School teacher, mind reader
Dream weaver, just be the one I can count on to play it out with me
Hot waiter, cool skater Trailblazer, pulse raiser
Naughty or nice whatever you want to be
You wanna try on someone else You might like seeing how it felt
Do you mind changing your disguise? If it makes me happy
Here’s my formal invitation You and me go masquerading
Lose ourselves in this charading Is this love we’re imitating?
Do we want what we got? If not I say so what
Here’s my formal invitation Let’s go, let’s go masquerading
We’ll make it fun When it’s over and done I still want you to see the real me
No more disguises Let true love decide if we should be together
Saturday 11 June
This morning felt like Christmas only instead of unwrapping presents Kate was wrapped around me, naked and beautiful. Slow, leisurely love-making helps us to face the day even though our bodies are still exhausted from the day of travel yesterday and our late night activities. The water is refreshing as we wash each other thoroughly, sensually, lovingly and I want more than anything for every day to start this way.I catch myself looking at Kate’s reflection in the bathroom mirror as she brushes out her hair. This gorgeous woman, this angel is making me want things I never knew I wanted. The smell of bacon lures us into the kitchen where Karen is cooking up a feast. Jen is out on the deck listening to Jake read with Zeus loyally perched at their feet. I step out into the fresh air and his giant paws land on my shoulders. I get a big sloppy doggy kiss that makes Jake giggle. God I love this kid, having known him since he was a toddler and suddenly I get hit with the gut-wrenching feeling of missing Matty.
Kate has already broached the possibility of letting Jen in on our plans for the evening, and due to the nature of what we are about to do it seems that there may be no better way. Encouraging Jake to throw a ball for Zeus after a breakfast, the four of us sit on the deck while Kate and I briefly outline, in as little detail as possible, what we are planning to do. Jen’s agreement is instant, offering to help us get security passes for Kate to join the serving team for the evening while I will work with Jason’s security team.
With that taken care of we set off to pick up some clothes for the week for Kate, something warmer than her Barbados wardrobe which seems to only consist of bikinis and sarongs. I offer to take her shopping but she wants her laptop as well so this involves sneaking back into her apartment. After checking in with Jason to tell him the adjustment to our plans I find out two useful pieces of information. One is that the coast is clear at the apartment, the second is that Leila turned up at Ana’s work yesterday.
“She did what?” Kate is understandably anxious trying to work out what Leila wanted with Ana.
“Apparently just fronted up at the building and said that she wanted to see what Ana had that she didn’t. Or words to that effect. Jason said she didn’t physically threaten Ana and Ana didn’t connect her in any way to Christian at the time.”
“Damn, if he could have got there in time he might have been able to deal with her and we could have eliminated Leila as a suspect. Do you really think she is dangerous?” I follow her down to her bedroom while she gathers what she needs for a few days of hiding out at my place. I can’t help but wish that I could just pack up all of her stuff and move her in with me but I think I have a way to go before I can convince her to do that.
“I don’t know. Sounds like she is one sick girl. I just don’t think she can be completely trusted.”
Kate frowns as she goes through her wardrobe. “I must have lent my black pants to Ana, hang on let me go and check.” She moves off to Ana’s room and I stare into her closet.
“Babe, there are three pairs of black pants hanging here.” I call out to her.
“They’re not the right ones!” Shaking my head I turn away from the closet. Women! I bet she has five pairs of black high heels as well and she will swear they are all different. I am going to have to build her her own wardrobe.
When she walks back into the room she has the pants over one arm as she studies a piece of paper.
“What’s that?” I don’t like the look on her face. Something isn’t right.
“I was going to borrow a leather jacket that Ana had hanging in her wardrobe but I think it might be Christian’s. I found this in the pocket.” I raise an eyebrow in question. “It seems to be some sort of contract amendment list. It starts with a break down and revisions to contractual clauses. The highest number is 15-24, Jesus, how many clauses do you need to have a BDSM relationship? Let me see…” She studies the paper for a while. “Ana has responded ‘I’m not sure I want to be whipped, flogged, or punished.’ And then she questions things like ‘why can’t I look into your eyes?’ and ‘Why can’t I touch you?’. Then there are a list of rules that she is responding to; how much sleep she will have, food she is allowed to eat, clothes, exercise. Then there are the soft limits – no fisting, genital clamps, suspension.”
