The Reluctant Psychic Ch. 10byonly_more_so©
If you are new to my Reluctant Psychic series, please consider starting from the beginning. The story, characters and events in this chapter will make more sense when given context from the preceding chapters. If you're returning, welcome back and I hope you enjoy the story.
* * *
I finished my second glass of wine and inverted the glass, signaling the waiter not to attempt to refill it. If I weren't on an emotional roller coaster, I could have handled a third or even a fourth glass, but not now. I was sitting next to a beautiful girl, a girl who didn't know I'd killed her father.
I felt a kick to my shin, or something similar. The sort of swift pain that's meant to derail a line of conversation before it drifts into uncomfortable territory. The girls that were close enough to kick me seemed to be innocently in conversation with each other. The only face that didn't look so innocent was Magda, who gave me the look my mother used when she was giving me a lecture.
Suddenly Magda giggled and whispered something to the girls near her. They all looked at me and started giggling as well. I hate being laughed at, and I really hate not being able to peak into their minds to find out why they're laughing at me, but it was still too soon after sex with Magda.
Before the wine and laughter could leave me feeling too morose, the waiters prepared the table for desert. With swift practiced movements, the old plates and silverware were removed and the crumbs were swept from the table. Moments later new plates were set out and new silverware. I watched the waiter's deft movements, but also noticed the girl's growing excitement. I watched them shift in their seats and sneak peeks back towards the kitchen. I knew that could only mean one thing: chocolate.
When the doors from the kitchen swung open and the line of waiters and waitresses appeared the girls fell silent. As more and more servers streamed out, I realized it wasn't just one desert, there was a plethora of chocolate delights: mousses, cakes, pastries, pies, light chocolate, dark chocolate and everything in between.
The girls quickly began laying claims to the varied confections, pointing out which dessert they would try first, second, and tenth. Even as the smell of chocolate filled the room, they waited. They squirmed and adjusted silverware, but they waited.
Finally, one of the waiters came out bearing a single plate, which he sat in front of me. On the plate was a filet mignon wrapped in thick slices of bacon. As the sweet smell of perfectly grilled and aged tenderloin filled my nostrils, I smiled. The girls could have their chocolate; I had steak.
I picked up my knife and fork, the signal the girls had been waiting for. Before I had even cut the first bite from my filet, I heard the moaning begin. The first bites of desserts went directly from serving plates to watering mouths. I watched the eager forks reach for more chocolate, but before I could clear my throat to show my disapproval of such coarse table manners, Magda did so.
The effect was instantaneous, and the girls began blushing before Magda was through voicing my disapproval. I was glad I wasn't the only one who had appreciation for good table manners. Katia, however, found it very funny. "You really must be a miracle worker. My sister never could resist chocolate, especially for something as simple as table manners."
What little gladness I had for table manners, quickly evaporated in light of the miracles I had done on Katia's sister Magda. I couldn't tell Katia, that I had once accidently caused her sister, and my other girls, to scrub themselves raw because I was upset at their table manner, or that on another occasion, the girls had gone completely without desserts or chocolates for a month because my ambivalent feelings towards sweets had seeped into their minds.
"No, I don't work miracles. She just decided to make the point before I could." I looked down at Magda and watched her use a finger to scoop chocolate pudding into her mouth. I used a morsel of filet to point the action out to her sister, and added, "See, it didn't take."
Katia laughed, Magda gave us a wink, and we all had dessert.
I looked up from my last bite of steak and realized that half the girls were missing from the table. The ones that were left were still busy picking over the remains of the various chocolate desserts. I only had a moment to wonder, before Magda came over and whispered something to her sister.
Katia smiled at me and said, "Please excuse me."
During that brief exchange, more of the girls had gotten up, and I watched as they all headed out of the dining room. Before she left, Betsy gave me a kiss on the cheek. The only person left in the room was Samantha, who up until today was the most recent additional to my household. She stood and walked towards me once it was clear I knew we were alone.
