A Life in the Day
3:00 pm to 4:00 pm:
The airport cab pulled up to the entrance of the Luxor Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas, Nevada. The driver bolted out of the cab as if it was on fire and dashed to the trunk of the vehicle, pulling out suitcases faster than the hotel attendants could load them on the baggage cart. He was more anxious than usual to get back on the road, and with good reason, for the poor man had to endure an hour's worth of bickering and backbiting from the couple he had just delivered to the hotel, along with their daughter, who had remained silent throughout the trip from the airport, almost to the point of becoming invisible.
The cab driver opened the passenger door with all the caution of releasing a wild animal, steering clear of his quarrellsome passengers. The husband got out first, groaning aloud for the world to hear. "Ohhhhhhh! My God in Heaven!" he bellowed. "About time we got here! Swear to God, that's the last time we take a cab!" He turned to his wife. "I was for getting a rental car, but noooooo! You didn't want to spend the extra money!"
His wife, a scrawny brunette with wire-rimmed eyeglasses perched on her bony nose, emerged from the cab. "We're on a tight budget as it is, Gary!" she snapped at him. "We'll be lucky if we get through the week with what we got--if you don't blow it all at the casinos!"
"I'm not gonna blow it all at the casinos, okay?"
"Famous last words!" The woman turned back to the cab. "Maury! Get over here!" she shouted.
A brown-haired girl-child timidly crawled out of the cab, her faded blue dress wrinkled from sitting for hours in the airplane and another hour in the cab. She had endured her parents' squabbling in stoic silence for the entire trip; indeed, she could not recall a kind word between them as long as she could remember. Many times they were so engrossed in their personal battles, or in their own interests, such as Dad's bowling or poker, or Mom's shopping trips, it was as if she never existed. Only twice in her life did they even remember her birthday, and even then they marred the occasion with their fighting. Maury found that the only way not to incur their wrath was to fade into the background. It was safer that way.
Maury followed her parents quietly and obediently into the hotel, too timid to look around the world's largest atrium and all its attractions. She wished she was home, but then she would have had to stay with Grandma Potter, who was just as bad as Mom when it came to sniping and quarreling. Her parents marched up to the registration desk, where a sunny-faced receptionist greeted them with a smile. "Hi, welcome to the Luxor," she said. "May I have your name, please?"
"Brighton," the man grunted.
"One moment, please," said the receptionist as she entered the name on the computer.
Gary Brighton drummed his fingers impatiently on the desk. "C'mon, hurry it up, will you?" he muttered under his breath.
"For God's sake, Gary," his wife moaned. "Let her do her job."
"Will you just can it, Irene?" he snapped. "I'm tired and I wanna take a shower."
The receptionist handed over a pair of key cards. "Here you are sir," she said. "Room 1279. Enjoy your stay."
Gary Brighton took the cards without another word and left the desk, his wife and daughter in tow. Maury looked back at the receptionist and tried to smile, but after ten years of parental misery, she was way out of practice.
"One! Two! Three! Four! Five! Six! Seven! Eight!"
Lyn Sheppard and the rest of the cast on the stage followed the steps with clockwork precision as the choreographer barked out the steps. They were in the twentieth rehersal for Criss Angel's show, Believe, but it felt like the hundredth. Hours and hours of grueling practice, going over the same steps again and again--you could never stop, no matter how tired you were. The show had to be perfect, especially with Criss' illusions highlighting it. It all came down to timing. One missed cue and the entire effect of his magic would be ruined, not to mention getting fired.
"Five! Six! Seven! Eight! and rest!"
The dancers breathed spontaneous sighs of relief, all but collapsing form exhaustion. No one dared complain of aching muscles or tiredness--that would be unprofessional. The long hours of rehersal, the constant criticism from the director and choreographer, the aches and pains--it was part and parcel of being a professional dancer in Cirque de Soleil. You sucked it up and soldiered on, taking direction without question or complaint, going over the steps again and again and again until your legs felt as if they would fall off--and then do it some more. Only the pros could handle the pressure; crybabies need not apply.
Lyn massaged her long, lean, muscular dancer's legs. She would have sold her soul for a cup of coffee at that moment. She needed the caffene to go on. She had been performing in Vegas, on and off, since her teens. Inspired by her parents, performers themselves who had a thing for King Arthur and The Knights of the Round Table and therefore named their daughter Guinevere-Merlyn; she had studied dance in college and was thrilled when she was picked to be in Cirque de Soleil, especially with Criss Angel on the bill. She had anticipated hard work, but not this hard.
The director and the choreographer were conversing with each other in the orchestra pit. Maybe this would be a good time to sneak in a coffee break...? Lyn got up and tiptoed to the wings. Just a quick cup backstage, that was all, and she'd be back in no time. Just for a few minutes. She was almost at stage left when the choreographer shrieked out her name. "Lyn! Where the hell are you going? We got work to do! Places everybody!"
Defeated, Lyn returned to center stage and took her position. Coffee would have to wait.
"From the top!" ordered the choreographer. "And, One! Two! Three! Four! Five! Six! Seven! Eight!"
Karen Delana McPhee, known as "KD" or "Kiddie" to her friends, stood by the practice table as the instructor went over the finer points of dealing blackjack. Her short blond hair was combed back according to regualtions, the red blazer she wore bulked out her slender five-foot-five frame. She had just enrolled into the dealer's course and had shown promise as a top-notch dealer. She knew there was a heavy turnover rate with those who worked the tables--theft and dishonesty were rife among the staff who worked them. Dealing from the bottom of the pack, card counting, and pocketing chips were all too common offenses committed by dealers. The security cameras were vigilant in detecting cheating from both staff and guests in the casinos, and many a dealer lost his or her job due to it. Avarice was a vice all too easy to succumb to in a city where money didn't just talk, it gave orders.
She practiced the dealing routine: show the cards, deal them out from the top, set out the chips, stretch out your hands to show the guest and the cameras that you weren't palming anything, wait for the guest to say "hit me", then deal another card, give the guest his winnings if he won and take the chips if he lost, then repeat. The instructor was impressed. This little girl was a gifted dealer, he admitted to himself.
"Okay, that's really good," the instructor said. "Just remember to smile and keep your palms open. You can start on relief tonight."
Kiddie McPhee smiled. "I'll be here," she said happily.
"And, remember," the instructor added, holding up a warning finger, "they'll be watching you from above, so no funny stuff."
"I promise," Kiddie nodded. "I'll be the most honest dealer in the Luxor!"
"Good. Be here at seven tonight."
