The Brilliance Bomb Ch. 02byStory_Spinner©
(Sorry about the mix up -- wrong story in what I thought was in the right spot. Oops! Silly me!)
The phone on the bedside table trilled impertinently. Michael reached over, annoyed by the unfamiliar terrain of the motel's anonymous dresser, fumbled around for his specs, put them on, grabbed the phone, looked at the number. Curious. Not only unrecognized, but government, judging from the codes. He sent it to voice mail, took his expensive glasses off and placed them carefully by the iPhone, put his hands back behind his head and sank back into the pillows. The government could wait.
Light played at the fringes of the curtain, hastily pulled some hours before. A broken champagne flute was over there somewhere. Note to self, he thought: ignite light before walking barefoot in its general direction. He could just about make out other, gauzy shapes on the floor. His shirt. A discarded vest top. Assorted undergarments, coiled together. As if in love.
He sighed. Yeah, right. As if...
He peered down his lean, running hardened body. Say what you like about this girl, he thought to himself: she's certainly dedicated.
The intern -- Cathy? Katy? -- had been sucking at his unenthusiastic bulge for precisely 13 minutes now. He'd come out of snooze mode to find her rooting about down there, and thought to himself, well, if it please thee -- and closed his eyes to leave her to it. A few minutes later, she'd become enthused by a sleepy surge, and she'd redoubled her efforts, awakening him again, and a little annoyed, if truth be told. Now, she was apparently convinced that, in spite of the ample evidence to the contrary -- his near comatose state, the fact that this would mark a fifth orgasm of the evening and thus, at the tender age of 35, something of an achievement, and the fact he'd not uttered a single grunt of encouragement -- she could land the plane.
"Honey?" he half whispered. Damn. This was going to be awkward. He couldn't remember her name.
She paused, looking up at him all smudgy eyed adoration, her impressively taut, if rather tiny breasts holding their breath as she paused, mid-suck, awaiting his command.
"Sweetie, I'm not sure this is going..."
The phone chirruped again. Saved by the bell.
In one smooth motion he removed himself from her mouth (Katherine? Katharina?), picked up the phone and glasses, and slid his legs off the bed and onto the floor. She sank tiredly into the bed to rest her no doubt aching jaws and tongue with just the merest harrumph of disappointment, her gorgeous, dusky blonde hair tumbling around her. If only he could be bothered to notice.
Same number. He took the call.
Susannah (Susannah! Of course!) watched him. His bare back, tightly muscled, with a single, overgrown mole among the constellations of minor blemishes. His breathing, slow and careful as he spoke. Then a little shorter, harder.
"Yes, this is he. No, I was not aware of that. He did? Really? Not Lyla?"
Lyla? And who, pray tell, is Lyla, thought Susannah? She'd shadowed this brilliant man for six months, moving around the world with him, listening to his speeches, proofreading his newspaper articles, even understanding some of them and what they had to say about the peak oil crisis, overpopulation, and so on, and for the last few hours she'd beaten off a small harem of intern admirers to keep him company at night as well - and yet she'd never once heard of Lyla. She propped herself up on an elbow.
"I see. When did this happen?" And then, more quietly. "Oh no."
A pause, as he listened.
"Yes, but of course I will. Somehow... Yes, sir. Goodbye General."
General? Slack-jawed, and not only from her misguided oral heroics, the beautiful, sweet, clever, 23-year-old Yale graduate sat up in the middle of the bed and watched networks of tension join the dots across her boss's many moles.
"Michael? Michael, what's wrong?"
He stood up, naked, and walked through the darkness to the windows. Something crunched angrily on the floor. He reached the curtains and parted them a little, allowing some light in.
He stood there for a time.
His face turned slightly towards her, coldly illuminated by the pale morning sunlight.
"I have to leave. My brother has gone missing in Iraq. I must inform his wife."
She mouthed words that were utterly pointless.
"Can you get me a towel from the bathroom?", he added. "I've stepped in some broken glass."
It had been two weeks since Lyla had waved goodbye to her husband, in the cool early mornings house. A thought she reflected on often enough, to the point of obsession. Dressed in only her robe, she'd clung to him on the front porch, not wanting to let go...
He squeezed her tight, smoothing a big hand over the top of her head and down her neck and back. "I gotta go baby."
