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Retribution (18+ Violence, Strong Language, Mature Themes)
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Eddie Blake
Wyrmling
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Joined: 13 Feb 2016
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PostPosted: Sun Aug 27, 2017 11:46 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

August 8th, 11:40 A.M.

Tainted Love

Once I ran to you (I ran)
Now I'll run from you
This tainted love you've given
I give you all a girl could give you
Take my tears and that's not nearly all
~ Performed by Marilyn Manson

Eddie had said he had some business to handle, so Lizzy sat alone for the moment, the breeze ruffling a few errant strands of bright gold, her hair gathered in a half braid that pulled the rest back from her face. A slim gold chain hung around her neck, setting off matching gold hoops, and the perfect subtle accent to her outfit. A lavender scoop necked top exposed her collarbone, but didn’t dip down low enough to expose too much, although it did blend nicely with the subtle bruising along the inside of her arms. Which was sadly visible as she raised a glass of water to her lips, her eyes focusing down the sidewalk. Seaview was full of cafes and bistros, and the weather was perfect for an outdoor lunch.

Denim shorts flashed as she shifted in her seat, a slight blush tinging her cheeks as she thought about the man she was waiting for. He’d been such a surprise, but everything she could have ever hoped for - caring, kind, intelligent, with a sense of humor that made the worst treatment sessions easier to bear. She’d been taught that some things were worth waiting for...so she had. And she was so glad she had. Eddie had been...perfect. So different from...before. Lizzy shuddered, and tucked a stray strand behind her ear. Hopefully Eddie wouldn’t be too much longer.

She was watching the wrong way. The seat across from her was suddenly occupied, though it wasn’t the man she was expecting. His eyes were almost too blue, and far too deep for someone so young. That with his pale hair made him seem more pretty than rugged. The kind of face that when he smiled like that could make a girl stare. The way he focused that on Lizzy, it was obvious that he knew it too. Antoine DeMarco was dressed casually, for him that meant a pastel Izod shirt, and white deck pants. On his feet a pair of leather docksiders, the man was obviously here to take out the family yacht. That had been his plan, but then he’d spotted Lizzy, and things could wait. He was a DeMarco, everything waited for him. “Well, isn’t this a surprise. I figured you’d be out slumming it with your nurse, Elizabeth. Where is the blue collar trash anyway?”

His hand moved over hers, possessively, sliding onwards and squeezing the small wrist in his hand. The edges of perfectly manicured nails nipped at her skin, but at least his palms were soft. A sure sign that he wasn’t anything close to blue collar. “I miss you… Don’t you miss me? We had such plans for our future.” She was an adequate match for someone of his stature. Very complementary in look and breeding. There were empires that could be forged in such a union.

“Antoine! I -” Lizzy’s eyes were wide as she tugged her hand away, or tried to. His hands might be soft and manicured, but Antoine was not a weakling by any stretch. Keeping her voice low, she tried to keep calm, knowing that he could likely feel her pulse against his fingertips, thready and rapid. They’d been together for years, until her diagnosis had widened cracks in their superficial facade. “Eddie’s not my...and no, you had plans for our future. You and our parents - no-one ever asked me what I wanted. It certainly didn’t include you sleeping with my nurse while I was in the other room!” As outwardly idyllic as they had been, the end of their relationship had been anything but.

“I don’t miss you. At all. And you’ve been horrible ever since I kicked you and that...hussy...out of my life. How is she anyway? Still giving bedside service? I’m sure your parents can’t think she’s an appropriate replacement - no family fortune, for one.” Elizabeth Davenport was, generally, calm and pleasant - but the pretty boy with a grip on her wrist brought out a sharp, if inexperienced tongue. She tried to remember to breathe, to stay calm to keep her heartrate down, but it was hard when she was caught between making a scene, and embarrassing them both, or maintaining decorum.

“We need to talk, but not here. You’re coming with me. There are things that I need to say to you.” Antoine’s voice was low, but that didn’t detract from how haughtily he spoke. So far as he was concerned, Liz didn’t get a choice, she would come. He kept the grip on her wrist as he stood, and began to tug her from her seat as well. There was a sneer on his face when he saw what she was wearing. “Denim, really? I see that oaf has infected you.” Antoine’s pull increased at the thought of it, his pretty looks nearly ruined by the disdain on his face which was entirely directed at her.

“Stop fighting me on this, you must come with me so we can work this out. We all need to know our places, Liz. Yours is at my side, or wherever I need it to be.” She’d wanted to know about the nurse… what was her name again? He’d stopped seeing her the moment that Liz had let her go. There was no longer a use for her after that. “I’m quite free of the trollop, if you really want to know. She had been getting these ideas, as if I could marry so low.” He dug in with his heels and pulled hard at the little blonde. She’d get to her feet or land on the floor then come along in embarrassment. It’d been a long time since he’d seen that blush, or the acquiescence that went with it.

“There’s nothing to work out! Antoine! You’re hurting me!” She wrapped her other hand around the arm of her chair, but he was winning. Pain shimmered across those sea-green eyes, and she bit at her bottom lip. “He’s not an oaf! He loves me, and I love him - you’re just jealous because he’s a better man than you’ll ever be - that he….AAhhh!” The grip on her wrist cut the rest of that sentence off with a muffled cry, although she managed, just barely, to stay in her seat. The pulse in her wrist was racing, and starting to stutter. Antoine had always been full of himself, convinced of his own superiority. Before Eddie, she hadn’t known men could be any different.

“Antoine - let me go! You just used her...why? To get what I wouldn’t give you?” Lizzy’s cheeks were flushed as she kept trying to pull free. They were starting to gather some attention, which was bad enough - but to be discussing such intimate topics on top of that...she could hardly bear it. “There’s nothing you can say to me to make me take you back. We’re through - I’m with Eddie now, and you need to just accept it!”

“All that holier than thou drivel you spouted. ‘I’m waiting until after I’m married…’ then you give it up to the help, and you’re throwing accusations at me? That’s going to cost you, L…” Antoine wanted desperately to continue his tirade, to dominate the blonde in front of him with his superior size and breeding. The pain pulsing through his wrist had stopped his tongue, and forced him to release Liz. He turned into the grip, trying to bowl over whomever had him, only to find that his shoulder had run into the chest of someone as much bigger than he as he was of Liz.

“Unhand me, right this instant before I have your hand removed.” He’d wanted to put much more force behind his words, might have been able to if he hadn’t swallowed slightly when his gaze turned upward into the utterly dark expression of Eddie Blake. To his credit, the man let go of his wrist, of course it was just so he could get a better grip at Antoine’s throat. He felt his feet rise from the floor a full half a second before he was being lofted across the open patio to slide bodily on the concrete. The points of contact felt slick with blood, a result of friction against his skin. The look on Eddie’s face had Antoine afraid that Eddie was going to close the distance once more. He scrambled to get up, turning to look behind him, but the big man had simply picked up Liz and sat her across his lap.
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Tahlia Faras
Young Wyrm
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Joined: 01 Mar 2017
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PostPosted: Sun Aug 27, 2017 11:49 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Eddie’d been frustrated enough before getting to the restaurant. Traffic had been far too thick with luxury sedans and people who thought driving meant take a space that was far too small even for their small cars. He’d have been there much sooner, if it hadn’t been for the valet service. Seriously nine billion crowns to park, plus tip? That may’ve been an exaggeration, but for the prices they charged, it might as well have been. There may have been a bit of loathing about letting a stranger drive his car too. This wasn’t some run of the mill Lexus, or even one of those I don’t have a big package, but my car is a vintage Alpha Romeo. It certainly wasn’t some douchy sixty seven Impala. **** Chevy. Eddie had finally found a spot to park his 71 Road Runner that didn’t feel like the oncoming traffic would put a gouge in the pristine purple finish. That of course led to the walk back to the restaurant, three blocks of SRB’s, but at least the white linen suit looked good on him, and kept the heat to a minimum.

There’d been plenty of unwanted attention from those spoiled rich brats on the walk too. Goddamn giggling girls who eye****ed him as he passed by. Frustrating, if only because he had someplace to be, and he was already running late. The hostess pretended she couldn’t understand him when he asked for Lizzy, blaming his thick accent and boorish enunciation. Just another pretentious bitch who needed badly to get pounded by boorish enunciation. The worst of it, the thing that put him over the edge, was to find some arrogant entitled asshat pawing at Tahlia. It was only when he used the name Liz that Eddie checked the large fist that he’d intended to send the man’s way. The man wanted to mistreat Lizzy, in front of him? Nobody touched her that way. Even he’d managed to be delicate while being forceful, and that really only happened behind closed doors.

Eddie thought maybe the reject from a boy band needed to experience a little of what he was doing to her. No punching, well not yet at least. “Her name’s Lizzy, and she doesn’t belong to you… Antoine.”

Maybe the man was lighter than he looked, or perhaps all that pent up aggravation gave Eddie a little more power. Whatever the case, he went flying. Eddie was about to converge on the heap of Antoine, but he noticed how Lizzy was reacting. Some of her friends called him a brute, and possibly one that needed anger management. They didn’t really know him, he just wasn’t one to keep his opinions to himself. If they’d seen what he did to one of theirs, it was a certainty that they’d call that hard evidence. Maybe it was too, but nobody manhandled Lizzy.There had been plenty of attention from the lunch crowd, followed by squeals and exaggerated gasps when Eddie put an end to it. He wanted to teach the blonde boy a lesson, but there were things far more important that needed him.

Gently he lifted Lizzy from her chair, holding her close and settling down with her across his lap. His glare at Antoine had the man looking back over his shoulder as he darted around a corner and out of sight. Eddie cradled Lizzy, stroking her hair as he spoke in soft soothing tones. “It’s okay songbird… I’ve got you now, and nobody can get to you.” He looked to an older woman just across the aisle as he rocked Lizzy.

“Can you reach into her purse, there’s an emergency pill box in there. It’s the red one.” Once it was in his hand he pulled one of the little pills free. “You know what to do angel… put it under your tongue.”

Lizzy cradled her wrist to her chest, hardly registering more than the fact that the pain in her wrist was gone and the sun seemed a little less intense for a long moment. That and the fact that her heart was racing...she knew that wasn’t good. Knew there were pills in her purse that would help - she just couldn’t seem to manage to make her body listen. Breathing was becoming more of a challenge, her chest hiccuping with sharp little gasps as she tried to get enough air in her lungs to slow it down, to keep her heart from bursting out of her chest. Even though she could hardly focus there was nothing in the world as familiar as that voice.

Before she could speak, she felt Eddie’s strong arms around her, holding her close, one hand stroking her hair. She blinked, trying not to shake herself to pieces - Antoine was a monster in designer clothing - he’d never been able to stand losing, and this was no exception. But Eddie had her now, and she was safe - safe enough to look over and see her ex scramble to his feet and run away like the coward he was. Maybe now he’d realize this was a problem he couldn’t buy or intimidate his way out of.

She managed to get the pill under her tongue, and held it there. She couldn’t swallow, as much as she wanted to - she had to let the nitroglycerin dissolve slowly, even if it seemed counter intuitive. Doctors orders. Instead she simply clung to him in silent desperation, her head buried into his shoulder. Somehow, this close to the ocean, the salty, musky scent that was uniquely his was heightened, and she breathed him in, letting his heat seep through her body. Lizzy knew they were probably drawing attention, but right now, all she could do was curl tighter against his chest and let the medicine do its work.

Lizzy wasn’t the only one shaking, though his had more to do with the adrenaline working its way through his veins. He hid it from her as best he could, though anyone who had watched him try to open that pill box saw it plainly enough. By their expressions, they thought it was something else entirely. He was okay with that. Lizzy seemed small, and frail against him. The pale cheek lost behind his hand as he held her to him. “That’s right, it’s working… just listen to the sound of my heart, and breathe.” There were several offers to call for paramedics, but there was little more they could do than what he already was. He couldn’t stop them if they’d done it, but he did try to reassure them that this was all she needed.

Soft kisses were placed atop her head, his arms tight around her letting her know she was safe. “I’m sorry…” His voice was a murmur just for Lizzy now. “...I should have been here sooner.” It wasn’t his fault, well maybe if he’d sprung a little more and let someone park the car for him this wouldn’t have happened. Eddie felt guilty, and that only made him hold on more. “Just come on back to me, and I’ll take you someplace else. I promise I won’t leave you alone like that again.” If he’d known that her ex was around, he never would have left her. “I love you, Lizzy… that man… that boy didn’t deserve you.”

“I love you too, Eddie…” Lizzy swallowed thickly, the last of the nitro pill coating her tongue. His heartbeat pulsed through her, slowing hers to match as if by magic. He was her happy place, and it was so much easier to deal with her illness with him right there. She could hear a few murmurs, questioning whether they needed help, and she shook her head. The pills worked quickly, and the only other thing she needed was time curled up in his arms, recovering. “It’s...it’s ok, scruffy...I didn’t know he was here...I just...online is one thing...but he was so angry...I told him I-” She cut off with a gasp, trying to swallow the sob of relief that he had shown up just in time.

