Shiva's Messenger

Biting for Allure

Chapter 5 of Shiva’s Messenger

 

Biting for Allure

“I’m here to see William Watson,” with an air of unconcern, that almost failed, the elegantly attired young man announced his arrival to an exceedingly attractive receptionist. The milk chocolate of her eyes and the smooth crème frâiche skin combined to make a tart so savory to look at, that his tongue nearly refused the words. My zone keeps attention on the task! Not keenly on distractions!

“Yes,” the spectacular girl looked up and flushed slightly. “He’s expecting you.” She led him to the office.

Romero may have been walking through a pea soup fog. All he could see was the swish and sway of her long brunette hair that flowed like a shining waterfall down her back.

After knocking with two sharp raps, she opened the lawyer’s door. As she ushered him in, the dazzling girl turned sideways in the doorway. Her firm upper chest under a silky blouse brushed one and then the other across Escobedo’s upper arm as he passed. His eyes closed in a prolonged blink as the stirring contact was made and he detected a small check in her breath. Romero felt a slight vacuum as she backed out and quickly closed the door behind him.

“Welcome.” William Watson stood behind his rich mahogany desk to greet his new prospective client. He wasn’t a short man but he still had to look upwards to meet Romero’s eyes. The lawyer was in his late 40’s or early 50’s. Though generally in fair health, he still didn’t spend enough quality time in the gym. He sagged about the waist and his hips had flared to a middle aged girth. He golfed often to keep in shape but always used a power cart and his club bag held a bottle of scotch that needed refilling more often than the spare balls pouch.

“The pleasure is mine.” At least it was certainly my bliss back at the doorframe. Now it was business. The two men shook hands.

“Please have a seat.” Watson indicated for him to take a seat in front of the desk.

Romero kept silent and remained standing. I’ll decline at sitting as a petitioner on an inferior chair. He glanced over at the sofa set and coffee table in the other half of the office.

“Of course, Mr. Escobedo,” Watson quickly corrected, “we’ll be much more comfortable there. Would you like some coffee?”

“I take it exceptionally strong.” Romero looked lackadaisically around the room and spoke as if to an unseen servant.

Watson rushed out to order his staff to dump out the stale coffee and brew up a quadruple strength pot. He returned to find young Romero Escobedo examining the framed diplomas hanging on the walls. The room was somber and reeked of brass, varnished wood and distinction. It held an air of permanence that can only be found in the offices of barristers and undertakers.

“I’m wondering, Master Watson,” Escobedo began, he was still standing and his eyes were locked on like a jury, “whether you’re adept at corporate law?”

“Please, call me William,” Watson flinched slightly at a use of a formal honorific taught only by foreign education systems, “or Bill.”

“William it is then,” the young Columbian now roamed his gaze over the lawyer like he was examining the physique of a racehorse. His eyes panned from the patent leather shoes up to the hair that was non-descript dark as from a Grecian Formula bottle with some distinguished grey left at the temples. “I’m Romero to my friends. So tell me, in what aspect of law do you specialize? There aren’t many attorneys in the Creston yellow pages.”

“No, there aren’t.” Watson forced a strained laugh at his clients quip and tried to suck in his paunch. “I’m a small town lawyer so I’m as comfortable in a courtroom as I am drafting a contract. I’m sure I’m capable of accommodating your needs.”

“I wish to set up a business venture here,” Romero crossed arrogantly to the settee area and settled into the most comfortable chair. Efficient and direct, he spoke as he moved. “This enterprise will rent CD’s of Latin dance music to our client base that is already established.” He spent several moments explaining the particulars. “Could you handle setting up such an entity?”

“I’m sure I can set up a company exactly to your specifications.” Perching on the sofa, Watson had the glint in his eye that lawyers get when they detect money. “However, I confess that I wasn’t aware there was much demand for Latin dance music in Creston.”

“I can assure you,” Romero leaned forward to suggest intimacy, “the demand for our music is higher than you may have imagined. However, we don’t cater only to British Columbia. We also rent our tunes to clients in the northwestern United States. The demand is very lucrative there. Still, we’re interested in locating in a smaller community in Canada where laws are more favorable to our operations but that is still accessible to the larger market.”

“I see.” Watson was certain the dance music was drugs. He suddenly had a vision of huge quantities of cocaine moving across the border from Creston. William wasn’t sure if he wanted to have anything to do with that. “So you plan on using your local facility as a distribution hub?”

