(aka Bike, est. 2007)
Copyright© 2017 Angharad
“Hi Mum, this is Kelly.” Standing beside Sammi was a girl who was tall and willowy and not a natural blonde judging by her eyebrows; though these days it’s hard to tell because they all use this new brow liner paint. They were both casually dressed, as was I.
“Nice to meet you,” I said offering my hand to our visitor who lightly clamped it in clammy fingers.
“And you, Sammi has told me lots about you,” she said smiling, which improved her looks considerably. I glanced at Sammi who was blushing—so what has she told her about me.
“Sadly, she hasn’t told us much about you, but that gives us plenty to talk about,” I said and I suspect my daughter’s blush got even redder.
I was pleased to see her and also to meet her new partner so in that regard at least I was being kept in the loop, albeit reluctantly and I wasn’t sure while. I don’t see myself as anything but a hetero female but I don’t have a problem with gay men or women, what people do is up to them as long as it harms no one else and consent is given.
“Sammi said you’re a professor at the university.”
“Yes I am, what do you do?”
“Oh I’m another geek, computers—same as Sammi.”
“Well someone has to understand the bloody things, because I don’t, so it’s a good job you two do.”
“I explain things to you, Mummy,” lobbed in Trish. “She’s not very good with electronic things—can’t do the video.”
“My mum can’t either,” offered Kelly, “my younger brother has to set it for her.”
“I don’t have any brothers,” said Trish, “so we girls have to do it for her.”
“Go along and play, dear,” I said gently pushing Trish towards the others who were observing the event.
“But you might need me to translate what they say to you,” she protested.
“I’ll be fine, I’m sure they’ll both keep it simple for me and remember, I do have to deal with the IT people at the university as it comes under my faculty.”
“Does it? I thought you were a biologist?” said Kelly.
“I am, but my faculty includes all the science courses. Effectively, I’m dean of sciences.”
“And they got gold award under the TEF ratings, Southampton only got a bronze—they were somewhat miffed about it.” Sammi obviously saw the story in the papers. The TEF—Teaching and Educational Framework—basically what students say about their teachers and resources. Looks like we got it right for the moment, lots of our competitors didn’t including several from the Russell group, who consider themselves to be the creme de la crème.
“It doesn’t count until next year, so don’t pay too much attention to it.”
“Don’t listen to her, she has one of the most sought after courses in the country, with waiting lists, don’t you, Mummy?” Sammi was a bit too effusive possibly an element of guilt creeping in.
“About twenty minutes,” called David from the kitchen.
“Okay, thanks. Lunch—a roast dinner, will be ready in twenty minutes, anyone for a drink?” I said as Simon magically appeared. To my annoyance he got a hug from Sammi, Kelly also gave him one. I left him to pour drinks while I checked that they were staying—they were.
I felt as if I was walking on eggshells all though dinner and felt that if Kelly had said at this stage she was vegetarian, I’d have grabbed her and dumped her with the carrots in the larder.
Thankfully the meal went well and everyone enjoyed it, except perhaps the poor turkey that we ate. With so many here, it was the easiest option. Julie and Kelly seemed to hit it off and after a post prandial cuppa, I withdrew to my study—I had work to do, besides the others seemed to be coping fine without me.
It was probably about an hour later that my study door was tapped and in walked Sammi with a fresh cup of tea for me, she carried one for herself as well. She shut the door and sat on the sofa opposite me—I was making notes from a biography of Darwin.
“Daddy says you’re being targeted by a bunch of religious nutters.”
“I’m not too worried about it, I’ve survived the Russian mafia, so I’ll probably be okay. I’ve got James working on the case.”
“Oh, the dishy private eye,” she said suggestively.
“Well of course, I couldn’t employ someone who looked like Columbo.”
She laughed at my joke then added, “If there’s anything Kelly or I can do...”
Come and see me more often, was what I felt like saying but instead said, “How easy would it be to hack into the university computer system?”
“I don’t know, why what happened?”
“I had a student who turned up claiming to be a JW but was one of this Genesis Group that Special Branch came to see me about. She’s on the register but no one has any recollection of her before or since.” I gave her a brief synopsis of what had happened.
“Are you linked to the university here?” she pointed at my laptop.
“No, but I do have access for my emails.”
She nodded, put down her tea and went out of the room returning two minutes later with her own laptop. Her fingers danced over the keypad and within a few minutes she had the university site up. I watched as she played with the keys.
“It’s hackable—give an hour and I’ll tell you who did it.”
“You can do that?”
“Probably—most of them aren’t half as clever as they think they are. I’ll go in on their hack route and trace it back, should get a site number from that and there are ways to discover whose name it’s registered to.”
“Don’t let Trish know what you’re up to.”
“She still running rings round you then—bless her.”
“What d’you think? At times she worries me to death, she’s only twelve but on a computer acts like an adult.”
“I’ll have a word with her, if I can, tell her to avoid doing anything they can trace back to her, so keep off all government sites and especially the Americans, they get very touchy about cyber attacks.”
“So that leaves the Kremlin and Beijing then,” I said in half jest.
“Yeah, or North Korea.”
We chatted for a few minutes and she suddenly said, “I hope you like Kelly, when you get to know her, she’s really nice.”
“I expect she is—are you planning to marry her?”
“I don’t know yet, see how it goes but we’re getting a flat together.”
“I take it she knows about your past?”
“Yeah, I had to tell her once we decided we liked each other. Don’t worry, I didn’t say anything about you or the others.”
“If she goes looking she’ll see stuff about me—I won’t deny it.”
“It won’t worry her.”
“How d’you know?”
“Her own dad—um—became her auntie—they get on fine, but she is nowhere near as beautiful as you, Mummy dear.”
“Isn’t she? I’ll bet you give her hugs though don’t you?”
“Only met her twice—come here you,” we embraced and I felt much happier.
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