Disclaimers: Well we are getting closer to the conclusion of this tale. As usual the following is a product of my creative processes. © February 2006
Love and sex: Well the love is there but sex, not yet.
Violence: Well there are a few dead soldiers, Jim, Jack, and Jose. Levitz & Fiddich couldn't make the party.
Acknowledgments: To my betas for all the help in making me look literate and keeping this story on track. A special thanks to my readers for sticking with me through thick and thin, long periods of silence, and exploding hard drives.
I love visitors, so please come and see me at: email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also find me hangout at TheRisingPhoenixemail@example.com. You're welcome to join us.
Russell whistled his way down the hall. He was so happy that his steps were jaunty. His heels sounded like castanets as they skipped down the hallway.
His little plot couldn't have gone any more perfect. Kara the bitch Marlow was gone, that fact all by itself made the dark man ecstatic.
That stupid bitch thinking she's all that. 'Miracle Worker' my ass, it will be a miracle if she ever gets another job.
A broad shit-eating grin crossed his face and he did nothing to stop its spread.
Then there was Jason Kimbrough.
That idiot is so busy with his head up his ass trying to find a way to save Kara he'll never see the pink slip coming.Then with him out of the way I can step right in and take over.After all it's the least they can do since I was the one to report all this mismanagement.
Yes, everything was going his way. Even if something had gone wrong, well he had had a contingency plan in place all along. He made very sure that his hands were never soiled with any part of this plot. All roads led to Gary, Janice, and Cheryl. He wouldn't be implicated in any way. Once again--how did Jason put it?--he would come out smelling like a rose with a few thousand dollars lining his pocket. Small compensation for all the work that went into this plot, but it's better than nothing.
When he rounded the corner he stopped dead in his tracks. Janice was not at her desk as he had expected. To his surprise Patty sat in Janice's chair. He stood silently while she rifled through the petite woman's desk.
What the hell is she looking for?
His dark brows furrowed while he watched the blonde ransack Janice's drawers. He could feel his pulse increase. He took a deep breath to calm his nerves. Then he shook his head. He scolded himself or rather scolded his jitters, after all what did he have to fear? He took another brief moment to compose himself before he permitted his presence to be known.
"What ya looking for?" he asked nonchalantly. He strolled over to the desk and leaned against it. He grinned a slimy smile while he leered at Patty. She was very attractive after all.
Now that Marlow is gone maybe I can trade up to Patty.
"I'm looking for an envelope that Janice left for me. She wanted me to take care of a couple of things while she's gone," Patty answered. The blonde never looked up at Russell, but continued her quest for the missing envelope.
"Where's Janice?" Russell asked his heart skipping a beat again at the identification of the object of Patty's search.
Patty wasn't really listening to the looming man so it took her a few moments to process that he had said anything at all. Finally after what felt like an eternity to Russell, Patty answered his question. "Ummmm…Oh…here it is!" She pulled out a small manila envelope. Russell breathed a sigh of relief when he saw it. "Sorry…Janice…Yeah, she went home, something about an emergency with one of her kids."
"Ok." He was slightly confused, but didn't want to tip his hand by asking if she had left anything for him.
"You need something?" Patty looked Russell directly in the eye.
Yeah there is something I need, but we'll have to wait until we know each other better.
"Uhh…ummm…" He stuttered while he pulled himself from his lecherous thoughts. "Is Jason in? He said he wanted to see me when I was free."
"He wasn't in there when I put the inter office on his desk. He must be in a meeting." Patty rose from Janice's seat.
"I guess I'll catch him later," Russell said. He moved to the side to allow Patty to pass by.
"Ok." Patty walked passed the Exec, envelope clutched in her hand.
His dark beady eyes followed the young woman as she walked down the hall as much to see where she was going as to watch her walk away. When she was out of sight he walked over to the large mahogany door. Before he knocked he looked around to see if anyone would approach before he entered the office. He couldn't take the chance that anyone would see him go in or out of Jason's office. But then he couldn't take the chance of Jason finding those checks in his mail.
Damn that fucking bitch for putting the mail in there. Damn you, Janice, and your fucking kids. It won't matter,' cause 'Mr. Body' is going to reveal all your dirty little secrets anyway. No one gets out of this one alive but me.
He took one last look around before knocking on the door. "Jason, you wanted to see me?" he asked in an exaggerated tone in the event that someone was around that he hadn't seen.
He closed the door behind him, and waited for his eyes to adjust to the darkness. There were only two lights glowing in the darkness. One was from the small desk lamp that sat on Jason's desk. The other was a red light that beamed from Jason's phone. He took notice of the red light, but then as quickly disregarded it.
He decided to take a good look around the office that would soon be his. The dim light didn't afford much in the way to dispel the shadows that filled the corners of the empty office. He squinted in an effort to bring more light to his eyes. He could barely make out the two chairs that sat in front of the desk. He noted that Jason's chair back was also facing the desk. The contrast of the dark and the black made the chair look like a monster ready to pounce. The silence in the room was cut only by the tinkling sound of the waters that splashed in the fountain to Russell's right side.
