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


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PostPosted: Fri Aug 11, 2017 9:17 pm    Post subject: Retribution (18+ Violence, Strong Language, Mature Themes) Reply with quote

Painkiller

Pretty boy, why
you're so sad
Give me just a minute,
I'ma make you so glad
Prescribe this pill, I know you ain't had
~ Rozzi Crane ft. Adam Levine

Friday, July 21st, 11:00 PM

Even idling, the engine of the purple Road Runner had a growl to it. A patient one, ready to pounce the moment Eddie decided to put his foot down on the pedal. He didn’t turn the car off, though he’d been outside the bar for several minutes. He was caught between two desires, each calling to him depending on where he turned his head. The lights within glowed dimly out to the street, beckoning him, but there was the siren call of the streets ahead as well, and a need to drive too fast. In the end it was a siren that had him moving, just not either of the ones that seemed to want his attention the most.

Text to claws: What are you up to?

He didn’t expect a quick reply, laying the phone in his lap so he could plug it into the stereo and listen to his own playlist. Something with a lot of drums and bass guitar suited his mood nicely.

Tahlia was in the middle of the Inn, and regretting it for the second time in as many days. She was surrounded by medics...people wanting to poke and prod and her fight or flight response was rising to alarming levels, even though she knew they meant well. Saved by the buzz of her phone, she backed out from behind the bar, and quickly tapped back a reply. Years of not trusting people meant she had no interest in letting those she hardly knew close enough to get any clue that she wasn’t what she seemed...it was bad enough leaving the glamour down to let the bruises show...but healing them too quickly, or appearing to, would only raise more questions. In short, the text was a light at the end of a rapidly closing tunnel.

Text to Scruffy Desperately looking for a reason to bail...you?

The vibration was felt more than heard, fortunately he’d left the phone on his lap. A quick tap of the notification had Tahlia’s answer displayed across the screen. He considered what he wanted for a few moments before dropping a cursor into the box and engaging the keyboard.

Text to Claws: Where are you? I’ll come get you… Happy to be a reason.

It wasn’t a lie, he saved those for when it was important, so when money was on the line. Now he kept the phone in his hand, if the speed of her earlier response was an indicator, he wouldn’t have to wait long at all for an answer from the blonde. Eddie pushed his back into the seat, he was far too tense and even driving his favorite thing wasn’t helping to relax him like it normally would. He probably could have called a friend, but most of his friends he owed money, and the rest owed him. He wasn’t sure where Tahlia was in that, was she friend or something different? Did it matter? Whatever she was, it was her that he’d thought to message. If she hadn’t responded, there was plenty of trouble a guy like him could get into, right?

Text to Scruffy: At the Inn...I’ll be outside waiting.

The text had come almost immediately after his response. She hit the door to the Inn a moment later, chatting briefly with a one-armed woman taking the air outside. A tank top and daisy dukes had seemed a brilliant idea earlier...still was, save that for whatever reason the attention inside had made her feel exposed. She took a few deep breaths, regaining her calm as the slight breeze teased the golden blonde ponytail along her exposed shoulders, and lighting a cigarette. She figured it would take him a few minutes to get to where she was. Letting the smoke drift from her lips, she glanced down at the phone, not realizing she was smiling until she went to take her next drag. Something about Eddie had caught her, and she couldn’t quite put her finger on what, save the obvious. Maybe it was simply being able to talk shop with a fellow professional...maybe it was more. She didn’t intend to think too much about it. Not now.

The final text from her drew a snort from Eddie. She was already breaching the door when he finished reading. The light captured her for a moment before going dark, but he approved of the outfit. He reached across the seat and pulled up the passenger’s side lock before opening his door and stepping out. The street lamp he was under caught his tall frame, or at least the half of it that wasn’t hidden by the car. He could just see the lit end of her cigarette as she dragged off of it. “Feel like taking a ride?” The words spawned a grin. Eddie found it far too easy to give her such open ended questions. He caught the inside of his lip as he watched for her expression, the darkness would never be deep enough to obscure that face.

The movement caught her attention, and her face lit up, whether she entirely realized it or not. “Yes. In the car, or…?” She let him fill in the blank, sauntering over, jade green eyes reflecting the smoldering light from her cigarette. Pausing just in front of him, she still lacked nearly a foot to meeting him eye to eye, so she tilted her head back, smiling warmly. The cough caught her by surprise, and she dropped the filter, the toe of her heeled sneakers grinding it into the pavement. “At the risk of putting myself into deeper trouble...you have excellent timing. Anywhere would be better than in there right now…” Reaching up, she brushed her fingertips along the 5 o’clock shadow that seemed a permanent fixture. “So where are we headed?”

Gentlemanly was not a word that many people would use to describe Eddie, rogue sure, scoundrel definitely, still he met her halfway. In part because he was afraid Karma had it in for him and he’d be clipped by an oncoming car just when things started to get better. Mostly he was looking forward to being close to her. The touch of her fingers had become an all too familiar craving, though he would never give in to it easily. “In the car for now, we’ll have to see what comes later.” His arms looped around her, standard greeting, right? Though he did resist the urge to kiss her. That would have him reassessing the plans for taking a long drive. “You look hot, someone better have been impressed.” He turned, leaving one arm around her to escort Tahlia to the car, and actually open the door for her. There might be hope yet for that bad rep of his. “I do pride myself on timing things to the right moment, maybe you were sending me signals.” The cocky half grin spread across his face as he shamelessly flirted with the woman. “I don’t know where we’re headed, I just don’t feel like a crowd right now… or being alone.” Or standing still for that matter. Some of the tension had eased at her touch, but there was still plenty that had dug itself into him paired with an urge to go anywhere as far and as fast as he could.

“Surprisingly, no...or at least, if they were, they hid it well. Ok, except for Hope…” A breathy laugh left her as she felt his arms close around her...and leaned in. There was a chill, of course, that was why she stayed close as he looped an arm around her ribs and led her to the car. She hadn’t figured him for the bright and flashy type, but there it was, in joker purple, right in front of her. “Nice wheels...sure you’re not looking for Batman, instead of me?” She wasn’t sure he’d get the reference...wasn’t sure where he was from. Wasn’t sure about a lot of things, with him. But that didn’t stop her from dropping into the seat, and curling her legs beneath her. Fast cars and fast men were two of her favorite things, and while you’d think she had her hands full just at the moment...caution wasn’t something she’d learned. There had always been someone to protect her, or a cut to bleed...a way to convince herself the risk was worth the reward. Even with the luck she’d fallen into...the apartment, Mal and his generosity - Simon, and whatever that was...she couldn’t resist rolling the dice and seeing where a drive out to the middle of nowhere with a handsome near-stranger might lead. “We could always head to the beach...it’s usually quiet now…” Where she’d gotten that tidbit she kept to herself, for now.

“Which one, New Haven or Seaside?” Eddie watched Tahlia fold herself into the front seat with a very appreciative little smirk. “If I am looking for The Dark Knight, can I buy you a skin tight jester’s outfit and ask if I can rev up my Harley?” He shot a wink at the blonde, closing the door before she could comment and headed for the driver’s seat. Direction would matter - New Haven was ahead, and Seaside the opposite direction. They had the best beaches though, something to do with money he was sure. Something reflecting in the windshield caught his attention. He reached up, plucking the magazine from the dashboard and tossed it to the seat beside him. “Thought I was going crazy there for a second.” Whatever tension had been leached from him seemed to have returned. Eddie put the Road Runner into gear and pressed the gas harder than he needed to. If Tahlia suddenly said Seaside, there was always a block to round, right?

“The new place is in Seaside...in case we get tired of sand in all the wrong places. And if you buy it, I’ll wear it...Puddin.” The wink was lightning quick, nearly hidden behind the sweep of gold-kissed bangs. She’d figured the area was one of the nicer ones, but she was still learning...and still spending a few nights a week in a seemingly abandoned warehouse in Dockside. Pressed back into the seat by the sudden acceleration, she picked up the gossip rag he’d basically tossed into her lap, and flipped through. Nothing familiar caught her eye, but then she didn’t expect it to...although the reminder made her nibble at her bottom lip. By now, she should have known all the movers and shakers...and where usable bodies were buried. She’d been...distracted. Maybe it was time to get back on track. “You didn’t strike me as the gossipy type...something in this the reason why you’re so tense?” She didn’t have to know him well to be able to tell that...relieving tension was a specialty of hers.

It was inevitable, he was heading the wrong direction fast. He cut into the left lane, turning and driving much further than he needed to for a simple turn around. Clearly he wasn’t in a hurry despite the speed they were going. “I know what I’m having delivered then.” Heathens cut across the speakers as they made another turn and headed back towards the wall between Dragon’s gate and the marketplace. Eddie cut a few looks towards Tahlia, and the magazine in her hand.
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Tahlia Faras
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PostPosted: Fri Aug 11, 2017 9:21 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

“No… maybe… I dunno.” At least he was decisive on the matter. He wasn’t sure how to actually talk about the thing that had him in knots. Instead when they stopped at the next light he grabbed his phone, and pulled up the photo library. It took longer than the light stayed red, much to the chagrin of the car behind him that had taken to beeping loudly and for prolonged periods. He stopped on a particular pic, and handed the phone. “Here, research for you.” It was a simple enough photo, him and a couple of women. One blonde and petite clinging to him, the other darker but clearly the two were related. Once he’d handed the phone off he started the car moving again, one large hand going out the window to say hello to the driver behind him in a very Eddie Blake fashion. “I told you I just got back to town.” It had been several months now, and he’d driven the whole way rather than take a flight. He may have made a lot of stops along the way, but those were different stories altogether.

“You did, yeah…” Tahlia flipped back, the faces familiar from a huge spread near the center fold. “Huh…Foxglove Foundation Announces Memorial Gala...Celebs slated to attend...Miranda Foxglove...in memory of her departed sister, Melinda…” Jade eyes ticked from the photo in her hand to the glossy posed shots the magazine had highlighted. “...died of Long QT Syndrome...genetic...funds will go to research…” She glanced over at him, one brow raised - not quite disbelieving, but his reaction giving her a little insight to the man beside her. “Let me guess, you’re the…” She glanced back down to check the quote. “Former lover cleared of involvement in her death? Were you?” It was a logical question, in her mind. She doubted it...the kind of men who killed women for money didn’t usually respond the way he seemed to be...or keep pictures of their victims on their phones.. But she had to ask.

Silence met her question, maybe it was the music, or paying attention to the road. He said nothing letting her direct their course until they hit the parking lot of a beach. No cars was an excellent indicator that the place was abandoned for the night. A slow roll, the car coasting into a spot before he shut the engine down. “Usually, I’m a parasite on my best days.” Eddie didn’t fault her question, not in a place like this where the meekest looking people could be the guiltiest of killers. Anywhere else, and Eddie could, would be the worst thing out there. “I like nice things, there’s nothing wrong with that.” His hand took hold of the crank for the window and rolled it upwards, clear evidence that he fully intended to exit the vehicle. “Yeah, initially they were a mark, meant to get me what I wanted. Miranda seemed like the perfect choice, second daughter, a bit plain and ignored. Give her a little attention and reap the benefits. Then I met Mel. She was sweet, probably too much so, and far too vulnerable to someone like me. Bad as Miranda had it, I really felt like Mel needed me more. She took care of me, and I in turn took care of her.” The driver’s side door opened abruptly, releasing Eddie from a feeling of being cooped up as the breeze off the water hit him in the face.

“She was improving, that’s what her doctor said at least. Then she took a turn and nothing seemed to help. She was gone in a few short weeks. Some thought it was suspicious, I was the one they looked at. Soon as they changed where they were looking, I took my stuff and got the hell out.” Talking was supposed to help, wasn’t it? So far it hadn’t. If he were analyzing himself he’d probably say it was because things had been repressed too long, and now it would take time too. Problem with that was, Eddie didn’t believe in psychobabble. Shrinks were just legal con artists, and there was something that he couldn’t lay his finger on that really bothered him.

She listened, the magazine still open on her lap, while they came to a stop, and the engine left a strange silence in its absence. Still holding his phone, she studied the two women in the picture, studied him, a half smile pulling at the corner of her lips. She followed him out of the car, coming around to lean against the warm hood, the cooling tick of the engine the only sound until she pulled the pack from her pocket, and the snap of flame flared for an instant. Holding the phone out, she stared out at the ocean, and blew out a smoke-tinged breath. “Nothing wrong with nice things...nothing wrong with getting someone else to pay for it, either…” Moonlight glazed her skin, her lashes falling to kiss her cheeks for a breath. She certainly hadn’t paid for anything she was wearing, and the outfit had to have cost a few grand. She cut a glance in his direction, memories of a ranch, and a sweet cowboy who’d likely curse her name with his dying breath too close for comfort. “Pick your target...make the deal. You don’t think I can afford a penthouse on a part-time bartender’s pay, do you? Not here, anyway…” Taking another drag, she shook her head. “I know you thought I was some smart-mouthed party girl...the night at the fights? And I am. But I learned long ago what I had...and what had value. And I know you didn’t do a thing to Mel...not to hurt her.” Because she recognized the tone in his voice...it was the same one in hers when Tex came up. And the best thing she’d ever done in her life was break the man’s heart. “So, she died, and the sister’s raising money in her memory...and still blaming you, is my guess. And it bugs you?”

The wind on his face felt good, it was still far too warm for him to be wearing that heavy coat. He made a show of pulling it off, draping it over an arm as he moved back towards the car, or rather the blonde leaning against it. He waited for her to raise the cigarette to her lips, and stole it quickly. The lit end warmed his palm as he took a hit from the butt end, keeping the things length cupped in his hand. He was just as quick to deposit it right back between her lips, exhaling as he opened the car door and laid the coat inside. A long arm reached behind the seat and freed a bottle of dark bourbon with a white label. “Yes, and no. She died and Miranda will likely always blame me. I think the foundation’s a great idea, but that’s not what bugs me.” The lock was depressed and the door sent home. Eddie’s fingers worked the top off of the bottle, offering it to her first. He seemed to have his own ideas about clothes tonight. Heading further onto the beach, bits of him came away in a line heading for the surf that ended in a sprint towards the waves which had him diving. Now he might be cool enough. He’d wanted to give a better answer, would have if he had one. There was just something about the whole thing that seemed wrong to him though. Tahlia was free to watch the show, or join in as she pleased.

She couldn’t quite hide the warm smile at the sight of that coat of his...the last time she’d seen it, it had been the only thing touching her skin but him. Left with a cigarette, and a bottle of respectable bourbon, she thought about tossing both aside and following him into the water...but she’d be freezing afterward, and getting him to warm her up, while tempting, might preclude any further conversation. Maybe it was payback for him choosing not to give her a kiss hello...maybe she was simply content to watch the muscles shift beneath his skin in the reflected moonlight. She stayed where she was, leaning against the car, alternating between sips of bourbon, and drags from her cigarette. He likely wasn’t wrong - you didn’t live the way they did without learning to get a sixth sense for this sort of thing. The question was what he wanted to do about it. Setting the bottle down, she looked back at the picture of the two women on his phone, and let that spark and dance in her brain while she enjoyed the sight of him cavorting in the surf.

Much as he would have enjoyed the company, the lack of it paired with the saltwater gave him what he’d needed at that moment...separation. Not so much from Tahlia, after all he had invited her to come out and play. Thoughts, and things far worse, feelings were buried beneath the surf, stripped away with every wave that washed over him. He was Eddie Blake, and he didn’t feel things. He left the person who’d gotten out of the car behind, like a message in a bottle caught in the tides. What emerged, was the person she knew best all cocky grins and laughing at himself and anything that struck his fancy to do so. Water sprayed from his hair as he shook his head, then ran fingers through the tangles smoothing it into something far more normal. One piece at a time he reacquired his clothes, though most of them he chose not to don. He simply hitched on his pants and carried the rest back to where Tahlia stood indulging in her own vices. “I want to check it out, if it’s nothing. I’ll let it go, but like calls to like… and something feels off.” He laid his clothes on the hood of the car, stealing the bottle for a quick drink before turning his boots over and pounding them to get all the sand out. “You up for a field trip?”

