Darcy Clay And The Case Of The Maltese Notebook
Disclaimer: The following is a work of fiction and the characters bear no resemblance to any persons living or dead. Likewise, the author does not condone the forced stripping of unwary women. Except with telekinesis.
Suddenly, and unexpectedly, the most beautiful woman in the room was naked.
This quite naturally drew a huge response from the crowd who’d witnessed it. Gasps, cheers, laughter, and a prolonged howling from the beautiful woman in question; who was now the center of everyone’s attention (brought on by the fact that she had no idea her complete denuding was about to happen).
I had a great view of this.
In fact, I had made it happen.
My name is Darcy Clay and I am the supreme mistress of stripping women when they least expect it.
Two weeks prior to all these glorious nude woman shenanigans I was in a slightly different headspace though.
Part One: Alone Again – Naturally
It was a Thursday morning and I was slumped over my desk (and no doubt snoring). The banded light blasting in through the venetian blinds was behind me, so it hadn’t interrupted the dream I was having (a lovely little affair about a carload of cheerleaders I’d picked up and convinced to come lingerie shopping).
The five days since I’d ripped the clothes off my girlfriend’s daughter and sent her running naked down the street hadn’t been good for me. Not surprisingly she’d hit the roof when she had arrived home and our relationship hadn’t lasted the evening. I remember eating pizza with extra pineapple and watching her pull out of my driveway – feeling like complete and total misery.
I could lie and say I didn’t care but hey, why do that? I’m telling you everything already. I could also lie and tell you that the thing I missed about her most was making out with that orange, perfectly furred triangle between her smooth white legs.
Second thoughts, let’s go with that. That is what I was most cut up about. To hell with all that emotional bullshit. I can find plenty of other women to talk about my problems too.
And I had. In fact, I’d virtually found a new one every night. The bartender at The Minke Whale was almost at a point where she was going to warn all the new girls to stay away from me. I talked her out of doing that by going down on her in the backseat of her silver ‘99 Camry. I think I still have her phone number somewhere…
So I decided to feel better about myself by indulging in way too much alcohol and more than enough random lesbian sex. It helps me forget – what can I say?
I woke when there was a knock on the door; with a startled snort I came too and realized a few things all at once.
I had a monstrous hangover.
I smelled like a bartender’s clean up rag (I think those two points might have somehow been connected).
I also had ‘girl breath’. (If you don’t know what that is then I ain’t explaining it. Shout out to all my lesbian readers.)
I couldn’t remember who I’d gotten the girl breath from.
I was wearing the same white longsleeved blouse that I’d been wearing for the last two days.
Same black trousers, same black leather vest too.
My hair was a mess, and much of it was stuck to the side of my face.
“Huh? Wha? Bluergh?” I offered to the person knocking on my door. I could see a shadowy form through the white frosted glass and the bronzed words that read:
And then she walked in: Miko Jones, the woman I both loved and hated the most.
Miko was devastating and perfect. She would have looked at home on a catwalk or between the pages of a magazine you normally have to buy wrapped in a plastic sheath. She was half Japanese, half New Yorkian and one whole badass.
Sadly I had never seen her naked (at least not at this stage in the story), not that I hadn’t tried; but from what I had seen I could’ve told you then she was stunning. Perfect legs, smoothly flat stomach, flawless pale skin and sweetly rounded breasts (that would sit nicely in your hand if you were ever lucky enough that she would let you heft them).
Her hair was long and raven, she had the lightest smattering of freckle across her cheeks and her eyes were dark and slightly ovoid, giving her a permanently piercing expression (which totally suited her mood on most days).
She was quick-witted, intelligent and could humble anyone she chose with a glance and few choice words – which is why I loved her.
She was also as straight as an arrow – which is why I hated her. Because it didn’t seem to matter who I was dating at the time I was always in love with Miko – not that I would ever tell her that.
She was everything I wanted in a woman; her looks, her personality, hell even the scent she wore. I have to admit there were times when I would sit back in my chair and fantasize how good it would feel if she walked through my door, stark naked, and threw herself on my face.
This particular time (as in all the other times) I wasn’t so lucky. Hurricane Miko blew into my office and the first words out of her glistening soft lips were:
“Jesus Christ Clay! You never hear of a shower? I can smell you from my desk!”
“And when was the last time you changed your clothes?”
“Get to the point Miko.” Every word I said made my head hurt even more.