“Not at all.” As Romero spoke, he idly adjusted his diamond cuff studs. He saw Watson’s eyes following his hands and there they lingered. “We keep our circulation arm well separated from the financial. The tapes will bypass Creston and be drop-shipped to our many local agents.” The Columbian businessman explained how the enterprise worked on paper. “Many, in fact most people who enjoy Latin dance music prefer to pay in cash.”

“I see how that could present some difficulties but a successful business must make accommodations for good customers.” The lawyer almost salivated at a vision of millions of U.S. dollars flooding through a quasi-legal currency laundry. His brief qualm with drugs had passed. The product could be child prostitution but after the transaction was done, it became cash. He now had to find how best to divert some of the flow into his revenue stream. “I have some ideas already on—.”

A patter from outside the stained walnut door interrupted.

shivasmessenger

Jessica Ellis had too many things going wrong lately and felt especially grumpy. Recently, she had broken up with her boyfriend. He worked at a local beer plant and started acquiring an obsessive taste for the product he received with his paycheck. She could do much better than that.

She started working at Watson’s firm after university and had known from the interview that her icky boss was a letch. When he offered the job his eyes were focused on a spot between her chin and the resume on his desk.

“I’m here to see William Watson.”

“Yes,” Jessica lifted her attention from the computer monitor. Oooh, here was an interesting sparkle in an otherwise bleak day. “He’s expecting you.”

The young woman felt pride in her best walk. She didn’t need a mirror to know his eyes were locked on her rearview: she could feel his vision burning through the back of her panties like twin laser beams. Being an aspiring lawyer only went so far. She was still female and young enough to enjoy life. What was the point of being attractive if she couldn’t flaunt it occasionally?

While turning to allow the handsome Latino to pass, Jessica misjudged the width of his shoulders. In a seeming slow motion, he accidentally dragged his arm across her very sensitive chest.   She couldn’t suppress a slight gasp as a pleasurable shock wave sent a seismic tremor through her upper physique.

“That was thrilling.” The girl leaned her back on the now closed door to gain support for her unsteady knees. An after-sensation of the body contact sent a quiver along the same network of nerves that were already excited. Her mental eye traced back to the only glimpse she had of the new client’s face. “He tried to look so cool and smug. It should’ve been me flustering him instead!”

A minute later Bill rushed out frantically seeking someone to make a batch of special coffee. “I’ll do it,” Jessica volunteered and then smiled wickedly at his retreating back.

“This crud is going to be truly vile.” The girl giggled as she followed the instructions—exactly. Unfortunately for the Hispanic heart-throb, though, he wouldn’t even notice the taste because he was going to be reeling from the shot of cleavage she intended to fire at point blank range. “Sorry, Romero Escobedo, but how can you be a playboy if some girl doesn’t play you like a boy?”

“You prefer your coffee strong?” The extra grounds were intended to make the coffee ooze out like hot tar but instead the vicious barista found the water didn’t flow fast enough through the overfilled basket. Chocolate brown slurry welled over the filter and washed some grounds into the carafe. “How about chewy too?”

She poured the noxious concoction into two of the firm’s mugs. After an adjustment of her female ammunition, Jessica switched off the safety selector by unfastening two more buttons. “It’s payback time for Mr. GQ magazine.”

“Ah, the refreshment is here.” Bill shuffled to the door to admit the fetching coffee girl in the pastel blouse.

She snatched a cup from the tray and pushed it offhandedly to her boss holding the door. Then, the girl walked with careful steps to arrive at a precise point near the coffee table. With her distance perfectly measured, she leaned in with malice and delivered the full double salvo out of the muzzle of her V-neck top. “Cream?” She waited a tantalizing pause before adding, “Or sugar?”

Romero tried his best to maintain an aloof composure as the girl sashayed in but she was simply too drop-dead gorgeous. Then the young woman bent down. Don’t look! His eyes rebelled and refused his mental command not to drop. His vision was transfixed by the heavenly cleft. His pulse spiked and his blood pounded into his ears so strongly that he could barely hear her sultry voice. She said “Cream” first. That was exactly the thought running along his currently one-tracked mind. “Or sugar?” Breathe! Now aware that he had stopped, Romero hoped it wouldn’t require a ventilator to restart his respiration.