Kiddie walked out of the casino on a cloud. She got the job! She was actually working at the Luxor! It was a dream come true.
Of course, to make it really come true would be to meet Criss Angel himself.
Criss Angel, himself, meanwhile, was standing on a stool in his CKs being measured for his costume for the Believe show. It had to be authentically Victorian, but flexible enough to allow for freedom of movement, and light enough to "breathe" under the heat of the lights and the constant movement of his body, not to mention durable enough to withstand performance after performance without ripping or fraying.
The wardrobe supervisor ordered Criss to raise his arms so she could measure his chest. She slid the measuring tape around his upper torso and was chagrined that the forty-inch tape was not long enough to encompass it. She flung it away and found the sixty-inch one. She was more successful this time, writing down his chest measurements on a pad. Criss smiled sheepishly. He had been working out in the gym like a demon for his show, and had bulked up in the process, so much so he had to discard some of his t-shirts because they were suddenly too small; he had ripped a couple just by putting them on.
Arm length, neck, shoulders, waist, hips, thighs, leg length, inseam, even his wrists were measured. The wardrobe super drew outlines of his feet for his authentically made button shoes with spats. Criss was growing bored. He had work to do! Did they really have to measure his entire body for costuming? Couldn't they just take his regular clothes and work from them? They'd probably be measuring his weenie next.
Steve Packard screwed in the last fastener of the slot machine he had just finished reparing. He made a test run to check its function. The machine spun its pictured rollers and stopped randomly with no glitches. Satisfied, he packed up his toolkit and removed the "out of service" sign on the machine. An eager gambler stood by, waiting to try his luck.
"Hey, buddy!" the gambler, a pudgy type in a loud Hawai'ian shirt said to him eagerly. "You rig that thing to win?"
Steve shook his head goodnaturedly. "Sorry," he laughed. "I just keep them running. You're on your own."
The pudgy gambler looked a bit disappointed. Steve walked away, smiling to himself. He headed for the repair room in the back of the casino. Maintaining these machines was a full time job. As with all man-made objects, they malfunctioned at times. Even when they were functioning properly, there were always the tempermental types who took out their frustrations on the machine, when they failed to hit the jackpot. Worse, there were the hackers who tried to subtly manouvre the mechanisms inside with wires or other devices, creating even more damage in the machine and more overtime for Steve.
He checked his repair list on the battered brown clipboard hanging in the repair room. Mid afternoon and everything was going according to schedule. Maybe he'd get off on time for once. He pulled out his cell phone and dialed a number.
"Hello, Vic? It's me, Steve. Everything's going according to plan. We should have no problem tonight."
ooooooooh this seems intersting
4:00 pm to 5:00 pm:
The grueling rehersals went on. Lyn was in total caffene withdrawl by now. She felt that she would absolutely die if she didn't get a cup of coffee soon. But she was stuck on the stage, endlessly going over the dance steps with the rest of the cast. She was reaching the boiling point when the choreographer blew the whistle and yelled "Okay! Take twenty!"
At last! Lyn dashed for the break room in spite of her aching legs, hoping a pot of fresh-brewed coffee would be waiting for her. Her caffeine jones was the joke of the troupe. It was said there was two coffeemakers backstage, one for Lyn and the other for the rest of the cast. If none was made, look out! Lyn would go ballistic if she didn't have her fix.
Lyn didn't care what the others said. She would have drained an entire pot of coffee at that point. It kept her going and calmed her down. It was her lifeblood, her fountain of youth. It was the element in which she swam. She was the first to arrive at the break room.
"JAAAAAVAAAA!" she yelled the minute she caught sight of the black brew steaming from the glass pot on the warmer. Lyn siezed the biggest mug she could grab and dumped half the contents into it. As the hot liquid streamed down her throat, she felt life returning, surging through her veins in a glorious rush. It was bliss, pure unadulterated bliss, the ultimate legal high.
A couple of dancers could not help but be amused by the look of ecstacy on Lyn's face. "Oh, man," joked one, a lean, muscular male named Josh. "Lyn's tripping out on caffeine again!"
"Yeah," laughed Kwame, a tall African American in blue leotards, "she's just, like, whooooooo!"
Lyn sat on the couch, ignoring if not totally oblivious to the two men's teasing, savoring the warm sensation only coffee could bring. She drained the last of her mug and rose for a second round. "Wait! Whoa!" Josh laughed as he stopped her. "Save some for the rest of us, okay?"
Lyn backed away reluctantly. From now on, she was going to bring an extra-large Thermos of coffee just for herself, so she would not have to share with her fellow performers. She cared for them deeply, no question about that, but two small pots of coffee for thirty people just didn't work for her.
She was just beginning to settle down when the choreographer came into the break room. "All right! Break's over! Everyone back on stage!" she shouted.
Already! It seemed as if they had just gotten here! Reluctantly, Lyn set aside her giant mug and trudged back onto the stage. At least with coffee in her veins, she could once again function like a normal human being.
JD Sarantakos waited for his mother at the airport terminal. It was almost four-thirty; her flight had been delayed by thunderstorms back east by an hour and a half. He had read all the newspapers lying around the waiting area, had a cup of coffee, checked his cell phone for any messages (there were none), watched the overhead television screen tuned into CNN, had another cup of coffee, flipped through a copy of Newsweek from the previous month, went to the men's room to relieve himself of the two cups of coffee he had, returned to the waiting area, sat on one of the uncomfortable plastic chairs and cleaned his nails with a corner of a magazine subscription card he found on the floor.
"Flight 507 from New York, now arriving at gate twelve," came the announcement over the PA system.
Finally! JD shot up from his seat, waiting for the double doors to open and his mother to step through. The gate attendant unlocked the doors, releasing a stream of arriving passengers. JD craned his neck over their heads, searching.
He spotted her, a small woman with long black hair and a gentle face, a little wrinkled with age but no less beautiful than she had been in the past, at least to her sons. "Ma!" JD called out.
His mother, Dimitra, looked up. "Darling!" she smiled, reaching out to embrace him.
"How was your trip?" JD asked almost routinely.
"Fine," she replied just as routinely. It had in fact, been miserable. An hour and a half delay due to thunderstorms, too much turbulance, the passenger beside her white with terror, threatening to vomit, the dinner lukewarm at best--she was relieved to be free at last.
"The limo's waiting," JD informed her. "Let's go get your bags."
