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25 October 2011 @ 03:40 pm
[Original] The Cave (Chapter 1)  
Title: The Cave
Author: Myself, meaning [info]hellopinkie 
Genre: Thriller
Summary: Charlotte’s co-worker, Sarah, calls her to let her know about a bomb in her father’s company.




Under normal circumstances, something like this would freak the hell out of her. In the middle of this mess a man approached her, saying that she...might need his help. This kind of stuff could only happen in movies. Just the typical start for a thriller. Charlotte took one more drag of the cigarette – when in distress she needed them – analyzing him while the smoke left her mouth slowly. The intense blue stare inspired her calmness. Somehow. Tough. Well, he looked like it. Wearing a suit, but not in a very formal way so to speak. Blonde hair. Pouty lips, a face that made her wonder what he's been through. John was...attractive. Worse part of it, though, was that apparently that feeling increased the more she thought about it. She had been staring at him for a while now, questioning what his intentions towards her were. He took a long sip from the hipflask he kept inside the coat, smashing the fag on the floor.

Who, in the name of God, could even think of drinking at this time of the day?

Him, obviously. With the cowboy look on top of it.

'So ' said Charlotte calmly 'Mister...Galvin, what's that help you're talking about?'

'Mine' He replied 'for starters.'

Like it was the most obvious question in the world. His accent was not the ever so typical London one.

'Okay then. I'm all ears.'

John wasn't so sure that was a good idea. If he started telling her everything he knew right here someone might hear it and everything would go to hell. There was this place near them. A really nice cafeteria. He used to come here very often and the food was really good. A place full of oblivious citizens, that's what they needed. Charlotte followed his steps, finishing her coffee. The place smelt of caffeine and cigarettes and food. There was not much people except for the ones that had to get up really early like them. It wasn't exactly new, not very old. There was a free table at the back next to a window. Galvin ordered what Charlotte thought was the usual for him here. She ordered the same except for orange juice instead of another coffee. While waiting he took the coat off, lighting yet another cigarette. His curious eyes focused on her. Oh well, she thought, today's been a shitty day so far so why the hell not. Smoking was necessary. She started searching for the lighter inside her purse but John in a quick move lighted it for her. There was always something in this kind of gesture. Classy. Unusual. Seductive even. Minutes in little drops of silent smoking until Charlotte decided that enough was enough.

'Right' She said 'I'm waiting.'

A determined woman. John smiled. Well, this was interesting to say the least. He must admit that during his forty five years of existence he's never met someone like Charlotte. He had always tried to keep his private life as far from his professional one as possible. And this obviously couldn't and shouldn't be an exception.

' You do realize that what happened here wasn't just some random accident'

She thought about it. Of course she knew there was something weird surrounding the explosion and the call, but, she'd like to have some time for herself, to put her thoughts in order. Plus he had just appeared from nowhere, storming right into her life without any kind of permission. How did he expect her to react? This must be the weirdest date she's ever had with a guy.

'Well I don't have any other options do I?' The waiter brought the breakfast and coffee for him, orange juice for her 'Who do you work for John, if you don't mind me asking?'

That was an excellent question. Sometimes he didn't even know how to answer it. He took a bite from his toast.

'Unofficially, for myself. Officially, for a group of people who want to save your ass'

A group of people that want to save your ass. Well, okay. Her family wether she liked it or not acquired certain popularity over the years. The company was one of the most important ones so that made them very well positioned. Not that it mattered. Much. Even though being in said position could lead to certain problems. Her father never told her or her brother about it, though. Nor did her mother. She let him start his breakfast doing the same with hers. Truth be told, she haven't eaten anything since last night so she just couldn't say no to the kind offer. Some minutes later, she left her knife aside. A contended sigh in her mouth.

'Let’s say I believe you' She said 'Let’s just say you’re here, having breakfast with me. Two strangers in the middle of London. And there’s a threat upon me, my family and my job. You must protect me from it at all cost, even if I tell you that I think you’re a complete lunatic, and that this can’t be happening to me.'

John stared at her, surprised. The oh so precious little girl of the Day's just hitted the nail on the head. When things like this one happened there was no place for failure. It all started with the father's death. Now this. Coincidence? He didn't think so.

'Basically' he replied 'That's how I work.'
'Well, I am sorry but I don’t need a bodyguard. And even if I needed one, I’d pay for it '

Galvin snorted. Well if she thought it was that simple...

