The Intimacy Protocol
written by: S.R Malone
Thick grey clouds were moving into view as Lori Lucero pulled into her street, the SUV moving silently like a bird of prey. She brought it to a halt outside number fifteen Ashwood Lane, taking a moment to compose herself.
She removed her shades and flicked down the driver-side vanity mirror. A combination of eyeshadow and jetlag marred her weary eyes.
Number fifteen appeared undisturbed, like the rest of the houses on the block. And like the rest of the homes here, it was dotted on all sides by saplings and the occasional grand oak. A Unified Earth flag flapped in the breeze atop its pole. Stirring clouds darkening the approach to the house as Lori waited on the porch, fishing for her keys.
Even if Ed is in, he’ll have the doors locked, she thought. Sure enough, the front door was locked, a heap of keys jammed in the opposite site. Over the last thirteen years together, including their nine years of marriage, Lori had picked up on every idiosyncrasy that formed the makeup of Ed Lucero, locking the doors for fear of burglars being one of the front runners.
She rang the doorbell, and, sensing movement amongst the dark shapes inside, craned her neck beyond the porch to see in the window.
Within seconds, the door was pried open.
“Greetings. May I help you?”
Lori’s mouth hung open, visible confusion on her face. “I live here. You’re standing in my house, lady.”
The girl facing her was petit, with luscious hazelnut hair tied in bunches, and frosted pink nails. Around her neck and waist was tied an apron from the kitchen, blue with a pattern of white clouds. She couldn’t have been older than thirty, which made the thought of her being a guest of Ed’s even more ridiculous.
“Are you sure, madam?” the girl’s smile was sickeningly wholesome.
“If this is fifteen Ashwood Lane, then I’m perfectly sure,” said Lori, “And don’t ‘madam’ me.”
“I have no recollection of you living here, and unless you are selling something, I am going to have to wish you a good day and close the door,” the girl made no motion to do either of these things though, continuing to grin.
Gritting her teeth, Lori paced forward, “This is ludicrous, now out of my way. Ed!”
A hand shot up and held her by the shoulder.
“I’m afraid I don’t recognise you, madam,” the girl’s cheerful expression was evaporating into one of concern. “If you do not leave, I will be forced to raise a call with the authorities.”
Lori grunted. The grip on her shoulder grew tighter, the five-fingered vice causing her to wince and retreat until she was out of the doorway. Her own hand grew numb, draping by her side and loosening its hold on her travel bag.
It was then that Ed’s shocked face appeared behind the girl, and he sprung forward.
“Oh my god, Alison, stop!”
Tearing free of the grip, Lori clasped her own shoulder. The handprint clung to her suit jacket, the shoulder lining crushed. She glared at the young girl in disbelief, Ed’s face draining when he realised it was her.
“Lori, what the—” he switched to a surprised smile, “— I wasn’t expecting you for another week! It’s fantastic to see you!”
Lori grimaced, his gormless features getting under her skin. Her eyes shifted between the two of them in the doorway.
“Do you know this person, Ed?” asked Alison, her demeanour unchanged.
“Of course, this is my wife! Alison, meet Lori,” and he stepped aside, his wife scooping up her bag and charging into the house, unimpeded. “Lori, this is Alison.” He saw the jade fury in his wife’s eyes, and turning to Alison said, “Can you make a start on dinner, please?”
“I will, Ed.”
Ed looked astonished as he watched the girl obediently saunter into the kitchen. Once she was out of view, he extended his arms to Lori.
“So?” he grinned, “What do you think?”
Still rubbing her shoulder, Lori panted, baring teeth. She dumped her crushed suit jacket on the banister at the bottom of the stairs, peering below the surface of her blouse at the reddened markings lining her flesh. Markings that had managed to penetrate two layers of clothing.
“Sorry, that doesn’t normally happen. Well, it’s happened once, actually. We had a Jehovah’s Witness visit a couple of afternoons ago who couldn’t take the hint, and they—”
Sighing, Lori rested her hands on her hips, letting him gabber on. When Ed was excited about something, he would ramble like a child. Normally she wouldn’t mind; sure enough, when he was like this, he was the closest thing they had to a child. He eventually trailed off as his gaze returned to her.
“Who the hell is she?” asked Lori.