She had no doubt that Antoine would have dragged her off - if he was here, so was the family yacht - and the DeMarco staff was unerringly loyal. “You’re here now. You’re always here.” She tilted her head back, much as she loved the feel of his lips against her hair, she wanted more. Belatedly, she remembered the nitro, and tilted her head to the side, moving his lips to her cheek while she reached for the glass. Or in its general direction - she knew she couldn’t quite lift it on her own, just yet anyway. “I think I need some time away from everyone...except you…”

“I could go find him, and…” There he went again, showing his bad roots. He wanted to be better than that, she deserved better. “No, you’re right. We should just find a way to get away from everything and everyone. Maybe take that boat trip you were thinking about. I’m sure that after today, even the doctor would agree that it would be good for you… for us.” His lips met her cheek, though he’d noticed how she’d pulled her mouth away from him searching for her glass of water. Eddie put his hand around hers and helped her lift it until the straw was at her lips. “Just you and me and the ocean. What more could a guy want?” His finger slid along her jaw, turning her eyes towards him so he could get lost in them again.

“Does that seem like something you’d like to do? I mean no matter where we go here, there’ll be people. Even if they’re not with us, they won’t be gone either.” Short of actually finding a deserted island, it was the best he could come up with. In a way, it would be like making their own island out there, just much smaller and it probably came with a wet bar.

Lizzy sipped her water, swallowing to clear the last of the medication from her lips and tongue. The same thing that saved her from dying could do him harm, and she desperately wanted to avoid that. Her eyes sought his, and held, slowly lowering the glass into her lap with his help. It took her a moment to form words - medication aside, the stroke of his finger along her jaw always took her breath away. “I like that idea...I’m sure the doctor will agree. We can call him, can’t we? And I think there’s a boat out in the marina that would be just perfect…” She knew it wouldn’t be completely away from everyone, and the paparazzi were relentless, but it would be close enough.

Smiling softly, she ducked her head and kissed him, mindless of the gasps and titters of the ladies who lunched around them. Any one of whom would have died to be where Lizzy was, and she knew it. It wasn’t much, as kisses went...but they were still in public, and very much the center of attention. The fact that she would do that much was light years from where she had been when they met. “You’ll be there, scruffy...that’s all I need. Just a day or two before we head to Westport...I just want some time with you, alone...where we can relax and do whatever we want to…”

The Raspberry Cadillac CTS parked around the corner fit in well with all the other luxury cars that seemed to have been spawned in the area. It would have anyway, if it weren’t for the blonde yelling into the driver’s window or the kid in the passenger’s seat who clearly didn’t belong anyplace this posh. A yellow envelope passed through the window which seemed to calm the angry blonde some. “Look, there’s more in there than we agreed on, call it hazard pay. This number you gave me is good though, right? I may need you for something in the future.”

The blonde who’d played Antoine stormed away, leaving Saul chuckling, though Reggie was looking surly at the departing man. “I can’t believe you paid him extra for that. He was all over Harley, far as I’m concerned he deserved what he got…” Deserved more so far as Reggie was concerned.

“Look kid, sometimes you gotta adlib, and sometimes you gotta stir things up. Make it more real.” Saul at least seemed unconcerned about Reggie’s ire, or the actor’s injuries. “Besides, that girl can take care of herself, and don’t you believe otherwise.”

“Two words, Saul…” Reggie pulled up a picture on his phone of Antoine assaulting Harley and showed it haughtily to Saul. “Dick Move.”

_________________

“But now and then, a woman walks up, full blossom, a woman just bursting out of her dress…a sex creature, a curse, the end of it all.”
― Charles Bukowski, Post Office
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Tahlia Faras
Young Wyrm
Young Wyrm


Joined: 01 Mar 2017
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PostPosted: Wed Aug 30, 2017 8:26 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

August 8th, 9:35 pm

Secrets

Oh, got no reason, got no shame
Got no family I can blame
Just don't let me disappear
I'mma tell you everything
~ OneRepublic


Lizzy watched Eddie lead Reggie down the gangway, towering over the teen, his dark head of hair bent over Reggie’s ragged blond mop. She wasn’t really certain what the conversation was about...he’d tucked her into one of the deck chairs, an oversized sweater (one of Eddie’s) over her bikini, and a blanket over her legs to keep her warm as the sun turned the water into a van Gogh painting. Pinks and purples swirled with golden red, the blue lights along the hull dancing across the waves. Once Reggie was gone, they’d be alone, away from prying eyes...well, except for the captain and crew, but they hardly counted. It had been a chaotic day, and she looked forward to enjoying an idyllic evening to make up for it.

Eddie walked with Reggie down the dock, the purple side of the 44 meter yacht catching the setting sun and deepening the color. He actually put his arm around the kid’s shoulder, the sound of his keys jingling in his hand. “You know that when things are important, there’s rules right?”

Reggie looked at the keys, his eyes brightening some at the prospect of being able to drive the muscle car. “I know.” He did, this wouldn’t be the first time Eddie had given the teen the rules.

“So, what are the rules?” It would be best to know what bore repeating and what had stayed in the teens mind.

“No driving under the influence. No more than two guys in the car, or one girl. No racing for a pink slip that I don’t have… Uhm… bring it back with a full tank.”

“And the rules about…” Eddie canted his head towards the direction they were heading away from.

“Sometimes everyone needs a break… and it’s got nothing to do with me personally.” That got an approving nod from Eddie.

“The rules about girls?” He might have taken a bit of enjoyment at the way the question flustered Reggie.

“There’s protection in the glove compartment… always use it, always replace it… not that it’ll come up.” Eddie stopped before the turned from wooden slats to concrete. His head tilted slightly as he looked at Reggie.

“What about my rules about Reggie?” This question drew silence from the kid, but Eddie wasn’t going to let him talk anyway. “Be confident in who you are kid. That matters more than what you are. Now be back tomorrow, we’re counting on you.”

He broke away from Reggie, turning back towards the gangway for the ship, and for the company that was waiting for him. Once he was on board, the crew drew in the crossover and the boat made ready to pull away, and drive into the setting sun.

Lizzy couldn’t help smiling, the closer Eddie got, the more of a curve her lips took on, until she was beaming, and then ducked her head to try and regain just a measure of calm. She’d never dreamed she could be this happy...even with her diagnosis. The pills, the treatments, the stays in the hospital...she could endure all of it with him at her side. Snuggling under the blanket, she reached for the mug of tea on the side table, drinking him in as she watched him over the rim of the mug. “You’re letting Reggie drive your car? Oh, scruffy...we could have just taken a car here. I know how much you love it…” She knew who the car was from as well, although that bit of information they glossed over by mutual unspoken agreement. Much as Eddie seemed happy with her, there was some part of her that worried she would never live up to Melinda’s memory in his mind.

One night. In the morning, Reggie would be back with the car, and they’d be off to Westport, and the meeting with the Foxglove Foundation. Of course she supported research into Long QT, especially since she might live long enough to benefit...long enough to have more time with Eddie. But it was Melinda’s sister Miranda organizing everything...in Mel’s memory. With a gala set for her birthday. The visit from Antoine had re-opened old insecurities, and the heiress found herself wondering if this was all just Eddie’s way of resurrecting the woman he wished she was.

Eddie pulled Lizzy into an embrace, liking the way her head felt against him. “He was pretty disappointed about not being able to come along. He needs the distraction, besides I trust him with it.” The boat rode slowly through the docks, never really opening up until they’d put some distance between them and any others that would get caught in their wake. Together they watched the orange globe of the sun disappear on the horizon, it’s absence making the wind of their passage feel chillier. They had the blanket though, and each other, that was more than enough for him. He’d been pretty down on his luck before he’d run into her, though he did his best not to let her know how far down he’d sunk. So far a fight here and there had gotten him through. It had been luck that brought them together, no matter what anyone else thought.

“Tomorrow is pretty big, right? Part of me just wants to stay right here, really make this our island away from the world. But that would be kind of like giving up, and I won’t give up on you Lizzy.” A crew member worked her way around them, offering drinks to them. Maybe he should have said no, but something strong seemed appropriate after the day they’d had. Too many ups and downs, and her mild seizure earlier had frightened both of them, though they were toughing their way through it to minimize the affect her ex had on her. “One day, when they find a way to cure you, we should sail around the world together.”

“I’d like that…” She snuggled closer against his chest, soaking in his warmth, her eyes settled on the moonlight gilding the water, the shore disappearing into the darkness. “It is a big deal...the Foundation is doing important work. More research...better treatments…” She couldn’t let herself think of a cure - think about having a life, building a life - with him. Not that they’d ever discussed such things. But she couldn’t help dreaming sometimes. Tilting her head back, she nuzzled along his jaw, breathing him in - the musky scent more intense, blending with the smell of the ocean surrounding them.

Lizzy hardly noticed the crew, she’d been surrounded by servants her whole life - save for an automatic half-smile, she didn’t feel the need to move. Besides, she was warm. It was hard to think of much else...but she still felt restless, bothered by Antoine and the threats barely hidden in his voice. At least the attack had been mild...and she should be ok for the night. They rarely came closer than 24 hours, and even that close was an aberration. She wasn’t as serious a case as Mel, which meant she might have a chance. “I want to go swimming.” It was dark, and the water would give her a chill - but that just meant he’d have an excuse to warm her up, preferably down in one of the staterooms...she’d had them all decorated in purples as a surprise. Just for him. Along with the purple lace negligee she’d sneakily picked up just before they left.

A word to the crew and the yacht began to slow. The anchor chain dropped into the water, set and tightened. Lights broke through the darkness around the ship’s hull flooding the water with a distinctly purple haze. Perhaps that was part of where the ship had gotten its name. The crew opened the back of the ship up, giving Lizzy, and Eddie the perfect place to swim from and disappearing when it became obvious that Eddie wasn’t planning to go below and don a pair of trunks. He was incorrigible, and lacked the modesty that Lizzy had. Not that her bikini covered much, but those most important bits were hidden.

They stood on the deck, just above the water. Eddie, not quite ready to take the plunge spent a long time slowly kissing Lizzy to the splash of waves against the hull. About the time that he felt he had her convinced that maybe a swim could wait, Eddie tightened his grip around her waist and held her to him as he jumped from the boat. For his own reasons, he didn’t let her stop kissing him, even as the chill of the water pulled them into it and assaulted their skin. He didn’t let go until they broke the surface once more, that was purely for the possible need for defense against any assault of the splashing kind from the frail Lizzy. “Sometimes, it’s just better to go all the way.” He might have been talking about the cold water, but that grin was so wicked.

Stripping off his sweater, she’d just about warmed up again, wrapped in his arms in the gathering darkness, Eddie’s kisses sending tendrils of heat through her body. She’d wanted to swim for the clarity...the danger of it, seeing as the doctor would have thrown a fit if he knew, but he offered a much better alternative. As soon as she needed to breathe, she might mention that. Only he didn’t give her a chance. Before she could blink they were in the water, lips still pressed firmly together, and her arms clinging around his shoulders.

Breaking to the surface, she gasped for air, clinging to his shoulders as he grinned at her, the two of them barely illuminated by the purple lights dancing along the water. Blonde hair clung to her neck and shoulders, the lights adding a hint of violet to those sea blue eyes. “I think I remember you saying that the first time, too…” She was a decent swimmer, on her own, and the water made the height difference less of an issue. Drawing closer, she leaned forward, looking for all the world like she was looking to get a little frisky in the middle of the vast ocean. And she was...after the minor splash fight she started with a bubbling laugh.

Elizabeth Davenport would never have held that look on her face. Lizzy however was learning some very bad habits from somewhere. It was enough to suck Eddie in and expose him to the quick dousing of water that she sent his direction. It was successful, but the clear laughter said it was just the beginning of a longer battle. She was almost a fish, not quite but fish didn’t have arms and legs and look quite so irresistible. For all of his wrong side of the tracks upbringing, Eddie was no slouch in the water either. There were plenty of points scored both ways, from the splashes to the dunking, their enjoyment of the water and the isolation was carried in mock yells and screeches.

She was right, he had said something very similar the first time, and had almost that same expression on his lips when he’d said it. Then she wore a blush that had her nearly scarlet. They still came now and again, always in public though. If he were being completely honest with her, he’d have admitted that part of him liked to send her mind to places that brought that out. Privately was a different matter. She tried new things, even in half whispers suggested a few. Lizzy, frail as she was, was good for Eddie. So he willingly acted just this crazy for her...with her because no one should do things like that alone. She gave him everything, and he had so little to offer her in return. There was one thing he could give her, something he’d never given to anyone else before.