She took her time walking, with the hip swaying movements that my girls must practice when I'm not watching. Because when they move like that, I can't help but watch, as every primal urge in my body takes control of my eyes. As she walked closer, my nose was taken captive, hunting for the scent that was unique to Samantha, but akin to that of every woman who ever wanted a man.
She settled onto the arm of the chair, nudging my arm with her bottom until it was encircling her waist. She looked down on me with a seductive smile and then held her hand in front of my face. As she opened her palm to reveal a small golden bean she said, "I won." I noticed the beam still had flecks of chocolate clinging to its shiny surface and recognized the game that she had won.
"So that is why you were all so excited about dessert."
She laughed, flashing her sharp white teeth. "Don't be silly, we were excited because it was chocolate. Although the bean gave us an excuse to have a little more chocolate than we would normally have had," she paused and added, "and why we didn't serve an entree with dinner."
It took me a moment to realize that there really hadn't been an entree. We'd had soup, salad, an appetizer, some cheese, a lot of wine, and then right to desert.
I heard Samantha laughing again, her blue eyes sparkling with amusement. "You really are so cute when you're confused. Bambi, Betsy and Gwen were the only ones who were sure you wouldn't figure out that we skipped the meal part of the meal. I was sure you would realize, but then again I am still new enough to be awed by your handsome smile, and your unparalleled intellect."
"And your witty conversation," she said with a wink. Just for that I gave her bottom a slap, her very firm bottom. I turned to face her and as I did so, she leaned towards me. Her full breasts pressed against the fabric of her dress causing her cleavage to deepen. Before I realized what I was doing, my nose was nestled deep between her breasts, inhaling her perfume and the pheromones that mankind never quite evolved beyond.
From my new vantage point, I was easily able to discern a marked increase in her rate of breathing. I could also feel the heat coming from her skin as she flushed. The added heat caused more of her scent to invade my nostrils.
She slid gracefully from the arm of the chair to my lap. My nose tried to stay nestled between her breasts, but slowly slid upwards finding a new home near her ear. My tongue snaked out to taste the salty sweetness of her neck. She purred as my teeth nibbled on the thin skin of her neck. She tilted her head back to expose more of her neck to me. I eagerly licked and sucked on the pale skin.
Abruptly, she pushed me away with both hands on my chest. I struggled to pull her towards me, but even though I could see her desires mirrored mine she held back my advances. When I stopped struggling, she stopped pressing me away.
Slowly, with great caution, she leaned towards me. Her hands stayed on my chest, and I knew they were ready to push me away if I didn't behave. I could feel the heavy breath from her nostrils on my cheek and then my ear. Then, in breath more than words she said, "Not here, someone might see." She then used her very white, very sharp teeth to nip my earlobe.
If my mind were operating on anything except hormones, I would have laughed at that. The girls often watched, and usually enjoyed being watched. Samantha especially seemed to enjoy being watched more than most, which probably went with her being a reporter. But, hormones being hormones, they followed the swaying bottom up the stairs without understanding the joke.
* * *
I first met Samantha after helping the DA find crucial evidence that would bury the last mob boss in town. It had been nearly two years since I started working as a consultant for the police and the DA's office, and with my help they had really cleaned up the city. There were still plenty of criminals to put behind bars, but this conviction meant the end of organized crime in the city.
I had always been very careful in my dealings with the law. The obvious reason was that many of the people I was helping to put away knew me from my former life gambling in the underworld. But the real reason was I didn't feel like I deserved to be seen as a hero. For more than a decade, I had been living off the money I had taken from criminals, money that came from crimes. It took me a long time to realize that taking money criminals meant taking money from the victims of crimes.
So between the guilt and cowardice, I didn't want anyone to know that I was the one behind the new law-wave, as the media started calling it. In fact, aside from the DA, a few senior detectives, and my girls, no one else knew. I didn't visit the DA's office after seeing Stefani's case finished, and my only trip to the police station was to identify which detectives could be trusted and which were part of the problem.
