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Retribution (18+ Violence, Strong Language, Mature Themes)
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Eddie Blake
Young Wyrm
Young Wyrm


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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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
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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
Young Wyrm
Young Wyrm


Joined: 13 Feb 2016
Posts: 15
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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: 72
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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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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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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.

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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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PostPosted: Sat Oct 21, 2017 11:48 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

A Guy Walks Into A Bar

A guy walks into a bar, orders a drink
Sees a girl that catches his eye
Asks her if she wants another
They fall for each other and end up lovers
They laugh, cry, hold on tight, make it work for a little while
Then one night her taillights fade out into the dark
~ Tyler Farr

Westport was not like home, things here were spread out, sprawling across the horizon with no mountains to keep things controlled. Back home it was a quick walk, or a short cab ride to anything you needed, here… he could have called a cab but that sprawl brought longings of driving fast down long roads. It was too bad he’d had to leave his car home. The rental agency had a lot of nice, sporty cars. Finding one in his color hadn’t been possible. Not much call for purple, not when most people preferred their reds blacks and yellows. Idiots so far as he was concerned. They’d been given a choice of pricey imports, fast and great handling. They practically drove by themself. It wasn’t Eddie’s style, give him the hard turning 71 Road Runner any day. Nice as those imports were, they didn’t have a back seat. Eddie felt that was a requirement, backseats were important. As much as one of those fancy imports would reinforce the gold digger impression they were painting, he ended up steering towards muscle.

That wasn’t easy on him either. They had all the cliche cars, Mustangs, Camaros, and Chargers. The last one being at least close to his own in appearance. That was its ruling out factor, it just made him miss the real thing. Eddie had been tempted by the Camaro, but there was just no pallet depth to the color schemes. Sure the mustang might end up being found on the road dead, but at least it came in colors other than black or red. Blue wasn’t purple, but it was a close as he was going to get. At least it had the metal fleck finish, that was something. It was just supposed to be a lavishly simple dinner for the two of them. As much an oxymoron as that might seem, it really meant just them in a nice place. Eddie had stayed on the elevator, Lizzy would be waiting out front while he went down to the parking garage to fetch their chariot. He hit the unlock button on the key remote as he approached, pulling open the driver’s side door and sliding into the seat. The engine roared to life… he really missed his car.

The slim brunette sat up from the backseat, and rested her folded arms on the front seats, her chin set dead center, and just shy of his shoulder. She’d been sitting down there for a solid hour, laying in the well behind the front seats and waiting. She was good at waiting. Good at being still and quiet, too, when the circumstances required it. Which it had. She was a little surprised he hadn’t looked...but then, the princess wasn’t with him, so maybe he was counting on just being bigger and stronger than anything that might have been waiting in the dark. Luckily for him, she had no interest in hurting him. Not right now, anyway. She preferred to keep things neat. Organized. Precise. Already out of her comfort zone, the last thing she wanted, or needed, were complications.

“I figured Her Highness was too good for the garage. Any particular reason you’re messing with my income, handsome?” Warm brown eyes slid sideways with just the barest tilt of her head toward the driver, her body coiled and ready to react if her little surprise caused a negative response. She didn’t think it would...they’d left on decent terms after their last encounter - she was nearly certain there had even been breakfast before going their separate ways. Of course, she’d wondered if they’d run into each other...what with his current frail beauty involved with the Foundation...but they were both professionals. Neither would have given anything away. But then someone started digging, and her senses started tingling...had to be one of his.

Rookie mistake, or just overconfidence, it didn’t matter. His hands were much too far away from a weapon. Still, if she’d wanted to, he’d likely be dead already. Eddie scoffed as he shook his head. “Shouldn’t you be base jumping off a building with a diamond in your back pocket or something?” He turned to look at the face that held the voice, putting on his best Eddie Blake smile. “This seems a little...mundane for you to be involved with.” He released the steering wheel, twisting his torso around almost amiably. Likely it wasn’t subtle enough, the face he looked at knew him pretty well. More than that she probably understood that he’d seek to turn the tables on her.

“She’d have come down, if I’d wanted her to. It’s better for her to be seen, than not seen… kind of the opposite of you, eh Celene? Not that you’re afraid to keep the lights on, you just like a good shadow to hide in.” His fingers were irresistibly close to the butt end of a pistol. “Or maybe you’re in town for something more difficult to obtain?”

His suggestions were met with an eyeroll more expressive than any mere words, although she didn’t budge. She was used to Eddie’s theatrics, knew the games he played to deflect from information he didn’t want to give. “Girls got to eat, Eddie. And it’s Tabitha, if you don’t mind.” He wasn’t wrong. Celene Parker could usually be found rappelling off high-rises and stealing things with names - things that brought prestige as well as cash. But things needed buyers. “And it might be mundane, but that’s exactly why it’s a nice break. Or it was until you and your hooligans showed up and started messing with my funding. Difficult things need buyers, and markets...and all that takes time.”

She was bristling, and cursed herself for letting him get to her. Sure, she’d had a dry spell lately, a few things she’d nicked on spec hadn’t found new homes yet, and she’d needed an income source that didn’t need fencing. Plus, this was personal. “So you’ve got the princess wrapped around your fingers, huh? She jump when you say jump, or just things better left out of the public eye, hmmm?” She reached up and tapped a fingertip to his nose, with a wide, bright grin that covered her calculation. “Nothing wrong with the shadows - you’re pretty fond of them yourself. Especially if there’s some female hiding in them with you. But none of this answers my question…” Her voice cooled, and there was the muffled snick of a blade popping from a sheath. “Why are you ****ing with my play?”

“You don’t look like you’re wasting away...Tabby. You sure you want to go with that? Seems too ordinary.” He’d avoid talking about Lizzy, that wouldn’t be too difficult. The progress he’d made with his hand halted, and that only made him pout a little. “Careful with your claws, I’d hate to ruin a perfectly good leather.” Not that he wouldn’t have been doing just that with his plan, but it was his to ruin. “Funny thing about shadows…” Eddie shifted again, twisting back to his original position with a groaning creak of the leather jacket against the seat of the car. “...I usually make my own to hide things in, even if it is a girl.” He shook his head once more, like he was disappointed in her. “Petty theft is beneath you. If people only knew what the great Celene Parker was doing with her life… Not that they’d believe me, probably have me committed. But it’s like this car. It’s missing everything that would make it great, age, a boss 305… but it’s got a lot that’s the same. Leather interior… gear shift.”

Eddie’s hand reached out to touch the passenger seat as he talked, moving to the shifter, which he promptly threw into reverse and gunned the engine. The Mustang rocketed backwards, and he cranked the wheel hard. The front end jerked sideways, then rose several inches as he jammed it into first and dropped his foot off the clutch to send it shooting forwards. He counted to four then slammed on the brakes, pulled up the handbrake and stepped out of the vehicle. The driver’s seat back was pushed forwards and Eddie reached a large hand in to haul Celene from inside. He slammed her back against the side of the car. “You got anymore little surprises in there or will I need to pat you down?” His hand was against her abdomen already. “First of all, pet, I didn’t know you were in town. Second… don’t get used to your current arrangement. I’m not here to grab a little. I’m taking it all.” His fingers closed around the fabric of her dark top, and pressed her harder against the car. He locked his eyes with hers. “You missed me though… I can tell.”

“Oh, by all means...pat me down…” She was reeling a little from his stunt driving, her years of training the only thing that had saved her from serious injury, like stabbing herself with the blade that was now...somewhere in the back of the Mustang. But her voice was steady, if a little breathless from having the wind knocked from her. Abuse like this she’d been taking since she was young enough to remember anything at all. It’s part of what made her who she was. “I’m full of surprises, handsome...you ought to remember that. Probably a lot more fun that that little blonde you’ve been shacking up with...I never expected to see you plastered all over social media. Might make the next job a bit of a challenge, no?” He might have her pinned, but he’d left her hands free...the banter, the slow smile, the barest sweep of her tongue across her lips, were all designed to keep him focused on her face. Eddie ought to know that wasn’t where the danger was.

“I don’t miss, Eddie...certainly not this close.” And there it was, the gentle nudge of metal, the muzzle of his own pistol tapping against his chin. “I didn’t think you cared where I was, for one, and for two...you can’t just sweep in and take everything...do you have any idea how long it took me to set this all up? Not to mention being Little Miss Efficiency for the queen of making up for lost time...I think I’m going to have to insist on a piece of the pie.” The smile never wavered, never even cooled. This wasn’t personal, this was business. She didn’t really think he’d make her shoot him. He might, and she’d have to pick something that would slow him down, but not kill him. She had some rather fond memories of the last time they’d run into each other, after all.

Eddie hadn’t felt the lift, but even as the muzzle touched his skin he didn’t release his smile or even look away from Celene. “You always did have a light hand, I think you’re even better now, though you’d need to do something a little closer to the last time for me to really judge.” Too cocky for his own good perhaps, but he wasn’t the type to beg. Especially since this was much more fun.

Eddie’s hand dropped away from Celene’s stomach. “I’ve got a passable hand, nothing like you, but I manage to get what I want.” He lifted his hand higher, a metallic glint between thumb and forefinger. “I think you dropped this.” A large diamond about the size of his thumbnail dangled from the delicate setting of a belly button piercing. “Didn’t think you were the sentimental kind.” He closed his fingers around the piece of jewelry, and shrugged lightly. “Not so good as you, I know… and you’ve got the upper hand. My grab might be worth more depending on how much I value my own head.”

“I feel bad for you. This big set up, and you doing all that hard work. That’s always been your problem, making things too complicated, or taking on too many roles to get the job done. Me, I know my deficiencies. I’m no safe cracker, but what I lack in…” Eddie hooked the piercing through Celene’s collar as he talked. “...manual dexterity, I make up for in planning… and extra hands. Isn’t that right?”