“You have a meeting today. In fifteen minutes actually.”
“Jesus! Who with? Why didn’t you tell me?” (Did I mention she was my secretary?)
“I did tell you. Yesterday, and the day before that AND I wrote it in your diary. Not that you ever read the damn thing. Now get showered, brush your teeth and be presentable in fifteen minutes. Fresh towels and a change of clothes are in your bathroom.”
I stared at her blankly, still trying to take this in. She knew me pretty well though and relented.
“Do this Darcy. For me ok? We haven’t had a client in three weeks and you haven’t paid me in two. For me?” She only called me ‘Darcy’ when she was being deliberately nice to me. Which honestly wasn’t that often.
I nodded dumbly. She mouthed the words ‘Good girl’, turned, then strode out and I watched the door close on that perfectly shaped ass.
I took the time to fish some Tylenol out of my desk drawer and wash it down with my last swig of Glenlivet. It was going to be one of those days.
Two minutes later I was naked in the shower (damn it woke me up quick). I stood perfectly still and let the water gush over me as I telekinetically controlled three lathered up loofahs over every inch of my body. A quick shampoo, cleanse, blast of telekinetic hot air to dry and I was as fresh as a daisy (if not still a little hung over).
Fully dressed in clean clothes (white blouse, black leather vest and black trousers again – it’s true, I have no imagination when it comes to fashion) I walked back into my office from the bathroom and tidied everything up with the blink of an eye. The last of the papers had flown into the filing cabinet and it was shutting when there was another knock at the door. I sat behind my desk and in my best Piccard voice said:
Before the door opened I realized that an empty Midori bottle was still on the desk. With a blink of my eyes a window opened and it flew outside – but the crash I heard a second later told me I’d missed the dumpster in the alleyway below. Damn. I hope it hadn’t hit anyone. Well at least no-one I cared about.
Miko opened the door, I could see someone lurking behind her.
“Ms. Clay, Mr Price is here to see you mam.”
“Thank you Miko, that’ll be all.” We argued with each other all the time but never in front of the clients. If there were paying customers around then we were all Downtown Abby and shit.
A short man in a dark suit walked timidly into my office as Miko stepped aside and shut the door after him. I saw her shadow make its way back in the direction of her reception desk. Good. Sometimes she loiters and tries to eavesdrop.
Mr Ronald Price was an odd-looking creature. His head looked like someone had found an albino bowling ball and glued two ping pong balls onto it for eyes. He had a habit of keeping his hands in his pockets and when I stood up and extended my hand to shake his he ignored the gesture and sat down on the customer chair. I rather awkwardly sat back down.
“Pleased to meet you Mr Price, what can I do for you today?”
As I spoke he stopped looking around the room, fixed his rounded eyes firmly on mine and I was hit with a sudden wave of energy. I knew enough to recognize another Coercive, and it felt straight away like he was medium-powered at the very least. I’d have to be careful.
“Mees Clay. Soo good of yoo to meet with mee, I was sent here by our mutual friend.”
“Oh? And who might that be?”
Without missing a beat I keyed the intercom and said:
“Miss Jones, please hold all calls.”
“Yes Ms. Clay.”
‘Mr Urquhart’. Looks like things were about to get serious.
I may have mentioned this before but the vast majority of people don’t know that Specials exist: To them we are fictional characters or ancient myths and legends.
I was a private investigator who did just that: Private investigating. My speciality was rumbling cheating spouses and locating missing people – I’d serve papers and do some contractual court enforcement. Quite often I’d have to track down a bail jumper or an alimony dodger (at one stage I’d even ran a lucrative side business doing repossessions).
All mundane, nothing out of the ordinary.
But if you moved in the right circles…
And you knew the right people…
And knew the code word…
Then you could hire my services to do certain things. Dangerous things.
If you had trouble with a telekine you wanted to resolve, or a shifter or supe or any other form of Special…
…Then I was your girl. It takes a certain kind of bravery to take on a Special, not to mention a high level of skill. And Mr Price had just walked into my office and dropped the codewords.
‘Our Mutual Friend: Mr Urquhart.’
“You have my attention sir. Please continue.”
“The deetails are een theess onvelope.”
A manilla envelope was produced from within his suit jacket which he then slid across the desk and I opened it, taking a minute to read the five page letter that was inside. He sat there, unmoving, his eyes always on me while I did so. I could almost feel his stare as if it were a physical touch on my face.