'This is much more important than that, Day. It's not like I woke up with a craving. If you feel any better calling me a lunatic congratulations. Thing is there's someone after you and that's not me. You don't like it, neither do I.'

This was no joke. Not like he regretted meeting her. In fact, of all this bullshit that was the best part of it. He simply hated his job most of the time. This job meant there were too many jerks out there that needed to be punished. Charlotte was absent, staring at the little drops of rain crashing against the window. She looked tense. And lost. So lost. She then looked back at him, snapping out of her thoughts.

'All this is so strange. I was leading a normal life up until today'

'Usually happens like that' John replied.

She lowered her gaze. Her hand resting right next to the plate. For a brief moment she looked so fragile he was tempted to lay his hand upon hers, but he didn't.

'If you let me' he continued 'I will do my best to solve this. It's my job,after all.'

Charlotte didn't know what decision to make. It was too soon to give an answer. She just met this person and – apparently – this was just the beginning.

'Do I have some time to decide?' She asked.
'Time' He added 'is what we don't have, Charlotte.' He said, finishing his coffee.John stood up, taking the coat with him. Searching through his wallet he found a business card for her 'You can reach me here. Go and rest today. Tomorrow will be better. Hopefully'

Charlotte stared at it. Pretty simple. Name, two phone numbers. No address.

'Wait' Claimed Charlotte while he was paying the bill 'Where can I find you?'

John smiled mischievously. He clearly did not want to give too much away. He got near her, taking again the hipflask in his hands.

'Too much information for a first meeting, don't you think? We'll be in touch'

He waited for her to get ready again, holding the door for her. She couldn't help but smile when he wasn't looking.

*****************
John Galvin, private detective.

Charlotte couldn't stop looking at that business card, turning and turning it between her fingers. She didn't know what to make out of this just yet. However, John gave her a great advice: to take the rest of the day off. She found herself thinking if he would do the same or, instead, he'd scoure the whole city searching for adventures in his car. For some reason that image a la Gary Cooper suited him perfectly well. Anyway, what was she doing thinking of that stranger? Please, it was absurd. Sure, the situation was serious but this was just too much. She let herself fall on the bed. Perhaps she could rest and make up for those missed hours of sleep. More questions kept popping up, like: Where was Sarah? Why hadn't she contacted her? Weird indeed.

She couldn't bring herself to sleep, so she just stood up, holding the cordless phone. She missed Chris. Her Chris. Her eldest brother. He was sweet, charming, a really nice guy and he had found the most precious girlfriend any man could find. Also he, quite possibly, wasn't broke unlike her. He answered quite quickly. His calm voice on the other side of the line.

'Hey, how's everything going?'
'Char. Thank God. Just arrived home, I was about to call you. I was worried. Are you alright?'

She laughed. That was her brother. He probably heard something about it on the radio at work and he was just waiting to get home so he could call.

'I'm fine. Just...confused,I guess'
'Want to come over? Lauren and I will order something'

Charlotte did not want to take advantage of the situation, nor did she want to look vulnerable or pityful to anyone, not even Christopher. She just wanted some quality family time. Just that. Talk about things. Everything and anything. Routine.

'No, really...I don't want to bother you guys and...'
'Don't be ridiculous!' He replied 'You know how much Lauren loves you. She will be delighted to see you so just come. It is better than standing in your own kitchen, watching the news while eating the last few rests left in your fridge...am I right?'

And thinking of that God damned Galvin guy, she wanted to add. But she didn't.

'Okay' She finally gave in ' Give me half an hour and I'll be there'

*****************

The cozy house where her brother lived was not that far away from hers. She decided she may need to wear some better clothes than the ones she chose in the morning in a very sleep deprived state of mind. Not like she was about to attend any important meeting but she thought it would be appropiate to say the least to look more or less decent for him and Lauren. They have been living together for almost a year now and they started dating two years ago. Lauren was an amazing girl. Talented, funny and just appropiate for Chris. Some years younger than him, but that did not matter much. They actually met at his art gallery. The world could be an amazing place sometimes. Charlotte was very fond of her, she considered her part of the family as much as her brother or anyone else. They lived in one of those little houses nearby Picadilly. White door, some flowers at the entrance. Infamous Welcome carpet.

