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The devil's going to set me free



 
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Gray Taylor

This client requires something more than his usual approach, and that alone annoys Gray Taylor. The man is more than happy to sit in his office, go over contract details and sweep fine print under the rug, and get the required signatures and initials. But this woman... no. She is a tough sell, and he is nothing but stubborn. She needs to be truly sold, and he is prepared to do whatever must be done to get this done.

She's beautiful. There is no denying that. Her dark hair, sleek and straight, brushes atop the slender shoulders than frame her equally slender body. Lined almond eyes, a demure nose, and perfectly proportioned lips painted a deep shade of red greet him after a short wait outside her upscale apartment building. She gracefully slides into the posh towncar and into the seat beside the dapper young man, and he asks the million dollar question.

"Ladies choice."

He would regret this, for her choice is a the last place he wants to be.

The Monarch, also known as the beginning of the most turbulent time in recent years.

The drive is silent, his own steel eyes cast out the window as darker thoughts swarm his mind. No longer does Gray get to pick and choose his clients. Things have changed, and the man is truly a servant.

He would allow her to take his arm when they arrived, escorting her into the underclassed establishment. The two are overdressed, something he assumes she is just as used to as he is. As usual, his cagey gaze would briefly sweep the interior before taking her to a table near the fireplace so that it's warmth may remedy the winter chill that has surely reached their bones.

"Two Manhattens," he would order before the woman even has a chance to speak up. She might control the venue, and some of the terms, but she would not control his wallet. She purses her lips at his order. The tone has been set between the two, and it is clear that Gray would not relinquish his modicum of control over the situation.

This place sets him on edge, his shoulders square and tense beneath the jacket of his suit.

"I'm perfectly capable of ordering for myself," she proclaims.

"Maybe you should put that in your contract, then." He can't stop himself, nor does he want to. She is testing his patience. He pulls the file from his black, leather case, placing it upon the table and placing a pen atop it. A single push would bring it that much closer to her.

"Sign."

This is clearly not his strong suit.
February 23, 2018 11:42 am

Autumn Summers

Habits. Patterns.

Everyone has them, whether they’re willing to admit it or not. Even being unpredictable becomes expected, predictable. When one’s current way of life turns sideways, one tends to fall back on former habits. It’s familiar. It offers a piece of normal currently lacking.

For this reason, Autumn Summers is on her way to a familiar haunt, The Monarch.

The name far overreaches the grandeur of the place. It hasn’t quite reached dive status, but is well on the way. Or perhaps that is a clever illusion. The neighborhood might have been decent at one point. Unfortunately, the years or the economy, or both, weren’t kind. Through the trials and tribulations, however, The Monarch still stands.

Despite the outwardly downtrodden appearance, the upper middle class and above aren’t unheard of here. It is a good place for clandestine meetings and less than scrupulous business in general. Those who run it mind their own business and keep their mouths shut.

But that’s another story entirely.

Autumn goes because she knows the people, and knows she will be left alone, which is exactly what she wants.

Dressed against the cold, Autumn is just another female patron in search of warmth and a drink. Some folks stumble upon the place, some are regulars. She is the latter. Fine or upscale clothing isn’t too unusual in this almost-dive, given several of its clientele. But the hair? That flaming red hair draws attention, and is a dead giveaway of her identity.

She gives a cursory glance around the area when she walks in and, if not for her superior vision, she wouldn’t have recognized the man sitting with a woman at a table near the fireplace.

Gray. F*cking. Taylor.

Hard to mistake that man.

Her back goes ramrod straight. Why, of all the hundreds of establishments to choose from, did he have to be here? Just her luck.

Autumn bites back and curse considers leaving, but no. Hell no. Why should she allow his presence to keep her from enjoying herself? Especially since their last encounter, during which he denied being him at all. So, if he’s “not-Gray” to begin with, there isn’t much of a problem. Not to mention, he has a woman with him. She isn’t likely to be bothered. Good.

“Haven’t seen you here in a while, Mrs. Dalca, ” Tony the Bartender says when Autumn approaches the bar.

“Miss Summers again,” she replies with a sharp smile.

Tony gives her one of those long blinks, taking in this new information, and finally nods. “I take it you’ll be wanting your usual.” A thoughtful pause. “I’ll make it a double.”

“You know me too well,” Autumn chuckles and claims a seat at the bar.

