top of page
  • Writer's pictureJ J Hanna

Lucielle - The Regulars of Amanda Lexie Part 9 - Short Story

Updated: Jan 1

J. J. Hanna © 2023


Coffee cup on a table with the text "The Regulars of Amanda Lexie: Lucielle Part 9" Copyright 2023 J. J. Hanna

It was a calculated move, but that didn’t make it any easier to do. I hadn’t lied to Amanda. The evidence all pointed to a connection point at the coffee shop. But I couldn’t find the connection by leaving everything as it was. We had to stop this crew from hitting again, and removing a stabilizing factor for everyone involved was the way to do that. Someone was going to mess up. Someone was bound to change their routine. And now we could see who it was.


I got back in my SUV and headed to the shop, going inside this time. I never did that. But it would be the easiest way to get information from the baristas. They could tell me whether or not everything was normal. Maybe not directly, and I’d have to get them past Amanda’s no-show. But that would be easy enough once I was there.


I followed a man into the shop. He was holding a cup already, and he didn’t look particularly happy. Not like he was going to cause a lot of trouble, but I did have to wonder why he was coming back for another cup so soon, since he didn’t drop his first in the trash.


I followed him up to the counter as he caught the eye of the barista working the front register. 


"George! Hi! I'm not used to seeing you inside," Sally popped another sandwich in the oven.


"It looks like you have your hands full. I just went through the drive-through—"


"And the drink is wrong." The barista took a steadying breath. Her nametag read Sally. "We'll fix that for you. Traditional latte, right?"


"Yes. Light foam."


"No problem. Give me one moment and I'll get that for you."


Things are definitely different. People going into the shop when they usually don’t—twice in one morning. That had to be affecting things, too.


I watched the man a little longer as he waiting for his drink. Then I ordered my own.


“What can we get for you?” the barista asked.


It really is a shame Amanda’s not here. She knows my drink on sight. “One large white chocolate mocha please. And a large light roast vanilla latte.”


The barista typed that in. “Anything else we can get for you?”


“No, that’s all. It’s crazy in here.” I watched another barista run by behind Sally, carrying more gallon jugs of milk than I knew was physically possible.


“Yeah, we’re a man down. People are crazy today, too. It must be a full moon soon, or something.”


“Oh? Crazy how?”


“Lot’s of remakes, lots of people showing up where we least expect them.”


“What do you mean?”


“The man in front of you never comes inside. He comes five times a day and I’ve never seen him set foot in the store, until now.” Sally shook her head. “Just a crazy day. What’s the name for your order?”


“Lucielle.”


Sally put a smile on her face, but it didn’t quite reach her eyes. I paid and put in a good tip. They deserved it today for the crazies I put them through. “Thanks! Your drinks will be ready down at the end of the counter.”


“Thank you,” I said. Then I went and waited next to the other man, George. He was typing quickly on his phone—a phone I never expected someone to type that quickly on. In the world of smartphones, who still used a phone with a slide out keyboard? I maneuvered myself so I could get a photo of his face without him noticing. Not a minute later his drink was called and he walked out of the shop. My drink, and Amanda’s, followed shortly after. I took a quick video of everyone I could see from this spot in the store, aiming the camera over my shoulder in selfie mode, as if to film a Tik Tok video. Then I got my drinks and went back to the car.


By the time I got back to base, a disturbance at the guard shack was holding up the line. I could hardly believe it. Another familiar car. I knew it well. I often followed it through the drive through line. I knew the stick figure stickers on the back window.


How on earth had this person followed me here? More to the point, how had they gotten here before I had?


I called the guard on my phone. “This is Agent Marsh. Is there a problem?”


“A local cop wants access to the base.”


“Let them in. I want to talk to them.”


The guard’s voice was a little muffled as he said, “It’s your lucky day. Pull through and park in the spots straight ahead but do not leave your vehicle until given further instruction.”


The line got moving again. To their credit, the driver followed instructions. By the time I parked my car and walked over to them, they’d been sitting for a few minutes. I knocked on the window. The older woman inside rolled it down.


“Follow me please.”


She turned off her car and followed me into the base. I swiped my card to open the door and handed Amanda’s coffee to one of the other agents. “Bring this to room 2B.”


“2B. Is that where you’re keeping Amanda?” the woman asked, her tone frigid.


I looked over at her. “You are a civilian on this base. Please surrender your weapon. You can have it back when you leave.”


