"Okay, lay it out to me MacFarlane,” said Riley who was seated across Alex in the meeting room. It was slightly after nine in the morning and they were starting to pour over the fraudulent financial accounts from their client’s company.
“First of all, why do we have to save this company’s ass when they’ve obviously done serious felonies? I mean tax evasion, creation of nonexistent offshore projects and misleading financial statements? That’s just the tip of the iceberg Eos. I am betting that the top echelons are pocketing…”
“Just tell me the facts.”
Alex scowled at his colleague but pushed the fact sheet that he had compiled towards Riley. He had thought that being a lawyer meant helping people with their legality issues –old grandfathers who want to write wills but don’t know enough of the law to make their testament legal or young married couples who needed legal advice for the purchase of their first home and stuff like that.
“We don’t get to choose our clients Alex,” said Riley quietly without looking up. “No, let me correct myself. You as the most junior addition do not get to choose a thing. However, the company does and they only choose clients that are the most profitable. This client has already assured us thirty, maybe forty grand just to represent their sorry ass in court. Win or lose, that fee’s already cashed in little one.”
Alex rolled his eyes at Riley. Damn the guy has no moral backbone whatsoever but he was right about Alex being just a junior nobody in the company. He had to fucking represent those sorry asses in court even if it went against his own moral predicament.
“Have you checked all these bogus offshore projects and subsidiary companies?”asked Riley, taking a sip from his coffee.
“Yes, I wanted to talk to you about that. On the surface, logic would dictate that all the accounts would lead back to the company’s finance right?” Alex waited for Riley to nod. “But I traced them painstakingly one by one…”
“Legally?” interrupted Riley.
“It wasn’t a pleasure to toe around the law.”
Alex frowned. Riley really has no moral conscience. A superior should have at least chastised him or something.
“So these bogus accounts are generally meant for money laundering and tax evasions but a couple of them aren’t actually financial cash flows but investment cash flows.”
Riley looked up in interest. “So you’re saying that they disguise investment expenditure as a source of income?”
“So it seems but like I said I had to toe the line a little to get the information so I’m not sure how reliable it is.”
Riley arched his eyebrow as though he wanted to know how Alex had done it but reserved his comments. Instead he said what he was supposed to say as a senior staff.
“Try and see if you can get this same information through the legal means this time. It’s possible that they left traces unintentionally. If you can, that means they’re in bigger trouble than they are now for the prosecutors will rip them to shreds. But if you can’t, then leave it be.”
“Then what about this discrepancy? Are we going to talk to the clients?”
“Discrepancy? I thought you said they were just investments parading as profits?”
“Yes… but what if these are illegal investments Eos? We have to tell them to stop it or at least destroy the damn project. Besides what does an oil company gain by investing in animal shelters? If they were investing on real estate I’d understand.”
“It could be a cover. Alright, we’ll pay our clients a visit. I don’t want the prosecutors coming up with shit I can’t bull back.”
“I’ll give them a call now then,” said Alex getting up from his seat without a backward glance at his colleague.
“Alex,” Riley’s voice was firm enough to make Alex stop but he didn’t turn around. “I’m taking Marine out tonight.”
Alex stiffened; his hand clenched hard at his sides. “If you hurt her; hurt even one strand of hair on her head… I’ll come for your throat, I promise.”
Riley smiled as Alex left the room. Part one of his plan seems to be in place…
Marine was seated at the park opposite her campus; her heart beating fast against her chest. She couldn’t believe that Riley was coming to fetch her but more than that, she couldn’t believe Alex actually said yes… okay he actually said, “Yes over my dead body.”
But then she bribed him with his favorite butterscotch cookies and even helped him do his laundry which had been left in a pile outside his toilet. Alex probably buys more clothes instead of washing them –gross.
“What he needs is a keeper. Though I doubt Keona would ever wash his laundry unless he begged her… or maybe she’d be the first one to train him to do his own laundry,” she said to herself before bursting out in laughter.
“Ah, someone seems to be in a good mood,” said a familiar voice behind her.
“Oh! Riley… I didn’t hear you,” said Marine in a startled voice. Neither had she scented him either. “Did you walk here?”
“Yeah, my car’s over there. Didn’t think it’s gentlemanly of me to make you walk alone to the car,” he said smoothly, offering her a hand.
She blushed but she took his hand, feeling the rough edges of his fingers graze her smooth palm.
“Fasten your seatbelt,” he said once she was seated in the passenger seat. “Alex warned me not to get a scratch on you so I’d better be safe than sorry.”
He flashed her a sexy grin. “But then again, it’s not like I have claws or fangs or anything right?”
“Err… yeah,” said Marine, trying not to let him see her facial expression. It just occurred to her that while Mr. Perfect over here was giving her attention, he’d probably just run off the moment she told him what she was. Seriously, slipping the idea that you’re a Vampire into a conversation is certainly not easy.
It’s not like:
“What would you like for dinner sweetie?”
“Uh… a glass of blood would be nice.”
“Baby, is that hickie you’re giving me?”
“Oh no, I’m sorry I just wanted a taste of your blood.”
Even she knew how lame that sounded. Rolling her eyes, she tried not to think about the inevitable and just enjoy his company… for now.
“So Gem, I’m going to take you out for a movie. You mind? Or would you prefer to do… something else?”
Marine felt her eyelashes flutter just for a second. “A movie’s fine. It’s been ages since I’ve seen one.”
“That’s great. I thought you’d rather go shopping or something like that.”
She smiled; turning slightly towards him. “Or you could let me beat you at assassin’s creed.”