She is chewing on her fingers as she reads. “Shit Elliot, Christian is one sick fucker.” There is a look of exasperated disgust on her face and I know that any ground I might have made up on his behalf has just slipped dramatically. Shaking her head she folds the paper and puts it in her pocket. She just read that to me. Without thinking about it, without any reference to how I might have struggled with it. She just read it. Fuck whether she likes Christian. I love her. No shit, Sherlock!
“Don’t you think you should put that back where you found it?”
“Ah, no. If Christian causes you any issue when you let him in on the creep then I want some insurance. We need leverage to stop him from locking us out of the investigation.”
“Babe, I know you might think that will work but you don’t know him very well.” I have no doubt that we are going to have to keep Christian in the dark for as long as possible.
“No, but you do, so let’s just take it in case. I would say that they have both forgotten it since the jacket was in the back of Ana’s closet. I can always slip it back in later.”
We leave the apartment and head back out to the house. On the way we are about to stop for lunch when I get a call from Jason. I relay the message to Kate.
“Jesus, Leila has a gun license. Christian has gone into a meltdown.”
“All the more reason for us to be there tonight.” What, you want to go and face some mad woman with a gun? She’s already tried to kill herself, she’s not taking you too.
However, this is Kate, and I have to tread carefully. “Babe, I am not happy with you being in the center of all of this. There is too much risk involved especially now.”
“Elliot, you already have organized extra security to monitor the perimeter. That team is all being coordinated through Jason and the other members of Christian’s security team. I think we are going to be okay. All we are after is information and since we are going to be masked waiters and security no one will ever know who we are or that we pose a threat to this creep.” There is no way I will be able to keep her away. Better that she is part of this so I know exactly where she is rather than have her try to run some rogue operation without my knowledge. I just don’t fucking like this.
Hours later Jen drives us into my parents Bellevue property where she and Kate put on their white uniforms including masks and join the rest of the serving team. Somehow Jen has ensured that they are part of the central table servers which means that they will be able to move through the guests quite freely. I will be joining the perimeter security team with the added bonus of being able to pose as a guest if I need to. An hour after we arrive the first of the guests start to arrive. My hair has been gelled back so it looks quite dark and not like me at all and a black mask disguises my face. I am hoping that none of my family recognize me. As a safeguard I adjust the way I move as well. Anyone watching me should see something other than who I am.
No sooner have we taken up our stations when the guests start to enter and mingle. Initially I make sure that I keep the girls in my sight line but this gets more difficult as the evening wears on. Ana and Christian catch everyone’s attention when they arrive. Observing them from behind the bandstand I probably look for all intents and purposes like some sort of over-dressed roadie. With 300 or so guests I should be able to effectively blend into the wallpaper of 50 or 60 staff who are dressed either in all black or all white uniforms. Mia greets Christian in her usual over-enthusiastic way before dragging Ana over to her so-called friends. That little slut Lily is with them and from where I stand I can hear her say something to Ana about Christian being gay. That’s my line, bitch. To her credit Mia tells her off before Christian reclaims Ana. Looking across the dance floor I notice Kate watching them carefully. I hope that she is seeing them the way that I am. Of course, it so unusual to see Christian with a date that everything seems different for me. Kate will be watching with a lot more objectivity I suppose.
They socialize with various groups of people for a while and I watch as Kate and Jen move through with the other waiters topping up champagne as they go. Kate is such a natural. Eventually the guests are summoned into the dinner tent. When I see my grandparents in the tent I know I have to get out of there. There is no way that my grandmother isn’t going to recognize me.
Being outside gives me the opportunity to walk the garden perimeter for myself before heading out to the boathouse. Checking in with Jason who is inside the main tent everything seems to be secure. Luke Sawyer is out by the cars with a team monitoring the arrival and valet area. Nothing to report there. I do a check of the boat house and then start heading to the front of the house when I get a message through my ear piece. Someone has been spotted out by the front gate, loitering. I race out to join the team.
“Luke, what have you got?” I arrive just as they are heading back up the drive.
“Don’t know. Someone was out there but they hightailed it through the next property and we lost track of them. We will have to wait and see if they make another attempt.”
“Did anyone get a description?”
“Small, long dark hair, disheveled clothing, could be female.”
“Could be, Sir.” He seems un-phased by this news but I am not. I spend the next hour searching around the area but can’t find anything that would give me any indication of where she went, if indeed it was Leila. She’s a fucking ghost. Where are you?