Celene felt something part her hair, and froze as a petite blonde sidestepped out from behind Eddie. It was Lizzy - only it wasn’t. There was something cold and calculating behind the eyes, a predatory glint to the smile that more than hinted that killing her was not only on the table, the blonde wouldn’t lose any sleep over it. “Nobody plays with my Puddin’s gun but me, pet.” It was a pointed word choice, those aqua eyes never leaving Celene’s face. Nor did the smile waver, save for the slightest softening at the corners as her gaze ticked up to Eddie’s. As sleek and simple as the brunette’s outfit was, the blonde was dressed just that much better. Outwardly simple, the cut and quality whispered money, and she wore it like she’d been born into it. The only hint that she was anything at all other than a spoiled socialite was the fact that the gun never wavered, never pressed - it simply hovered at Celene’s temple like it was floating.

Lizzy might have been the one who got into the elevator, concerned when Eddie hadn’t pulled up in the rented muscle car, but it was Harley who stood there now. The minute the doors had opened, she’d seen them, and it was an absolute crime how silently she could move in heels when the occasion demanded it. Angled so she could keep an eye out for approaching trouble, she shot Celene a wide grin, and stuck her tongue out at the taller woman. They were all professionals, there was no need to rub in the fact that the sneak-thief had been beaten at her own game...out-stealthed, and out-maneuvered. “Puddin, we’re going to miss our reservations...and I had a special dessert planned…” Lips curved into a pout, she jerked her chin in the direction of their company. His call, or hers...she clearly wasn’t concerned about hiding a body.

Celene gave in, with rather less grace than the situation demanded, the gun flipping in her grip so she could offer it to Eddie butt first. “Ok, fine. You win. I’m not sure what you won, though, but as long as it mean he pays…” The blonde might be unnerving her more than she was letting on, to let that tidbit slip.

“Harley… baby... “ Eddie took the pistol from Celene without looking. His gaze had fallen on Tahlia and a grin spread across his face. He gave her a dark eyed wink, holstering the gun and taking a deep breath. “Let’s not kill her quite yet… A girl like this could be quite useful. No… no, I’m afraid we’re going to miss our reservations. I’ll make it up to you, maybe a bit of moon bathing.” He stepped back from Celene, confident that things were well in hand. “Take her upstairs pumpkin pie. Try not to be seen, I don’t want to spoil the surprise. I’ll go grab some take out..” His eyes flitted back to Celene. “You’re awfully quiet… Oh, but I’m being a bad host. Harley dear, meet Celene Parker an old friend of mine. You’ve met Harley, a new friend of mine. You guys already have something in common. This will be fun.”

“Thai food… definitely.” Eddie let out a laugh as he got back into the car, fun was what he’d said, and it was a word. It wasn’t necessarily the right word, but that kind of depended on what people thought fun was. The thief would be a good fit for the team, giving them an aspect that quite frankly they lacked in the current configuration. Problem was that the woman wasn’t really here for the money, and they both knew it. She was here for a vendetta. He had no problem with that, it’s why he’d come too in a way. Vendetta was good for the soul. The part he had issues with was where hers was aimed, because it conflicted with his own goals. The fact was the man Celene wanted to hurt, was the one that Eddie had already promised to spare. Maybe he could get lucky and get the woman to compromise for Little Tony suffering?

Harley watched the car pull away, and glared at Celene for a long moment. “I was supposed to be having duck confit this evening, with a Vignobles Brumont 1996 Château Montus XL Tannat, and a specially made mille crepe cake, because it is just past an anniversary. Instead, I get Thai food. And you. I’m guessing you can imagine how thrilled I am by this turn of events.” The gun disappeared, and even the master thief couldn’t quite tell how, or where. She also didn’t try to run. Something about Harley had her convinced that missing dinner reservations, and putting a hand on her ‘Puddin’ might just be killing offences.

The two women made it to the elevator, both well aware of where the cameras were placed, although Celene was a touch surprised when Harley veered off, leading them down a maintenance tunnel the brunette hadn’t known about, and to an abandoned looking lift that moved with shocking speed and silence. She dismissed the muttering under her breath as curses, not realizing that she’d only met the lesser part of the team, and Harley was, in fact, coordinating with Reggie to find the smoothest path back to the penthouse. And some cursing. Because dammit, dinner had taken some planning and she was more than a smidge put out by having to cancel.

“You. Sit. I have to call and cancel dinner. And change. Because...Thai food. And you.” Harley pointed at the couch, and slid the phone from her clutch, dialing and speaking to whoever answered in flawless, if slightly archaic, French. Glaring at Celene, she grabbed her by the wrist, and dragged her into the bedroom. If the thief took off, it would be on her. And she was hardly shy - in fact, she might have made a point of letting the willowy brunette get a look at the assets she was clearly missing before donning a pair of black yoga pants, and an oversized t-shirt that obviously belonged to a certain tall, dark and handsome charmer, and dragging them both back to the living room to wait for Eddie.

It wasn’t Duck confit by any means, more like Duck Pad Thai, but at least there was a lot of it. He’d sprung for an appetizer as well, Potstickers were a guilty pleasure of his. There was a salad as well, more of an inside joke for Tahlia when he revealed the Yum Pla Muk. Because she obviously needed more squid in her life. Eddie laid out the food, grabbing up one of the potstickers and finding a seat on the couch, his jacket tossed haphazardly across the back of it. “We have a bit of a problem. I don’t necessarily care about your...activities, but they’re working counter to ours. Far as that goes, it means we have to worry about you spilling the beans to get us out of your way. So there’s only two options, really. The short trip to the ground floor, or bringing you in. You’re already inside, that’s a plus, but I need you to do something you’re not going to like.”

Eddie reached out blindly for the blonde, wrapping a hand around her wrist and urging her to sit closer to him. “There’s a substantial pay out here, but you’re going to have to give him a pass… for now. It’s not what I prefer, but right now he’s necessary. Maybe it would help soothe if you knew that his son will be paying a price instead?” It remained to be seen how Celene would react, or which of the two Tony’s she despised more. That time was fast approaching though… imminent impact so far as he could tell. “A lot of people are relying on this to go our way.” He kept things cryptic for her. There was no wisdom in revealing everything to someone who hadn’t agreed.

Harley went one better than ‘close’, settling into his lap even as she stuck her tongue out at him at the sight of tentacles. It was better than shuddering, although she did glance over at the jacket, and run a hand along the leather. They weren’t all bad memories. Reaching for one of the potstickers, she watched Celene, trying to gauge which way she would go. The stiffening was expected, no-one liked to hear their plans thwarted, but she controlled it well. The blonde, for her part, was quiet, preferring to let Eddie do the talking for the moment. Let Celene think she was just a hired gun, some psycho with a few marketable skills. It never hurt to have your opponent underestimate you. And Eddie’s offer notwithstanding, an opponent was exactly what Harley thought she was.

Celene took a deep breath, and bit back a curse. She’d looked for years for a way to get back at the man who’d donated his DNA and then disappeared, leaving her mother staring out windows until she died, and Celene had ended up in foster care. She didn’t even know if he knew she was alive...it didn’t matter. He had left her mother. Left her. He had to pay. But Eddie made sense. And her half-brother was an ass and deserved everything and anything Eddie could devise. Still though...she ran a hand through her hair, glaring right back at the barely restrained blonde - she hated being beaten - and crossed her arms over her chest. The duck pad thai did look good though...and she knew Eddie was one of the best at what he did. “Fine. I’ll play nice. With Senior, anyway. Junior...Junior better pay big, Eddie. But Miranda’s getting suspicious. So whatever you’re going to do...better be worth it.”

“Of course she’s getting suspicious, who did you think made her that way about you?” Eddie had said nothing when Reggie went through the list of employees and volunteers at Foxglove Foundation. He hadn’t missed the brunette though. What she’d been doing, that was a bit of guesswork, but he was familiar enough with Celene to know what her preferred tactics would entail. “Fact is, you’re going to make her more suspicious… or rather, Lizzy is. Miranda’s already got a lot of trust issues where I’m concerned. Finding out we know each other… that we’re in contact. That’ll push her where we want her to go. Believing that she can keep it secret… just a little detail between her and her new baby sister… We need her thinking she’s got the upper hand. We need to give it to her. See, right now, Dan’s gaining her interest and she’s enlisting him to drive a wedge between me and Lizzy. Right about now, Saul’s figuring out that the accusation I sent him in there with…”

Right at that moment Saul’s voice cut across their earwigs. “Eddie, we’ve got a problem. You’re not going to believe this, but someone’s been taking more than miss moneybags five percent cut.” Eddie’s arms tightened around Tahlia, the tiniest of smug looks on his face. He’d already factored the brunette in as an asset, how she’d be used had certainly depended on how she’d answered tonight.

He leaned forward enough to whisper into Tahlia’s ear. “He sounds grumpy. Probably needs that new suit.”
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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
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PostPosted: Sat Oct 21, 2017 11:52 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Love the One You’re With

Well there's a rose in a fisted glove
And the eagle flies with the dove
And if you can't be with the one you love, honey
Love the one you're with
~ Stephen Stills

Dan had forgotten how much he missed this. Once it would have been him stuck at the hotel room while he sent someone else to be charming. Then again the kid wasn’t really stuck, was he? Strange that he still thought of Eddie as a kid, there wasn’t that much time between them. Fact was that Blake had come a long way, while all Dan had managed was to get rusty. It was for the best to get back to his roots on this venture. The nice part about the role was that he lived it. The ability to speak with authority on medical procedures, and ailments was a major bonus. That wasn’t the skill he was honing tonight though. An impish grin as he held a door and placed his hand just so on Miranda’s back. Paying rapt attention to her as she spoke, and even asking questions. The rest was just icing, there in the back of his mind and ready to slap on top of an already sweet cake to hide any baking imperfections. Bakers would make excellent grifters, in his opinion.

