Saras eyes widened when she drove around the bend and spied the huge house. "Thats where Im spending Halloween? Wow." She still wasnt sure who had sent her the invitation to attend the party, but she didnt have any other plans and she liked mystery and adventure, so here she was. Besides, there was a mention of cash prizes and she had student loan payments hanging over her head.
The small blond parked her blue VW bug in front of the residence next to the other cars. She got out and grabbed the dufflebag from the back seat. Sara closed the door and took a moment to take in the beautiful architecture of the old house, with its slate gray, stone walls. She was particular interested in the gargoyles that guarded the building.
The sound of screeching tires jerked her away from her observations, as a small, red sports car headed right for her. Sara found her feet wouldnt obey her brains command to move and she remained rooted in place. Right before impact, she caught an object out of the corner of her eye and a second later she was tackled out of the cars deadly path.
Sara was slightly dazed as she looked up at her rescuer, who knelt over her. The blond noted the woman had dark, almost black hair, and she was getting lost in a set of the bluest eyes shed ever seen when she realized the stranger was saying something to her. "Excuse me?"
"I asked if youre okay." The dark woman repeated as she stood and held out a hand to help Sara up.
"Umm, yeah. Thanks." She took the offered hand and stood, noticing the other woman had about 6 inches on her in height. She glanced over at the sports car that had almost flattened her and saw a pale haired woman, dressed in black leather walking away from the vehicle laughing wickedly, not even bothering to see if the women were okay.
The petite blond turned her attention back to her hero. "Im Sara Griffith. Thanks for saving me." She held out her hand.
The brunette seemed uncomfortable with the thanks, but took Saras hand and returned the handshake. "Gillian Michaels. I think wed better get inside now."
"Yeah, Id hate to be miss the party, the invitation said not to be late." The blond agreed as the pair made their way to the entrance.
The inside of the house was even more impressive than the outside, and Sara found herself gazing around at her surroundings, not paying attention. She was admiring the ceiling carvings when she ran into something solid. She looked up and saw shed run into a man. He was quite tall with dark hair and a neatly trimmed goatee. Sara thought the black t-shirt and jeans the man wore really accented his muscular frame.
"Im sorry." She announced to the man. "I guess I wasnt paying attention."
The man ignored her apology and glanced around at the group of assembled people. "Im Victor Anderson," He announced in a deep voice, "and this is my house. Welcome."
The group was silent as they met their host for the first time. Victors gaze remained on Gillian, as he continued. "Before we start the festivities of the evening, why dont you gather in the parlor for refreshments and get to know each other. Ill see you shortly." He motioned down the hall and the guests followed him to the room.
Gillian stood in a corner and checked out the other people. There were 2 women and a man. She eyed them all cautiously, still not sure how she was picked to be there, but knowing she needed the prize money. The brooding woman watched as the man walked over to Sara.
"Hey! Arent you Sara Griffith the news anchor?" He asked excitedly as he pushed up his thick framed glasses.
"Uh, yes. I am." The blond answered. "And you are?"
"Joe Maxwell. Accountant." He replied with a smile. "You know I just love your news show, I never miss it."
"Oh kill me now." The woman who had almost hit Sara complained. "You dont have a chance four eyes, give it up."
Joe appeared hurt by the womans words and Sara stepped in. "And who are you?" She had an instant dislike for this woman.
"Its really none of your business. But since were supposed to play nice. You can call me Katherine." Her smile was cold and it didnt reach her brown eyes. "Now I think its time for tall, dark and silent over there to introduce herself."
Gillians face remained emotionless as all eyes turned to her. "Gillian Michaels." She stated in a flat tone.
"Okay, Gillian. And what do you do for a living?" Katherine asked as she took out a cigarette and lit it.
"Im a kindergarten teacher." The tall woman lied, not wanting to disclose she was a cop.
"Yeah, right. And Im a Barbie doll who gets paid to look good and read a teleprompter. Oh no, wait. Thats Saras job."
Joe made to take a step towards Katherine, but Sara placed a hand on his arm. "Shes not worth it, Joe."
Katherine blew a plume of smoke at the man. "Thats right, Joey. Listen to Barbie." She walked away chuckling to herself.
