01-27-2013, 07:39 PM
12:00 pm to 1:00 pm:
"Madame?" Crito called out as he tapped on the door of Athene's suite. "All is ready now, madame. The limosine will be here to take you to the airport soon."
"Good," said Athene from the other side of the door. "I'll be down in a few minutes. Make sure my bags are downstairs and ready to go."
"Yes, madame." said Crito.
Athene put the finishing touches of cosmetics on her face, scanning every inch of her face for telltale signs of aging or any other imperfections. Beauty such as hers required a high level of maintenance, and Athene was vigilant in that respect. "Art steps in where Nature fails," her mother had told her. She had perfected that art over the years, having spent hundreds of thousands of dollars in creams, lotions, foundations, skin tighteners, moisturizers and cosmetics to highlight her best features and conceal the worst. She had been to the finest beauticians all around the world in her quest for eternal youthful beauty. She had kept a physical fitness program that would have exhausted a Marine sergeant. Not an ounce of fatty food passed her lips; she was as slim as a supermodel, and just as firm.
And for what? she wondered. To be cast aside by that ingrate Criss Angel? To be beaten and humiliated by that old witch he called his mother? Well, that little news bulletin she had posted on Celebnooz.com would be the perfect revenge. Even if he denied it, as he surely would, it would tarnish his angelic reputation enough to satisfy her need for justice. No one treated Athene Christopolous in such a manner--no one!
There. Her makeup was perfect. Satisfied, she picked up her handbag and laptop case and left the suite, vowing never to return. when questioned by the media, she would give them a very unflattering review of the Luxor and her unfair treatment there. Bad publicity wourld do more damage than a lawsuit, with less time and money. She would move on, leave this all behind her, let Criss think about what he had missed, find a new conquest who would appreciate her more than he ever would. She was Athene Christopolous, heiress to the Omicron Empire. She would overcome!
She walked to the elevator bank and pressed DOWN. She waited and waited, drumming her fingers on her laptop case. What was keeping that thing? she thought irritably. What was taking so long? She had to get downstairs immediatly. The sooner she got out of this Godforsaken place, the better. Couldn't these elevators go any faster?
Finally, a ding, and the doors of one slid open. Athene stepped into the elevator, jabbed the button for the main floor and waited while the car quietly descended.
Criss took his leave from his mother's suite, still sorrowing over Maury's plight. He mulled over the past events and the child's future as he made his way to the elevator bank. Did her parents really steal that money? No, they couldn't have. They were greedy, granted, but they didn't have the smarts to pull off a robbery like that. The eye in the sky would have nailed them in a minute's time. The dad just found it somewhere and kept it for himself. If he had turned it in, things would have gone better for everyone, Maury included. They couldn't go to jail for keeping something someone else stole, could they?
But what if Maury's mom and dad went to jail, anyway? Criss wondered as he pushed the DOWN button. What would happen to Maury? Were there relatives she could stay with? If not, more than likely she'd end up in a foster home, living with complete strangers who would probably treat her no better than her original parents did. Criss shook his head in despair. So much grief for such a young child to bear. He could only hope for the best, comforting himself with the fact that she was with Mom right now, probably the only lucky break that poor kid ever got in her life, he thought. If only there was something he could do...
A ding from the elevator brought him back to the present. The doors of the elevator on the opposite side opened. Criss went over to the waiting car to enter, but stopped short when he saw who was already in there. Criss swallowed his bile and suppressed his rage.
"Hello, Athene," he said.
Athene gave a brief nod in reply. Criss stepped into the elevator car, keeping as much distance from her as space would allow. It was only twelve floors down, but with her on board, it would be like sinking into Hell itself. There were a lot of things he would have liked to say to her, most of them four-letter epithets, but he prudently held his tongue in such a confined space as this; he'd get his chance in the open air of the atrium.
The descent was mercifully quick; the doors slid open, and Criss shot out of the elevator like a bullet. Normally, he'd have allowed the lady to step out first, but this, he thought maliciously, was no lady. Athene, for her part, was appalled at such lack of courtesy; it was furthur proof of his vulgarity. She stepped out quickly with a disdainful air, high heels clicking on the tile floor like castanets.
Criss watched her as she brushed by him, her pert nose in the air like a pampered show dog. He could see her retinue falling all over themselves to please her, handling her mountain of luggage as if precious artifacts were packed inside. In a moment of spiteful mischief, he decided to get in one final dig.
"Did you remember to pack your panties, Athene?" he sneered.
Athene whirled around to face him, furious. Criss couldn't resist smiling smugly. "You seem to be quite careless where you leave your lingerie," he went on. "Not to mention forgetting what suite you were booked in."
Athene stormed up to him, livid with rage. "At least I was spared contracting some disease from you after your night with those filthy (bleeps) at the club!" she shot back. "To think I wasted my time trying to make your aquaintance!"