Miranda’s status managed to get her invited to the parties of the highest echelon, good thing he’d remembered to bring something for a black tie event. The key here was to make Miranda feel special. His title certainly aided that, Dan could almost hear thighs moisten when Miranda gave it.
Miranda kept herself close to Dr. Daniel Kilpatrick’s side, her smile both magnanimous and vaguely feline as she introduced him around to the rest of Westport’s 1%. The gown was a rich eggplant, and fit her like it was made for her, which it may well have been. She knew every woman at the party was jealous...it may have been part of the reason she had invited him. The rest, of course, being that she found herself drawn to the handsome doctor, and it seemed the feeling was mutual. She could feel the warmth of his palm against her spine, and she couldn’t resist preening just a little. They all knew about her sister, of course. And a good portion knew about Eddie...and now they’d seen him with Lizzy. Rumors and looks had swirled, and now they were swirling in her favor.

After a circuit around the room, she handed Dan a glass of champagne, and found them a relatively quiet corner. “I haven’t seen Lizzy in a few days. Have you? She cancelled a meeting the other afternoon...well, she didn’t. He did.” She didn’t need to clarify, they both knew who she meant. “Said she wasn’t feeling quite up to going out, and would I mind rescheduling...I’m...concerned.” Not to mention she needed the extra funds, with Saul breathing down her neck. The thought of their meeting made her shiver.

“Lizzy got some bad news from home, I’m not surprised it had her feeling under the weather.” Dan spoke with a certain amount of authority on the subject, it was quite likely that he knew exactly what kind of bad news that was, and who was at the center of it. He certainly wasn’t going to offer it up, Miranda would need to coax the gory details out of him. She might even be trying to ply him with alcohol just so she could get the lowdown. Dan took the glass from her, and pretended to drink. It was a bit too tempting to actually partake, an act that would have him falling back into old habits that were best forgotten.

“You’re quite popular tonight, I don’t think anyone can take their eyes off of you.” He leaned into her talking softly. There were plenty of glances in their direction, Dan wouldn’t be surprised if gossip was flowing as freely as the champagne. “If it helps, I know she’s committed to seeing this through. I don’t think even her beau would be able to talk her out of it.” He touched the side of his glass to hers lightly before taking another of those not quite sips.

“I’m sorry to hear that...I didn’t think she had any family left…” Lizzy had said she was the last, and all Miranda’s research had confirmed it. Perhaps a pet, or long-time servant. She was digging, just a little...but only as it pertained to her interests. It wasn’t that she didn’t like Lizzy...but she couldn’t help seeing her sister in the younger girl, only her sister without the years that had made her strong...easily influenced without parental guidance. “I hope it wasn’t anything too debilitating. The poor child is going through so much already.” And she needed Dan at her side, as much as it galled her. She needed Eddie out of the way, and the obvious animosity between the two could only help, couldn’t it? Miranda sighed, and took a deep swallow of champagne. She had never expected all this...she’d just wanted to win, for once.

The compliment drew her eyes up to his, with a soft smile. “Are you sure its me? You’re turning quite a few heads, Dr. Kilpatrick. I’m only popular because some of these women are terrified of being left off the guest list for the gala. Making nice so I’ll forget what they said about me behind my back.” She hadn’t meant to let that slip...Saul had her more shaken than she’d thought. “That does make me feel better. Of course, the Foundation is hardly hurting...but given the numbers she’s mentioned...well, I can’t help but think of all the good it would do. And as for him...I can’t see how he can, it's not like she’s left him in charge of her fortune if she…” A horrible sense of deja vu overwhelmed her. “She hasn’t...has she?”

“What… oh, no she doesn’t. There are other kinds of bad news, this one just happens to be named Antoine. That guy is very bad for her.” He smiled down at her, quite certain that it wasn’t him that was getting those looks. “She’ll be right as rain soon enough. It’s good that you’re taking an interest in her. She doesn’t have a lot of girl friends, but let’s face it how many her age could tear themselves away from their own lives to spend time with someone who isn’t able to do all the same things?” Dan set the glass aside, and guided Miranda away from their corner towards the back door and the cooler night air.

“How about a walk on the grounds?” It had to have grounds, or they wouldn’t have had the party here, right? That was how these things worked. A chance for the host to show off their wealth, perhaps make a few enemies all in the name of charity. “You’d have to ask Lizzy what her plans are. I know they only get closer as time goes on. There isn’t much she would deny him, unless like now her mind is dead set on a decision.”

“Antoine...her ex-boyfriend? Tabitha mentioned something about twits...or tweets? Some form of social media. She said he was… ‘totally stalk-hating Lizzy’...” The phrasing was utterly unfamiliar, that was obvious. Miranda had never seen the point of social media until recently, and hadn’t quite caught up. Following along, she couldn’t help glancing back to see how many sets of eyes followed them out onto the terrace that overlooked ornamental and rigidly manicured gardens. The hosts were known for their exquisite grounds...one of the reasons this particular charity ball was held here every year. The theme for the garden seemed to be animals, but Miri was hardly paying attention.

Slipping her arm through Dan’s, she rested her head on his shoulder as they slowly walked along the stones. “That’s what I was afraid of. She seems completely besotted by him. Whenever we’ve spoken, everything is ‘Eddie this’ and ‘Eddie says’ and I know there is a quick mind there. She is so smart, so young...and he’s got her completely dependant on him. As her doctor, isn’t there anything you can do? Have you seen any...marks?” She blushed at the asking, but if there were bruises, perhaps they could get Eddie on abuse charges.

“He is rather borderline personality.” Dan slid his hand lower on Miranda’s back, lingering dangerously close to being inappropriate for this kind of function. “Now, that’s kind of bordering on things I can’t discuss about my patient, but I’d be mandated to report anything.” He didn’t get more specific than that, let the woman’s mind wander where it needed to for a moment. Then it was time to send her in a different direction.

“Are you trying to make me jealous, all this talk about Eddie when you’re supposed to be out with me?” His fingers folded around Miranda’s side, gripping it a little possessively. “For now, he’s just going to have to be part of her life, but guys like that can’t last in her world. They just don’t have the breeding for it.” Still hanging on, maybe he was trying to reassure the woman with words and touch. “If you’re that worried though, maybe you should get her to confide in you.” They walked among the manicured hedges, neither of them paying particular attention to whatever forms were represented. “She seems quite taken with you too.”

“Do you think so?” Miranda paused, tilting her head back in the moonlight, a warm smile belaying the uncertainty in her voice. He’d told her what she needed to know. If he hadn’t already, it was only a matter of time before Eddie lost control and left visible reminders on Lizzy’s pale skin...she knew they would bruise, they always had on Melinda. And then Dan would have to report it, and certainly no-one could look at the two of them and not assume he was hurting her. It was enough...and she could feel the tug of fabric as his fingers knotted at her side. Surely she could leave business behind for a little while...she was alone in a moonlit garden with a handsome man.

Her fingers curled around the lapels of his tux jacket, smoothing along the fabric, and smiling up at him. It had been a very long time since she had considered more than a passing fling - and those had been rare enough. She knew there were those who whispered behind their tennis rackets and golf gloves that she’d brought it all on herself...picking up some young stud from a club and not expecting him to go for the prettier sister. That those same people were whispering now, some rehashing old wounds now that Eddie was back with someone even younger and prettier, the rest wondering where Miranda had found the doctor who seemed to always be at her side. A handful had discovered the connection, and they hissed like vipers with the news that the Foundation’s director was seeing the doctor of a prospective donor...and patient. “Does my talking about Eddie make you jealous, Dan? He isn’t nearly the man you are. No breeding. He’s just...smoldery, and intense. Good looks and muscles, but nothing behind it. You...you’re handsome, and smart. Accomplished. What could you possible be jealous of?”

“Hard not to be jealous of words like smoldery. He’s young too, not so young as Lizzy, so it works for them. I’d imagine that your sister may have felt more like his mom sometimes.” Dan did his best to distract Miranda from thinking of anything for too long. A derisive comment on Eddie, a word here and there about how impressionable Lizzy was, then moving to touch her slightly differently. He turned to face her, pulling her a little closer and running his fingers at the edge of her hair.

“We’re going to start more rumors.” If he was lucky that’s exactly what they were starting. Miranda was not dumb, left for too long to think on things she’d probably figure out what was really going on. That was exactly why he’d come along, and why in the very near future she’d get another visit from Saul. “You’ve been a bit distracted lately… something going on?”

Miranda blushed, her face turning toward the gentle sweep of his fingertips. “Just a little...accounting issue. Discrepancies in the deposits. I’m sure it’s simply an accounting error, but it’s still a concern.” It was the most she could say...anything more would let him in too far. She couldn’t possibly expect him to accept her … other investors. Or understand why she’d found herself it the position she was in.

“Do you care? If there are rumors? I was thinking it might be time to show you that you have nothing to be jealous of where Eddie is concerned. Let the children have their fun, for now...and perhaps find a more secluded venue for ourselves?” She didn’t want to think about business, or Eddie...and she certainly didn’t want to think about Saul. Not right at the moment, not right here.

“Not really, people are going to talk. Maybe we should get out of here, take the scenic route?” Dan moved, taking the lead and making Miranda follow. It was something he needed to get her used to doing now so that later it came naturally.