“Wait. There’s something… something I’ve been wanting to show you.” Unashamed of his lack of dress he mounted the back deck of the boat and climbed the stairs picking up the leather jacket that never seemed to be too far from him.

Dashing the water from her eyes, she hovered gracefully, treading water as Eddie came out of the water. She couldn’t deny the soft whimper the sight wrung from her. He was dark and dangerous and everything she wanted or needed - including the silly, sweet side only she saw. The man who made her pills dance so it didn’t seem like such a chore to take them, and held her when her body betrayed her and her heart stuttered and skipped. As far as she was concerned, she could spend her entire fortune showing him how much he meant to her, and call every dollar well spent.

Tilting her head to the side, she saw him reach for the jacket, and opened her mouth to make a joke about getting the leather wet, or something equally inane...opened her mouth, and didn’t get past her pet name for him. “Scruff-” The tug on her ankle came out of nowhere, and she disappeared below the water, barely managing to suck in a hurried breath before whatever it was drew her downward. Flailing, she reached down, tugging at a tentacle around her ankle. The suckers clung and stuck, and trapped her fingers as she began to panic. Lizzy disappeared in an instant, Tahlia taking over - the symptoms she’d taken on as her own would only spell her doom. But even she was nearly helpless...no cuts, no weapon...and while bleeding to death was a far cry, she could drown as easily as any mere human.

Eddie looked back at her with a grin. Lizzy wasn’t going to fool him again, not with an I’m drowning act. He had only a moment to catch the massive shape swimming fast out of range of those hull lights. Even less time to register the form of Lizzy… Tahlia… both being dragged along. Within that fraction, his chest practically caved in, this was the time where he could panic or…

Eddie didn’t think, he leaped from the deck, clearing the lowered dock having forgotten to leave the jacket behind. It and he hit the water almost at once. It was instinct, he didn’t need to understand how the lights had attracted the beast, or that their play would seem like prey in trouble. He didn’t need to know any of it, even if it was there closing in on him like the water and the darkest depths beneath him. Half a second… no time at all… Maybe if the sun were still up he’d have been able to see, but it was long gone much like the creature that had taken her… from him… His Lizzy. He dove and swam as hard as he could, but what real chance did he have of catching up?

Whatever it was, and she could just about assume some kind of squid from the shadows, although even those were barely visible the farther it dragged them from the boat, and the lights. Tahlia kept fighting, trying to conserve her air, but at this point, barring a miracle, she was going to die. Far from home, her siblings would survive, they had each other...Eddie would feel responsible, and Simon...she could hear him in her head, telling her he’d told her so. Not that she would change a thing...except drowning was an awful way to go.

Something huge and dark hurtled past, coming close enough to brush her leg, and she lost precious air in shock as she felt a heavy weight tug at her ankle. Lungs burning, Tahlia thought she must be delirious. Even drowning, apparently she was too tasty a morsel not to cause contention. It was a disturbing thought, almost distracting her from the fact the second creature seemed to tuck itself beneath her, worrying at the tentacle holding her captive with giant teeth that couldn’t possibly be as delicate as it was. The smell of copper was faint, but there...assuming she dared die in the attempt, she could work with that.

_________________

“But now and then, a woman walks up, full blossom, a woman just bursting out of her dress…a sex creature, a curse, the end of it all.”
― Charles Bukowski, Post Office
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Eddie Blake
Wyrmling
Wyrmling


Joined: 13 Feb 2016
Posts: 12
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PostPosted: Wed Aug 30, 2017 8:28 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

She wouldn’t get the chance. Her monstrous rescuer twisted and dove, then rose suddenly, launching her toward the surface fast enough to cause a stab of pain - thankfully, the squid hadn’t dragged her too deeply. Her body recognized that she had broken the surface before her brain, and she sucked in frantic breaths, coughing against the pain, and trying desperately to get her bearings. Eddie would be frantic - she had to get back to the boat before the creatures below her went back on the hunt.

The shape vaguely torpedo-like, save it bent and moved on its own. Fifteen feet of lithe speed and jagged teeth swam directly for Tahlia again, turning on itself and colliding with her small form as it tried to batter her to death before darting away into the depths again. A single note cut through the water, a high pitched call that could have easily been the sound of a puppy in sudden pain. Clearly the swimmer was meant to be its dinner, and it wasn’t willing to share with the relentless squid that was now tracking it, and her. Seconds seemed to extend themselves far beyond what the tick of a clock should be, and that shape returned again once more twisting and bumping into Tahlia’s core. It breached for a moment, sucking in air and darted away again, though there was more in its wake than just water. The squid came on, undaunted by the slam of the huge form, or the gnash of its long teeth into tentacled flesh.

If Tahlia had hoped that the longer absence indicated that the two monsters had destroyed each other, she’d realize that hope didn’t really exist. This time the fifteen foot behemoth was coming at her fast, and rather than just ram her a bit, its mouth opened wide revealing the weapons that had savaged the squid so often. There was time to register them, and then they were around her upper arm. The massive mouth closed hard enough to hold her even as it propelled them both forward at speeds that made the salt spray hit with more than a tingle. As quickly as it had latched on it let go, darting into the black again leaving Tahlia to tread water in an eerie purple haze of light.

Tahlia was battered and bleeding, reeling from the sudden attack - or rather the retreat. For something that wanted to eat her, it had given up the opportunity to finish its meal. Her throat was raw, she’d swallowed some sea water in that rush through the spray, and she was still recovering from the fire the week before. For the moment, the why didn’t matter - while the beasts were busy tearing into each other, she had to get to safety. She had no idea how long it had been, but she couldn’t hear voices. In fact, save for the idling engines of their yacht, and the occasional slap of something against the water...the ocean was still and silent. Which either meant Eddie didn’t know she was gone...or he was in the water searching.

Hauling herself onto the open deck, she slid back just far enough to be out of range of anything else that might want to turn her into dinner, and took a moment to catch her breath. “Eddie?” Nothing, although to be fair her voice was hardly strong enough to carry very far. “Eddie!?” Scrambling to her knees, she focused all her energy on the water, the moonlight barely catching the roil of underwater battle. No sign of a dark head of hair, or a tanned, muscular form. What she did see, was a tangle of tentacles, breaking the water’s surface in a wild, vague dance. Bleeding, and fighting for breath, she forgot about the crew, and focused only on the water. She had no doubts than Eddie could defend himself against one creature, but not two. Focusing on the tentacles, she did the only thing she could - she gave him a chance. “Bleed…

Eddie surfaced in time to see her scrabbling onto the open deck. She was safe, but that left him in the water with some extremely agitated company. Getting back himself now would be impossible, knowledge brought home to him by the tentacle that looped around his torso. He felt the things hooks pierce his flesh and pull him down again. If that was what it wanted, he’d give it to the thing. He swam hard in the direction of the tug, slackening the things grip a little though the hooks hung on. He collided hard with the massive body, big as it was he still outweighed it by more than just a little. He grabbed onto it as hard as he could feeling flesh rip beneath his long incisors. He thrashed his head back and forth tearing a mouthful of it away. It was the odd surge of blood that made him let go.

The squid convulsed, spasmodically the hold it had on him gone suddenly. Around him the water was thick with a mixture of their blood, though the other’s made up the lion’s share, and it just kept flowing unnaturally. Eddie broke away from it, distinctly aware of several things. Something else now occupied the squids attention, his own body was rebelling against him a result of the paralytic poison that those hooks had injected into him. He had to get away, find his way to the boat before the final realization turned to reality. That much blood would bring other things close and likely touch off a frenzy.

He swam as hard as he could, covering distance far more quickly than any man should be able to. Fitting perhaps, because the thing that began to haul itself onto the open deck was no man. It took all of his concentration to pull himself free of the water. Every ounce of strength to haul his massive bulk onto a surface that was not made with his kind in mind. Progress was slow, every inch gained a tedious process of floundering but it was his only hope. Tahlia was there, no question in his mind that she was no longer the frail Lizzy. Too much had changed… he’d changed, and not the way he’d intended to show her. Once he’d managed to get most of himself on board, he quit trying just laying there in front of her doing his best to keep breathing as the poison worked its way through him. The change came slowly, a result of his injuries and the exertion he’d given.

Fifteen feet of Leopard Seal eventually becoming six feet six of tanned if bloody, Eddie Blake. The scrap of skin in his hand morphed just as slowly, supple hide becoming that one constant about him, a leather jacket. Most of the wounds were superficial, or would have been if not for the poison. His coat was thick, meant to keep out arctic cold temperatures. That had given him plenty of protection. His mouth and cheeks were bloody, some of it from the squid, some from biting down onto those hidden hooks. He’d have done it differently if he’d been alone, but it had her… and he wasn’t going to give her up to anyone.

Strangely, the bite marks on her arm didn’t seem to be bleeding, crimson showing against her skin, but not going anywhere. Eyes wide, she stared in horror as the creature who had put them there hurled itself onto the deck, slowly advancing with great effort. She drew breath, ready to do unto it what she had done to the squid, but something held her tongue. Maybe it was the wounds, maybe it was a glimmer in those deep, dark eyes, but she shrank back, watching as the giant seal became…”Eddie!”

Scrambling forward, questions forgotten, or at the very least set aside, she didn’t hesitate - one delicate hand outstretched, and the bleeding...stopped. Sodden hair swung and stuck to her skin as she slid her palms across his skin, hissing softly under her breath as her magic detected the poison, and she reacted without thinking. After all, if she could draw such things from her own blood, why couldn’t she draw it from others. “I’m sorry, puddin...this is going to hurt I think…” It certainly did when she had to do it to herself.

Focusing her attention on one of his cuts, she uttered the only word that made sense. “...cleanse…”. Something black and viscous with a sickly green tint gathered along the edge of the wound, the poison from the squids hooks, his blood collecting and gathering what she sought and bringing it to her whim. Shifting, she settled his head on her lap, stroking her fingers through his hair as the poison cleared his system. She was too concerned with watching him to be too proud of her new discovery.

Lying may have been second nature to both of them, in this though she’d spoken plainly. It did hurt, had he been able to, Eddie would have pulled himself into fetal position. As it was he couldn’t really move at all. It was likely fortunate that he was still breathing. He stared up into her face, unable to even close his eyelids against the pain as the poison was chased from his body. The only real indicator that anything was happening inside him came from that stare of his, the welling of saline that filled then spilled over the sides of his face. It wasn’t what he’d have wanted her to see, either of her. Worlds could have collapsed before he ever wanted her to see him...helpless.

The touch of his fingers was the first indication that it was working, at least from a movement point of view. His hands sought out contact with the woman who held his head, and they’d forgotten how to be gentle. A leg, a hip, it didn’t matter so long as he hung on. The trembling came even before his mouth worked, or his voice returned. His whisper came to her with an uncontrolled stuttering of his consonants. “S...sorry… sh..should have b.been...fffasttter.”

Unlike her usual tricks, this took effort, and will. She bent her head over his, wiping away the streaks of saline without comment. She was usually a sobbing mess, she couldn’t blame him for handling it better. “Oh, Eddie...how could you have known?” Off in the distance, the sound of splashing signaled the arrival of other things, things that were likely making quick work of the squid. She could still faintly smell the blood, but it hardly drew her attention. The inky gunk was seeping slower, she hoped because she’d been able to draw it all away. “You...you made it just in time…” Here, alone and surrounded by stars, things had finally calmed enough for her to realize that the second attacker had been no attacker at all, but Eddie coming to save her.

The evening had taken a little more out of her than she might admit, but the signs were obvious. Golden blonde hair darkened, taking on a deep red tone, her skin paling to more ivory than bronze. There were other signs, less visible now, but her eyes were the same jade they always were. This was Tahlia without the glamour she wore like a second skin, and her throat was subtly mottled from Rocco’s attempts to strangle her the week before. Questions could wait until he wasn’t shaking quite so hard. And it was an even bet she’d have a few more bruises from his grip on her hips. At the moment, she didn’t care...he was safe, and with the poison gone, his wounds didn’t seem more than superficial, although like her own, they still didn’t bleed.

The changes were pretty obvious to him despite the darkness. It almost hurt to look at her that way, and he knew right away the why of that. He kept his mouth clamped on that truth though. It was easier to struggle against his rebellious body than go there. Rolling was the first major movement he’d managed, knees folding beneath him the movement forced him to let go of her if briefly so. His pruned fingers slid along her neck, lightly, the remnants of bruises pulling a frown to his face. Maybe it was ironic, he had no problem leaving his own marks on her, those weren’t these.