Charlotte – Char to them – ringed the door bell. She wasn't in the mood for being social but she guessed this was the right option. Some minutes later a very familiar face came out while she was waiting. Lauren, with her wide smile, sweet, big black eyes, dark hair and pale skin. She hugged her right away. It wasn't even a week ago since the last time they saw each other.

'Char' she said 'Oh, God. Chris told me...'

'Lauren' Charlotte smiled 'How are you doing?'

'Fine. Just fine. But...what about you? I mean you must have had a terrible morning. Please come in!'

She accepted very politely. Decoration was typical for a young couple that had just basically moved to live together. Quite simple, yet lovely. The very basics with a couple of rooms in case they had any visits. It was also full of her paintings. It was Lauren's greatest passion. And she was good at it, reason why she was trying to do it for a living. Her brother was just behind the door that led to the living room, he went towards her the moment he saw her. Christopher looked so much like their father. Except for the eyes,his were honey – coloured like her mother's, same calmness while speaking and also in his actions. Hair much lighter than hers. And that smile that may have conquered the lady beside him. She, on the other hand, was pretty much like her mother.

'Sis' Said Christopher kissing her tenderly on the cheek.
'Hi' She replied, hugging him.
'Well' He announced, a wide smile on his face ' We've got you pepperoni pizza so there's no way out now...'
'Oh damn. You know me too well. Both of you'

She told herself she had to be strong, at least this once. Not in front of two of the most important persons in her life. They have been preparing all this, ordering her favourite pizza and those Walker's salt&vinegar she loved. It was all too much for a day like this one. Charlotte took her coat off dropping it on the back of one of the chairs. There was nothing missing. Even fresh beer on the table. That was Chris. Organizing a wonderful lunch even if you've just called him fifteen minutes ago. While she sat on the couch with them, she felt like her body was double in weight. She messed up her hair, nervously. A sigh escaped her lips. Her brother just stared at her with concern while Lauren just leaned a hand on her shoulder. She took a beer and some chips. She so didn't like drinking with an empty stomach. What they say is actually true: It will make you feel drunk in no time. Chris didn't have much of a choice as to bring up the doomed subject.

'Much of a mess?' He asked
'The whole warehouse' She replied, biting her upper lip while reaching for a piece of pizza.

Lauren and him exchanged looks. His sister was just concentrating on the matter at hand – being with them, trying to have an easy going family time – so that she couldn't break down and cry. Even though she possibly needed it. His arm around her shoulders. The company was named after their father, Stephen. It's been running for over twenty years, and this was the first time ever something like this happened. And just at a weird, wrong timing. When everything was changing inside there. And she was just in the middle of it all.

'Well, you've been lucky you weren't there'

Was she? Was she really lucky or someone did mean for this to happen as it did?

'What I don't know Chris is if it was all part of a plan'

There was a silence filled with tension. The three of them seemed to be thinking the same. Could that be true? Someone behind today's events?

'It's weird. It's really weird' Said Lauren, concerned 'I mean it was all of sudden ' She smiled reassuringly 'But I am sure they'll find out who's responsible for this. Sooner or later.'

Her boyfriend pulled her close, kissing her softly on the lips. Charlotte truly admired them and loved them. They were the perfect example of what a healthy couple should be. Things that she probably would never have due to the lifestyle she's chosen. She thought this world was full of possibilities. That she could honour her father's memory. To the day, none of it happened. In fact her father was no longer with them. She wondered if destiny, or so people like to call it, could really be that kind of a jerk in order to get you somewhere else. Somewhere peaceful. Somewhere were you actually belong. It's like we have to get hit harder and harder in order to evolve. Or that's how she felt it worked. Her brother trying to avoid the unavoidable, as always, turned on the radio for some distraction, skipping all kind of informative radio stations. He knew they'd all be talking about what happened hours earlier. There was one of those only dedicated to music except for the eventual news. Dog days are over was playing and Charlotte just stopped Chris so she could hear it. It was one of her favourite songs by the wonderful voice of Florence Welch. An hour and a half passed by quite quickly while she just enjoyed lunch and tried to relax. Then Lauren announced that she shouldn't be there at all at that time. She had to finish a painting and it must be done by Monday.