_________________

“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: Sat Oct 21, 2017 11:59 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Oh Death

No wealth no land no silver or gold
Nothing satisfies me but your soul
Ooh death
Whooooah death
~ Jen Titus


Harley sat on one of the couches in the suite’s living room - tonight was technically a night ‘off’ for her, since Dr. D had Miranda out at some society thing, and Eddie and Reggie were in some nondescript van outside of Miranda’s condo, while Celene was looking for evidence inside. Which left her, and Saul. Normally, that would have been just fine - but things hadn’t been quite the same since the powder puff incident. She’d ordered a new suit, to make up for the one she’d ruined...it wasn’t hard to figure out Saul’s tailor, and she was fairly certain he’d love the subtle iridescent paisley print she’d chosen - even going so far as to pick up shirts, ties and socks to compliment. It was an elaborate apology, but she needed Saul happy. They all did. Eddie’s assurances that his was the only name remembered aside, the lawyer knew enough to figure out what other name Harley answered to.

Popping the sucker from between her lips, she unfolded black leggings and ballet flats from beneath her and padded toward the bar, ponytail bobbing gently with each step. “Mr. S - you want a drink, or somethin?” Usually the only person she fetched for was Eddie, so she hoped he understood the gesture for what it was. She was wearing one of Eddie’s shirts again, the sleeves rolled halfway up her forearms so she could use her hands, and the neckline dipping low enough to be distracting to anyone but Saul. It was a small bit of reassurance. She wasn’t thrilled about the new brunette being involved...there was history there, and it was clear Celene wouldn’t mind revisiting it. How Eddie felt...she hadn’t asked. They had a job to do, and that was the focus.

“How’s your Tom Collins?” Saul had been quiet, verbally at least. There wasn’t anything to silence his suits, or at least not today. He was holding a bit of a grudge, though it was dwindling in the wake of the news about a replacement. Waiting was the hard part. That particular toil usually went to someone else. Someone tall and dark and maybe just a touch too pretty to be real. At least he wasn’t alone, not that Eddie would have been alone if he didn’t want to be. “So, what’s eating you, princess? You haven’t been your usual chatasticness.” The fetching wasn’t completely lost on him, not from her at least. Reggie would have tripped over himself to keep Harley from having to move from her throne if he were here. “I know I got a bit angry, that doesn’t mean we can’t talk though, right?” It would certainly make the time pass more swiftly.

“It’s not the new girl is it? I wouldn’t worry about her, she’s kind of...rigid… and don’t tell me you didn’t notice it either.” He was probably way off, or maybe not. There was something bothering her though. “I want my piece of the pie… Eddie….” Saul did a reasonable impersonation of his own thoughts about Celene, even using the prim yet sultry tones. “She doesn’t need pie, she needs a good cake fork, if you know what I mean.” He wasn’t jealous.

“Gin, lemon, sugar, seltzer...I’ve worked a bar a time or two, when I needed to…” She was already mixing, her movements smooth and precise. The question was a fair one, and she took a moment to consider what to tell him. He knew Antoine was a fiction, but the premise held. “News from the city. Something I was hoping would be there waiting for me...won’t be. And I don’t blame you for getting angry with me. I didn’t mean to hit you with it.” She hadn’t, she just hadn’t much cared whether she did or not. In that moment...she hadn’t much cared about anything except hiding her weakness.

“Who? The twig?” It wasn’t the issue, not really, but it would serve. The bigger concern was why it bothered her at all. The comment about the cake fork made her laugh, a cranberry and soda in one hand for her, and a perfectly mixed Tom Collins in the other for him as she headed back to the couch. “I was going to say a melted ice cream smoothie. But a cake fork couldn’t hurt. Still, seems she was flexible enough to catch him once...I don’t like competition, Mr. S. Especially not when I don’t know where she fits. I know there’s things about him I don’t know...Dr. D already warned me he’ll probably take off on me sooner rather than later.”

“Doc needs to mind his own business. He doesn’t really know Eddie all that well anymore. In his defense, Eddie’s been moving around a lot over the last several years. It’s not his fault, and he always comes back it’s almost like he never left.” This job was a testament to that for Saul. “Just don’t look for him to start settling down anytime soon. I think he’s just started to hit his stride. There’s no telling how long he’ll be able to keep it going.” Saul sipped at the Tom Collins, contemplating how long he’d known the man and the lengths he would go to. “Thing about him is, the ties that are supposed to mean most have let him down.”

Saul’s demeanor changed, his well manicured thumb nail found its way between his teeth, a thing completely out of character for him. “So, yeah… he’ll go like the leaves in autumn, leave you bare and cold, only to show up hot again in the spring. Probably he’ll forget anything that was done to him in that time. Wish I could do that sometimes. If he cares at all for you, or anyone you’ll never really be rid of Eddie Blake.” Saul seemed to realize what he was doing, because he hand dropped swiftly enough. He tried to cover, reaching out and patting Tahlia’s shoulder. “Whatever’s going on at home will work out, I’m sure of it.” Maybe she wouldn’t notice his change of subject.

“I’m not really much for settling down...don’t think it’s how I’m wired.” And the less said about that, the better, certainly to Saul. “And he’s good. Really good. At a lot of things.” She tried to insert a note of levity, put Saul at ease. The random bits of information weren’t lost on her. Curling back into the couch, she leaned against the cushions, and tucked her feet beneath her once again. “Bare and cold...yeah...yeah, I can see that. Guess it’s a good thing I’m so good at finding people willing to give me food and shelter - for a price, of course.” She left it at that, with perhaps a hint of rueful pride. It was, after all, all she’d ever known - all she’d ever done and been. “Eddie and me...we’re what we are, Mr. S. We both know that.”

“So why does he have to keep moving? It’s more than wanderlust...Dr. D hinted at something. Something about Carmine Logan.” She dropped the name almost carelessly, Lizzy’s aqua eyes watching him steadily from beneath sunny blonde bangs. “A deal gone wrong.” She left the rest open. The comment about family...that she’d come back to. Eddie had hinted that he had one, but that they didn’t talk much. Or at all. So close with her own, she couldn’t imagine it...except she was having to. She hadn’t spoken to her siblings since she’d arrived.

“I’m not real thrilled about being in the dark, Mr. S...not about something coming after my...partner.” That’s what they were, right? She and Eddie. Partners. For now, at least. It was safe.

“Sure, rub it in.” It was meant to make them both laugh, and it worked for him at least. Saul had no real problem with Harley, or how she got along in life. They all did things to survive, or in their case perhaps to live well was putting it better. He was going to say more, but then she started asking questions. Worse than that she’d limited his options on lies he could tell. He found his next drink was a bit longer than anything he’d taken up to that point. “Doc says a lot things he shouldn’t. I told him Eddie wasn’t nervous about it, he oughtn’t be either.” He looked over at the blonde trying to be nonchalant and failing. “You’re not going to give up though, right?”

He didn’t have to let her answer, it was pretty obvious. “Deal gone wrong, that’s not exactly right. Carmine Logan is an exceptionally vicious individual that people give excessive donations to for a little bit of that latent talent.” Hopefully she could read between those lines, he wasn’t being that subtle. “We had a plan, it seemed like a good one at the time. Get someone mad enough to insult us, and create a fake contract on their life. It wasn’t as easy as it sounds. Folks around that city all believe they’re invincible, so it took a little tweaking to get the scam to work properly. What we needed was the right reputation, none of us had it and the amount of time it would have taken to manufacture it would have made the payout not worth it.” His drink disappeared quickly, leaving Saul trying to sip at something that wasn’t there anymore.

“Carmine was out of town, we knew he was out of town and that he’d be gone a while. He’s got a few years on Eddie, but there was enough resemblance between them to pull it off. Especially after we aged him up a bit. So Eddie’s taking all the risks, pushing the marks to the point where they bribe him to look the other way. That was another advantage to Carmine’s rep. Top crown name, meant top crown bribe. It was working like a charm, until…” Saul couldn’t take it anymore, he rose and went to get himself another drink, taking his time with the making of it.

“Someone talked. Carmine came back early and he was looking for all of us…” Pausing mid-stir, and sentence, Saul went a little stiff. “That was before I got involved with Big Tony. I thought I could fix it, I tried to.”

“I couldn’t...not even if I wanted to.” Harley’s lips curved in a soft smile, staring into the non-alcoholic spritzer she’d yet to take a sip of. She wanted a drink, but she couldn’t risk it...not even with Saul. After all, Harley was just an alias, a few affectations the real woman wouldn’t hesitate to adopt with the right incentive. Not like Lizzy. Lizzy was a completely different personality - as different from Tahlia and Harley as night and day. She finally took a sip as Saul spoke, ignoring the fact that her bubbles were starting to go flat. Dan had told her some of it, the general plan...but confirmation was key. Getting the same story from two different sources, especially since Dan and Saul were as likely to collaborate as ...well, oil and water.

“So Eddie killed Dan before Carmine could get to him. You went to Big Tony. And Eddie?” The street-wise snark chilled and hardened...the little affectations fading. For a moment, her eyes were the warning green of tornado skies, before settling to the roil of storm-tossed seas. Eddie might mean more to her than she let on. And by might...lets just say there was only one person in Rhydin safer than he was, assuming a certain blond fighter hadn’t run off-world. “Eddie took the biggest risks...made himself the biggest target...and you did what...other than save your own skins.”

“It’s not like that, not exactly. I went to Tony, told him everything. I told him I’d work for him on things… like what’s going on with Foxglove if he’d call Logan off of us. I was there when he made the call. He had it on speaker, I still remember the sound of the man’s voice. He said it was too late for Doc, at the time I thought it meant he’d gotten to him, ya know? He agreed, out of respect for Tony, not to come after me… but then he says… Someone’s gotta pay, Tony. What do you need with another street kid anyway. That one’s mine.” Saul’s thumbnail was in his mouth again as he paused.