She inhaled his scent and gripped him a little bit tighter, before easing back with a sniffle, feeling pathetic. He had been on trips before, many of them, but this was different and didn't feel right. "I wish you wouldn't do this. I have a very bad feeling." She told him for the hundredth time.
Cupping her cheeks, he gazed into her worried eyes, then dipped down and kissed her softly. "I'll be back before you know it and then we can go for round two of what happened last night."
His brows creased in concern at her soft, wavering question, his own doubts peaked, but he wouldn't admit it. Lyla had never acted like this before, always strong and self assured around him. "Promise. I'll be back Lyla. If you need anything, call Michael. I'll email you and call as soon as I can okay?"
She nodded and planted another soft kiss on his lips as he slung his bag over a shoulder, giving her hand a small squeeze before finally stepping briskly down the porch steps to the waiting cab. Clutching her robe tightly to her body, she gave him a half hearted wave as the brightly colored cab slowly pulled away. She wouldn't be needing him, even if it was tempting to call and unload all the pent of worries she had bottled up inside. To hear him reassure her himself that everything would be okay. No, there would be no need to call Michael and it had always rubbed her the wrong way when Matt suggested it on his trips out of town. As if she was a weak and defenseless female unable to take care of herself when in reality she was well accomplished at basic house hold repairs and if push came to shove, could even check her own vehicle fluids without a male to interfere. Imagine that!
A seemingly far off voice broke through Lyla's dazed thoughts, snapping her to the present. She blinked at her best friend's concerned face. "Hmm?"
"You are okay?" Susan asked, "You've been staring off into space for a good ten minutes now and you don't seem like yourself."
Lyla nodded, pushing aside her half eaten sandwich and brushing the crumbs off of her smock top. It had been a whole week of worrying about Matt, work, then going home to a lonely house and nothing to do but worry some more. "I'm fine."
"No offense babe, but you look like crap."
"Gee thanks." She grumbled, but couldn't help but smile slightly. Susan had always been honest to a fault and perhaps that's why she liked her so much. Unlike many women she knew, she cut through the BS and called it like she saw it. This also sometimes played against her.
"Maybe you need a day off...you know, rest, relax...try not to worry so much. We could round up some of the girls and go dancing if you'd like. Let your hair down, shake a little tail feather."
Lyla giggled at that, "I don't think so Suze."
Susan sighed in exasperation, rolling her eyes. "Oh come on. Don't be a stick in the mud. A few drinks and some dancing never hurt anyone. Besides...I could use a little fun myself. We haven't done anything in over a month and I'm tired of all work and no play."
"Well..." Lyla had to admit that it all sounded kinda nice. Staring at the walls at home wasn't helping her moods any. "Okay."
"Yeah?" Susan beamed and let out a little whoop of excitement. "Tomorrow night then? I'll spread the word and until then, smile! For the love! You'll be making the babies cry."
Lyla chucked a crumpled wrapper at her friend who laugh and dodged it. Break was over and they were both happy for it. While Susan went about her day making her rounds and spreading the word, Lyla occupied herself in the hospital nursery. She was thankful for that. Without work, she would have certainly lost her ever loving mind sitting staring at walls. The next baby that fussed instantly got scooped up and Lyla smiled down at his cute little face, cooing softly. For the first time in the weeks that had passed, she was looking forward to having a little fun. The silence that greeted her every night was just too much. "What do you think little man? Think I can dance off the blues a little?"
The infant gurgled and she grinned, setting about doing her job with slightly higher spirits.
With work taking up most of her evening, the following day sprang up way too early in Lyla's opinion and Susan had already filled her phone up with messages. By the time she'd dragged her bottom out of bed, she was beating down her door. "Open up missy! I know you're in there!!" Susan demanded and Lyla groaned, shuffling to open up the door.
"What are you doing?"
Susan waltzed in, shaking her head at Lyla's fuzzy slippers and oversized night shirt. "Come on, get showered and dressed. This is an intervention."
"Excuse me?" Lyla quirked a brow, shutting the door against the cool morning.
