Asinoe’s smile faded into a blank mask as the door clicked shut behind the lawyer.
-Let’s see where this little hunt will lead us- she thought and picked up her phone.
Across town, Scarlett’s phone vibrated against her mahogany desk. A brow rose as she looked down from the file she was perusing.
“Sin? What’s the problem?” she picked it up and answered without hesitation…no one ever called her unless there was work to be done.
“I just had an interesting conversation with the lawyer,” Asinoe purred at Scarlett’s greeting, leaning back in her chair and crossing her legs comfortably, “It turns out he truly was kidnapped and not lost on some drug fuelled bender like we thought. I gave him Steiner’s number to ‘get a bodyguard,’” she laughed humourlessly, “We’ll see how far he gets. In the meantime, he gave me the location of where he was taken and a lead on the men that kept him. Apparently they were ‘British’.”
“Well isn’t that interesting,” came Scarlett’s dry response, “I feel like he would be a useless hostage…he always seemed more likely to fall down a hole somewhere all on his own rather than be kidnapped,” she tapped her stiletto nails on the desk and thought for a moment, “Are you sure…or more importantly, is he sure that the location isn’t just the alley he woke up in?”
“I wondered that too at first, because he was so vague,” Asinoe smirked, “But he said he was there for weeks and was tortured intermittently…so he was lucid enough. What’s interesting is he gave me the location in longitude and latitude,” she have a short laugh, “…if you can believe that! I think the lawyer is hiding either genius level intelligence or he’s an idiot savant…which is more likely, come to think of it, he’s very awkward.”
Asinoe had flipped open her laptop and waited for it to wake up as she’d been speaking. Now she opened a search and punched the location numbers in.
“Apparently, it’s a warehouse,” she told Scarlett, reading out the coordinates and waiting.
Scarlett tapped the location into her own computer, a snort sounding on her lips moments later.
“It’s in Gippsland!? No wonder he dropped off the face of the planet…” the redhead sighed and reached for the cup of steaming coffee on her desk, taking a sip as she pondered, “Right so what were they after? Have you received any new and unusual threats lately? Did you ask if he’d woken up with anything on him?”
Asinoe tapped her nails on her desk, “To be honest it was like pulling teeth to get even this much information,” she sighed and closed her eyes for a moment, “That was all I got from him. He’s not that…comfortable…with me. I trust you’ll be okay looking into this?”
“Just cleared my schedule for tomorrow, so I’ll head out at first light. I’d leave tonight but it’s been…” Scarlett glanced at her computer screen, “40 hours since I’ve been to bed. Not even I’m that much of a superwoman,” she laughed wearily at her own joke, then, getting no response from Asinoe, fell back into business, “I’ll grab a few hours and call you when I’m there. Anything else I need to check? Did you notice anything else about him?”
“Someone is following him and taking photos. A folder with very private shots got left for him at one of his favourite bars, so it’s probably a good idea for us to put a tail on him,” Asinoe checked her nails, noticing a small chip in the polish. Her lips tightened in annoyance, “I’ll leave you to it, Scarlett. Have a good night.”
“Wait a second…which bar?” Scarlett asked quickly, “If it’s one of ours I can get access to the CCTV security and ATM footage, but I need a name first,” she frowned, eying her coffee wistfully for a moment, “I’ll swing by and pick the photos up on the way through…they might give us more answers than they intended. If they were dumb enough to let him go, then they are probably dumb enough to make a stupid mistake somewhere.”
“Unfortunately I forgot to ask him what his favourite bar was,” Asinoe replied, still scowling at her nail, “But I’m sure you’ll just do what you do and find out, Scarlett. You may have to call him.” There was a slight coldness to her tone that made Scarlett narrow her eyes.
“Yes, I will ‘do what I do,’” she replied, “And if you would like this little problem fixed I would suggest you leave the poor man alone…we don’t want his brain distracted by any…foreign substances. I’ll update you tomorrow, Goodnight.”
Asinoe stared at the phone in disbelief. Scarlett had hung up on her? Frowning, she dialled her number again.
-How fucking dare you hang up on me-
Scarlett looked at the phone and took a deep breath when it rang, putting it to her ear and trying to suppress a smile.
“Yes?” she chuckled.
“You hung up on me. That was childish,” Asinoe purred maliciously, “You’d think that we hadn’t been friends for more than 10 years…” she paused for a moment, “That hurt, Scarlett.”
“No it didn’t,” Scarlett narrowed her eyes at her coffee, “And the tone you used didn’t warrant much more conversation, Sin…”
“I was being quite civil, actually. Your tone, however, has been less than desired. Who have you been hanging around that’s eroded your manners?”
Scarlett chucked again, “Nice try. It’s not my job to be desirable, Asinoe, and as you said we’ve been friends for a long time…your manipulative shit doesn’t fly with me. It’s a quality I admire, when used on everyone else, but don’t think for one second that I don’t see through it…”
Asinoe pouted, flicking her damaged nail in annoyance.
“What exactly is it that you think I’m doing?” she asked, a note of anger rising in her voice.
