“Josh! Put a trigger in her to go back into trance if I say ‘Sleep, Janet, sleep,’ okay?”
“Sure, Tiff, will do.” Josh nodded as he watched the mindless Janet in the chair.
“Wait! No, I’m not using that trigger anymore. Not since Dillon hijacked it. Uhh, come up with something, anything! Just make sure it only works for me, okay?”
“No problem.” Josh shrugged.
“And then shut it all down and wake her up,” Tiffany called as she left the room again.
She hurried back to reach the door of Josh’s apartment, and a few moments later, there was a knock on the door.
“Tiff! Ohmygod, hi!” Hannah sprang inside and gave Tiffany an enthusiastic hug.
“Hey, Hannah,” Tiffany replied, hugging her back. “I’m glad you could make it.”
“Oh me too!” Hannah squealed. “Honestly Tiff I thought this day would never come, you know we talk about Josh Bailey all the time in class, the basketball star, the drop dead gorgeous man, and he’s like super smart as well, right? And you’re friends with him and that’s amazing and it’s great to come here to hang out with you and him, and do you think it’d be okay if I ask for his autograph? For when he’s super famous? Does he have a girlfriend? I mean, I know he’s waaaay out of my league but I was just curious. You’re not seeing him in secret, are you? I mean, no, that’s silly, you’re seeing Erin, right? How is she? How are you both? I was wondering if…”
Tiffany stopped hearing what Hannah was saying, her thoughts now obsessing over Erin. She had tried to tune them out, but that had been a futile idea. Where even was Erin right now? Why wasn’t she here? Didn’t she want to know what Tiffany had decided to do with everyone? Didn’t she care? Why would she put Tiffany into a position of such power and then just fuck off the way she did? Another test, maybe? Or was she truly done with them all? Was she cutting them off preemptively, because she feared that’s what they would do to her?
“Tiff, I’m so sorry!” Hannah held her hands to her mouth. “I said something wrong I know it. Which part was it? I’m sorry I’m such an idiot.”
Tiffany felt confused as her focus returned to Hannah, until she realised that her cheeks were wet with the tears rolling down them. She tried to speak, to tell Hannah it was nothing, but her throat was suddenly too dry for words, and instead she let out an involuntary sob.
Hannah pulled her into her arms, tucking Tiff’s head into her shoulder. “It’s okay…” she soothed. “Oh Tiff, I’m so sorry. It’s okay… It’s okay…”
For the first time that Tiffany could remember, Hannah stayed mostly silent, holding onto Tiffany and consoling her. It was oddly comforting, and Tiffany wondered how long it would last. As she drew away from the hug, she looked at Hannah, grateful for her support.
“Thank you. I really needed that hug,” she admitted.
“I’ve been told I’m a good hugger.” Hannah beamed. “But look, Tiff, if today isn’t a good day for you, I can go. I mean, anytime is fine and I’ll come running, I can already see how cool this place is, I mean look at the size of that TV! And the sofa, that looks like perfect comfort. Honestly, I can understand why you never want to spend time with me.”
Tiffany felt a jolt in her chest at hearing that. Unable to hide the shock on her face, she shifted uncomfortably. “Hannah, I…” she started to say, but unable to find the words, Hannah interjected for her.
“It’s not me?” Hannah chuckled softly. “It apparently never is, I know… I had a best friend in high school, Scott. He was so cool, and sure I had a crush on him but I knew he never liked me like that, but we were inseparable, or so I thought. We used to hang out together all day every day, when we didn’t have the same classes we would meet up after. I thought we were soulmates even if we weren’t going to be together in that way.”
Hannah slumped onto a stool by the kitchen island, the pizza and soda still strewn across the surface. Tiffany sat next to her and slid the nearest pizza box across. Hannah, understanding the gesture, took a slice gratefully.
“There was one time he said he needed space. That I was too intense, that I was pretty much suffocating him.” Hannah looked off into the distance as she took a large bite out of the pizza. When she was almost finished with her mouthful, she dramatically grabbed a nearby napkin and briskly wiped her mouth. “So I backed off, and pretty much steered clear of him for a week. That’s when I realised I had no other friends. Acquaintances, maybe, but no real friends to speak of. After that week he told me he didn’t want me to leave so completely, and of course I jumped at the chance to hang out with him again.”