Dimitra smiled. Her Christopher always sent a limo instead of a cab whenever she came to Las Vegas. Ever since he made it in showbusiness, he had been spoiling her outrageously. Expensive jewelry, designer clothes, her own hotel suite. Even Criss' fans held her in the highest esteem, called her Mother Angel, or Mama Angel, or simply Dimitra. Every Mother's Day bought hundreds of greetings from Loyals. When she had emergency heart surgery two years ago, the fansites were flooded with prayers and get-well wishes for her. The Loyals had adopted Dimitra as a second mother, and cherished her as deeply as Criss and his brothers did. In Vegas, Dimitra Sarantakos was Queen Mother of the Luxor, with all rights and privileges therein.
Her suitcase retrieved from the carosel, JD and Dimitra made their way to the main exit where the limo was waiting. Dimitra was temporarily blinded by the bright desert sunshine; she pulled out her sunglasses from her purse and slid them over her eyes. Mac, the limo driver, took her baggage and stored them safely in the trunk. Then he opened the side door and allowed Dimitra and JD to enter the cool dark interior of the limo.
All this was witnessed by Tracy Cullen, a sixteen-going-on-seventeen Goth chick with elbow-length curly henna-colored hair and a deep tan from too many visits to the tanning salon. Recently emancipated from her parents, she lived with her best friend, five years her senior (whom her parents said was a "bad influence" on her for her Gothic dress and indifferent attitude towards school), and she desperately needed the work to pay her share of the rent. Las Vegas hotels paid very well, she had heard. When she spotted the Sarantakos' at the airport exit, she spotted her opportunity. Maybe they could give her a lift to the Luxor, arrange for her to get a job, she thought.
But it was too late. The limo door closed, the driver got in, and the car drove away. Disappointed, Tracy realized she was on her own again.
Maury Brighton realized she was on her own again as well when her parents took off for the afternoon, Dad to the casino, Mom to the shops, and there was no food in the suite except the courtesy basket of fruit and chocolate covered strawberries. Well, it was better than nothing. She pulled off the cellophane wrapping and picked up an orange, her favorite fruit. She found the TV remote and turned on the set. Television had been her lifelong companion, her escape from the harsh reality of her home life. It kept the lonliness at bay, drowned out the angry shouting of her parents' fighting. There were times when she wished she could crawl through the screen and join the characters on the screen, leaving the real world with all its strife behind her.
She finally located Nickelodeon and settled down to watch SpongeBob SquarePants, one of her favorites. The chipper sea sponge never failed to cheer her up with his upbeat attitude and goofy looks. The hotel television was much better than the one back home, she thought. Free at last from her bickering parents, she began to enjoy her own little vacation as she munched on juicy orange slices and watched SpongeBob annoy his uptight neighbor, Squidward Tentacles, once again.
Athene Christopolous stepped out of the stretch Mercedes in all her resplendant glory, as befitting the heiress of one of the biggest technological corporations in the world, Omicron, Inc. She had no idea just what Omicron, Inc., produced, much less cared. All that mattered to her was the prestige, the fame, and, of course, the money and all it could buy. It existed only to provide her with the things she wanted most, and she was a woman who was accustomed to getting what she wanted when she wanted it.
At this moment, as she stood in the giant atrium of the Luxor Hotel as attendants busied themselves with her mountain of luggage, what she wanted most was Criss Angel himself. Ever since she saw one of his shows from her last visit to Las Vegas (he had performed at the Excalibur at the time), she was intrigued, then attracted, then infatuated with this darkly mysterious man who could work such unbelievable magic. She immediatly booked a suite as close to his as possible (paying extra for the privilege, but it was worth it), and had arrived from Los Angeles where she had been hobnobbing with the Beautiful People.
Athene swept aside her long, silky black hair and waited as her personal assistant made the arrangements for her check-in at the front desk. She hated waiting, even for a minute. Delayed gratification was not in her vocabulary; she ordered, people obeyed.
Crito, her personal assistant, a mousy little man with a slight Mediterranian accent, scuttled up to her with her key card and presented it to her as if it was the Hope Diamond. "What kept you?" she demanded sharply.
"Forgive me, madame," Crito apologized in his faint European accent. "The clerk at the desk, she was too slow."
Athene took the card and ordered him and the staff to the elevators. She was tired after her long trip and felt the beginnings of a headache. She fished around in her handbag for some pain reliever and found none.
"Crito!" she snapped. "Go and get me some Tylenol or something, and be quick about it! I have a bursting headache."
"At once, madame," Crito aquiesed and scuttled off to find a pharmacy.
Athene was whisked away in the elevator to her suite, as close to the top as was possible, just beneath Criss' own penthouse. She smiled at this. It was apropos to be beneath the man she loved, even if it was only one floor below him. Soon she would be below him in more ways than one, she thought wickedly to herself.
It had been a long day, and Criss was feeling the strain. He needed to get out, have some fun. He hadn't been to Body English for a while; maybe he should go there for the evening. He hoped they still had those drink specials, not that it really mattered. Being the biggest star in Vegas to date, he practically drank for free anywhere he chose to go. Of course, that in itself posed some danger--the last thing he wanted was a DUI charge. It would ruin his career, not to mention set the show back, costing millions of dollars in lost profits. He had been on a rigorous fitness program since Believe went into rehersals, curbing his alcohol consumption and exercising every day in the gym instead of partying all night. He had to be on top of his game for this show. The Luxor was expecting a healthy return on their investment in him.
Still, one night out couldn't hurt. All work and no play made Criss a dull boy, not to mention an irritable one. He had been in overdrive for months, planning, rehearsing, organizing, building--he deserved a little R-and-R. A few hours at Body English, just to relax and be waited on was just the ticket. Two drinks would be his limit, and back to the Luxor via limo; he dared not drive, just in case. He hoped they got a good band tonight. Body English didn't book crap acts, true, but still...
Suddenly, he remembered, slamming the heel of his hand on his forehead, angry at himself for forgetting. His mother was due today from New York. He had to be there when she arrived. Damn! How could he have forgotten? He'd have to forgo Body English for the night.
Or did he? He calculated that his mother would be too tired to go out for the evening after her long trip, and at her age she would not be up to any late-night entertainment. Unlike her famous son, Dimitra kept regular hours and went to bed at the same time every night. Dinner at a nice restaraunt, some early evening family bonding, and the rest of the night was his. As much as he adored his mother, he had a life of his own and wanted to live it to the hilt. Body English didn't really get going until tenish anyway. It would work out after all.
Why don't we hook up Lyn with an IV of caffiene?
5:00 pm to 6:00 pm:
Steve Packard's cell phone went off in his pocket. He pulled it out and flipped it open.
