Recourse (The Arrangement)

BOOK: Recourse (The Arrangement)
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Contents

The Speech

The Ride

The Meet

The Start

The Heat

The Offer

The Choice

Uncovered

Sign up

Copyright

Cover

Title

THE SPEECH

"When love is not madness, it is not love." - Pedro Calderon de la Barca

May 2002.

Chase Adams was looking down upon us as he tried to instill hope. The room of half excited, half terrified eyes glared attentively back at him as he weighted his words. A high school graduation is a big moment in a person’s life and we were just an hour away from forever passing ours. Some of us would go on to do great things. Some might even change the world. At least that’s what the teachers tried to drill in our brains for the last four years. Chase was much more upfront about it. “A young bird is flying south for the first time in its little life. It doesn’t know how long the journey is. It simply keeps flapping its tiny wings towards the horizon straight ahead.” He was trying to make us realize life is a big journey and we should accept it as such. To keep playing the cards in front of us and not worry about is at the bottom of the deck. Of course, life was easier for Chase Adams. He was smart, good looking and pretty much a shoe in for doing something great. He played in another league, one that’s not anywhere close to mine. He didn’t have any doubts about where his journey will end up.

He was also totally gorgeous. A born star athlete, with wide shoulders and big muscles, he had the attention of every girl at school from day one. He was totally cool about it, his beautiful smile radiating warmth as he would confidently step down the hall returning pleasantries in the morning. He also had brains, unlike most of the other guys on the football team, and teachers would fawn over him since he would step up and engage the class not aware of any such things as public shyness or fear of speaking. I doubt many would believe I’ve seen him without his shirt off. Hell, I had trouble convincing my best friend Jenn, but I have. And boy did he look good.

We became friends by an absolute accident when his car broke down right in front of our house. While waiting for the tow truck, mom convinced him to stay for dinner and we got to talking. It turned out we had a lot in common, he was a fiend for traveling and studying different cultures. We both dreamed of going to Egypt to see the pyramids, The Great Wall of China, the ruins of Athens. We excitedly talked about spending semesters abroad in college, and realized that we were much alike. Our friendship started to grow from that point on. Unfortunately, it
was
just friendship. No matter how hard I lusted for him, those beautiful baby blue eyes and his muscular, perfectly shaped six foot two body, I never dared to let him know how I felt. His always cheerful face with the cutest dimples would just smile back at me anytime I would attempt at hinting any sort of interest. I told myself I’d just wait for the right time to pour my heart out to him, but always backed out. One time I could have sworn universe
handed
me a signal. My mom asked him to come over and help mow the lawn. Being the greatest guy ever, he drove over and told her not to worry about a thing as he started up the lawn mower. His muscles rippled as he pushed it across the lawn. The sun was shining bright so I knew he’d be thirsty. I went inside and made lemonades. I opened the door outside and turned to find him as I walked down the front steps with glasses in my hand. As I turned my head towards the roar of the lawn mower I saw him. When I saw his body without a shirt on, a spark ignited inside me and rushed up my spine. I arched my back and almost lost the lemonades as my hands went limp. Holy wow, Chase Adams was a freaking sex god! His muscular chest was moist with drops of sweat as it sat high on his chest. The ripped six pack was dancing in the light as he breathed in and out. His big shoulders and strong forearms bulged with power as he controlled the roaring metal best. I haven’t been this drawn to keep staring a man’s body since the time I watched Daniel Craig come out of the ocean in James Bond.

“Oh hey, is that lemonade?” He brought me back from fantasy land where I already managed to make his pants disappear too.

I slowly peeled my eyes from his six pack and looked down at the drinks in my hand. Where was I again?

“Figured you were thirsty working so hard.” I handed a glass to him, averting my gaze in any general direction from his muscular chest.

He took a sip and hungrily finished the lemonade, turning his torso to one side as he his attention focused on the glass in front of him. The sun shining on his back, creating an effect of a Greek statue posing in front of me. I sneaked a peek at his culmination of thousands of hours at the gym as my eyes grew wider. He was perfect. I mentally took a picture and filed it “For
later
viewing.”

“Hey L, let me know when you want to watch the show again.” A small smile lit up his face. “We’ll get a bunch of ice cream and do a marathon.”