His eyes finally came to rest on the items he had come for. There in the center of Jason's desk was a pile of inter office envelopes. Carefully he crossed the expensive Oriental rug. He passed between the two chairs that stood as silent sentinels before the executive desk. He reached over the lamp, and picked up the pile of mail that sat on the pristine blotter. He leaned down slightly so he could use the lamps light to illuminate the envelopes in order to retrieve the one that was for him. One after the other he looked at the different address, and one after another he discarded them by throwing them back onto Jason's desk.
"Where the hell is it?" he hissed into the darkness.
"Perhaps this is what you're looking for?" Velvety alto tones came from no where as the once still chair came to life and spun around revealing the Dragon Lady tapping an envelope into her up turned hand.
Russell was so startled that the remainder of the envelopes fluttered to the floor from hands that shook. He placed one hand on his heart while he tried to catch his breath. "Damn." He paused still flustered, "Ms. Drakkon, I didn't see you."
"No, I suppose you didn't since you didn't bother to turn on the lights," Jacqueline commented.
Russell didn't answer. As quickly as he possibly could he sized up this disturbing situation. It was obvious the VP knew something, but exactly how much was the unknown. That 'unknown' could ruin everything for him. He knew that this woman was called the Dragon Lady for good reason. She had the reputation for being ruthless, cold, and calculating. The woman was smart, very smart. And not just in a formal educational sense, but also street smarts. Nothing ever got by her. But in Russell's misguided insipid complacency he truly believed if anyone could pull the wool over her eyes it surely would be him.
He had jealously watched her climb from obscurity to the place of power she now held. He envied the ease at which he perceived the Dragon Lady had risen through the ranks.
There's only one way for a woman to rise so high so fast. He lips formed a crooked sneer. She's got the old man wrapped around her finger, maybe because she wrapped those long legs of hers around him first. No woman is smarter than I am, not the Dragon Lady, not Kara, not any of them. Women are only good for one thing, and sometimes they ain't that good at that.
Perhaps he may have gone too far with the seductive emails, but luckily for him those love notes were now his aces in the hole. The pompous man didn't regret anything he had done to get what he claimed should have been his all along.
He smirked, his confidence renewed by his cerebral conversation. "I didn't bother with the lights 'cause I figured I could find what I was looking for without them."
"Well weasels do scavenge in the dark," she commented sarcastically. "So exactly what was it you were looking for?" Jacqueline continued to tap the envelope in the middle of her hand.
"I've been waiting for some papers from payroll. When I didn't receive them in my mail this morning I called them. They said they sent them here by mistake." The excuse was flimsy at best, but what else did he really have? He shrugged mentally. It was at least partly the truth.
"Really, how unfortunate. Those papers must be really important for you to come into this office uninvited to retrieve them knowing full well Mr. Kimbrough, who by the way is the president of your company in case you had forgotten, was out." Jacqueline smirked. "I have to hand it to you, Russell, you're ballsy even if you aren't very smart."
Russell chuckled deeply within his throat. He sat down in one of the chairs and crossed his legs. For a moment he played with the tassel of his highly buffed imported Italian shoes. He looked up and leered at Jacqueline. "Oh I am very smart, Ms. Drakkon, or may I call you Jacqueline?"
Jacqueline nodded her acceptance of the informality.
"Because you see," an evil grin widened as he leaned forward, "this is what I was looking for." He picked up an envelope from payroll that lay near his right foot. "It's my life insurance. I amended it, and now have to provide the beneficiaries. You're welcome to take a look if you'd like.'
Jacqueline took the proffered envelope. Her long fingers worked the thin piece of string that sealed the closed folder. She reached in and pulled out, just as Russell had explained, papers pertaining to the life insurance of one Russell Davies. She pushed the papers back into their enclosure, and handed it back to Russell. A savage sneer crept onto the plains of her chiseled features. "Clever."
"Thank you." He smiled broadly.
"But are you telling me that these," she pointed in order to indicate the papers that he held in his hand, "insurance papers were so important that you had to steal into an office that's not your own to retrieve them?"
"Yes, to me they are," he replied cockily.
Jacqueline nodded. Under her breath, "Shortly they may become more important than you could ever have imagined." She looked at the envelope that she still held in her hand. "But whatever shall we do with this? We both know this is what you really came for."
She held up the correspondence that she had been tapping into her palm the entire time they had talked. The sound of that tapping resembled the ticking of a time bomb. It unnerved Russell somewhat, but he was determined to keep a casual front while in the presence of the Dragon Lady. He knew he had to defuse that bomb before it exploded, but he knew if he let her rattle him he could set off the bomb by mistake. This was no time for mistakes.