"Yeah, what is it?"
"Everything ready for tonight?"
"Yeah, no problem."
"Good. I'll have the van ready around two."
"You working late tonight?"
"No, I'm going home after this shift."
"Yeah, bye." Steve flipped off his phone. He gave his to-do list one last look. Everything was kosher as far as he was concerned. No last minute repairs of any description. He clocked out and went to his car. He needed to go home and get some rest--tonight was going to be a busy night.
The parking valets sprang into action when they saw the long black limo glide to a graceful stop in front of the Luxor. One valet crossed over and opened the passenger door, breaking into a big smile when he saw who was inside. "Welcome back, Mrs. D.," he greeted Dimitra cheerily. "Nice to see you again."
He extended his arm to help her out. Dimitra took it with a smile of thanks and stepped out of the limo. Meanwhile, two other valets and the driver wrestled with her luggage, piling it onto a polished brass baggage cart. JD was all but ignored, but he didn't mind. In fact, it amused him how the hotel staff fell all over themselves whenever his mom showed up. Of all the celebrities and other VIPs who came here, Dimitra Sarantakos was a staff favorite, and not just because of the generous tips Criss doled out to ensure her comfort. She was the sweetest, kindest, most wonderful lady ever to grace the Luxor; she never made any outrageous demands, she never raised her voice in complaint, and she always said "please" and "thank you" with a sincerity that was all but extinct in the twenty-first century. To the younger staff members, it was like having their own grandmother coming to visit.
Dimitra, for her part, was still bemused about all the fussing and fawning over her whenever she stayed at the Luxor. Even after five years since her son, Christopher, signed that ten-year contract with the Luxor, she was still unaccustomed to such overwhelming luxury. She had too many memories of hardship and privation to succumb to avarice and pride. Her childhood in war-torn Greece had been marked with fear and hunger; her family's emigration to America had been difficult if not terrifying. True happiness came at last when she met and married John Sarantakos and gave birth to three beautiful sons, John, Jr., whom everyone called JD, then Costa, and finally, Christopher.
They never overindulged their sons, but, like all first- and second-generation Americans, instilled in them a stern work ethic and a sense of responsibility at a young age, both of which they all carried to adulthood. It would be her youngest, however, who would carry them to the extreme as he climbed the ladder of fame and fortune, and in turn overindulged his mother. Criss showered her with gifts of jewelry and fashionable clothes, reserved the best suites the Luxor had to offer, and treated her to meals at five-star restaraunts that cost the equivilant of a week's worth of groceries for a family of four.
And there he stood, her youngest son, shabbily dressed as usual with his torn jeans, grey t-shirt, and his collection of medallions around his neck, waiting in the giant atrum for her to arrive. He walked over to her, arms outstretched to embrace her.
"Mom!" Criss exclaimed as he wrapped his muscular arms around her slight form. "How ya doin'? Okay?"
"I'm fine," she replied. "Just a little tired from the trip, that's all."
"Well, we'll get you settled in your room, then you can rest up for dinner, okay? Andamo's sound okay to you?"
"Fine." It didn't matter which restaraunt Criss took her. They were all very nice as far as she was concerned. Very expensive, but very nice all the same.
JD, meanwhile, had taken care of the check-in arrangements and was now walking towards his mother with her hotel keycard. "Here you go, Ma," he said, handing the small plastic rectangle to her.
Dimitra read the room number. 1280. Usually she had a room booked near or just below Criss' suite, and now she was on the twelfth floor? Why so far away? she wondered.
"Something wrong, Mom?" Criss asked.
"Oh, nothing, darling," she replied airily. "Nothing at all."
Criss caught a glimpse of the room number on the card. "1280? Why is she all the way down there?" he asked JD.
"Well, it seems that Athene Christopolous and her entourage has the upper floor below yours fully booked," JD explained. "and this being the busy season, this was the best I could get."
Criss looked irritated. "Oh, don't worry about it, darling," Dimitra told him. "All the rooms here are nice. It makes no difference where I stay, so long as I am with my family."
Meanwhile, in the Luxor casino, Gary Brighton wasn't thinking about his family at the moment, focusing instead only on the numbers on the roulette table where he had placed his markers. The large wheel spun with stately grace in the center of the table as the small white marble rolled along the circumferance in the opposite direction. Gary crossed his fingers for luck. Win! Win! Win! he chanted to himself.
"Twenty-three black," the dealer called out.
Gary slumped in defeat. Son of a (bleep)! I was this close! Just this close to winning!
Undeterred, he lay another fifty on several more numbers and waited for the little white ball to land on its mark.
Again the bitter agony of defeat. Okay, one more shot, then I'm out of here. He laid a hundred this time. He had to win. He just had to.
"Twenty nine black."
Two hundred gone already. Maybe he'd have more luck at the slots.
Rehersal wrapped up for the day around six. The cast of Believe were in their locker rooms, changing into their street clothes. Stacy Hausman sat next to Lyn Sheppard on a bench, pulling on her stockings.
"Doing anything tonight?" Stacy asked Lyn.
Lyn laughed. "You asking me out on a date or something?"
"Ha, ha. Anyway, you doing anything tonight?"
"I dunno. Why?"
"Wanna go to Body English tonight? They got a really good band over there--Filibuster. You can burn off all that extra caffeine there."
Lyn thought about it. It did sound enticing, and it certainly beat an evening at home with her menagerie of pets; though she loved them all dearly, she needed the company of people as well. "Sounds good," she said. "Meet you there around eight or so?"
"Sounds like a plan," Stacy agreed.
Athene Christopolous lay on the huge, sumptuous bed, her dark eyes covered with a soft sleep mask to allow the skin tighteners and lotions to work. She hated growing older. It took a great deal of evading and misinforming to keep her real age a secret, not to mention the thousands of dollars she spent on spas and salons to keep herself looking young and beautiful. She had not yet reached the point of cosmetic surgery, but she had a list of the best surgeons on file, just in case. Meanwhile she kept a rigorous program of fitness and skin care: she had a standing reservation at La Costa, she bought her own hair stylist who knew every strand and follicle by heart, and avoided cigarettes like the plague (nicotine stains under the nails were so disgusting, not to mention the smell on the clothes). She drank only spring water; she hadn't touched tap water in years. Her diet consisted of organically grown fruits and vegetables and sushi, or micro meals in fashionable restaraunts with names that took longer to pronounce than it did to eat them.
