Chapter Two: A Safe Place

"Just hold for a moment. I won't be long. Honor, sister and brother! Irie!"

LIke Bryce and Jenny, Larissa was sixteen. Her brown eyes twinkled beneath her dreadlocks as she and Jenny hugged for a moment. Bryce stood nearby waiting patiently for them to finish.

"As you can see, Bryce is as charming as ever," Jenny said, waving a thumb in Bryce's direction.

"So what is it that I and I can do for you two?"

"Not for me," Jenny explained hastily. "This is all his decision. I'm only involved because I was able to get a GroBag from the stock that Network 66 got from Ovu-Vat. It's not my child."

"Jah bless! A child at our age. Bryce what are you thinking of?"

"I like Edison. A lot," Bryce admitted. "I want to have his baby. I really wanted to carry the baby, but the doctor says it's too dangerous to try doing it that way.

"Child of Babylon," Larissa said, disapprovingly. "Bryce, I don't know if I'm up for this. I understand how you feel. But I was raised under the Eye of the Lion. I believe that love is love and that all children should have a chance to be born. But the Eye of the Lion believes that all children born deliberately must be born from love. Not out of a glorified suitcase."

"Please, Larissa," Bryce begged. He was getting desperate now. He wanted this baby, but everyone seemed to be against it. What was so wrong about it? It was a baby, not a nuclear explosive.

"I can't. I'm sorry. If this child was from love…"

"It's from my love," Bryce entreated. "I mean…" he faltered. Had he just admitted it? Was it even enough.

Larissa smiled. "I can't be a party to this," she reiterated. "But I can rent you a room on this floor for non-specific purposes."

A vector graphic of the thirteenth floor of World 1 appeared on Larissa's screen. Larissa zoomed in on one of the doors. Another zoom and a few keystrokes connected her to the keypad for that door. She made a few more keystrokes and then printed out a five digit alphanumeric sequence.

"That's the door code for that room. Only the three of us know it. I'm going to hide the room from the system blueprints. The door code will still work, but it will be hidden in case anyone wonders why you're here."

"Thanks, Larissa." Bryce headed for the door, then paused. "Did you ever meet Theora Jones?"

"No," Larissa told him. "Why?"

"No reason," Bryce said as he departed. "Just curious."

After Bryce and Jenny had left, Larissa returned to her original phone call.

"Can you believe that, Winnie?" she asked her older cousin.

Winnie Jones, who was also sister-in-law to Theora Jones, smiled. "I can. And don't worry Their secret is safe with me."

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