"Oh, really?" Criss retorted. "You have quite a way of 'making an aquaintance' with someone, breaking into their rooms and sleeping nude in their beds! You were lucky security let you off with a slap on the wrist--or, rather, a slap on the ass from what I saw on the video!"
Athene stared at Criss, completely flabbergasted. "Yeah, that's right," he said, gloating. "They caught the whole thing on tape--and they're still laughing about it in the security office! Just be grateful it was my mom who caught you in my bed. If it had been me who caught you, you wouldn't have been able to sit down for a week!" He thought about that last statement. "But then, you would have considered that foreplay, wouldn't you?"
"I should file assault charges against that mother of yours!" Athene snarled. "If I had my way, that old (bleep)--"
Now it was Criss' turn to snap. "Hey! You watch what you say about my mother! She's a better lady than you'll ever hope to be! As far as I'm concerned, you deserved what she gave you--in spades! You may think you're all that, but you're nothing but a (bleeping) brat who doesn't know how to act her age, whatever that is!"
Athene drew back her hand and slapped Criss smartly on the face. Criss didn't flinch, or even reel from the blow. "Was that supposed to hurt?" he asked casually. "I felt something, but I'm not sure what it was."
"Get out of my sight!" Athene commanded angrily. "I never want to see you again!"
"That's the nicest thing you ever said to me, Athene," Criss retorted. "Back at you."
Athene spun around and sailed out of the atrium to her waiting limo, her assistant, Crito, shooting Criss a dirty look as he accompanied his mistress out the main doors. Criss flashed an extended middle finger and walked away. He had to get to Production for the new episode of MindFreak.
Tracey Cullen had stepped out of the MindFreak Outlet shop where she had been browsing until it was time to call about the mail room position in the Production Office just in time to witness the altercation between Criss and Athene. She wished she had a camcorder or even a camera phone to capture every deliciously sordid detail. Instead, she had to rely on memory, and she was grateful to have such a good one. She couldn't wait to post this on the LC website.
Criss had mentioned a videotape about Athene being in his room in the nude, and Dimitra catching her and slapping her on her ass. Oh, God! That would be too awesome for words! She would have sold her soul for even a glimpse of that videotape! If she ever had the good fortune to run across it on the Internet, she'd download it in a heartbeat, and forward it to the whole Loyal Community. Who knew? Maybe someone would--or already did.
Jennifer skipped up to Ashley's desk gleefully. "Did you get the download finished yet?" she asked eagerly.
Ashley clicked on the YouTube thread she had created. The three major scenes of Athene entering, Athene tossing out Hammie, and Athene's spanking from Dimitra were condensed into thirty seconds of playtime. It was enough as far as Ashley and Jennifer were concerned.
"Beautiful!" Jennifer lauded her friend. "Now we just sit back and watch the fun!"
Still in the repair shop, Steve was itching to escape. No sooner than he finished one machine that another cropped up in its place to be fixed. The last one needed a replacement part that he didn't have in the shop and which had to be ordered by phone. He hoped that it would be at least a day, so he could put it off and make good his getaway, but as bad luck would have it, the parts warehouse specializing in slot machines happened to have it in stock and would bring it over in forty-five minutes, causing another delay for Steve. If he didn't get out of here soon, he was dead in the water, either by the cops or by Vic. He couldn't make up his mind which was worse.
There was a knock on the shop door. God, he hoped it was the parts guy! Steve walked over to the door and opened it without bothering to ask who it was. Once he saw who was standing there, he wished he had.
"Steve Packard?" said Grissom.
Steve nodded feebly, all hope of escape vanishing like a Criss Angel act. It was over, he kept repeating again and again to himself. It's over, it's all over. He felt the cold steel of police handcuffs grip his wrists behind his back. It's all over, o-v-e-r over.
"You're under arrest for major theft. You have the right to remain silent..."
Meanwhile, Gary and Irene Brighton sat together in the security "office", alone.
"So, where do you think you were going?" Irene wanted to know. "You were just going to leave me and Maury, weren't you?"
"Can it, Irene," Gary growled.
"You just couldn't share any of that money you got, didn't you?" Irene went on. "No, you had to take it all for yourself and make a break for it! Well, you're in a lot of trouble now, mister!"
"I said can it!"
Irene laughed derisivly. "You're the one who's gonna get 'canned', dipwad! How much was in that bag, huh? Enough to put you away for a very long time."
"At least I'll be away from you!" Gary shot back. "And anyway, what are you going to do about it?"
"Hey, I can claim innocent spouse relief," Irene told him. "I can say I knew nothing about the cash you found, or stole, or however you got hold of it, and I'm free and clear!"
"Like hell you are! You wanted that money almost as bad as I did! You're in Dutch, Irene. You're an accomplice."
"Prove it! It'll be your word against mine. Single mother with a little girl, no means of support, her husband a thief--I'll make out like a bandit! You, on the other hand, are screwed like a lightbulb!"