Ed moistened his lips, breath trembling. “Look, I know what you’re thinking, okay? It’s not that, though—”
“Then what is it? I came home because of this,” and Lori shone her handheld in his direction, the LCD screen lit up to display her banking records. “There’s $3500 missing from our joint account. The bank notified me last night. And on top of cutting my trip short, I rush home to find you shacking up with some other woman.” Lori glanced towards the kitchen, looking out for the stranger.
“Uh, look, I didn’t want to bother you while you were away on business, and I know how much you hate those flights to Jupiter anyway,” Ed said, wiping sweat from his shining head. “It was impulsive and stupid. I found her in an electronics depot downtown, brand new, and figured why not?”
Lori’s brow creased, “An electronics depot? Alison’s a synth?”
Ed nodded, resigned.
The aching hand mark made much more sense. Still, she cursed the girl, singing away in the kitchen to the clank of pots and pans, and she cursed the fool standing in front of her, anxiously knotting his thumbs.
Lori took one more look at the gaping hole in their finances and sighed. She kicked off her heels and turned, heading for the living room.
“I’m really sorry, hun,” Ed paced after her. “With both of our jobs being what they are right now, I thought we could use the extra help around the house. This was a big purchase though, and I should have consulted you first.”
“Yes, you should have.”
“And obviously, we need to properly sit down and work out the kinks, especially with the home defence settings,” he said. “I’m partway through the manual, I promise.”
Slumping onto the sofa, Lori put her head in her hands. Her eye muscles twitched with exhaustion, the last twenty-four hours having taken its toll. “You’d better work it out fast. I’m serious, Ed. I won’t sleep in this house with a synth that can throttle me in my sleep at a moment’s notice.”
“Relax, I’ll take care of it all,” Ed said, cuddling up to his wife on the couch. He leaned over and pecked her on the neck. “So, how was Jupiter?”
Lori kicked free of the duvet, the sheer touch of it an irritation. Beside her, Ed snored away. In the dark she strained her eyes to look at the red glow of the digital display on their wall, the numbers forming in the dark.
Downstairs she could make out faint footsteps. They moved across the living room, through the hall and into the kitchen. At one point, they had ascended the stairs, causing Lori to shoot up in bed, her heart racing. She tracked the footfalls down the corridor to the study, where Alison had seemed to spend mere minutes before returning along her path. The steps halted momentarily before heading downstairs.
She paused at our door. I definitely heard it, thought Lori. Her exhausted brain tingled to the point of numbness. Did Alison pause? Could she really be sure, though? If she had, it had been for a nanosecond, nothing more. Maybe more.
Ed snorted by her elbow, mouth agape. She patted him on the arm, and he rolled over, absently.
The digital display read one a.m. The gentle thud of feet had ceased downstairs, and a pleasant silence washed over the house. Lori rolled onto her side, gaze fixed on the bedroom door, and felt her eyelids droop.
When she awoke, warm sunlight was flooding the room.
Lori saw Ed was missing as she looked over her shoulder, the red marks on her skin appearing prominently in her periphery; lightly bruised, even. The display on the wall read nine-thirty-four, reminding her that Ed would have left for work already.
A sickness welled in her stomach then.
Parting her dishevelled honey-brown hair, Lori wrapped in a dressing gown and crept down the staircase. She stepped over the squeaking step second from the bottom and peered into the kitchen. Every worktop was spotless, every dish in place.
Skulking down the hall, she could see directly into the living room. A breath caught in her chest. Alison was sitting upright on the sofa, staring straight out at her. The synthetic smile was on maximum, and it raised a hand in greeting; the same hand, Lori realised, that had locked itself around her collarbone less than twenty-four hours prior.
“Mrs Lucero, good morning.”
“Uh, yes. Good morning,” Lori replied, lingering by the door. She scanned the living room— pristine, not a pillow out of place— and folded her arms, eyes returning to the synth. It sat straight-backed, hands resting on its thighs, facing forward.
“Can I prepare you some breakfast, Mrs Lucero?”
“I suppose so,” said Lori, “Thank you.”
Alison raised and wandered past her into the kitchen. Lori followed, hanging behind.
“Please sit,” said the synth, pulling out a stool at the breakfast counter. “What can I make you?”
Lori slid onto the stool, quietly requesting coffee and toast. Within a minute, the kitchen was filled with the industrious scent of fresh coffee, and a newspaper was laid out on the counter. She lifted the sheets to her face, keeping watch over the top; Alison operated the kitchen as if it was one large contraption, moving fluidly from one space to the next, timing each device with precision, and cleaning in the passing.