"I'm sure I don't know what you mean. I have what I came for." He held up the insurance papers. He uneasily realized that he had to leave this office before it became a prison. It's never smart to fight a cobra in its den. After all it would be better for his plan if Jason was found with the checks anyway. "May I go?" he asked coolly.
"No. Not yet. We've only just started. You like games don't you?"
"Sure. Especially when I know I'm going to win." He paused and leaned closer to Jacqueline. "And I usually win." Part of him knew he should just get up, and get out of there as quickly as possible. She had nothing on him. But the other part couldn't run from the challenge that this woman had laid before him. He had to beat her at her own game, then he could go not only with his reputation intact, but with the satisfaction that he had slain the Dragon Lady single handed.
Jacqueline leaned over the desk to be even closer to the arrogant boor. She growled hoarsely, "I hope you are flexible on that point. I always play to win. You see I'm a very poor loser."
"We shall see, won't we?"
"Care to make a wager on this one?"
"Sure what are the stakes?" He leaned back into his chair with the air of a man who had placed a huge wager on a fall guy and was about to collect.
"Oh, the stakes are very high, I would venture to say life and death could hang in the balance. Still want to play?"
Life or death? Who does she think she's kidding? No use in trying to bluff me, I have a pocket full of aces.
"Yes. What shall we play?" he asked smugly.
She tapped the envelope on her lips in thought. "Truth or Dare. Do you know how to play?"
"No." His eyebrows furrowed unsure of where the VP was going with this.
Jacqueline leaned back in her chair, encouraged by the confusion apparent on Russell's face. It was the only sign of emotion he had shown other than that infuriating arrogance that made her just want to jump over the desk and strangle him. No court in the country would convict her. As a matter of fact she could conceivably be commended for ridding the world of another lying, cheating, stealing, reprobate sociopath who was soulless.
"That's right you wouldn't would you? Having never been a teenage girl." She waited like a lioness stalking her prey.
"No, I was never a teenage girl though I did love them as a young man." He smiled.
Jacqueline groaned. I left myself open for that one.
When Russell twitched she continued, "This is how the game works. I tell the truth of what has been happening around here, and then I dare you to deny it."
"Ok. Tell me your Truth," he said, pasting a stoic mask upon his face. He leaned back in the seat making himself comfortable. This ought to be interesting.
"Tell me if I get anything wrong."
"Well here's the truth. You've been nickel and dimming funds from all the jobs you have worked on for years. Just small amounts here and there that no one would notice. Even if the auditors did notice the amounts were small enough that they wouldn't be a blip on the radar screen. You felt no shame because in a warped sense of injustice you felt you were entitled to everything that you took and more.
As a matter of fact you had already started to set up the groundwork to do the same to Jamestown even though you knew that the commissions from this job would be very lucrative. But it wouldn't be enough, nothing ever was. So when the job was given to Kara you went ballistic. You were angry at Jason for offering her the job, and angrier at Kara for taking it. How dare they snatch the oyster from your hand? You wanted--no you needed--revenge. So when you calmed down, you saw this as a golden opportunity to not only line your pockets, but get rid of Kara and Jason in the process. What could be better? You knew Kara would be so busy working Jamestown to notice anything you did. You also knew that when she was confronted with this mess that she would quit rather than fight. She never did do well with surprises, and you used that you your advantage. One down one to go. So you decided to make Jason the receiver of your ill gotten gains which would implicate him as much as it did Kara. Neither of them would see it coming.
Only this was going to be more complicated than the other little pilfering sprees you went on. You were going to need some help. After all you weren't going to be just skimming chump change off the top this time. It would have to be a large amount, large enough to be noticeable right away. The missing cash had to be a large enough amount to put both Kara and Jason on the hot seat. It also had to be large enough to compensate you for losing that juicy commission. Again two birds with one stone.
Somehow you stumbled across the information that Janice was having an affair with Cheryl. What a stroke of luck for you. You knew that Janice had just gotten finished with a messy divorce, and that her ex had already threatened to kidnap the kids, because he and his new bride considered her unfit. So you blackmailed the pair. Cheryl could get the checks signed without question. When Janice received the checks out of Jason's mail she would just forward them to you without rousing any type of suspicion. All of this was pretty fool proof, but you felt you needed a little more insurance to be sure the plan wouldn't fail. That's where Gary came in. He could get his hands on Kara's computer with any excuse he could think of. Then he could plant all the evidence anyone would ever need to convict her. No one would ever question any of it, after all computers don't lie. In other words you bought a computer geek with thirty pieces of silver who could hang Kara on a cross. Does that about cover it?"
Crossing his arms over his chest, Russell asked, "And just why would I do all this?"