“I warned Eddie, but Logan nearly got him anyway. Left him for dead, it was the kid who found him. Carmine must have found out, because now if Eddie stays in one place too long he’s not far behind. I tried to warn him, remember? Logan’s prints turned up at a crime scene. Normally that would be enough to put Eddie on a plane to anywhere. I mean, we’re here now, so maybe that’s why he’s not too concerned…” Another pause to drink. Saul was feeling the effects in the tingling of his skin. “It’s my fault. I should have been able to make a better case for him.”

“He’s not just another street kid!” Drink forgotten, she rose sharply, garnet liquid spilling across the table. Her cheeks flushed, and she turned on a heel, storming toward the bathroom for towels. Different cause, but it seemed her emotions were rising closer to the surface these days. Gripping the marble edge of the vanity, she stared herself down in the mirror until she’d calmed. The whole thing was over - she knew that. And now she could guess who it was that had left those scars...and whose guns Eddie had used the night they’d picked up Reggie. Still loose ends...but the only one who could answer those was the man himself. Snatching towels from the rack, she stormed back, immediately kneeling to try and soak up the liquid. It wasn’t that she didn’t think housekeeping could handle it, but it gave her something to focus on other than Saul’s story...and how upset she’d gotten at the slight.

“Yeah, yeah you should have. Thought you were the best, Mr. S.” She stayed focused on the task at hand, a bit embarrassed for the outburst. Again. Balling the sodden towel, she glared at the clock to avoid glaring at Saul. “How long can it possibly take to break in and look over some books? They’ve been gone for hours. At least he’s got Reggie with him…” Because even if he were so inclined, she doubted Eddie would do anything...untoward...with Reggie right there. And if he did, or she did, the stick-thin sneak, Reggie would make a nuisance of himself. He was good at that. And Harley knew he might adore her even more than he worshipped Eddie. But that brunette...was going to need to be dealt with.

Saul wanted to say more, he even opened his mouth to do just that. Unfortunately, or maybe fortunately was a better word, the elevator opened and whatever thoughts had been about to spill out were driven from his head. Eddie stepped into view looking yummy enough to make a lot of people forget their thoughts. He hit them with a cockeyed smile before throwing a wink out. “Hey you two. Why so serious?”

He wasn’t alone, though it was just the kid with him. There was no telling where the brunette had gotten to. If they were smart they sent her home. “We need to talk, but Doc’s out of contact for a bit. Saul looks like he’s had too much too quickly. Take a few hours, sober up. I’m sure that Lizzy and I will find a way to entertain ourselves.”

“Puddin!” The towel dropped to the table with a squelch, and Harley was scrambling up to her feet before the elevator doors closed. The suite was the best the city could offer, but it still wasn’t that many steps before she was launching herself upwards. Arms over his shoulders, legs around his hips, she didn’t give him more than a chance to draw a breath before locking her lips to his and delivering one hell of a welcome back kiss. It might seem a bit excessive, given they’d only been gone a few hours, and she really didn’t spare a thought for poor Reggie. Hopefully the kid had enough sense to back up and not get caught by a flailing blonde.

Saul knew when it was time to leave, the not so subtle visual of a flying blonde was more than enough of a cue. He stood and grabbed the back of Reggie’s shirt pulling him towards the elevator if only to stop him from staring at what was going on in front of him. “Relax, kid… let’s go downstairs and you can catch me up on your night.”

Reggie seemed to have snapped out of it before the door closed if the sounding of his voice were any indication. “You ever seen someone bend themselves practically…” The closing of the elevator door put an abrupt end to whatever question the kid was going to ask.
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Tahlia Faras
Young Wyrm
Young Wyrm


Joined: 01 Mar 2017
Posts: 72
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Can Be Found: Here and there, depends on her mood
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PostPosted: Sun Oct 22, 2017 12:01 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Uninvited

Like anyone would be
I am flattered by your fascination with me
Like any hot-blooded woman
I have simply wanted an object to crave
~ Alanis Morissette

There was a problem with the van. Oh, it ran well enough and there wasn’t a single blemish in the dark well waxed paint job. It didn’t ride like a luxury sedan, something that Eddie knew long before picking up Celene, but it was comfortable nonetheless. It wasn’t an issue with space either, there was plenty back there for her to change into something a little more stealthy.

“Don’t do that, kid.” Eddie reached across and flipped the sun visor in front of Reggie back up pressing the mirrored side to the roof, a move that brought a muffled groan out of the boy.

No, the problem with the van wasn’t function. It was how utterly out of place it looked the further they got from the city of Westport. There was no help for it though, anything smaller wouldn’t have the space for equipment, or it would be too exposed because of windows. They’d have to make do with getting close. The rest would be up to Celene.

Eddie pulled off the road at the base of a steep cliff. By the roads they were still more than a mile from the mansion in the hills of Westport. By the catburglar it was just a short climb up a dangerous wall. He twisted in the driver’s seat just in time to catch a bit of bare skin as her shirt was pulled downwards, that and something else.

“That’s new.” It had been a momentary glimpse of a tattoo, some kind of stylized feline though he didn’t get the chance to really study it.

“What is? Oh. That. Yeah.” Celene smoothed the black under armor top into leggings, and strapped on what looked like a smoother, smaller version of the bat belt. “Guess I didn’t have that the last time you saw me.” She certainly wasn’t going to give him more than that. It had been a gift to herself - something to mark a particularly large score. Her hair was already up, into a smooth, sleek ponytail to keep it out of her face. “And you might want to watch cupcake there - looks like his eyes are going to roll out of his head.”

Black and skintight, that was the look, her brown eyes already focused on the job ahead. Fingers moved mechanically, checking her gear by feel...she had to be able to do this in the dark. She rolled her ankles, her wrists, shoulders, neck… “Up the wall, cross the yard...you’ve got a minute to kill the alarms, and the lights. In through the patio, cross the living room, into the bedroom, walk in, access panel behind the shoes. Right? Anything else I need to know?”

Efficient, calm, cool...she was already halfway up the wall in her head. She wasn’t entirely certain what she was looking for - but she knew Miranda Foxglove...if she was hiding something, it would be in her house, under her control. Shrugging, Celene looked over her shoulder toward Eddie and the cream puff...there had to be something in there to make this little trip worth her while.

“Reggie will be fine, once he gets his head on straight.” Even if that took a cuff to the back of his head to do it. “Just, stretch out somewhere out of view.” Eddie’s mouth curved into one of those sideways grins, something caught only as he turned away from Celene.

“Unless she’s changed anything, but it’s not like breaking into a museum. We’ll bypass the alarms.” He took a deep breath, brows descending to put a wrinkle between them. “Security patrols, but it’s vehicular. Still I’d keep it dark. There’s a lot of windows and Jeff.” The nearest neighbor wasn’t really that close, but if he still lived there, Jeffrey Bingham had always liked watching… with that three hundred millimeter lense of his. There had been more than one payout for images that weren’t meant for public viewing. Not that Eddie minded publicity, except that it would put a real damper on his chosen profession. That wasn’t exactly the kind of expose that Jeff had in mind though.

“Just saying, watch your ass.”

“Jeff. Right.” Eddie had already warned her about the peeping Jeff. Smirking, she turned toward the front of the van, placed a hand on either side of Eddie’s face and gave him a smacking kiss that echoed in the small space. “Kiss for luck, right?” Trying to keep the laughter as quiet as possible, she slipped out with a controlled shove of the van door, and disappeared into the vague, distant sounds of upper crust living. The heels were remarkably quiet, and she kept an eye out for the approach of headlights, or the crunch of tires. This was what she did best, even if she wasn’t used to doing it all with a voice in her ear. No-one directed her capers but her, at least not until now, and she couldn’t say she was a huge fan.

Still, there was a job to be done. Celene took a moment to consider the wall - tracking her path, and humming softly under her breath. It was a little random collection of notes, just something to focus her attention. And then, without warning, she started up, gloved fingers and toes finding every crack, every seam, so that she literally seemed to flow up the wall the way a cat would. Rolling up and over she landed, and stripped off the overgloves, so as not to leave traces of gravel behind. Those went into a pocket - what was the point of being careful if you weren’t all the way careful.

“You’ve never needed luck. This’ll be like that time in Tuskeegee. A walk in the park.” The kiss hadn’t been expected, now he had Reggie staring at him again. A jerk of the head sent the kid to the back of the van. “Walk in the park for you too, right?”

Reggie talked while he worked, which would have been fine if Eddie had any clue what he was talking about. He picked up every fifth word or so as one he understood. Words like Hack, and Security mainframe were easy, but he had no idea what Reggie needed a packet for or where the hell he kept them in the van. He didn’t see a cooler anywhere, and the glove compartment… well he wasn’t going in there. There were some things a guy didn’t need to know, right? He let the kid drone on… well drone wasn’t the right word, Reggie seemed rather excited about the things he was doing. “You remember Tuskeegee, you me a late night jaunt and a Calcion 5750 integrated vault. It’ll be just like that.” She’d had some difficulty finessing that system, which had a lot to do with why he’d suggested it to Mel in the first place. Only the best, because he knew people and figured that the extra precaution might be warranted. Then again, Celene would never try to rob his house, right? Except… he smirked. “Maybe I should have said something sooner?” Did he hear something mumbled under her breath? “I’m sorry… I missed that.”