This time he laughed; a deep thundering kind of laugh that sent tingles up her spine.
“Seriously Gem… I do not take challenges lightly but I don’t think you’d want to have a tussle with me on our first date right?”
Marine almost groaned. What’s with him and the innuendos? Or was she reading too much into it?
“We’ll play some other time then,” she replied.
“I’m sure we will,” he said, turning to smile at her; his eyes giving her a once over to let her know he caught the double entendre.
Their conversation went along those lines for the next half an hour until Marine was sure she was going to get wet just from all the sexual innuendos. She was betting that Riley did this all the time with other women for he didn’t seem as disturbed about it as she was.
“So, what would you like to watch?” he asked as they stood in front of the box office. “I’ll let you choose.”
Marine bit her lips slightly as she glossed over the movie selection on the screen in front of them. Call her silly but she didn’t fancy ghost movies or even the Vampire ones. They were just too freaky for her to stomach.
“Gem, do you always bite your lips like that?”
“Huh? Yeah I do that when I’m thinking.”
“Maybe I can help you.”
“With the thinking?” she asked hopefully because she was seriously debating between Rio or Rango though she doubted that Riley was the animation kinda guy.
“No, with the biting.”
Her mouth hung wide open at his comment. When he winked at her, she snapped it shut and said, “Rio then.”
“See, I’m a big help with the thinking too.”
Marine laughed and slapped his arm playfully. It was then that she realized how hard it was for her fingers stung like it had slapped stone instead of flesh. When she started to flick her hand to dissipate the pain, he turned to take her hand in his.
Rubbing at her fingers slightly, he smiled before pressing them against his lips. “That’s probably the only place that isn’t hard.”
Her eyes widened at the explicit sexual undertone and blushed. Pulling her hand away, she folded them across her chest and waited for him to purchase the tickets.
When they finally sat inside the theatre, she turned to hiss at him, “You’re doing this on purpose aren’t you?”
He gave her a sideward glance. “Doing what?”
“This… word play and teasing! It’s like you want me to blush and get flustered every second that I’m with you,” she said angrily.
Riley didn’t answer immediately but raised his left arm to hook it behind her; pulling her closer to him. For a moment, Marine did not dare to breathe.
“Relax. I promised Alex not a scratch,” he whispered against her ear, sending goosebumps down her body. She was so close to him that she could feel his body heat and smell his cologne.
He didn’t make any moves after that, letting her get comfortable in that position until she almost forgot about him. Her eyes absorbed every detail on screen and she was mesmerized by the graphics, the characters and the plotline. It was all very childlike but Riley knew that the woman in his arms was no child. She may be petite and thin but her scent was strong and heady like that of a woman’s. It made him want to turn and bury his head against her neck and take a bite… or two.
Riley didn’t like feeling this way about Marine so he was just going to keep his eyes glued onto the screen and push away all the unwanted dirty thoughts slowly creeping into his head.
However, he could still feel every movement that she made beside him: when she gasped in shock or when she trembled while laughing and then the minute gestures she made as she tried to pretend she wasn’t crying. It was just adorable.
Later when they were out of the theatre and walking to his car, she asked him if he enjoyed the movie.
“Well, it kinda reminded me about us except that I’m the confident sexy Linda and you’re the inexperienced, domesticated Blu. You still have wings that have not yet been used for flying Gem.”
Marine frowned and wrinkled her nose at him. He was right of course and it confirmed her hunch that he was just going out with her to spite Alex or something. How depressing.
“Riley, why do you call me Gem? That’s not really my name you know,” she said while they were driving back home.
“And your point being?”
“I… I just don’t want you to mistaken me for someone else. Maybe Gem’s a name of a past girlfriend or something or just a term you use because you couldn’t be bothered to remember your date’s name. Know what I mean?”
She felt him press the brake slowly, pulling over to the side of the highway before turning to look at her.
“Marine, I have never called anyone Gem in my life before so don’t be mistaken.”
She widened her eyes at his admission then nodded. Now that he sounded so serious, she was suddenly afraid of him. Oh dear.
“Are you afraid now?” his voice was low and Marine was sure that his blue eyes were glowing in the dark. She shook her head bravely. She was the Vampire here not him so technically, he should be afraid of her not the other way round.
“You should be, Gem. I am not a good guy.”
“You behaved yourself today,” she pointed out. “I’d say that was an act of a good guy.”
He tilted his head back and laughed. “Gem, you have no idea the amount of control I have.”
Marine didn’t dare to say anything for she didn’t want to taunt him. Those eyes were flashing so dangerously that she was afraid he was going to reach out and… kiss her.
Her eyelashes fluttered wildly at the thought. She was imagining things for sure for Riley had no intention of doing that. Didn’t he say that he wasn’t in for relationships?
“Maybe you should send me home now Riley,” said Marine in a calm and controlled voice. She didn’t want to betray her disappointment or fear to him. This was going to be their one and only date and she wasn’t stupid enough to believe there’d be more.
However, Riley didn’t attempt to start the engine for he was still staring at her.
“Home, now, Riley.”
But Riley still didn’t start the car and instead leaned sideways towards her, cupping her chin gently to make her look at him in the eye.
“Let me go!” she snapped. “I know you’re doing this just to get back at Alex or something. You said it yourself that you don’t want anything to do with me. You have no time for…”
Whatever she wanted to say was drowned out by the pressure of his lips over hers, kissing her hungrily; his mouth slanting over hers as his tongue reached out to tease and tangle with hers. Marine almost forgot about everything else except the feeling of his hot lips against hers and his scent washing over her senses. This was his real scent, not masked by cologne and it called out to her like that of a…