"Envy, jealousy, greed, pick one," Jacqueline paused, "You see I've done my homework on you, little man. You wanted a bigger piece of the family pie so to speak, but unfortunately you were Daddy's little fuck up. Ever since the cradle you had a chip on your shoulder. When you came here you thought this was your big chance to show your family how smart your really were. So you were angry when Mr. Kimbrough got promoted, but you decided to bide your time. You watched and waited, but Mr. Kimbrough never did make that mistake did he? He was the apple of the corporate eye, and you were still in the shadows. Having no real talent other than to make trouble, you did what any good junior exec would do. You made sure you became part of every high profile job. Using shrewd office politics while standing on the backs of other people's work you were finally getting noticed. As for those who you stepped on to seem taller, well after all it wasn't like they didn't have their chance to step forward and call you on it, right?"
Russell glared at her stonily. She saw his silence as an acknowledgment of her statements. Jacqueline continued, "But no one ever did come forward, so you continued with business as usual believing all the while that no one was aware of your dirty little deeds. But Jason was fully aware of everything you were doing. He made that plain when he gave Kara the Jamestown project to head. When he did that it was like throwing down a gauntlet in front of you. This was the moment you had been waiting for. Your envy of Jason and your abhorrence of Kara fueled your resolve to take them both down. How am I doing so far?"
To Jacqueline's surprise Russell smiled broadly and began to applaud. "Brava, Brava. Wonderful drama, inventive plot, amazing twists. To bad none of it's true. But the psycho-analysis was a surprise." He leaned forward. "Now it's your turn."
Jacqueline never changed the placid expression on her face. "Shoot."
"Let's talk about the heroic lengths you're going to get your lover off the hook," Russell started.
"Lover?" her eyebrows shot up in surprise.
"Yes lover." He smirked. "You know you really ought to be more discreet."
"Really." Jacqueline placed her finger tips together. "So are you saying there have been overt public displays of affection?"
"Oh not at all, but I have noticed as I'm sure others have, the intimate whisperings, the seductive caresses. I especially haven't missed those longing looks that you and Kara share." Not deterred by Jacqueline's unflappable demeanor Russell continued, "After all it doesn't matter to me who you sleep with, but others won't be as forgiving. Let's face it, this can't look good for you, being intimately involved with someone accused of embezzlement."
Jacqueline snorted. "Forgiving? What would I need forgiveness for? I have nothing to hide. You're tilting at windmills, my dear Don Quixote." She paused when she saw his bright grin begin to dim somewhat. Russell unconsciously twitched again. Jacqueline knew she was doing nothing that the slimy little man had expected. The idea that women would fold under pressure was the chink in his armor. It was a chauvinistic flaw large enough for her to wiggle through and burr under his thick skin. Cold blue eyes drilled into small browns. The stare unnerved the smaller man, but not as much as the toothy shark like grin that gradually took over her features. She had blown and blown into this balloon, and now she was assured it was close to popping. "Besides no one but you has seen anything other than a very cohesive professional association between Kara and myself. You really must get your mind out of the gutter, Russell. A dirty mind is not very flattering. If anyone is going to look bad, it will be you for spreading these malicious rumors."
POP!!!! "What about those emails……" The words were out of Russell's mouth before he could stop them.
"What emails?" Jacqueline asked innocently. She could hear Russell's teeth grinding. He had tipped his hand. "You want to know what I think?
"More psycho-analysis?" Russell growled. He was becoming unraveled.
"Just a touch. It seems to me that you're jealous of any woman with power that exceeds your own. I'm absolutely positive that you believe women only got to where we--I include myself since I am a woman-- that we only get where we are by sleeping our way to the top. Which would explain to me why you're so obsessed with my sex life?"
You're so fucking smug, you think you know it all don't you? Russell thought derisively. The more 'matter of fact' Jacqueline remained the more enraged Russell became. She had to be more unnerved than she appeared. He had her, he knew he had her. Even though the emails had been manufactured, the reality of the situation was that he really didn't change all that much. Besides there was no way she could deny their obvious feelings for each other. He knew what he had seen with his own eyes, and if he had seen it then others had also. But the great Dragon Lady seemed oblivious to what the allegations of moral turpitude would do to her career. Or perhaps she stupidly assumed that she wouldn't be tarnished by the scandal that would ensue once he disseminated those emails. People believe what they read, and even if he was exposed as a fraud the irreparable damage would have been done. The readers would only remember the essence of those emails, and the implications they inferred. She would be ruined.
In an effort to get a rise from Jacqueline, he asked, "If y'all aren't lovers then why are you working so desperately to exonerate her?"
"I believe you're confusing desperation with my conviction for finding the truth."
Those words delivered in a most infuriatingly smug tone pushed Russell right over the edge. He lost it. "You think you have all the fucking answers don't you? Well the truth of the matter is Kara got caught with her hand in the cookie jar, and there's nothing you can do to change that fact. The truth is you've been having an affair with her, and you're trying to cover it all up by spinning these ridiculous fairy tales."
"I don't have to dispute what I know isn't true. Where you have yet to tell me that everything I've said is not the truth. I've dared you to deny everything I've said, but you really haven't so you lose." Jacqueline face broke into a most sinister grin. She was the cat, she had the mouse cornered, she had batted him around with her paw, but now it was time to go in for the kill. "As far as it all being a story, well I'm just pointing out where Mother Goose turned Grimm. You know what they say, truth is always stranger than fiction."