“No, you didn’t, you fink.” Luckily there were enough shadows that she didn’t have to bellycrawl her way across the grass. No, she could just shift from bush to tree, and then into shadows so deep that the only way she could see was to slip on her goggles, and try to bite back the smirk that tugged at her lips. “A Calcion, huh? Just had to bring that up…” A heel scraped across the patio stones, and she paused. Listened. Her internal clock was ticking, and just on time she heard the irregular tick of the security guards truck. A few steps, and she was at the patio door, and easing a tiny set of picks from a pouch at her hip.
“Y’know...if you’re thinking of Tuskeegee...I’m pretty sure the blonde isn’t going to like how this ends.” The door slid open silently, and she slipped inside, holding her breath just in case Poptart missed an alarm. So far, so good. “Your boy genius is pretty good. So far. I’m in.” Smooth, silent steps brought her across the dark living room. “Any idea what I’m looking for once I’m in, or am I just...feeling around.” That would have been like Tuskeegee too, although in an entirely different sense.

The banter was incidental, something to let her eyes and ears do what they needed to do. Let her brain focus on shifts of light and wafts of air. She took in furniture, art… “Doesn’t look like she changed a thing. This isn’t her color scheme. Too much color...are those..ocean scenes? No way…So...how well do you know this house, anyway?”

Eddie shook his head a little. “Harley’s a good one, you should get to know her, I’m sure you’d like her.” Tuskeegee aside, there had been plenty of bends and twists to think about, there had also been a laser grid and guards to deal with. He let her have the grid, and took the easy job of occupying the night shift.

“I’ve got a pretty intimate knowledge of the house. You’ll know it when you find it. You already know what we’re looking for. A ledger that gives the real accounting. It’ll have the account numbers we need. Just use the phone that Reggie gave you to scan, the data will record here.” There was a smacking sound, and a not so subdued Ow! in the background. He pulled the earwig out and started to admonish Reggie for the currently scanned images on the computer. “You really need to stop being that guy, kid.”

The earpiece went back in and he started talking again like he’d never stopped. “Not sure if she changed the combination… I would have, and she’s not really an idiot. Even if she hadn’t before, I’d bet she did after seeing I was in town.”

“So, not quite a walk in the park. Great. You know I hate that damn safe…” She left the subject of Harley alone. She doubted they’d ever get along. She wasn’t big on partners to begin with. Away from the windows, she strained, sauntered...not rushing, rushing made for mistakes. Living room turned to bedroom, and it was easy to tell that Miranda was moving in, taking over Melinda’s space. Taking over her life. “Looks like she replaced the bed...but not much else. You can still see where the feet of the old one left impressions. Can’t imagine why…”

Once inside the closet, she slid the goggles back onto her head, and turned on the light. She was buried deep inside the house, no windows, and no walls to reflect the light toward a window. Near the back wall, there was a jacket hanging from the wall, looking like it hadn’t seen the light of day for a while. Black, crushed velvet - Celene slipped it on. The pockets were good. “...Nice...fits like a glove.” And it hung over the shoes! How fortunate. Lifting two pairs of Manolo Blahniks to the floor, she saw the access panel and let out a curse. “I knew it! You bastard. Ugh. Think...think Tabby think…” Tabitha knew Miranda. Knew what was important to her. “It’s all about … her.” 7 letters. How damn easy was that. “I’m in…Pop Tart, you let me know if you see so much as a blip. I don’t care how small. These things are hair-trigger and I am not going to jail for you.”

“Scouts honor, no jail time.” It was beginning to feel like old times, and when had he ever let guards take her? He looked over at Reggie questioningly.

“Nothing going over the radio, and no calls. It’s possible that the neighbors may be at the same function, right?” Reggie asked him, but he really had no idea. Mel and he weren’t exactly hermits, but the socialites didn’t really approve of him, or at least husbands didn’t. “Why does she call me poptart?”

The last question made Eddie laugh aloud. “Maybe because she thinks you have a sweet filling. Ask her.”

“All right, describe what you see to me. We should have put a button camera on you.” Would have but that high cliff would block the signal. Kind of useless, maybe when the budget got bigger they’d get some better equipment.

“What exactly are you doing, Celene?” He refused to call her Tabitha, not when she was on a job at least.

“Me? Not a thing.” The words were barely audible through the bubbling laughter she was trying to keep to herself. That was the problem with earbuds, they made it so hard to hide anything. “Well, I’m doing what you told me to do. Getting into the safe. Getting the books. Right?” Butter wouldn’t melt, the way her voice smoothly danced from laughter to feigned innocence. Eddie didn’t need to know she planned to scoop a few things for herself. It wasn’t any of his business.

There was a barely audible click, and the middle of the wall slid open, the seams invisible until that moment. Behind the plaster was...well, it was just beautiful. Celene let out a low whistle, grinning at the rainbow sparkles from jewels, the subtle glow of precious metal...and a single, leather bound ledger. Barely half the size of a normal book, it looked incongruous against the rich black velvet displays that held what was very likely Melinda’s jewelry. “Got it. And your dead girlfriend had gorgeous taste…”

One hand reached for the ledger, the other slid the skintight shirt and came out with the phone Reggie had provided. Flipping pages, she scanned with one hand, the other selecting pieces near the back - blues and greens which were too rich and bright for Miranda’s coloring, and obviously not word for a while by the way they were piled and shoved into corners. She didn’t need to know what the book said...that wasn’t part of her game. But if it would help take down the scum who’d knocked up her mother...it was worth it. “Just tell me when.”

Eddie left the telling for Reggie, he was the one with his eyes on the computer screen. There were silent spaces from him before telling Celene to turn the page. Eddie had something more on his mind, it wasn’t what she’d said so much as what he remembered. “Most of those were bought before I knew her. Mel did little things to make herself feel better, less like an invalid.” She’d refrained from buying what she called pretties not long after he’d moved in. He’d inquired why, of course. She had simply said, she’d found all that she really needed.

“Tell me something, Celene. That thing in Monacella, why exactly did you leave me?” Things had gone south quickly there, and yes he’d been up against it when the museum had been surrounded. It was all he could do to get to the roof, and when he did the emergency egress they’d put in place was already gone. “I’ve wondered, was it simply not wanting to say goodbye, or were you hoping that rotting in a foreign prison would free you of me?” He’d considered looking for the woman to find out, might have if things had gone worse. As it was, he figured they both needed a break and maybe she was feeling a little too close for comfort. They were good when neither of them was comfortable. Good enough to make Reggie blush anyway.

There was a sharp intake of breath, and he could likely guess the expression on her face. Eyes narrowed, lips firmly pressed together, there was long pause before Celene spoke. “Well puddin, you were just too slow. And I thought maybe a little bout of malaria might take you down a few.” She’d used that word on purpose. He wanted to throw her off? Two could play that game. The truth was they didn’t do attachments. Didn’t do teams. She didn’t. And Eddie...Eddie was just a bit too much trouble. “You want the truth? I heard someone was looking for you. Someone I don’t want to meet one day cause he heard I might know where you are.”

Reggie’s voice was quiet, but clear. “You’re good. We got it.” Taking a deep breath, Celene slipped the coat sleeves over her hands - even with gloves, there was a chance of prints, and put the book back, then slid the wall back into place. Methodically, she replaced everything she’d undone, and retraced her steps back to the living room. She had a minute before the next patrol. “Besides, you did ok. Both sisters, and now a vapid little psycho to call your own…” Because taunting made it seem like she didn’t care, right?

“Name calling doesn’t become you.” He wasn’t going to fall into any traps with Celene. That was what he told himself, when somewhere that he wasn’t going to recognize with attention knew that Tahlia, or Harley… Lizzy… wasn’t vapid or psycho, nor his. They were good together, and they were good apart too. Baggage was something that both of them were carrying, even if the kind of carry on luggage were different.

“Mostly, I stuck with what I knew. Even you should understand that.” In the case of Mel and Miri, what he knew was simple. Dangerous and inappropriate men were an addiction, and he liked being heroin. “I got out, but you were gone. Completely gone. It almost felt like you’d packed in advance.” He didn’t fault her by any means, but it was disturbing to arrive back at the hotel room and find every trace of Celene had vanished, all but the scent of her on the pillow.

“Take a few moments to breathe. There’s a car coming your way.” The dark sedan was passing the van now, and would be closing with the house soon enough. Eddie had dropped low in the driver’s seat until it passed. “Mommy’s home. Get out while you can.”

“She always had wretched timing.” Clutching the coat tight, she repeated the sleeve mittens to get out through the porch, and snuck back in her own footsteps across the expanse of patio, and lawn. She shouldn’t be talking right now, but crouched at the edge of the wall, she could hear the gentle thrum of a luxury engine, seamlessly shifting around the curves below. She couldn’t risk them looking up. Tucking herself against the stone, she marked time in her head.

“I did. Got word that morning...all I had to do after the extraction was go back, grab my gear, and get on a plane. By the time you got out, I was in Stars End, at a bar, and making a very nice profit. Picked up another job, and I was on my way. Far, far away…” There was a sudden breath, and she was up and over the wall, her feet finding the cracks as if connected by magnets. This required all her focus. One wrong move, and she’d be a broken pile on the ground.

It didn’t matter that she’d debated, hemmed, hedged, paced and stared out into space...or that she knew exactly when he’d gotten back into town, and made certain she was anywhere but there. She wouldn’t blame him, didn’t blame him, for being angry. She’d left him behind to save her own skin - everyone who made a life in the shadows knew what it meant if Carmine Logan wanted someone. And she didn’t want to be there. Didn’t want to be part of it. Slowly sauntering up to the van, she couldn’t resist one last jab. “Besides, you started it…”

“What?” He put on an innocent grin. He was good at innocent grins. “Nice work in there, like I said, a walk in the park.” Still he looked at her as though she were hiding something, or maybe he saw something that he wasn’t too sure about. “Feel like you might be hiding something.” Feel like was not exactly right, he was sure that she’d come away from this with more than just a few scans of a leger.