“Hmm?” Ok, so the sight of him naked and glistening with seawater was more than a little distracting, and it took her a minute to bring her thoughts back to the task at hand. Not to mention the hitching of pants over...smoke burst from her lips in a torrent of coughing. Might have forgotten exhaling was necessary. Just briefly. “I don’t think you’re wrong...there’s something there...something in the eyes.” If she was an expert in anything, it was sibling rivalry. Even in a photo...they said the eyes were the windows to the soul. She wasn’t sure she had one, but if she did...she’d given and received that look a thousand times. Tilting her head to the side, she batted her lashes and let a wickedly mischievous smile dance across plush lips. “With you? Sure thing, puddin...what did you have in mind?” She could guess….and she’d been the bait in honey traps like this her whole life. Well, maybe not exactly like this…

A lean against the grill of the Road Runner, just enough to lift his feet one at a time, brush away the sand and send them home into his boots. “Two words… Bake Sale.”

_________________

But now and then, a woman walks up, full blossom, a woman just bursting out of her dress - a sex creature, a curse, the end of it all.
― Charles Bukowski, Post Office
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Eddie Blake
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PostPosted: Fri Aug 11, 2017 9:26 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Heathens

Why'd you come? You knew you should have stayed
I tried to warn you just to stay away
And now they're outside ready to bust
It looks like you might be one of us
~ Tyler Joseph - Halestorm cover

Saturday, July 22nd, 2:00 AM

Eddie had said field trip, but there hadn’t been a field in the windows for the last twenty minutes of driving. Plenty of high rise apartments, each one shabbier than the one before it. Even those gave way to vacant lots, and boarded up buildings, though at least there was plenty of graffiti to read along the way. Occasionally there had been a building that still seemed to be pulling power, but only in part of it, the rest obviously empty. They were parked in front of one of those now, the car parked, the engine off. The street seemed to be abandoned, and if it weren’t for the techno music filtering to the streets that might have been hard to disprove.

Eddie listened for a moment, his hand grabbed hold of the seat above Tahlia’s shoulder and he leaned hard looking at first for all intents and purposes that he was going to kiss her finally. Then his head dipped even lower, maybe some other thrill was on his mind? He stopped well short of her lap, looking out the window and up at the only window with light coming out of it. The faint echo had him nodding, the music was coming from above and there was a bit of shadow play across the window. He took a deep breath through his nose, glad that there was someone close by that didn’t smell like this part of the city. He turned to look Tahlia in the eye, close enough to feel her breath sweet against his skin. The tip of his tongue moistened his lips, it would take nothing to close the distance between them. His nose traced her cheekbone. “You ready?” The question emerged from lips that brushed against hers as he spoke the words. “Glove compartment.” Then he was pulling away and opening his door to get out.

She didn’t seem as thrown by the neighborhood as he might expect. It was the kind of place she came when all she wanted was a warm body, or the drugs she couldn’t feel without effort. Not that she liked it...but she’d been through similar areas from time to time. Sometimes the tools she needed couldn’t be found in pretty boxes. Lashes resting against her cheeks, Tahli nearly took the bait, her tongue smoothing across her parted lips, although she didn’t lean forward to close the distance. She was about to answer, but the words made no sense and she was left blinking in confusion when he pulled away. “Glove…?” Eddie wasn’t there, so she leaned forward, and popped open the compartment, the glint of metal giving her a hint what sat inside. “Eddie?” So many questions...but it wasn’t her first rodeo, and really, it didn’t matter. The more important question was where to put them - it wasn’t like she had a lot of fabric to work with.

His hand was on her door handle even as she was pulling the four Springfield 9mm’s free of the compartment. The door opened wide, his other hand going in for her to take hold of and exit the car as well. He took a pair of the short barreled guns and stepped behind Tahli. “Put your hands behind your back…” His voice was low, bordering on sultry as he spoke directly into her ear. Eddie took note of where her hands were, then slowly, one by one shoved a pistol into the back of her shorts, butt grip within easy reach. “Have you done this before? It starts off a little uncomfortable, but eventually you get to like the feeling.” He gave away his grin, accidentally, as stray strands of her hair caught in his scruff and tugged ever so slightly. The second pair of pistols went into the waist of his own pants, his shirt pulled down to conceal as best he could. Tahli would need to depend on him staying close in order to keep hers from view, it was probably the only thing that would distract anyone’s eyes from the rest of her backside.

Tahlia bit back a squeak as the cool metal slid against warm skin, hoping she wouldn’t have to actually pull them with any kind of speed...otherwise the thong she wore was likely to get very uncomfortable very quickly. She couldn’t resist rolling her hips, to settle the weight and simply because he was warm, and close, and she was, at her core, a creature of pleasure. “I have, actually. Not my favorite...and usually there’s a little more preparation...but I think I can manage. These are a little shorter and thicker than I’m used to…” If her celebrated posterior had to be concealed, it certainly didn’t take anything away from the long legs, and the wealth of sun-drenched skin...not to mention the way her hips moved as she took a few testing steps forward. “Coming?”

He watched her take those few steps, purely to be certain that everything was staying in place. Coming? He knew he’d been forgetting something. “Too late for that…”, he started out after her, going right through the front doors into a hallway that was barely wider. It was dark inside, the only light coming from a window over the stairwell. Of course it was also the direction they had to go in order to get to where they were going. They went slowly upwards, following the sound of music through the stairwell. Fortunately they met no one on the way up, and the rising volume of Technonoise would mask their steps down the hall to the only door that had light shining out beneath it. Eddie stopped, and listened for a couple of moments. It was just audible, the yells of a decidedly male voice though it was rising into falsetto. He leaned in to Tahli. “You’re looking for your cousin, Reggie… you have a delivery for him.” He kept his eyes on her face until she indicated that she understood. He stood with his back to the wall, reached over and knocked loudly on the door.
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Tahlia Faras
Young Wyrm
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PostPosted: Fri Aug 11, 2017 9:29 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

“There’s always after…” Because, really...she could certainly use a soak in the hot tub after all this. Whether he was joining her or not remained to be seen. Nodding, she turned her attention to the door, shifting to hook her thumbs into the belt loops of her shorts, and propping one Burberry heeled sneaker up onto the toe, idly swinging it back and forth. All that was missing was the pop of bubblegum as the door cracked open, and she turned a wide eyed gaze on the tall, slim sliver of wannabe badass that came into view. “Is Reggie here? I hafta give him sumthin…” The hoodlum cracked the door wider, leaning against the doorjamb and leering through red-rimmed eyes. Muttered voices came from the shadows inside..multiple men, multiple voices...hard to tell more than that in the backlighting from computer screens inside. “And who should we say is calling, dollface?” Sarcastic sneering from the gatekeeper with the shaved head - she could see what he wanted, it was painted all over his face, and writ in the unsubtle shift of tightening pants. “Tell’em it’s his cousin...he’ll know.” She smiled, bright and sweet...and barely refrained from making him embarrass himself in the doorway.

The music swelled for half a heartbeat before dropping low. Eddie was grateful at first, at least now he could tell what was his heart and what was bass drum. His hands were at his back already, fingers closed around pistol grips, and he was breathing slowly. He bided his time, listening to Tahli and the voice behind the door. Muffled within he heard someone ask the question. “Should we let her in?” A second voice saying, ‘...she could be anyone.”

It was the third voice that did the trick. The man at the door spoke up over ruling both of the others. “Dude I don’t care this **** is ****en hot.” From his position, Eddie could hear the subtle changes in the tone of the voice. Clear at first, as he spoke directly through the open crack then fading as he turned his head back to address his fellows. Quick as darkness being chased by a star, Eddie pivoted and his 6’6” frame leaned back and let his boot fly towards the door. The body that had been blocking it was knocked back. His hand hit the stereo, and the music level rose to heights that left the sounds of three shots buried in noise. There had been four men inside, three of them were on the floor. One was handcuffed to a chair and looked like he’d been worked over pretty well. Much as Eddie wanted to help the man, he wanted to stop that annoying sound coming out of the man’s speakers.

“...Jesus Christ Eddie!” The cuffed man’s, more a kid really, mouth had been moving and it was only once the stereo was turned off that Eddie and Tahlia would hear exactly how loudly he’d been yelling. Apparently he hadn’t known either because three short words and he stopped speaking altogether.

“Reginald T. Barnes… Tahlia Faras… You can just call him Bake Sale.” There was a slight grin on the big man’s face as he kept his eyes on the blonde woman while Reginald went on and on about hating that name, and it’s not Reginald it’s Reggie… only his grans called him Reginald.

Tahlia didn’t even flinch as Eddie spun and his foot passed close enough that she could swear she felt the edge of the sole brush her ribs. The noise however, had her taking half a step back, and resisting the urge to cover her ears at the noise. Even if she’d heard the gunshots, it wouldn’t have mattered...much as she tried to avoid it, for her own safety...violence had always been a part of her world. She took a few steps inside, once the music had died away, a subtle shiver dancing across the exposed bronze of her skin, a whispered moan that might sound more than a little familiar to his ears teasing from her throat as she looked over at the rapidly spreading trio of crimson liquid. Carefully picking her way into the apartment, she flashed a smile over at the restrained teen, the caution bringing still more attention to racetrack curves and cornsilk hair, especially once she caught the glint of metal against a still chest. “Eddie...so glad we saved your little bakery buddy here, but... I’m thinking maybe we might want to do this elsewhere? Unless you’ve got a killer cleanup crew…”

“What did you do, Reg?” Eddie’s eyes were on the body Tahlia had been looking at. He sighed ignoring the exasperation from Reggie. He shook his head at Tahli, but he did have a plan. He bent down, and pulled a key from one man’s pocket placing it in Reggie’s palm. “Get what you need, and get ready to travel a bit.” He disappeared deeper into the apartment, returning moments later with a rather large and assorted bag of narcotics. He spilled them across the coffee table at the center of the room, much to Reggie’s disappointment. The pair of pistols were wiped clean and dropped in the center of the room a few bills scattered. “I said only what you need Reggie.”

“Yeah, but I really needed that.” Reggie looked longingly at the table as Eddie had Tahlia usher him out the door. He did nothing more, the scene would stand as it was. It was the evidence that would be misleading. He looked back once as he stepped over the body closest to the door and headed off after the other two in no particular hurry. Not until he got into the car at least. Then he drove as hurriedly as he could without looking like he was trying to do so. “Damn, those were my favorites… though, maybe now I have a new set.” He looked at Tahlia and winked. “Once I retrieve them.”

“****, I’m sorry Eddie… glad, but sorry. I owe you one.” Reggie was in the back, stretched across the seat. In part it was so he could look out the back window, the other reason had to do with the figure riding shotgun.

“No, you owe me two.” Eddie put his hand behind him opening it to reveal a rolled something which Reggie took with an odd sigh of relief. “You’re just going to pay back one of em right now… Foxglove Foundation… you can use my phone for a mobile hotspot.” The hand offs done, he needed something to hang onto. There was a perfect leg not so far away.

Tahlia did not utter a word until they were in the car and moving, chewing on the inside her cheek and reaching for her phone out of reflex before pulling her hand back. Calling Simon would only complicate matters, and she knew it...but it had become a hard habit to fight. Dropping into the seat, she was just reaching to pull the pistols from the small of her back when Eddie spoke, and she settled back with wink, and a blown kiss. They would wait until he could retrieve them himself. Jade eyes ticked back to the skinny pothead in the backseat, and she shifted, back arching enough to make the boy groan under his breath. Because she could, mostly, and because it brought her thigh in perfect reach for Eddie hand...perhaps a little higher than he’d intended. She had a particular reaction to violence, had since...well, since she was younger. Purring softly, she glanced over a shoulder to check on Reggie, her nose crinkling as a familiar scent reached her nostrils. “Bake...ah. Makes sense now. Let me guess...someone rises to the occasion when he’s toasted?” Half rising, she leaned over bringing her lips a breath from Eddie’s ear, watching Reggie as he tried his best to juggle phone, joint...and trying not to look like he was watching her every move. Smirking, Tahlia purred and nuzzled. She could guess what the kid was good at, but she was having fun.

Reggie couldn’t hide from the rearview mirror. Eddie almost felt sorry for the kid… but not quite. Truth was that while he hadn’t expected Tahlia to move, he was glad she had. “Reggie’s just misunderstood.” That got a chuckle out of the backseat, obviously an inside joke. Tahli wasn’t only making it difficult on the kid, she was making it hard on Eddie too, right about the moment the nuzzling started. He checked the road, before turning his head to whisper two soft words into her ear and adorning her with a very serious look before directing his eyes to the front once more.
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PostPosted: Fri Aug 11, 2017 9:34 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I Am the Fire

I've been sacrificed
My hearts been cauterized
Hanging on to hope
Shackled by the ghost
Of what I once believed
That I could never be
What’s right in front of me?
~ Halestorm


Saturday July 22nd, 10:00 AM

The penthouse was quiet, finally...the early morning hours entertainments finally fading as the night before caught up with them. Fortunately, there were three bedrooms, and Reggie had had a little distance to muffle the sounds. Unfortunately, for him at least, he also had a very active imagination. Sometime after the sun had risen, but early enough to still count as morning, a certain petite blonde made her way down the hallway, running fingers through tangled waves, a particularly satisfied smirk on her face as she glanced around the open living area, and turned toward the kitchen. Tahlia was no cook, although she’d recently learned to make passable scrambled eggs, and had a standing order for muffins and breakfast pastries on delivery with a simple text. The basket sat on the counter, fresh from the bakery, and she turned her attention to the coffeemaker. This, this she could work, rising on tiptoe to grab the beans from a cabinet, and grinding them fresh. There was a flash of lace beneath the robe...mist green silk to bring out her eyes, and edged in the kind of black lace still made by grandmothers in some mediterranean country, and paired with a set of heels in the same pale color. Because when you seemed to make a habit of bedding men a foot taller than you, flats were simply not an option.

Setting the coffee to perk, she leaned a hip against the counter, scrolling through the smartphone that was never far from her, and checking to see if there was anything pressing to deal with. Occasionally she’d glance back, toward the bedrooms, and wonder idly which one was going to make it out first.

Eddie’s eyes popped open, the ceiling one he didn’t recognize right away, remembering after he realized there was still warmth in the bed next to him. In a way, he was glad that she wasn’t there. Not that he’d wanted to, or even felt like he’d chased her from her own bed. She’d been there recently enough, with her gone, there was nothing to catch his attention or worse make him think. Just a roll and shift until his feet were on the floor and he was up and moving. It had been a very long, and pleasantly exhausting night. His lip twitched slightly as he remembered how easy it had been to find just the right places for his hands. Now, in the swiftly fading morning he was left with the same option he’d taken at the beach. Day old pants weren’t too bad, but he would need to change them before long. His mind may have been making up grains of sand wedged into seams that scraped across his skin. Then again maybe there was another kind of mark in those places mimicking sand. He was hoping for the latter.

Coffee, a smell that was definitely beckoning him drew him onwards through the… well she called it an apartment, seemed more like a house compared to his own digs. He could get used to a place like this, not this one but he hoped she would. Some people deserve things. He passed along a path that ran parallel to the one she’d taken, his own halting at the doorway to the kitchen and taking up a tall lean. He watched her for the space of a few heartbeats, his head tilting slightly. It was a good show.

“Sorry, I meant to be up sooner.” Translation, so you didn’t have to see me until later.

“Well, we didn’t get in til late…” And hadn’t fallen asleep til later, although she let the marks along her throat and peeking out from the neckline of her robe serve as a silent reminder. Not that she suspected he needed one. “Coffee’s almost ready...there’s creamer and half & half in the fridge…” She slid the sugar bowl over, turning and rising up once more to grab three mugs from the shelf, one foot kicked up behind her, silk and lace rising to follow the stretch of her right hand toward the handles. Setting them down on the marble counter, she glanced over a shoulder toward him, sultry little smile playing across her lips as she moved to a pull out drawer, and bent just enough to put an arch in her back, straightening with three small plates in hand. “So...when do you think the kid will wake up? Not that I’m rushing you out…” She really wasn’t. A few short steps took her to the counter holding the breakfast things, and she set them down. She’d figured there was more to discuss, after last night...after all, they could hardly just sweep into town and ask questions, could they? They’d need to be a little more subtle than that.

Reaching for the coffee pot, she brought those searching green eyes to his, the tip of her tongue just peeking out between her lips. “How do you take it?” And of course, there was a sputtering cough from behind Eddie...seems Reggie had been summoned by the scent of coffee, or the sound of conversation. Poor boy...who knew if Tahlia had done it intentionally, or not?