He sneered. "If you don't have to dispute what you blithely allude to as mere assumptions without any basis in truth then neither do I. Besides it's all just a story, pure fiction. I dare you to prove that one thing you've said is true."
"Just one thing? Fair enough. Vengan!" she called.
The darkness from two opposite corners of the office began to slowly move. Specters of that darkness began slowly to take monstrously horrible shape. Slowly, from the blackness, two menacing forms emerged. Two forbidding men materialized from shadows. Both men dark, broad, and well muscled. Both men were olive skinned with long dark mustaches that framed strong chins. Their black hair pulled tightly back in pony tails. One man taller then the other but both men were unmistakably dangerous. Russell could feel their approach before his peripheral vision spotted them. The hair stood up on the back of the seated man's neck. Each man took post on either side of the chair Russell occupied.
" I believe these men can attest to everything I've said so far."
He looked first to his right and then to his left and chuckled. "Janitors? Your big guns are janitors?" He began to laugh outright. "You're kidding me right?"
"No not at all. These gentlemen can substantiate everything I've said," she assured him calmly.
"Yeah right. How can they confirm anything? They can't even speak English." His sarcasm was unmistakable.
"Ustedes oyeron lo que el dijo?" Raul asked.
"Si, lo oí. El no sabe nada. No puede vernos," Jose commented from Russell's left.
"Es verdad," Raul said.
"What the hell are they saying?" Russell growled.
"Tenga cuidado Ese. Don't talk to the lady that way." Jose spoke with a thick accent, but his English was understandable as was his menacing attitude. "We understand Ingles muy bueno."
The man on the right spoke up with an equally thick accent, and in an equally threatening manner. "Que idiota mas grande. Y el piensa que somos estupidos" Both men laughed. It was an evil sound they generated in the depth of their chests. That sound sent a chill down Russell's spine. He squirmed in his seat as Raul and Jose closed in. Raul leaned over the arm of the chair, "What we are saying is jou are the estupid one. What we are saying is to jou we are…." He looked up at Jose, "Como se dice no nos ve?"
"Si. Invisible. We are invisible. Jou look at us and jou see nada. But we," Raul pointed at himself and then Jose, "see everything."
"And we hear everything," Jose continued Raul's thought. Both men laughed again. Jacqueline watched as Russell shrank into the chair. "You talk real big Jeffe, pero tu eres un pequeñito." Jose illustrated with his hand. He placed his thumb and pointer finger a quarter of an inch apart, and pushed them in his face.
"Si, you talk too much, Jeffe," Raul confirmed. "Hablas, y hablas, y hablas como una niñita?" Raul leaned closer, "So we know que tu haces. Jou have been un chico malo. A very bad boy." He translated so Russell would be sure to understand.
Russell gathered his courage. He refused to be intimidated. There was no way these spics could know anything of value. He sat up straighter in the chair, and glared at Jacqueline. "What makes you think anyone will believe these two…gentlemen over me? If you think that bringing in a couple of thugs to bully me will make me confess to something I had no knowledge of you're sadly mistaken. Now if I may…" He began to rise from his chair when Jose roughly pushed him into Raul.
"Where'd jou think jou're going Homes?" Raul growled.
"You had better step aside, Señor, before I call the cops," Russell snarled. Being toe to toe with Raul, Russell became painfully aware of three things. First, that Raul was even bigger than he thought. Second, that he had two teardrops tattooed next to the corner of his eye. Third, he could feel Jose closing in behind him. He was trapped, but still believed he could wiggle his way out by out machoing these guys. He knew better than to show any signs of fear, so he never turned from Raul's steely gaze.
Both men laughed heartily. "Whachu gonna tell them, Jeffe? That we are being mean to jou?" Like sharks on the hunt they began to circle the frightened man. Raul snickered, "Mira, el Jeffe va a llorrar."
Jose rubbed his eyes with his fists. "Boohhhooo hooo.. Cry for me Ese."
Seething, Russell snapped his head to look directly at Jacqueline. Jacqueline picked up the receiver of the phone to hand it to Russell. "Here I'll dial for you. Be sure to ask for detectives Young and Bernard. I've told them all about you, Russ. They're real anxious to talk to you."
Jose once again stood behind Russell. He placed his hands on either side of the smaller man's hips and pulled Russell's ass into his groin. He inclined his head and whispered in his ear, "You ever been in prison, Jeffe?"
"Of course not." Russell growled as he tried his hardest not to show fear. He could feel Jose's endowment begin to harden against his butt. It made Russell nauseous.
Jose continued to rub his groin into Russell's ass, "They'll be lining up for jou, mang. Jou smell so pretty, jou look just like a beautiful woman. Some guy gonna make a lot of money off of jou, Jeffe. He pushed Russell into Raul.