Eddie shifted in his seat once more, checking out the woman’s attire. “I’m pretty sure you’re overdressed now. Did you find everything you were looking for.” He didn’t fault her, she was who she was. “You may not want to wear that around Miranda though.”

“Me? What could I possibly be hiding?” She batted her lashes as she ducked back into the van. Sliding the crushed velvet down her arms, she caught it and folded the fabric in one smooth movement. There was the slightest hint of a sparkle against the black, and a soft tap as she bent to stash her haul, and something small and red bounced across the carpeted interior. The circular container burst open, spilling small off-white pills across the floor.

Celene didn’t notice, or if she did, she paid no attention - one hand smoothing over her new acquisition. “This? No...I’m not stupid. I won’t wear the jewelry around her either...give a girl some credit, would you Eddie? And no...not nearly...but I did ok. Besides, they wouldn’t go with her coloring.” They wouldn’t go with Celene’s either, but that wasn’t what she wanted them for. Jewels were easy enough to sell, and she had a feeling she was going to need a nice little nest egg to get out of town.

A streak of red, a splash of white, they should have been nothing but Eddie was on the move. Not far by any means. He slid from the seat, hitting his knees and wrapped a large hand around Celene’s ankle. “Don’t move…” He may have grabbed hold harder than intended, his free hand going to the pillbox and drawing it close. Friday had popped open, Friday had always had that problem no matter how tightly he pressed it closed. One good jolt and it opened like a jack in the box.. With less music and cranking. One by one he fished the pills up, it shouldn’t matter now, Mel was gone but somehow it did matter.

Eddie remembered them all, in his head he rattled off their names as he placed them back in the box. Sure, they were a mirror for the ones that he’d given to Lizzy but he’d remembered them even before that. “We had a good thing…” He may have sounded like he was talking to Celene, or Reggie but they might as well not be there he’d have talked anyway.

“That’s not right.” His hold on her released, palm going up to drop the last of the pills into his palm. “This one, it should be circular, not oval...not so big either. Just a tiny little thing.” He scowled at the pill in his hand before dropping it into the reservoir with the others. One long forefinger pressed the top closed before Eddie took a seat. He didn’t make a move towards the driver’s seat, all of his attention focused on the box of pills. He popped open the days going backwards from Friday and not stopping until he opened an empty Tuesday. It was a pause only though the popping open of an empty Monday and then Sunday seemed to take forever. The van had to move, but Eddie wasn’t staking any claims to the steering wheel. “Something… off.”

“Hey! Ow!” Celene started to spin back, but his grip had her flinging her arms out to steady herself against the metal wall. “It’s just a bunch of old pills - what the hell? Who cares what…” Her voice faded, realizing Eddie saw something she didn’t. Catching Reggie’s eye, she gestured her chin toward the driver seat. Whatever was going on with Eddie...they needed to be out of there, and soon. “Poptart...you and your sweet filling get your butt up there and hit the gas. No spinning tires, no high speed chases. Just a nice, law-abiding drive home, ok?”

Once Reggie had scurried carefully forward, Celene took his seat. She might have bruises tomorrow...Eddie had a tendency to forget his own strength. “Ok, what’s up...you look like you’ve seen a ghost. Or something. I don’t remember you spooking like this before.” She could guess who the pills belonged to...and who he was talking to...but it wasn’t exactly in her wheelhouse, being supportive. Patting him on the back, or something. “Are they important?”

Are they important? That remained to be seen. Eddie’s mouth pulled together into a moue of deep thought. He scraped the last pill into the red pillbox, not in with its siblings. This one went into one of the empty pockets which he pressed firmly closed. The entire thing went into his pocket where his hand remained protectively. He could see the lights passing the van, feel it moving yet even with this evidence it still felt as though he were standing still lost with his thoughts and the space between question and answer drawing longer bordering on rudeness.

“I honestly hope not.”

_________________

“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
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PostPosted: Tue Oct 31, 2017 8:29 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Look What You Made Me Do

The world moves on, another day, another drama, drama
But not for me, not for me, all I think about is karma
And then the world moves on, but one thing's for sure
Maybe I got mine, but you'll all get yours
~ Taylor Swift

Late summer in Westport was the perfect time for long lunches at sidewalk cafes - especially for the 1%. Lizzy had been happy to let Miranda choose the restaurant - similar to the cafe she’d brought Dan to, but not quite the same. Blonde and brunette seemed perfectly cheerful, Miranda doing most of the talking, filling Lizzy in on the people and places Westport had to offer - pointing out faces she would see at one or two parties leading up to the Foundation Gala, and at the Gala itself. Through salads and seared salmon, the conversation remained light, two members of the elite speaking a shared language. Judging her sufficiently relaxed, Miri gestured over the server, and smiled at her guest. “Can I interest you in dessert and coffee? They do an exquisite creme brulee.”

Lizzy lightly patted her lips, and hesitated. “I really shouldn’t...Eddie has me on a very careful diet. Too much caffeine or sugar…” Blushing, she gave her companion a shy shrug. “Stimulants. He’s concerned about my having another attack. And I haven’t...well, not as many. Not like before.”

“Surely he wouldn’t begrudge you a tiny treat...I’m sure they have decaf. And there’s a fruit tart that’s nearly as good as the brulee.” Miri dropped her voice to a whisper, reaching over to lay a hand on her arm, and give a quick squeeze. “And besides, he doesn’t have to know everything, does he?”

This was exactly what they’d hoped for, and Lizzy nodded with a trilling laugh. “No, I guess not. Not that I would ever keep anything from him. Not anything serious. Scruffy’s been so very good for me.” Beaming up at the waiter, she ordered a decaf coffee, and the fruit tart Miri recommended. Turning back, she caught Miranda’s quirked brow, and went a little pink in the cheeks. “It’s...my little nickname for Eddie, because even when I know he’s shaved...that five o’clock shadow of his never really goes away. So I started calling him Scruffy.”

“Scruffy? Oh...I think I will have to remember that.” Miri’s smile was positively radiant - it was a sure bet that Eddie would be hearing that endearment from an unfamiliar source when she got the chance. After all, he’d started it - calling her Trinket the way he had. He knew she hated that nickname, given by her father when she was a child. “I’m glad to hear he’s been so...supportive. Melinda always said he had a gift for distraction.” It all sounded complimentary, although it was just vague enough to leave the question hanging. “You two seem...well, it’s clear he’d do just anything for you.”

“Oh, yes...he makes sure I take my pills, and don’t exert myself...well, not too much. He’s always so concerned and very protective…” Lizzy let the sentence fade as the waiter returned with coffee and sweets. She gave him a sweet little smile, waiting until the young man had stepped away before continuing. “I think losing Mel has stuck with him. Even when I’m feeling ok...he’s so worried about losing me. He keeps reminding me that she was doing better before...well...you know.”

“Indeed I do.” Miranda took a sip of her coffee, and tried not to look triumphant. She couldn’t imagine Lizzy knew the truth to leave things so open. “And she was doing better - we all saw it. In fact, she was doing so much better...she might have started considering some very...risky options.” Leaning in close, the slim brunette glanced around, noting with some interest the hastily covered attempts at eavesdropping. Trying to hide her smile, she turned earnest chocolate eyes to the young girl before her. “She told me in confidence that she was trying to convince the doctor to give her fertility treatments...that she wanted to make sure Eddie always had a piece of her to remember, after she was gone. Of course, you know how dangerous that was...with Long QT. The strain of pregnancy…” Miri shook her head, and tapped the crust of her dessert, shattering the sugar perfectly.

Lizzy had taken a bite of her fruit tart, but the burst of summer turned to ashes in her mouth. Swallowing carefully, she tried to keep the quaver from her voice. “Eddie told me he never wanted kids...that he just wanted to focus on keeping me as long as possible. And it’s just such a risk...even if I could go a year without an attack.” She’d wanted children, always had...and Eddie had refused to even discuss it beyond firmly telling her no.

“Oh, I don’t think Melinda would have gone through with it without his approval. Mel was always so headstrong...always convinced she knew best, regardless of what anyone else said they wanted, but even she had her limits. They certainly seemed to … practice...often enough.” Miranda could see the news was just that. She hadn’t thought Eddie had known...but it served her purposes so well to imply otherwise. Sitting back, Miri hid her smile behind another sip of coffee - Lizzy looked utterly heartbroken, and she was fairly certain her tall, dark and handsome nemesis was in for a surprise.

“I can’t imagine losing Melinda was anything but earth-shattering for him. If I hadn’t seen you two together...well, they were so close, I would be shocked that he could find someone so soon after. Especially since they were...well, I guess the delicate way to put it would be that they were together when she died. In the most intimate sense.” She hadn’t any idea whether that part was true...but they had been in bed. Although at that point, she would have been surprised to hear Mel was in any condition. “They were such a beautiful couple...so perfectly balanced. I never saw my sister as happy as she was with Eddie.” Setting the cup down, Miranda graced Lizzy with an apologetic smile. “I’m sure he loves you just as much, I didn’t mean to imply anything...it's just that seeing you two always reminds me of the two of them. You understand, of course - you said yourself he seems so focused on not losing you the way he did her…”

Lizzy went deathly pale - it was an excellently aimed strike. “No, o-of course not. We’re very...happy. But I can...I can see where I might…” Lizzy set her fork down, and closed her eyes, feeling the steady beat of her pulse start to hammer. “...might seem like a constant reminder. Will you excuse me, please, Miranda? I think they must have given me regular coffee instead of decaf...and I’m not feeling at all well.” Rising, she tried her best to control the shaking, and held up a hand as her dining companion moved to do the same. “Please, I’ll just catch a taxi straight back. Eddie’s running a few errands, and there’s no need to rush your dessert.” Stumbling only a little, she managed to remember the nitro pills in her purse, and got them out as the maitre d signaled over a car from a nearby queue, and helped her inside.