Then I felt a gentle probing in my mind – incredibly subtle, but there. There was a soft prod to my prefrontal cortex, followed by a massaging of my hippocampus. I recognized the technique; it was a subtle way to influence decision making, normally used by Coercives of far more power and skill than I possess.
Without looking up from the letter I said:
“Mr Price, if you’d be so kind as to stop trying to Coerce me I will finish reading your letter. Failing that you can leave now. Either voluntarily via the door or non-voluntarily via the window.”
As I spoke the window behind me opened and the blinds ratcheted up – as if by magic.
“Of course. My apologees Mees Clay. Pleese continue.”
I finished the letter, folded it and put it back in the envelope. Seemed straight-forward enough. Dangerous – but straight-forward.
“I’ll need to bring in an additional agent.” I said to him, my tone neutral and all business.
“Of course. Can you outline your fee structure pleese?”
“Twenty thousand. Half upfront, half upon completion. Plus a per diem of five hundred that covers both of us. One week minimum and paid in advance. I’d also like you to cover all reasonable additional expenses, which I will try my utmost to keep at a minimum.”
“Agreed.” He replied without hesitation. I resisted the urge to fall off my chair in surprise; almost everyone expresses reservations upon hearing the price. Just who was this guy? He continued:
“Do you have any further questions Mees Clay?”
“Only one. What is the timeframe for this task?”
“Wee are hoping for thees issue to bee resolved weetheen two weeks. Is that acceptable?”
“Thank you Mees Clay. How do we faceelitate payment?”
“Please speak to Miss Jones on your way out, she will organize everything.”
“Thank you. I will also leave some contact deetails weeth her in case you think of further questions.” He rose, his hands still in his pockets.
“Thank you Mr Price, we will get onto this right away.”
With a curt nod of his head, he left. I noticed as he reached for the door he turned the handle with a white handkerchief. I also noticed that his hand had a palid, almost grey complexion – contrasting the utter white of his face and looking no less unnatural.
After he left and the door had closed I swung around in circles on my chair a few times and stared at the ceiling as it spun round. I was a little conflicted on this.
I was in debt, I won’t deny it. I was behind on paying Miko and even she didn’t know that I owed the landlord eight grand as well. So far I’d managed to intercept the two eviction warnings that had come into the inbox.
This would fix everything. I could square things up with Miko, keep the office open (I was really fond of this place) and have a bit left over to get rid of the last of my personal debt. Hell I could even take a week off, hop a flight to Arulco, get shitfaced drunk in a seedy bar and pick up some bored Hispanic goddess.
Yeah. This would fix everything alright.
But was it worth taking on the Pyrocrat Mafia for?
Part Two: Things Are Heating Up
The last time we talked I mentioned that there were really only two options that Specials had for living their lives: ‘Government lab rat’ or ‘incognito’.
Well that wasn’t entirely accurate: There is a third option. It’s lucrative, dangerous and often leads to a premature demise.
Not surprisingly, the world of organized crime places a very high value on people with Special abilities. Imagine being able to convince the crew of an armoured van to pull over, open up the back and then help you to unload it? All with the power of your mind. You can even wipe their memories clean afterward if you’re good enough.
How about blowing through the doors of a bank vault with a telekinetic blast?
Or kidnapping the child of a wealthy family by teleporting into their bedroom late at night, picking the kid up and then teleporting out again?
All these things have actually happened. In fact they were all cases I had worked myself (I wasn’t always a PI, but the less said about my time in law enforcement the better). The only good thing in all this was the fact that Specials are so rare there are no large gangs made up of just them.
But there are small gangs. And the worst one I knew of were the O’Halloran Boys – discreetly referred to as the ‘Pyrocrat Mafia’.
If you don’t know what a pyrocrat is then you’re lucky: They can literally start fires with their minds. If it’s flammable they can ignite it, and the powerful ones can do it on a large scale and from a fair distance. It’s rumored that the crash of Air Windsor 1-1-4 was a ground strike from a pyrocrat. I’ve seen the youtube video and I think it’s quite possible.
Think Drew Barrymore from that movie ‘Firestarter’. If she was real she’d be a Grade B Pyro of high power at the start of the film. She rose to Grade A once she lost all the fist clenching and face scowling and just blew stuff up by glancing at it. When I saw that movie I was left in no doubt: Stephen King knew all about Specials. It was eerily accurate.