Hannah shook her head, like she was admonishing herself. “So stupid… It was like the whole thing had never happened, except everything was different after that. I made an effort to make more friends, I spent less time with him. I went and asked out a boy I sorta liked, it didn’t get very far, and I’m sure Scott was hurt by it, even though he never gave me the impression he liked me in that way. When we picked our colleges, I deliberately decided to go here rather than stay back home where we had talked about going together. He never understood why I did it, why I needed a fresh start.”
Tiffany watched the sorrow on Hannah’s face and felt that it might very soon be her turn to give out hugs. Hannah looked at Tiffany and ran her hand down her face in embarrassment.
“I’m so sorry, Tiff.”
“Don’t be!” Tiffany insisted. “I don’t even know what you’re apologizing for.” Her expression betrayed her confusion, and Hannah gave a half hearted laugh.
“I’m annoying, and I know I am. I honestly wish I could help it but it’s just who I am, so I wish I could accept it, but I find it so hard when I can’t make close friends.” Hannah sniffed, fighting back tears now. “Everyone I know likes me in small doses, or as part of the crowd. I haven’t had a best friend since Scott, and I’ve missed that so much.” She shifted in her seat, looking at Tiffany with bashful eyes. “When you invited me to be roommates, I thought we might become best friends. When it didn’t happen… Well, I wish I didn’t care so much. I wish I could just be different about it all.”
Tiffany dropped down from her stool and took the distraught Hannah into a hug. Hannah’s curly red hair tumbled over Tiffany’s shoulders as she nuzzled into the embrace. For all the talking Hannah ever did, that was the most real the conversation had ever felt to Tiffany.
“I’m sorry…” Hannah mumbled. “I should never have put that expectation on you.”
“No, it’s okay,” Tiffany said. “I understand why you did, and I know I’ve not been the best at opening up… Honestly, I wish I’d been sharing with you the crazy week I’ve been having. You probably would have kept me more grounded.”
Hannah nodded and smiled. “You can tell me anything, Tiff.” She then grinned, shaking her head. “I mean, if I let you get a word in edgeways…”
Tiffany chuckled. “I dunno, we could always install a mute button if you ever need to give your voice a break.” She wondered if Hannah truly wanted to be changed, or if it was just her heartache coming out. “You know how you were saying you wish you didn’t care so much, that you could be different about it all… Did you really mean that?”
Hannah looked up into the sky for a moment. “I dunno, I mean I guess? It’s one of those things where you say it because you know it just doesn’t happen like that. But if I could just remove all these nerves and be cool and confident around boys, especially cute boys I liked, well, then… yeah! Why wouldn’t I want to be like that?”
Tiffany looked at Hannah thoughtfully. Hannah’s kind eyes and flustered smile stirred an instinctive desire to protect, while other voices in her mind whispered seductively about how nice it might be to see Hannah’s worries melted away in a blaze of perfect, blissful obedience.
“Come with me,” Tiffany said decisively, taking Hannah’s hand and leading her towards Josh’s bedroom. “I want to show you something.”
“Oh, okay.” Hannah’s voice was full of curiosity as she let herself be led by Tiffany.
Josh and Janet were hunched over Josh’s desk, but they quickly looked up to see the two girls enter.
“Josh, Janet, this is Hannah,” Tiffany said with a sweeping motion. “Hannah, Josh and Janet.”
Josh stepped forward and extended his hand. “Hi, Hannah! Welcome to my humble abode! I think we’ve met a couple of times in the past, just never properly. I’m glad we can correct that now.”
“H-h-hi! Y-Yes!” Hannah stuttered as she stared at Josh with a near panicked expression. Feeling her tense up, Tiffany tightened her grip on Hannah’s hand and dragged her the rest of the distance towards Josh. She guided Hannah’s clammy hand into Josh’s before letting go and enjoying the furious blush over Hannah’s face as Josh took her hand and brought it up to plant a delicate peck on it.
When he let go, Hannah looked shell shocked and withdrew her kissed hand in order to cradle it with her other. As her cheeks continued to burn, her brain seemed to catch up with what happened, and she broke into a giggle. Tiffany shot Josh an inquisitive glance, and he winked at her cheekily.
“Yes, quite the gentlemen, our Josh,” Tiffany said dryly to Hannah. “Here, have a seat.”
Still giddy, and unable to take her eyes off Josh, Hannah was easy to guide into the chair before the big screen. “You have such a nice apartment…” she mumbled sheepishly as Josh returned to his desk.
Janet had stayed by Josh’s desk and waved a shy hello before her attention was drawn back to the smaller of Josh’s screens. She gazed at it all in fascination. Josh looked at Tiffany inquisitively and Tiffany gave him a sharp nod.