Raul wrapped him in his arms and whispered in his ear, "When jou get to the joint ask for Esteban, he'll whore you but he's good to his putas."
He pushed off of Raul's chest, and turned to face Jose, fury written across his face. Both men pointed at Russell and laughed as they continued shove the man back and forth between them like a rag doll.
His fists were balled with rage, he didn't care that Jose also had tear drops tattooed to the side of his face just as Raul did. Jose used his hands to indicate for the angry man to come after him. He taunted him by making kissing sounds while he insulted him in Spanish.
"Wait! Wait. I can't believe my bad manners. Y'all haven't been formally introduced," Jacqueline said.
"Jose is Cheryl's hermano, her brother . Raul is her cousin," Jacqueline answered matter of factly. "And this gentleman," She waited until she was sure she had the two cousin's attention before she pointed to Russell, "is the man who has been blackmailing Cheryl and Janice."
Jose stood up straight while all the color drained from Russell's face. "Es verdad. Este es el hombre que chantajeo a mi hermana?"
"Si es verdad." Jacqueline confirmed that this man is the one who was blackmailing his sister.
"Voy a martalo!!!!" Jose shook with rage before he lunged at Russell.
Raul grabbed Jose before he could reach Russell. "Don't kill him here mang." Raul had tangled Jose up to the point he couldn't move so he spit at Russell hitting the quaking man in the face. Disgusted, Russell wiped his face with the back of his hand.
"No don't do anything here. Blood is next to impossible to get out of carpeting," Jacqueline agreed with Raul. She didn't want any violence to take place in this office or any where on company property.
"You should thank Jesus that, usted todavia estas vivo." Jose hissed. He drew a line across his throat with his finger to be sure that Russell knew he was lucky to still be alive.
Russell cringed before the two men. If he found these men dangerous before, he found them even more menacing now that they knew he was the one who had blackmailed his sister.
After a few moments of whispering, Raul finally released Jose, "Estas bien?"
"Si." Then with an evil smirk that made Russell's skin crawl, Jose growled, "Yo Ese, do jou know where Janice's ex is? Did jou find him?"
"No." Russell almost stuttered. He hadn't been able to find the loser, but Janice didn't know that so he still held life and death over her. Or so he thought.
"Well we do." Both man chuckled evilly. "Jou wanna take a car ride and see him?" Both men laughed a dreadful growling sound that emanated once again from their well muscled chests.
Russell looked from one to the other, there was not doubt in his mind what they were alluding to.
"Yeah Ese, you have some huevos to mess with nuestra familia." Raul growled.
The two men were about to mix it up again when Jacqueline stood. "Paren! Esperen un minuto. Dejenme hablar con el."
"Bueno." Both men stood back.
"As I see it your choices are limited. Let me spell them out for you so you have a clear understanding of just what could happen to you. A, you can walk out of this plant with whatever you have taken and never come back. Consider it your severance. You leave and just disappear into the sunset. You become nothing but a bad dream to everyone here. B, I can let the boys take care of this. I know they'll be discrete. Besides, they have been dying to get their hands on you, and I'll be assured that you won't be saying nada to nadie ever again. Or C, we drag this all to a court of law, and send you to prison where you can be butt fucked with regularity by guys named 'Meat' and 'Jimmy the hook'. I have to be honest, C is my favorite."
"You'll never get away with this."
Jacqueline stood and walked around the side of the desk. She passed Jose and stood in front of Russell. At this point she rested the backs of her shapely thighs against the desk, and crossed her arms. "I already have." A self-satisfied grin lit her dark features.
"Do you realize that my uncle is the Chairman of the Board? When he hears this…"
"Stanley, have you heard enough?"
"Yes." Russell jumped startled when he heard the growl of Stanley Davies coming through the intercom. "If I were you I'd take door number one, boy, and call it good. I'll talk to you later, Jackie."
"You fucking bitch!" Before anyone could react Russell slapped Jacqueline across the face. He hit her with such force that she almost fell to the floor. With a flurry of activity both men grabbed Russell.
Jose cocked his fist ready to pound Russell to a pulp when Jacqueline shouted, "Alto!" She could taste the blood in her mouth. "Stop."
Both men held Russell at bay by his hair, his belt, and both arms. Jacqueline touched the side of her swelling lip. She rubbed the warm blood between her thumb and fingers. Her eyes shined with unbridled rage. She stood directly in front of the man then suddenly kneed him in the groin. Before he could double over the woman backhanded him with all her might. Russell toppled unceremoniously to the floor his hands grasping his bruised balls. Jose and Raul hooted, and cheered their approval, slapping 'high fives' with each other and Jacqueline.
Jacqueline knelt on the floor next to the man as he groaned his pain. She pulled him up by his hair. "That is just a small taste of what I can do. Don't fuck with me Russell." She threw down his head after she hissing those words.