“Do you not consider me to be a threat anymore?” said Lori, crunching into a corner of toast as it was set down.
“No, Mrs Lucero. I fully recognise you as one of the owners of this device,” a thick black fly darted past Alison, landing on the countertop. “In fact, Ed has activated your full administration rights as of this morning.”
“Mr Lucero. Your husband.”
Lori stared, unimpressed, swallowing the dry corner of toast and washing it down with coffee. Coughing, she said, “Lori is fine by the way, Alison. No need to be formal with me.”
“As you say, Lori,” beamed Alison. With a swift strike, it brought its hand down on the countertop. “These flies get everywhere this time of year, don’t they?”
From the outside, Newage Electronics had the appearance of a company on the verge of liquidation. The afternoon rain beat down on the weathered sign over the door. Stacks of gadgets jostled for space behind the streaked glass and several flashing neon sale signs, above which a graffiti-laced iron shutter precariously hung.
Inside, Lori wiped down her rain-soaked jacket, and panting, stepped through the labyrinth of stock. All manner of cables snaked from baskets marked ‘BARGAIN’, and tight corners were carved from piles of cardboard boxes, the pictures of the electronics they housed long being faded.
A female clerk behind the counter glanced up as Lori approached.
“Uh, hello,” said Lori, “I was wondering if you could help me?”
The young clerk stared through half-closed eyelids, “The manager isn’t in this afternoon, if this is about a refund.”
“N-no, nothing like that. Although, this is about a recent purchase,” Lori showed the screen of her handheld. “My husband actually bought a synth here on this date, see? Newage Electronics. I was wondering if you had any knowledge of that model, in particular?”
It annoyed Lori to hear herself so out of her depth; she didn’t pretend to be overflowing with technical knowledge. In fact, in her role as a travel agent, it was hardly required. She could operate a terminal day-to-day and that suited her fine. Leave the tinkering and repairs to the folk who do it for a living.
Satisfied with the model number she’d seen, the clerk pushed her magazine to one side and dumped a bloated folder on the countertop. She flicked through— asking another two times for the date of purchase— and found Ed’s receipt, tapping it with her chipped nail.
“Series B-5004 gynoid, that’s it. So, what do you wanna know?”
“Ok, this synth itself seems to function to a decent standard,” Lori began, wondering how any contraption bought from a place like Newage could, “But there are a few things I wanted to check with you. First of all, it grabbed me. Pretty tightly, actually. I won’t show you where—”
Grimacing, the clerk raised a hand. “Did you initially harm the unit, at all?”
“Ah-kay. Did you harm a friend or family member in close proximity to the unit?”
“Of course not.”
“Forced entry, then? You’d be surprised how many folk have issues with their android after forgetting their housekeys.”
Lori narrowed her eyes. This was going nowhere. “Must’ve been my fault, then. Well, ok, secondly, the synth has this habit of pausing during its cleaning rounds. Like a stutter. She’ll often clean the house at night and stutter partway through. I’ve noticed it the last four nights, since I’ve been back on Earth, actually.”
Scrunching up her mouth, the clerk let out a “hmmm”, and folded her arms.
“We normally advise first-time buyers to charge their units at night. I’m guessing whoever was on shift that day your husband, was it? came in, they would have said the same thing. In short, if it’s stuttering, then the battery cells will be depleted.”
“I think it does charge. It self-charges at one a.m.”
“No, no, no,” waved the clerk, impatiently. “These models will generally put themselves on charge in the event of, like, being grievously out of juice. But straight out the box, you’d have been asked to define an initial charge time during first config.”
“It would have been my husband that set that.”
“Gotcha. As for the pause, it could be anything.”
Lori began to feel stuffy under the yellow glow of the lighting bar above the counter. Toward the back of the store, a handful of inanimate synthetics similar to Alison lined the wall, staring into oblivion. Lori’s blood ran cold.
“I-I don’t suppose it’s something to do with a chunk of code corrupting?” she said, the girl now pre-emptively shaking her head in response, “Code going missing, maybe? It’s very unnerving, especially in my own home. She stops right outside our bedroom door.”