“Sure.” I nodded, completely freaking out over how great that would be.

Days went by, then a week followed by another. While I waited for the perfect moment to invite him over, I ended up waiting for too long. Stacy Clark, one the most popular girls in school had started dating him. When I heard I had to excuse myself from class. I walked red eyed making excuses about allergies the rest of the day. They couple an item and Chase didn’t come over after that. Five months passed and the school year was coming to an end with one last speech. Chase was once again in all his glory, bestowing advice to his peers who respected him so much. As I felt that sinking feeling in my stomach, I started eating him up again while trying to hold back the tears. He saw me in the crowd and smiled. This guy had always been a mystery to me. Like an onion, I felt there were layers and layers to uncover to get to his heart. I wanted so bad to get close, and I felt that somehow, someway, destiny would make it so. I just never could have guessed how long it would take and how intense that meeting would be.

The excited graduates tossed their caps towards the sky. Everyone started to pour outside for the commemorative photos.

“Hey Laura! To a new beginning! ” Chase caught up with me in the hall. He grinned his usual friendly smile and opened the door as the excited crowd started to gather outside for the final picture.

“You can say that again,” I raised my eyebrows. “I couldn’t wait for school to end.” I hit his arm, “Great job on that speech by the way.

He looked at me, the cutest dimples on his cheeks lighting up his face.

“You really think so?” he lowered his voice and leaned in. “I thought I was laying it on a little thick.”

“I thought it was perfect.” I drowned in his beautiful baby blues. “We’ve been hearing so much hot air lately about high school being the crucial time in our lives.” I added the air quotes, “It was refreshing to hear someone tell us to take it easy and just enjoy the ride.”

“Thanks L.” His lips curled up. “So what are you up to now?”

“Texas State.” I shrugged. “I got in on a full ride. As long as I keep my grades up it’s a no-brainer. Going for art and design. They aren’t really the top choice but who’s gonna turn down free tuition?” My mother had no money for college so I had to jump on whatever I could get.

“I’d be all over it.” He nodded. “I’m excited for you, it sounds like you know what you want to do.” His voice was filled with just a dash of uncertainty. I looked up in his eyes as he looked away.

Taken back, I gently squeezed his arm, “Shit, Chase, so you’re scared too?”

He let out a quick laugh, “Damn, is it that obvious? Shit, I guess a leader sometimes can be the biggest coward.”

I furrowed my brows and smirked, “Come on Chase, what in the world can you worry about? You are a smart, good looking white man. Don’t you guys run the world?”

His lips stretched into a grin as looked at me with those beautiful baby blues, “Thanks L. It’s just that I don’t even know if I got into Berkley yet. They’re taking forever to check every little thing about me. It’s driving me nuts.”

“You’ll be fine.” I stated. “Remember the bird.” I leaned in and kissed his cheek, inhaling his sweet musk deep inside my lungs, “And happy graduation to us.”

He stretched out his arms and wrapped them around me. He lifted me up as if I weighted nothing and spun me around, shouting “College, baby! Bring it on!”

The following summer passed way too quickly. Chase got the acceptance letter from Berkley and moved shortly after. I started school and we ended up losing touch soon thereafter. A few years later I heard he got engaged to a girl from a good family and settled down.

THE RIDE

The exquisite Rolls Royce was gliding effortlessly along the smooth country road. I guessed we were about an hour outside New York by now. Good thing I charged double for this one. The guy smelled like a whale, a high roller who knows exactly what he wants. I’ve had a chance to meet a few before but none were so agreeable as to send a personal car with a chauffeur to come and get me. I started wondering who it might be. Royalty was definitely out - this wasn’t Dubai or London. Celebrities were unlikely too. Given the mansions growing in size along the road I guessed this was a well to do financier. New York City had a history for minting those, and typically they bought houses away from the chaos they worked in to gain back a piece of sanity in their lives.

I studied the interior as it completely enclosed me in a soundproof box. T
his car is spectacular
. The large soft leather seats drowned me in comfort as soon as I sat down, making me feel like I was in a first class of the airplane. The hand crafted wood paneling radiated class throughout the salon. Champaign bottle cooled itself in the arm rest next to me. I looked above at the ceiling, which was the best part. A starry sky made up of hundreds of tiny LED lights danced over me.