Side note: Closer to home for me was ‘Carrie’. He got that one right as well – although I didn’t go psycho at my prom, settling instead for diving headfirst under Jane Freeman’s gown in the equipment shed out the back of the gym.
If a union boss had a fiery automobile accident, or a witness ended up in a burns ward and refused to testify, then there was a good chance the Pyrocrat Mafia were involved. They were six brothers; until a war with the regular mafia broke out and then they were four brothers: The Brothers O’Halloran.
And the oldest (and most dangerous) was Giles.
The letter that Ronald Price had given me had this to say about him:
‘He stands around six feet tall, and we estimate that he weighs around four-fifty to five hundred pounds. Light green eyes, bald head, pale complexion, mid to late forties, always well dressed. It is reported that he has an Irish accent. Attempts to photograph him have been unsuccessful. Estimated to be near the top end of pyrocrat ability. What is commonly referred to as ‘Grade A – High’ on the Veidt-Klein scale of SARC (Special Ability Rating Classification).’
Grade A – High: The highest level of control with virtually the highest level of power. He was a god walking among men – Men ignorant that at any moment they could be flamed out of existence by a mere glance. It sent shivers down my spine just thinking about it.
He always carried a black briefcase with him – and in it was a small leather-bound notebook that had all the information required to bring the whole operation crashing down. He never committed any vital information to computer.
That notebook was my financial salvation. All I had to do was extract it without being noticed, photograph the pages and then return it (again – without anyone noticing).
And so week one of the mission commenced.
It was a week of tailing cars, laying in long grass while I photographed meetings and staking out high-class restaurants. I also found the time to seduce some gangster ex-girlfriends so I could pump them for information (which is honestly the best part of my job).
A few times I caught sight of Giles himself but every time I tried to take his picture it came out blurred. Not sure what caused that (I was an ace photographer – years of practice) but at least I had eyeballed both the man and the briefcase – albeit from long distance.
I’d even managed to track down an exact copy of that particular briefcase and spent my evenings practicing opening the twin locks with my mind. It took me eight days to get my time down from 2 minutes to 3 seconds.
At the end of that week we had a plan.
And when I say ‘we’ had a plan I meant myself and Miko – she was the extra agent I had brought in. With my telekentic skill and low level coercion power – and her quick wits and angelic sex appeal – that notebook was as good as photographed. Then I was hopping a flight to Arulco; debt-free and ready to party.
Seems our boy Giles always dined at the same swanky restaurant on the same day and, true to form, he always carried the briefcase with him. In fact I’d confirmed that he carried it everywhere – a stripper who had given him a lap dance even told me it was within arms reach when they were grinding away in a private room at the Peppermint Cheetah.
Of course she told me this in between ten minute private sessions. I decided not to charge this up to Mr Price as an ‘additional expense’.
I was pretty damn happy I’d managed to work in some random girl on girl action into my investigation.
I was also happy when Miko agreed to go undercover at O’Halloran’s favorite restaurant – and then even happier when I saw what she’d be wearing in her new role as a waitress. It was a black, low cut, mid-thigh satin affair that ran over her body like a waterfall and left you in no doubt as to what she would look like naked.
She grumbled and complained about it – but this was our best chance to catch him off guard and she did the uniform far more justice than I would have. A quick bit of mental manipulation on my part over the manager (which pushed my Coercive power to its limit) and we had Miko rostered on for the Saturday evening and myself at a side table as a customer.
During that week I actually spent the most time with Miko outside the office that I ever had; and I really enjoyed that. We’d spend evenings preparing in a safe house (it was a short term rental under assumed names) and it was nice to see her relaxing a bit more. I didn’t realize just how calming and good-natured she could be until that week.
She helped me hone my skills on the locks by being encouraging and supportive when I messed them up; which was a lot. We also had some time together over a few drinks on the couch, just relaxing and being normal people. Spend even a short time with Miko doing that and you’ll come away liking her, I guarantee it.
Hell I even saw her smile a couple of times; but not when she thought I could see her.
Week two flew by and we were ready. All we needed now was the bad guy to turn up at the expected time and place with his briefcase. Which he did.
Of course, he also brought his entourage.
Part Three: Things Always Go to Plan (Until they Don’t)
Priss Tine on West 46th is probably the highest of the high end when it comes to restaurants in the city.