“Black—thanks.” Having managed an intake of breath, his reply was after a slight pause. He wrenched his gaze up to her smiling face as she straightened. His face felt as hot as the steaming coffee. Will my tan obscure my blushing?  Sitting back on the sofa, he crossed his knees and tried to appear composed while taking deep breaths. She couldn’t have affected me more if she had done that on purpose.

‘Deuce!’ Having caught the effect of her barrage, Jessica was pleased to note her brilliantly served ace had now brought the hormonal tennis match to level.

William took a gulp of the steaming sludge. “Mmm, thank you, Jessica.” He fought back a grimace.

On the edge skirt of panic, Romero focused his eyes on the cup she had so dramatically set in front of him. He fixed his mind on his father’s identity evidence avoidance drills in an attempt to regain his composure. This mug had a large and nearly square handle so he inserted his four fingers past the second set of knuckles into the opening.   By spreading his fingers as far as the handle permitted and curling his knuckles carefully, he could appear to be holding it normally. But only the top of his index finger and the underside of his pinky were contacting a surface. Romero took a relaxed breath and lifted the cup to his awaiting lips.

This is horrible!” Some of the concentrated caffeine sprinkled with grit made it into his mouth before he halted his drink. He spit it back into his cup and looked up into the server’s brown eyes. “The coffee maker should be promptly stripped and serviced.”

“Oh really?” Jessica misinterpreted his line as alluding to the maid that made the beverage, instead of a faulty machine.

Romero didn’t answer because he didn’t view it as a question. He didn’t realize that his words held an alternate possible meaning. The young man poked out his tongue and used his forefinger and thumb to pinch off the remaining grounds. Of course, this innocent action had a completely different connotation from her perspective.

Has that ultra crude pick-up technique ever worked for you? She was reminded of some of the supposedly clever come on lines that other guys had assaulted her with. Many of those seemed to come out of desperate male self-help books and were similar to the verge of pathetic: that one bottomed the list though.

“I have a good idea.” Thinking quickly at the exchange, William conceived a plan. “Jessica, why don’t you take Romero over for an espresso? We aren’t equipped to brew it the way that he likes. We are about finished with our business, right Mr. Escobedo?”

“Yes.” Romero was still slightly flustered and wasn’t sure if his response was assumed as the answer to the question about matters being concluded or in blanket agreement with the entire statement. Spending time with an entrancing girl was intrinsically dangerous to his scenario.

“Um,” Oh-oh, her caffeine sludge trick had just backfired: Jessica searched for an excuse, “he’s your client. You should go.”

“I have to make notes while things are fresh in my mind.” Bill turned back to Romero after rejecting his receptionist’s suggestion. “Why don’t I work on my ideas and we can meet again tomorrow?”

“I’ll be in this vicinity for a few days. We’ll get together at ten o’clock.” Romero had peeked at Watson’s day planner while the lawyer was out for those few minutes. He knew that William already has another appointment booked for that time slot.

“Ten it is.” Watson glanced briefly towards his scheduler. His brow furrowed but he said nothing.

The girl swiveled away on the balls of her feet. She managed take two casual steps toward the door—and her escape. But a voice behind her slammed the trap shut.

“Jessica, put everything on my tab and because you’re doing me this favor, you can take as long as you like.” William inwardly beamed at his craftiness.

“Thanks.” The young woman’s reply dripped with sarcasm. By not coming up with a better excuse fast enough, her silence was deemed as a ‘yes’. Now it was too late to say no and she would be stuck with fending off a man trying to trifle with her. At least it was only for espresso. A dinner date would have been interminable. On second thought, that would’ve been terminated before it began.

As they left the building, Jessica looked back through the glass doors. The glee on her employer’s face was disconcerting. What thin thought has Bill got squeezed into his narrow mind? Then suddenly, Jessica realized her problem wasn’t what the lawyer was planning. Instead, it was what her boss had already accomplished. Watson pimped me out to a prospective client and I fell for it!

“So, what do you think of my boss?” With the sleaze-ball ploy freshly on her mind, Jessica just threw out the first tedious query.

“If he took Viagra, I suspect he would grow a bit taller.”

The café’s outdoor seating was beside the public sidewalk but it was raised by a step. Passersby were also separated from patrons by a wrought iron fence. They placed an order for large lattés and then took seats opposite a table sheltered by a patio umbrella. Jessica found the sun dazzled one eye so she shifted her weight and slid her chair over a fraction. She looked across at the client and waited. It was much better to lie in ambush in order to snipe down whatever contrived lines the rakish Romero served up. Would he try impressing her into his bed with legends of his exploits or accounts of fabulous wealth?