As Josh started clicking buttons on his control interface, Tiffany knelt down next to Hannah and offered her the headphones. “Here, put these on, I want to show you something. You’ll love it, trust me.”
“Sure,” Hannah said, barely paying Tiffany any attention as she slipped the headphones over her ears, before lowering her voice and murmuring, “Tiff… Do you know if Josh has a girlfriend?”
Tiffany stifled a laugh. “Look, just check this out, and after, you can ask him yourself.”
“What?!” Hannah hissed under her breath. “Noooo… I couldn’t!”
“Trust me,” Tiffany assured her. “Just watch the screen and you’ll see.”
She left Hannah in the chair and quickly joined Josh and Janet. Josh was partway through explaining the controls of the Algorithm to Janet as he adjusted the frequency.
“Although you can make the sound the same frequency as the visuals and have them change together, it seems the effect is most potent when you have them at different frequencies but the wave peaks in phase. It makes it easier to select the second medium once you have the first obviously, so I’ve made it so you can lock in the variance and change them both at the same time.”
“Ah I see.” Janet nodded. “So one will track the other and you keep the peaks in resonance.”
“Yeah, exactly!” Josh smiled. “It’s nice to talk to someone about this whose eyes don’t start glazing over about ten seconds in…”
“Seems like mine already did…” Janet murmured to where Hannah was sitting, now looking curiously at the screen. “What exactly did you do to me?”
Before Josh could answer, Tiffany interjected. “Rather than tell, I’d like to show you. I want you to see and understand everything we’re doing here because we want your help with it. Josh will keep altering the settings, you watch Hannah.”
Janet nodded nervously. “’kay,” she murmured. She turned to watch Hannah, who was staring at the screen with curious fascination.
“This is pretty funky, Tiff,” Hannah remarked. “Am I supposed to be doing anything, or…”
“Just watch,” Tiffany said. “In a moment, you’ll experience a feeling of complete relaxation wash over you. We just need to find the right setting.”
“Relaxation? You mean like hypnosis?” Hannah asked, already her voice slowing down and her breathing starting to deepen. “Like the Jungle Book or Jafar’s staff?”
There was a sense of worry over Hannah’s comment, as if she knew what was going to happen and would try to resist the effects. But the look on her innocent friend’s face had Tiffany pushing that thought aside, and instead she chuckled. “I guess? Tell me how it feels to you right now.”
Hannah let out a deep breath. “Like… I can’t look away, but because I don’t want to. I feel like I need to try and figure out the patterns… And the noises in my head are strange…. but soothing.”
Tiffany glanced to see Janet at rapt attention, watching Hannah with either fear or excitement in her eyes, perhaps a bit of both. Turning back, Hannah seemed to be slipping away, albeit not quite fully.
“And I guess…” the redhead murmured. “A part of me feels like I should be worried or concerned, but I’m not, and that’s strange, because this is all strange… But it’s nice to stare, and it is relaxing, but in an… alert sort of way, like now that you’ve mentioned relaxation, it’s all I can think about.”
“That makes sense,” Tiffany nodded. “Try and forget I mentioned relaxation. Tell me what you’re thinking and feeling otherwise.”
“I guess I’m thinking what is this and what is it going to do to me… And I’m feeling… I’m… feeling… feel…”
Hannah’s voice trailed off as her expression slackened. Her pupils dilated wide as she was lost in the swirls of the Algorithm.
“Wow,” Janet muttered, breaking the long silence of the three of them staring. “She’s totally checked out.”
“Yup, found her frequency,” Josh affirmed. “Took a minute, I was almost out of possibilities for her.”
“I think I kind of felt the same sensations for a second there,” Janet said, blinking her eyes and trying to focus on Hannah. “And that’s what you did to me?”
“Yes,” Tiffany said, rounding on her. “But for now, pay attention to this part.” She then approached Hannah, crouching down to her, being sure not to obstruct Hannah’s view of the screen or glance upon it herself.
“Hannah. Can you hear me?” She asked firmly.
“Yes…” Hannah replied faintly as a small line of drool ran down from her mouth.
“Good. You will listen and hear my voice and only my voice while you are in this deep, mindless trance, understand?”
“Good. And any time I say to you…” Tiffany paused to think. What would Erin pick as Hannah’s trigger? She seemed to be much more creative with these things. The obvious answer came to her quickly. “Hypno Hannah. Any time I say Hypno Hannah to you, you will instantly fall back into this deep, empty state, free of all thought, understand?”
“Yes,” Hannah murmured.