I’m not really into style or fashion. I’m not a good judge of whether or not something has artistic merit or any of that crap. And some idiot splashing paint on a canvas with the accuracy of an epileptic chimpanzee isn’t worth millions of dollars even if your name is Jackson Whatshisname.
But even I knew this place had class.
The walls were towering ebony panels and pale marble columns. Sheet after sheet of black silk hung down from the high ceiling, framing art on the wall that Miko told me was incredibly expensive (see previous statement as to how I felt about that).
The dress code was what you’d expect in an ultra high-class establishment and the place had seating for about a hundred diners. At least forty tables were uniformly spread out but with enough space for a long bar, stage for a string quartet and a dance floor.
As I walked in it kinda made me feel like I was in first class on the Titanic; at any moment I was expecting some old guy in a captain’s uniform and white beard to burst in and shout “Women and children first!”
Saturday night and the well-heeled of society had come out to eat. Every table had a group of suited men and their slinkily dressed, perfectly made-up (and most likely cosmetically enhanced) women.
Look I’m just going to say it. Women like that are Boulder Colorado: Fun for a week, misery for a lifetime.
Oh don’t get me wrong – I liked what I saw. Physically the dress code for women at this place was ‘supermodel stunning’. I saw more beautifully shaped legs, flawless breasts and immaculate hair then the time I had crashed the Victoria Secret after-show party that one year.
But none of those women do anything real for me. If you don’t have it going on in your top four inches then you won’t hold my interest. I’d rather take an averagely shaped motor mechanic with beer breath and a limp if she had a razor wit and could banter. Or was intelligent.
It’s brains that really blow my skirt. But nice legs and perfect makeup will at least let you take me home for a night.
That’s why I loved Miko. She was hotter than all those bored trophies in that dining room and she actually had a personality. Still… The scenery here was very nice.
It’s probably worth pointing out that both Miko and myself were pretty well disguised. I had a different hair color (with extensions) and a darker complexioned makeup than I’d normally wear. I was also in a stylish (but awful) gray pants suit that I’d never wear in my day to day; but made me look every inch the dour, po-faced career woman (dining alone because no man would come near me).
It was an easy role to play.
The one thing I couldn’t do was wear glasses or contact lenses as a disguise. I didn’t like the feeling of things like that when I used my powers. It was a distraction measured in milliseconds that could mean the difference between success and flame-grilled Darcy.
Miko was in a wig – her hair now a deep lustrous brown, and she had sculpted her face so artfully with her make up that she looked totally different (and just as smoking hot). I don’t know how she did it, I guess that was her superpower: Supreme Jeffree Starr level makeup skills.
Only two O’Halloran brothers walked into the restaurant (amid a flurry of obsequience from the staff) and were shown to their table which was three away from mine. But they had a couple of gang members with them (two stone faced mountains that had managed to squeeze themselves into some Armani) and a couple of the aforementioned trophy women: a blonde in blue and a brunette in red. I immediately named them ‘Sapphire’ and ‘Ruby’.
Naturally, they drew stares from the other patrons; stares that were averted when Giles himself would glance at the person looking his way. I knew better than to attract his attention like this, but I noticed out of the corner of my eye just how bright and fierce his eyes were. The brother he was with (according to the letter his name was Connor) was a short man with ginger hair who was shaped like a fireplug. He had an equally smoldering expression.
Trick for new players: If you’re ever wondering if someone is a pyrocrat then just check the eyes. It’s almost like they glow in the dark, and they are never brown.
I kept an eye on proceedings as Miko worked her magic. Neither Giles nor anyone else paid her much attention as she presented their menus and brought their first round of drinks. Damn. And she was turning it on. She was so hot that she was even distracting me and I knew what to expect. She smiled, she leant a little lower than she needed too, giving the boys a look down her low cut dress… Nothing. Not even the man mountains were paying her much attention.
The honey blond waitress tottering around the next table along wasn’t drawing their attention either. She was a babe too; all boobs and ass that were big and jiggled delightfully as her dress fought to keep her assets contained.
Entrees arrived and things didn’t get much better. Miko got a half-smile from one of the mountains, and Conner gave her a look but it was more like an angry glare.
Please Lord, do NOT let that lunatic incinerate my friend.