The Tylenol Crito had bought finally kicked in. Pain free, she now concentrated on her quarry, the man who lived upstairs just above her. She had done her homework before coming to the Luxor; from scanning the entertainment pages and by indirect inquiry, she learned of his habits and where he liked to go in the evenings. It would not do to seem overanxious, though. She would do it in a roundabout way, subtly make herself known to him. Pursue him in such a way that her didn't even know he was being pursued. Athene was a past master at this. It wasn't the kill, she thought, it was the thrill of the chase. When it was all over, Criss would never know what hit him.
But first, she had to find her prey. She sat up, removed the sleep mask, and drew out her laptop case. No one, not even her faithful assistant, Crito, was permitted to even lay a fingernail on her laptop. She guarded it jealously, for therin lay such intimate information about her the tabloids would have sold their souls to the Devil to aquire. It had a voice-activated combination lock which only she alone knew, with a series of passwords that rivaled the CIA in complexity. She never opened it in the presence of others; it was her life encased in silicon, and no one on the face of the planet was allowed to read it.
Athene spoke into the microscopic microphone on the edge of the laptop case. "Clio1, Erato2, Thalia3, Urania4."
The case latches flew open. She opened the laptop computer with the care of a jeweler lifting the cover of a velvet-lined box containing a priceless necklace. It was wireless, so there was no need to plug into the computer line. She switched on the laptop and waited for it to boot up. It took only a fraction of a second, which pleased Athene. She entered her secret password into the computer: Pandora.
Welcome, Athene, the words on the screen read. She fingered the mousepad to locate her file on Criss Angel and clicked "enter". The file flashed onto the screen. There, the list of clubs in Las Vegas he liked to frequent. Which one should she choose?
Body English. Hmmmm. That looked promising. She would start her search there. If he wasn't there, well, there were the others. She could be patient if she wanted to be, but she was determined to get her Angel into her arms (and her bedroom) if it was the last thing she would do.
She pulled out her cellphone. "Crito," she said. "Arrange transportation for me tonight. I am going to the Body English club." She quickly hung up. The hunt begins, she thought.
If you have Sandra in this story can we say cat fight which I think Criss would enjoy seeing two women fight for him:D
Hmmm, sounds too risky, and I don't think Criss would want Sandra getting into a fight with anyone for his sake...
6:00 pm to 7:00 pm:
Irene Brighton stumbled through the doorway, exhausted, her arms laden with packages. She flung them down by the door and collapsed onto the bed, slinging her arm over her eyes. Her feet ached from an entire afternoon of shopping, and she felt another migraine coming on. The only things on her mind were a long, luxurious hot bath and a dose of painkillers.
Maury turned off the television and sat on a chair as far from her as possible. Experience taught her that whenever her mother was lying down with her eyes covered, her head was hurting her really bad, and when her head was hurting, she was in no mood to talk or do anything. It would be like approaching an angry bear, and Maury had no intention of getting mauled. If she kept still, and didn't make any noise, her mother's mood would, hopefully, improve.
So, there she sat, waiting uneasily for any response from the prone figure on the bed, her fear overshadowing her natural need for maternal love and affection. Maury could not remember receiving a hug, or a kiss, or even a single instance of hearing the words "I love you" spoken in her home. She could not remember speaking those three words herself. Even on the best of days there was only grudging acknowledgement of each other's existance. It suddenly occured to her that she knew very little about her mother. In fact, she seemed like a total stranger to her. She went to "work" some days, whatever that was; Irene seldom spoke of her job except how rotten it was. She seldom saw her cook anything; her dad always said that the only thing her mother knew how to make for dinner was reservations. She saw her mother smile only once in her entire lifetime, and that was at a party next door with a bunch of other grownups one summer. Someone had said something funny that she was too young to understand at the time and could not now remember. Seeing her mother in a cheerful mood had surprised her. Why couldn't she be more like that at home? she had thought.
Her father was just as irritable, and even more distant. He was always going somewhere with his friends to play poker or go bowling or to the bar. When he was home, he just sat on the couch and watched TV. When the need for physical contact became too strong to bear, Maury would creep up to the other side of the sofa and curl up next to him, silently waiting for some sign of recognition of her existance. If she was lucky, his hand would drop onto her side, but there would be no affection behind it; she was no more than an armrest for him. He showed signs of life only when he and her mother were arguing.
Anything could spark an arguement between her parents: a sock on the floor, a bill in the mail, a missing item no matter how insignificant it was. Even when it was announced that they'd be going to Las Vegas for a vacation the yelling and fighting continued over every little detail. Maury was surprised that they remembered her at all, let alone took her with them. At home, she was just another subject for them to fight about, if they ever thought about her at all. Lately she started having fantasies about they're not being her parents at all, that she had been kidnapped from her "real" family and forced to live with these people. As they continued to fail to address Maury's need for affection, she was even more convinced that her "real" parents were somewhere out there, looking for her.
A wild hope siezed her. Maybe they were here in Las Vegas, she thought. Lots and lots of people came to Las Vegas every year; maybe she could find her "real" family here. It was a longshot, as her father (or the man who claimed to be her father) liked to say, but to escape the misery she had endured for almost eleven years, it would be worth it.
Kiddie McPhee arrived at six-forty five, fifteen minutes early for her first night at the blackjack tables. She didn't want to be late, and she so wanted to make a good impression. She took the time to familiarize herself with the casino layout: the roulette wheels, the blackjack tables, the security cameras around and above, the emergency exits, and, of course, the ladies' room. She had to be extremly careful how she conducted herself here; the eyes in the sky were watching her every move. It was no secret that the Luxor had the tightest security that money could buy--indeed, there wasn't a hotel, casino, club, bar, shop or even a parking lot in Las Vegas that wasn't under scrutiny twenty-four-seven. Kiddie remembered a television show on the History Channel about the rise of Las Vegas as a gambling and entertainment mecca, stating that the video surveillance in the casinos were so sophisticated that it set the standard for the CIA and other government organizations dealing with national security. With millions of dollars exchanging hands every second, Big Brother was never more welcome than in Sin City.
Five minutes to seven. Almost time to clock in. Kiddie dashed to the back to report for duty. The casino manager directed her to a table near the slots. She would be there an hour until the regular dealer got back from break. Perching herself on the tall stool, she waited for her first customer.
She didn't have long to wait. A middle-aged man approached her and sat down at the blackjack table. Kiddie greeted him with a smile. The man read her name tag.
"Kiddie?" he said, laughing a little. "Yeah, you look like a kiddie. You sure you old enough to be working here?"