“We are almost here, miss.” The chauffeur said. Poor guy hasn’t been able to take his eyes off of me since he pulled up in front of my place. I was wearing my favorite black laced cocktail dress, the one with the low cut I brought out for special occasions. He almost tripped over himself as he rushed to open the door for me.

The car turned off the road into a private driveway. We drove for a good minute through a heavily forested area before arriving at the big guarded gate. It was something straight out of a scary movie - a huge mansion in the middle of the woods with a tall fence around it. The gate opened and we drove up past the trimmed trees to the house. It stood out like a large mountain against the backdrop of the forest. Made out of dark brown brick it had huge windows and a giant front door which looked as if it was brought in from a medieval castle. The clock tower on top was a nice touch. “Who the hell has a clock tower?” I thought as I studied the place. It didn’t matter. Within an hour I’ll be on my way back home, ready to climb into my soft Egyptian sheets and forget about everything.

THE MEET

The chauffeur opened the door and gracefully pointed towards the house. “Miss, please head inside. The front door is unlocked. Walk up the main stairs and turn right into the study. Your host is expecting you.”

Jeez, that didn’t sound creepy at all. I looked at his poker face however he no longer seemed at all interested in talking further. I stepped out of the car and planted my feet on the road which was made out of huge stone blocks. Something felt slightly off in my gut, so I wanted to make sure I wasn’t missing anything. I turned to my suddenly cool companion.

“Aren’t you going to come in?”

“My orders were to bring you to the front door only.” He said indifferently.

“And wait for me, right?” I raised my eyebrow. There was no way in hell I was going to leave
that
question unanswered.

He let out a laugh, “Of course, what the hell are you thinking?” he pointed his chin forward, “Now scurry along, I got you here ten minutes late as it is.”

He turned around and got back in the car. The lights turned off as he killed the engine, submerging us in the darkness. I figured this would have to work for me and started up the ancient stone steps.

The door opened without the expectant creak and I found myself in a lobby of an expensive hotel. Well, that’s what it looked like to me anyway. The room was huge with candle like chandeliers on the walls, their lights dimmed to a barely registering soft warm glow. The large marble stairs paraded straight ahead as they dominated the room. The floor below had a huge stone mural of a knight on a horse slaying a dragon. I almost flipped when I saw the dragon’s eyes spark with what appeared to be a pair of large rubies. I placed my foot next to the eyes to compare the size and the rocks measured up to almost half the size of my foot.
“Jesus, if these are genuine rubies this guy is beyond rich.”
I looked up and saw the ridiculously large chandelier carved with exquisite golden leaves hanging heavily over me.

“This guy better be a great freaking tipper.” I muttered under my breath as I made my way up the stairs. Reaching the second level I stepped onto a lavishly decorated red carpet. It led down the hall with various paintings on the walls. Each was mounted in a thick golden frame, the style used throughout the centuries to underline the wealth of the owners. I strolled down the hall pretending to be at the Oscars as I shot a brief hello the each portrait. The unknown men and women decorated in the most extravagant attire shot their confident stares back from the canvas. I stopped in front of the one I thought I recognized. I studied the small man on the horse swearing it was Napoleon. “If this is Napoleon’s relatives I am dealing with, I will probably get paid in land.” I smirked to myself, trying to ease the anxiety that was slowly building inside me. “Where the hell was anyone? This mansion has to be cleaned, and god forbid, lived in. Please don’t tell me it’s just one guy going crazy by himself in his old age. Hell, may be I can pull an Anna Nicole.” I thought and immediately stopped myself. “No, anything is better than that. Anything.” I learned a few things in my life, and yeah, life could sometimes kick and throw you around. The one thing that could do it much worse was one’s conscious. With good conscious you could be happy in any situation. With a bad one, you can be Madoff, just another guy who could buy half the world, and find no one wants to live in it with him. I knew who I was, and I knew where I stood. I’ve made my choices. I wasn’t looking for a recourse from my life. I remembered my high school graduation speech, I was playing the cards in my hand.

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