My anxiety levels were rising as I oscillated between wanting to pull the plug on this and looking for the few seconds I needed to strike. My own meal tasted great, at least I think it did. I wasn’t exactly in the mood to truly enjoy imported New Zealand oysters and a dry white Australian wine though.
The evening wore on and we were getting nowhere. Slowly… Very slowly… Miko was able to get more of the focus onto her as she visited their table, but Giles was looking like an impossible nut to crack. He had a habit of resting his hand on the edge of the briefcase (he only took it off to eat) and even then I saw him glancing down at it randomly. The guy was like a hawk in the body of Baron Harkonnen.
Finally we had reached dessert, and I was pretty much resigned to giving Miko the signal and calling the whole thing off. But then she did something incredibly brave, and completely stupid.
She gave Conner some lip.
I couldn’t hear exactly what she said but it drew an immediate reaction. His voice was raised enough that I heard him reply:
“Oive dun hahd abaht enuff a’ yoo ya fooken kont!’ (I’m not entirely sure of the translation, even though he was ostensibly speaking English).
Suddenly I started sweating. Not through nervousness. The temperature in the restaurant went up as if some clown was playing with the thermostat. The conversational buzz of the room suddenly disappeared and I got the impression that everyone else was wishing they were somewhere else.
I saw Giles glance up. He was still eating but his attention was now focussed on his brother and the waitress who was antagonizing him. I heard Miko say:
“Well I’m sorry you feel that way sir. I will be sure to relay your feedback to the manager.” Her words were conciliatory but her tone… That was pure condescension. She was playing with fire.
The raised voices had attracted the attention of the concierge, who was making his way to the table from the far end of the room. Sadly though, Giles still wasn’t fully invested. It just needed something. Something that wasn’t my secretary disappearing in a cloud of flaming ash.
We were so close
Think fast Darcy.
Time seemed to be measured in heartbeats.
Just drag the case away and risk it? No, he’ll notice it. Distraction… Distraction… C’mon now…
Just blast all the dresses off all the women? Ruby, Sapphire, Honey Blond and Miko? It was my first instinct and my normal go-to play… But they’d know straight away a telekine was in the room and then the fires would start erupting. Dammit.
Just blast Miko’s dress? Damn, tempting. But we’re not outside and I couldn’t pass it off as a sudden gust of gale force wind. Again, they’d know straight away and then it’s call the fire brigade. And the coroner’s office.
Dammit. Coercion it had to be then. It was the only thing that ran along a channel and wouldn’t be sensed by anyone who was Special… But who to coerce? And to do what? I wasn’t the most gifted of coercives so it was going to be crude and would no doubt give me a splitting headache… Miko? No. If we lived through this she’d kill me afterward… The occupants of the table were out of the question… Obviously…
Got it! Honey Blond!
I took careful aim, went through the steps and fired a command off at her. It took way longer than it would have if I was using my telekinesis, because when it comes to coercion I am a low powered, un-cultured thug. Not a super smooth lightning-fast ninja.
I managed to accompany it with a mental image of Miko (I didn’t want her arguing with Conner and getting herself ashed). This was the most I could do. It was a direct link, my mind to hers, so nobody would know she was being manipulated.
Honey Blond strode over to Miko and started shouting at her.
“Stop being so smug you condescending bitch.”
For a fraction of a second Miko stared at her in stunned silence. Everyone was looking at the two waitresses now.
Even Giles. But his hand was resting on the briefcase. So close… I tried again.
That did it.
Honey Blond grabbed fistfuls of Miko’s dress right above each breast and pulled with all her might. There was an almighty ripping noise.
Suddenly, and unexpectedly, the most beautiful woman in the room was naked.
Miko Jones, the most stunning woman I will ever see nude in my life, stood there mortified as her dress was torn from her body by a woman with superhuman strength.
Now.. I will admit… ‘Fight’ was probably the wrong command to give. I had to come up with something fast and I was aiming for more of a verbal fight than a hands-on one. A person with refined coercive skills could have pulled that off. But that’s not me.
And how was I to know that Honey Blond was a Special with augmented strength? She looked like a bikini model and high school drop out. All the supes I knew were built somewhere between Megan Rapinoe and Arnold Freaken’ Schwarzenegger.
I realized right away she was a supe, and because I didn’t want Miko’s head ripped off I had to fire off another command. Blood started trickling out of my right nostril and my head felt as if it was on fire from the inside. I’d pushed my powers way beyond what I should have and I still had a job to do.
