The Shape of Stars Unknown
‘Who’s the employer sending you halfway around the world?’ he asked, resting his chin in his hand while they climbed steeply into the leaden skies.
She did not usually disclose her occupation – or her employer – to fellow passengers. It tended to result in exhaustive conversations about everything that had gone awry with their last fifty to three hundred flights. Then again, Julian Watkins did not convey the impression of having harassment on his mind, which was why she chose to stick to candour and gestured at her surroundings.
He lifted a brow. ‘United? What do you do for them?’
‘I’m in sales.’
‘I deduce from the slight hesitation that you aren’t entirely happy with your job.’
‘Who is?’ Silver countered. She was grateful to have the job in the first place, but that did not stop her from wondering whether she was cut out to endure another thirty-plus years of corporate treadmill – not that she had a choice, what with staggering debts to repay and a deplorable lack of billionaire husbands or relatives. ‘What do you do for a living?’
Julian Watkins dropped back into his seat and gave her a challenging glance. ‘Any guesses?’ Despite the humour in his voice, Silver could not help but feel that she was being tested. She had no idea what it took to pass the test; all she knew was that for some funky reason, she wanted to pass. Which was when she usually failed. Crossing her legs, she decided to simply say the first thing that sprang to mind.
She had expected him to smirk and ask whether she had watched The Night Manager one time too many – which she had – but he remained unperturbed. ‘Exhibits to support your allegation?’
‘The way you observe,’ she said after a moment of consideration. ‘Nothing seems to escape you. Let’s see … What colour shirt is the passenger in 1A wearing?’
‘A nauseating shade of orange,’ he offered without looking at the man in question.
‘What did the flight attendant do after she closed the door?’
‘She dropped her earring.’
With a triumphant beam, Silver gave a nod. ‘I stick to my guns. Spy.’
‘You seem to be rather perceptive yourself, Miss Laing.’ His expression became thoughtful. ‘And your guess isn’t completely off, although I’m not a spy in the classic sense of the word. Picture an organisation that appreciates a certain level of vigilance.’
‘Sounds cryptic. Industrial espionage?’
He chuckled. ‘Let’s call it complicated.’