"An intervention. I'm tired of seeing you all mopy and depressed looking." She cupped Lyla's cheeks gave them a squeeze. "I love you and you're my best friend. So today, we're going to make it a girls day. We're going to go eat breakfast once you make yourself look presentable. Then we're going to get a mani and a pedi, get our hair did, we're going to then do a little shopping and eat lunch and theeeen my dear friend we're gonna go meet the others for some more fun."
Lyla found herself smiling as she pulled Susan's cool hands off her warm cheeks. "Alright alright...I'll go change. Cool your jets woman."
Susan laughed and gaze her a swat, then made herself at home in front of the TV while Lyla went to get herself prepped. A good hour later and she reappeared, looking fresher and more put together. "Ready when you are tyrant!" Lyla teased, poking out her tongue and laughing as she grabbed her purse.
He'd been parked outside his brother's house for fifteen minutes, seeking the courage required to get out of the car, when the door of the house had burst open and two young, striking women burst out. A tumble of joy, laughs and handclaps, Lyla bounced towards a 4x4 parked across the avenue with her even bouncier fried -- good God, Michael thought, is that really little Susan Sobotnik? -- who playfully slapped her on the rear as, alarm de-beeping, Lyla clambered into the vehicle. They pulled out and drove off, moments later, some vintage hip hop popping out of the opening windows.
Michael had missed his chance, to put it mildly. But he was glad he hadn't intervened just yet. How could he have punctured that balloon with the terrible news? He'd wait for a better time.
He started his Mercedes, and followed. He'd have to choose his moment. Surely that moment would arise soon.
First, he waited for three hours -- three hours! -- outside some beauty salon. Then, they'd driven out of town to a small winery, presumably for lunch and, no doubt, wine. He'd parked on the far side of the lot, enviously munching a bagel he'd grabbed from a vendor along with the New York Times during his earlier vigil, and waited.
Why was he waiting to find her? Partly, it was because the news had darkened. Partly, it was because he's promised the officials to whom he had spoken that he'd keep her news private for now. So no friends yet.
Matt's disappearance, it seemed, was linked to some kind of improvised device exploding; there were casualties, but his body had not been found in the wreckage of vehicles created by the bomb. The same General, a Greggs, had informed him, with a voice professionally devoid of emotion, that it was suspected Matt had been taken hostage. The request had thus evolved: now Michael had to tell Lyla and drive her to a hotel in Washington to be briefed, and also away from the pack of reporters that would descend on her once the news, if confirmed, went viral in her home town and the wider world. Michael, the General said -- with some distaste creeping through the cool veneer -- knew the ways of the media. They needed to get Lyla safe ad keep her quiet until it suited them to expose her to the press. They needed, Michael knew, to take control of the narrative.
Sitting in his car, anonymous jazz on the radio, he thought about Matt. He regularly received jaunty texts and emails from his young brother, apparently because he was part of a group mailing list to which Matt saw fit to send the latest smutty link or joke he'd heard at work. He rarely liked the jokes, many of which were racist or sexist, or worse; he'd sometimes enjoyed the links, to his slight liberally-guilty shame. They rarely spoke in person nowadays. Yet he felt a profound responsibility towards his kid brother. He always had, after their father's death. He wanted the best for him.
Hence Lyla. He had, at a certain moment, stepped aside, so that a smitten girl could fall instead for an equally smitten Matt, rather than for the strange initial object of her affections -- so obvious when she'd started popping around for "homework", and later for those first "dates" with Matt, later still for real dates as his frostiness did its work -- and once, excruciatingly, for dinner.
He didn't remember much from that night, save for glimpses of a girl so beautiful he'd not dared to look at her in anything but sidelong glances at tiny portions of her body or face, and the disastrous moment her bare leg had brushed against his arm at the dinner table, as he'd reached down beneath it to grab a fumbled napkin. His knee banged up against the table, spilling coke, much to his mother's horror. It had soaked his jeans, so he'd retreated to his room to change. And also, he recalled soberly, to masturbate.
While the merry sounds of dinner continued in his absence -- his mother had so loved it when they had friends around, filling the too often quiet melancholy of the house with something approaching its former brilliance -- he stroked his painfully hard, 18-year-old cock. Long and pale, rigid like porcelain, it gleamed in his hand as he focused on her skin, the soft down of her fine hairs against his arm, the curve of her breasts pushing at the tight fabric of the neat little dress she'd worn, bare armed, ample décolletage, utterly charming. He'd imagined pulling the straps of the dress down, her pale breasts tumbling free to hang before him, her mouth curling into a smile as she pressed them together beneath the rapid blur of his hand... and then he'd done what needed to be done.