But the DA was a scrupulous man. He insisted that I get paid for my consulting work. Betsy was equally scrupulous, and insisted on depositing the fees. They tried to be careful, but you can never hide the money.
A hungry young reporter named Samantha Grabowski arranged to have drinks with the secretary of a certain DA who was at the center of the law-wave. The secretary insisted she had a scoop about her boss. As the wine flowed, the woman related how her boss was embezzling money to pay for call-girls, disguising the money as consulting fees. The woman was suspicious that each case seemed to have a different female consultant, and none of the consultants stepped foot in the office while she was there. A friend in the treasury department traced all the money and found that the consultants lived in the same house. The secretary said in the disapproving manner of Sunday school teachers, "You know: the one on the hill."
While the scent of scandal drove thrills through Samantha's body, she had the dignity and professionalism of a great journalist. She checked and rechecked every detail of the secretary's story. She had friends at the bank trace the transactions on all of the consultants' accounts and was shocked to find them all brimming with more cash than the mob bosses who were being put away.
The first name on her list was E. Haufman. There were only three E. Haufman's in the state, the first was a retired ninety-year old school teacher, the second was a mechanic, and the third was Elizabeth Haufman, who paid for entirely new state of the art wing for the hospital, putting the town on the medical map.
The second name was G. Moreau. After talking to a jeweler, a cop, twin school teachers, and an ugly beautician, Samantha became convinced the G. stood for Gwendolyn. As in, the Gwendolyn Moreau who bought and paid for the renovations of the old opera house. That G. Moreau was a story all by herself. Rumors said she wrote the symphony that reopened the house, that she had a secret tunnel built during the renovations so she could come and go without anyone seeing her. The only thing that wasn't a rumor was that she was absolutely gorgeous and a total recluse.
Then there was B. McIntyre, J.D. At first Samantha was going to toss that one away, because it made a lot of sense for a lawyer to be consulting on a criminal case. But a little digging showed that Bambi McIntyre's address had recently been changed. According to the post office, she lived next door to Gwendolyn Moreau.
Name after name, Samantha tracked them down. Some were professionals in the city, professionals with very impressive credentials and well connected clientele. Others were philanthropists like Moreau and Haufman. Some were completely unknown. But they all lived on the same street, many of them in the same house, a house which according to city records didn't even exist before the law-wave started.
While it might be called the "House on the Hill" by the gossips about town, the deed listed the name as Rowan Manor with an address of 101 Highland. Samantha also pulled the other deeds for Highland and found that all of the houses on Highland had been sold within three months of each other. More than half of the houses had been demolished and the land rezoned, the others had a stack of permits for renovations.
The purchases at the bottom of Highland had all been done by individuals, individuals who bought neighboring homes, demolished one and expanded. The top of the hill was a different story entirely. The last five homes, each at least ten million dollars, had been purchased by a trust fund. The trust fund had demolished all five homes and arranged for the construction of a single house at the very top of the hill. The really odd thing was that the trust fund had no listed beneficiary; just the name Rowan Manor Trust.
Samantha tried her powers of persuasion on the records clerk. Unlike most civil servants she had encountered, he stuck to his principles and wouldn't divulge the information. The tax assessor was much more willing to reveal information but he didn't have any. He kept looking through his files muttering, "I know it's in here somewhere." Every bureaucrat she talked to it was the same, either they were not at liberty to say, or they just couldn't seem to remember where the file was.
So Samantha decided the only way to get the real scoop on the law-wave was to beard the lion in his den, armed with a tape-recorder, and a press pass.
* * *
I was taking advantage of a rare day off to catch some extra sleep. I had been working nearly non-stop with the DA to mop up the last of the organized crime and we finally got to a point where I could take time off. While lying amidst the tangled limbs of a half dozen beautiful women is a cozy, sexy feeling, it actually isn't always that comfortable. On this particular morning, a small delicate heel was tucked a little too far under my ribs for me to be truly comfortable. As a result, when the doorbell rang, it was enough to drag me out of sleep.