Smiling sympathetically, the clerk said, “The first thing that jumps to mind is a change in routine, like a change in its work sequence. Won’t be down to code. Code can’t just go missing, ma’am. Your user manual will have more information, of course. And you can check the android remote as well. It’s the clamshell that came in the box; will have all the configuration settings on it for easy access.”
Nodding her thanks, Lori turned to leave. A change in routine? she thought. But what could have changed? Her mind scrambled to think of where Ed had said the user manual was. Or the clamshell? Had he even mentioned where they were to begin with?
Reaching the exit, she could feel the cool, bitter breeze of the rainstorm push among the cracks below the door. A thought occurred suddenly, and she marched back to the desk.
“Excuse me, one more thing,” Lori said, planting her hand down on the clerk’s magazine. The half-closed eyes stared up at her. “You said the issue could be down to a change in routine, right? So, a task, or chore, might have been… deleted or changed?”
“Potentially. It’s one of many probabilities, I said.”
“Right, right. Could you maybe show me how to check this, please?”
Alison was putting the hoover into the cupboard when Lori hurried through the front door. She took a second to shudder at the synth, dressed in a strapped top and yoga pants, and headed into the living room. She tore up the cushions and wrenched out drawers, slamming them back in an instant. The synth charging point, consisting of a bundle of three tethered chords and a large socket-like attachment, lay draped across the back of the sofa.
One of them had to have been for the android remote.
“May I help you, Lori?” Alison asked, a curious tone to her voice.
“I don’t suppose—” she began, “No, actually. Forget it. I’m not discussing this with you.”
The synth stared on, innocently; Lori felt its gaze on her back.
“Can you leave, Alison? Go start dinner or something.”
“Shall I, Lori? By my records, Ed will not finish work until five p.m, and return home until half-past the hour. I would normally commence dinner at the top of the hour.”
The clock under the TV read a few minutes after four. Lori watched the carefree smile return to Alison’s freckled face, wondering what kind of scans and checks it was running on her at that point. Data collecting, that was it. Was she going to present a full report to Ed when he got home?
“Wash the windows, then.”
The machine, seemingly satisfied with the response, bumbled off to the kitchen. Lori climbed the stairs, hearing a container being filled with running water as she went. It would keep the synth out of the house for a time, at least.
Alison must have tidied their bedroom that afternoon, as it appeared like a scene from a catalogue; Lori could hardly believe how settled the duvet was, her and Ed’s freshly-done laundry folded into small squares at the foot of the bed. The dust particles that normally lingered here in the afternoon sun were nowhere to be seen.
Shaking herself out of the daze, she began yanking the drawers out, one-by-one. Wading through rows and levels of immaculately folded clothing, she cursed, tossing them to the floor in search of the device.
C’mon, where would he put it? Think like Ed, she grunted.
Lori whipped up one side of the burgundy bed linen, the underbed drawer below Ed’s side looking back nonchalantly.
Pulling it free, her heart sunk fast at the sight of paperwork, personal documents and binders stuffed in there; odds and ends that had been shoved away here for no particular reason other than storage. Where else could it be, though? Surely not the attic… No, that wasn’t Ed’s style, especially with his sciatica. She couldn’t imagine him taking the time to hoist the ladder down just to store a device up there.
Pawing at the dog-eared papers in the box, the notion seeped in that this was deliberate. He was hiding this from her. The clerk in Newage Electronics made it clear that the android remote was a device that saw much use, even offering (begrudgingly) to order a replacement for her.
And Ed wasn’t too careless; Lori understood that. He made poor choices sometimes, impulsive choices, but he was generally quite careful. She understood that even more, shifting stacks of frayed binders to the carpet in her haste.
He wouldn’t have been careless enough to lose the clamshell from a $3500 synth. Not a chance.
The stark white bottom of the drawer was peering upwards. On the verge of roaring in frustration, her fingertips finally clipped the edge of something solid, wedged between a thick binder and the base. She tapped it again, the plastic spine rattling with each touch.
Batting the remainder of the papers to one side, Lori dragged it free, and there in her palms rested a black clamshell.
“Series B-5004,” uttered Lori, tracing the sleek lettering on the top. The number the clerk had said. This was it.
Downstairs, the squeaking sound of a sponge on glass drifted up to her, and Lori could picture Alison’s face, locked in that perpetual smile as she cleaned.