"Oh, yeah," she smiled back. "It's short for KD, my initials. I kinda like it."
The man held out his hand. "Name's Gary," he said.
Kiddie shook it. "Nice to meet you, Gary," she greeted him cheerfully. Be nice to the customers, she reminded herself. "Shall we play?"
"Deal." Gary laid down his bet.
Kiddie dealt the cards as she had been taught, brushing her hands and flipping them over to show the eye in the sky she had nothing to hide. Gary studied the cards he had been dealt carfully. He had a ten-card, a Jack of Clubs. All he needed was an ace.
"Hit me," he ordered.
Kiddie dealt a card face up, not looking at it. It was an ace! Gary could not believe his luck.
"Holy (bleep)! I won!" he exclaimed.
"Wow!" Kiddie was astonished. Her first customer won at blackjack. "You're good, Gary. Really good."
"How about another round, sweetheart?" Gary said jovially. "I am hot tonight!"
"Anything you say," Kiddie said. "You're the boss."
Dinner at Andamo's was wonderful, as always. The Sarantakos family had a nice view of the Strip, the piano music was soft and soothing, and they had the same waiter from Dimitra's last visit serving them (she remembered him because she had dropped her sunglasses under the table and he had retrieved them for her, returning them just as she and Criss were leaving). The management made sure they had a private booth so as not to be disturbed.
The usual pleasantries had been exchanged, and the latest family news reported: this aunt had minor surgery, this cousin had jury duty, and so on. It was just another family gathering, a mother, her sons and nephews, enjoying an evening out. No talk of shows or other entertainment business allowed. Criss Angel had been checked at the door; it was Christopher Sarantakos who sat at the table beside his mother now.
That brief illusion of family privacy faded when Felix Rappaport, President of the Luxor Hotel and Resort, strolled up to their table. No one resented the intrusion, however; Felix was not only Criss' employer of sorts, he was also a family friend. Yet, Criss hoped that he would not bring up business during this rare family gathering. He needed some private time away from his very public life. Simple, everyday activities such as dinner with his family, helped keep him grounded in the real world.
Still, it didn't do to brush off the president of the hotel; Criss offered Felix a chair and invited him to join the family. After being assured he was not interrupting anything, Felix accepted with a word of thanks and a smile--or what seemed to be a smile at first. It was more like a grimace, as if from pain. Felix's clutching his abdomen comfirmed it.
"Felix?" Criss asked. "Is something wrong?"
Felix straightened himself in his chair. "I'm okay," he said cheerily with a dismissive wave of the hand. "Just a little stomach trouble, that's all."
"Something you ate, perhaps?" JD suggested.
Felix waved at him frantically but discreetly. "Keep it down, willya?" he hissed. "Folks here will here you; it'll be bad for business if you go around saying that!"
JD mumbled an apology. Felix changed the subject. "So, Dimitra," he said with a smile, "nice to see you back in Vegas. Planning to stay long?"
"Not long," Dimitra replied, "just a few days. I can't take this desert heat too long. I may have to come during the winter months when it's cooler."
Everyone nodded in agreement. Triple-digit temperatures were dangerous if not lethal to elderly people--the risk of sunstroke was higher for anyone over sixty. "Just stay indoors and you'll be fine," Felix advised her.
They chatted about their day and their plans for the evening: Criss would be going to Body English, JD would be taking in a show, Costa wanted to work on his photography, Dimitra simply wanted to rest. After a while, the topic of Athene Christopolous came up. It had started when Criss asked about the suite downstairs, the one he normally reserved for his mother, had been taken. "And who is this Athene Christopolous chick anyway?" he wanted to know.
Felix felt his stomach churning again. He had dealt with pushy, overbearing guests in his many years in the hospitality business, but Athene Christopolous took the grand prize. She had demanded the suite in no uncertain terms, adding a list of amenities the Luxor usually didn't provide: heated towels, unlimited access to theaters and clubs, a standing reservation at the spa, and so on. The concierge had bent over backwards to fulfill her every wish without breaking hotel policy. Felix began to believe that she was the cause of his gastrointestinal troubles.
"All I know is that she's an heiress to some big name corporation," he answered, fighting down the pain in his gut.
"An heiress?" Criss said, cocking an eyebrow. "You mean, like Paris Hilton or something?"
Felix nodded. "Yeah, in more ways than one."
Costa gave JD a sideways glance. "Sounds like trouble."
"You don't know what kind of trouble she is," Felix mumbled, clutching his abdomen again.
The waiter arrived with the family's dessert orders. Felix took this as his cue to depart. "Well, I got to get going," he said, rising from his chair. "Enjoy the evening!"
The family bid Felix good-bye as he left. Outside the restaraunt, a little man waited behind one of the pillars until the hotel president had passed, then scuttled away to the elevators, a faint but satisfied smile on his moonlike face...
Crito approached his mistress with characteristic humility. Athene looked up at her assistant. "Well, what did you find out?" she demanded.
"You were right as usual, madame," he replied deferentially. "Mr. Angel will definatly be at the Body English club tonight. I heard--"
Athene waved a dismissive hand. "Never mind from where you heard it, Crito," she said. "The important thing is that he will be there. You have transportation ready?"
"Yes, madame, with all the usual accoutriments. It will be here at exactly the time you specifed: eight o'clock."
"Good. And my clothes for the evening?"
"It is hanging in the wardrobe now, madame, cleaned and pressed."
"Very good. That will be all for now, Crito. I will call when I need you."
"Very good, madame." Crito bowed and walked backward out of the suite as if leaving the presence of a queen.
Athene smiled to herself. She loved it when she was right. It would have been a great disappointment to go all the way to Body English and find out Criss wasn't there. She would have had to change her plans if he wasn't. She had trusted Crito to make discreet inquires as to where her Angel would be, and he had come through satisfactorily. He had a gift of seeking out information in a manner government intelligence agencies would have envied, and Athene used it to her full advantage.
She looked up at the clock. Almost seven. It would take her an hour to prepare for the evening. She summoned her hairdresser, Antoine, to her suite to fix her hair at seven-thirty. Meanwhile, she would bathe her body in creams and oils to ward off the desert dryness, and decide what jewelry to wear. She also needed to make her plan of attack. The direct approach would do no good--she had to draw him to her, not force him. Subtlety was the best motive. She had to lure him to her, like the Sirens of the Iliad. He would be enchanted by her beauty, enticed by her charms, and seduced by her desire for him. Once in her arms, he would be putty in her hands, just like all the other men she had known. Her snares would be impossible for even a skilled escape artist such as Criss Angel to free himself, assuming, of course, he even wanted to.