“What you do best,” Scarlett replied, mimicking Asinoe’s tone from earlier as a little bell tingled in the back of her mind, “You’re getting yourself ahead of the game, Sin, but you’re not the only player. Don’t cry foul when your play is foiled.”
Asinoe laughed incredulously, shaking her head.
“Scarlett, how on earth did you get all this from me telling you that you’d need to call the lawyer to get more information? Are you picking a fight with me? What did I do to you?”
Scarlett sighed and looked at her now undoubtedly cold cup of coffee, contemplating whether or not to bother making another before rising and heading towards the kitchen.
“Stop it,” she said, “You’re more intelligent than this. I know and notice a lot that you don’t think I do. Admissions…permissions granted at the hospital…blood test results…many many boring things…”
“I don’t know what you’re talking about,” Asinoe scoffed, “I visited Baelian…you know what our relationship is. I’m not certain what blood tests you’re talking about, but I’m guessing that’s Lyra’s area of expertise…” she blinked and paused for a moment, “How’s the wedding planning going?” Anger simmered in her voice as she changed the subject suddenly, “Progressing quickly? Like your relationship?”
Scarlett blinked in surprise, “Oh, now who’s being childish?”
“Jesus, Scarlett,” Asinoe gave a strangled laugh, “Don’t you think I have a right to be angry? I mean, it was really great to hear about your upcoming nuptials to Eden…from backstage at the Underground…while Lyra announced it to everyone else first. Really great…” she sighed, “Baelian is not the only one who’s disappointed with you…but it’s nice that you only have eyes for your boss. If I’m a little less than civil I have my reasons.”
“Look,” Scarlett said, slamming her mug down on the sink suddenly, so hard that the handle broke off, “It wasn’t my plan to announce anything, especially not like that! Lyra has a mind her own and it’s not like anything happy in this fucking family lasts! Do you blame me for wanting a small amount of peace and solace before it gets poisoned?” Tossing the broken mug aside, Scarlett leant heavily on the counter, “No one can stand to let anyone else just be happy…not society…not the Family…no one can be left alone without someone else getting their hooks in. I’m sure you do have your reasons but you don’t speak to me anymore, so how would I know?”
Pushing away from the bench, Scarlett stalked back towards her study.
“I clean up everyone else’s mess while they are out enjoying themselves and no one thinks twice…but as soon as I have a moment of happiness, everyone is disappointed…” Scarlett dug her nails into the palm of her hand till little crescents of blood welled up. She didn’t understand why no one could simply be happy for her, just once. Was that too much to ask?
“Is there anything else?” she exhaled loudly, “I’m very tired, Sin…I don’t actually want to argue and I now have to be up in 6 hours…”
Asinoe blinked, her lips pursing.
“Look, Scarlett…I know we haven’t really talked in a while. It’s been crazy on my end, with Baelian falling apart and my parasite trying to get out. A lot has happened on both sides…I am happy for you, just upset that I didn’t know first, it was difficult to show happiness for you like I wanted when it was announced that way in front of everyone…” Asinoe leant back in her seat again, letting her voice wobble a little, “I’m really sorry we haven’t been in contact.”
Throwing herself down in her armchair, Scarlett sighed.
“I am too,” she said, “I’m sorry I can’t be one of those women that ‘ do lunch’ every week and talk about shoes and drink obnoxious wines…I mean can you imagine us picking out giant pink bridesmaid dresses for Christ’s sake?”
Asinoe allowed herself to laugh, though her smile didn’t each her eyes.
“Not really! Besides, I think Lyra would kill us if she didn’t get to do all that with Eden. You and I can stay out of the arrangements and do the more fun things…like a bachelor party,” she teased.
“Very funny,” Scarlett said with a small smile and a shake of her head, then sighed again, “Ok let me call Finnigan and see if he can muster up a full sentence to help me out with some information…” she paused for a long moment, “Goodnight Sin.”
“Goodnight Scarlett. Good luck with Finn…he’s a treat to talk to…” she laughed slightly, “Go to sleep love.”
“I’ll see how I go…I’ll call you tomorrow.”
“Bye,” Scarlett replied, hanging up after another long moment. She looked at the cell phone in her hand, shaking her head. Outwardly their little spat seemed to have been resolved, but she couldn’t shake the feeling that this was just the beginning,
Asinoe, meanwhile, had leant back in her chair and let her eyes slide closed, surprised at Scarlett’s level of unrestrained honesty and annoyed with her own. She had been angry that Scarlett hadn’t told her about her engagement, more than she’d realised.
-How funny…and irritating- she thought to herself.
Flicking at her mouse and drawing her laptop out of sleep, Asinoe pushed her thoughts about Scarlett and her own emotional reactions out of her mind.
She looked at the GPS image of the warehouse in Gippsland and frowned. This was no time for girlish tiffs.
Something was going on. It seemed that another player was coming onto the board.
Written by Enya Kelly and Cassee Maliepaard.
All characters and story lines remain the property of N.Ristovski and the Underground. All character writings within the Underground are fictitious. Any resemblance to persons living or dead is purely coincidental.
Copyright © 2016. Natalie Ristovski.