The sputter behind him was enough to draw his attention from the sight of Tahlia’s morning reach and stretch around the kitchen. He looked at Reggie, and much of his amusement was gone. They were all dinged up, Tahlia had her bruises, and Eddie looked like he’d accidentally slept on a nest of kittens. Reggie just looked beat up and swollen. “I’m sure the kid likes it light and sweet.” He stood and moved fully into the room, mostly to get out of Reggie’s way. “Personally I take mine like life, dark and bitter.”

He took a cup and filled it, watching as Reggie tried too hard to look like he wasn’t staring at a set of legs extending from a robe. He had Eddie’s phone still, carrying it like he needed the device to keep moving. “I’m not going to open up the search engine and find porn on that, am I?” Satisfaction rested in his face as the teen’s eyes went decidedly rounder.

“No… but I did find something interesting.” It was at least enough to break whatever spell the blonde seemed to have over him, though he was sure it was just a temporary fix. “But I need a charger. All that surfing wore the battery down.”

“Damn, I could have used a little insight into your mind.” He drifted close by Tahlia, she was right there after all, and he hadn’t touched her for a few hours. That was remedied quickly.

“You’d think you’d be a little more chipper, puddin...after everything.” Winking, she arched beneath his hands, golden locks spilling over her shoulders, a wine-dark oval visible just at the curve where neck and shoulder met. She flashed a heated smile up at him, then dropped her gaze to Reggie, idly pouring coffee into the other two mugs as if she wasn’t ready to pick up where she had started the night before, in the car. But she didn’t think Reggie would survive another display like that...and they needed the kid, for now.
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PostPosted: Fri Aug 11, 2017 9:37 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

She could have given Eddie that insight, at least on the subject of Reggie’s tastes in porn, but she kept it to herself. For now. Let the kid think all she was was curves and heat and breathless moans in the night. She was trusting Eddie with enough. “There’s a charger on the counter, you can plug in there...and then you can tell us what you found. About the Foundation…” Without moving too far from Eddie, she opened the fridge, splashing a dollop of cream into her coffee, and passing the third mug, and the creamer, over to the techie. “And would you two eat something? If I have that many carbs I’ll turn into a blimp…” A lie. But it was the kind of thing the kept pet of a rich man would worry about...and for now, she was sticking with that perception.

Trust was something they both held a bit in reserve. Eddie shook his head at the offer of food. “Not that I don’t eat sweet things…” His lips held a private smile for Tahlia. “...I’d like to be closer to my toothbrush before indulging in those… not that you’re going to have a problem finishing anything.” Reggie had remained silent, still not quite certain how talk to Tahlia so far as Eddie could tell. He certainly remembered that he’d been on quite the binge last night. He took his coffee and added enough sugar to form an island in the south sea, then turned it almost white with cream. A nod from Eddie, definitely sweet and light. The kid’s hands were full in no time, a mountain of munchies waiting to be scarfed down in that way only a teenager could manage.

“So, I’m looking into this foundation thing, right… lot of back doors there, and I had to do this without my crawler… but you said I owe ya and I always try to make good. But, I’m searching for port access on this place and every time I find what I think is my access I’m looking at a shell company… Not a huge deal, even for the up an up places right? I’ll be honest, I got tired of looking… it was easier to build a crawler into your phone and let it do the searching.” Most of what Reggie said was audible, some things were wrapped around a bite of food, and even among the words he could hear, Eddie understood less.

“All right… so what did your creeper find?” Eddie’s question had brought the first serious look to Reggie’s face that didn’t involve some aspect of a blonde in a robe.

“Crawler, man… a creeper is something else entirely.” He actually pointed at Eddie quite forcefully, though he seemed to realize what he was doing and backed off quickly. He’d probably just remembered what had happened less than twelve hours ago. “Anyway… It all comes down to one thing… Better call Saul.”

Snickering as Reggie looked to make a decent dent in the basket all on his own, Tahlia reached for a cream filled eclair, and set it on her plate. Her eyes widened as the sugar-downing teen seemed to grow a backbone, if only short-lived. Color her surprised. Still, it wasn’t nearly enough to have her thinking of him as anything but a kid...certainly not with Eddie still standing close enough that she could feel the heat of his skin against her back, and the slight flush of pink to her cheeks. She had some very happy memories of just what the man seemed to think of certain sweet treats, at least. With a shake of her head, and a shiver, she turned her attention back to what Reggie was saying.

She understood about shell companies...there were a few between her and the spoils of her labor. The truth was she didn’t really need to live the way she did anymore...but it was all she’d ever known. And on her own...away from her family...better safe, than penniless. Taking a bit of eclair, she seemed unaware of the bit of cream that had squirted out the side, and glazed her lips. She was too intent on the implications of what Reggie was saying. Not that she expected him to answer her. “So...wait. The Foundation is...backdoored...by all these shell companies?” Lots of corporations, sure..but a charity? “Why would you...and who’s Saul?” She ignored crawlers and creepers and the rest. Because at the end of the day...all that mattered was the money. Follow the money.

Reggie didn’t disappoint, staring at Tahlia and stammering before shoving a danish into his mouth and chewing, then pointing helpfully. Couldn’t talk with a full mouth? It would be rude.

Reggie hadn’t needed to point, Eddie missed very little about some things. He raised his finger too, though it ran slow across her lips and came away with the offending cream that seemed to have the kid going mute. He held it up so that Tahli could see as well. Saul, that was a name that both of them knew well enough. “An attorney for some less than legitimate clientele. He does a lot of things really, represents and doesn’t much care about guilt or innocence. His rates are pretty good too all things considered. Depends on what you’re into.”

Eddie talked, Reggie emphatically nodded his agreement with him. “Can’t hurt to see how far he leans when straddling a line.”

Anyone who expected her to deny herself that opportunity clearly did not know her well. Poor Reggie might not survive their association, but he was certainly going to die happy, and better educated. Wrapping one delicate hand around Eddie’s wrist, she looked up from beneath the thick feathering of her lashes, sought his deep brown eyes and held them fast while her lips wrapped around the cream laden finger. Not much cream, comparatively, but then she’d proved more than once by now her utter dedication to leaving not a drop behind. Certainly not when it was being presented by someone who had, not so long before, proven his silver tongue adept at so many other things. Hers took the initiative, rasping along his finger, curved just enough to be certain she had as much contact as possible...and then retreating to send the little dab of cream down her throat. A little nip of white teeth, and she relinquished her hold on his finger with a moux of disappointment, and promise. No need to kill the boy...but she would be damned if she didn’t let the man know exactly where her attentions lay.

Wood squalled across marble in Reggie’s general vicinity, followed by a half mumbled ”I need a shower…” and the sound of hurried steps away from the kitchen. If Tahlia hadn’t had Eddie’s undivided attention before, (she’d certainly had a good percentage of it) she did now. That move of hers had him right where she wanted him, or at least very close to it. A voice that sounded a lot like himself was shouting, though it seemed to be coming from a very deep hole. Something about needing to make a phone call. Need, that was a word, and the only one he latched onto.
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PostPosted: Sun Aug 13, 2017 10:53 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Go To War

I don’t know what you had in mind
But here we stand on opposing sides
Let’s go to war
Let’s go to war
~ Nothing More

Saturday July 22nd 2:00 PM

Mabel had gotten Eddie’s message through to Saul, eventually. Saul Mortimer was a bit of a foul mouthed clown, but he was a good (if egotistical) attorney. It wasn’t all his fault, Saul’s practice seemed be a magnet for some of the worst criminals in the city. Worst of course was honestly split between those who did bad things and weren’t very good at it, and those who were good at it. Everyone deserves a defense, right? That was just the tip of Saul’s little iceberg of a practice. Dig deeper and you’d find, assuming you knew where and how to look, back room deals that involved any number of things. He’d tell a known murderer how to hide the weapon, or call for body disposal, if that were your thing. This wasn’t where he made his money though, unless you counted hiding things at least.

Saul was very good at hiding almost everything. The biggest money, and also well hidden, was from the more organized crime families. Saul was happy, even eager, to get his hands dirty for the right payout of course. This much Eddie knew from experience, though he honestly hadn’t had a need for the man’s services in quite some time. Eddie wouldn’t have been pimping himself out at fights if he had the kind of fallback point that Saul provided. It had taken a lot longer for the man to get back to them than expected. The man on the other side of the video call was not good looking, his eyes were pinched, and it was obvious that his lank hair was thinning. He had a big smile though and a penchant for pastel colored button down shirts beneath his suit coat. Today’s was in the neighborhood of hot pink.

“Well hello beautiful!” See, there’s the grin and what Eddie thought might be a wink if Saul’s eyes were just a little wider. “Jesus, Eddie, it’s been too long… I mean way too long. You got a little something going on that Saul can help with. I know a great bank down in a place called Gran Camen, or some horse****. It’s offworld, but safe… Who’s the peach?”

It wasn’t the worst thing she’d ever been called. It wasn’t even close. Tahlia had escaped to the shower after ‘breakfast’...sadly, alone, since Eddie had had to corral Reggie and keep him busy. She was a bit put out about it...although if she were honest, it was good practice. They were going to have to work together without tearing each others clothes off...might as well try to figure out how to do that now. Black yoga pants and a black tank top, with an off the shoulder green sweater over it was as demure as she got...even if she had laced back into the heeled sneakers from the night before. Tahlia was rarely barefoot - not only did she like the height, she’d had to bolt on a moment's notice a few too many times to be comfortable with it. Not to mention one night in particular...shaking her head, she fluttered her fingers in the direction of the screen, streamed from the phone to one of the big screen tvs that dotted her penthouse. No reason to crouch around a tiny screen if they didn’t need to. And given where Mal’s fortune came from, it had been a point of pride that the apartment had the best of everything...gadgets and gizmos that had had Reggie drooling almost more than he did over her.

Dressed, yes, but not entirely behaving. Coffee mugs close to hand, she’d chosen Eddie’s lap for a seat, and was half turned to lean against his broad chest, feet set on the cushions of the couch, and her head lolling back on his shoulder before she straightened to take a slightly more business appropriate position. Golden hair was swept into a loose braid that fell to just past her shoulder blades, a sweep of bangs, with artfully arranged tendrils, framing her sun kissed skin and jade eyes to perfection. “Awww … aren’t you the sweetest thing, sugar...Eddie, you didn’t tell me your friend was so...friendly.” She caught those reddish brown eyes with a wink, before turning her attention back to the screen. “You can call me Harley...at least until we get to know each other better…”

“I didn’t want to build him up any, he’d take it as me erecting a bridge.” It took some effort to manage to hold on when Tahlia gave Saul her alias, or that particular one at least.

“And if there’s anything Eddie knows, it massive erections, am I right?” Reggie, it seemed, thought that Saul’s comment was hilarious. He lost whatever he’d been drinking out his nose. That hadn’t really been part of the plan. The kid was supposed to stay out of sight after last night.

“You’d love it… Not real happy with how long it took to get back to me, Saul. I’ve been waiting for several hours.” Since he was the only one being serious here, though his hand hand found a place on ‘Harley’s’ lap. He might have been feeling a little overprotective… certainly not possessive, that was a very different grab… entirely different.

“You would too, you big… No, you’re right, business first. Not all my fault, buddy. The district’s gone nuts today. Cops cracking down, gangs taking pot shots. Hell I even heard that Carmine Logan is back in town.. So you watch that ass Eddie.” It was pretty clear that Saul would be if Eddie were to stand up. “Apparently there was some kind of to-do down by the warehouse district. Three cops dead, and nobody fessing up to it. Place has been a madhouse today, but what am I gonna do, right? I’m sure that’s not what you want to hear about though, so… What the hell does Fast Eddie Blake need from his old, and most trusted pal, Saul?”

“Foxglove Foundation.” It was all Eddie said, it was all he had to say because the change in Saul was quite evident. His mouth stopped moving.

‘Harley’ let out a brightly musical laugh, and nuzzled into Eddie’s neck, her wink just visible to Saul. She certainly wasn’t complaining, that was clear. Not bothering to raise her head, or even really look in that direction, she pointed toward the kitchen. “Hey, Bake Shop...paper towels. And you better hope whatever that was doesn’t stain…” The carpets (and everything else in the place) was scotch guarded, but it was the principal of the thing. Not to mention Reggie’s insistence on being part of the meeting, despite the connection with...exactly what had held Saul up. Reggie, it seemed, had some sense of self preservation...since he rose and headed to the kitchen with only the barest muffled complaint.

The arm across her lap only made her smile against his skin, and nip at his ear. Or at least, that’s all it looked like. A low purr spilled against his ear, audible only to him. “Fast Eddie, huh...certainly didn’t get that nickname in the bedroom…you’re going to have to explain that one later, puddin…” She was behaving. Honest.

The sudden clamping of Saul’s rapid patter caught her attention, and she looked up at the screen. Not even Reggie returning and inexpertly dabbing at the carpet could draw her attention. Squirming slightly, she cocked her head to the side, giving Saul her full attention. The flamboyant man didn’t move, and only the slightest twitch of a muscle below his eye gave a hint that all was not as it seems. For her, it was enough. “I’d say there’s your confirmation. Something’s rotten in Westport...and Mr. Fabulous knows what it is...don’t you, sugar?”

Saul resisted the urge to bite his lip, or sputter denials...there was something about the tone that made him realize the petite blonde who he’d first dismissed as Eddie’s flavor of the week had a lot more going on than she was letting him see.

“So…”

“I can’t. C’mon Eddie, these guys are animals. Remember Don… you know, good old Donnie Lipschitz… You don’t, right? I say anything and nobody remembers Saul either, you know what I’m talking about.” He might be the only person that could talk faster than Eddie when backed against a wall.

“So, here’s the question… Miranda Foxglove, knows or doesn’t know… is she skimming?” It wasn’t where Saul thought he was going, and there was open relief at the question.

“Of course she’s skimming, they all skim, it’s what keeps the relationship symbiotic. Hell, I’d skim too, but have you seen my hourly rate?” Saul’s sense of humor was obviously returning, though there was truth to what he was saying. Eddie had seen his hourly rate.

“I’m not letting this one go…”

“What, you gonna run an inside fly?” Humor, and fear were now replaced with something else on Saul’s face. Intrigue…

“I’d need nine people and two pitchers at least. Too big, and I don’t have that kind of time.” Fingers traced along fabric, there was a nice feeling to the material that made up yoga pants. The motion helped him think too.

“Sad panda then. Everyone loves a sad panda… they’re ****ing heartbreaking.” Saul obviously had much more insight into Eddie than even he’d indicated before.

“I’ve only had that work once, and Jimmy got picked up two months ago… No, I need something different… something unexpected.” Eddie’s fingernails slid across the material, making short lived stretchy ripples in the black. A snap of fingers brought him out of whatever he was considering.

“You’ve got peaches there… sorry I mean Harley… Why not run a baby Chernobyl? Minimal people, maximum reward.” It had been Saul’s fingers that popped that way, and he was pointing at ‘Harley.’

“Okay, here’s the problem with that. Harley’s obviously not sick at all…” he patted a very healthy hip to make his point. “And besides, I’m not even sure she’s interested, even if she were sick.”

“What? You’re blind now Eddie… I never would have thought it could happen to you. Peaches is all over you, she’s definitely interested. Hell if I thought you’d change teams I’d climb into your lap… but maybe we should poll the room? Everyone who’s in raise your hand… that means you to Reggie… don’t think I don’t know the sound of you dropping coca cola from your nose.” Saul’s hand was the first one up, though Reggie, still off screen wasn’t far behind him.

