If you want to read the rest of the series, here are the links to Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4, Part 5, Part 6, Part 7, Part 8, Part 9, Part 10, Part 11, Part 12, Part 13, Part 14, Part 15, Part 16, Part 17, Part 18, Part 19, Part 20, Part 21, Part 22, Part 23, Part 24, and Part 25.
Geoffrey tapped the Enter key on the laptop. "No," he said. "I mean yeah. I mean it's consistent." He turned to Pepper, who was lying in a stiff pose on the bed. "It's legit, Ellie. They've put us out to pasture."
"Show me," said Pepper. The last of the hospital painkillers had worn off about half an hour ago. Pepper's voice had ebbed from almost-normal to a faint growl as the chemicals had left her bloodstream.
Geoffrey disconnected the laptop from its power supply and held the machine so the screen was in Pepper's line of sight. He watched her one open eye scan the display.
"All right," she whispered. She waited until Geoffrey brought the laptop back to the desk and reconnected it before adding, "What are you going to do now?"
Geoffrey sat in the hotel room's armchair so she could see him without having to move a lot. "Probably get the hell out of the country, at least for a little bit," he said. "Spend some time on water. Get some use out of that boat my brother handed down to me."
Pepper didn't say anything. Her face was so distorted from injuries he couldn't read her expression.
"What about you?" he said at last, caving in to the silence. "Once you heal up."
Pepper mumbled something he couldn't quite make out, but it ended with "don't know."
Geoffrey touched the side of her neck, found a pulse, frowned. "You need to go back to the hospital, Ellie."
"You know I'd take care of you if I could, but you're too banged up."
"Can't." Pepper took a deep breath with some effort. "A lot of staff will want to press charges against me."
Geoffrey took out his phone. "Let me call my contact. Maybe he can get you into a different hospital."
"I'm going to stay with you. Unless you don't want me to." Geoffrey found Todd's contact entry on his phone and paused, finger over the dial button.
"Okay. Stay. But..."
Ellie held up her retirement letter. "We have barely enough service for this. Sheila's just starting out. Did they take care of her too? And who's going after DeBussy?"
Geoffrey set his phone down on the nightstand and covered Pepper's good hand with his own. "That seems like it's two separate questions, but it's not really," he said.