Tiffany turned to Janet. “So, what do you think?”
Janet looked in quiet amazement at Hannah, Josh, then finally Tiffany. “So it induces a trance state?”
“Pretty much.” Tiffany gave a half shrug.
Janet was silently contemplative for a few moments. “And, whoever is looking… Hannah, or anyone else… do they choose to drop into the trance?”
“Did you?” Tiffany asked with a cheeky smile.
“I…” Janet blinked a few times as she focused on recalling the memory. “No. It… just felt like it was the only thing I could do. But how does that even work?”
Tiffany turned to Josh, and Janet’s attention followed. Josh made an awkward expression. “Honestly, we don’t know how or why it works. We’d need to approach things more scientifically to even start to figure that out.”
Tiffany nodded. “We just know that it does work. It overwhelms you into a trance state and then lets me rewrite your mind.”
Janet frowned immensely at this. “Rewrite how?”
Tiffany moved closer to Janet, a playful gleam in her eyes. “Why, however I want.”
Janet unconsciously shrank away from Tiffany. “I… Okay,” she managed. “That seems…”
“Seems what?” Tiffany smirked.
“I dunno, pretty unbelievable to be honest,” Janet admitted.
Tiffany chuckled and nodded. “Say Josh, what did you program Janet with to drop back into trance?”
“I went with ‘Drop for me,’ but only if you say it in person to her,” Josh explained. “Figured that it would do.”
“It will, thanks.” Tiffany replied before turning back to Janet. Janet opened her mouth to speak but wasn’t able to as Tiffany loomed over her. Tiffany could see all manners of emotions play out in Janet’s eyes alone, the girl’s breath hitching as she waited for the words to come tumbling from Tiffany’s mouth, unsure if she could believe in such power. “Drop for me.”
Janet’s mouth stayed open and the rest of her expression melted away, her eyes dilating behind her glasses and her shoulders slumping.
“Very good, Janet, dropping deep into mindless trance for me,” Tiffany purred, stroking her hand through the shorter girl’s hair. “Was it true what Josh said? Were you checking me out earlier? Answer me honestly.”
“Yes,” came Janet’s dry, toneless reply.
Tiffany half expected the blush to return to Janet’s face. But her mindless trance left no room for embarrassment, leaving Tiffany to marvel at the contrast. Furrowing her brow, she turned to Josh. “I honestly don’t know what to do with this information.”
Josh shrugged back at her. “Who says you have to do anything with it?”
Tiffany ran her hand through her hair. “I know, I know… It’s just…” She looked at Josh again and blushed. “Less than an hour after I decide to turn over a new leaf and stop using the power of the Algorithm for quite so selfish reasons as I was, here comes along a cute girl who’s apparently into me. How on earth am I supposed to resist temptation if this happens whenever I try?”
Josh shook his head with a chuckle. “It wouldn’t be much of a test of resisting temptation if you were temptation free, would it?”
They locked eyes with each other for a long moment until Tiffany scoffed. “Bah! Fine!” She turned around and threw her hands in the air. “I’ll be good. I’ll let Janet stay just your helper. I won’t turn her into my super horny sex slave like you expect me to!”
Josh nodded, a pretend expression of seriousness on his face. “How disciplined of you. What about Hannah?”
“Well Hannah’s going to be my helper.” Tiffany wandered up to her roommate, stroking the redhead’s cheek as she stared blankly into the abyss of the swirling colours before her. “Hannah, when awake you’ll do everything I ask you to do for me, not thinking much about it other than you know you like to do as I ask, understand?”
“Yes,” came Hannah’s dull response.
“Perfect,” Tiffany whispered. She then returned to Janet’s side, and leaned into her ear. “Janet, when awake you will do everything I ask and everything Josh asks, because you like us both and want to help us both as much as reasonably possible, understand?”
“Yes,” Janet replied.
“Also, when I stare deeply and directly into your eyes, you will believe anything I tell you, no matter how hard it might be to. You may be surprised, or need more information to make sense of it, but you will find yourself able and willing to believe me when I’m staring into your eyes. Understand?”
“Yes,” Janet said.
Tiffany repeated the instruction to Hannah and then exhaled deeply, before turning to Josh. “Oh, you have no idea of the amount of temptation I’m fighting right now…”
“I have some idea…” Josh replied. “Bobby just messaged me, he’s on his way over now, and I’m having my own internal battle over what to do there.”
“Oh!” Tiffany exclaimed, surprise mixing with excitement. “That’s right, Alice made you invite him from last night! Well, we definitely need to put some basic programming in him in advance of the party… But then, you can do what you want, can’t you?”
