Chapter 3

Chapter 3Aleksander Hampton gazed through Philip’s lenses at the willowy female standing in the middle of his parking garage.  As soon as she had spoken her name he’d started a search through the web to find out more information.  He had to ensure she was safe and she would be oblivious to the party which was just starting.

Constance Smith, 31, held a BFA from Columbia and currently worked at Calling Shots.  Alek tented his fingers as he read more about the location scout but was pleased to find the female had not lied to Philip.  She shared a decent sized 2-bedroom apartment in California with two roommates but from her online travel bookings, it appeared she was rarely at home.  A few more hits told him she held basic loyalty cards to big box stores, a rarely used gym membership and a platinum membership to all the airlines and hotels.

According to her social media information, she used to date Trevor Giles.  This was the person she had mentioned had given her permission to be on the property.  Alek ran started a search on Trevor as he’d never met him or heard of him.  Trevor’s information told Alek all he needed to know about the male.  Through mutual friends, Trevor knew one of Alek’s drugged out family members.  They’d spent time drying out at the same wellness center.

Alek speculated Trevor tried to impress Constance by telling him about the estate.  Maybe he even told Constance it was in the Giles family believing the property to still be abandoned.  He wouldn’t have guessed Constance would drive there in the future or that Alek would be living there.  If only she had come to visit on a different day, Alek would have been happy to welcome her and proudly shown all the restorations.

Now, though, she could never leave.

“Philip, you know what to do.  I’ll see you in twenty in the ballroom.”  Alek broke off his connection with Philip and blinked several times, regaining his own eyesight in his office.

He gazed up at the wall of tiny CCTV monitors which encompassed the property.  The screens on the far right showed him the smartly dressed males and females all socializing in the main hall and 3rd ballroom.  They were most likely on their second glass of champagne and beginning to wonder why he hadn’t made an appearance.

His eyes began to travel the monitors toward the left side where Constance and Philip were beginning their journey through the tunnels.  Philip held on to Constance’s hand and was leading her down the middle of the tunnel.  Alek smiled as he saw a familiar black tie covering the female’s eyes.  He wondered how hard Philip had had to work to convince her to wear the blindfold.  Why the devil hadn’t she left?  Shouldn’t she have been scared shitless?

A flash in the middle of screens alerted him and caused him to pull back in his chair.  Defensively, he shielded his light eyes from the bang even though it was on the TVs.

“What the fuck is going on?” he barked into his com unit.  Smoke and debris filled three monitors trained on the top terrace on the west side of the estate.  “Col, I need a report.  Now.”

 While he waited for his lead in the area to update him, Alek reviewed all the screens to see if the incident had sparked any alarm in his guests.  Neither the party guests nor Constance looked as if they’d experienced a tremor in the property or were aware there was a small commotion going on.

Alek’s gazed dropped to view on the sub-basement, the rooms directly under the smoky terrace.  Every guest located there held their head up to the cameras and grinned from ear to ear.  Some of the faces looked supernaturally stretched as they all cocked their heads to the right side and then began laughing.  Alek swallowed hard and cleared his throat, the only sign he was unsettled by the event.

“Col!”

“God dammit, I’m here,” he heard his lead’s gruff voice come over his earpiece.

“Report.”

“I fucking heard you the first time, Alek.  We had to move some of your rented staffers out of the way before we could begin the assessment.”  Col continued to grumble into the com as Alek finally spotted him walking out on the terrace.

“Just give me the report, asshole.  I’ve got guests to go see.”  Alek rolled away from his desk and then stood up and walked to the opposite side of the room where he’d left his bowtie and mask.

“Don’t get your panties in a twist.  I’ll need a few to get an update from Moore about the cages but so far, no casualties, except for your dumbass lawn jockeys.  Good riddance.  Doesn’t look like there’s any big structural damage.”  Alek breathed a sigh of relief as he finished tying off his tie.  “Oh, shit,” Col cursed loudly.

“What?  Col?” Alek dashed back to his desk, throwing his mask on the floor.  “I’m turning your lenses on.”

“Hell no.  You know the fucking rules, Alek.  Stay out of my eyes.  Just take deep breath and look at this.”  Alek scanned back to monitors and spotted Col, a sick feeling in the back of this throat.  What was Col doing on that part of the terrace?

He watched as Col’s eyes dodged from the camera to a crate in front of him.  He nudged it with the toe of his boot and Alek watched as the open crate revealed 10 black bottles where 12 used to reside.

“Shit, we’re fucked.”