‘Harley’s’ hand rose as if pulled by a string. She hadn’t played sick, ever, but she knew she could...with a little help. The look...that was easier than it seemed, but so far the only one who knew about her gifts was Simon. Adding anyone else to that list...it should have taken her longer to consider. Should have - but it didn’t. Maybe she was bored, bartending had never been a full time gig, and Mal required less of her time than any sugar daddy she’d ever had. She didn’t trust Reggie, or Saul...but she trusted Eddie, gods only knew why. It had been nearly instantaneous...for all it was unexplainable, at least to her. Nibbling at her bottom lip, she looked down at Eddie, expecting an argument, although she couldn’t say for sure why. “You boys give us a minute? I think I might be able to convince him…” Rising up from his lap, she slid a hand into the one on her hip, and tugged him up. An exercise in futility, really, if he didn’t cooperate.
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PostPosted: Sun Aug 13, 2017 11:22 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thankfully, he seemed inclined to trust her that much. Ignoring the snickering and marginally audible commentary from the peanut gallery, she led Eddie down the hall toward her bedroom, and the master bath therein. Closing the door behind them, she turned to take both his hands, a nervous edge just visible in the sharp exhale before she spoke. “Eddie...I can do this. I don’t have to be sick...I just have to look sick, right? I can do that...and no-one will be able to tell. I can do a little illusion magic. It’s a family thing. Luke’s better than I am, but I think I can do this…” She turned them both until they were facing the mirror, with him behind her. Stripping off the sweater, she met his eyes in the mirror. “Tell me what it looked like when Mel was sick. Marks...bruises…” She could guess sallow was a given, and as he watched, the golden glow of health faded, leaving her looking pale, and washed out, although no less pretty than she ever was.

Reggie winced under the look that Eddie sent his way, like he’d just been accused of something unforgivable. He had no idea how Saul had taken it when the same one fell on the screen. The man had gone quiet again though. He pushed a hand through long dirty blond hair, watching Tahlia lead Eddie from the room, and expecting to hear a bit of temper on the man’s part. Things were too quiet there. He’d have given almost anything for his earbuds and some loud guitar music.

On the other side of that door, with rooms between the two parties to prevent voices from carrying he suspected, Eddie was about to give ‘Harley’ every reason why she shouldn’t be involved. Except that she’d begun to change and he could only mouth the things that were missing and watch them appear on the blonde. Tan skin had gone shades lighter, and looked off. That was more than appropriate. “She’d had a lot of blood drawn too. They were constantly checking her. She joked that she’d fit in at any drug house in the city.” He schooled his features with a practiced ease. His ace in the hole had become a simple deuce, and someone had removed the wild cards. Appearance would not be the thing to keep the blonde out of this.

“You heard what Saul said, these guys are animals… and maybe I do remember Donnie… or the pieces of him that popped up from time to time. It’s bad news Tah… Harley... “ adding a dig wouldn’t hurt right? “You’re the only real good news there is around me right now.”

Bruises bloomed on her inner arms, with just the hint of tracking below. There was shadowing beneath the pale green eyes, every new addition combining to present the appearance of someone who might not be long for this world, but was still well enough to stand and walk. Her lashes fell over her eyes at the shot, and she took a deep breath before bringing them back to his. For the first time, there was something close to fear shimmering across their surface. “All the more reason to keep me close, right puddin? Besides...I’m not exactly helpless…” She couldn’t blame him if he thought the goons were what had her frightened. They didn’t. Not really. She’d faced their ancestors, and won. If her back was against the wall, she’d make them all pay in blood. And she felt truly sorry for them if Simon got wind she was in trouble...especially after their little bet. She left the evidence on her skin - no reason not to show the other two. Although she expected Reggie, at least, assumed they were up to other things, and she had resorted to old tricks to convince Eddie to let her try.

“You’ll be with me the whole time. I’ll be safe. You just have to promise me two things.” She reached back, seeking his hand and clinging tightly. The tremors in her fingers betrayed that this was the real cause of her fear. Not the animals, or whoever else they might run into. “One...no-one but you knows how I do this. Let Reggie and Saul think its makeup and acting. I’ve never played sick before, you’re going to have to show me how...but this...this is our little secret. And two…” Her eyes searched his...of the two, this was clearly of more importance. Wetting her lips, she trailed her free hand along the marks of blood draws and IV’s done with such frequency as to never heal. “You can’t let them take my blood. Not for anything. Not even for show...we’ll have to find a source, and rely on sleight of hand. But they can’t…” She took a deep breath, shaking her head unconsciously, her voice dropping to a choked plea. “You can’t let anyone take blood from me...tell them you’re the only one, or I’ll have an attack...please?”

Jesus he needed a drink. Why did they always want in, must be some character flaw in him that made it seem okay. No! Except he couldn’t deny that she looked now, for how good she’d looked before, Exactly like she had Long QT Syndrome. NO! Except she was, at least in his circles anonymous. NOOO! Except she wasn’t a bad actress, was available and he was short on time. “Okay…” Eddie hated himself.

“A gig like this, we can’t have them take your blood anyway. Too many markers that need to be present. We’ve got time to work out the details.” Please no. “There’ll be a lot of things that need to be worked out.” Eddie pulled away from Tahlia, it was the first time that she’d been close when he hadn’t found his hands on her… alone at least. “Gimme a minute, doll… I need to think.” Eddie watched her go, for once watching her, instead of checking her out. When he could see her no more, his attention returned to the reflection in the mirror. He locked eyes with himself, doing his damndest to make the man in the mirror blink before he did. She’d taken him to the sea, whether she understood what it meant or not. All he could to do reciprocate was put her in harm’s way.

“Dick.” Karma, he was pretty sure he was going to be it’s bitch sometime soon. It would have to be enough. He had a plan though… a ludicrous one. He wasn’t sure how long he’d stayed there staring at himself, everyone was there still, and Reggie had stupidly come out of the shadows. Damn kid never did know when to stay under wraps. “I need a name Saul.” It wasn’t a question, and he wouldn’t accept anything less from the man on the screen.

Tahlia had ducked her head and retreated to her bedroom, cursing herself in every language she’d ever spoken. Why had she thought he’d react any other way? A few nights, a few laughs...and she’d lost her chill and assumed he’d protect her...let him see her weak spots. Three centuries, and you’d think she’d have learned. He’d let her do this because it made sense. Because he needed it done. She was a tool, nothing more. Maybe this had been the play all along? Had she honestly lost her edge? Maybe she needed this as much as he did...sure, there had been Rocco, but that had been easy. To get taken in by another pro? She could hear Luke laughing at her from here. Wiping at her eyes, she waited until she heard him leave the bathroom, staring out the window at nothing until he’d left the room.

She was calm and collected as she followed him into the room, and settled on the couch, one leg crossed over the other as she reached for a pack of cigarettes and lit one. Foot bouncing slightly, she couldn’t quite bring herself to look at Eddie, or, for that matter, at Reggie or Saul. To see the distance there. She couldn’t figure out why it hurt...and that set her to cursing herself even more. A few months out of her sibling’s clutches, and she couldn’t seem to stop her feelings...rookie mistakes, and one’s she needed to get on top of, and fast. Lost in her own thoughts...she might have missed the plan. It didn’t matter, really...she’d agreed, and now she would do what she’d promised. Someone would tell her what to do, where to stand. She was bait. She’d been bait her whole life. This was just a different trap.

Saul and Reggie seemed to be having quite the laugh. It was also clear what it involved as Eddie and Tahlia re-joined the room. Things went quiet, especially after he’d spoken. “Reggie… go make me a drink, something strong… and make it take a while.”

Eddie was done being sly, and subtle. He wanted the boy out of the room. And that was what he got. “Now Saul… the name.”

“I thought we had a name, Miranda Foxglove. A nice little four way split….”

“Five. We need medical covered.” His words were clipped, and his demeanor far more blunt than it had been at any other time.

“Still a pretty penny, and the Chernobyl works perfect…”

Eddie had a fabulous grin, it could light rooms and draw looks. He wasn’t using it, the look on his face was in a word… severe. “No… not that. If we’re going to do this, we’re doing it right. Two words, Saul, Atomic Blonde. Now give me a name.” The name change might be enough to garner attention. It was subtle, and if looked at logically it would make sense. One indicated an accident, something that happened that had far deeper repercussions. The other… well there would be a hell of alot of fallout from it.

“Are you nuts! Do you know what comes from that?” Saul looked ready to back out… to hang up the phone and pretend that this conversation had never taken place.

“Of course, which is why I need a name. And you only need to ever remember one when we’re done… you feel me, Saul? One name, ever.” There was a set to Eddie’s jaw, an all business look to his face and a cross of arms over his chest that may have betrayed his intentions. All eyes on him… one name.

“Fine! Big Tony… You want one, that’s it.” Saul looked like he was hating himself for speaking.

“I thought he was… retired.”

“He is, which is why it works. Little Tony convinced him to let go of the reins. It never really sat right.” Saul… motormouth, snake oil salesmen, looked like he’d just given away the secret ingredient to his masterpiece.

“Two things… First, you don’t know who the *** Harley is. Second… set up a meeting with Big Tony… I know what you’re going to say, just do it. We’ll work it out.” Eddie’s brow dropped low over his eyes. He didn’t like the Capani’s, junior or senior. It was quite fair as they didn’t like him much either.

“Give me a couple of days. I’ll get back to you… now, if it isn’t too much trouble… I need to go, I need to change my goddamn shorts.” Saul didn’t wait for permission. He pressed a button and the screen went blank.

A decent chunk of that had gone over her head, as she sat and smoked, and tried not to feel so helpless. Eddie was all business, and she had gotten played, and good. Except that he was changing the game...changing the rules. And Saul was *** bricks. She snapped her gaze up beneath those muddy blonde bangs, watching the tall, confident figure insist Saul didn’t know her. Of course he didn’t...she was new. Wasn’t that the point? She’d never learned the games others played...they’d had their own, and they worked.

Saul blinked out, and Reggie hadn’t returned...it might take him a bit to find the bar, and figure out what to give Eddie…Mal hadn’t scrimped there either. At least she’d have this, when it was all over.
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Tahlia Faras
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PostPosted: Mon Aug 14, 2017 7:32 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Tahlia sat cross-legged on the couch, or close enough, one leg up, her elbow resting on the knee, watching Reggie craft the digital world ‘Lizzy’ lived in. Instagram, Twitter, Facebook (although most of those seemed to be cross-posts from the other two), plus a few others she hadn’t caught. If this was her life, she wanted to know it inside and out. Reggie had found them an heiress...20 years old, no parents, old money iron and railroad fortune, whose grandfather had had the presence of mind to sell out and invest...leaving the family with more money than they could spend in generations. Which meant Elizabeth Annabelle Davenport didn’t need to work, and didn’t have to report to anyone, or anything. She was perfect - all the more so because for the last year and a half, she’d been somewhere near Mount Yasuo, staying with some religious group. Reggie, with Tahlia’s help, was filling in the last year of Lizzy’s life...starting with some vague posts the real Lizzy had made about re-evaluating her life, and taking some time off. For them, that was the diagnosis point.

Melinda had died a little over a year before, just a few months shy of her birthday - hence the timing of the gala. Roughly a month after the first of the ‘new’ tweets would appear. “So embarrassing! Nearly went down in the middle of Shining Star Glass...luckily there was an old friend who knew just what I needed!” From there, it wasn’t long before they introduced #scruffyface...and the appearance of cgi created shots on her Instagram of Tahlia and Eddie. Reggie spoke to the screen - it seemed to be the only way he could string together sentences in Tahlia’s presence. “So, yeah...we’re gonna need to get you in a couple dresses...get Eddie in a suit or something...maybe some beach shots…” Dirty blonde hair hung over glassy, red-rimmed eyes that darted over the screen...as promised, Reggie was a virtuoso, so long as he had something to pop, swallow, or smoke. Tahlia had drawn the line at anything involving needles, or too illegal. Mal might be hands-off, but her sexy sugar daddy wasn’t a fool, and she wasn’t going to betray him so Reggie could ride the dragon. And no Ascend.

“Sure thing...charity events. Maybe dinner. Slow build...then a few vacations…” The petite blonde pulled a tootsie pop from between her lips, and frowned at it. Lizzy obviously didn’t smoke...or would have to quit, with a cardiac event hovering around every corner. It wasn’t quite the same. “Around the third month, let's ramp that up. Hashtags everywhere...change the tone, more romantic shots. “Doctors really pleased with how well I’ve been doing - all thanks to my #scruffyface!” And add those little hearts…”

Yoga pants and over-sized t-shirt that hung over one shoulder (and may or may not have belonged to a certain tall, dark, and handsome man) paired with her favorite heeled sneakers, her golden blonde hair swept into a high ponytail that danced across her shoulders when she nodded. “Yeah, like that. Add in some research tweets...things for heart health, diet...building awareness for Long QT...maybe a long vacation. Where does that put us?”

Reggie puffed at the dank strands, and then ran his hand through to leave them in funky twists above his forehead. “Um...6 months? Roughly. I can build it out more…” The tech whiz was trying to focus, and took another hit of the joint idly smoldering by his hand. “Add in some concerts, maybe? Song links, lyrics...it’s not all gonna be original content...no-one does that..”

“Yeah...Taylor Swift, and Avril Lavigne...Pink...really girl-power-y stuff...Katy Perry...some Maroon 5, maybe...oh! There's Jorge's boss too...Crystal, I think? Backstage shots if you can get them, you know the right stuff. Six months? Perfect. What’s the date on the run in? At the glass place?”

“July 22nd.”

“Good. January 22nd. Find a picture of rumpled sheets somewhere. Like, really rumpled… “I knew if I waited, I’d find him. Perfect guy. Perfect night. I love you #scruffyface.” All of the hearts. Just a line of them…” She popped the sucker back in her mouth, and gave it some thought. Maybe they could recreate that moment...but she liked subtle, for Lizzy. Sweet, innocent...romantic. Smart, but sheltered. And totally under Eddie’s spell, even if the thought set off alarm bells in her head.

Reggie’s fingers had stopped, and he was looking over at Tahlia, eyes wide and jaw dropped open, joint dangling from his fingers. “Damn...you mean...oh, damn...then what?”

“Then we introduce Antoine. We need some interaction. Otherwise Lizzy’s in a bubble. And, yeah...finding out your ex-girlfriend who wanted to wait til marriage just ****ed the help?” Smirking, she shot a glance over to Reggie. “Shots fired. Think cocky. Entitled. Gods gift, y’know? Give it a shot…”

The teen stammered for a moment, looking from the screen to the blonde and back. Maybe if he thought like Eddie...only...Eddie being an ***hole. “Uh...how bout this? “Looks like someone’s slumming...dying AND screwing your nurse? Looks like I dodged a bullet.”? And tag her.”

Tahlia let out a laugh that seemed to fill the room. “Oh my god! Reg...that’s PERFECT!!” Screw it. She didn’t have to quit yet, and even though the cigarette didn’t really do much for her, the lollipop just wasn’t the same. Reaching for her pack, she lit one and blew a plume of smoke to the ceiling. “hmmm…'Learned from the best...how’s that skank Cherry? You know that just cause she has a uniform doesn’t mean she’s got a degree...but then, that’s about your speed.' Catty...No, wait.” She knocked the ash off, and nodded. “Keep the first part. 'Learned from the best, how’s that skank Cherry? And #scruffyface is a better man than you’ll ever be. You didn’t dodge, I traded up.' Better.”

Reggie’s fingers flew over the keyboard...everything was being cached for now, but this was gold, and once it went live… “Keep this up in the background? I don’t think we’re going to get Eddie to tweet…”

“People like us don’t do social media, kid.” Tahlia shook her head, and let the moment hang with the smoke from her cigarette. “You’ve got the jist now...I’ll set up modeling with Eddie. And when we’re ready...we go live.”

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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: Tue Aug 15, 2017 6:58 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Mannish Boy

Now when I was a young boy, at the age of five
My mother said I was, gonna be the greatest man alive
But now I'm a man, way past 21
Want you to believe me baby,
I had lot's of fun
~ Muddy Waters

Friday, July 29th, 11:23 AM

Saul looked at the face on his wrist, the purple band of his watch drawing his attention and distracting him, if only slightly, from the actual time. It was a nice watch, reasonably expensive (though he had some which cost more), eye catching without being too flashy. It was a gift, and if there were any fault at all that Saul could find in the watch, it was in the placement of the minute hand. It was already ten minutes past the appointed hour and there was no sign of either of two people.

Saul was mildly uncomfortable, part of that had to do with the heat of the day. This meeting may have been better served in an office somewhere, but Anthony Capani, Big Tony, didn’t go to meetings. Meetings went to Big Tony, who felt like this was a good day to take visitors by the pool. He wasn’t wrong, it was a good day for that if you weren’t wearing a three piece suit and slightly overweight. It wasn’t hard to see how the man had gotten his name. He stood a few inches over six feet tall, that was actually fairly standard around these parts. It was his girth that had gotten him the moniker. Tall as he was, he weighed in at nearly three hundred pounds. In his youth it had been harder, but time and likely his semi-retirement were taking their toll on the man.

