01-11-2013, 08:57 PM
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."
Last edited by Veritas; 01-11-2013 at 10:17 PM.