“Can I?” Josh asked nervously. “I’ve been crushing on the guy for months, and I’m not out to any of my teammates.”
“You totally can.” Tiffany nodded in reassurance. “If anything, it’ll make me feel better about the selfish ways I’m using the Algorithm even after everything. You should make him crush on you back.”
Josh squinted at her. “So I should be totally selfish… To make you feel better?”
“Exactly…” Tiffany said, sliding up to Josh and guiding his gaze into hers. “It’s okay to do things that make you happy now and then.”
“I guess so.” Josh nodded, unable to look away from Tiffany’s eyes.
“You’ll feel good about programming Bobby the way I programmed Hannah, but for both of us. Understand?
“Yeah, so we can both drop him into trance, and do the thing with the helping and the eyes, right?”
“Exactly.” Tiffany smiled. “And after that, you can do what you like with Bobby. Do what feels good and right for you, okay?”
“Okay.” Josh nodded. “I can do that.”
Tiffany sighed. “It’s funny,” she turned away, looking avidly around Josh’s bedroom, “I’m half expecting Erin to jump out from a closet or something any moment now. To tell me that I’m doing this wrong, that I suck. That I don’t deserve to be in full control like this.”
Josh scratched his head and offered a faint smile. “You know, she left you in charge because it’s what she wanted, right? She could be in the exact position you’re in now, but she chose to pass the power to you.”
Tiffany ran her hands anxiously through her hair. “But what if I screw up again? What if I make another monster like I did with Alice?” She paced behind Hannah, making sure not to look directly at the screen. “I can’t believe she put me in charge after all the ways I fucked up.”
Josh walked up to Tiffany and put his hands on her shoulders. “I think the phrase that applies here Tiff is ‘benefit of the doubt.’ Erin had her reasons, clearly. She trusts you. And I can understand why.”
“She trusts me…” Tiffany echoed wistfully. “Well, nobody’s perfect, I guess.”
“Speak for yourself.” Josh grinned.
Tiffany rolled her eyes, but couldn’t help smiling. “Thanks, Josh. I think I know what I want to do now.”
“Yeah? What’s that?”
“Go get Erin, basically.” Tiffany sighed. “As much as I’m struggling to admit it, it’s all I’ve really wanted since we got together a few nights ago, it’s just one thing after another that’s gotten in the way since then.”
“Well that sounds simple enough.” Josh nodded.
“Yes and no…” Tiffany trailed. “I don’t think I can just wander up to her right now. I’m a mess, I’m all over the place… I need to know exactly what to say and how to act. I can’t just wing this, I need a plan, and I need help…” She eyed up Hannah. “Well, a plan is starting to form.”
“I think you’ll find no shortage of help here,” Josh said. “What do you need?”
“Well, I need you and Janet to figure out how to get the Algorithm to work on a tablet. I guess we should wake her up.” Tiffany motioned to the bespectacled girl standing deeply in trance next to her.
“What about Bobby?” Josh frowned.
“I dunno.” Tiffany shrugged. “Have him help out, or just hang out. He can know about the Algorithm if you trust him, so long as he’s programmed to not let the secret loose that we have a mind control computer sitting in your bedroom.”
“And another at Erin’s apartment…” Josh pointed out.
“Shit, yeah,” Tiffany murmured. “I’m not sure how I feel about that. It was pretty cunning on her part, but I’m not sure it’s all that secure there. Her place was… is… erm.”
Josh laughed. “I got my memories back, Tiff. I know she lives in a shithole.” His expression suddenly changed to serious and solemn. “I honestly had no idea, did you?”
“No, none,” Tiffany admitted. “When I think about it, there’s really a lot I don’t know about her. But I don’t like that she’s living like that.”
“Me neither.” Josh agreed.
“We should do something about it.” Tiffany mused.
“Yeah…” Josh trailed with a sly smile. “If only we knew someone with a spare room and who had cash to spare…”
“Okay, but first things first, I’ve got to find her and make things right,” Tiffany decided, feeling herself fill with resolve. “Let’s wake up these two for now, and I’ll explain the plan.”
“Sounds good.” Josh nodded.
“Janet. You won’t remember being in trance just now. Fully wake up.” Tiffany instructed.
Janet started moving again, and looked from Tiffany to Josh in confusion. “I- I’m so sorry, I think I drifted off for a moment there. What was… Oh.” She saw Hannah mindlessly blank and staring into oblivion.