©shb2017

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Chapter 2

Chapter 2 - Philip

Stan squirmed in her seat as the darkened figure continued the descent towards the Rover.  The leather steering wheel protested loudly with a squelch from her tight grip.  Stan’s knuckles paled to white as she held her breath in wonder.  Had Addy secretly slipped Justin information about her visit to the property?  She sucked in her bottom lip between her teeth and bit down in anticipation of Justin’s green eyes appearing on the other side of the rain streaked window. 

She closed her eyes for a second and heard Justin’s voice whispering apologies in her ear.  His breath tickling her skin and making the hair on the back of her neck rise.  He’d trail a line of soft kisses down her neck and then mix a gentle nip to her throat.  The sensation of his lips to her throat always made her squirm in anticipation as it was a clear sign he was in a playful mood.  She hummed a soft sigh before opening her eyes and noticing the figure approaching was much too tall to be Justin. 

A pair of cool blue eyes appeared to almost glow from behind a masquerade mask as the strange male peered into Stan’s car.  He tapped on the window and motioned for her to roll down the window.  She noticed the expensive, non-waterproof watch on his wrist as he held his hand up to shield his eyes from the rain.  What kind of person could completely disregard the expense of such an item, she wondered as she pressed the button for the passenger side window.

“Please pull around the drive and toward the carriage house to the right,” the male spoke with accent Stan couldn’t quite place.  “You’ll find a restroom to the right of the exit.  There’s a small waiting room, you may change there before you enter the house for the party.”

Stan blinked as she once again thought the male’s eyes glowed at her.  He was young and handsome, with a boyish quality.  She felt mesmerized by his eyes.  “Change?” she asked him in confusion.  “I don’t know what you’re talking about.  I’m Stan Smith,” she pulled out a business card from the back of her cell phone and handed it to him.  “I’m with Calling Shots, I spoke with a Trevor Giles about viewing the property.  I’m here for a couple of days.”

The male took a step back from the window with a puzzled look.  Rain started to fall inside the Rover, pinging off the seats and dashboard.

“Stan Smith?” the male questioned with a raised brow.  “Mr. Giles invited you?”  The way he questioned Stan made her tremble.  Had she made a mistake?

“Yes, that’s correct.  Look, you’re getting my rental all wet, can you get in the car and I’ll dig up my email?” she pleaded.  The male gave a short nod and then opened the car door.  Stan sighed in relief as she rolled up the window to stop the rain.  The stranger was going to probably leave a new puddle in the seat but as least she wouldn’t have to worry about a shorted-out dash.

“Look.  Here.  See this is from yesterday from Trevor confirming my visit here.  Should I call him?  He told me the property was empty except for a few members of household staff.  He never mentioned a party.”  She handed her phone over and waited for, she didn’t know what exactly, maybe an approval.

“I see,” he replied as he held the phone away from him, so he didn’t drop water on to it.  “There appears to be a miscommunication between Mr. Giles and his landlord, the real owner of this property.”  Stan felt a zing of panic as she heard the mention of a landlord.  “I’m Phillip.  Please, if you’ll pull around to the carriage house, we can get this straightened out.”  He motioned with his right hand toward the drive.

“O.  K.” Stan put the car into drive and started toward the carriage house.

She watched as Philip reached into his suit pocked and pulled out his own mobile.  His thumbs flying on the keyboard.  Was he texting Trevor?  She didn’t want to have to reschedule and it would take her forever to drive back and find a hotel at this hour.  She pulled into the building Philip had indicated as the carriage house and was stunned by the grandeur of a simple parking structure.  It was an open building with parking spaces for at least 10 cars.  3 large crystal chandeliers hung from the tall ceiling, bathing the room in a warm glowing light.

Stan parked the car but waited to pull the keys from the ignition.  She waited for Philip to speak but he continued to text.  She gave a small clear of her throat and then smiled politely at him when he turned his head to acknowledge her.

“Did Trevor give you the all clear?”

“Mr. Giles is currently out of the country and not able to confirm your arrival.”  Stan let out a scoff and wanted to wave her phone at Philip, but he lifted a hand to indicate she shouldn’t speak just yet.  “Due to the weather, Mr. Hampton is welcome to having you stay at his home but only in the designated rooms you are assigned, and you are not to roam the estate tonight.  You’ll be given a coms device.  Should you need to leave your rooms for any reason, you will call me, and I will escort you.  Leave your keys with me, I’ll ensure your vehicle is cleaned up and restored if there is any weather damage.  Do you accept these terms for shelter and protection?”

A loud crack of lighting sounded from outside as Philip waited for her response.  What was happening?  Stan felt a queasiness form in the pit of her stomach as she mulled it over.  She needed the commission from finding this location.  If she didn’t get paid, then ripples she didn’t want to acknowledge would start forming larger waves of devastation.  A chill ran down her spine as she gave Philip a quick nod.