Joey Sarducci was there as well. Ever present at the older man’s side, Joey served as bodyguard and right hand man. Saul remembered Joey from school, he’d always been a mound of odd shaped muscle that had earned him the name No Neck Joey. The man’s shoulders were so big, you’d swear he was wearing shoulder pads constantly. If he were though, they were buried beneath his skin considering he was dressed for swimming. Joey had always been a bit sadistic, but in a fight there weren’t many people better to have on your side. He was loyal too, a fact that Big Tony had picked up on at an early age. Saul was quite convinced that Joey would gladly shield Tony from a hail of bullets if it came. Then again considering the man’s size and shape, those bullets might swerve out of fear.

Saul had requested this meeting, as he’d been asked to, of course. It had seemed unwise to go to Big Tony, without at least trying to include his son. Little Tony had taken over the reins not too long ago, and the entirety of Market District was, on a whole, worse than it ever had been. Still the man had agreed to come, oddly enough even he wouldn’t have required Big Tony to venture to far from his home in New Haven. Being dad still had some privileges it seemed. Little Tony, a name given to him only because his father had Big on a lockdown, had seemed distracted when talking to Saul. He had his doubts whether the younger Capani even remembered there was supposed to be a meeting happening, let alone one he’d actually show up to.

Eddie was another story. He’d asked Saul to set this up, yet here was Saul sitting in the sun sweating through Armani waiting. At least Eddie had the decency to call and explain that he was caught in traffic, but another five ticks had gone by on the minute hand of the watch that he’d gifted to Saul. It was fortunate though that Big Tony insisted they meet by the pool, it made it clear that Eddie had arrived as the rumbling growl of his car pulled up out front and shut off. Saul was tempted to watch the second hand move, timing Eddie from car to front door and then door to poolside.

“Deepest apologies, Don Capani for my tardiness. I hope that I haven’t inconvenienced you too greatly.” Saul wanted to be cross with Eddie, would have been if he hadn’t started out apologizing, or been so goddamn pretty.

Saul had been afraid that the man would show up completely under dressed for the occasion. Tony may have been only in a pair of trunks, but even he would have frowned on the big man if he’d shown up in the usual jeans and a t-shirt. Instead he had joined Saul, donning a linen suit that was so white that it made his skin look like bronze. True, he hadn’t worn a tie, but there was something about that lavender shirt, and the way he had it unbuttoned that made a tie seem like a criminal act. Even his shoes were pristine. Eddie seemed to be wanting to get all his bright colors in before labor day, though perhaps someone should have told him that when wearing those shoes it was a bit cocky not to have socks on.

“Joey! What the hell have they been feeding you, man. You seriously look like you could beat down a cement truck.” Saul tore his gaze away from the vision in white as Eddie addressed Joey, looking more at Big Tony for a reaction than anyone else. Joey would do nothing unless Tony gave him the go ahead.

Sunlight glinted off of the gold crucifix on Tony’s chest as he made a gesture with his hand. Drinks were brought out, almost like that hand, or maybe the ring on its pinky had summoned servers waiting in the shadows. It would have been rude to refuse, no matter what the man had provided. Fortunately, Eddie seemed to know that as well, and took the offered shot glass. Saul’s wound up on the table in front of him, he counted to three before gathering up the nerve to lift it and swallow the burning liquid down. It took effort not to cough, though he appeared to be the only one having a problem with it. Nerves most likely.

“It’s been a long time since you’ve come to me, Eddie Blake. What is it that you need from me?” Tony’s meaty hand rose to drink from his glass, the swallow followed closely by a pull from the imported cigar that graced his left hand.

“I have a proposal for you, though I had expected that your son was going to be here too. I can hold off, if you’d prefer to wait...Godfather.” Saul went very still at the last word out of Eddie’s mouth. The grip he had on the table tightening in an attempt to stop himself from shaking.

“Tony’s a very busy man, he’ll be here, or he won’t. If it’s important enough, he’ll call on you himself.” The old man didn’t seem to be bristling, but Saul had known him long enough that he was wary. Tony was annoyed. In part that came from his son not being here, and he was sure that a large measure of it was Eddie vocalizing the fact.

“No, of course, you’re right. I’m sure that dealing with the Vicelli’s is taking up a lot of his time. Still, from what I hear from folks in the marketplace, they wish your hand was on the tiller for this.” Saul looked at the apparition that stood just outside the entry to the pool. It looked like Eddie, even sounded like Eddie if he were to drop down the audacious six or seven levels. It even annoyingly refused to sweat mockingly at Saul the way Eddie would. But the lack of wisdom in the words said it simply couldn’t be.

“He’s not lying Don Capani, the people do miss you down there.” Saul was so shocked to hear the words from Joey that he forgot to react, probably a small favor but definitely the thing that kept Tony from getting upset. Leave it to Eddie to manipulate No Neck Joey, that hadn’t changed since high school either. Of course that was when they played ball on the same team. Eddie could always get the best, and worst performances out of Joey. Of them all only one of them had what it took to go all the way, but the big Tight End had little interest in playing ball for a living. Not when it was so much more fun to shave points, and ensure that the team never beat the spread.

The only game Eddie had ever been interested in was the next big con. He was good at it too, able to make money fast, keeping it was another matter. If the watch on Saul’s wrist proved anything it was that. No, Eddie did much better with someone else holding the purse strings. The blonde girl, Harley seemed to have a good hand for it, if the little he’d been able to see of her place was any indication. It was just hard to know who was playing whom there.

“The Vicelli’s are a bug, and soon to be crushed beneath a heel. They’re not the first to try this, won’t be the last either.” Tony’s tone was dismissive, clearly he wouldn’t talk about the family business to a total stranger. Saul of course knew better, he knew that the old man was concerned because it seemed like his son was actually backing this invading syndicate. It was even starting to look like consolidation of the red light districts in all the territories were starting to feel the taint of the Vicelli’s. Well except for the asian communities, but those people had such weird customs.

“Then, I suppose, to be honest. I don’t really need anything from you per se beyond permission. I mean the game I’m running isn’t even in your city. However, Saul counselled me that it would be unwise to proceed without getting the nod from your family.” Tony’s gaze suddenly fell on an unprepared Saul, and he silently cursed Eddie for throwing him under the bus.

“He’s going after Foxglove. I’ve listened to his reasons, and he does have grievance.” Saul fell back on his courtroom demeanor. That was something at least that he could count on.

“They’re the ones that handle that matter for us, right Saulie.” That name… he hated it, but endured it because it was better than being called something like nine fingered Saul. He liked that he had ten, and was aiming to keep it that way too.

“They handle matters like that for a lot of people, but my concerns are more for you and yours.” Saul could use every adjective and adverb alive to dance around a subject. It was what made him good at his job.

“So, we let him do his thing, and pull our investment out? Is that what you’re proposing?” Tony’s attention turned from Saul, thankfully. Of course it fell on Eddie, and the big bastard was wearing that stupid cocky assed grin.

“Well, sir, that’s not exactly what I am saying. See, if you pull your investment, then everyone else will as well. No, I’m suggesting that you secure yours, but make it seem as if nothing’s changed.” The more Eddie talked, the further around Big Tony turned. It had begun simply enough, an owl twisting its head, but the body began to follow.

“If I do that, then the others will want open war. Nobody wants that kid. Especially you, considering that Carmine Logan seems to be resurfacing. It’s only because I asked nicely that he stopped coming after you and Saulie.” Something about Tony’s words had Saul’s lips going dry, and no amount of licking them could relieve it.

“If the Vicelli’s are going to be stomped out, like you’re telling me, then there’s a war coming for the territory. Wouldn’t it be prudent to ensure that the Capani’s are the only family with the funds for such a war? You win the territory through superior means, then parcel it out as a peace offering. Everyone wins, and the paltry numbers that my crew takes is barely missed. After you’ve taken your percentage of course. I may not be running this in your neighborhood, but I do have to come back here, no?” Saul wanted to shake his head, he was good at dancing around a subject, but there was only one Fast Eddie. The carrot being dangled was more than just a territory, more than just money. It was about respecting Big Tony, and the old man was a sucker for that.

“I never liked you, Eddie. Not in the least. You’ve got no sense of when to be afraid, and no compunction to back off no matter whose lawn you’re *** on. But, you come to my home, call me a friend, call me godfather. As cocky a sunuvabitch as you are, you’re always polite about it, respectful. You do your thing, but Saulie, he’s gonna protect my investment. Ain’t that right, Saulie?” Tony hadn’t stopped looking at Eddie in White, it actually took several seconds for Saul to realize he had been talking to him.

“That is what you hired me for, Big Tony.” Saul should feel honored, Tony didn’t let just anyone call him Big to his face.

“Good, good… okay then. You have my blessing, Eddie, but screw me over and you won’t have to worry about if you can come back or not… because where I send you there is no coming back from that... Capice?” It was the first time Joey had moved since the conversation had begun, and that movement was every bit the threat that Big Tony had uttered.

“I’ve never let you down before, godfather, today’s not the day I start.” He moved forward, and bent to kiss the pinky ring of Big Tony. As Eddie finished, there was another of those summoning gestures from Tony, and more alcohol was brought to seal the deal. It was at that precise moment that Little Tony made his appearance, taking one of the shot glasses for himself. Not that Saul minded, it was the one meant for him, and he wasn’t sure he could keep two down.

Little Tony Capani was at least as big as his father, perhaps even a little bigger, but even with that he would forever be known as Little. Where Big Tony wore a crucifix, and pinky ring. Little Tony was laden with gold chains, and had no less than three diamond rings on his hand. He caught the position that Eddie was in, and a dark expression swept across his face. “I’m here… so what did I miss?”

Saul sighed, about to begin the explanation for Little Tony when the voice of his father broke the silence. “Eddie here was just here to pay his respects, and let us know that he has something going. It’s not something that will affect us any, but he wanted to be sure to follow tradition.”

“So… I came all this way for nothin’?” The younger man was quite put out about that.

“Did you say hello to your mother? She’s made her Cannoli, I bet she’s got some for you.” At his father’s question Little Tony looked guilty. He gave all four of them a quick once over before heading into the house. The calls of ‘Ma’, and Cannoli were quite clear even if the rest were inaudible.

“Eddie… take Saulie home. I had Joey pick him up.” That meant only one thing, both of them were now dismissed. Saul was more than ready to get out of there. Being anywhere around Eddie could become volatile quickly, and never ended well.

Saul said nothing more until they’d reached Eddie’s car. In fact it was Eddie that broke the silence. “Just move that stuff out of the front seat.”

Saul looked at the mass of plug wires that lay on the leather, and looked at Eddie curiously. “What? You think I was actually caught in traffic? I may have borrowed some parts from Little Tony’s cars. None of this would have worked if he were there, the prick.”

“Nice… perfect. You vandalize his cars and he’s the prick. Jesus, one of them is going to end up sending Carmine for me.” Saul didn’t know if Eddie heard him or not, the engine had roared to life, and Saul couldn’t really even hear himself. There was a big hand on his chest though, he followed it along Eddie’s arm and looked at his face.

“Do you trust me, Saul?” Every bit of frustration left Saul as he looked at Eddie. Damn him for being so pretty. Saul couldn’t answer, just nod.

“Carmine’s not coming for anyone…” Eddie threw the car into gear and rocketed off down the driveway. Once again Saul couldn’t hear a thing, and it was difficult to tell what else the driver had said, but it looked like his lips formed the word, ever.

Saul’s mouth moved, lips pursing up to form the words to ask Eddie what he meant. No sound came out, hell his lips never fully parted either. He sat back into the seat, looking out the side window thinking. Two words, Saul. Plausible deniability.
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Opportunity dances with those already on the dance floor. ~ H. Jackson Brown, Jr.
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Tahlia Faras
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PostPosted: Mon Aug 21, 2017 9:52 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

The Crow and the Butterfly

I never thought you'd slip away
I guess I was just a little too late
~ Shinedown

Monday, July 24th 1:15 pm

Smoke rose from the vicinity of the couch. Eddie drifted by, and as he’d done many times before he pilfered the cigarette from Tahlia’s fingers. Normally he’d take a drag or two, returning it to where it had come from. This time he stopped in full view of the blonde bombshell and put it out. The blackened end was only visible a moment before he tore the offending coffin nail into tiny pieces. On the one hand he’d made a tobacco mess on the table and floor to clean. On the other… he’d desecrated Tahlia’s vice. “Lizzy, this isn’t good for you. We’ve been doing so well, took that walk earlier… but even then you were so exhausted when we got back you needed a little nap. What’s more important… this or having as much time with me as possible?” He held up the bits of cigarette that remained in his palm so she could see and decide.

Wide green eyes snapped up to his face, her mouth frozen open as Eddie turned her cigarette into...tobacco chum. Her usual sass bubbled up for a moment, before she blinked, and managed to swallow it back. The voice that emerged was a half octave higher than her usual smoky drawl, and just slightly clipped - hinting of private school, without outright screaming. “Having time with you...of course. It’s an awful habit, I know...sometimes I just forget.” Cheeks barely flushed against skin more ivory than bronze, she batted her lashes up at him, and offered a hesitant, but still beguiling smile. “Forgive me, scruffy...please? I promise I’ll be better…” Perched on an upraised palm was the rest of the pack of premium cigarettes, and a silver lighter.

Eddie took the pack, but he left the lighter. “I learned a long time ago that there’s a few things you should never be without. A lighter is one of those things. You never know when you might need to make a fire.” The pack went into the pocket of his shirt, he’d get rid of it later. Now he knelt down in front of Lizzy, he had to believe that is who Tahlia was, stroked her flushed cheek with his palm and smiled. “I’m sorry I’m such a stickler, but I worry about you...about being without you. Mel seemed good and then she was gone… What would I do without you?”

Being Eddie Blake, con artist to beautiful wealthy women was not a real stretch for him. What was hardest for him was not to let these moments boil over into something far more primal. If there were an image for Tahlia and Eddie, it would have to be on a newly formed planet, red hot and burning with liquid rock and steam. Lizzy wasn’t like that, not where people could see at least. Those things had to be saved for behind closed doors, and maybe in their case inside sound proofed rooms. The swallow was a tell, but he did it anyway. “****, let’s start again.” The pack in his pocket was handed back to her.

Tahlia flopped back against the couch for a moment, eyes closing as she let out a sigh. She, at least, had the illusion to remind her...her skin returning to its usual sun-kissed hue as she took the cardboard box back from him. Part of her process - Lizzy was pale, with bright blonde hair and eyes that could be cornflower blue or teal...Tahlia was all sun-kissed skin and golden hair, and jade eyes that sparkled with mischief. For now. It helped her keep them separate...the two people inhabiting her skin. “Too stiff...what did I miss?” She fit the cigarette between her lips and lit it.

“According to Reggie, Little Lizzy was a paragon...until she hit 18. Lose the Brit?” She ran a hand back through her hair, her voice her own, for the moment. “Modern and innocent…” She shook her head with a laugh, unable to resist leaning forward and kissing Eddie for a few long, welcome moments. No blush, not even a giggle, although Lizzy would likely do both...not quite ice, but certainly french vanilla to Tahlia’s Death By Chocolate...at least in public. In private...well...Eddie turning innocent little Lizzy into a wanton harlot in the bedroom would only add to Miranda’s ire.

“No, that was me. I need to be able to separate you from Lizzy. It’s not easy, I was fine until… We’ll get it. Just keep rehearsing.” They had to be better than actors in a play, or any movie. Those things only required suspension of disbelief for a couple of hours. This had to stand up to scrutiny. He enjoyed the way she kissed him, and that was the problem. Tahlia seemed to pull the worst parts of him to the top. Maybe the best parts, it was hard to tell sometimes. Lizzy was the paragon of innocence, being slowly corrupted by the ultimate evil. Eddie could do that, Eddie did that on a day to day basis. It might be simpler with just an acquaintance, but no one he knew could pull off the part so well. The problem wasn’t her, it was in him, and the way he wanted to take her whenever he got close enough.