He’d saved her, or she’d saved him, maybe somewhere in between. Nothing really mattered now, not with his hand on her and his eyes tracing every visible inch of her. “Tahlia…” He knew the difference, but he’d promised. Maybe he shouldn’t have, it was too late for that and too late to think about it anymore either. He pulled her to him, locking his lips onto hers in ways that would leave Lizzy light headed. Eddie found the strength to stand with the burden of her attached to him, the sweep of a hand catching hold of his coat and dropping it onto her waiting shoulders. It wasn’t the first time he’d done that, but maybe now there was a little more understanding to the action. He carried her to the very first cabin he came to and closed the door behind them. “That was something I didn’t expect coming out here.”

She tried not to wince as his fingers brushed the bruising, more because of the memory behind them then out of any pain he caused. Her lashes lowered for a heartbeat before she raised those magnetic eyes to his, her lips barely parting to say his name before his were on her, and there were no words to speak. She was starting to shiver with the chill, only it seemed he thought of that as well, sweeping his coat over her shoulders. Only it wasn’t just a coat, and she was literally under his skin in ways she couldn’t even begin to explain. Nor could she explain just why the stray thought hummed through her like a bell. And there was that midnight conversation playing in her head, things they wouldn’t say. Couldn’t say...she had no idea how to handle where she found herself. So for the moment, she simply didn’t.

“Which part? The squid? Or...me?” She was a little hesitant, aware now, with the lights of the cabin chasing away the shadows, of the scar that was burned into her skin just behind her right ear, and the faded scar that lay along her left ribs. Reminders of other days, other moments...mistakes and missteps, and lessons learned. She could have replaced her glamour...could have, but didn’t. Somehow, in the moment, it seemed more authentic to leave it off while she was wrapped in little more than his skin.

Either would have been true, one of them more than the other, but the Eddie she knew best had started to resurface. Less outwardly tender, though his cover on that front had surely been blown. Less gentle, but not in the way she’d acquired the marks on her throat. In their place someone a bit more playful, and given time someone with a wild compulsive streak. They were both drained, but rest was a long way off. Still he couldn’t, wouldn’t, let the events that led them here pull them into places that neither was really ready to face. Eddie would say anything to break that spell, especially if he could garner a laugh from Tahlia. “Two words, Tahlia. Tentacle Porn.”
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Opportunity dances with those already on the dance floor. ~ H. Jackson Brown, Jr.
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Tahlia Faras
Young Wyrm
Young Wyrm


Joined: 01 Mar 2017
Posts: 39
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Can Be Found: Here and there, depends on her mood
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PostPosted: Wed Sep 20, 2017 10:07 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Retribution: Westport

Bad Medicine

I ain't got a fever, got a permanent disease
And it'll take more than a doctor to prescribe a remedy
I got lots of money but it isn't what I need
Gonna take more than a shot to get this poison out of me
And I got all the symptoms count 'em 1, 2,3
First you need, then you bleed, and when you're on your knees
~ Bon Jovi


Miranda stood in the whisper-quiet elevator, staring at the broad burgundy-clad shoulders of the penthouse bellman. Of course the Davenport girl had booked the nicest suite in the Westport Arms - all Miranda’s research had suggested the child had never stayed anywhere but the best hotels. The minute she’d received her note - an actual note, sent on hotel stationary - Miranda had started researching just who Elizabeth Davenport was. Obviously, she had money - and Long QT Syndrome...that explained the interest in the Foundation. There had been a mention of meeting ‘dear Melinda’ - seems they’d stayed in the the Arlen Center together. And then, of course...the pictures. Miranda wasn’t much for social media, but her assistant was, and she hadn’t been able to miss the squeals as the younger staff and volunteers cooed over the ‘total hottie’ Elizabeth Davenport was seen with regularly. Curious, and expecting to see some spoiled scion of another monied family (and perhaps another revenue stream), Miranda had barely been able to hide her shock at seeing that face staring out from those pictures.

Now, here she was, brought back with a carefully covered start as the elevator reached its destination with a muffled ding. Taking a folded bill from her purse, she handed it over to the bellman, and smoothed a hand over her black pencil skirt. She’d paired it with a bronze silk blouse, and a patterned snakeskin purse. Subtle, but expensive...after all, this was a social call, at least in theory. She hardly expected to walk out of the suite with the kind of sizable donation that would help to keep the wheels greased, and the less-savory of her partners from harassing her. Miranda had finally found her way out of her sister's shadow...by using her sister's memory to her own ends. Stepping out, she eased a welcoming smile onto her face, assuming correctly that the slight blonde rising from a padded antique mahogany chair to be the woman she was there to meet.

Dressed in a simple dress that somehow managed to make her look competent and still youthful, Lizzy rose and took Miranda’s hands in her own. “You must be Miranda Foxglove - Mel mentioned you often. I’m so glad I finally made it here, and in time to honor her memory. Thank you for meeting me here...the flight was more taxing than I expected.” Smiling innocently, she pulled Miranda in for a hug, and gestured to a matching seat across from her own. “Tea should be ready in a moment, and please...call me Lizzy. I certainly hope we’ll be friends…”

”All right, she’s in.. good going Tahlia The buzz of Reggie’s voice cut across Eddie’s earbud but that last word had him clearing his throat. The tea was nearly done, the china, another Willow pattern… what was it about that pattern that so many places picked it up… Was set on a trolley for transport. Good going, Lizzy… sorry Eddie. Remember, we need to get access to her phone. She wisely hasn’t turned on the bluetooth setting, so you’ll need to ping her… maybe get her to text you… just so you can exchange numbers. My hack will be in the return send… we clear?

Eddie picked up what he needed from that, wanting for the life of him to get the voices out of his head right now. “Clear the door, I would hate to mow down someone blonde and beautiful.” He kept his tone playful, though he was telling them both things at the same time. To Reggie… they got it… to Lizzy… time to turn it up a little. There was steam issuing from the spout of the teapot, the damn thing matched the cups… this world could be so… disgusting. Then again, how could he really complain about the china, when Lizzy had him garbed in white again. In his head he knew that she understood… Eddie was supposed to wear black. She might be able to turn this leopard seal’s spots to stripes, but she’d never take the black out of Eddie. His backside hit the swinging door that separated the sitting room from the kitchenette, the little trolley following along as he pulled it into the room, and all the way up to where Lizzy was once seated. “Plenty of time for that later, pretty girl. Right now you have a date with twelve suitors, and all of them want to be inside of you.”

He parked the cart and poured out three cups of tea. Oddly enough, he wished he had a mug in his hand, and that it contained a little more than tea, but this was business. He turned and fixed a look on Miranda. “Long time no see, Trinket.” Eddie was not going to pull out any stops with Miranda. He had to keep her off balance, so the old pet name that Mel used to call her was likely ideal to have her thinking two things. First, how much Lizzy and Mel were alike, and second how she really felt about him. He picked up the first cup and offered it to Lizzy, much as he had always done for Mel. The second of course went to Miranda. “Cream, three sugars… if I remember correctly.” He did, unless she’d changed since the last time.

“But you… can’t have some of that… but I’ll make up for it later.” Eddie turned an amused look on Lizzy, it was mild and filled with just as much concern. “Maybe tomorrow we can add a little sweetness.”

Lizzy’s cheeks bloomed an immediate crimson that in no way lessened the effect of the tiny smile she couldn’t hide - even if she did drop her eyes to study the flowers across her dress, or her tea. One of the two. The movement also served to cover her subtle study of her guest. “Is it time already?” There was a moment of pouting - obviously, there would be no voices and dancing pills tonight. If she wasn’t allowed sugar, odds were good the tea in the pot was uncaffeinated to boot. A double punishment - Eddie would have more than a little to make up for.

Miranda’s lips had tightened as soon as Eddie had come into view - she’d done her homework, but they’d known that. The nickname had done exactly as he’d intended, although she recovered decently well - stumbling only a little as she dropped into the chair, legs crossing at the ankles. The hands she raised to accept the tea - correctly made, the bastard - didn’t shake, although the look she sent him spoke volumes. Much as she hated him for choosing Mel...for abandoning her...she couldn’t help but remember what he could do. What he had done. To her. With her. Memories not helped by the blush Lizzy seemed to still be recovering from. Clearly he’d done those things to her, too. “Of course. And please...you must call me Miri...all my friends do. Eddie...it’s been...ages.” She wouldn’t give him more than that...not yet.

Lizzy was working her way through her pills, swallowing them with water rather than tea. Pausing, because a dozen pills were a lot to swallow, she let out a self-depreciating laugh. “Oh, of course - I completely forgot you two must know each other! It’s the pills...they make me foggy. I don’t know what I’d do without Eddie to keep track of everything for me...but I’m sure you don’t need me to tell you how thorough he is…”

“Lizzy.. Don’t take the Vitamin D supplement...I think we’re going to spend some time on the balcony this afternoon. You’ll have to put on that bikini I bought you.” There was an outdoor pool, down on the ground level, but Eddie knew how self conscious Lizzy could be about exposing that much of herself to the public. It had more to do with the bruising on her arms than anything else, but the last thing he wanted for her was to feel like she was being looked at that way.

He didn’t like tea, not even the cold sweet tea that some places prefered on a hot day. So it would be no surprise to either lady that he went to the wet bar and poured himself a couple fingers of brandy. He managed a small grin at the little blonde, probably looking for a physical response to his desire to see her bikini clad. Eddie sat on one end of a couch that looked nearly long enough to hold even someone his size if he stretched out. It had been a long time since seeing Miranda, that should stir memories but his mind was quite blank of any endearing experience. “Don’t listen to her, Miri…” She hadn’t exactly asked him to call her that, and maybe his tone was ever so slightly dominant. “If it weren’t for the ability to set multiple alarms for pill time, I’m sure that her doctor would want to have me prosecuted for neglect.” That end of the couch was closest to Lizzy, and he had long arms. One of those stretched out and his fingers slipped, if possible, demurely between her knees, though the way they latched on said the gesture was anything but.

“Still, she did insist on coming out once she’d learned of your little foundation.” He wasn’t looking at Lizzy, not even as he put his hand on her. It was almost like… he’d expected her to be where he wanted her to. Eddie’s eyes stayed on Miranda, the smile one she’d seen often and the look of mischief in his eyes was still ever present.

Lizzy, it seemed, was going to spend the meeting various shades of crimson. If Eddie wasn’t watching her, she was certainly watching him, glancing every so often over at Miranda with an innocent smile. Dutifully, she pushed the two pills aside, and finished the rest, washing the taste from her mouth with a sip of tea. “Nonsense - Dr. Kilpatrick said you’re doing a wonderful job of making sure I take my pills, and don’t exert myself...too often.” And there was that blush again, spreading down her throat. “You hardly leave my side...and I’m having far fewer attacks. Other than the one...in Seaview...I haven’t had a spell in weeks.” She swallowed more tea, her fingers tightening around the cup. She shouldn’t have mentioned Seaview...but he was far too modest. “And I do want to help, if I can. After all, Melinda was so kind, at the Center…”

“My sister was exceptional...but I am certain you are as well, Lizzy dear…” Miranda spoke to the younger woman first, although she barely tore her attention from Eddie. The gesture wasn’t lost on her, oh no. Mel had a spine, and for all his size, she’d been clearly in charge, at least in public. Miri knew what Eddie could be like behind closed doors, and it was nearly all she could do not to match Lizzy’s coloring for a moment. It seemed his newest conquest was more malleable. Poor child - still, there was an opportunity there. If she could convince Lizzy that Eddie was no good...perhaps she could get her to will her fortune to the Foundation. Not that they were hurting, oh no - but every little bit helped. “Eddie has ...all sorts of skills. I’m so very glad you were able to convince him to come back to our little city…”

“Speaking of, he’ll be in later in the week. He sent his apologies, but he did have those surgeries to perform.” Lizzy’d mentioned the Antoine Affair… yes Eddie was the type to name things, and he had. His grip tightened on her knee. He was still pissed that he’d gotten there so late. He leaned over, brushing a chaste kiss across her cheek, and whispering into her ear. That was likely less chaste, she’d feel the curl if his fingertips against her skin. For all its intensity, it lasted only a moment before he had his eyes on Miranda once more.

“We never stop hoping for a cure, so foundations like this one, we believe in them with everything we have. You can’t know what it’s like… No, I suppose I’m wrong there. You at least do know, Miri. We appreciate what you’re doing. Lizzy supports it, but she’d like to show more support. She does put everything into it when she feels it deeply.” How could she not, considering her circumstances. “Mel would appreciate it as well. It’s important you know that from someone who knew her inside and out very well.”

“But, tell us Miri, how exactly does this work?” Take it down to brass tacks. Eddie wanted to know the scam she was running. Disguise it with whatever language you could, he would know it if it was there. He knew Miranda well too, and the look he gave her said exactly that.