I wander back through to the makeshift kitchens checking both there and beyond to a tent that has been set aside as a green room for the musicians and photographers. Posing as security has really allowed me to access all areas but I am loathe to go through the house in case I encounter family so keeping on the move like this suits me. Feeling pissed that I have not been able to track the loiterer I almost don’t see the people in the tent. After all they have all been through security checks and should all be approved to be there. The space is crowded as the band won’t be on stage for another two hours while the dinner and auction are going on. Then a familiar movement catches my eye. One of the photographers is looking directly at me. TJ? What is he doing here?
Startled by his scrutiny it takes a moment for me to see that he knows exactly who I am. I try to traverse the crowded tent to get to him but he slips out the other side and into the darkness. Moving with some speed I push my way through and catch him up as he is heading down towards the pier by the boathouse.
“TJ, wait up.” At first I think he isn’t going to stop but then he freezes with his back to me before slowly turning around. “Hey, dude, what are you doing here?”
“Elliot, didn’t recognize you in that get up. Thought you were security.” He plasters a smile across his face. “I got back yesterday. My brother got double booked for a photo gig tonight so I said I would come and do this one for him. Don’t let on man, he will get in trouble with the agency if they find out.”
Something is up. TJ’s brother is a teacher but moonlights as a freelance photographer but this is just a little too weird that either of them would be here tonight. I decide it might be better if I just keep an eye on him rather than try to get to the bottom of this. Seems that I am starting to think like Kate. Maybe a shared confidence.
“I’m not meant to be here. Some guy has been hassling Mia since she got back from Paris so I thought I would slip into town to keep an eye on her tonight. Don’t particularly want anyone from the family to know I am here though so I can spend a few more uninterrupted days of bliss with Kate.”
TJ relaxes a bit and laughs. Come on man, tell me what you are really doing here.
“Can understand that. She’s a hot woman, I wouldn’t mind tapping that.” This earns a frown. TJ has on occasion been my wing man, picking up the pieces of some broken heart. Kate doesn’t fit this category and if I wasn’t trying to pump him for information I’d put his lights out for that comment. “Family, huh, can’t live with ’em, can’t kill ’em.”
“Yeah, something like that.”
“I better get back to it. I was just on my way out to the boathouse to see where the best angles are for the fireworks later on.”
“Sure thing, man, I’ll let you get back to it. Come over to the house tomorrow, we can have a few beers and a jam in the studio.” Don’t let him know that you suspect anything out of the ordinary.
“What, and watch you and Kate make out all day? No, thanks.” He laughs and it is almost a proper TJ response.
“Nah, Jen and Karen are staying. You can show me the photos.” An apprehensive look flicks through his eyes.
“Sure, I’ll give you a call. No promises.” With that he turns and starts to walk away.
“Oh, and Teej. If anyone asks, I’m not here right.”
Retreating back into the tent I am able to observe him making his way down to the boathouse. Before he gets to the end of the garden he turns in the opposite direction and heads back towards the drinks marquee. It only takes moments to slip out after him as he makes his way to a secluded area overshadowed by large oak trees. Sticking to the dark shadows and trying to be as quiet as possible I see the figure of a man step from behind a tree into his path. Tension is evident in TJ’s stance but I can’t make out the face of this newcomer. Using all my skill to stay undetected I sneak as close as I can to try to overhear.
“Did you get anything?”
“No, they are sticking with the main action in the dinner tent. Nothing to see.”
“Keep an eye on them. I would lay odds that they will slip out at some point and I want you to follow them when they do.” The voice isn’t familiar and the darkness ensures that I still can’t make out the face.
“Did you get the photos of Mia and Carrick together.” Why, what would anyone want with photos of my sister and my Dad?
TJ echoes my thoughts, “Yeah, although why you want those I’ll never know.”
“It’s not your job to know why. All you have to do is keep providing me with what I want.”
“I’m not gonna keep doing this forever, at some point my debt to you will be paid. I don’t want anything more to do with this.” TJ sounds pissed off and upset. So whatever this is he is being blackmailed to do it. Next thing the shadow’s hand snakes out, grabs TJ by the collar and shoves him hard up against a tree.
“Listen, you little prick, I own your ass. If I say jump you say how high. Got it. This is over when I fucking say it’s over and not before. Now get your pansy ass back into that tent and give me what I want.” He lets go of TJ who leans over gasping for air. In a reflex action I take a step to go and help when a dry twig breaks noisily under my foot. The perp’s head snaps up and looks in my direction before he turns and stalks back through the trees. Now I am torn between pursuing him or staying with TJ. I can’t follow without letting TJ know I am there so I wait for him to get himself under control and then watch as he heads back towards the house. Once he is out of sight I radio to Luke to see if he can head off the shadow while I set off in pursuit. The going is tough in the dark and I can’t make out any movement until I emerge out onto the street beyond where Luke is standing.