“It’s my job to know.” Tony flashes her a toothy grin, pouring the Johnnie Walker Blue into a tumbler. “First one’s on the house.”

“True,” she accepts the glass and lifts it slightly, “Thank you, kind sir.”

Tony leaves her to tend to other orders, both at the bar and other tables. He’s a good judge at when she wants to chat and when she doesn’t.

Left to her own devices, Autumn focuses on the drink in her hand, and does her best to ignore “not-Gray” at the table, conveniently visible from her peripheral vision. It’s a good thing whoever designed this place is long dead. This way she can only think about killing them instead of going out and doing it.

Damnit.
February 26, 2018 12:29 pm

Gray Taylor

"No."

There is no composing himself. Slate eyes roll as he sits back in his chair with a rough shove at the edge of the table, repelling himself away from the woman. Impossible. He is losing his patience at a first rate, and it shows.

While another woman may be aware of his unruly, oppressive presence - he is not. Back to the rest of the bar, he is blissfully ignorant of others. This is by design. Gray is a private man, excessively so, and out in the public he chooses to save face before body. It is better this way. Seeing the reactions of other patrons would only serve to annoy him further. Even when up against his self-inflicted lack of awareness, there are two names that he would never fail to miss.

Dalca, which irritates him. Summers, which grates him.

It throws off his game. It makes him harsher, and far more unfiltered.

"Miss Simmons," he is trying. Really. "If you don't sign this f-cking document, the deal is off the table."

She smiles, "You need me."

Vindictive.

There is a moment of silence as time stands still, and a terrible temper festers and simmers beneath the surface. Strong hands reach into his pocket, procuring a silver case and matching lighter. A single cigarette is thus lit, drawn to thin lips to draw in an excessively smokey breath. All the while, his gaze bores into the woman, dulled and unimpressed.

Manipulative.

There would be several long moments of silence before he finally spoke again. This time, his voice would demand his company to listen. "You are nothing. You have always been nothing. Everything you have is mine, and unless you want to return to your roach infested studio apartment... you will sign. This is your last chance."

Her jaw locks, telling of her mind.

Confident.

He exhales, blowing the smoke carelessly in her direction. "You want everything for nothing. You aspire to nothing. You desire nothing. You have no will. Go home, Miss Simmons. You'll be dead within the month."

Gray Taylor shrugs.
March 02, 2018 11:03 am

Autumn Summers

The cell phone in Autumn’s pocket chimes, demanding her attention. It doesn’t do much these days. With her family gone quiet, few friends to speak of, and Lucius no longer in the picture, the piece of technology has been nothing more than a glorified paperweight as of late, which is fine by her. She is not in the best state of mind to be social - thus drinking alone at a bar of questionable repute.

Removing the phone from her pocket, she discovers an automatic email notification. Nothing important. So the device goes back into the pocket, email unopened.

What catches Autumn’s attention next, try as she might to ignore it, is the conversation taking place between not-Gray and his client. Really, when one possesses hypersensitive hearing, eavesdropping becomes a problem, though she’s had enough practice to not actively listen.

At this moment, however, curiosity overrides manners. Why? This is different from the way Autumn knows the man to handle things, unless he’s angry. Anger presents a whole new ball game. She knows from experience. There is nothing suave or smooth here. Oh, no. Quite the opposite.

Which only serves to pique the fiery redhead’s curiosity further.

So, what does she choose to do? Needle him further, because that’s what she does. It always has been.

Taking a clean napkin and a ballpoint pen, Autumn scrawls one line in her familiar writing.

She hands the once folded napkin to Tony the Bartender and nods toward not-Gray. It’s almost like she’s in bloody high school again, passing notes. Hah.

Tony obliges and delivers the napkin-note to its recipient. When unfolded, it reads:

You’ve lost your touch.
April 03, 2018 10:56 am

Gray Taylor

The man is literally sitting, staring at the dumbstruck woman without an ounce of regret for his words. Gray Taylor may have taken a different approach, but sometimes that is just necessary. The cigarette is smoked idly, filling his relaxed lungs while it brings no aid to his tense shoulders. Always tense, always alert. This is simply his way.

He's doing just this when Tony approaches, and a pair of cold, steel eyes cut upward to the man with a dismissive glare. "We're good."

He cannot help but wonder if his words, however quiet, had carried to the bartender's ears. Would he tell Gray to leave, check on the lovely creature across from him, or is he simply checking on their situation. It turns out to be none of the above, instead a folded napkin being placed on the table before him.

