01-10-2013, 06:19 PM
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!
Last edited by Veritas; 01-10-2013 at 06:26 PM.