On the plus side though I finally had an opening.
As Miko stood there howling and flustered, trying to cover her beautiful body by half crouching and covering her sensitive areas with her arms, Giles erupted into raucous laughter.
Then everyone else did.
Without even stopping to wonder why Miko wasn’t wearing underwear, or taking the time to glance more at her amazing photographer’s model body, clad in just stockings and high heels, I swung into action.
Briefcase slid to my side (the far side from Gile’s table). Locks worked on…
Still on the locks… dammit. Miko was spinning on the spot and trying to hide her naked ass (the only part of her she wasn’t covering up) from a 360 degree field of view. Yeah.. Good luck with that. Her face was bright red.
One lock open. Honey Blond was still following my instruction and had stopped dead still. She recovered and dropped her arms to her sides, still clutching the tattered remains of Mikos dress. I think I heard her say something like “Oh my God.”
No joy on the second lock. My vision was blurred on the edges, a fuzzy kind of pink, and I knew right away my eyes were bloodshot from the coercive shots I had fired before. I felt hungover without the joys of a night before. It was slowing me down.
The concierge was closer now. He looked flustered and was trying to avert his eyes while walking as fast as he could. He bumped into a seated patron.
Giles’ head was starting to turn… Damn we were rumbled. One more fraction of a second and it was all over but the crying.
“Give me that back you bitch!” Miko reached for the shreds of her dress (an action which left her totally exposed to the whole room. I wish I could have enjoyed the view more. It did the trick though: Giles was now watching her fully and laughing himself stupid. She’d saved us.
She was a pale goddess on complete display; every curve and swell of her heavenly form. The gentle slope of her breasts, nipples pointed and quivering with each movement. Her soft nether lips (she was clean and smooth) with a delicate tiny line between the smoothness of her legs. This was a woman so stunning that every man in the room suddenly wanted her to be riding them, and every woman not already so inclined was seriously questioning her own preferences.
Finally the second lock was open and true enough, the notebook was there. It was hand book sized, black leather-bound and (fortunately for me) not locked with anything. In a flash I slid it onto my lap and slipped the micro camera out of the sheath hidden in my sleeve – all with the power of my mind.
The blood was roaring in my ears and I could barely see as the pages rapidly flicked over to the faint sound of the camera clicking. I just hoped that it was keeping focus like it’s meant too. It took a grand total of two heartbeats to photograph thirty pages.
Yes. I am that damned good.
Nearly falling off my chair I gave the secret signal in the hope that Miko saw it. My vision was blurred and pink at this point. Hands trembling I picked up a napkin and wiped the blood from my upper lip.
Miko snatched back her dress and strode away from the table in the direction of the service entrance, her heels clacking rather loudly on the hardwood floor. Wolf whistles and laughter rained down on her naked soul and I couldn’t stop my hands trembling. I hope she wasn’t angry at me. Things hadn’t gone entirely to plan but they never seemed too with us.
She didn’t even try to cover herself up with the tattered silk in her hand. She was amazing, stunning; this striking angelic creature, utterly desirable and totally naked, walking swiftly…
But with a look of murderous rage on her face.
I swore to myself.
Part Four: Messed It Up Again
Even though she left before I did that night I still made it back to the safehouse before her.
I got inside, closed and locked the door behind me, then weakly made my way to the lounge without turning on a light. Soon I was slumped on the floor with my back to the side of the sofa.
Right about then I decided it was a good time to shake uncontrollably and cry my eyes out.
Oddly enough I was okay with this. I detest showing emotion to other people. Well, this kind of emotion at least; but in the darkness of that sparsely furnished rental it actually felt vaguely therapeutic.
I’m not even entirely sure what emotion it was. I felt drained, relieved and panicked all at once. I wasn’t worried that the Pyrocrat Mafia was about to kick the door down and go all Chernobyl on my ass… Oh no…
Miko wasn’t picking up her mobile. Or responding to my texts.
She was furious. I had zero Empath skills but I knew it. I felt it aching in my heart. The one person in the world I didn’t want angry with me and I had this feeling – sickly inside my stomach – that I’d destroyed our friendship.
Well call me Nostra-Freaken-Damus.
Hurricane Miko blew back into my life and straight through the door not long after. I think. I’d kinda lost track of time as I sat there in the dark, wallowing in a mire of self-loathing and worry. She’d changed back into her street clothes and lost the wig.