Sleep didn’t come easy, instead falling in small, random blocks from the moment Lori had gone to bed. Her forehead pulsed with pain, pushing against the backs of her eyes. She lay facing the ceiling, occasionally rolling over to look at the thinning black hair covering the back of Ed’s head.
He slept soundly, snoring away.
All the information from the day throbbing in her brain, Lori rubbed at her tired face. The glowing outlines of the menu systems projected by the android remote earlier still seemed burned into her retinas, the ghostly turquoise patterns framing her vision in the dark. She’d followed the clerk’s instructions as best she could, hurriedly combing menu after menu for the files that made up Alison’s core routine.
Only time would tell.
The clock display read twelve fifty. Lori’s shoulders eased some, glad that her normal work pattern wouldn’t be beginning again for another week. She’d have still been attending conferences and sipping martinis in the southern belt of Jupiter if their bank hadn’t contacted her with the alarming news; probably would have shot the breeze with quadrant manager Mr Breckner some more, tried to get noticed for promotion before the meetings all wrapped up. Maybe she’d have booked a pedicure for the last morning, and have been on the flight returning this evening, all refreshed.
Five days, wasted, she mused.
Alison wandered up the stairs. The sound was subtle, but noticeable all the same. Lori snapped her attention toward the bedroom door. Again, she checked the study and made a return trip back along the hall, stopping outside their room.
At that moment, all Lori could do was imagine the synth standing out there, the pale shine of moonlight from the porthole window in the hall casting its humanoid shadow on the wall; her— its— smile turned up to maximum as it prepares its next move.
Unlike the last four nights, however, Alison entered.
Almost forgetting about this afternoon, Lori slapped her head down on the pillow, eyes clenched tightly shut. She peeked for a second to see Alison stop by Ed’s side of the bed, staring down at him with curiosity. He didn’t wake.
With a sleekness, Alison slipped off its shoes, unbuttoned its trousers and stepped out of the legs. Lori stopped a curse escaping her mouth as she noticed the synth was wearing what looked like a pair of her silken black panties, stifling herself by pressing further into the pillow. Five buttons on the blouse were next, and Alison lifted the corner of the duvet and rolled Ed onto his back.
“Wha—” Ed mumbled, the movement rousing him as the synth clambered onto his lap. It sat above him, its expression blank. Bending its arms backwards, it undid the clasp on the bra (also borrowed from Lori’s drawer), revealing two pert breasts. By now, Ed was awake and panicked, recoiling as he saw Lori glaring back at him, eyes wide in the dark.
He snapped on the bedside lamp.
“Jeezus, Alison! Lori, I—” he stammered, batting at the synth to dismount. Alison did so with a dutiful “Okey-dokey,” and started buttoning up its blouse. “What is going on?” Ed gasped, scrambling to sitting position in bed, chest raising and falling in the weak light of the lamp.
Lori sunk into the pillow, poised to pounce like a tiger in the long grass, waiting to see what kind of bullshit her husband could conjure next.
“Jeezus,” he repeated, “What’s gotten into that thing?”
“Maybe you need to finish reading the manual, huh?”
Ed looked across, cogs turning. They both neglected Alison, who had slid into the trousers and loafers and was standing by the bed, politely awaiting further instruction.
“Have I done something to offend you, Ed?”
Flushed, Ed waved her away, staying fixed on Lori. “I don’t know what you mean, Alison! Can you just, I don’t know, go charge yourself?”
Alison scrunched her mouth in confusion, “If you are unhappy, you can always file a consumer complaint report. All you have to do is ask.”
“Uh, no. No, that won’t be necessary. Yet.”
“Have I misunderstood the situation? Would you prefer to go on top?”
Lori rolled out of the bed and stood gripping her hips. The tiger’s time to pounce had arrived.
“Christ, I don’t know what it’s talking about!” whined Ed, seemingly winded by everything that was going on. He attempted to start another two sentences but the words spluttered and dropped off, like a boat’s motor failing to start in the water.
“I’ll keep it simple, then, shall I? Have you been fucking this robot?”
“Why don’t we ask it?” and Lori whistled at the synth, “Alison, have you completed this action before?”
“I have indeed, Lori,” the synth smiled, pleased to have been included. “I last ran this routine on the 11th July at twelve fifty-five a.m. Time taken to complete task: five minutes.”
Ed clutched his sweating brow, appearing to be trapped in a nightmare he hoped would end soon.