“Maybe we need a break, some coffee and a shower… preferably cold for me.” Those oddly shaded brown eyes were on her, memorizing the new look and still seeing the healthy and willing woman that had brought him many nights of pleasure. Not all of those had her anywhere near him. What did that say about Fast Eddie? Line locked, and spinning his wheels maybe? “My head is kind of spinning, we should eat.” He dropped a heavy steel door on the thought that bubbled with his words. “Okay…” He got up quickly putting a bit of distance between them. “I need something to take my mind off of…” Eddie didn’t finish his sentence, just passed through the door to the kitchen. That didn’t help at all. “Caesar Salad… maybe, a club sandwich?” Any of those would have worked, except that the countertops now had a different meaning for him.

Lizzy wouldn’t have caught it...but Tahlia’s mind followed Eddie’s right into the gutter with a smirk. “I can order both...we’ll split them?” Because the other issue was that Tahlia didn’t cook, and generally didn’t keep anything in the fridge that wasn’t alcoholic, or went with alcohol. Except leftovers. And some protein drinks Hope had suggested. Maybe some cheese. Domesticated, she wasn’t. To be fair, Lizzy didn’t strike her as much for self sufficiency either. Not with the pampered upbringing. She rose smoothly from the couch, cigarette held loosely between her fingers as she slid her phone from her back pocket, and texted an order to her favorite cafe.

“Why don’t you go shower, puddin...I’ll put the coffee on, sneak a quick cup, and then...Lizzy and Eddie can have lunch. Maybe if I don’t switch back so much?” But then...how to do that...when she had obligations to meet. She couldn’t resist a smile as she ran her hand along the counters, pausing to lean against them and look over at him. There was something magnetic about him...his success wasn’t hard to fathom for anyone spending more than a few minutes with him. But he wasn’t the only one struggling...she’d been a virgin more times that were physically possible for anyone, but times had changed…”Maybe we need to take the show on the road? Or just find neutral ground...except, obviously, we can’t do in anywhere in the city…”

They could do both. He’d have said as much if the woman weren’t being wicked with the counters. “Food will help a lot, but you may be onto something. Maybe I need an audience to get into character.” It wasn’t beyond reason. Being here, with her, sans chaperone was a recipe for… Okay he’d just think sex, because it encompassed everything. “Someplace isolated at first… and we should let Reggie know. Candid pictures will go well on your twitter book pages.” Eddie had little use for Social Media. Far as he was concerned, the more pictures that existed of him, the worse it was for business. He hoped that Reg would find some way to destroy the evidence of this particular operation.

“Shower, cold.” The placement of his hand should tell Tahli enough about his current predicament. There were two solutions, but only one of those would make this act more difficult. “There are moments in my life when I regret the direction my life has taken… this might be one of those.” Jeez he was turned on, she looked like an unhealthy version of the girl he knew her to be, yet… “Cold cold shower.” And even that wouldn’t help if she decided it was time to interrupt.

It was tempting. It was more than tempting...after all, saving water was supposed to be good for the environment, or something. But the more time they spent as...Tahlia and Eddie...the harder it would be to make Lizzy and Eddie stick. And they needed to, for however long this was going to take. Besides...Lizzy didn’t have to worry about a certain blond, tattooed fighter. Or how a certain tall, handsome rake was taking up way more of her thoughts than she was used to. No, Lizzy just had to worry about her heart stopping, and being blissfully in love with her scruffy knight...who just happened to bear a more than passing resemblance to said rogue. Oops.

“Instagram, I think...the other one is like texting thousands of people...Reggie gets it. I’ll give him a call while you’re...cooling off.” She couldn’t resist, and truthfully didn’t try too hard, sauntering over and rising up on tiptoe to kiss him, slowly settling back and licking the taste of him from her lips. “Really? But...if had gone differently, would we have met?” It was a rare moment of honesty...the question innocent enough on the surface, if it hadn’t been followed by Tahlia blinking sharply, and spinning back to pick up her phone. “Go. Shower. I’ll tell Reggie to show up asap, and order him a burger or something...No.” She stopped, and turned back, leaning on her hands. “Eddie...we can’t have a chaperone with us every minute. If we can’t even get through lunch...we have to. From now on, unless we’re out in public...or dealing with logistics...I have to be Lizzy.”

“No, you’re probably right. From here out, things are going to be different. I’ll miss you Tahlia.” Eddie had to do what was necessary. In this case that meant working on his perception. She was Tahli, no longer. Her name was Lizzy Davenport, she was wealthy, ill and most importantly, she needed him. He didn’t smile at her as he turned away, much as he might have wanted to. He’d stick to the story, to the lives they were weaving and Reggie was generating for them. He’d come to her not long after Melinda had passed, still feeling that and doing his best not to place that on Lizzy’s shoulders. She and Mel, they were a lot alike in some ways, in one way in particular. He stopped before he made it fully out of the room. “You’re really something, you know that? You amaze me, Lizzy. If anyone has the right to be angry, and hate life it’s you, but you seem to be the only one really living it.”

Eddie didn’t look back, he’d said his piece, and disappeared two steps later behind a closed door, and the sound of running water.

Thankfully, she could hold back the flinch until he’d turned his back, the calm smile staying in place until he couldn’t see the shaky rushed breath. She knew what he meant - it had been her suggestion, after all...but it stung, that goodbye, coming from him...she’d never really worked with a partner other than her brother before. And every plan had been a variation on the same theme. This was different...and she wasn’t nearly as confident as she pretended to be. The voice that answered him was Lizzy’s.

“Hating it won’t change anything, scruffy...I just have to do the best I can, and hope it’s enough…” She watched him walk away, running a hand back through her hair, the color shifting lighter beneath her fingers. She had no idea whether he could still hear her. “Besides...I have you. I have everything to live for…”

Lizzy was back...had to be. Eddie needed this...and she needed to help him get it. Waiting for the delivery, she padded over to a mirror, to make sure everything was in place. Bright blonde hair, sea green eyes with a hint of shadow beneath, and ivory skin. The weather had her in khaki shorts and a peasant style cotton blouse, the never-quite faded bruises showing in the crook of her elbows. And just in time - the buzzer sounding to signal that lunch had arrived. The delivery guy was her regular, and his surprise was easily soothed - she was practicing for a play, and of course, she’d make sure he got tickets if it ever played anywhere. Laughing brightly, she closed the door behind him, and set the food on the counter, lighting a cigarette without a second thought.

“Your words still serenade me. Your lullabies won't let me sleep. I've never heard such a haunting melody. Oh, it's killing me. You know I can barely breathe.” Showers, and acoustics there was something to be said for them in combination. Why that song, why now. Ask him if you wanted a lie. Eddie was good at lies, even the ones he told to himself. He’d heard Lizzy in that moment between movement and the closing of the door. It wasn’t the unexpected answer, it was Lizzy’s. Now, and for the foreseeable future that would be what he knew. This wasn’t some street grift, it wasn’t a show that could be covered over by swift violence, or a bit of excitement. It was a long term run for an audience that would scrutinize everything. So maybe there was something to the song? Maybe he needed to realize that yesterday was indeed over.

Breathing came naturally to most things. Even Eddie breathed, but there were those who thought it possible that the game came even easier than that. Sometimes they were right. He’d been known to walk into a place he’d never been, and have people believing some of the most outrageous things. There was a certain pay out that had nothing to do with money, and everything to do with being the only one who knew the truth. The buzz of the door had blended into the sound of water beating off his head. His palms were fixed to the shower wall, head bent beneath the flow just enough to allow half of it to pummel the back of his neck. He didn’t use the gels or shampoos available. He couldn’t really. It was one more thing that would need to change. The scent of Tahlia needed to be scoured from him. Maybe that was the problem. It might be. Flattened hands became fists, pressed hard against porcelain tiles. It wasn’t the thoughts that did it. No, it wasn’t. Internal arguments sounded through him like children in the backseat on a long car trip. Best to just roll his head back and let the water strike his face. There, no more song, no more anything but Eddie Jain Blake.

_________________

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: Mon Aug 21, 2017 9:59 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Long minutes passed between turning off the water and his reappearance. The shape in the mirror was obscured too much by the sheen of fog across its surface. “There you are, I knew you were in there all along.” The outline was there, but the details were fuzzy. They could have been anyone. It was probably a sad statement about him that he was more comfortable seeing this version of himself than anything clearer. Feeling cleaner, Eddie opened the door, releasing the haze in his wake as he moved through the place like he owned it, or maybe like he owned the girl who was paying for it. The deep tan on his skin darkly contrasting the towel that he kept wrapped around his waist, the folded tuck drawing attention to the line of hair that ran from his navel to some point hidden beneath the cloth. Deft fingers plucked the lit cigarette from Lizzy’s fingers, and ran the water over the cherry end of it. He didn’t say anything, not this time. She already would know.

She did - the sudden flush of her cheeks gave her away. Turning, pack in hand and offering it out to him, she felt her mouth go dry, the color in her cheeks spreading down along the delicate line of her throat. Even after everything...he could still render her speechless, and her free hand pressed against the sudden jump of deeply buried muscles that quivered at the thought of everything he’d shown her. Taught her. Coughing as her lungs reminded her how desperately she needed to breathe, the tip of her tongue slid over her lips, and she struggled to bring her eyes up from the towel to his face. Although it was well worth the effort.

“Lunch is here...I had them put the dressing on the side so it wouldn’t get soggy while you were in the shower. I was just getting plates...they sent those cheap paper ones, and they won’t stand up to the salad.” The words came in a rush, as if talking about food would cover the slight tremor in her voice, the flush that was only now beginning to subside. She didn’t acknowledge that he’d caught her - stating the obvious wasn’t her way. He’d caught her misbehaving and they both knew it. It was just that being good was so hard, when you’d been used to not having any worries at all. But it was her life on the line...and she knew why he was so strict. Mel had been doing so well before her last illness. As much as he tried not to let her see how much he worried that the same thing would happen to her, she knew it was there. Ever present. Much like the genetic quirk that held her hostage. But she tried to stay positive...after all, she had the best care anyone could ever ask for.

Eddie’s hand slid beneath Lizzy’s chin. He locked eyes with her, it was easy to get lost in the hues of the sea. “I know you’re doing your best.” He claimed the pack of cigarettes, and placed a kiss on her forehead that was almost chaste, there was a blurring of the line from how long he lingered there. “I’m glad you did, those things are so difficult to eat when they’ve gone soggy.” His hand slipped from her face, sliding down her arm and giving a squeeze to her elbow before breaking from her completely. He took his place at the table, across from Lizzy, so that he could see her better when they talked, and maybe she’d run her instep along his calf. “I might be curious where you keep getting them from though. If that friend of yours is supplying you, I will have a talk with… what was his name again? Reggie… that was it.” For now, it paid for some kind of tie to remain with the kid, considering how integral he was in pulling off this made up life… or almost made up at least.

Eddie began with the salad, right hand manipulating his fork, while the left stretched across the table to take Lizzy’s. “I’m sorry to be running around like this. I honestly feel like I’ve been living in those clothes for the last week. I can’t seem to find anything to wear either. Well, except for you know who’s, and they’re far too small.” Eddie spared Lizzy, so often she would wince a bit if he mentioned Antoine by name. There was a winner, and honestly Eddie was hoping to run into him. He didn’t even care if there were an alley close enough to drag the guy into. He’d hurt her, and that would need to be paid for. “Think it’s possible to get something sent up? Not that I mind the way you’ve been looking at me.”

Lizzy bit at her bottom lip, her lashes settling against her cheeks as a tiny mew of pleasure squeaked between her lips, and then fluttered open with a start as she felt him move toward the table. Chewing on the inside of her cheek, she gently set herself across from him, her foot rising to stroke his calf as she set her chin on an upturned palm. She didn’t want to rat Reggie out...he was almost the only connection she had left...but Eddie would find out, he always did, and then he’d be even more upset with her. “He only got them for me because I asked...I…might not have told him I’m not supposed to.”

Mirroring his movements, she laced her dainty hand into his, only the stark contrast of their skin tones keeping it from disappearing completely. For a moment, the fork hovered just shy of her lips as she remembered the way his hands looked against parts of her that rarely saw the sun, and that led to the way they felt...blushing furiously, she realized he’d kept talking, and blinked to pull the words from her subconscious. “Oh! There’s nothing to be sorry for but...we should absolutely get you something you can go out in.” The implied individual caused her to bite into her poor salad with determination, chewing and swallowing before she continued. She didn’t want to think about her ex, or see him...she would have blocked him, but Eddie said it was better to know what the weasel was planning. She could understand it...but it didn’t make it easier. “I’ll make a few calls - we haven’t gone shopping for you in forever. Maybe I’ll pick up a few things...in case we decide to go away?”
Taking a bite of her sandwich, she licked at a stray bit of mayo, and watched him for a moment. She loved watching him...his eyes were like glazed terracotta tiles, only they held so many wonderful secrets...they drew her in and held her until she simply couldn’t think. She didn’t mind at all. He made sure she took her medication, and ate, and did her exercises...plus the other exercises. She liked those the best, but she couldn’t possibly tell the doctors that. “Scruffy...I know I’m supposed to be careful...but do you think we could go to the beach? Soaking up some sun might help, couldn’t it?”

“I’ll be sure he knows… just talking, I promise.” Threatening was talking, right? That was easily put aside for a possible shopping trip. Eddie loved it when she dressed him, it made his spell on her work so much better. He did care for her, and even she’d seemed to understand that he had his own wants. There was no way he could ever hope to fit into her world, not with those faded dungarees and torn tee shirts. They looked good on him, gave him a certain off the streets look that helped in some situations. The only thing was, that Lizzy didn’t get into situations where that look was necessary. All he did was serve to embarrass her when he dressed that way. That is something he didn’t want to do, ever. “Something really nice? I’d like to be able to take you to places and not have to borrow one of their jackets and ties.”

He’d picked through his salad, eating everything that wasn’t a piece of lettuce first. He’d go back for that later, now he leaned forward, lifting her hand so that he could place a kiss on her palm. When he looked up at her over their hands, he had a wickedly secret grin on his lips. “Maybe you’ll get something lacy… and purple. You look so good in purple, songbird.” The look, and that name, it would say enough to Lizzy to send her skin to new shades of pink, and Eddie would drink that up.

“I won’t tell if you don’t, I’ve never seen a bit of sun and sand as a bad thing. It’s good for the soul, Liz… You deserve so much more than that.” The corner of his mouth moved, and just to remind her of that pet name she had for him, he brushed his five o’clock shadow along the palm he’d just kissed hoping for a bit of a scritch from her fingers. “Just, give me a little time I’m not really anxious to put those clothes back on.” Those words threatened to knock Eddie out of character, but he held on doggedly.

“Of course - a few sports coats, maybe a suit or two...everything. You’re so good to me...it’s the least I can do. And some things for the beach...maybe just a few for out in town...you’d wear a tux for me, wouldn’t you?” She scritched her nails along his jaw, her cheeks turning the shade of pink usually associated with roses, she ducked her head, corn-silk hair smoothly shading her face. “Oh...Eddie…” Just the beginnings of the tremulous notes that earned her that nickname from him, but it was enough to let him know he’d got her thinking...and that there would be at least one thing fitting that description in her lingerie drawer before too much more time had passed.

“No...I-I know. But I was...maybe...renting a boat?” She stammered, her breath catching in her throat, pupils wide and shimmering as she glanced back up at him. It was her fortune, after all - she didn’t really need his permission to spend money, and she could more than afford anything she might desire. Except that what the sheltered heiress desired more than anything in the world was sitting across from her in a towel. And she would do anything to make him happy. She’d already done things she’d never dared imagine...and likely would again at the earliest opportunity. “Just something small…” Translation, a 2 bedroom yacht with crew, which, to be fair, did count as small in her world.

“Take as...much time...as you need…” And her mind was back on the heat of his hands, his lips...the kiss soaking into her palm and spreading like a fire through her veins. Her pulse began to hammer in her ears, throb in her wrist, and she tried to calm her breathing. In hindsight, the cigarette had not been such a good idea.

“I’m a blank canvas, or maybe I’m clay because I like the idea of being molded.” That required fingers, her fingers. Maybe he’d been too subtle… Eddie wouldn’t let her look away from him for long. “Hey… I’m over here, and I might miss seeing those pretty eyes of yours.” It seemed to be the perfect mingling of characters, she’d make him look impressive, give him a place to hang those clothes. He’d in turn give her a bit of stability, keeping her to a schedule with her medications, at least dropping her into moderation with that bad habit of hers, until he could wean her entirely of it. There hadn’t been a better fit, since… well he wasn’t going there right now.