“Don’t worry about it.” Tiffany placed a hand on Janet’s shoulder. “We were just showing you our Algorithm. It lets us put anybody deep into a trance and then program their mind.”
Janet looked at Josh, then at Tiffany again, a look of growing distrust brewing on her face. “No… This is a joke, right? This can’t be real.”
“Janet,” Tiffany said, using her other hand to guide Janet’s eyes to hers. Janet looked back into Tiffany’s gaze, gasping slightly as she found herself unable to break eye contact. The blush that had been missing before made it’s return.
“You find it easy to believe me when I explain this to you. You will realise that there’s no need to worry or freak out.”
Tiffany’s eyes seemed to pierce through her, letting the words slip through their wake and resonate within her mind. “O- okay…” Janet replied, and Tiffany watched as tension started to ebb away from her.
Tiffany then slapped her shoulder with a grin and turned back to Hannah theatrically. “So what do you think? It’s a work in progress, but it’s able to let us put all kinds of programming into someone’s mind, even without them knowing it.”
“It’s…” That same sense of disbelief, that none of this was possible, came creeping up. But now that Tiffany explained it a second time, it all made sense to her. “It’s incredible!” Janet exclaimed in awe. “I honestly don’t know what to say.”
“That’s okay.” Josh shrugged. “I didn’t either, I just did what any idiot would do and suggested inappropriate ways to test it out on people.”
“What did you do?” Janet asked, her curiosity and excitement overwriting the previous apprehension.
“Oh god…” Tiffany groaned, the memories flooding back to her.
“Well, let’s see…” Josh started listing off using his fingers. “Erin was a chicken. Alice was a stripper. Trev was compelled to address every female as ‘m’lady.’ I had this weird experience where my senses were jumbled up so I would taste by touching, smell by listening, and it would be random every time. We all forgot the entirety of Thursday evening for a while. There’s more, but it gets a bit more intense and less PG from there…”
“Yeah, there are moments from the last few days I don’t want to relive…” Tiffany added, pinching the bridge of her nose. She decided not to add that there were other moments that her mind couldn’t help but revisit in longing.
“Wow…” Janet remarked. “That’s… amazing.”
“And I guess this might be asking a bit much and so sudden, but we want your help making a version of this that we can carry around on the likes of a tablet or so. This version is only so useful.”
“I see…” Janet murmured, looking at the setup again with renewed admiration. “So you could take it anywhere, entrance anyone…”
“Before you ask, I’m not planning on walking up to random people on the street to brainwash them. It’s for a very specific purpose,” Tiffany explained, clutching her arm awkwardly. “I know how it sounds, but we’re not totally evil.”
“That’s okay.” Janet nodded. “I need to look at how it works before I can tell if I can do it or not. I’d like to help if I can. But, um…”
“Yes?” Tiffany asked.
“It’s… nothing.” Janet shook her head sheepishly.
“No no, it’s okay,” Tiffany soothed her. Grabbing Janet gentle by the shoulders again, Tiffany once more looked firmly into her eyes. “Janet, it’s okay, you can tell me anything.”
That same calm from before washed over her, and just like that all hesitance was washed away by Tiffany’s words. “Okay,” Janet said, transfixed by Tiffany’s gaze. “If I help you make your program into a tablet, would I be able to use it on someone?”
“Janet…” Tiffany grinned. “You’re a woman after my own heart. I don’t see why we couldn’t work something out there. But it is of utmost important that this little project stay between us. You, me and Josh, and anyone else Josh and I deem fit to know, okay?”
Janet nodded. “That makes sense.”
“Good!” Tiffany beamed, breaking eye contact to go and circle Hannah once more. “It’s wonderful to have you onboard. Josh speaks highly of your talents, you know…”
“He does?” Janet asked, experiencing an entirely new blush.
“Oh absolutely. Why do you think we chose you to help us out?”
“You do know your stuff…” Josh nodded in agreement.
“Um…” Janet began. She glanced at Josh, and then for the first time directed her gaze over to Tiffany and held eye contact. “Thank you for… For wanting my help. For wanting me to be a part of something like this.”
“Don’t mention it.” Tiffany waved dismissively,
“So while you and Josh go get started on that project, Hannah here is going to help me with a project of my own.”
“Yeah?” Janet raised an eyebrow. “What’s that?”
Tiffany took a deep, calming breath. “Well, she’s going to help me grab a few things from this store Erin likes… But first…”
Tiffany stared with determination at the swirling patterns on the screen, her mind made up.
“First, I need to use the Algorithm. On myself.”