"Entonces el es nuestro ahora?" Jose asked eagerly while cracking the knuckles of his fist. He wanted to teach this man what it means to mess with his family.
"No." A sudden knock sounded. "That's security now to take him away." She looked down at the pathetic man who was curled in the fetal position. "What's your decision, Russell?"
"I'll go," he whispered.
"I can't hear you."
Angered by this man, on top of being disappointed at not being allowed to take care of trabaja familia, Jose kicked Russell. "Answer her, Ese, before I kill you!"
"A! A! A!" he shouted. "I'm leaving."
Jose kicked him again. "Jou have something else to say?"
"I'll keep my mouth shut," he growled.
Jacqueline stood and dusted off her hands. "Come in."
Two very large security guards walked into the darkened room. Their eyes asked the question, what the hell happened here? But that inquiry never reached their lips.
"I would be grateful if you would escort Mr. Davies off the premises. Be sure to relieve him of his badge, and any other company property before he leaves the grounds," Jacqueline stated while she wiped another drop of blood from her lip. "Goodbye, Russell, it's been a pleasure doing business with you."
Russell didn't acknowledge the last dig. Just you wait, Ms. Jacqueline Drakkon. This isn't over by a long shot. The security guards picked the crumpled man off the floor, and half carried him half led him out the door.
Jacqueline looked over at Raul and Jose. She nodded almost imperceptivity. Both men caught the gesture, and nodded in return. They quietly followed the others out the door. After the heavy door softly shut Jacqueline sank into a chair completely drained by this experience. She let one tear fall from tired eyes while she placed her head in her up raised palm. "What a day. What a fucking day." Wearily she looked at her watch. "And it's not over yet."
"Are you ok?" Patty gently touched Jacqueline's shoulder.
"Yes." Jacqueline tilted her head back onto the rich upholstery of Patty's car. She slowly closed her eyes and reflected on all that had happened after Russell was escorted out from Jason's office. From behind closed eyes she traveled back in time…back to Jason's darkened office.
Jacqueline was startled when she the lights in the office came on suddenly. She looked up, and watched Jason enter the office followed by Patty.
"What happened?" Jason asked when he saw Jacqueline's swollen lip.
"I'll go to the break room and get some ice for that," Patty offered and was gone.
"So everything didn't go quite as planned," Jason stated as he crossed the carpet heading for his chair. He thought it had since he saw Russell as he disappeared into the elevator then faded out of their lives forever.
"Well for the most part it went fine," she commented while she gingerly touched her lip. At that moment Patty came in with an ice bag full of crushed ice and a small towel. "Thanks." Jacqueline gently placed the cold pack to her lip. It felt wonderful. "Can you do me a favor?" she asked around the wadded towel.
"Sure anything," Patty replied eagerly.
"Give Kara a call and tell her that everything is ok." She tried to smile, but only winced.
"Sure. I'll be back as soon as I get a hold of her." Patty turned and breezed from the room new lightness evident in her step.
Jacqueline turned from the door where Patty had exited back to Jason. "We have a few loose ends to tie up."
"Yes, I know." He rubbed his chin. "I can take care of HR. By this time Gary has spilled his guts."
Jacqueline nodded in agreement.
"So I assume nothing has changed, and everything we had surmised Russell confessed to?" Russell asked.
"Let's say he took the deal." Jacqueline smirked. "I trust you'll be discreet when it comes to Janice and Cheryl? I don't even want their names breathed in conjunction with any of this."
There was a challenge in the woman's voice that Jason took very seriously. "Jackie, shouldn't we…"
Jacqueline cut him off. "I know. They should be at the very least be given written reprimands, and at the most they should be terminated. But to me that's like punishing the victim for being raped or shot."
"I agree it's unfair…"
"Yes it is since there are mitigating circumstances here. Tell me Jason, wouldn't you do anything to protect your kids?"
"Yeah I would do anything, but it's a matter of trust now. How could we ever trust them again?"
Just at that moment a knock was heard at the door. "Come," Jacqueline called.
Jose and Raul entered. Raul walked over to Jacqueline, and placed a soft hand on her shoulder. "Esta usted bien Seniora?"
"Estoy bien gracias." Jacqueline patted the hand that lay on her shoulder assuring the men that she was indeed fine. She reached into the pocket of her jacket, and extracted two envelopes. She offered them to the men.
"Senora,no. No podemos tomar su dinero," Jose interjected.
"Porque?" Jacqueline asked surprised that the men refused to take the pay for their efforts in this little charade used to trip up Russell.
"Porque ese hombre esta un bastardo. Eramos felices ayudarle." Raul added how they felt that Russell was a complete bastard, and they were more than happy to help her take him down.
"Gracias por todo." Jacqueline smiled as much as she could at the sympathetic men. She paused for a moment. "Si tengo otro trabajo por usted, entonces usted toma el dinero?"
Both men grinned crookedly. Raul growled, "Otro trabajo?"
Raul continued, "Will it be as much fun as this job was?"