He'd done what he'd always done, throughout his life, for the good of his mother, his brother, his college roommates, his girlfriends, his non-profit organizations, and now, he sometimes permitted himself to imagine, for the whole damned world.
His cock, he noticed, was hard in his pants. And sore, from the exertions of the night before. He shifted a little uncomfortably, willing it away. He had will power to spare, and it obeyed.
Arms around each other's shoulders, the two friends suddenly emerged through the woven willow of the gates.
The years had been kind to Suze, Lyla's old friend, Michael acknowledged. A lean, beautiful face with cheek bones, pert breasts, long brown legs. Lyla -- well, she was much more lovely now than the night she'd made him spill his coke. Yet her face bore the bruises of worrying, and perhaps something more.
Was it the image he knew from his own reflection, the hairline cracks of disappointment? Or even of repression? If so, my God, of what? She'd won her man, the life she wanted, the career.
A slide show of Lyla images spun through his mind as he saw them totter into the 4x4 and drive off a little too carefully, Suze and her passenger clearly well on the way to being pleasantly drunk: Lyla at her wedding, Lyla at that first family Christmas and cooking for the first time in his mother's house, Lyla sitting on Matt's lap at Thanksgiving the next year beerily swearing at the football on the TV, Lyla avoiding eye contact with him once, a thousand times.
Or was that just his imagination?
Whatever it was, he was enjoying watching her now, under the oddest, the worst possible, circumstances.
The tires spun as he lurched out of the gravel parking lot and onto the road behind them. They wove slowly back into town, ending up at what appeared to be a C&W themed restaurant with some kind meets bar meets club appended to it-- revelry of various kinds, in full swing even at 4pm, was audible from every open window. The neon of the signs -- an electric blue cowgirl, riding a pink stallion -- played across the glass of his windscreen, gaudy against the reddening sky as he parked and watched them scamper inside.
Three hours later, desperately hungry, he followed them.
Lyla was buzzing! And that was a good thing otherwise she wouldn't have had the nerve to make it out all that way to drink some more, eat and dance...only the eating was taking a back seat to all the 'fun' that Susan was throwing her way. This certainly wasn't her usual thing and she felt a little out of her element, but with Susan on her arm, she was braving it and taking everything as it came with surprising ease.
She was dressed to impress, although not quite as boldly as Susan. Her dark wash jeans and heeled boots lent her a little extra height which most women craved. Plus, they were darn sexy! There was nothing like a pair of sexy shoes to make a gal feel good and she was feeling it. Even through the fatigue she fought off, Lyla tugged shimmer green top she wore and was flooded with the warmth of her co-workers as Susan zipped her into the club.
Cheers went around, as if the part had just arrived. And in a sense, it had. Susan was the usually the life of the party and Lyla the tag along, but she didn't mind. Their friendship had never suffered from it and Susan was loyal to a fault. So much so she was determined to get her best friend out of her funk.
"Okay girly, lets dance!"
Slightly off kilter, she laughed and swayed against Susan as they hit the floor which was lit up with all kinds of colors. "Holy shit, I feel like we're at a disco." Lyla grinned and let her friend spin her around. Personal space were not words that occupied Susan's vocabulary and her hands slid against Lyla's curving hips as she began to playfully bump and grind from behind. Giggles bubbled up from Lyla's throat and filled the air as the dance floor came to life around them. She let the music fill her and lost herself in the beat, pausing only long enough to grab a shot from wandering trays. The body shot ladies were about in force, but the girls tossed theirs back with wicked little smiles.
Before long, Susan had attracted one particularly tall blond man who reminded Lyla of sunshine and surf. His blond streaked hair could only be real or the man spent more time than both of them at the salon achieving such a natural look. Without bothering to ask, manly hands slid over her friends more narrow hips and the two began going at it. Lyla quirked a brow, but Susan was loving the attention. She glanced up and moved her lithe body again surfer dudes lean frame. Figuring this was time for a small breather, Lyla spun around to make her get-away only to smack straight into another man.