“Jessica,” just saying her name tasted like it was honey on his tongue. How was he going to snip this conversation short, when she was looking so ravishing with the sunshine and shade splitting her face and body, like the torment and bliss she presented? “Tell me something about yourself?”

“I’m working for Bill and hoping to become a lawyer.”

“How close are you to that goal?”

“I’m almost there.” That’s not an inauspicious start, Don Juan. Guys often didn’t care to know any more about a girl because they could drink into their eyes everything that they primarily wanted to know. “How about you, Romero?” The name slightly tickled her lips: it felt too much like Shakespeare’s romantic hero for comfort.

“I’m working for my father and trying to achieve his objectives.”

“And what brings his intentions to Creston?”

“Initially, it was the geographic location.” Hazard area! Chart a channel with less threat of striking a lurking mine. He dropped his pitch for a restrained flirt. “But I’ve since found another tantalizing prospect. Please though, let’s not discuss business.”

“As you wish.” That was cute. Jessica couldn’t help warming slightly at the doubtlessly intentional ambiguity. That was certainly a better ploy than that physical innuendo with the tongue and fingers.

Their order arrived with a waitress and her endowments were doubtlessly surgically augmented. The volume of silicone involved might have been delivered in a tanker truck. As she bent to give Romero his latté, the server’s deeply scalloped top revealed braless rigidity not as possible in the wild.

“Is that better than mine?” Jessica grinned as he took a sip. He liked using double entendre: two can play that game too. Was she referring to the java or the décolletage?

“Delectable.” He cleared up the question of the flavor first then deftly returned her sneaky lob shot. “Quite the balcony.” After an exaggerated eye scan of the outdoor seating area, his gaze focused on the retreating server. Was his remark aimed at slightly raised coffee shop addition or the supplement on the woman’s structure?

“It’s more like a grand sun deck.” Jessica smiled. Again, both applications could apply. “Is it what you like?”

“I generally prefer a picture window with a fabulous vista.” Romero looked appreciatively at his date. He lowered his voice intimately, “of course, a lovely flowerbox is a very nice feature.”

Jessica felt the petals in her own window dressing responding excitedly to the warm sunshine of the well-delivered complement. She chuckled mirthfully at their repartee with risqué undertones. It felt like having two conversations simultaneously. Oh, you’re pretty sly there, Casanova. The trouble was it didn’t feel like an act but rather that he was just pleasant to be with.

“I’ve never met a blue-eyed Latino.” Jessica gazed deep into the recesses of his.

“My father had a penchant for Scandinavian blonds.”

“And what’s your partiality?” Jessica smiled and predicted that her physical type was about to be listed to a ‘T’.

“For the hair, probably blond or even strawberry leaning heavily towards auburn. I generally prefer shorter girls with green eyes or possibly blue.” He chuckled and it was the infectious belly chortle kind that started her laughing too. “I suppose if I were really picky, I’d look for a woman of Asian or African extraction, as long as I could find one without the brown eyes that I abhor so badly.”

“Alright, I get the picture.” Each listed attribute was one she didn’t possess. Jessica giggled and extrapolated the game out to a final non-matching physical form. “You did allude to gender in the words ‘woman’ and ‘girls’ so I’ll assume you’re not gay as well.”

Romero was also thrilling at the sub-currents in the interplay. This is just too much fun. Unfortunately, the allure Jessica exuded was swiftly overwhelming his resolve to back away. Enjoying enormous amusement simply in her presence, this was still only a coffee break and what could be overly harmful in that? As he downplayed hazard in the encounter, both were only mildly aware that a much stronger force was beginning to take hold.

Having spent so much of his formative years in the isolation of his cabin, Romero’s experience with girls wasn’t his strongest suit. His demeanor wasn’t suave—only the outward appearance was. It wasn’t playacting from a lustfully plotted agenda either. He was just being himself while enjoying her company.

That was dealing a devastating blow to the girl’s prejudgment of him. She confidently believed her flirt & parry was with immunity. Figuratively, Jessica had unwittingly entered a knife fight, with a mistaken impression that a bulletproof vest was protection. As they continued their playful discussion, the afternoon swiftly ebbed away.