Miranda couldn’t help but bristle - he was insufferable! Reminding her of how intimately he had known Melinda...and her, and now this slip of a girl who could have passed for Mel, a decade or more ago. Speaking of Lizzy, she was absolutely scarlet, the flush darkest along her cheekbones, but spreading down her throat and into the neckline of her dress. Whatever he’d whispered in her ear had her nibbling at her bottom lip and nodding, her eyes fixed on the tea in her hands. “Eddie’s right...I’d like to do whatever I can. After all, there aren’t any Davenport’s left, after me...I can’t think of a better way to spend whatever I have. I was going to form a foundation, but Eddie thought this might be better…” The look she directed at the looming figure next to her, still gripping her knee, was utterly devoted.

“Work? It’s very simple. You make a donation to the Foxglove Foundation,and we use that money to fund research facilities, testing...grants...all looking into ways to cure Long QT Syndrome, or at the very least make the treatments more sustainable.” She wasn’t lying...but there was no need to mention that some of the companies...some of the labs...weren’t entirely above board. Or that she took a percentage of the funds washed through the Foundation for herself. “Of course, not all avenues are successful - there’s no such thing as too much money. But we do hope to prevent any more lives being cut short.” Miranda gave the speech smoothly, it was well-practiced, and rolled off her tongue without a pause.

“I think it’s wonderful. Truly. In fact…” Lizzy glanced over at Eddie, and nodded. “Let me get my checkbook...It will take some time, but I’d like to make at least a small donation today. And it will give you two a chance to catch up.” Completely without guile, Lizzy rose, and kissed Eddie’s cheek before turning on her heel toward the bedroom.

“Of course, but how difficult is it to...say… make certain that a donation makes it to a specific facility? I’m sure you have many avenues to funnel funds through, and it’s possible that Lizzy will find one or two treatment ideas more appealing than offering a few dollars to hundreds.” He said Lizzy, but most of the inquiries into new research had come from him. He wasn’t the biggest fan of Doctor Dan… in fact he’d called him that to his face often when he thought the man was getting too close to Lizzy… but the man did stay on top of what new developments came about.

“Don’t get me wrong, Miri, I just hate pushing hard to get in if it turns out that there’s something better I could be doing. I’m sure Lizzy feels the same.” Eddie was calm, relaxed in his seat even as he shot a slight smirk at Miranda. “Not that she needs my advice on anything… I just want to keep her around as long as possible… forever if I can. We support research on treatments, but we’d really support a cure even more.”

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“But now and then, a woman walks up, full blossom, a woman just bursting out of her dress…a sex creature, a curse, the end of it all.”
― Charles Bukowski, Post Office
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Eddie Blake
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PostPosted: Wed Sep 20, 2017 10:13 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

To her credit, Miranda held her tongue until Lizzy was out of earshot, the calm smile vanishing beneath a sharp gaze, and pursed lips. “I’m certain that could be arranged if she feels it necessary...although I get the distinct impression you’ve managed to find yourself a real prize. She’s a child, Eddie...clearly she’ll do whatever you say. And I know perfectly well how much you are always looking for the best thing...for you.” Taking a sip of her tea, she nearly glared at him over the rim of the cup, her voice a hissing whisper. “Does she know? Obviously, you met her when you were still with my sister - did you even wait for Mel to get cold before you started working on her? Does she know exactly where you were when Mel died, Eddie?”

It had been like this since he’d thrown her over for Melinda...she hated him and wanted him back in equal measure. She’d hoped, with Melinda gone, that Eddie would have come back to her...after all, she could treat him just as well as Melinda had - but he’d left after the lawyers threats, disappearing until he’d suddenly reappeared with little Lizzy Davenport...and now, here they were.

“Hah… That’s amusing coming from you. What was I when you… There’s fewer years between Lizzy and me, than there were between you, Mel and me. Besides, I think that what Lizzy can do, or will do would surprise even you.” He took another drink of the brandy in his hand before setting it aside. “I have nothing to hide from Lizzy, just like I wouldn’t hold back with Mel. She wasn’t nearly so weak as everyone thought she was. Maybe you discovered that towards the end.” He talked, relying on those ear buds to give Lizzy her cue to re-emerge from getting her checkbook.

“What’s worse, where I was or where I am now? I have no idea what you’re talking about as far as working on Lizzy. I just don’t want her to be fleeced by you or anyone. But making her well, giving her time. That’s important, to both of us.” Eddie pushed himself out of the couch, moving to look out the window at the view below. “I’ll take it very personal, Trinket… if something were to happen to all the money that she’s looking to invest.”

Lizzy stepped back into the living room, check in hand, and taking in the scene with a momentary pause in the doorway. “Sorry it took so long! I probably should have asked Eddie to get it.” She wasn’t stupid, and turned her steps from the chairs to wrap her arms around the man at the window, murmuring softly against his shoulder before turning her attention back to Miranda. “Here you are - it’s not much, only $5,000...I can’t write a check for more than that on a whim. But I can have my banker contact you about a larger donation. Why don’t you give me your number, and I’ll have my lawyer call to make the arrangements…?”

Settling into her seat, Lizzy reclaimed her tea, noting how Miranda took a moment to regain her composure. The woman looked like she’d been sucking lemons. Giant sour ones. Of course, she’d heard the entire conversation in her ear, but Miri couldn’t know that. “Besides, I don’t know anyone here, except Eddie...and I’m sure he’d love a break sometimes. Perhaps you could show me around? We could get lunch….or something.”

Miranda took a deep breath, and tore her attention from glaring at Eddie’s back to grace Lizzy with a nearly angelic smile. “It would be my pleasure to show you around Westport, Lizzy dear. I can introduce you to a few people...and I’m sure Eddie can find something” or someone “to keep him busy...surely he can trust you alone with me. I’ll send you a text with my number…” Pulling a phone out of her purse, Miranda typed in the numbers Lizzy dictated.

Okay, got it… Reggie’s voice cut into their conversation. It had been a long time since Eddie’d worked with partners. The sensation had to be tuned out to a degree in order to stay in character. ...now, just send her back something… anything… do what Lizzy would, and I’ll have her phone. All her calls will come through us. They knew the plan, Eddie was sure that the kid was just repeating it to let them know the progress. Doc’s on his way up. I left his earbud in Lizzy’s pill box.

Reggie was in a room a floor below them, the place looked exactly like a place that housed a teenaged boy. Good thing there was maid service at the hotel. No sooner had he mentioned the good doctor than the elevator was interrupting them as well. They’d been expecting him, but the fact that the lobby hadn’t called might look suspicious if Miranda noticed. The man who stepped from the elevator wasn’t quite as tall as Eddie, though he was just as dark. He was far closer to Miranda’s age, but still quite young. He dropped his bags to the floor, making quite the spectacle of it before moving briskly towards the little blonde. “And how is my favorite patient doing after her flight?” Two things happened simultaneously. The dark stranger leaned low and kissed Lizzy’s cheek, and Eddie let out a displeased grunt that was not meant to be heard.

“No problems getting access I see. Guess my message to the front desk helped.” Eddie’s hands were pushed hard into his pockets as he turned back to the room, looking for all intents and purposes like he was trying to curb some confrontational feelings.

“Oh, no problems at all…” Tall, dark and smiling he cast a short look at Eddie before turning his gaze on Miranda. “And who is this lovely creature?” Doctor Dan stood and moved to offer an oh so appealing hand to the other woman. “Daniel Kilpatrick, at your service.”

Lizzy just finished sending a return text to Miranda as Dr. Kilpatrick entered and brushed a kiss to her cheek. Beaming up at him, she clearly enjoyed the attention, although she would swear that there was nothing to it other than his bedside manner, and the way he had taken such wonderful care of her. Blushing, she turned her attention to Eddie, and blew him a kiss. She knew he didn’t like the doctor very much, and knew it was mutual...but really, Dr. Kilpatrick came so highly recommended. “I’m doing very well, Doctor, thank you. Eddie’s been making sure I take my pills and rest. Miranda Foxglove, this is my doctor...he’s wonderful.” He’d already introduced himself, and she knew that look.

Miranda took the offered hand with a smile, and a curious glance between the trio. Trouble in paradise, perhaps? After all, Lizzy wouldn’t be the first impressionable girl to fall for her doctor. Perhaps she could use this. “A pleasure to meet you. It’s so nice to see a doctor so dedicated to his patients welfare. I would love to get your insights...perhaps you might consider joining our coalition for the Foundation.” Miranda turned her most winning smile on the handsome doctor, curling her fingers to hold his hand just a moment longer than necessary.

Eddie scoffed a bit. “Lizzy, I’ve told you that lying to your doctor isn’t a good idea. Truth is doctor...” Eddie put a bit more emphasis on the title, like it’s impressiveness was more of a curse from him. “...The plane trip has left her quite exhausted, and I would like you to check out her meds. I stopped by the pharmacy down the street to fill that prescription, but it doesn’t look like what I normally get. I just want to be sure they didn’t make a mistake.” It was a plethora of emotions to run through, disdain for the good looking and way too flirtatious doctor and the disappointment that Lizzy was minimizing how poorly she really felt, with the all too real concern over her meds. Eddie moved away from his place near the window, and claimed Lizzy’s box of pills to present to Dan.

“I might, there’s no such thing as too many donors.” Dan was playing it up… the goddamn attention whore, and that stupid little wink he gave to Miranda. If it weren’t Eddie’s idea he’d have felt nauseous. That tore it, Eddie was way too in character right now. Still as Eddie relayed his concerns, Dan reluctantly let go of Miranda’s little hand and stood. He turned to regard Lizzy, with mild rebuke in his expression. “Is this true, Elizabeth?” Poor Lizzy was now at the mercy of both men, one disappointed and the other disapproving. Still the box of pills was taken, and opened, Dan spilled them into his hand, putting them back on at a time before settling on a final one. This he picked up with his other fingers, and tugged curiously at his ear. “It’s the same, or rather the generic brand of the same thing. Different manufacturer, and it might be that out here you won’t find what you’re used to… Eddie.” The word was almost a slur out of the good doctor’s mouth. Clearly they hated each other.

Lizzy looked contrite, glancing from one to the other, her hands twisting in her lap. “I was a little tired...it’s why Miranda came here instead of us going to the offices. But I - I’m sure I’ll be much better after some rest. And I’ve already taken my pills. Eddie made sure.” The center of attention, she shifted tactics to tell the truth, and nothing but. “Except for the Vitamin D. We’re going to sit on the balcony. Eddie bought me a new bikini to wear…” She knew the two men detested each other, and only tolerated each other for her sake. “Scruffy, I told you the pills would be fine. He’s just so concerned about making sure I’m taken care of…” This was to Miranda, with a flush - being the focus of both men was enough, having Miranda there to see how ill she was...the next glance was to Eddie, filled with an entreaty for him to intervene.

At least he hadn’t mentioned the attack in Seaview. She certainly wasn’t going to. Lizzy took another sip of her tea, and tried to focus on her guest. “I’m so lucky to have both of them. I know it. All I can think to do is try and give back just a little of the luck I was blessed with, don’t you think? I’m sure it’s what Melinda would have done, had she lived…”

“What can I say, she looks good in purple.” Eddie did intervene a little, moving forward and insinuating himself between Lizzy and Miranda… It wasn’t his fault that included the doctor too, right? He’d chosen to stand over there. The hand holding the check went out towards Miranda, though there was obviously some reluctance on his part to let go of the thing. He wondered how well, oops I tore it would go over. His other hand was on Lizzy’s shoulder, so the wince at her last words ended up being felt by her.

“I’m sure he’s just doing his due diligence. You really can’t be too careful with medications, some of the generic brands aren’t exactly the same. You’ll be fine with this one though, it’s been out for a long time. I would, however like to check you out, just to be on the safe side. If we were back home, I’d ask for a bit of blood work, but… I don’t have a lab available here.” Dan’s bedside manner was impeccable. The consternation on his face about the lack of a decent facility was written in the expression he gave both Lizzy and Miranda.

“Here five minutes and trying to get my girl naked… nice.” It was a joke… right? That hint of possessiveness in Eddie’s voice was just for effect… see he was even smiling at Dan as he said it. Or was that gritting his teeth? “Maybe Miranda could be of some help though, I’m sure she has a lot of contacts.” He leveled a sternly inquisitive gaze at Miranda. It said in no uncertain terms that if she didn’t it proved there was something wrong.

Miranda rose and took the check, nearly snatching it from Eddie’s fingers. But for all that, she had to say she was enjoying the tension, and Eddie being at a bit of a loss. It added a genuine sparkle to the smile she turned on Dr. Dan. “As a matter of fact, I do. We have a lab the Foundation uses for testing new treatments. I can certainly make it available to you...for as long as Lizzy is with us.” Perhaps the double entendre was accidental, perhaps not. Miranda looked like butter wouldn’t melt in her mouth as she smiled back and forth between the three. “Do you have everything you need? Otherwise I’m sure I can make a few calls and have a room ready for you, or whatever you might need.”