As the car pulled away, Miranda finally allowed herself a satisfied smile. If that didn’t crack the foundations of Eddie’s sandcastle, she had no idea what would.

_________________

“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: Tue Oct 31, 2017 9:47 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Fall to Pieces

Its been a long year since you've been gone
I've been alone here I've grown old
I fall to pieces, I'm falling
Fell to pieces and I'm still falling
Every time I'm falling down
All alone I fall to pieces
~ Velvet Revolver

Eddie rode the elevator until it stopped at the very top floor, he passed his room key through the card reader and waited as the doors slowly slid open. He’d spent last night’s ride back in quiet contemplation, that was what he’d called it though he hadn’t missed the word brooding from Celene when she’d been dropped off. There had been something in her voice, anger or annoyance, perhaps it was just disappointment. Had he been paying attention he might have known. She wanted a glimpse inside his head, but that was a space he no longer shared. Too many people wanted to get in there, and he dare not reveal the mess that had been left behind by the last person. He lingered inside the elevator so long that the door began closing, a large hand reached out to keep it open.

The afternoon meeting with Dan hadn’t done anything to improve his mood either, if anything it left him feeling far darker. That wouldn’t be an issue, except that it was far out of character. He was coming home to Lizzy, and that was supposed to make him happy to the point of being nauseating to the casual observer. After catching the door, Eddie didn’t move. He stood there breathing and looking ahead, his gaze seemingly locked on the glass wall that separated the penthouse from the balcony beyond and the cityscape in the distance. Perhaps he would pass for simply transfixed with the view, unless someone got close enough to actually read his expression.

Lizzy was sitting out on the balcony, curled into a lounge chair that only served to highlight that she hadn’t changed since her lunch with Miranda. It had been intended to be a girls day out - a bonding experience to bring them closer together. And it had worked, but not entirely as they’d planned. Heels tucked against her thighs, she was staring out over the city, a thin plume of smoke twisting up from her fingers. Drawing the smoke into her lungs, Lizzy coughed, releasing a cloud that did nothing to help her current state. She knew better than to sneak cigarettes...Eddie always found out, and it always made her feel so much worse. To do it after she’d already had to take a nitro pill...was near to flirting with death. But at the moment, she didn’t care.

She had no idea how Miranda had known exactly where the chinks in her armor were...and just what weapon to use. Maybe it was because they were so close to her own weaknesses. Melinda Foxglove had been an accomplished woman, smart, capable - she’d run a successful interior design business, and served on countless charities - and done it all without any real enemies. Her death had been a blow to the community, and she could still see the effects it had had on her Eddie. Only he wasn’t - not really. He’d never have left Melinda. She was only a substitute.

Eddie’s nails scritched loudly in the stubble on his jaw before passing an hand through his hair, pushing bangs back and pressing the on switch that finally had him moving. He poured himself a stiff drink, dropping a couple of ice cubes into the dark bourbon. He knew where Lizzy was, could see the rise of smoke and knew what it meant. Disappointed, he took his drink through the glass doors stepping into the open air of a city whose noises were muted by distance and elevation. Deft fingers reached out and pulled the lit cigarette from her pounding the cherry end on the railing that marked the edge of the building.

“These are no good for you, Lizzy. I thought you were going to try.” The look on his face was mirrored in the sound of his voice, he barely recognized it. He couldn’t ever remember sounding that way to her before. She was trying, had done quite well at cutting them out of her life, mostly at least. He flicked the remainder out over the railing letting it crash where it would on the city below. “How was your lunch?”

“Fine.” The tone was enough, and she flinched at it, knowing her own was far from its usual perky, musical self. Bereft of her distraction, she fidgeted, and smeared one hand across her cheeks. “I am trying, scruffy...I haven’t had one since we got here, before that, even.” Arms folded across the purple and white floral sundress. Miranda had hit her hard, and she’d long since rubbed off any cosmetics she’d been wearing. “I just...needed one.”

Chewing at her bottom lip, she couldn’t quite manage to look at him, blonde strands curving to frame her face, and those downcast aquamarine eyes. She had so many questions, and yet she wasn’t sure she really wanted to know. He was the only thing that meant anything to her, but she couldn’t quite stop herself from muttering petulantly half under her breath. “I’m not perfect, I know...not like her. I’ll never be…” Biting her bottom lip, she shook her head, and plucked at the hem of her skirt.

Leaning hard against the rail he looked at Lizzy. “What is that supposed to mean?” No the need for a smoke, obviously. The last part came pretty much out of the blue. “Nobody’s perfect, Lizzy. Some of us are too blind or stupid to see what’s in front of our face.” No, he wouldn’t go there yet. He bit down on those thoughts, holding them back to cook a little more. Hopefully they didn’t cook him first.

“Why?” A change of directions would help, right? “What made you need one now… and was it only one?” He kept his eyes on her as he took a drink from his glass, doing his best to soften the look and knowing that he was failing miserably. He’d be lucky if she didn’t think it was an accusation in itself.

“Maybe we just don’t want to see it. And yes, jesus, it was just one - I’m not stupid enough to have more than that after a nitro do-” She clamped her mouth shut, and cringed. She hadn’t meant to tell him about the pill, about the attack that had sent her running out of the restaurant, alone. She wasn’t supposed to be alone after an attack, in case the nitro wasn’t enough, but she couldn’t bear to face Miranda, and she didn’t want to pull him away from his meeting to deal with her in hysterics.

She’d taken most of it as an accusation, her cheeks burning a fierce pink that only made her seem paler by comparison. She didn’t want to tell him she knew...not after everything. What if he admitted she was everything she secretly feared she was - everything Miranda had hinted that anyone who’d known Melinda was thinking.

“What happened, Lizzy? What could possibly be bad enough that you’d take that risk?” How close had he come to arriving to find her… “God dammit!” Anger was seeping through, no matter how tightly he tried to keep it reined in. He downed the rest of his drink, turning away from her clenching the railing in his hand. That shouldn’t have been his reaction, wouldn’t have been normally. There should have been no distance between them now, no, he should have picked her up and held her close telling her that everything was going to be all right. Something in his brain was warped tonight.

It only served to further convince her that there was something going on - something he was keeping from her. Hurt, and sniffing back another spate of tears, she wasn’t thinking clearly, wasn’t giving herself time to think about the things that were sitting just at the tip of her tongue. “She told me everything. How perfect you and Mel were. How surprised everyone is that you found someone else.” She’d only bummed the one cigarette from the bellhop, otherwise she would have lit another, and even miserable as she was, she wasn’t going to risk trying to pour herself a drink. She’d end up in the hospital again, and then she’d have Eddie and Dr. Dan mad at her.

“She told me you were with Mel when she died, scruffy. That she’d been...that you…” Her throat closed and she curled her hands into fists as if it would force the words out. “She told me about the treatments. That Mel was trying to get pregnant...you always said you didn’t want kids.” Sniff. “I guess you just didn’t want them with anyone but her.”

Silence, he didn’t deny the first part of that, and maybe he blamed himself for what happened after. It was the second that had him turning on Lizzy. “That’s a lie! How dare… She wouldn’t have!” Eddie didn’t mind children, so long as they weren’t his children. So long as they were well cared for, and their parents were stable, but he had no desire to put this world onto offspring. The world was cruel, full of people who would take advantage of you for no better reason than to elevate themselves. He knew, he was one and he had no wish to bring that to his children. No want to see their trust stolen and their innocence killed.

Eddie stalked toward Lizzy, slamming the glass onto a table and bending low until his face was an inch away from hers. His hands reached out, for a moment like he would take hold of her before restraint set in and he grabbed hold of the arms of her chair instead. “I can’t believe you actually buy it either. You really don’t know me like you say you do!” He’d never shouted at Lizzy in his life, but there he was doing it and unable to stop himself. He ground his teeth and lunged a twisting movement with a speed that belied his size. The table that held his glass launched itself across the balcony, landing on its top and skidding to a halt inches before making contact with the glass that separated balcony from penthouse. Eddie hadn’t paused to watch where the thing went or cared what happened when it landed. He was on his way to the door, pulling it open with a hard wrench. “You don’t trust me? Fine! I’m going out and if I’m lucky I’ll get into a bar fight. If not...it really won’t matter, right?”

She was frozen, eyes wide and terrified as he loomed over her. Eddie had never so much as raised his voice toward her, and here he was, dark and full of barely restrained danger. “Eddie I...she said you knew…” her protests were small, feeble things, likely lost in the crash of patio furniture. Lizzy stared after him, “Scruffy I do...please…” Her legs wouldn’t obey her for a moment, and then she was up and after him, although she had little hope of catching him, and less of stopping him if she did.

She stumbled over the carpet, and fell to her knees. Sobs racked her chest, and she could feel the stutter in her pulse, the vague ring in her ears that meant she was at risk of another seizure. Two in one day… “Eddie…” She could barely hear herself, she doubted he heard her as she reached for the little red box. He was right, she shouldn’t have believed Miranda...but she had been so sure, and Lizzy couldn’t think why she would lie about something so important. But he was her Scruffy...and she never should have listened to any of the gossip that seemed to fuel Seaport’s elite.
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Opportunity dances with those already on the dance floor. ~ H. Jackson Brown, Jr.
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