“No. He certainly didn’t come out this way.”
“Fuck. That’s 0 for 2. I have no idea who it was. Couldn’t see him properly and couldn’t identify the voice. Between he and Leila we’re not having much fucking success. I almost had him but then he heard me coming. Can’t get a fucking break.”
“I don’t know. If we have managed to keep the guests safe then perhaps it was a good thing. Better that they disappear rather than cause chaos in a crown like this.”
Reluctantly, I nod but I would rather have ended it all tonight. Instead we have just prolonged the problem.
It has been a while since I have seen Kate and I am anxious to make sure she is safe. As I approach the main marquee I see her moving through balancing a dessert plate covered with a silver cloche. Breathing a sigh of relief, I can see that she is okay. Movement catches my eye from the family table as Mia and Ana leave the tent to go to the restrooms. Jason catches my eye from the other side of the tent and I nod as he leaves to follow Ana while I take over the surveillance of the main tent. My body is on high alert and I have a whole new level of respect for Jason and his team.
The auction begins as the girls come back to the tent and Kate comes over to stand next to me. We watch with amusement and awe as Ana bids $24,000 on a holiday at Christian’s Aspen property.
“Where the hell did she get that money?” Kate looks stunned.
“Don’t give the game away now babe. I guess Christian has given her a budget for the evening. He is nothing if not generous in his philanthropy.” Kate seems mollified by this answer.
The real interest comes when the first dance auction starts. Mia has rounded up all the available females including a reluctant Ana. This is a popular part of the evening and the ladies are fetching good prices. Then a bidding war between Christian and another bidder breaks out over Ana. The rivalry is causing a stir until Christian goes over the top with a massive $100,000 bid that pretty much silences the crowd. Kate turns open-mouthed to me.
“I told you so.” I surreptitiously take her hand and squeeze it. “My little brother has it bad.”
Once it is all over and the musicians start to set up, Kate moves off to start clearing the tables and serve coffee and dessert wines while Jason follows Ana and Christian as they leave the tent. They are heading into the house. I know what you are going to do little brother. There is no way that I am going to stand outside and listen to that. I leave them to it while I watch the general area but then I see TJ approaching the house. Shit, this is what he has been waiting for. No fucking way, dude.
Heading him off at the door, I grab his arm and steer him into a secluded spot.
“What the fuck are you doing TJ?” My voice is a low snarl as I try to intimidate an answer out of him.
“Nothing I was just going for a drink of water.”
“Don’t fucking lie to me TJ. I saw you before in the garden. Someone hired you to do this job and it sure as hell wasn’t your brother.”
“Fuck off Elliot. You don’t know jack shit about what is going on here.”
“No? Why don’t you enlighten me… Buddy.” I stare him down.
“Look, it’s just a few photos of you and your family. Nothing big but it will keep this prick from calling in his favors and having my legs broken.”
“And why would your legs need breaking, Teej?”
“Ah shit Elliot, can’t you just leave well enough alone.” This is getting me nowhere. He is not going to talk.
“OK, how about you tell me where you were really going just now. Hoping to get some more shots of Ana and Christian?”
“Yeah, why not. They are hot news at the moment. Your brother has been such a sexual recluse. This is big and people are interested.”
“Yeah, well this is a private party and I don’t appreciate you leaking photos that aren’t part of the official evening. And since you aren’t going to tell me anything I am going to take this.” I reach down to grab the camera, wrenching it open and pulling out the memory card.
“Fuck you, man. This is a charity event and your brother has gone public with this chick. I’m just doing a job so give me back those fucking photos.”
“Teej, cut the shit. That prick is blackmailing you. Do you really think that he is going to back off once you hand over this card? He’s only just beginning to play with you and you are going to get yourself deeper in shit.”
There is a moment of hesitation as this hits home. He knows that he is never going to be free of this prick. “My brother’s life could depend on that.” Teej sound desperate. I stare down at him and realize that there is a very real fear in his eyes. He’s fucking terrified.
“Tell you what, I am going to take this and you are going to go home. Tomorrow you will call around to the house and I will give you whatever photos I deem appropriate for you to have, as long as you tell me what this guy is holding over you. In the meantime these are mine and your evening is over. Get the fuck out, before I change my mind.”
Nodding reluctantly, TJ pulls away. I try to get my own breathing under control as I watch his retreating back. I radio Luke to make sure that TJ leaves the property then go in search of Kate.