“You know, that might be an even better idea than just a trip to the beach? It’ll give you time to enjoy the sun, and a place to get out of it and rest when you need to. I knew it… You’re brilliant. Brains and beauty, a guy like me doesn’t stand a chance with you.” There was the faintest sound of an alarm going off. It was coming from an entirely different room, but the sound had Eddie moving. He gave her a sympathetic look as he stood, leaning over to kiss the top of her head on his way by. When he returned it was with a handful of pills for her to swallow. “It seems like time is against us… It passes so quickly that… okay, let’s go through them one at a time. Got to make sure I don’t miss any, right?”

“How does Saturday sound? Just the two of us and the open sea.” Not that they’d get too far from land. Maybe he should consult the doctor just so he knew what he might need in case she had a seizure.

There was no mistaking the pout for anything else. She knew she needed to take her medications...knew that even if it didn’t always feel that way, they were helping to keep her healthy. But she was young, barely past her 21st birthday, and the thought of having to take so many pills, every day...sometimes it strained even her sunny personality. And the fact that she was feeling...off...after her little indulgence, only made it worse. Batting those aquamarine eyes up at him, she allowed her bottom lip to quiver...not enough to be overdramatic, but enough to hint at threatening tears. Somehow, taking her pills didn’t seem so bad while she was settled on his lap, curled up against his chest. If she played her cards right, he might even reward her with a kiss for each. The look was usually enough, but this time she held out her cupped hands in addition. “I’ll count if I can sit in my favorite spot while I take them. Promise.” A little childish, perhaps, but she only ever did it when the two of them were alone. She let him see her vulnerable...something she fought still to conceal from the rest of the world.

She knew each pill, plus the ones she didn’t have to take every day. Inderal to slow her heart, Mexiletine to fight the arrhythmia, potassium and spironolactone to fix the things she was missing that made her likely to faint, or seize, phenobarbital to keep the seizures to a minimum and a fish oil supplement, because it couldn’t hurt. The last one made her nose wrinkle just a little...and usually required something to help her forget the taste. She had to take a few of the supplements, and there were always stashes of the nitroglycerin that would stabilize her in the event of an attack. It had taken Eddie to get her to understand and accept how important those were...before him, after the nightmare with Antoine...some part of her had thought it might be better to just let her heart fail her if it was going to. She hadn’t ever said it...but some part of her suspected he knew.

Eddie pushed his seat out and sat down, her favorite seat ready for her. He didn’t put the pills into her hand though. He laid them on the table and took them one by one, holding them up so she could see them. The first of them went up, and Eddie leaned his head in towards her ear. He moved his fingers making the pill dance a bit, then spoke in a really high voice. “Hello, Lizzy… my name is Indy… and I can tell when your heart starts to beat waaaay too fast. I’ll help you, if you let me… but you have to swallow me. I’m a little afraid, it’s dark down there and I don’t like the dark so much. But this is what I was made for… specially for you… just read the bottle! Your name’s allll over it.”

One by one, and each with a different name and a different voice, Eddie relished the little giggles that would come from Lizzy as he acted like a fool for her. One of the last ones, the phenobarbital, had a very deep voice. “I’m sorry, Lizzy, I’m good for you, but I make you reeeaaallly tired. That’s not always a good thing, but I think someone in the room would like nothing more than to snuggle up with you while you sleep a little. I’m not sure where this person is… because I don’t have eyes, but I can feel his presence, and it’s very close. Do you know anyone like that? If you do, and you think this is something you might enjoy, then please… take me and it’ll happen… I promise with all my heart.”

Eddie gave her the last pill, holding her tight against him, and kissing the back of her shoulder. “I can’t promise that this will ever go away, but I’ll be here no matter what.” His arms tightened around her, holding her against him. “I promise.”

This was why she hardly missed a dose of her pills anymore. He made her laugh, each pill followed by a sip of water, and then a chaste brush of lips that left her smiling before he even presented the next. Sometimes she’d rest her head against his shoulder, her laughter bubbling up to tickle his skin, before opening her mouth obediently to take the dancing pills from his fingers. That she occasionally held on a little longer than strictly necessary...well, that could be squarely placed on his shoulders as well.

The phenobarbital didn’t make her giggle, although a soft smile remained on her lips as she nodded, and took a deep breath. The anti-seizure medication did make her sleepy, and she had always hated taking it. Perhaps out of fear that she wouldn’t wake. But ever since Eddie had come into her life...it hadn’t seemed so frightening. He always stayed with her, letting her curl up against his chest and drift, so that he was the first thing she saw when she woke up.

She swallowed the last pill, and took a sip of water to wash it down...and curled tight against him, burying her head in his shoulder. “I know...I know you will. I just...I couldn’t get through this without you, scruffy...I just couldn’t…”.
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Eddie Blake
Young Wyrm
Young Wyrm


Joined: 13 Feb 2016
Posts: 45
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Can Be Found: Drifting
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PostPosted: Wed Aug 23, 2017 3:14 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I Need a Doctor

I'm about to lose my mind
You’ve been gone for so long, I’m runnin' outta time
I need a doctor, call me a doctor
I need a doctor, doctor to bring me back to life
~ Dr. Dre, ft. Eminem, Skylar Grey

July 31st, 9:07 PM


Saul Mortimer, Dr. Kilpatrick recognized the man the moment he’d stepped through the door to his clinic. He knew it was only a matter of time before it happened. Had he been informed that the man was coming, he’d have hidden in his office and instructed the phlebotomists under his guidance to tell Saul he wasn’t here. That would have only worked for about two minutes, since Saul had parked right next to his own car. It was clear the attorney knew too much already. But two minutes, that was plenty of time to slip out a window and make his getaway while the others had him distracted. There’d been no warning, and the snake oil salesman who called himself a Criminal Attorney had spotted him. If there was one thing that Daniel J. Kilpatrick knew about Saul, it was that you could easily sever away the word attorney, and you would have a good picture of the man beneath the sports jacket.

He tried to give Saul the Hi, how are you...pissoff wave. That was a mistake, because Saul didn’t know how to pissoff. He took it as a good omen or something and closed the distance between them.

“Doc… I need about a half hour of your time…” Famous last words from Saul. He’d ask for thirty, and if you were really lucky he wouldn’t have you doing ten to twenty. Not that the man was a bad attorney, quite the contrary, he was very good at manipulating the law. That fact alone made Saul an extremely bad attorney for those who didn’t know him.

“I’m really quite busy here Saul. Why don’t you call me in a month or two. We’ll have drinks and remember the old times… times long gone, and never to return.” Daniel kept his tone cool. There might be a call, even plans made, but that was one housecall this doctor had no intention of making. Unfortunately, Saul also wasn’t good at taking hints. He saw them plainly enough, he could point them out in casual observance of people interacting. He just didn’t take them. Yet another reason he excelled in his career.

“Daniel… Danny… Deejay… Come on man. I was part of the wedding party. Surely you have a little time for ol’ Saul.” One of Saul’s hands had found Daniel’s shoulder, the other thumped him loudly on his stomach. “You need to take better care of yourself Danny boy. When’s the last time you went to a gym?”

Clearly, Saul wasn’t going away. It was also crystal clear exactly what he was doing, as eyes drifted from the customer chairs to the pair of them. He was trying to embarrass Daniel into the confines of his office. Fine, he’d give Saul his thirty minutes, happily tell him to get bent, and go away… but first. Daniel checked the clock on the wall, giving it a serious scrutiny.

“I’ll have time, in about forty five minutes or so, Saul. I’ll give that time to you in exchange for something.” Daniel did his best to call on his wonderful bedside manner as he smiled amiably at the leech that wouldn’t let him go.

“Sure..sure, anything, Doc… within reason.” That was all Daniel needed to hear. He waved to a pretty blonde phlebotomist, calling her over.

“Inga, Mr. Mortimer has agreed to make a donation. Would you see him to one of the stations?” Daniel started to walk away as Saul began his protests. “When he’s done, send him in to see me please.”

Part of Daniel felt guilty at hearing Saul as Inga gave him special treatment. It wasn’t that he’d caused it, more like he felt guilty that he didn’t feel guilty about it. That oath, do no harm was supposed to mean something, but this was Saul so… no harm was really done. For Daniel, it was actually forty five minutes of complete bliss. Now of course he had to pay for his entertainment. Saul stepped through the door, closing it behind him and taking the seat nearest the large oak desk.

“Jeez, where’d that broad learn to draw blood, the middle ages?” He was rubbing at the crook of his elbow, which had turned nicely purple.

“Inga? Probably, she worked as a nurse once around two hundred years ago. That was before she was turned of course. You should feel lucky to get out with your life.” Daniel tried not to be pompous, he’d failed too.

“Ah… right, and that’s another thing Danny boy. This deal you’ve got going on here. Vampires, really?” That name brought the usual drop of his eyebrows. It was instinct and he couldn’t help it, even if he’d wanted to.

“This from Mr. bigtime mob lawyer, Saul Mortimer, or should I call you Saulie now? At least what I’m doing is legal. We pay for the juice, the vamp’s pay us. Clean, simple, and no bodies to hide.” Not for a long time at least. “Besides, you know it was all I could get...after…”

Daniel didn’t have to say anymore, Saul of all people knew exactly what he meant. “On another note, mentioning the wedding… that won’t win you any favors.”

“Aww...come on, that was a hell of a reception. Not my fault that Jenna started banging Raoul the pool boy. Also not my fault that you wouldn’t let me use it in court. I warned you that she was the type to not get married just to keep getting the big check from you.” Saul had advised him to use it, he’d been naive because he still cared about her.

“I remember the reception. You got caught in the act of shagging my brother-in-law.” Daniel leaned back in his office chair, this thing was already taking too long.

“He was hot…”

“You knocked over the wedding cake, before anyone got to have any. Ruined the reception.” Daniel’s hands had become fists in his lap. Good thing the desk was there to keep it from view.

“I had some of it… trust me I did you a favor. You probably should have taken it as an omen… that marriage was doomed.” Saul still seemed chipper, then again making Daniel squirm always made the attorney that way.

“Okay… enough, what is it you came here to talk about.” He’d had about enough of the old days, with Saul. Now it was time to hear the man out and tell him unequivocally, no.

“I’m in on the ground floor of something that’s right up your alley.” Saul shifted gears smoothly, he’d always been able to do that. “Nice payout, minimal risk. You don’t even need to study much for your part in it, assuming you know a thing or two about Long QT.”

“I was an interventional Cardiologist, Saul…”

“So you do, even better.” Daniel had made the mistake that had gotten him into trouble so many times before. Not that he hadn’t enjoyed those days, more in retrospect now than in reality. Maybe he’d grown up, because even letting Saul talk about the job didn’t have him even wanting to say yes, no matter how many ideas he was coming up with as the man went on.

“Look, Saul, I appreciate you thinking of me, and yes it sounds like a great opportunity, but… Look around, it took some time but I have a good set up. I’m making money, even with the alimony. I have people who depend on me. I’m going to have to pass. You know plenty of guys who could fill this role perfectly.” He’d done it, listened to the detailed and well thought out pitch and managed not to do what he’d always done before… agree on impulse.

“But…”

“There’s nothing you could say that will make me change my mind, Saul. I’ve changed, I’m a legitimate doctor now… though it comes with far less responsibility. That’s just Karma.” That seemed to work, Saul was rising, and soon his back would be to Daniel, and he’d be gone from his life… if not his memory. But Saul didn’t turn around. He put his fists in the center of the wide desk and leaned to look Daniel right in the eye.

“Nothing I can say? Danny… Deejay… You’ll agree, and all I need to do is say two words.” Saul was not an intimidating man, unless he was in the courtroom. That was the look he wore, and it was the way he spoke now. Daniel’s heart skipped a beat… just one, then everything was normal.

“Even you don’t have that kind of power, Saul… But fine… let me hear the words.” Nothing had swayed him so far. Daniel was the very picture of confidence.

Saul held up two fingers as he started to speak. “Two words: Eddie Blake.”

Saul was nowhere near him, in fact the man had turned, pulling open the door and stepped through, still Daniel had flinched. “I’ll call you tomorrow, Dan.”

Maybe Saul had cheated, pushing four words into his two word solution. Even as the door shut, Daniel knew that he’d been right though. Two words had changed his mind. In the silence that followed Saul’s departure, Daniel found his own two words. “Well ****.”
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Tahlia Faras
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PostPosted: Wed Aug 23, 2017 8:37 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

August 7th, 2:12 PM

My Medicine

Somebody mixed my medicine
I don't know what I'm on
Somebody mixed my medicine
Now baby it’s all gone
~ The Pretty Reckless

Housecalls, Dan didn’t do them, he hadn’t done them even before the trouble had come. He certainly had no need to make any now. Damn Saul, damn Eddie and whoever this Harley was. The elevator stopped often, people getting that last long vacation in before classes started once again. Honestly that wasn’t much of a concern for Dan either beyond having to wait through it. He stood outside the door debating whether or not he was going to knock. If he were going to back out, this was kind of his last opportunity.

Hell, who was he kidding, there was no backing out. Not this time at least. Dan knocked on the door hard enough to make his knuckles hurt. Just a bit of leftover frustration and jitters. He’d already done the hard work. He fired off a quick text to Saul, letting him know he’d arrived. Even if he hadn’t managed to quite get inside yet.

Harley answered the door before the last knock, her hair in twin braids that lay against her shoulders, and wearing a cropped t-shirt and yoga pants, paired with a set of heeled sneakers - she couldn’t do much about the fact that even Reggie towered over her, but she could keep herself out of flats, at least until Lizzy took over. Aqua green eyes batted up at the handsome doctor, and she took a good, long look from head to toe before taking a step back, and gesturing him inside. “You must be Dan...come on in…”

She didn’t wait, turning on her heel and sauntering back into the penthouse. She just assumed he’d follow behind, and know to close the door behind him. She also assumed he’d be checking out her rear, and added a little extra sway to her step. She wasn’t sold on the idea of using an actual doctor, but she recognized that she didn’t have the resources here that she was used to. “Can I get you something to drink, Doc?”

“And you’re obviously Harley, though no one gave me a last name to go with it.” He may have been a bit surprised by the quality of girl who answered the door. Then again it fit to have someone pretty, and petite enough to appear helpless. “Even Saul hasn’t said much about you, beyond you were with Eddie.” That could mean a thousand things of course. It really just depended on which version of Eddie and how he was with her. Dan checked her out a bit, without letting himself become too distracted.

“A drink.. Just a soda or water.” Dan stayed away from anything harder whenever possible. Something else he’d left behind in that other life. “I almost feel like I should be asking you questions like how you know Eddie, and what it is you’re trying to get out of this.” He hadn’t asked though, let her associate the questions or not. “Speaking of Saul… What has he said about me?”

She ignored the comment about last names - he wasn’t going to get one. For these purposes, Harley she was, and Harley was all he needed to know. Opening the fridge, she bent to look at the shelves - not that there was much there. “I have water or coke…” Glancing back over her shoulder at the good doctor, she let out a low chuckle that could mean any number of things. “Saul’s a smart guy. Yeah...I’m with Eddie...we met at a bar, hooked up a few times, and here we all are. I fit what he’s looking for, y’know?” Winking, she grabbed both the can of coke, and the pitcher of water, and set them on the counter. Opening a cabinet, she rose on tiptoe to grab two glasses. “As for what I’m getting out of this? The same thing as everyone else...there’s a payday at the end of it. Plus...I happen to like helping friends out…”

Setting both glasses on the counter with a clink, she tilted her head and regarded Dan with an amused little smirk. “Surprisingly, he didn’t mention how handsome you were...but then, he’s usually pretty busy mooning over Eddie. He said you were a doctor - you guys have known each other a while I guess.” Harley flirted like she breathed, and about as naturally. It was a habit, and one she had no intention of breaking. Twisting men around her finger got her what she wanted...and in this case, it would distract him from the questions she had no intention of answering. “He told me you could be trusted not to….**** things up, I think, was how he put it...and you knew enough about Long QT to fill in the blanks.”