Gillian replayed the information she now had. She was stuck with an accountant, a psycho bitch, and a news anchor. Shed thought Sara had looked familiar, but couldnt put her finger on why. "Ill have to watch the news more often." She thought to herself as she admired the petite blond.
Moments later, their host returned accompanied by a red haired woman who was dressed in red leather pants and a tight pink t-shirt. "Now that youve had a chance to get to know each other, Ill direct you to your bedrooms where youll change into the clothes that have been provided for you."
Gillian frowned, the invitation hadnt mentioned costumes. Victor walked over to her. "Im sure youll approve of the attire I chose for you." He announced in a low voice.
The tall woman lifted a lone eyebrow in return. "Well see."
The newcomer made her way over to Sara. "Hi, Im Claire." She said in a voice Sara found way too perky, but also friendly.
"Hi. Im Sara and this is Joe." She pointed to the man standing next to her, who was now staring trancelike at the redhead. Sara continued. "Do you live here too."
"Oh, well not really. Victor is my brother and we like come here sometimes, you know."
"Its a very beautiful home." Sara commented.
"Yeah, its okay I guess." Claire replied, sounding a little bored with the topic of conversation. "So are you ready to get changed? Youre gonna totally love your new duds."
"Okay. Sure." Sara followed Claire out of the room with Joe close behind.
"Theres no way in hell that Im getting into THOSE." Gillian remarked when she first saw the outfit on the bed. Leather pants werent anything she was ever interested in wearing. She sighed. "Suck it up Gillian and get dressed. Who knows, maybe Sara will have to wear them too." She smiled at that thought.
And Gillian wasnt disappointed when the group reassembled in the parlor. She took her time studying the way the black leather clung to the smaller womans lower body, and the way the news anchors dark green tank top showed off her very toned arms. "Very nice" She glanced over at Joe and instantly wished she hadnt, some men should not wear leather. Also, Katherine was no where to be seen.
Sara felt a bit uncomfortable in the new clothes, but from the attention she was getting from Joe, she figured they must look okay. She also caught Gillian eyeing her wardrobe. Of course shed been checking out the brunette when she noticed. How could someone have legs that long that looked so great wrapped in leather? She was brought out of her pleasant thoughts of Gillians anatomy by Victors arrival.
"All right, ladies." Victor began. Joe cleared his throat, but the host ignored him. "Now that youre changed, we can get on to why were here. At stake is a great deal of money. All you have to do is make it through the challenges and its yours. You will each be given a map, you can decide if you want to work together or take out your opponents and grab their maps too." Victors eyes fell on Gillian when he said this. "And if no one finishes, then you all go home empty handed."
Claire walked into the room and handed each member of the trio a map and a flashlight. "Good luck." She told Sara after handing her the piece of paper.
The blond smiled. "Thanks." She glanced around. "What happened to Katherine?"
"Dont worry about her." Victor announced before his sister had a chance to speak. "Its just the three of you now."
They stood in a darkened room. Claire and Victor had dropped them off and said they would be waiting for the winner at the finishing point. Gillian glanced at the others, who were either her teammates, or opponents, she hadnt decided which yet.
"Okay. I guess we should decide where were going, huh." Joe commented to the women. "You know, Im really glad its just the three of us now. I really didnt trust that Katherine chick. She seemed like a real Psycho Betty to me. You know what I mean?"
Gillian rolled her eyes and wondered if Sara would mind if she took out the accountant. "Play nice for now." She told herself. "He might be useful later."
"I think we should see which one of our maps we should follow first." Sara remarked as she turned on her flashlight and motioned Gillian and Joe closer. "Of course I hope one of you knows how to read these things." She rotated her piece of paper several times trying to make sense of it. "Im terrible with directions."
"Let me help you out there." Gillian offered as she took the map from the blond and then held her hand out for Joes.
He narrowed his eyes skeptically. "I dont know. I mean, how do I know once you have my map you wont just dump me and take my share of the money?"
"Fine. Maybe youd like to tell us which way to go, then." She held out her two pieces and waited to see what the man would do.
Sara stepped in since they seemed to be getting nowhere fast. "Joe. Maybe you can let Gillian handle the maps for this first leg and then you can lead us on the next one. Okay?"