Lizzy clutched at Eddie’s hand on her shoulder, turning her face up to his, a look of panic flaring in her eyes. They’d discussed it, and she knew the plan, but there was still a visceral response to the idea of blood being drawn. “T-thank you, Doctor. And Miranda. Eddie...I’m sure I don’t have to be naked. Dr. Kilpatrick is just being thorough, and you want me to be safe…” Her fingers didn’t let go of his hand, though, clinging to him as if it would somehow change the outcome. She didn’t want to go, but she knew it was the right thing to do. Still, she would have been much happier if Eddie could have been with her. Dr. Dan wouldn’t allow it though...something about him raising her pulse rate, and being a distraction.

“I have what I need in my bag to do a physical, grab her vitals, and even draw some blood. If anything seems abnormal in her exam I’ll have her come down so we can check her out. It’s the bloodwork that will need the lab. Say… Miranda… you wouldn’t mind waiting until I’ve finished Lizzy’s exam, and taking me there, would you?” Dan worked a smile in, his voice gone a bit softer even as he gave her a logical plan. He only waited for a moment before going back to the bags he’d set down earlier and pulling a medical bag free of them.

“We should do it in the bedroom, Lizzy, a little more privacy for you… and no I’m afraid Eddie still can’t come along. It would be different if you were married.” The last sentence was more like a shotgun being fired, whether at her, or Eddie was hard to say. At that range, it could have been meant for both of them. Whatever else it was, the thing managed to get an eyeroll out of Eddie.

“You’re so nineteenth century, Doc.” Still he was putting his hand over Lizzy’s and pulling her upwards. Eddie pulled her against him, looking down at her fondly. “Sooner you do this, the sooner we’ll be able to go out there. Maybe when the doctor’s done with you, you put on that bikini and join me out there?” Translation to that… I’ll be outside waiting for you, since I’m not allowed inside.

“Of course not, Dan. It would be my pleasure. It will give us a chance to discuss the Foundation, and any insights you might have. Perhaps we could even grab a cup of coffee after?” Miranda was fidgeting behind her smile - it wasn’t that she wasn’t used to being looked over, just that it was grating to be back in another shadow. Given the way Eddie and the doctor sniped at each other though...he might just be her way in.

Lizzy curled against Eddie’s chest, nodding slowly. Dr. Kilpatrick was gentle, and always did his best to make her relax...but there was no-one like Eddie for putting her at ease. Even though the doctor had spoken first, she tilted her head back and gifted the tall, darkly handsome rogue with a shaky smile. “Absolutely, scruffy. Will you put on some trunks or something? You haven’t been getting much sun either…” It was a subtle request, since they both knew the balcony was high enough to avoid any spying. And that Eddie had a tendency to avoid bathing suits all together, if he could get away with it. Rising on her toes, she kissed Eddie’s chin, and reluctantly let go.

“OK, Dr. Kilpatrick...I’m all yours. Just promise you’ll be gentle?” Smiling sweetly, she crossed the living room toward the handsome doctor, pausing only briefly to look over at Miranda. “Miri, if I don’t see you...we should get together for lunch. Tomorrow maybe?” She hardly waited for Miri’s agreement before heading to the bedroom, flashing a smile over her shoulder at her beau. “Maybe after sunbathing, you should take me ring shopping...so you can join us next time.”

A stethoscope now dangled from around Dan’s neck. It didn’t look quite the same without the lab coat, and Eddie managed to bite back any comments. In the end he wanted Lizzy to be healthy, even if it meant the good doctor was here now. He leaned over and pressed a kiss to the top of Lizzy’s head before letting her go to get checked out. Dan of course was right behind her… maybe too close. “We can look, maybe even find something… but you have to promise you’ll stay with me.”

Dan closed the door to the bedroom, but his voice still carried through it. “Take your shirt off, Lizzy, and breathe deeply.” A heart beats pause before he could be heard again. “Goodness, it’s cold isn’t it?” Eddie let out a low growl, grabbed his glass poured another drink and managed to not make it out onto the balcony before having to hear. “This is going to be a little uncomfortable, but we’ve done it before… and it’ll get better.” They were well up on the roof of the hotel, it wouldn’t be wrong to drop a doctor from the sky, right?

She certainly didn’t plan on going anywhere, and her “Promise.” was the last thing he heard before the doctor closed the door. She’d had to get used to being in just her bra in front of people, although her cheeks flushed and she couldn’t quite manage to look at him as he pressed the stethoscope to her bare skin, eliciting a squeak, and a shudder. “You always say that and it never does...I just have to grit my teeth and bear it. At least you’re quick, and don’t draw it out like my last doctor…” Lizzy had lost enough innocence, thanks to Eddie, to have an inkling that this might sound less innocent without context, but she was nervous enough about the blood draw to not realize it until too late.

Miranda sat and sipped her tea, smirking at Eddie’s powerless consternation. She didn’t think Lizzy was the type to do anything behind Eddie’s back, but she couldn’t help but think the little blonde was playing up the doctor's interest to make Eddie jealous. Although the talk of rings...she must be kidding. Eddie would never settle down, and she was far too young for such things. Left to her own devices, Miranda had just pulled out her phone when she heard a soft, high-pitched gasp from the bedroom. “Dr. Kilpatrick! Are you sure this is…” the rest seemed muffled, as if something had been placed in the petite girl's mouth and was forcing her to keep quiet.

“You’re doing so well… now just open up your throat… that’s perfect.” There was the sound of latex snapping next. “This… I know, it’s tight but you’ll get used to that too… Just a little pinch… that’s not so bad, right?” Was there any wonder why Eddie refused to be close by during these examinations? “You filled that one right up… but I think you can give me another… I really need it.”

Perhaps Lizzy was right, Eddie hadn’t been quite the sun lover since they’d been together. There was too much that needed to be done, or she wasn’t up to being out. He began to peel away clothes laying his shirt aside and letting the sun heat his skin up. If he paid any attention to what was going on inside the suite, it was to cast glances at the closed door which hid Lizzy and Doctor Dan. Miranda’s presence was almost completely forgotten. A few minutes felt like much longer to him, but eventually Dan reappeared carrying his bag and the vials filled with blood. Eddie knew he’d had them all along, it was part of the deal he’d made. It was also why Dan hadn’t traveled with them. His donation clinic gave him access to things, but getting just the right blood type from another woman who had Long QT required more time.

“Thank you, Lizzy. You can get dressed now. Enjoy your time in the sun.” Dan stepped through, looked at Miranda inquisitively. “Whenever you’re ready, Mrs. Foxglove”

“I was just waiting for you!” Miranda might sound a little sharper than she’d intended...watching Eddie strip had distracted her attention and led her mind down the path of pleasant memories. Setting the tea down with a start, she didn’t bother making her excuses to Eddie, and Lizzy hadn’t emerged yet from the bedroom. “I expect time is of the essence. Why don’t we hurry along to the lab, drop off your samples, and we can head over to this lovely little cafe I know of right around the corner. And it’s Miss...I’m not married...” Taking Dan’s arm, Miranda steered him back toward the elevator, doing her level best to be flirtatious and friendly. She was curious as to Lizzy’s health, and expected a little pumping might get her what she was looking for.

A moment later, Lizzy emerged, just catching sight of the elevator door closing. Dressed in the same purple string bikini she had worn on the yacht, she stepped out onto the balcony, a tiny bandage in the crook of one arm. Leaning against the glass, she looked out, eyes hidden behind oversized sunglasses.

Eddie had watched them leave. “All right… Doc, nice job. Now, you can be sure that Miranda is going to have the results sent to her as well. She knows me well enough to be suspicious. I hope that medical profile is complete, Reggie. This has to be as real as possible.” He knew that Lizzy wouldn’t be far behind, and maybe he’d been waiting for her to see him through the glass so he could peel away the rest of his clothes.

Doc filled me in with what needed to be there, this thing is airtight…

“Yes, I think that’s just what we should do.” It was as close as Dan could come to answering both Eddie and Miranda at once. The plan kind of hinged on Miranda buying in that Lizzy really was ill, and that Eddie’s presence had only to do with using the girl to get to her fortune. “I hope you don’t mind if I probe you for intel on some of the latest treatment ideas. I may need to go pretty deep.”

“Okay… I’m going off comms for the next couple of hours.” Eddie didn’t wait, he just pulled out the earbud and set it aside, before waving Lizzy over for a little relaxation in the sun.
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Tahlia Faras
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PostPosted: Fri Sep 22, 2017 9:26 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Sweet Dreams
Sweet dreams are made of this
Who am I to disagree?
I travel the world
And the seven seas
Everybody's looking for something
~ Performed by: Emily Browning

Miranda hadn’t misrepresented the cafe in the slightest. Just 10 tables, 4 of them outside, and shaded by blue and white striped umbrellas that matched the awning, and the chain and anchor motif of the railing that separated the cafe from the sidewalk. Westport had, after all, started as a trading port - one of the reason there was still so much money there. The sample had been dropped off at the lab, and rushed, per Miranda’s oh-so-subtle suggestion. Scientists weren’t known for playing politics, but even they knew who was responsible for funding the research, so they could focus on their test tubes and slides.

By mutual agreement, they’d kept the conversation light in the car, Miranda introducing him only as well-respected doctor with a patient afflicted with LQTS, and looking to help the Foundation with his expertise. Not until they were seated on either side of a table for two, sipping cups of perfectly brewed coffee, with a plate of pastries fresh-baked on-site between them, did Miranda lean her chin on her palm, and allow herself a moment to look Daniel Kilpatrick over...not as a doctor, but as an attractive man her own age. Eddie’s dig about the age difference had struck home. Perhaps she should focus her attention on a more mature man...one with a career. “So, tell me, Daniel...may I call you Daniel? Just how did you manage to become the personal cardiologist for someone like Elizabeth Davenport?” Not that she was questioning his skill - but a doctor of his stature generally couldn’t be supported by a single patient...even one as wealthy as Miss Lizzy.

“Please do.” Dan added a bit of sweetener to his coffee, a little cream to turn it golden, stirring it before regarding Miranda. “Miss Davenport was referred to me through the Arlen Center. She’s not my only patient, of course. The fact that I am here is because despite how she seems, she’s quite stubborn. I had advised her not to come, but it was clear she was going to anyway. So, I felt that I had to come along just in case she needed me.” By now, Reggie had made Dan’s background rock solid, and this line of questioning made the good doctor certain there would be plenty of probing done by Miranda.

“Unlike many of my peers, I’m open to the ideas of new and better treatments. Liz is young, and highly motivated to find a way to beat this illness. I’m sure that has a lot to do with the young man who watches over her. You’d be surprised at the change in her since he came into her life. Before there was just a resignation that this was what her life would be. Don’t get me wrong here… I am glad of the change, but… obviously she’s chosen to be with someone far beneath her stature.” Dan knew his job, mainly to get Miranda to confide in him even try to root Eddie out of her life if he could. He’d seen the way she looked at him, and fostering that wouldn’t take much. “You don’t like him much, do you?” Stating it as though it were obvious, and giving her the opening they both were looking for seemed to be the best course at this point. He left the cup on the table, and fixed Miranda with the same sultry kind of look she’d been using on him. “Though I feel like it’s more personal for you.”

“I don’t. And you’re right...it is personal…” Miri sighed, and set her cup aside - sitting up to set both hands on the table, not far from his. “Please don’t get me wrong...I’m glad that he seems to be a positive influence on her. She’s a lovely young girl...so well-bred, and with so much to give...but I can’t imagine she knows just what kind of viper she’s invited into her bed.” Miranda had learned a little in the past year, and lowered her eyes, glancing up at Daniel hesitantly. “Daniel, I know we’ve just met...but I feel like I can confide in you. And I’m sure you only want what is best for Liz. We both do. I’m not certain he does...appearances aside.”

Her eyes searched his face, the tip of her tongue wetting her lips as if she was debating. “No...I must tell you, although I am certain you’ll think me bitter. But since it could affect her health...well. It’s the right thing to do. She’s clearly been sheltered and protected...no idea what to do with herself out here in the world.” Taking a sip of her coffee, Miranda nodded, coming to a decision. “Before he was with Liz...he was with my sister, Melinda. She died last year...of Long QT...and he was…with her. When she died.” The emphasis left little question as to just what she meant. “And before that...he was with me. Not for very long, mind you...he seems attracted to helpless young women…”

“So… so… It might explain why she asked me that not so long ago.” Dan wasn’t going to be that specific either. “You think that he operates that way? It’s possible that I could do something about that. I mean a guy like that, no telling the ways he may want to manhandle her when the doors are closed.” He took a drink of his coffee considering the things he was being told, before looking back up at her. “Well, maybe I don’t have to tell you. Then again, it could be a health risk for Liz.” He studied Miranda’s reactions to what he was saying, watching every little tick so he would know exactly what direction her mind had taken.