“I know enough…” He reacted a bit to the compliment, but Dan knew the game pretty well too, even if he was nearly five years out of practice. “I was an interventional Cardiologist. So Longs was at least in my field of study. I’ve also been out of the game long enough not to bring up any red flags.” Especially after Reggie fixed up a few things about his past, and his present. He took the coke, and was all set to lean against the counter when something sent him off towards the parlor and a chair to himself. “I’ve known them both a while, but honestly haven’t seen any of them for a long time. Not since… well that’s less important, right? I probably wouldn’t have agreed to this if it weren’t for Eddie, though.”

Bits of information found their way out of him, though it was worse than a thousand piece puzzle to put together. “Saul’s always had a bit of a crush on Eddie. I think he felt a bit guilty about the Carmine thing. That’s kind of when we all lost touch. Eddie disappeared, Saul just stopped calling. I saw the kid a time or two but even that only lasted through the first year.” Dan was only beginning to realize exactly how long it had been since he’d been in their loop, or since they’d last trusted him.

The sudden retreat quirked her brow, but she said nothing, simply pouring a glass of water for herself, and following to curl into the corner of the couch, facing him, her legs tucked beneath her. “The Carmine thing? I’ve heard the name…” She’d only heard the name, although context lead her to infer a few things. Twisting one braid around a finger, she took a sip of her drink, and watched him over the rim of her glass. “Things like that...sometimes everyone needs a chance to get away from each other. It’s easier to focus on anything else. Everything else.” Setting the water aside, she set the party girl demeanor aside, for a moment, and looked at the man across from her. “Saul’s got a crush on him, Reggie thinks he’s the coolest things on two legs...you’re coming out of retirement for him. Eddie’s a force of nature. There’s really no denying him.”

She could figure that they all owed him something. Something big, to accept her so readily, to take him at his word almost without question. Eddie had a silver tongue, that was for sure...and the kind of personality that swept everyone along in his wake. “So here we are - repaying a debt, at least in your case...I’m just here for the fun of it. Besides...Eddie seems to like having me around.” Dan was clearly the outlier...she’d caught that the other three had brought him on more because of what he knew rather than by choice. But this was all new for her - working with a team other than her siblings. She had to follow their lead. “Ok, Doc...what do you need to know?”

“Hitter… kind of brutal.” Dan’s mouth clamped a bit after giving that away. There was more that needed doing here before story time, right. He nodded at her a few times as she spoke, choosing to focus on the last question first. “What you need to know is all in the bag I’ve brought. You’ll have your meds… obviously they won’t work on anyone else. Placebo, but they look good. There’s more detailed descriptions of symptoms of Long QT… But most importantly… you need to know that you know more than most doctors about your illness. Be assertive… or perhaps the way we’re running this Eddie will be the assertive one.” He took a long drink from his glass, watching Harley to see if she understood what he was saying.

“What I need from you is simple. Blood type, so that I know what to look for in a donor. You can be pretty sure that this will require some onsite test results. The rest is easy. Just be, who was it again? Lizzy?” It may have seemed much simpler to Dan than it did to her. It was difficult to get an actual assessment on her ability at this point. He did give her time to take both the fake meds and the information to look through.

“Hopefully you don’t somehow find yourself on the I owe Eddie train. It’s not all it’s cracked up to be.” He did owe him though, and it was enough that he came out of retirement without question. “Some of us owe more than others I guess. Kind of wish he’d waited a little longer, but at least this one is going to get us out of town for a bit. There’s no way I want to work here, right now.”

“Oh? Plan go wrong?” Not that she particularly wanted to be working in town herself. Too many risks...too many faces that might recognize her by a different name. But that was more information than she was quite willing to share. She thought for a moment about owing Eddie...for the moment, those slates were clean. If she owed anyone...it was Simon, but that thought...that thought reminded her that there were a lot of reasons to move this along. “I don’t think I have to worry about that, much. Eddie and I have an...understanding.” It sounded better than the truth - than the fact that she couldn’t seem to resist him, that he made her forget that she was working with an untried net, a new crew, new game, and no idea why she trusted him more than anyone save the blond tattooed fighter who’d spent the past few months becoming too much.

“O+.” The answer didn’t really matter, since no-one was touching her blood anyway. “Eddie explained to you that you’re not actually taking blood from me, right? Not even to switch out?” She tugged at her braid, showing every sign of nerves. He couldn’t get blood without her consent, but there was no reason for him to know that. She glanced through the materials, noting the different pills, colors, markings...the kinds of things that would clue her into a substitution, nodding as she did so. This is where her faith in Eddie had to carry her - she didn’t know the doctor from a stranger on the street, and had no reason to trust him. Not that the medications would do anything more than make her sick - another detail Dan didn’t need to know.

The braids served a dual purpose...the face that turned back up to him subtly younger, the eyes a little wider, the angle of her body serving to make her smaller and frailer than the reality. Nibbling at her bottom lip, Lizzy’s voice lilted out, her lips curving into a sweet, trusting smile. “Eddie says I can trust you, Doctor...that you’ll take excellent care of me. He says you’ll do everything you can to keep me as healthy as possible, as long as I take all my medications.” She paused, as if trying to remember an exact phrase, a slight blush rising to her cheeks. “He said making sure nothing happens to me is just as important to you as it is to him...and it’s the most important thing in the world to him. Isn’t he just wonderful?”
“Wrong would be an understatement. He kind of saved me… kind of killed me too.” Plenty to raise eyebrows there, right? “You don’t have to worry, I’ve been briefed on it. More or less the blood will need to come from the right person. It’ll need to match what is in your files… and gods forbid something weird happens… what’s actually in you. I don’t expect weird, but never can tell when that step off a curb is going to end with a crunch.” It was morbid, but it was the kind of thing he’d been thinking about since Saul had laid out the play on this.

“I should warn you against getting too close to him. The closer you get, the harder he’ll push you away. You also should follow your own instincts about things. Eddie doesn’t necessarily worry enough about some things. That seems to be rubbing off on Saul, but you listen to me… Lizzy…” She’d been the one to put on the face and the voice after all. “You see a guy Eddie’s size coming at you… and it ain’t him… you run and don’t look back.” It was the best advice he could give her. “I know that probably just gives you more questions, but… you’ll have to ask me.”

Lizzy disappeared as quickly as she’d appeared, Harley and Tahlia flowing seamlessly together in her place. “There aren’t any files. Not here. Not anywhere. And I promise you, I’m not some weird alien who’s going to bleed green goo, or anything. I’m just as human as anyone here - I just happen to be kinda attached to staying a ghost, you get me?” Given where they were, it wasn’t an untrue statement...and as far as she knew, the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but. “You look good for a dead man. So does Saul. And Reggie. And you all seem to have the same man to thank for that. Somehow...I think I’m as safe with him as I am with anyone.” Especially given the way he’d argued to get her out...not that she was looking for trouble. She’d had just enough of that, lately. But if the **** really hit the fan…well, if there were any Vicelli’s left to ask, they could testify at the lengths Simon would go to make certain she was safe. Something told her Eddie wasn’t going to be any kinder if it came down to it.

“Carmine.” It wasn’t a question. “Everyone seems terrified of this guy. Saul said he thought he was back in town…just how big a bogeyman are we talking about?” She knew better than anyone that whoever the guy was, he wasn’t responsible for the latest bodies...but that was between her, Reggie and Eddie. She could guess why they’d been laid at his door, and that...that was between her and Eddie. What she didn’t know was how this connected to anything else. And she didn’t like not knowing. Not when an entire family was dead, and there was a one-armed limping woman out there who could connect her to them. Not with everything she’d done. “And why do I think all three of you owe Eddie for saving your asses from the same guy?”

“There’s files, they’re mostly made up, but the critical stuff needs to match. Reggie’ll scrub them when it’s done. The thing is, you’re the bomb on this… and everyone will be looking at you and failing to notice what the rest of us are doing.” That was what this play was all about. When the bomb went off, there’d be fallout in places no one expected. “You’re plenty safe with him, He just has a way of making you feel it too much maybe. But yeah, This thing with Carmine… kind of my fault.”

“Seemed like the perfect set up. Saul and I would work a mark, and let it go bad… or seemingly bad. We’d set up Eddie as Logan… they were similar enough. Eddie would go after them, spook em really good, get them to pay double not to go through with the hit. It worked great until someone figured it out. That wouldn’t have been so bad, except they called in the real Carmine Logan.” Dan shifted a bit on the couch, his drink was in his hand, but it was almost like he couldn’t really see the thing, or feel it’s weight.

“He wasn’t really happy that someone was saying they were him. He came after us, Eddie found out, and well… he killed me first. Saul did what he did, but I mean… Eddie’s had to keep moving. Stay a while here or there until Carmine shows up, then he’s gone again. So, you can depend on him to look out for you.. But there’s no way he’s sticking around for long.” Dan drank down the soda like he wished it was something much harder. “Just kind of warning you about that.”

She’d taken a sip of water while she listened. It made sense...as much as anything did in this world. She had no idea what too safe might be...she wasn’t even sure she was particularly sure what ‘safe’ was. She liked dangerous men too much, taking risks and playing the cards they were dealt. Keeping her hand in the game meant surviving. It meant staying alive. Not depending on anyone - except that now she was. And it wasn’t blood that bound them, but something she didn’t even begin to understand.

“Thanks for the warning...but like I said. He and I have an understanding. I know what he wants from me, and he knows I’ll do my job. Beyond that…” She shrugged, shifting slightly against the cushions. She was still a little sore. “The day this is over, we all go back to our lives, right? A little heavier in the purse, and maybe we remember each other when we pass in the street. Maybe we work together again, maybe we don’t. This isn’t exactly my first time at the table, Doc.” And maybe she was trying to convince herself it didn’t matter if Eddie Blake disappeared from her life when this was done. Maybe she even knew that was a lie.

“I won’t hold my breath about it. I’m not so sure that they’ll bring me in for anything else. Saul made it really clear who was taking point on this. Once upon a time that was me. You asked if we went way back, and I guess we do. I found Saul, he found Eddie. Chain broke there, not a big surprise. He was a bit of a natural, just needed some seasoning.” That and to get away from the influences that would have pulled him an entirely different direction.

Dan pushed himself upward. “Look… I should go… so unless you have anything else for me, questions… anything. I’m going to start preparing for the trip to Westport. That means tracking down an LQT O positive blood source. It’s a big city though, I’m sure one can be found.” Especially if he used his more hidden sources.

Harley set the glass aside, rising and sauntering over to the good doctor. The heel’s gave her a boost, true, but he still topped her by a good 6 inches or more. Just enough to justify her tilting her head back, batting wide aqua eyes up at him with every sign of innocence. She knew Eddie would be arriving shortly, but one had little to do with the other. Everyone had a weakness...she just hadn’t figured out Dan’s yet. She could hardly be faulted for wanting to know as much as possible about the people she was working with. If anything, Eddie’s arrival would serve to ensure things didn’t go any farther than she wanted them to.

“Don’t you think you should give me a full physical? To be thorough?” Just the barest arch to her back, a subtle twist to her hips as she popped one foot up onto a toe, toying with a braid in each hand. She might be cheating, just a little, the tip of her tongue peeking out to wet plush lips as she waited for his answer. This was, after all, what she did best - it wasn’t just her looks that had gotten her past Eddie’s concerns.

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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 Aug 23, 2017 8:44 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

“I’m not so sure…”

“Something wrong with her? I think it’s a great idea, and you two need to be comfortable enough together in order for this to look right.” Eddie was standing in the doorway. He hadn’t caught much that had passed between her and Dan, but it had been enough. “I might get offended if you don’t respect her enough to do this the way it’s supposed to be.”

Dan nearly jumped out of his shoes at Eddie’s voice. He’d been doing his best to avoid being too close to the man, for a lot of reasons. He swallowed, eyes shifting towards the sound of Eddie before his head moved. “Long time, Eddie... “

“Four years, three months… I’ll leave it there, or you might think I’m keeping track.” Eddie moved further into the room, the door closing in his wake. His goal was easy to see as he neared the petite blonde and dared her to ignore him now. Something he wouldn’t make easy, the little grin on his face meant only for her. “Tell me how badly you missed me.”

The moment he spoke, a bright smile broke through, and Dan lost her attention completely. Goosebumps rose on her skin, and there was really no question as to how she was going to answer him. Taking a half-step, to clear the doctor, she launched herself into Eddie’s arms, almost squeaking with delight. “Puddin!” Arms over her shoulders, her thighs wrapped over his hips, it was easy to see where Harley might have picked up that name as she latched onto him, feet crossed at the ankles just behind his thighs. Pausing for just long enough to look him over, she proceeded to the next logical step, kissing him with the kind of intensity that left no doubt who she belonged to.

A long minute passed, until she finally decided he might have an inkling as to the answer to his question, and broke the lip lock, although she didn’t budge from her perch. “I really, really missed you.” Looking mischievous, she glanced back over her shoulder at their unwitting audience. “I don’t think Dr. K likes me very much...but he seems to know what he’s talking about…” Sliding her gaze back to Eddie with a wink, she squirmed enough to be comfortable - unless the doctor was going to take Eddie seriously, she wasn’t planning on moving...showing him how very much she’d missed him was going to require some privacy.

That was more like it, Eddie may have basked a bit in the lingering kiss and the tight grip she had on him. “He likes you well enough, Pumpkin… he’s just not used to being in this role.” One of Eddie’s hands was right where she would expect it to be...on her backside. The other was tracing the line of her hair. “He’s used to being the romantic lead in these things and pushing jobs like dangerous menace off on other people. Then again, maybe he’s just remembering that his last time out nearly got all of us killed.” He said it jokingly, but there was a hard look from Eddie to Dan that was mirrored in the tension of his body.

“What he doesn’t know is that I don’t hold that kind of grudge, but this is important and needs him to be at his best.” Dan had the decency to look guilty, one or all of the things he was being accused of were indeed correct.

“No...you’re right. I guess I figured that… it doesn’t matter. I can do this… assuming Miss Harley still wants to run a physical that is. If not, then I’ll get back to working on getting the supplies we’ll need.” For a man asking what Harley wanted, he kept his stare locked on Eddie. “You’ve changed a bit, more confident. I’m not sure if that’s a good thing or not.”

“You can say cocky, Doc… I am, but it’s possible that there’s reasons for it too. Bit of a role reversal for you.” He turned back to Tahlia, tilting her head back and kissing her again. “Don’t put too many things back on when you’re done. It’s been a long day, and I intend to skip straight to clothing removal.”

She’d tucked her head against his shoulder while he spoke, her body half turned to follow the curve of his arm, one hand laying lightly against his chest. Those sea-tinted eyes of hers never left the doctor, noting silently that he’d correctly deduced whose decision it really was. He wasn’t stupid, clearly...can’t have been, to teach Saul what he knew, to have had Eddie taking his lead. He was simply a man used to being in charge...and having a bit of trouble adjusting. But even with the chip on his shoulder...even trying his best to out alpha the alpha she was currently wrapped around...she’d got his tell.

Lips curving into a smile, she brought the hand on his chest up to slide along his five o’clock shadow, and into those ink-dark locks of his, giving this kiss every bit as much of her best as the first. Licking the taste of him from her lips, she nodded, leaning in for one more kiss before she reluctantly unwrapped herself from his body, and winked up at him. “Assuming he strips me down to the lace...that and the heels?” Turning, she kept herself tucked against Eddie for a moment longer, but Dan had her full attention. “Ready, Dr. K?”

Ready or not, Dan nodded. He let them have their moment together, realizing exactly how much the student had grown since leaving him. “I won’t keep her too long.” He stepped back and let the blonde lead the way from there while Eddie poured himself a glass of something from the wet bar.
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Opportunity dances with those already on the dance floor. ~ H. Jackson Brown, Jr.
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Eddie Blake
Young Wyrm
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Joined: 13 Feb 2016
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PostPosted: Sun Aug 27, 2017 11:46 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

August 8th, 11:40 A.M.

Tainted Love

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

_________________

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


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

August 8th, 9:35 pm

Secrets

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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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
Young Wyrm
Young Wyrm


Joined: 13 Feb 2016
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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
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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.”

_________________

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


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PostPosted: Wed Sep 20, 2017 10:13 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sweet Dreams

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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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: 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.”
_________________
Opportunity dances with those already on the dance floor. ~ H. Jackson Brown, Jr.
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