The small blond gave him her most brilliant smile and Gillian knew the accountant was a goner. Hell, if Sara had aimed that smile at her and said to give the maps to Joe, she might have considered it.
"Uh. Sure, Sara, that sounds fair to me." Joe hurriedly handed over the map to Gillian and Sara nodded approval.
"Great. Now if our fearless leader will tell us which way to go, we can get this show on the road." Sara grinned up at the taller woman who was busy comparing the pieces, a slight frown of concentration on her face.
Then Gillian pointed in a direction with her flashlight. "That way."
The group had been walking about thirty minutes. Joe was beginning to whine about it being his turn, so Gillian sent him up ahead to scout out the next door they needed. Saras opinion of the house had changed a little, now that she was wandering around in it. The architecture and statues she had once thought intriguing, she now considered kind of disturbing.
She moved her flashlight beam along the wall to glimpse some of the paintings that hung from them. Her beam landed on one painting and she stopped. It appeared to be a temple of some sort. There was an altar and flames were shooting from it and a female figure seemed to be held by the flames. An involuntary shiver raced down her spine as she continued on.
"Cold?" Gillian asked when she saw the smaller woman shiver.
"Uh. No, well, maybe a little." She didnt know how to explain the feelings she got from seeing that painting. "These things are pretty weird." She motioned with her flashlight to the paintings.
They both stopped to regard the next work of art, and were shocked by what they saw. The moment was interrupted by the sound of Joe clomping over to them He saw the women staring at the wall, so he shone his flashlight at the painting and then aimed the beam back at Sara and Gillian.
"Whoa. Those women look like you." He announced with surprise.
"Get that light out of my face before I shove that flashlight so far up your " Gillian growled, but stopped when she felt a warm hand gently touch her arm. She glared at Joe who quickly moved the beam of light off of the threatening woman.
"Whats going on here, Gillian?" Sara removed her hand from her companions arm and took a step closer. She examined the two women in the artwork. The taller one had long dark hair, and even in the dim lighting of the corridor, Sara could still make out the blueness of the figures eyes. It was the spitting image of Gillian, and the blond figure had an uncanny resemblance to herself.
"I dont know." The taller woman admitted. "But I think wed better keep moving. What did you find, Joe?"
"Huh? Oh yeah. The door is up there like you said. Theres a room filled with these creepy statues."
"Creepy statues?" Sara repeated with raised brows. "This just keeps getting better and better."
Joe was right about the statues being creepy, but for some reason, they seemed familiar to Gillian. At least the room was better lit and she could turn her flashlight off. She squinted her eyes a little at the marble forms of creatures with armor and swords, something didnt seem right.
Suddenly a cry filled the room. "Giilliaaan!"
The cop turned around in time to see Katherine dragging Sara through a secret exit in the wall. She rushed over, but the heavy door swung closed. "Sara!" She shouted and heard a muffled cry on the other side. She pounded on the wood paneling in an attempt to gain access.
Gillians thoughts were focused on getting Sara back from Katherine. Her mind was quickly processing her options when she felt an incessant tapping on her arm. She angrily turned on Joe. "Do you have a death wish?"
"Umm, Gillian." He pointed to the statues, which were now closing in on them, their swords ready for attack.
"Son of a Bacchae!" She cursed loudly. She didnt need this now.
"Son of a what?" Joe inquired.
Gillian pushed the man out of the way as one of the figures brought its sword down, but the weapon made slight contact with Joes skin and a red line appeared where it hit.
"Ow! Hey whats going on here? This wasnt in the invitation."
Without thought, Gillian began her assault on the attacking creatures. She managed to smash a pair of them into each other, the statues crumbled to the ground. "I need a weapon." She scanned the room and spotted a sword on the floor. Gillian flipped over a set of opponents and grabbed the weapon. The sword felt right in her hand as she swung it in a few practice arcs. "Time for a little ass kicking." She sprang into action.
Sara sat confused as she tried to figure out what was going on. Katherine had yanked her out of the statue room and forced her at gunpoint into another room, where shed bound her hands and feet. And as if that wasnt bad enough, before her own eyes, Victor and Claire seemed to appear from thin air, but they were in costumes of some sort. The tall man was dressed in pants and a vest made of black leather, and he wore metallic bracelets that covered his forearms. Claire, on the other hand, was dressed in well it looked like a pink bra and panties covered by see through pink fabric that resembled a robe that came down to the womans thighs.