“He doesn’t seem like the gentle sort, does he?” His hand slid across the table and touched her arm sympathetically. “I’m surprised though that you managed to maintain control of the fortune. Do you think he just, miscalculated? What about the police, surely they…” Leave some questions open to interpretation, distract her with a touch. Gain her trust while seeming to give his own. It wasn’t hard to find that motivation, just letting his thoughts drift back a little to the feelings of resentment, no matter how slight they might have been. “If you hadn’t said anything, then I wouldn’t know, and I wouldn’t be able to help Lizzy.”

His touch on her arm made her start...her mind already hurtling down memory lane. “He isn’t...she’s likely got bruises...bite marks, maybe...he’s...a very forceful lover…” The flush to her cheeks likely gave her away...she certainly hadn’t complained about being manhandled, when she was the one reaping the benefits. “They did...of course they did. But there wasn’t anything definite. She was ill...the heart...they put it down to accidental death. But if he hadn’t been...so...so…dominating...perhaps she would have lived longer…” Miranda took a shaky breath, and laid her hand over Daniel’s on her arm. He understood...of course he did. And he’d make sure Eddie paid for what he’d done. Maybe she wouldn’t even take him back.

“Why she asked you what?” The suspicious comment finally caught her attention, and she looked at him in shocked anticipation. “She didn’t ask about changing her will...did she? Mel did...just before...left him nearly everything. Of course, with the questions...the investigation...I was able to leverage that to get him to sign everything over. He just took that wretched car she bought him, and left.” And just in time too...given what Mel had been planning. But there was no need to mention that. Not ever again.

“Oh, well no. I’m not an attorney. No, this was a more...intimate question. I can’t really talk about it. You know… Hippaa rules.” But he was sure she could use her imagination. “Liz… like you said, doesn’t have a lot of experience… in life.” It should be enough for Miranda, perhaps enough to disturb her a bit more, knowing that she’d been with Lizzy’s first. Whatever else came from this, Dan needed Miranda’s mind to be anywhere but on how suspicious everything seemed.

“Of course. It would seem like just an accident, hard to prove that he intended to kill her… that way.” Dan nodded his understanding to Miranda, keeping eye contact with her the entire time. “There’s nothing to worry about this time, I’ll see to it that nothing happens to her. Especially if your foundation manages to fund a cure. I’d really like to be part of that, and who knows… maybe other things you have to offer as well?” The tip of his tongue slid across his lip, perhaps trying to pull the last taste of coffee from it, or maybe it had something to do with the way he was looking at her. “Of course you’re probably tied down already, right?”

“Me? Oh no...not at all...what with everything after Melinda’s death, and the estate...setting up the Foundation...I haven’t really had time for...myself.” There had been a one-night stand, here and there...but nothing like what she wanted. Nothing like what she’d thought she’d had. His implication slowly filtered through, and it took her a moment to go back over what he’d said...what he’d hinted at. “Oh...oh! No, of course you can’t...I wouldn’t dream of asking but...my secretary said she’d had a long term...oh, really… this is just...idle gossip.” Miranda flustered, taking a sip of her coffee and giving a sharp shake of her head. To think...Eddie had...oh, it just didn’t bear thinking about. “We really must keep an eye out for her best interests...don’t you think?”

“I can’t imagine he meant to...although...there was something odd...with the pills. But I’m sure it was nothing. After all, sometimes the pharmacy switches generics...like today.” It was a close slip, but she caught it. “I would very much like working with you...towards a cure, and, of course...other things. I admit I’m at a bit of a loss on the medical end of things...making sure the results are sound…” She couldn’t resist leaning in, her fingertips tracing delicately over his knuckles. “There’s just so much resting on my shoulders...and of course, now there’s Elizabeth to think about. Perhaps...do you think, maybe, she would listen? If I told her what he’s like…? She knows he was with Mel, of course...they met at the Center, apparently. But I doubt he’s told her the whole truth…”

“Perhaps, she seems to like you a lot.” Dan looked at his watch, and stood up. “We should head back to the foundation. I think they should have the results back, if not now then soon.” He offered her an arm. “You could be the big sister she’s always wanted. I mean, I’m sure you’ve seen how Eddie reacts too when she and I are alone together.” He looked down at his shoes, and gave a small shrug. “It’s quite difficult to keep her calm when he’s there though. I really hope that talk about rings was just that… talk.” He walked slowly, giving Reggie time to set up the next little obstacle in Miranda’s life.

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“But now and then, a woman walks up, full blossom, a woman just bursting out of her dress…a sex creature, a curse, the end of it all.”
― Charles Bukowski, Post Office
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Eddie Blake
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PostPosted: Fri Sep 22, 2017 9:46 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Sweet Dreams

Some of them want to use you
Some of them want to get used by you
Some of them want to abuse you
Some of them want to be abused.
~ Performed by: Marylin Manson

Miranda was arm in arm with Dr. Daniel Kilpatrick as they arrived back at the offices. The labs were down a hallway, behind secure doors. Normally, they required a keycard, but she’d arranged one for his use for as long as he was in town. After all, she was hoping that access to the facility...labs, research libraries, and some of the most cutting edge technology available, might convince him to stay. The lobby itself was well lit, glass-enclosed and with small niches surrounded by plants and featuring bench seats, secluded from each other and giving some semblance of privacy to those who wished it. To the right, across from the secure doors, was the hall that led to her office, and her assistants, as well as a handful of administrative staff. Turning to look up at him, she graced Dan with a brilliant smile, and was about to suggest dinner when the breathless voice of her assistant reached her ears.

“Mira...Ms. Foxglove! Oh thank goodness you’re here...he’s getting…impatient...” Tabitha had been chosen in part for her professionalism, her ability to stay cool and calm under the most pressing assault. People with life-threatening illnesses, and their families, were not always known for being reasonable, and some of their patients were less...well-bred...than Ms. Davenport. None of that seemed on display, although the willowy brunette pulled herself up short at the sight of Miranda’s glare, and the tall, distinguished gentleman on her arm, and at least made an attempt. “There’s a man in your office. An attorney. He says you had an appointment.”

“Do I have an appointment in my calendar?” Miranda was fairly certain she didn’t. It wasn’t like her to forget details. “Daniel, forgive me...this is unusual in the extreme. Tabitha is generally very competent.”

“No...but he says he’s here about the endowment?” Tabitha didn’t know anything about Miranda’s other deals...the ones she’d made to line her own pockets. All she’d been told was if someone inquired about the endowment...no-one but Miranda was allowed to speak to them. They were to be put in her office, and she was to be summoned from wherever she was immediately. She’d done that - or tried to - Miranda hadn’t answered her phone. And the man in her office was beginning to fidget.
Miranda’s eyes widened, and her spine went ramrod straight. She certainly wouldn’t have forgotten an endowment meeting. Which meant this was a surprise, and surprises couldn’t be good. Swallowing sharply, she managed to regain a shadow of her earlier smile as she turned to Daniel. “Do forgive me...our talk was so enjoyable I seem to have lost track of time. Why don’t you check on your results, and ask Dr. Peters for a tour of the facilities...and I’ll find you once I’m done with my meeting? You know how donors can be…”

“No no, of course. I’ve already monopolized enough of your time. It’s this way, right?” Dan released Miranda, and started off in the not quite right direction only to be corrected by Tabitha. It was likely that Miri would realize later that he’d never exchanged his number with her, something designed to force her to go back to see Lizzy. Assuming that he’d made the proper impression on the woman. A look over his shoulder didn’t completely solidify his confidence in it, however the little flush she gave said enough about where her mind had gone.

She couldn’t resist watching him for a moment before catching herself, and heading down the hallway at a brisk, but still professional pace. She couldn’t dash down the hall like an errant schoolgirl, much as she might want to. Arriving at her office door, she smoothed a hand over her skirt, making sure she was as presentable as if she’d just stepped out from another meeting, and nearly knocked at her own office door - her knuckles hovering for a moment above the frosted glass. Taking a deep breath, she turned the handle instead, and stepped inside. The office was decorated in bronze and glass, sleekly modern, and decorated with tasteful prints in a stylized cardiac theme. Moving to take her seek behind her desk, she made some semblance of apologies. “I am so sorry for the confusion...I had a meeting come up, and I don’t believe we were expecting you, Mr…?”

There was a bit more in the room than when she’d left, not the least of which was the attorney, seated in her chair near an open window. It’s minor gap trying while desperately failing to vent smoke that rose from the cigarette in his hand. He blew a lungful towards the opening before leaning back flicking ashes into a ceramic mug that still had evidence of the morning’s coffee inside it. The color scheme was on the outrageous side, a pristine grey suit that actually seemed to reflect light back at her over a shirt that was almost insultingly blue. The tie he wore was striped in grey and pink of all things.

“Saul’s good ma’am.” He pressed out his smoke inside the mug and dropped it noisily on her desk. “I’m not really here. What I am, is interested in other invisible things. Things that my employer, and your benefactor want to be made a little more… opaque.” If his suit didn’t scream Mafia, the ring on his pinky did in volumes that were nearly as loud as his shirt. “Just a spot check, if you understand me. That’s not something that we like to announce.” Saul’s hands worked quickly, the mug on the desk a distraction that allowed him to pocket a thumb drive into his suit coat.

“Maybe you already know why they’d send me way out here to get a…clearer picture... if you will.” He moved enough to allow Miranda space to brush past him, and fit into her chair, but nothing more. The meaning should be clear enough, this was going to be uncomfortable.

“Smoking...in a medical facility…” Miranda was gearing up for a truly impressive lecture on health and safety. For a moment, she hesitated, not wanting to make things worse than they already were. But she had no idea what he could be looking for. And really, this was her office…her Foundation...they needed her as much as she needed them. “Saul, then...do you have any idea the damage that cigarette smoke can do to those suffering with cardiac issues? The contamination of samples...filtration units...equipment? I realize that your employers may not care about the mission of this facility, and the Foundation - but I do.” Taking her seat, she folded her hands in front of her to hide the shaking. “Now. I expect you to remember that should you have occasion to grace me with your exceptionally garish presence again. As for what you might be looking for...I haven’t the slightest. Elucidate me.”

Miranda was playing a dangerous game, and she knew it. The whole thing had been her idea...no-one would dare question donations to such a worthy cause, and the auditors were only concerned with making sure that whatever was donated was spent, with some allowances made for future need. And they were doing good. But Melinda had left the family trust to fund research...and her personal share to Eddie, along with a control of the nascent-foundation’s funding. Miranda had been left barely enough to keep a roof over her head. Certainly not enough to live the kind of life she felt entitled to after all her years of sacrifice and living in the shadows.

“Sure… cigarettes kill.” Saul picked up the mug again, dumped it into the waste basket and put it down once more. He leaned hard on the desk half a second before the crack of his palm on Miranda’s cheek filled the room. “That lucid enough for you?” He pulled a chair into an awkward angle and dropped into it. “They told me you had a smart mouth. Said that sometimes it needs to smart a little more.”

One well manicured finger rose up and wiped at the corner of his nose. It was possible that smoking wasn’t the worst thing he’d done in her office. “Here’s the thing. My employer, he’s looking to move a bit more, problem is that some of those returns, they look a little light. Do you know what light returns can do to a cardiopulmonary system? They wind up feeling pretty toxic themselves. Do we have an understanding?”

His hand went to the buttons on his coat, opening them one by one each loosening a slow menacing gesture in itself. His hand reached into the jacket, and pulled out something large, and heavy. It hit the desk with a thud that sounded nothing like metal. “So, you’re going to walk me through this process. I’m going to be there for every little step.” The thick money pouch was given a shove hard enough to drop it right into Miranda’s lap. “That includes the cut that we know you’ve been keeping for yourself.”

Miranda’s head snapped to the side, and she pressed the back of her hand against her face to check for blood. None, but it certainly wasn’t for lack of trying. If she was lucky, she could cover it with makeup...although it would mean postponing dinner with Daniel. Damn. Still, for the moment, Saul had her sole, if grudging attention. She tried not to glare, or let the tears that stung her eyelids slip free, and was only partially successful. That hurt. Sniffing, she picked up the package, cowed, and ready to cooperate. If it had been anyone else...but it wasn’t, and she knew the price of arguing further.

Opening the bag, Miranda took a quick count...ten stacks of hundreds, equalling five thousand each. It was a large deposit, but not the largest they’d managed. And she still had the check from Lizzy. Cash meant they could technically attribute it to an anonymous donor. Setting the money on her desk, she took a deep breath, and raised her eyes to Saul. They might be shimmering still, and her cheek was looking rather red, but she wouldn’t let him think he had her beaten. “Fifty thousand dollars in cash. It will be credited to anonymous donations...not unheard of, although it's rare. Usually we’d credit it to one or several shell companies set up for the purpose. But there’s no notification, and I don’t dare decide who gets the tax credit. So anonymous it will be. And since there’s no directive - it will be deposited into general operating expenses. Basically, the Foundation can use it as it sees fit. To fund research, make up shortfalls...or pay bills, salaries, and the like. Did your employer give you any idea who we owe?”