Lolita "Lolly" Jones, bass player for the band, Filibuster, was tuning her bass guitar for the night's performance at Body English while the rest of the band and their small crew made sound checks and secured the equipment. Of all the members of the band, she was undoubtedly the busiest; not only did she play bass guitar, but also ran the band's online forum and co-ordinated fan-related activities such as meet-and-greets, Street Team mailings, and contests.
She had always sought to be different, to stand out from the crowd. She favored both polka-dots and plaids, sometimes wearing both. Her silky brown hair was dreadlocked in black and purple stripes, and she wore heavy black boots with silver buckles. Her classmates back in Chicago shunned her for her radical appearance and her interest in obscure sci-fi novels. Her teachers were critical as well, even though she was a straight-A student with a fierce determination to learn all she could about the world. She was gifted in both art and music, learning guitar from her folk musician father, and studying graphic art and web design for two years before dropping out to join Filibuster, to the disappointment of her family.
She saw the set list lying on one of the amps and picked it up to read it. It was pretty much the same as all the other clubs. She put it down again and set her guitar on its stand, then left to get a bottle of water for tonight. Performing under those hot lights would give a lesser person heat stroke, and she needed to keep herself hydrated.
As she made her way backstage, she heard two bar waitresses talking and giggling like schoolgirls in a corner. Normally Lolly paid them no heed--it reminded her of high school--but the words "Criss Angel" caught her attention.
"It's true," said one of the waitresses to the other. "Criss is definatly going to be here tonight!"
"Ohmygodohmygodohmygod!" gushed the other waitress. "I hope he gets one of my tables!"
Lolly kept walking casually by, pretending not to hear, but secretly she was thrilled. She adored Criss Angel; he was almost a kindred spirit to her, with his semi-Gothic attire, his punk-rock hair, and his rebellious attitude against convention. She had never met him in person. Now, he was coming to this very club where she and her band were playing. This was too good to be true!
I have a feeling Felix is getting an ulcer
7:00 pm to 8:00 pm:
The hot shower caressed Lyn's body like a personal masseur, soothing away the aches and pains of the day. Despite years of performing, developing her body to near perfection, sore muscles were still an occupational hazard, along with pulled tendons, twisted ankles and an occasional fracture. She took it all in stride. She had to, if she wanted to keep working.
Twenty minutes later, she emerged from the steamy shower, savoring the feeling of relief. She toweled herself dry and combed through her wet hair. She didn't feel like styling it, so she just stooped over and blow-dried it, giving her "dirty-blond" hair a wild frizzy look, perfect for Body English. Lyn eschewed makeup, save for black eyeliner around her hazel eyes, feeling no need to cover her medium-light complexion, and chose her favorite outfit: a brown and green Madras skirt and a white peasant blouse, topping it off with her favorite French beret. She put her license, her keys, some money and her credit card inside her "secret" wallet tucked inside her bra (Vegas was full of thieves and pickpockets, she had learned from hard experience).
One final cup of coffee for the road, and she was good to go. She locked the door behind her and made her way to her car. She only hoped they didn't raise the parking fees again. Las Vegas was an expensive place to live, and an even more expensive place to party. But in the end, it was all worth it; you never knew whom you might meet.
Antoine, the hairdresser, put the finishing touches on Athene's jet-black hair, painstakingly combing and rearranging every strand with long, delicate fingers until it was in its proper place. Finally finished, he handed a wide hand mirror to his star client for her approval.
Athene appraised Antoine's latest creation in the mirror. Her shining sable tresses were fashionably teased and swept in the right places, very rock and roll, perfect for Body English. "Yes," she purred, "this is perfect. Thank you, Antoine. This will do nicely."
Antoine smiled ingratiatingly. "Thank you, madame."
She rose from her chair, teetering on her black Manolos, and gave herself a last minute check in the full length mirror. Her strapless red bustier emphsized her ample bosom (the tabloids had the nerve to accuse her of having implants!), and her long shapely legs, the result of early childhood ballet lessons and daily aerobics as an adult, stretched from under a black belted miniskirt. A handbag the size of a paperback novel hung from a long gold chain from her bare shoulder. Satisfied that all was ready, she pulled out her sell phone and summoned Crito.
"Is the limo here, yet, Crito?" she inquired in an impatient tone.
"Not yet, madame, " Crito replied. "But it will be here in ten minutes, I assure you."
"Call me when it arrives," she ordered. Then, "No, never mind. I'll go down into the atrium and wait there. If you do see it, call me at once."
"Yes, madame." Crito said.
Athene hung up her cell phone and stuffed it into her tiny handbag. Yes, that would be the better plan. Chances were good that Criss would be down there himself, on his way to Body English. She would saunter over, strike up a conversation with him, casually ask him what plans he had for the evening. Oh, what a coincidence, she would say, she was going to Body English herself, and then graciously offer him a ride in her limosine, complete with champaigne and other delights. It was an offer he would not be able to refuse.
She dismissed Antoine, reminding him to lock the door behind him, then swept grandly out of her suite to the elevator. It took all of ninety seconds for it to arrive on her floor, but even that was too long a wait for Athene Christopolous. She tapped her foot and drummed her sculpted nails on the elevator door. When one of the cars finally chose to show up, she sighed in frustration and walked in. Then came the intermimable descent, with irritating pauses to pick up other passengers who had the gall to summon the same elevator as hers. Hurry up! She wanted to scream at them. If she missed seeing Criss Angel, it would be all their fault.
Maury saw that her mother was asleep. That meant she would have to find dinner for herself. The fruit basket was just about empty (she had been living on it for the entire afternoon) and who knew when she'd get another meal. Best to save it for later, she thought. Besides, she wanted a real meal. If she was back home, she could have foraged for something in the fridge, but they were here in Las Vegas, and there was no food save for the fruit basket. If she could find her father, maybe he'd give her some money for a hamburger or something.
She found her mother's keycard, stuffed it in the pocket of her faded blue dress, and headed out the door. It took a while, but she found the elevators and pushed the "down" button, then waited. Her stomach began to grumble. Dad had to get her something to eat. She didn't want to go to bed hungry--again.
It was seven-thirty Las Vegas time, but Dimitra was still attuned to New York time, three hours later. Jetlagged, she sought the comfort of the hotel bed. Criss had given her an affectionate good night kiss and left his mother's suite for a night at Body English. He sauntered to the bank of elevators. As he turned the corner, he was a bit surprised to see a little girl in a faded blue dress standing all alone in the foyer.
