Sunday, November 13, 2011
Chapter 1.3: Hit Me... Or Hit On Me?
Elijah cautiously enters Kanoa's brightly colored suburban house and wonders why the criminal mastermind chose to live here. Maybe the flamboyant tropical color scheme reminds him of his homeland in Hawaii or something.
"Aloha!" Kanoa greets him at the front door. "Welcome! Come, join me in my office. We have much to discuss."
They walk into his study, and Kanoa jumps right into the heart of the matter. "You'll start low, as all my employees do, and work your way up the ladder," he tells him. "But," he adds, "I have high hopes for you. You seem much more adept than the other members of my gang. I have been looking for a partner, and, if you prove to be as talented as I hope, then we may just be able to help each other out."
Elijah frowns. "Fine," he answers. "I have one condition though."
"This is not a negotiation Elijah. Take it or leave it."
Eli clenches his teeth. He doesn't like taking orders, so working as a low-level thug is definitely going to be an adjustment for him. "Mr. Parrott, I have but one small request," he says. "I don't want anyone outside the gang to know that I work for you. Especially not my girlfriend."
Kanoa hesitates. Elijah can't read his expression through his darkly tinted sunglasses. "Agreed," the criminal says at last.
Eli gets home and finds Scarlett waiting up for him. "I got a job," he whispers, smiling.
"Really?" Scarlett's whole face lights up. "Where?" she asks excitedly.
"It's not the best hours," he tells her. "But it's a steady income that will pay the bills. I'm going to work the night shift as a security guard at the bank in the next town over."
Scarlett kisses him. "I'm so proud of you," she says, a huge grin on her face.
The following morning, Carmen drops by for a visit.
"Um, hi Carmen," Elijah sounds more than a little surprised to see her.
"Why hello Elijah," Carmen smiles and glides into the living room. "Is Scarlett home?"
Elijah vaguely wonders why she's acting so friendly today. "Not right now. She's at work this morning. Is there something I can help you with?"
Carmen ignores his question. "I saw you out running yesterday. I never realized you were so attractive." She coughs. "I mean active."
"Um, okay." Elijah shifts nervously. Why is she standing so close?
"Do you enjoy all kinds of exercise?" she asks huskily.
"I love dancing. Particularly the horizontal hokey pokey."
Elijah takes a step backwards. She seems to be getting awfully close. "That's great Carmen..."
"I've always been quite fond of our relationship. I hope you feel the same."
Eli frowns. "Okay," he replies uncertainly.
"Oh Elijah!" Carmen steps in and tries to throw her arms around him, poising herself for a kiss.
"Whoa! Carmen!" Eli yells as he dodges her advances. "What the hell are you doing?!"
"There's no need to act coy," Carmen says after a minute. "I won't tell anyone, I promise."
Eli opens his mouth in shock. "Carmen!" he sounds furious. "Get away from me!"
Carmen's eyes glimmer dangerously. "You'll regret this Elijah," she tells him coldly. "I could've been your ally, helped you in ways you could only dream about. Instead, you want to make me an enemy? Fine. But I'll prove just how dangerous an adversary I can be."
Finishing her speech, she turns and flounces out of the house, leaving Elijah to wonder if that really just happened.
By lunch time, Elijah's decided to confront Ryder about Carmen's behavior. He finds his father at the local bar.
"God I love this town!" Ryder proclaims as Elijah sits down next to him. "Who would have thought about putting a bar inside an old barn? How resourceful is that?!"
Eli can't help but smile a little bit. However much he resents his father, he finds his comments amusing.
"Ryder, I need to talk to you about Carmen," Eli says, the smile fading from his face.
"What about her?" Ryder sounds irritated at even the mention of his wife.
"She hit on me," Eli replies bluntly.
"She hit you?" Ryder asks with a confused frown.
"No. She hit on me. She tried to flirt with me." Elijah decides not to mention her awkward attempt at a kiss.
Ryder laughs. He actually laughs. "Yeah, right. Whatever Elijah."
Eli's cheeks burn with embarrassment. It was hard enough to come here and admit it to him, but to be laughed at? The indignity stings.
"I'm not lying," he replies angrily.
"Look. I know you're pissed that we came to Appaloosa Plains to visit you. I understand that the whole jail incident still bothers you. But seriously? Making up some bullshit about my wife? That's just shameful."
Eli bites his lip, fighting the urge to hit him. The fact that his own father would side with that wicked, repulsive woman over him feels like a kick in the stomach.
"You're a lost cause Ryder," he says, getting up to leave. "I wish you and her all the best. You two deserve each other." Then he walks away, vowing never to speak to his father again.
Ryder shakes his head and pays for his drink, watching his son storm out of the bar. Elijah's story bothers him more than he would like to admit. He decides to go visit his old friend Jedidiah, to get his mind off the encounter.
It's been years since they've seen each other, but Jedidiah hasn't changed one bit. Ryder wonder what he think his hand is trying to tell him.