The light flicked on and it assaulted my eyes as she stood there in front of me, the full furnace of her withering glare reducing me to total immobility. I got the brief impression she was trying to ash me on the spot. There’s no doubt in my mind; if her name had been Miko O’Halloran then I’d have been flamed out of existence in a heartbeat.
“What the actual fuck Clay! What on God’s green earth were you thinking? That blond supe could have killed me.”
“I’m s-s-orry. I didn’t know what else to do. I had to think of something fast.”
“All you HAD to do was stick to the plan. I had him. He was ready to be reeled in.”
“But Conner was going to ash you. I could see it.”
“Dammit Clay I had that under control too! Jesus Christ! You might have the superpowers but honestly, sometimes you have ZERO fucking idea.”
Miko never swore like this. At least not to me.
I can’t describe the look on her face. It went beyond anger to something else.
“And for what? So you could see me naked? That’s what you wanted? Fine!”
She shrugged off her jacket and tossed it away.
“What are you doing?”
Next she unzipped her jeans, kicked off her shoes and stepped out of them.
Seconds later she was naked, her clothes a scattered mess around the lounge. I was suddenly looking at the most beautiful woman I know completely naked for the second time that evening.
“Are you happy now? Go on. Take a good look. It’s what you want isn’t it?”
I got up and fled to the kitchen and she followed, like a naked dog with a bone.
“Put your clothes back on. Please.”
She cornered me in the kitchen, the half light from the lounge making her look positively demonic. She was only a breath away when she said.
“All this time you never realized did you? Never thought there might be a reason why I didn’t throw myself on your face like every other woman in your life. Are you really that stupid?”
“You’re straight.” was all I could offer. She threw back her head and laughed. It was a cold blade of laughter, nothing mirthful about it at all. This confused me so I asked:
“What are you saying?” (For a private investigator I was notoriously slow on the uptake when it came to personal lives.)
“I stuck by you all this time. Always had your back. Watched you destroy relationship after relationship and picked you back up off the floor every time. Dammit… Well I’m done. Put the money for this job through to my account. I don’t need a severance. I quit…”
I watched, stunned, as she went back to the lounge. I could see her moving about as she got redressed.
“Miko… I’m so sorry..”
“I was saving myself for you. Every time you broke up with someone I wanted to be next in line. But you blow through girls. You leave them breathless and on their backs and wondering why you don’t call.
And I’m better than that. Goodbye Darcy.”
And she was gone.
Fuck my life.
The money came in two days later and I squared up my debts the day after that. I didn’t have to meet Ronald Price again in person thank God. In the mental state I was in he could have asked me to strip naked and run down the street singing the collected hits of Neil Sedaka and I would have lept to it without question.
For an entire week I sat in my office or lay crashed out in a cot in the back room. I was waiting for either Miko to call or an O’Halloran to burst through the door and incinerate me. Frankly, by the end of that week I didn’t care which of those two scenarios occured.
To make matters worse I was using alcohol to numb everything like normal, but doing it alone. I couldn’t even bring myself to hit the Minke Whale and pick up some random pillow princess.
I had lost all interest. Me. Lost all interest in casual sex. Let that sink in for a moment.
Feeling empty – utterly empty – I telekinetically tossed a week’s worth of discarded Modelo bottles out of the window into the dumpster before putting on the second item I had bought with my new cash that week.
A tailored N7 black leather riding jacket with its signature red and white stripes down the right sleeve.
With my debts squared and all hell about to break loose in the city’s underworld I decided a vacation was in order. Even if it was just a week; I had a feeling that a gang war was about to erupt and things were going to explode. It wasn’t to get away from the office and the constant thoughts of Miko at all.
That’s my story and I’m sticking with it.
I locked up and went down to the garage level to the first thing I had bought that week.
An ‘83 Triumph Bonneville. She was painted deep red and trimmed with black titanium and chrome. This motorcycle was fully restored and didn’t so much eat up the miles on two wheels – she chewed them up and spat them out her back tire. If she was a woman then she’d be the kind I could spend the rest of my life riding.
I threw my leg over, buckled my dome onto my head, slid on my sunnies, gloved up and masked up, then seconds later the only trace of Darcy Clay in the building was that damn sign on the door and some exhaust fumes in the parking level.
To hell with flying to Arulco.
I was riding there.