Charlotte left them alone for a little while. She's been there. And she knew couples always needed their time alone even when with a group of people. When Christopher came in again she was in deep thought. One hand holding her chin. The other one, the glass with the very few rests of beer. He just sat beside her, waiting. Like every single time he just knew she needed to talk. About anything. Even those first boyfriends. Charlotte lowered her gaze until her eyes met the floor. He got the glimpse of those tears she just couldn't bring herself to cry before coming out of her eyes. He understood. It was like assaulting the second most secure place for her apart from home. He offered her a handerchief. She took it and the moment she dried her tears her little laugh filled the room.

'Truth be told, it's been the weirdest day in history'

Chris laughed, after all she was trying not to look so devastated. To stay positive.

' Why? I mean, apart from the obvious'

'Oh I don't know' She replied 'I was there having some coffee after being awake since six in the morning and suddenly this man comes to me and...'

'And that's weird to you' He joked.

'Shut it! Not talking about that. I am talking about what he told me. Something along the lines of me needing his help. Like my life might me in danger. John Galvin is his name'

'Mmm- hm. And what do you think of him? What was your first impression. I imagine it was a while after the explosion.'

She nodded 'Well...I still don't know what to make of it just yet. He is attractive, I'd say. Kind of a peculiar accent.' Her brother just raised his eyebrows while listening to her, a little grin on his face 'He is a private detective...or so it says in his business card. He looked really serious about it while we were having breakfast...'

'Hang on' Chris chuckled 'You had breakfast with him'

She shrugged. Whatever, it was a delicious meal and she was starving.

'He wanted to talk somewhere else you know. And...he invited me by the way' Again, Chris didn't look surprised by it at all 'According to him and his theories this wasn't just a random accident. You know. So...he just left it up to me if I wanted to collaborate or not. So I must make the next move when I'm good and ready'

Charlotte sighed heavily, covering her face with her hands. As if with that simple move, the day would end and everything would go back to normal. It wouldn't, of course. She then stared at her brother, waiting for his view on the matter. She'd hate to make a bad move and being the pretty girl in the family has always led her to many mistakes. He cleared his throat, staring at one picture right in the middle of one of the bookshelfs. His sister, Lauren and him. All smiley and happy after a show at the theatre and holding a glass of wine.

'Look, I don't want to sound mental, Charlotte, but maybe this John of yours is right'
'Sorry?'
'Sweetheart' He replied 'What just happened is dangerous. If that man came to you...there must be some reason behind it'

She smiled. Those words. Their father may have used them as well in this kind of situation.

'Let's do something' He added 'Call him again. Just...go out with him, see what it is that he has to tell you. Introduce me to him,even. If that makes you feel better. Plus' He winked at her 'I am curious now.'


She loved him. So much. She leaned her head on his shoulder, kissing him on the cheek.

'You're great. Haven't I told you that?'

He hugged her 'Well, Lauren tells me so from time to time'

Charlotte left the couch. He probably had to get back to work eventually and there she was wasting his time. She helped a bit with the stuff on the table, getting her coat again. He inmediatly got the message.

'I don't want to take any more of your time' She said 'I will see you soon, ok?'

'Whenever you feel like it. You know that'

Just before she got out of the house, she stopped on her steps.

'Would you fancy a double date?'

******************************************

Sun was coming and going again, clouds getting in the way. The light hit her eyes making her to wake up. She moved between the sheets knowing for a fact that this time she was alone. She strecthed, getting herself ready to leave the bed. She adjusted her pyjamas a bit and got her foot inside her slippers. It started raining. It was always like that here. She wondered if she'd see him today. No. What she's done was absolutely wrong. After all Charlotte was her friend. They shared a lot during those years.

She got her long blond hair in a ponytail. The kettle was on so she'd have hot water for her tea. But he promised nothing would happen. Her mobile phone was right there and she didn't know if she should call her. No, but she's been trying to. Lots of missed calls from her. Ah, she was tough. By this time she'd be up and running again. Her shaking fingers touched the keyboard. Oh, no. No. He'd notice. And she didn't like what came after that. She hated to see him angry. She dropped it right there, concentrating on her breakfast

Sarah was waiting for his steps to come through that door.
 
 
Current Location: Southbank.
Current Mood: calmcalm
Current Music: Faster - Within Temptation.
 
 
 
No hero in her sky: Buckshellopinkie on November 8th, 2011 09:21 am (UTC)
Thank you! Will be posting more soon :)