Gray places it beside his glass, giving a nod before looking to his counterpart once more.

"Your choices are clear. Don't sign it, and let nature take contol. Or do, and live the rest of your undoubtedly short life as you desire."

No matter what, you're worthless, his mind cuts in. He bites back his cruelty.

It is just as he is taking the last, lazy drag from his cigarette that she picks up the pen and scribbles her name upon the contract before her. No doubt, she must think that if it is illegible, it might buy her some time. This happens from time to time, and Gray finds that those people tend to have shorter lives. The devil has a nasty sense of humor.

A twisted smirk crosses his visage as he stubs out his smoke, and he glances toward the furious woman as he pulls the contract back toward himself and proceeds to tuck it into his leather briefcase. "Have a nice night, Miss Simmons."

With a huff, she is standing up and collecting her things, proceeding to storm out of the establishment. This only further pleases him. And, free of distraction, he picks up the napkin and reads the words jotted in that neat scrawl. Gray has been fully aware of her presence there, and he cannot help but feel that pang of nostalgia as she chips at his ego.

Inwardly, he sighs.

However uncouth, he stands victorious.
And he knows it.

Without turning his head, he speaks knowing that she would hear him.

"Clearly not. Different keys, different strokes, beautiful."
April 20, 2018 09:24 am

Autumn Summers

By this point, Autumno longer tries not to listen, but doesn’t go as far as to be blatantly obvious about it.

Give her a little credit.

Visually, her attention remains on the half-full tumbler. But those keen ears are following the conversation she watches from the corner of her eye. Though she hasn’t involved herself directly, the note will tell Gray she is listening, Tony having delivered the napkin.

Really, she suspects he knew she was there before. The man doesn’t miss much. Missing and ignoring are two different things, as Autumn well knows.

The woman sitting opposite of Gray… ugh. Autumn can be prone to fits of jealousy, to be sure, but this is disgust. Plain and simple. There is something about her that makes the redhead wonder what sort of repercussions there would be if she sought the woman out later and… amused herself.

She noted the last name and filed both it and Miss Simmons’ likeness away for later.

Then that oh-so-familiar voice demands her attention. In spite of everything, the words make her lips twitch.

Slender digits wrap around the smooth glass, and there is a flash of a memory from what feels like ages ago; them sitting at the bar, talking, after one of the many times they butted heads. Autumn’s owner, her sire, walking in. Gray squaring off with him. The glass shattering in her hand.

Her eyes pinch for a moment before she shoves the memory away. It’s different now. All of it.

The few steps it takes to reach him are enough to recompose and smooth the lines of her face back out. She risks being shut down a second time, but there is nothing left to lose, so she comes around his side. The table stands in the way of facing him completely, but it’s close enough.

“I don’t mind being proven wrong occasionally.” There is no sarcasm or sass. One might call it subdued, but pleasant. It appears she might say more though decides against it.

Instead, she simply waits.
May 10, 2018 10:26 am

Gray Taylor

A far too familiar gaze sets upon her, stormy as ever. Gray Taylor merely stares, the mask that is his own face not betraying his thoughts as he sits back and takes a sip of his drink as if nothing had happened at all. No Miss Simmons, no contract, no scene. Just a businessman, and his nightcap. He mulls over her words in his mind, giving a pregant silence as he waits for her to continue.

She doesn't.

She's learning.

If he were not such a pigheaded animal, he might even crack a smirk of appreciation.

He nods slightly toward the chair that his counterpart had been seated in just moments ago, an open invitation to join him. His drink is placed upon the table's surface, and Gray puts himself to task as he begins to roll up the sleeve on his right arm to rest halfway up his forearm. It is a meticulous motion, careful of creating wrinkles or a look that is less than clean.

The same is done to the left.

Finally, after his silence and borderline dramatic preparations for what would, in his experience, be a blowout.. the man moves to sit forward, leaning into the table as his forearms press atop the surface.

"Very unlike you," he jabs.

A breath is taken, and he finally pulls his gaze from her to look upon his dwindling Manhatten. Without much thought, he lifts it and rocks the glass gently, causing ice to click against ice and glass, and the liquid to swirl within it's entrapment.

"I'm surprised dear Lucius let you out unattended."

Zero shame, Gray Taylor has his opinions. He is sticking to them.
May 15, 2018 07:32 pm
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