Jedidiah and Ryder catch up for a while. Jed can't stop gushing about his daughter Brittany, but after countless potty training stories (none of which Ryder particularly cared to hear), Jed's face grows serious. "What's bothering you, dude?" he asks, genuinely concerned.
Ryder attempts to smile. "Oh, nothing terrible. Elijah thinks Carmen tried to flirt with him."
"No, Jed. Of course not! We're married after all."
"That's never stopped her before," Jed replies.
"Perhaps not, but Elijah is my son! He's just looking for some way to get even with me."
Jedidiah frowns. "That doesn't sound like the Elijah I know. He's not a bad kid, Ryder."
Ryder sighs and shakes his head. "He's always been rebellious, but I never thought he could be so malicious. People do stupid things when they're angry."
"He didn't seem angry to me," Jed says. "In fact, he seemed very much at peace with his past. He kept talking about how he wanted to start over with a clean slate." Jedidiah watches as Ryder face softens. "Think about it dude. Your son tells you that Carmen, who has a history of cheating and lying, tried to make a move on him, and you're going to discount his word? That doesn't seem right to me."
Ryder hangs his head. "I think I need to go," he declares after a minute. "I need to go talk to my son."
Meanwhile, Scarlett is busy as ever on the ranch. Bottle feeding Bella the foal is her favorite part of the job.
Johnny Johnson, her boss, makes a rare appearance out at the stables today.
"How is little Bella doing?" he asks.
"Fine, Mr. Johnson. She is settling into the routine quite well."
"Great. And how are you, doll?"
Scarlett pauses. He's never called her that before. "I'm fine Mr. Johnson. Just fine."
"Excellent. Would you like to come inside and take a break from all this farm work?"
Scar fidgets uncomfortably. "Um, I'm fine out here Mr. Johnson. Really, I enjoy being with the horses."
He chuckles and steps closer. "Do you enjoy being with a man to?" he asks, quirking an eyebrow.
"Mr. Johnson," Scarlett begins. "I-"
"Come here, doll, and show me just how much you like a man's company," he interrupts, pulling her into his arms and kissing her. Scarlett screams and ducks, pushing him away. She runs until she can't see the ranch any more, leaving Mr. Johnson and his horses far behind.
Once home, she goes into the bathroom and cries, her fragile world turned upside down. A knock on the door startles her out of her tearful state.
"Mr. McKinley? Elijah didn't tell me you were stopping by tonight."
Ryder smiles amicably. "He didn't know. Is he home?"
"He's at work right now. It's his first night on the job." Scarlett tries to smile, but her eyes fill up with tears instead.
Ryder gazes at her with worried eyes. "What's the matter Scarlett?"
They sit down on the couch, and Scarlett tells him everything. "I- I trusted him," she sobs. "He t-took advantage of me."
Ryder wrinkles his nose in disgust. "You can't go back there Scarlett. If he tried once, he'll try it again."
"I have to, Mr. McKinley. I love the horses, and Eli and I just aren't making enough money right now for me to quit."
"Buy your own horse," Ryder declares. "Start your own ranch. I know that's what you've wanted all along."
Scarlett shakes her head sadly. "I can't afford it right now. We're barely scraping by as it is."
Ryder's face brightens. "I can help," he says, smiling. "I can give you and Eli a loan, to cover the start up costs and help pay the bills until you start making money."
"You'd do that?" Scarlett asks skeptically. "But when we left Anne Arbor you said you wouldn't give us any support."
"Think of it as a temporary investment. I want to help, Scarlett."
Scar grins enthusiastically. The idea of finally owning her very own horse excites her.
"I've got to go now," Ryder says as he stands up. "I need to talk to Carmen about something. But you and I can sit down tomorrow and discuss the details."
Scarlett jumps up. "Thank you Mr. McKinley," she replies, pulling him into a hug. "You have no idea how much this means to me."
Ryder smiles, feeling good about himself for the first time in a long time. "Please, call me Ryder," he tells her happily.
Lots of unwanted advances in this chapter, hah. I really didn't intend to do that; it just worked out that way. Carmen totally flirted with Elijah autonomously. I wanted something to happen between them (like a fight or an argument or whatever), but I really wasn't expecting that. She and Ryder are not *actually* married in the game or else she wouldn't be allowed to flirt with Ryder's son. I had intended to marry them before moving to Appaloosa Plains, but I just forgot. So, when I invited her over, she started flirting with Eli, and I thought, hmm. That's an interesting idea. I already had the pictures and plot line figured out for Scarlett's encounter with Mr. Johnson, and I didn't want to cut it out. So I went ahead and wrote both of the events into the chapter.
Also, Ryder is not actually giving money to Elijah and Scarlett, fyi. That was just part of the story, in case you were wondering.
You might have noticed last chapter (or maybe not), but there is one photo with a food bowl in it. I went ahead and adopted Scarlett and Elijah a cat, because I really, really wanted to. His name is Milo. Here's a picture of their kitty hissing at Carmen (which he did completely autonomously, btw). Apparently, cats really do know pure evil when they see it, lol.