“Yes, I agree.”

©shb2017

Chapter 2 Ideas

I think I finally have a handle on Chapter 2. My original line of thinking was quickly dismissed by a secondary character thinking his presence should be more. I don’t know how much more but he’s certainly caught my attention now. Two weeks of traveling have put me behind in capturing my thoughts on anything but a phone but it’s getting spit shined with the hopes of a post soon.

Chapter 1

Chapter 1 - ScoutingGrey clouds overtook the clear blue sky as Stan Smith watched from behind the steering wheel of her rented Land Rover’s windshield.  She pressed the refresh button on her email app and frowned again in frustration as the spinner continued to revolve.  It was either the incoming weather or the fact she was in the middle of nowheresville but the cell service was beginning to fade and she needed a few things confirmed before she disappeared into the woods.

With a lavender painted fingernail, she pressed the Bluetooth.  “Call Addison.”  After one ring, Stan’s perky assistant answered.

“Calling Shots, Stan Smith’s office, this is Addison.”

“Addy, did you call John and let him know I’d be back next week?”

“Yes, Stan.”

“You’ll be able to prep all my notes in time for the meetings?”  Stan signaled a turn and pulled off onto a side road.

“Yes, Stan”, Addison’s exasperated response came through the car’s speakers with a slight crackle.  Stan thought she made out the sound of a gum bubble popping.

“Oh wow, this is gorgeous,” Stan remarked as her next turn took her down a tree-lined drive.  The fading sun darkening the path up ahead and giving the road an ominous look.  “Perfect.”

Stan could envision the way John would film the opening shot of the series.  He’d fly a drone in the vast open fields she should see off to each side.  Then easily, the drone would swoop down the drive, leading the audience straight to the estate at the end of the drive.  The idea sent chills down Stan’s spine as her anticipation of finally finding the right location built up.

“Stan?  Huh?  What did you say?” her assistant’s voice broke through her creative eye moment.

“Addy?  Hello?  Addison, you’re breaking up.”  Stan slowed a bit to try and keep her connection.  “Look I’m almost here.  I’ll try and send photos tomorrow and my first notes tonight-,” she heard the line cut out.  She took a quick look at her phone and saw service was no longer available.  “Guess I’m really in the woods now, cue the rain,” she jested and not a minute later the first drops of water dotted her windshield.

If she remembered correctly, it was about two miles down the road to the estate.  She put her foot on the gas and sped up a bit in hopes of missing out on the impending downpour.  Stan didn’t know why the image of the estate had popped up in her memory banks, it was just kismet.  Or that was the lie she was telling herself.  It was better than thinking about Justin and their epic failed relationship of 10 years.

The tree line slowly began to widen as the estate began to take center stage.  Floodlights beamed up from the foundation and showcased the vastness of the property.  It was as if the house were alive and glowing, despite the gloomy circumstances.

“Holy Moses,” Stan exclaimed.  She turned her windshield wipers on faster to clear her view so her eyes could roam from wing to wing, floor to floor and then back again and finally on the grand entrance.  It was more than what she had imagined or dreamed.  Something whispered in her ear that it would be perfect.

As she pulled in front of the large staircase, she gave a sigh of relaxation.  Stan put the car in park and rested her head against the headrest.  Just a couple of days here, she thought.  It was the 8th location in a row she had scouted but work was better than her broken heart.

A sudden break in the light caught her eyes making her squint.  A blurry figure appeared at the top of the stairs, an umbrella hiding the face.  She could just make out the shape of the person through the rain streaked passenger window.  It was a man and he was racing down the stairs towards her.

“Justin?” her heart flipped at the thought of him surprising her and apologizing.  Could it be?

©shb2017

A Little Ditty

It’s no secret, from the emptiness of the blog pages and previous posts, I’ve gone into a little creative hibernation.  Not the ideal situation for a writer who’s aspiring to find some publishing love.  Or, just any writing love, to be frank.  I had this wild, out of nowhere, thought a few weeks ago.  It started with just a word “scout” and it followed me around for a couple of days until my creative side turned the light bulb on and realized it was supposed to grow something.  A few more days of noodling and mentally layering in some ideas became a full idea of “let’s write this down lest we forget it”.  I’m happy to say, I finally captured a small, little snippet today.  I’ll post it here in a second.  I’m not sure if it’ll take off and it’ll continue but it’s 600+ more words than I had yesterday on any WIP, and, well, it gets me excited and my fingers would like to write more.  I take it as a sign of things to come.