Olivia hopped in her car and drove the three blocks to the address Mark had given her. Even though she could have walked, she didn't want anyone that could be watching to know she lived close enough to walk. She parked her car on the opposite side of the road and watched the building for ten minutes. If someone besides her was there, they were hiding well. Her phone let out a soft ping and she looked down to see a new text message. It was from Mark.
You coming in?
Olivia looked up from her phone back to the building and noticed a faint glow coming from one of the windows on the left. She took a steadying breath and stepped out of her car, shutting the car door as softly as she could. Her gaze traveled up the length of the dilapidated building. Many of the windows had been knocked out, graffiti was sprayed on the walls that weren't covered in drooping ivy, and the paint was peeling off of the front door which had somehow maintained intact.
Olivia crossed the road and pushed open the door which screeched loudly on rusty hinges. She winced as her position was clearly given away. The corridor was riddled with long forgotten items and trash. She kicked a teddy bear out of her path and saw a giant puff of dust blow out of it. She waved away the dust and continued forward.
Olivia listened intently as she made her way forward, trying to hear if anyone else was moving near her. The only sound she could hear was someone shuffling from foot to foot up ahead impatiently. It seemed safe for the moment, so Olivia continued until she came to a wide open room. Mark was standing in the middle of it, tapping his foot. Olivia scanned the room seeing if there was any place for cover. The room was bare except for a few piles of loose trash. Regardless, she stepped further in until she was close enough to Mark that she could look him in the eyes.
She noted that there were only two clear escape routes if things went badly: the doorway she had just entered through and the window she had seen Mark's phone light through earlier.
"Alone?" she asked.
"No one else is here. Figured you'd be more willing to listen this way."
Olivia nodded and scanned the room again quickly.
"Nice place." Olivia snorted.
"Well I can't very well bring you to my home. Rivals aren't allowed in our territory unless they're prisoners." Mark teased.
Olivia's eyes widened but she maintained her composure.
"Rivals, huh?" she responded nonchalantly.
"I should probably start at the beginning."
"You should probably start with how you aren't dead."
Mark had been pacing slowly but stopped at her words. He turned to her with a smile.
"So you do believe me."
Olivia shook her head.
"I'm giving you the benefit of the doubt. You have thirty seconds to start explaining or I walk and assume you lied."
"Just one question before I begin: did you tell Luka you were meeting me?"
Olivia shuffled her feet uncomfortably. Her gaze shifted down and then shot back up to meet his.
"I'll take that as a no then."
Mark sighed and pushed away the trash at his feet. He sat down, crossing his legs and gesturing for Olivia to take a spot on the floor. She continued to stand. Mark ran a hand through his hair and looked at her with an exasperated expression.
"Look, Livvie. This is a long story. You might want to sit."
"I'll stand." Olivia said flatly.
"I guess I should start with the fact that I wanted to leave the Blades. I'd been looking to get out for a while. I wanted to finish school, get a normal job and take care of you. I wanted to provide the life that mom and dad would have wanted for you. I talked to Luka about it and he sent me back to school. I'm sure you remember that. I was going to work for a law office and make you proud. Luka didn't mind me working in law since I could help keep the guild out of trouble. I could find loopholes. But the time came that I wanted that to end. I wanted to start over in a new city with you. Get you away from the guild and take you somewhere safer." Mark paused.
"So why didn't you?" Olivia said in a small voice.
She sat down across from Mark and stared at him hard. Mark's hands started shaking and he clasped them together to stop it. He looked at Olivia with pain clear in his eyes.