“Turn them over, the bundles are coded. RLH, is Red Light Holdings. CWMHS is Capani Waste Management Healthcare Solutions. They’ll all be names with which you’re quite familiar.” They’d better be anyway. He and Reggie had spent a lot of hours tracking down the different shell companies making donations into the Foxglove Foundation. “There’s been a slight change in leadership for a few of the usual donors… call it under new management. Mr. Vicelli is retired now, and his interests were picked up by Mr. Capani… Senior. A bit of a hostile takeover, messy business on that end, which is why this side needs to run… smoothly.”

“So, take me to where the magic happens doll face, and I’ll pretend that you were sweet tea to me earlier.” The key to making the language work, no matter how ridiculous it sounded, was to say it like it was real. Media, movie companies, any number of broadcast programs all made this simpler. Miranda may not have believed this was how the families talked before, but she was at a severe disadvantage when it came to knowing for sure. If Saul believed it, she would too.
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Opportunity dances with those already on the dance floor. ~ H. Jackson Brown, Jr.
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Tahlia Faras
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PostPosted: Fri Sep 22, 2017 9:51 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

“Of course.” Flipping the bundles over, her fingers twitched with the suppressed urge to touch the heat along her cheekbone. Taking note of the amounts and the initials, she placed the cash back into the bag, and blinked up at him. “Where the magic happens? You want to see the safe? The armored car company comes once a week. If I call for an earlier pickup, they’ll get suspicious. Until then, it sits in a top of the line safe, bolted in place. You’ll forgive me if I’m not inclined to give you the location and combination. Everything else…” She reached forward, hitting an intercom button on her phone. “Tabitha, I need invoices for some of our vendors. Are you ready?” Waiting for the hurried assurance, and barely hiding a smile at the note of embarrassment for her earlier fluster, Miranda calmly relayed names and amounts. “Kindly bring those to me as soon as they’re finished? I’ve just realized the accounts are past due. Thank you.” Releasing the button, she left the cash where it was on the desk. “Normally I would lock this away until I was going to bring it to the safe...I have a small lockbox for the purpose...would you like me to go over the rest of the process while we wait for the invoices?”

The diminutive brunette had regained some of her aplomb...not much, but enough to at least seem calm on the outside. Tabitha was going to see the mark on her cheek, but there was nothing for it, and the girl was nothing if not discrete. “I need the invoices in case we get audited...really, it would be much easier if your employer would provide them. The auditors might begin to question why we are generating vendor invoices...thus far, we’ve been lucky, because the Foundation is just starting. But it won’t be that way forever…”

“Of course, you should check your email, Ms. Foxglove. The new management understands the difficulties you’re faced with.” Saul waited for several things to happen. For Miranda to check the incoming e-mails, and for Tabitha to make her presence known as well. “We of course respect the difficulties that you’re forced to endure, leading the foundation. You will however note that some of the returns seem a little… off. That’s why I’m here, to look into those slight anomalies. Quite often there has been a diversion of funds to an account called MF Withholdings. Can you shed a little light on exactly what that is?”

Saul had changed positions, no longer occupying the large chair, he’d parked his backside right on the corner of Miranda’s desk. There was a slight adjustment to his jacket, the movement showing just the hint of what he was keeping beneath his arm. It was hidden quickly as he buttoned the top button of his jacket. It too was for show, but that illusion he’d been building only took glimpses and hints to make it as real as the desk on which the woman’s computer sat. “As for your normal pick up. I’ll be around for awhile, and look forward to getting to witness that as well.” He slid his phone from his pocket, as expensive as it looked it was a burner and easily disposed of if needed. He punched in the unlock code and pushed it towards her. “Send yourself a text… that way I’ll be able to reach you myself, and we won’t have these, misunderstandings in the future.”

A few clicks of her mouse had her looking at...invoices. And bank statements. The flash of metal from beneath his suit had her swallowing thickly. There hadn’t been an explicit statement, so much as an...understanding. As long as she didn’t get greedy...a little off the top was just the cost of doing business, wasn’t it? They couldn’t expect her to take so much risk for nothing. Looking from Saul to the phone and back, she realized she had no choice. For whatever reason, her benefactors were unhappy...and this was their response. Tapping her number into the phone, she sent herself a one word text, and slid the phone back toward the gaudily dressed man perching on her desk. She still didn’t like him.

“Of course. As for the...discrepancies you mention - it was an informal understanding. A small stipend in return for processing the payments, and making sure that everything was done properly.” Her agreement had been with Vicelli, and she’d simply assumed that it applied to all of the funds flowing through her hands from similar sources. Perhaps not her wisest choice. But she could assume what ‘hostile takeover’ meant, and she doubted anyone was left to counter her version of things. “5% of the total donation. Of course, I can hardly add it to my salary here…” There was a quiet rap of knuckles on the wooden frame of the doorway, and she smoothly switched gears. “Come in, Tabitha.”

Saul took back the phone, with a loud sniff that would reinforce the earlier motion that he was a user. He looked at the word she’d sent herself and let out a small chuckle. He fell quiet when Tabitha knocked. Standing as she entered, it was far from a chivalrous move. He looked more like he was ready to go off if the wind from the door hit him the wrong way. He crossed the room, at the same time Tabitha did, holding onto the door until the dark haired woman left. He kept holding it open, staring after her and only daring to close it when he was satisfied she was far enough away that their voices wouldn’t be heard.

“Those emails, you’ll notice that the figures don’t match your books. No one expects you to do something for nothing. Somewhere though, there’s a problem. You’re claiming five percent off the top, but the accounts in question, they’re showing fifteen. Somewhere between here and there, someone is getting greedy.” Saul turned and looked at Miranda, with a hard squint that carried from his eyes right to his lips. “Believe it or not, I like you… even the you that needs to feel it rough from time to time. So, here’s what we’re proposing. I check your operation, top to bottom, if I find nothing well we’ll look to the next stop. You help us, and there’s a small finder’s fee that goes along with it. You find our missing ten percent, and we’ll give you a substantial bonus...maybe even renegotiate the current arrangement.”

He was slow to cross the room, stopping on the opposite side of the desk from Miranda. His hand moved towards her again, the same one that had put the red into her cheek took hold of her chin and drew her face up to look at him. “That could be very lucrative for you, and gain you a lot more trust.” His grip tightened on her. “You’d like more trust now, wouldn’t you?” The pad of Saul’s thumb ran across Miranda’s bottom lip, smearing her lip color. He picked up the invoices with his other hand and sat heavily back into his chair. “Go fix your face.”

“I...I swear there’s nothing. I wouldn’t dare…” It wasn’t like her to stammer, and the tears that had threatened since he’d slapped her spilled over, tracking across her cheeks. She’d been very careful about not taking too much. But once the money left her hands...she didn’t know who else could be taking so much. “Of course...anything I can do. I want to find out who’s doing this…” She did, if only to save her own skin. Whoever was taking the money was putting her life at risk. Idly, she wondered if she might be able to lay this at Eddie’s door as well...two birds, and all.

Saul’s gesture both terrified and electrified her, and she was frozen for a moment after he’d dropped back into his seat. Flushing enough to hide the rapidly darkening bruise on her cheek, she shakily got to her feet, and headed to the private washroom at the other side of her office. She often had to change for evening events, and it simply made sense. Closing the door behind her, she gripped the sink, and tried to calm herself with deep breaths. She hadn’t dared look at Saul as she’d crossed the room, certain he’d be able to tell. Taking a cloth, she ran cool water over it, pressing the chill to her neck and cheeks before carefully fixing her lips, and the faint shadow where her mascara had bled just a little.

“Did you get all that kid?” Saul kept his voice low. The program he’d forced into Miranda’s system had been enough for Reggie to work his magic, doctoring numbers to make it look like something had gone wrong. It was all still there, and a visual counting would verify that. He needed to get Miranda to make that count happen, to do it herself. The implication would be obvious, someone was entering lower numbers, and taking the money somewhere between shipping it and it going into the bank that handled Foxglove’s funds. It was a snipe hunt, but it was one that the team would need to make look real. He was sure that Miranda was highly motivated to find out where the problem was. Hard to say what was driving her more, the finder’s fee or living to spend her share of it.

You pushed her kind of hard...but I got it. Of course now there will be a major discrepancy between the books and what’s really there… almost looks like an inside job, with a partner at the bank.

“The more I do this, the more I learn.” It was meant for Reggie, but Miranda was making her appearance once again. “Who counts the outgoing money, and has been doing these invoices.” He dropped several pages onto her desk, totals circled. The funds he’d brought today, those were correct, but the ones Tabitha had supplied which were older, those definitely didn’t match.

The woman who emerged from the washroom showed no signs that there had been anything other than a typical conversation between founder and donor. She’d touched up her makeup to cover the bruise, fixed her lips, and settled herself. Panic would avail her nothing. Settling back behind her desk, she stared at Saul in shock. “Tabitha? It can’t be. She has no idea what’s going on. Besides, she hasn’t always been the one to count the money coming in…” She did always prepare the invoices though. Miranda could hardly do it herself, and her assistant was so efficient.

“Who would steal from a Foundation? There must be someone with a grudge...an axe to grind. I can’t believe my staff…” But if it were someone else...it couldn’t be her. She bit her bottom lip, but stopped talking. It was out of her hands anyway. There was clearly no arguing with her new...whatever he was. “I’ll have the accounting department check everything again. And I’ll double check the safe myself.” Clearing her throat with a cough, she found she couldn’t quite meet Saul’s eye. She’d never been treated so cavalierly in her life. She refused to admit how she was responding...it was simply adrenaline and self preservation. Rifling through the pages to cover her distraction, all she could do was keep shaking her head. “Right under my nose...I can’t believe it…”

“Trust is a dangerous thing. Perhaps you’re starting to see how my employer felt.” Saul crossed one leg over the other, and leaned towards Miranda. “Let me ask you this… are the men who transport the money, always the same, and if they are… do you ever notice anything between your secretary out there and them? Maybe a hidden relationship?” He could tell that her wheels were starting to turn on how far the betrayal had gone. At the very end of his forward lean, he reached out and put his hand over hers.

“I’m going to help you through this… I don’t want you to worry. But there’s something you should make sure of. Don’t let her know that you suspect her, and be there when the money’s counted on the other end. You think you can do that?” Saul was playing his role almost to the letter, come in hot and intimidating, and then offer a way out that totally depended on him. She’d either bite or start to see through the ruse. “I’m going to get out of your hair now. You’re not the only appointment I have today… just the most pleasant one.” He kept the illusion that he wasn’t the nice guy, going so far as to insinuate that the next person on his calendar was not going to fare nearly so well as she had.

“You have my number… feel free to use it whenever you need it.” He rose, and moved through the office towards the door. The entire meeting had been a success. They now had sound, and had wormed their way into Miranda’s computer. That alone gave them access to everything in the foundation. A pair of dark sunglasses were pulled from his inside pocket, and pushed onto his face a moment before he shut the door behind him.

The seeds he’d planted had taken root, and she was distracted enough attempting to remember the guards, and their interactions with Tabitha, to offer simply a wan smile and a nod in response to his questions. The implication wasn’t entirely lost however, she could still feel a hint of soreness in her jaw, and heat along her cheekbone - enough to serve as a reminder of just what he considered a pleasant meeting. As soon as the door closed behind him, she leaned back in her leather chair, and gave the matter some serious thought. Despite Saul’s assurances, she couldn’t help but worry. The people she was dealing with were dangerous...and if Saul had left any lasting impression it was that they certainly didn’t think anything of using violence to achieve their aims. Even against her.

The sad truth was she didn’t pay much attention to the guards...they were hired contractors in uniforms, and if she noticed anything, that was all. She supposed she would have to now. And perhaps make more of an effort to chat up Tabitha. She really didn’t know very much about the girl outside of work. She was competent, efficient, and pleasant to the donors and patients who had occasion to visit the office. And that was nearly the extent of what Miranda knew. She didn’t want to believe it...but missing cash was missing cash, and Tabitha was the only one who knew about the invoices and the endowment meetings. If she wasn’t taking the money herself...perhaps she was feeding information to the people who were. Sitting up, she glanced down at her calendar. The armored truck was due tomorrow. She would have to make certain she was outside her office, and try to note the guards. Reaching for her phone, she tapped the number to the bank in, and tapped her nails against the desk as she waited for them to answer. She didn’t anticipate an issue - after all, it was her funds, and her foundation.

_________________

“But now and then, a woman walks up, full blossom, a woman just bursting out of her dress…a sex creature, a curse, the end of it all.”
― Charles Bukowski, Post Office
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