It didn’t take long to pack an overnight bag for her husband. Grabbing a fistful of boxers, socks and t-shirts, Lori flung the canvas holdall out the front door where it landed on the pathway with a dull thump.
All the while, Ed protested as if he were on death row. He blamed Alison’s manufacturers, then Newage Electronics, and finally the courier that delivered her; by the time Lori was tossing his clothing out the front door, her scorn had dissolved into laughter.
“Lori, please. You don’t have to do this.”
“But you have to leave.”
They were a foot apart, unblinking. Alison hovered beside Lori’s shoulder, watching with curiosity.
Across the street, a light flicked on in a bedroom and the curtains parted. The Burbridges. Normally this old couple’s nosiness irritated Lori to high heaven; not this time, however. She welcomed an audience to watch Ed Lucero in his t-shirt and boxers get turfed out of his house.
“She’s malfunctioning, she has to be. Look,” he leaned in, shoulders shivering in the night breeze, “You haven’t trusted this machine from the start! She must be defective. I’ll have to call Newage”
“I went there this afternoon, as a matter of fact.”
Ed’s features contorted in disbelief. “You did?”
“Umm, yes. I did,” said Lori. “Y’see, there was something bothering me about this thing: why it always stopped at our bedroom door in the middle of the night. Turns out there was an action missing from her sequence; something that she had been doing regularly but had suddenly been cut. The task was deleted, but I found it was still in the remote’s memory bank, so I restored it.” Her lips curled up at the sides; she’d finally gotten a computing problem past him, and it felt good.
Shoulders sagging, Ed shifted focus to the dark pathway where the reach of the porch lights ended, and his lonely holdall lay deflated on the slabs. He noticed the elderly faces at the window across the street but paid them no mind.
“We can talk about this,” he said, voice catching on the lump in his throat.
“The time for talking is done. I don’t want to hear anymore,” said Lori. She stepped aside and waved Alison past. “Can you remove this intruder and show him to his car, please?”
“Certainly, Lori,” beamed Alison, gripping Ed by the arm.
“No way,” he said, startled. “Alison, halt! I have admin rights, dammit!”
Ed clung to the porch in defiance, but Alison peeled him away from the house and stomped down the pathway. She lifted his bag as they neared it, dropping it effortlessly over her shoulder, Ed still trying to wrestle free of her other hand.
Lori breathed a sigh of relief for the first time since coming home. Removing Ed’s administration rights had been easy enough, even cathartic after seeing on the clamshell the kinds of tasks he’d been using the synth for. A few tears rolled down her cheek, stinging in the whooping winds. Goosebumps were forming on her bare shoulders.
Thirteen years they’d been together. And she used to pride herself on knowing Edward Lucero inside out. She suddenly felt like a fool.
Alison appeared marching up the path, smiling wide. Lori slightly envied it; no guilt, no shame, no concept of what has occurred. Always grinning, no matter what, and never ground down. Lori found that she couldn’t even blame it for its part in this. Sure, it was complicit, but it wasn’t alive. Not really. It didn’t know any better.
Plus, it was taking its cues from a human, who supposedly did know better.
“Are you crying, Lori?” it asked, its nose crinkling with concern. “I have removed Ed, the intruder. He says he will be back for his things in the morning. I have booked this into our calendar.”
“Thank you, Alison,” Lori wiped at the stray tears. It still made her mouth tingle to address the synth as a person, but who knows? Maybe it got easier the more time spent in its company. “Did he say anything else?”
“He did mention that he would be arranging a courier to pick me up at an unspecified time in the future. Should I book a company now?”
Scoffing, Lori headed back into comforting warmth of the house. “I wouldn’t bother. You’re not going anywhere. Shouldn’t you be on charge right now?”
“As you say,” said Alison, closing and locking the front door. It nodded goodnight and headed to the living room as Lori started up the stairs.
She’d get the hang of living with a synth; she was sure of it. She might even sleep a little better at night knowing it was on her side. Lori supposed there was really no limit to what you could have these androids do these days.
Slipping under the covers, the king size bed was instantly lonely without Ed. There would be some adjusting, that much was so. There were several conversations still to be had; a lot of dirty laundry to iron out between them. Even still, it wasn’t like there was no one in the house with her in the meantime.
Straightaway, intrigue clouded her tired brain.
Lori promptly removed the android remote from where she’d found it earlier in Ed’s drawer and booted it up.
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