“So what do you think of Creston?” Jessica asked.

“I really haven’t encountered enough of it to form an opinion.” As he spoke, Romero’s eyes swept up to the rocky prominences that dwarfed even the huge mounds the waitress had under her shirt. But on finishing the sentence his admiring gaze had returned to the pretty young woman at his table. “This place certainly does have some fabulous scenery.”

“Those are called the Skimmerhorns.” Her eyes flicked up to the west-facing ridge and then back to her cup of java. She wrapped her both hands around the warm cardboard tumbler but the steep scarps juxtaposed as an icon of her career and her voice cooled. “They’re probably not surmountable from this side.”

“Some say the world will end in fire, 
some say in ice.” Romero sensed pessimism and presumed it harkened from the dirty tactic of a boss using her for a client perquisite. “From what I’ve tasted of desire, 
I hold with those who favor fire.
”

“Did you just make that up?” Jessica’s eyes broke from her idle focus and widened as she looked up. Tasted desire fit with a cagey coxswain’s using poetry to topple a woman’s resolve but the world ending clashed with the pattern.

“But if it had to perish twice, 
I think I know enough of hate
. To say that for destruction ice, 
is also great, 
and would suffice.” The reciting made Romero recall when he heard it first. “Robert Frost.”

“What’s so funny?” The girl had seen a hidden smile. She had also just taken several stimulating strikes. His masculine timbre had been melodic and even the content of the verse was oddly soothing.

“I was at a teenage stage,” he paused briefly but decided this true anecdote was safe to tell, “and I thought I should always seem manly but I found a poetry book. I was reading it in bed when my dad walked in unexpectedly: I quickly shoved it under the blankets.”

“Like it was your mom catching you with a smut magazine.” Jessica’s eyes twinkled and she giggled at the turnabout humor.

“My dad’s keen perception caught my ruse and I showed my shameful doings.” Romero recalled how sheepish he’d felt. “After a glance at the cover, he smiled and recited that poem from memory.”

“Your father’s acceptance,” the young woman found the moral but was rattled by the rapid flurry of sensitivity, poignancy and even some vulnerability with humor—she chose her wording carelessly, “had the effect of strengthening your manhood.”

“Those girlie pictures would’ve also bolstered it more.” He pounced at the opening and enjoyed her resulting blushing titter.

“Oh no!” The receptionist suddenly glanced at her watch. This was supposed to be only on an interlude from her job. At slightly after five, the office would now closed. “I’m late and it’s your fault,”

“I’m awfully sorry.” That was more than a white lie. “Can I make amends for my error by treating you to dinner?”

“That would be nice.” Wait! Hadn’t she already decided to put a halt to the idea of an evening date?   Well, it was too late now.

After splitting to go get ready for their evening together, Jessica keyed the ignition on her beat up clunker. She chastised her mirror reflection’s gullibility. Bill set you up and you’re trailing along with it like a newly hatched duckling.

Now she was away from Romero, the girl could think more clearly. He almost, but not quite, had her tilt lights flashing with his incredibly well practiced but doubtlessly contrived pleasant and interesting man routine.

She stepped dripping from the shower and surveyed her closet for tonight’s look. She briefly considered adopting the frumpiest visage possible to dissuade any further advances but he had already seen her differently and he wouldn’t easily forget that.

“Nah, knock him senseless!” Giggling wickedly at the reaction she would evoke, Jessica chose her most provocative gown. “He won’t know if he’s been shot from a cannon or hit by a trolley.”

As the young woman envisioned her expectations for the coming date, she grinned mischievously into her vanity compact. Romero would be whacked so badly askew that the beguiling nice guy act would tumble like a leaning tower of dominoes. The only thing left in view would be the cunning cad that she could then blast out of his carnal intentions.

Snickering cruelly, Jessica downplayed the warnings urgently issuing from the clearer thinking side of her brain. ‘When you throw a jerry can full of gasoline on red-hot coals, you have to be in so close that you’ll likely get caught in the fireball.’

shivasmessenger

“You moron!” Romero berated the man looking at him out of his mirror. “You made it through coffee without blowing it and then exacerbated the problem by opening up your big stupid mouth.”

Sadly, he was right but he had as much chance of avoiding Jessica as a magnet’s south end has of steering clear of a north.