"Hah! You threw Maury out of the suite, remember? You said you never wanted to see her again! She could testify against you in court, you know!"
"She could testify against you, too, Gary. I could plead temporary insanity because of prescription pills, you know."
"They won't buy it."
"Like they won't buy that excuse you gave them about the money, that you got the 'wrong' bag by 'mistake'? I saw you, Gary. You stuffed that bag in the kitchen cabinet to hide it. Then you took the money and ran like the coward you are. Well, you're not going to get away with it, Gary Brighton! I'm gonna make sure you get what you deserve!"
"Yeah?" Gary countered. "Well, I'm gonna make sure you get yours, Irene. Child neglect and abandonment, that's gonna cost you plenty, sweetheart! They could send you to rehab for your little 'drug problem' as well."
"I don't have a drug problem!"
"Oh, yes you do, sweetheart! You were willing to plead insanity caused by prescription pills. You admitted it yourself, remember? Tossing out your own kid like that while you were on drugs? They'll nail your skinny ass good for that! And once they see that little pharmacy you carry around in your purse...well, say hello to Betty Ford!"
"That's minor compared to stealing almost a million dollars cash!"
"I didn't steal it, I just found it, that's all."
"Found it and kept it for yourself? That's theft!"
"Oh, aren't you such a Girl Scout! If it had been you who got hold of that bag, you'd have blown the whole bundle!"
"It's a wonder you didn't blow the whole bundle yourself in the casino!"
"No, I had better plans."
"Like what? Running off God knows where and sticking me with the kid and the hotel bill? You're a louse, Gary. You always have been and always will be. Always thinking about yourself, not giving a damn about me or the kid."
"Like you give a damn about the kid yourself."
"(Bleep) you, Gary."
The door opened. Macaffey and two other officers entered the room. Gary and Irene stood up.
"Okay, folks," Macaffey said. "We're gonna take a little trip downtown. Both of you are charged with second degree theft."
"Hey, wait a minute!" Gary protested. "You have no proof!"
"Oh, yes we do," Macaffey retorted.
He pointed at a small videocamera bracketed on the ceiling. "Smile! You're on Candid Camera!" he sang out. "We got the whole thing on tape! Didn't have to grill you at all. So, you might as well come quietly. We have new accomodations for you in the county lockup!"
The phone rang in Dimitra's suite.
"Hi, Mom, it's Lynn. We're downstairs in the lobby!"
"Oh, hello, Lynn! Yes, I'll be right down! Good-bye!"
Dimitra hung up the phone. She had all but forgotten about Lynn and Little Dimitra coming over today, what with the business of Maury and all. Well, she'd just have to make the best of it.
"Come along, darling," she said to Maury, who had been sitting on the floor watching SpongeBob SquarePants on television. "We have to go downstairs and meet someone."
Maury looked up. "Who?"
"My granddaughter and her mother. Now, let's not keep them waiting."
Maury rose and went downstairs to the lobby with Dimitra. Once there, she saw a lovely blond woman and a dark-haired girl a head taller than she was standing there waiting for them. Mother-in-law and daughter-in-law embraced warmly, then the dark-haried girl hugged her grandmother. Maury started to feel forgotten again. Her own grandmother was nowhere near as nice as Mrs. Angel. She never hugged her Grandma Potter--she hated hugs and she always stank like cigarrettes.
"Lynn, Dima," Dimitra said, drawing Maury close to her. "This is Maury Brighton. She's staying with me for a while because her parents are...well, they got into a bit of trouble."
"Hello, Maury," Lynn said, smiling. "Nice to meet you."
"Hi," Maury choked out. She couldn't get over how beautiful Lynn looked. She looked like an angel in the lonely little girl's eyes, with her blue eyes, blond hair, and beautiful face with its radiant smile. She was almost a princess--an angel princess, she thought.
"And this is my granddaughter, Dima." Dimitra said.
Dima. What a pretty name, Maury thought. Dima had to be the luckiest girl in the world to have an angel princess for a mother and Mrs. Angel for a grandmother. Would there be any room for a nobody like herself with this enchanted family?
"Well, how about some lunch?" Dimitra suggested. "You must all be starved by now."
"Okay, but someplace simple," Lynn suggested. "Nothing fancy."
"Fine. We can go to the deli and have a sandwich."
All agreed. As they made their way to the deli, Dima turned to her mother. "That little girl is awfully skinny," she commented in a semi-whisper. "And her dress looks kinda old."
Lynn held up a silencing hand. "Hush, dear. Let's not be rude. She's a guest with Grandma, so let's be nice to her."
"I'm not being rude," Dima countered. "I just noticed, that's all. I think her mom and dad don't care for her."
"Well, let's just keep a lid on it for now," her mother whispered. "We don't want to pry into anything that's none of our business."