She begrudgingly handed it to the guard before following me through the metal detector. I led the way down the identical halls to an interrogation room. “Please. Sit.”


“You can’t hold me here.”


“You walked onto a secure base and asked about an ongoing investigation. I can hold you as long as I need to,” I answered.


She sat.


“Thank you. Now. Let’s start with the basics. Who are you?”


“My name is Olivia Webster. I’m an investigator with the Denver PD in the Cyber Crime unit.”


“Cyber Crime,” I repeated. “What led you here?”


“Part of what makes me good at my job, agent, is that I notice patterns. I notice them quickly and I analyze them in ways no one else does. A pattern got broken today and I want to know why.”


“A pattern got broken and you chased it down to an army base?”


“Someone didn’t show up for work. She’s a bright spot in my day. I wanted to be sure she was okay.”


George! I’m not used to seeing you inside. The barista’s words floated back to her mind. Cyber crime. “What cases are currently on your desk?” she asked, sitting across the table from Olivia.


“I’m not at liberty to disclose—”


“What happens between these walls doesn’t exist, Olivia. My security clearance is lightyears over yours. Tell me.”


Olivia considered for a moment. She was the type with an intense attention to detail. I was sure she was running the numbers, doing a risk assessment, weighing her odds of getting out of this building without infractions on her record. But being here was an infraction. Especially alone.


“I’ve been trying to track down a group of hackers. They most recently hit Metgov, and I want to stop them before they hit again.”


“How far have you gotten on that?”


“Not very far,” Olivia admitted. “There had to be an inside man. At least two highly skilled hackers. One to move the money and one to open the virtual door, so to speak.”


“And when you looked into Metgov’s employee database?”


“No one got flagged.”


I nodded. “Because you didn’t have the right connection to look for. The attack on Metgov matches a few other high profile attacks recently. Half the code changes, but the other half is nearly identical.”


“One hacker changing partners,” Olivia said softly. I could nearly see her mind putting the pieces together. “That’s why it was familiar. Carion Electronics had half that code. As did Eagle Eye Investing. Of course.”


I smiled. She really was good at the patterns. “All those companies had one other thing in common.”


“What’s that?”


“Geographic location. At least one employee of all those companies frequents this coffee shop.” I gestured to my cup. “A shop you also frequent.”


“That’s why the guard let me through. You were the one who called.”


“How did you know to come here?”


“It was simple, really. Amanda wasn’t in the drive through window this morning.”


“Go on.”


“I looked her up. I have the resources to, so I tracked her down. She’d broken all her patterns today. And her apartment complex has a security system that wasn’t hard to get access to. Imagine my surprise when I saw your fluffy pink steering wheel cover pulling into this base with Amanda in the back seat. I want to see her.”


“I can’t let you do that. Not until we’ve checked out your story. She knows everyone and everything that happens in that store. She knows the customers more than her manager does. If the next target is in the store’s customer base, I am going to find out. I can’t risk you doing something to stop that from happening. Sit tight. Someone will be in to confirm your story shortly.” I left Olivia in the interrogation room and went to our own cyber team. “Get eyes on Amanda’s apartment. I want to know who else may have tracked her disappearance.”


“Yes ma’am.”


“And run the faces from this video, and this photo.” I plugged my phone into the computer to let them access my files. “There’s a good chance our hackers are in this shop.”


 

This story, segments of this story, and ideas from this story are not to be duplicated or replicated in any way. This content belongs to J. J. Hanna alone.

 

Please note: This is a work of fiction. Any similarity to real events is unintended by the author.

 

Want to get these stories straight to your inbox? Subscribe and skip the hassle of waiting for me to post! If you enjoyed this story, please consider contributing to J.J.'s Coffee Fund.

 
Two Cursive capital J's merged to form an H surrounded by two circles. The Author J.J. Hanna logo

J. J. Hanna is a writer and reader from Colorado. She loves suspense stories above all else, and is currently working on a debut novel of her own. When she's not writing, you can find her making YouTube videos and Online Courses about the publishing industry. Go find her on social media @authorjjhanna and @jjhannaacademy to keep track of her most recent reads, current adventures, and to get the most up-to-date news on all things publishing. She also runs a freelance marketing business to help authors achieve their own goals. Learn more or hire her at Hanna Book Solutions.


The Regulars of Amanda Lexie Merchandise - shop stickers, hoodies, and t shirts


bottom of page