“So what’s the smart thing to do, besides standing her up? Do you have any suggestions here, Father?” The store of proverbs and maxims from his training should have provided answers to almost everything but he drew a blank on this one.

The strategy that Jessica devised, worked out precisely as she had calculated. From the moment the young man saw her in the wispy black frock, Romero was outmaneuvered. In engagements of opposing hormonal forces like this, men really don’t have any viable defense capabilities.

As they walked to his car, she finally had the libidinous libertine she anticipated. That was demonstrated by a dragging of his hand across the small of her silk clad back as he helped her into the seat. Wanting to see how deeply into despair she could drive him, Jessica stoically endured the delightful sensations his touch engendered.

At the quaint restaurant, he could have had a plate of festering compost in front of him because all he could taste and smell was the delicious dish sitting across from him.

With his every eye movement Jessica could feel heat tracers scorching across her flesh. I have you in my scope now, Lothario. All she needed to do was decide when best to hammer down on the anti-aircraft triggers.

“You said earlier that you are close to becoming a lawyer.” The young man probed for armor chink. “What’s the next stage?”

“That’s a matter for my fire and ice.” The Robert Frost rhyme had haunted her. It’s never so bad as a world’s end but anger and disillusionment are both self-defeating. Jessica had even printed a copy from the Internet but reading it sounded in her mind, as the Latino’s voice. “My internship’s signature seems tied with distasteful strings. The knots have just tightened so I’ll snip my laces and find some new climbing boots. It’s not the end of the world.”

With his underhandedly offering her as harem temptation for a visiting sheik, Watson brandished the final straw. The inspirational elegy offered encouragement against being a broken-backed camel. She would take her humps and find her oasis by a different caravan.

Romero Escobedo, now truly the alpha wolf on the prowl, took her moment of apparent vulnerability as an opening to get the nubile female onto the dance floor. As Jessica melded her body against his, the final confrontation that neither could hope to win or to lose, was joined. Like matched battleships cruising across each other’s flanks and with all nature’s guns blazing telling broadsides into badly smitten young hulls, both vessels were going down.

“Your boss is a jerk but don’t let him diminish us.” Loath to break physical contact, Romero trailed a hand caress lingeringly down her arm, to retain a fingertip touch as they sat back down. “What he did today was wrong but we’ve had a wonderful time.”

The girl was hopelessly ensnared in the same mesh trap she had laid for her quarry. Of it’s own accord, her hand extended to facilitate his protracted touch.

“So,” Romero chirped as he looked at the selection of after dinner treats, “what would put the ideal cap on our repast?”

“We could go to your hotel.” Jessica gazed over the menu and floundered in his blue depths. With a final qualm toppling as a ball-shattered mast, she offered her much better selection for dessert.

“Yes.” No reservations could be strong enough to resist such a mouthwatering pastry. The regatta Mother Nature had charted from a first intimate brush in the doorway rounded a last buoy and keeled for the finish horning. “Or we could go to my place.”

When the suite’s door closed, nothing his father ever told or taught him could’ve prepared him for the intensity of the emotions and sensations he was feeling. He didn’t need any training manuals as much older words are written into human instincts with indelible ink. Shiva and Parvati also knew which passages to highlight.

shivasmessenger

Early the next morning, Romero awoke with an exquisite form sprawled across the bed beside him. She looked superb, even with hair in disarray. How do I love thee? Let me count my blunders.

Standing in the bathroom, he smiled at his reflection. His father would have been at least proud of his son’s attention to detail. ‘It’s the smallest of things that can give you away.’ The protégé was glad he had taken the time in Calgary to also dye his body hairs jet-black to match. That would have been a dead giveaway.

“You’ll be late for work.” As he emerged now fully dressed, the Columbian mentally crossed his fingers. He watched as she stirred and stretched luxuriously with a heavy morning sigh. Could I get away with postponing my appointment?

“I’m not going in today.” Having made her decision last night, Jessica was going to stick with it. Even if William signed her papers today, she would still be working with a slime-bag tomorrow.

“You stay exactly as you are and I’ll make an excuse.” Yes, a smile from good fortune had been forthcoming. He didn’t want her in the vicinity of Creston.

“I couldn’t care less what you tell him.”

“I’ll say something fairly big came up,” Romero mischievously grinned, “and that you felt compelled to get right on it.”

“You will not!” With a shrieking giggle, she fired a pillow.

shivasmessenger

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