Jacqueline laughed outright. "Si. Yo promiso."
"Bueno." Jose agreed to take the new job. "Cuando empasamos?
"Ahora." Jacqueline handed them a small sheet of paper with a name and address on it. "Esta ese el ex esposo de Janice. El es peligroso para Janice y Cheryl. Entienden?"
Both men nodded. They understood exactly what Jacqueline was saying. She had explained the whole issue to the men before they were unveiled in order to intimidate Russell into a confession. They had given a stellar performance for Russell, an Oscar worthy performance if they did say so themselves. And even though neither man knew either Janice or Cheryl, they didn't agree with what Russell had done to them. Not to mention what Janice's ex-husband's threats were doing to her. That was no way to treat a woman especially the mother of your children. Yes, they would be more than happy to offer this scum-bag a deal that he couldn't refuse. But they also knew there was the 'new' wife that may have to be dealt with. So Raul asked, "El hombre solamente? Que sobre la esposa?"
"Haga lo que usted tiene que hacer," she replied. She was confident that these men could take care of the 'problemo' with immediate efficiency and complete discretion.
Jacqueline handed them the envelopes, and this time the men graciously accepted them. "Diganme cuando acaben."
"Ok." Jose extended his hand to shake Jacqueline's hand. She shook it firmly then shook Raul's offered hand.
Both men turned to exit when Jose turned back. "The tear drops?" He pointed to the side of his face.
"Oh," she grinned wearily, "Ask your wives for their makeup remover, and a cotton ball. They'll come right off."
"Adios." She bid her accomplices' good bye.
"What was all that about?" Jason asked not sure what had just happened or who those men were.
"That's a loose end I'm taking care of."
"OOOOKKKKK." Jason drew out.
Jacqueline placed her forehead in her hand. She didn't look up. "Let's just say I'm securing both Janice's and Cheryl's future employment by having that nagging mitigating situation taken care of once and for all. There should be no more issues of 'trust' with either of these women."
"I still don't know, Jackie," Jason ventured cautiously.
Jacqueline snapped her head up a fire burned deep within those normally placid blue eyes. "It's taken care of, Jason. Let it go. Janice would have taken the fall for you, and you know it."
"Yeah I guess you're right." Jason was abashed by his lack of faith in Jackie. When the Dragon Lady said something was done it was done, there was never any need for further discussion on the subject.
Another knock came at the door. "Come in," Jason called.
Patty walked in. "I can't reach Kara." Jackie looked at the blonde as Patty continued, "I've called her cell every few minutes since I left here. She's not answering."
"How about her home?" Jacqueline asked.
Before Patty could answer Jason replied, "She's not answering there either." Both women turned their attention to the graying man. He shrugged. "I've been trying to get a hold of her since she walked out of this office."
"She wouldn't go home," Patty commented.
"Where would she go then?" Jacqueline asked.
She was brought from her musings when she felt the car slow then come to a stop. "We're here," Patty said quietly.
With her eyes still shut, Jacqueline asked, "Where are we now?" She was so incredibly exhausted she wasn't sure she had enough energy to even open the car door much less get out of the car. She and Patty had dialed Kara's numbers every few minutes since the two had been in the car. Patty had dragged her from one end of the county to the other in search of Kara. They had been to several bar and grills, a club or two, the beach, and even to the local library and had found no sign of the missing woman.
"At Kara's," Patty replied with a sigh. This had been an incredibly long day. She prayed that Kara was home safe and sound. She was worried about her friend. She was also angered by the woman. She was worried that Kara may have done something stupid and destructive. She was angered by the fact that this woman she had known and loved for so long wouldn't answer her fucking cell phone. On top of that she had wanted to be the first one to give her the news that she was absolved of any wrong doing, but the illusive woman had pulled a David Copperfield. To be honest Patty wasn't sure if she should be infuriated or upset with Kara.
Both women tiredly exited the car. Jackie followed Patty up the front walk that divided the neatly trimmed lawn. Patty slowed her advance on the house, and then stopped. Surreptitiously she looked around before she crouched down and picked up a particular stone that rested under a small shrub that had been clipped to form a rounded shape. Patty looked around again before she proceeded to the door. While she proceeded she turned the stone over, and opened a secret compartment on the bottom of the rock. She retrieved a key from the opening when she stood before the door. Patty easily unlocked the barrier that separated the two women from their quarry, hopefully.
"The sound of silence…" The music wafted out of the opened port.
"And the smell of Seagram's, phew!!" Patty fanned her face to dispel the odor.
Patty stood to the side so Jackie could enter the home of Kara. She closed the door after Jackie had entered the foyer.
Both women walked into house cautiously. Blue and hazel eyes turned toward the couch that sang a slurred rendition of the 'Sound of Silence' which seemed to be on an endless repeat loop.
"It's it always the way." ?
Jackie turned her eyes toward Patty.
Patty shrugged. "It's always the last place you look."
To be continued in Part 10
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