Expect the Unexpected (Part 2)
Location: Lake Michigan
Timeline: Friday, August 20, 2010/Evening
Talia pushed one of the manilla envelopes towards Xander with a soft smile. “This is the paperwork for your false identities. By the time we’re done, you’ll have to get used to a new name, and in a couple of weeks, even if they run your identities, nothing should raise suspicion. Consider it a civilian witness protection program. They’ll run into walls in certain areas, but it will have all of the markers of someone that the government is hiding, rather than someone that just bought a fake ID on the streets.”
Xander blinked and stared at the beautiful redhead. “How...how did you manage that?” he asked, opening the envelope to flip through the paperwork.
“I never said that I was an angel, Xander,” Talia said with a chuckle, giving him a wink and taking up her wine glass again, sipping at it briefly. After a moment she sighed and sat back in her chair, crossing her long, shapely legs daintily as she continued, “I have a few contacts that are willing to do things for the right...incentive.”
Xander frowned. “You’re starting to sound like my uncle,” he said bitterly, leaning back and sipping his own drink. “He had...business associates.” He tossed back his drink and refilled his glass, remembering the horror at discovering that his uncle smuggled and sold artifacts from archaeological digs, even from the Iraqi National Museum. It was anathema to everything Xander’s parents had stood for.
The red-headed antiquities dealer got a rather sour look on her face and she glanced at the table instead of maintaining eye contact with Xander, one hand absently reaching for her temple and rubbing it briefly. After a moment, and a deep drink of her wine, Talia let out a long sigh, looking back to her lover. Her voice dropped into a throaty, rolling, Eastern Bloc accent that he had never heard from the cultured, refined beauty before, as she gave him a weak smile and said, “Look, Xander. My father is an extremely powerful and dangerous man. A man with a lot of shady, dangerous associates...and enemies. I have had to learn a few things over the years, take precautions, make plans. One of the things that I have learned is that I cannot even trust my own flesh and blood. You once asked me why I required a bolt hole? It is simply because...I do.”
Xander stared in surprise at Talia. “Wot...the hell was that?” he asked, never having heard anything but a proper British accent from his lover. He fumbled his glass as he put it down, clearly the alcohol starting to affect him, but mostly the surprise.
“I told you, we all have our secrets,” Talia said, not shifting from her natural accent that she hid so well on a daily basis. Her gaze didn’t waver under Xander’s scrutiny, her pale brown eyes meeting his directly as she continued, “When I was nine years old, I was playing with my parents at a small park. My mother was killed in a hail of bullets meant for my father. I was uninjured, she died protecting me, he was injured but survived. It started a bloody war and I was immediately placed with distant relatives in England, hidden away, private tutors...”
After taking another sip of her wine, Talia set the glass down and gave Xander a shrug, and when she next spoke, her proper British accent was back in place. “After a couple of years, I was quite ready to begin schooling anywhere but in that house, as gilded a cage as it was. Elocution training, etiquette lessons...all so I could blend in and hide from my father’s enemies. Three years ago, I started doing antiquities work for the family, at his request, as I have a particular eye for detail and a pleasant enough manner.” The redhead sighed heavily. “One must eventually earn their keep, after all.”
“Yes, antiquities.” Xander’s tone was a bit cool. “I know all about the antiquities trade,” he said. Xander picked up the bottle and poured himself another generous drink.
“Is that all that you heard?” Talia asked, hurt by the cold edge of Xander’s tone as she picked up her glass and finished it off. She had always avoided any heavy discussion with him, preferring to keep their relationship free of such things. She’d grown fond of Xander and she shook her head at her apparent misstep, rising to get herself a bottle of water with another sigh. The bright, dazzling girl had never been sullen in front of the young noble before, but now, with her back still to him, facing the refrigerator, there was a sadness in her voice as she said, “One does not simply refuse my father, Xander. I have plans, as I’ve stated, but you do not just walk away from the life that I was born into. I do what I must in order to survive. I will make no apologies for that.”
Xander sighed, rubbing his eyes. “I’m sorry. I’m sure it must be hard,” he said. “My uncle...was tangled up with men like that,” he said. “I think that’s why he did what he did...to Cece…” He got up and went over to Talia, wrapping his arms around her. “If I can help you at all,” he said, nuzzling her red hair aside and kissing the back of her neck, “you know I will, luv.”
The fiery redhead gave a small sigh and she leaned into Xander as his arms went around her. “There is nothing you can do to help me, lover. But I can help you before...I have to go.” The closer that time came, the less that Talia really wanted to think about leaving and she found herself trying to manufacture reasons to extend her stay. She chuckled a bit wryly, again that sad edge to her tone as she continued quietly, “Besides, we have a deal, right? No strings...”
“No strings,” Xander had to agree, though it was getting harder all the time the more time he spent with this vivacious redhead. He hadn’t met a girl that woke his spirit so much, not since Elizabeth…
The thought of his first conquest chilled him a bit, remembering what women did to men and why it was best not to get attached to a nice pair of tits and legs and vagina. Love them and leave them, his uncle had always advised, before they get their claws into your money. They were all just gold diggers when you had wealth and a title.
Xander released Talia and retrieved his drink, tossing back the fine cognac.
Talia swallowed a bit thickly, then took a long drink of the water in her hand before she turned back to Xander. She had promised to let Xander go when the time came and it would really be best for him. He didn’t really need to know what life was like inside a crime family and it wasn’t even fair to ask him to understand.
When the white-shirt clad woman turned back to him and she saw the look on his face as he downed his drink, her shoulders sagged slightly and she moved to him, standing in front of him, reaching up to caress his cheek gently. Talia looked into the young man’s eyes as she admitted, a scared look in her sharp eyes, “If it’s any consolation, I haven’t been with any other men since I met you, Xander. I haven’t even wanted to find anyone else to fill my bed on lonely nights. All I can think of is you...”
Xander blinked, looking down at Talia, trying to read her, to tell if she was being honest or just playing him. “I never asked that,” he said, his hand sliding to her waist, pushing the shirt up a bit to caress her bare skin. “But...thank you.” He couldn’t say the same. He and Max still hooked up occasionally, though not often anymore.
Xander sighed. “I’m sorry, luv,” he told Talia. “Guess I’m just...in a mood. A lot on my mind. And now losing you…” Xander knew all the right things to say, too, though he did mean it. he leaned in to brush his lips softly over Talia’s, his hand sliding over her silk-clad bum.
“No, you didn’t ask that and I wasn’t expecting it. It just worked out that way for me,” Talia said with a sad smile after returning Xander’s kiss. She looked into his eyes and for a moment it seemed like she was going to say something else, but she faltered and glanced down, saying softly, “At first, it was fun and exciting to have my own little noble on a string. I can admit that. I know that I promised that I’d leave and you’d never have to see me again. Now I’m finding that I don’t want to leave you.”
There was a pause and she breathed a heavy sigh, muttering, “Damn you, Xander...” before she looked up and pressed herself to the strong young man, her arms going around his neck. Talia gave him a gentle smile before pressing her lips to his again, her fingers running up into his boyishly mussed hair. The redhead had always been fiery for him, but this was different; deeper, more passionate, somehow.
Xander gasped and returned the kiss with equal passion. His hands pushed her shirt up as he ran them up her naked back, nails raking lightly. He pushed her against the wall, his tongue dancing with hers. They were both panting when they finally came up for air.
Xander pressed his forehead against Talia’s, his eyes closing. “I don’t want you to leave, either, luv,” he admitted, breathless. “I don’t know why I let myself fall for you…”
NPC Bethany Davies