Claire glanced at the captive blond. "This wasnt part of the deal, Ares." She announced angrily.
"Oh, calm down, sis. Im just having a little fun. Besides, isnt this just like the good ole days? The weak and useless blond gets herself captured, only to be rescued by the dark and dangerous Warrior Princess? Except I think this time, the endings going to be a little different. Xena, I mean Gillian will undoubtedly choose the money over a girl she hardly knows. What do you think, Katherine, are you ready to have some fun?"
Katherines face lit up with a glee of a maniac. "You know. Getting to mess up Barbie is going to be much more satisfying than going home with a carload of money. Now what to do first."
Sara saw the evil gleam in Katherines brown eyes and got a bed sense of déjà vu. She did the only thing she could think of. She screamed for Gillian.
With one final blow of the sword, Gillian broke through the secret panel. She briefly glanced over her shoulder at the stone ruins that littered the floor, and then over at Joe, who was staring back at her in wide eyed shock. "Get a move on, unless you want to stay here alone." She warned as she jumped through the newly created exit.
She paused a moment to gather her bearings when she heard Sara yelling her name with panic evident in her voice. Sword in hand, Gillian sprinted off towards the frantic shouts, with Joe hurrying after her.
Moments later, Gillian came to a halt outside a closed door. She could hear voices inside the room. Katherine was telling Sara to shut up. The tall woman narrowed her eyes when she heard the sound of a slap and she busted into the room.
The scene she found was an odd one. Katherine stood over a bound Sara, the psychotic woman waved a handgun around dramatically. And the two hosts stood there just observing the events that were unfolding before them as though it was some sort of television show.
"Let her go, Katherine." Gillian ordered menacingly as she moved towards the women.
Katherine placed the gun against Saras fair head. "Another step, and Ill blow her brains all over that wall."
"Noooo!" A mans voice cried out and Joe rushed forward in a show of bravery, or stupidity, depending on who you asked.
The crazed blond grinned as she quickly raised the weapon and fired a shot that struck Joe. The man crumpled to the ground, but hed given Gillian the opening she needed and she took it.
The tall brunette lunged for the gun before Katherine could return its barrel to Saras skull. With her police training, she ripped the weapon from Katherines clenched fingers. Gillian then threw a savage uppercut that contacted soundly with her opponents chin. Katherine was unconscious before she hit the floor.
Claire smiled as she watched Gillian untie Sara. Love had once again come out on top. "So what was that you were saying about her taking money over the girl?" She gloated.
Her brother looked like hed just tasted something very bitter. His top lip curled up in a snarl as Gillian helped the smaller woman to her feet. "You may have won this one, Aphrodite, but I will be victorious in the end. Xena will be mine!" He disappeared in an angry flash of light.
Sara hugged her rescuer tightly. "Thank you, Gillian."
The cop was caught off guard by the sudden physical contact, but she quickly recovered and returned the gesture. She was just starting to really get into the moment when a low moaning sound interrupted the embrace.
"I wont kill him, I wont kill him." Gillian chanted to herself as Joe moved next to them holding his shoulder.
"The money had better be worth all of this." He complained.
"Dont worry sweet cheeks. Youll get your dinars." Aphrodite promised him. "You all will. Well, except for that Psycho Betty, I know where to send her." And with that she waved her hand and Katherines unconscious form disappeared. Three bags of cash appeared in her place.
Gillian seemed to be the only one not freaked out by all of this. She walked over, grabbed a bill and examined it. "Looks good to me. Thanks."
"Hey, no problem. Take care of the little one, Gillian. Shes pretty special." And with that, Aphrodite vanished.
Gillian strolled back to Sara and wrapped an arm around her shoulders. "So, what do you say we grab our share and get the hell out of here. I think we could still hit a Halloween party or two before we turn into pumpkins." She gave the blond a rogue smile.
"Sounds like a great plan to me. And I could really use a drink." Sara replied and the women picked up their bags and headed for the exit.
Joe snapped out of the daze hed fallen into when hed spied Aphrodite in her revealing outfit. He quickly grabbed his bag of loot and chased after the women. "Hey guys, wait up. Dont leave me here."