Maury, in turn, stared curiously at this tall man with a lot of funny looking necklaces around his neck that jangled when he moved. She had been instructed never to speak to strangers, but her lonliness overrode any parental warnings to the contrary.
"Hi, there," Criss said to her. "What's the matter? You lost?"
Maury shook her head. "No," she mumbled shyly.
"Where's your mom and dad?" he asked.
"Mom's sleeping," she replied, "and I think Dad's down in the casino."
Criss grew more concerned. "Is there anyone else with you?"
Maury shook her head. Criss was going to ask her why she was all by herself, when he heard a rumbling sound. He looked down at the little girl, who clasped her stomach with bony arms.
Geez! he thought. This kid must be starving to death! "Are you trying to find your dad?" he asked.
Maury nodded. "Okay," Criss said, "we'll find your dad, and he'll get you something to eat, okay?"
She nodded again. The elevator door slid open. Criss took Maury by the hand and led her into the elevator. It felt good, having someone hold her hand like that. Her mother was in the habit of grabbing her by the wrist and yanking her along, whereas her father simply nudged her. This man's hand was soft and comforting, with all sorts of pretty rings on his fingers that sparkled. Maury began to wish that he was her dad instead of the man she called her father. She looked up at him. He had different colored hair: brown, black and blond. The brown was almost like hers, she noticed.
Brown hair just like her? Could it be possible that he was her "real" dad? He had the same hair, almost, and he was very nice, almost loving to her, and he held her hand so tenderly that he had to be someone's daddy. It was wishful thinking, she knew; she would need more proof.
"What's your name?" Criss asked.
"Maury," she responded shyly. Then, screwing up her courage, she asked, "What's yours?"
"I'm Criss. Criss Angel."
Angel? she thought. What a pretty name!
Once they arrived at the atrium floor, Criss took Maury to the casino entrance. Knowing that she was way too young to go in, he summoned one of the security guards.
"Could you page a Mr....uh, what was your dad's name again?" he asked Maury.
"Brighton," Maury answered. "Gary Brighton."
Criss turned back to the security guard. "Could you page a Mr. Gary Brighton, please? His daughter is waiting for him."
The guard entered the casino. Soon a voice was heard over the PA system. "Attention, please. Would Gary Brighton please report to the main desk? Gary Brighton."
Gary Brighton looked up from his slot machine. What the hell do they want me for? he wondered. He gathered up his tokens and headed for the desk. There was a security guard waiting for him.
"Mr. Brighton?" the guard said.
"I'm Gary Brighton."
"Your daughter is waiting for you outside."
Gary sighed irritably. What the hell does she want? Can't her mother take care of it? He strode over to the entrance. There was Maury all right, with some wierdo beside her. Gary wondered what the hell was going on.
"You her dad?" the wierdo asked.
"Yeah, what about it?" he retorted.
"Well, I think it's time you got her something to eat by now, don't you think?"
Gary turned to his daughter. "Where's your mom? Why can't she get you something to eat?"
"She's got one of her migraines, and she's sleeping now."
"Oh, geez," Gary groaned as he pocketed his tokens. "C'mon, let's go," he said grudgingly, nudging her to one of the cafes.
Criss thanked the guard, who nodded and returned to his post. Geez! Does she have a great dad or what? he thought sarcastically.
The atrium floor. Finally! Athena pushed her way out of the stifling elevator car past the few other guests with her, oblivious to their indignation over such treatment. She stepped briskly to one of the seats near the main entrance, sat down, and waited for either the limo or Criss Angel, whichever came first.
She spied the latter emerging from the very same elevator bank as she had, to her delight and to her chagrin--she should have been a bit more patient. She also noticed he had a little girl with him. Puzzled, she approached with caution. It would not do to be seen spying on him--the tabloids would have a field day. Pretending to window shop among the boutiques, she kept an eye on him through the reflection in the windowpanes.
Criss was speaking with one of the security guards outside the casino; he seemed to be discussing the child who was with him. The guard entered the casino. A few minutes later, he returned with some middle-aged man; Athene guessed it was the child's father. Criss seemed a bit upset with this man, almost accusatory. The child's father nudged the little girl and left the casino, heading for one of the smaller cafes. Criss thanked the guard and walked away.
Athene smiled. Now was her chance. Displaying her most radiant smile, she strolled up to him casually. "Ah, such kindness to a helpless child," she purred.
Criss spun around. Athene poured on the charm. "And to think I heard such disparaging rumors about you, accusing you of being egotisical and self-centered. But I can see there is no truth to them, no truth at all."
Criss was taken aback. "Who the hell are you?" he asked point-blank.
Now it was Athene's turn to be surprised. How could he not know who she was? Her photos had been splashed over every news magazine and celebrity website the world over, and he didn't even recognize her? But, patience, patience. Let him discover her.
She extended a long, shapely hand. "Athene Christopolous," she answered regally.
Criss took her hand and shook it limply. "Charmed," he grunted.
Athene looked at him in bewilderment. Didn't this man have any social graces at all? Or was he too "working class" to know how to treat a lady? Or maybe he was simply too stunned by her beauty to respond properly. Yes, that must be the reason. It was best to back away a bit. She did not want to intimidate him.
"Ah, that poor little girl," she said piteously. "It is so easy for anyone to get lost in a place like this. But she was so fortunate to have a guardian Angel to watch out for her."
"What are you driving at?" Criss asked abruptly.
"Oh, nothing, nothing at all," Athene demurred. "It's just that I could not help but admire your goodheartedness, especially in a city full of selfish people." She stepped closer. "Of course, you must possess so many other good qualities as well."
Criss's irritation grew. "Look, lady," he said, backing away, "I don't have time for this. I gotta go, okay? I'm busy." With that he strode toward the main entrance where his car was waiting, glad to be away from her.
Athene was outraged. How dared he brush her off like that! How dared he! No one ever--ever!--spoke to Athene Christopolous in such a manner. She vowed to make him regret it, and regret it he would!
Her anger was rudely interrupted by a call from Crito. She flipped it open. "What do you want?" she snapped.
"Madame, the limo has arrived," Crito informed her.
Athene was momentarily at a loss at what to do. Criss would be at Body English for sure, but after their first meeting, she wasn't sure she wanted to see him again. Cunning, however, won in the end.
"Thank you, Crito," she said. "I'll be right there."
You can tell Criss doesn't like a woman like Anthene. She's got to chaange her attitude if she wants Criss's heart
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