie responded.
“Fine,” Suzu replied rather coldly to Jason. Jason headed to his bedroom leaving Morrie and Suzu alone.
Suzu took another bite of her eggs.
“Suzu look…I’m sorry for fighting with you. I realize that we’re all we have right now and that we have to get along.”
Suzu rolled her eyes and looked directly at Morrie. “You’re only saying that because you want my help on your project. Right, Morrie?”
“No…Sorta…I guess,” Morrie sighed. “Actually, yes.” Suzu looked away from him. Morrie continued “But I also meant what I said about us needing each other. You mean a lot to me Suzu though I may not always show it.”
Suzu smiled. “Thank you, Morrie. It means a lot to hear you say that.”
“So will you help me?” Morrie asked somewhat hesitantly.
“Anything for my older brother.”
“But first I need to print out my paper and then I’ll come over and help you. Now we’d best finish our breakfast.”
Morrie and Suzu quickly finished eating their meal and placed their dishes in the dishwater. Suzu went to print her assignment and Morrie dashed off to his room to complete assembling his electric generator. Suzu collected all the pages of her document from the printer, stapled them together, and placed the paper on the table stand in the living room her backpack was leaning on. Suzu then walked to Morrie’s room to help him with his project. They worked together for over ten minutes having some difficulty trying to attach the motor to the plywood. Finally, after much effort, they were able to screw the motor into the board.
“There, the motor is finally attached,” Suzu said.
“I thought that was going to take forever.”
“At least it’s done now.”
Unfortunately, while working to finish Morrie’s project Morrie and Suzu lost track of time. Meanwhile, Jason had been busy preparing several documents for Mr. Burton to review and so had not paid attention to the time displayed on his clock.
Jason placed several documents in a yellow folder and placed the folder in his messenger bag. Just then Jason’s eyes glanced toward his clock which rested on his nightstand. His eyes widened as he saw the time — 7:46. Morrie and Suzu’s bus left at 7:48 and the bus stop was three blocks away.
“Morrie! Suzu! It’s 7:46!” Jason called out as he made his way to the living room. Hearing Jason’s sudden announcement, Morrie and Suzu instantly began to panic. “We’re late!” they shouted.
“Hurry Morrie!” Suzu yelled as she ran to grab her coat.
“I am!” Morrie called after her as he struggled to lift his generator. After grabbing her coat Suzu raced to the living room to grab her backpack.
“Suzu! I need help. Can you please get my coat and backpack? I can’t carry anything else with this generator!” Morrie said as he reached the living room.
“Fine,” Suzu replied, unable to hide her frustration. She raced to Morrie’s bedroom and grabbed his coat and backpack.
“Here. I’ve got your things Morrie” Suzu told him as she entered the front room.
“Thanks,” Morrie replied.
“Are you sure you have everything?” Jason asked.
“Yes,” Morrie and Suzu both responded.
“Okay. Great. Have a good day at school” Jason said as he opened the door.
“Thanks, Jason. Bye,” Morrie replied
“Thank you. Bye.” Suzu said before she and Morrie exited the house.
“Bye,” Jason called after them and closed the front door. “Those kids are something else,” Jason said to himself with a light chuckle as he ran his hand through his hair. Having limited time to get ready, Jason walked to his bedroom, selected a navy suit, crisp white shirt, and black tie, and made his way to the bathroom to dress. Once in the bathroom he quickly put on his clothes and combed his hair. He then reached for one of his favorite colognes, CK One, and sprayed a good amount on himself — after all, one could never make too good of a first impression. Once finished, he exited the bathroom, walked to his bedroom, and grabbed his messenger bag and keys. Jason walked towards the front door, ready to depart for the antique shop. However, he was in for a great surprise when he saw the door swing open and Morrie and Suzu enter the house.
“What are you both doing here? Please don’t tell me what I think you’re going to say.”
“You know I’m sure we’ll all laugh about this one day,” Morrie replied with a guilty look on his face and a nervous chuckle.
“Let me guess,” Jason replied, “you missed the school bus.”
Morrie and Suzu stood there frozen for a moment. “Maybe” Morrie responded.
“Guys, I don’t exactly have time for this today. Your school is in the opposite direction of the antique shop.”
“We’re sorry” Suzu spoke up. “We would have made it if not for Morrie’s dumb generator.”
“That’s not—” Morrie tried to interject but Suzu continued.
“He couldn’t carry it himself so I had to help him. Needless to say, we weren’t moving at our fastest possible speed so by the time we arrived at the bus stop, the school bus had already left.”
“You act like it’s all my fault. We most likely wouldn’t have made it there in time even if I had left my generator!”
“Okay, you guys. It doesn’t matter whose fault it is. What matters is getting you both to school. So can you please stop arguing and get in my car?” Jason said, breaking up Morrie and Suzu’s argument.
“Come on Suzu,” Morrie said as he walked outside. Suzu and Jason quickly followed him out of the house. Jason locked the front door, opened the driver’s door of the car, and climbed inside. Jason inserted his key in the ignition and took off towards Morrie and Suzu’s school.