The girls were either oblivious to the noise, or simply more comfortable than I was, because none of them stirred. I waited for the doorbell to chime again before I remembered that all the girls were either in my bed or had gone to their "homes" for the night. I didn't know if that meant one of the other houses on the hill or the wing of the manor that they didn't let me visit. The important thing was that I was the only one awake enough and present enough to answer the door.
Assuming it was the DA or one of his men, I didn't bother getting dressed. I threw on my bathrobe and trudged downstairs. The doorbell was just chiming a third time when I crossed the foyer. I must have been pretty sleepy, because I didn't even bother to peep to find out who was on the other side of the door. I sensed no hostility and that was enough for me.
Standing outside the door was an attractive young woman in a conservative, but fashionable, pantsuit. She had her hair in a business-like bun, and I could see a steno-pad and pen sticking out of her purse. I assumed she was the new assistant district attorney I had heard about, and waved her in. Behind a yawn I said, "Do I have time for breakfast before you start grilling me?"
"So you know why I'm here?"
"Yeah, Jack sent you to talk to me about the 'law wave'" I said, complete with finger quotes. I was already walking towards the kitchen, Samantha in tow, before I realized something wasn't right. "Jack did send you, right?"
"Well, of course Mr. Ellis knows what I'm working on," she said by way of evasion. I could see that she left out the part that Jack Ellis had no idea she was brazen enough to come talk to me directly, or she believed he would have put a stop to it.
Jack Ellis wasn't the DA; Mr. Ellis was the editor-in-chief of the city paper. Jack Weber was the DA, which meant that this young thing was not the new ADA. It only took a moment's look into her mind to realize that I had just let a reporter into my home. A reporter who was trying to unravel the careful web that Bambi, Betsy and I had been working on.
"Don't even think of erasing her mind!" I heard Anna yell inside my head.
I must have winced under the mental maelstrom because the young reporter asked, "Are you alright? I didn't catch you too early in the day did I?" Or course, she was thinking that I must have been up all night boozing with my cronies, why else would I look hung-over and be in my bathrobe at noon.
Just for that thought, I nearly wiped her memories of me from her mind. But Anna was in my thoughts again, this time soothing, "You've come so far. You don't have to do it that way." Instead of clearing her thoughts and sending her on her way, I waved her to a seat at the dining room table and took my usual chair.
I was a bit amused to watch her try to readjust to the current situation. She was clearly expecting a much colder welcome, and was only now getting around delivering her pitch, "I'm here to talk to the head of the Rowan Manor Trust."
"Before you do that, I know you wouldn't mind showing me your credentials, Miss?"
She was slightly flustered that she hadn't remembered to introduce herself and fumbled with her purse to extract her Press Card. She had just gotten it out when I sensed Claire approaching with coffee enough for three. I pretended to read her name from the card and as I passed it back to her I said, "Would you like sugar with your coffee Miss Grabowski?"
Before Samantha could get out, "I wouldn't want to be any trouble," Claire pushed the door open and walked in carrying the coffee service. The three cups on the tray told me that my subconscious mind had let her know there was another person with me, but her shirt (well my shirt) held together with only two buttons told me she wasn't aware that it was a guest.
"Claire, this is Samantha Grabowski, she's here to interview me for an article she's writing." I was faintly surprised that neither Claire nor Samantha was too embarrassed by Claire's lack of proper attire. In fact, they were both oddly thoughtful. But before I could pry, Anna gave me a mental slap, and Claire started pouring the coffee.
Claire settled next to me. She placed her feet on the chair between my legs and wormed her toes under my thigh. She then coaxed my arm around her and curled up around her mug of coffee. I knew she wasn't actually cold, but she was undeniably cute. I kissed the crown of her ash-blonde head and was rewarded with a wink.
"I didn't mean to intrude on... anything," Samantha began. Even without actively reading her, I could tell she was having second thoughts about coming.
"Miss Grabowski, you came all this way to talk to me."
"Please, call me Samantha. And you are?"
"I am the Chairman of the Rowan Manor Trust." She clearly didn't entirely like my answer, so I added, "and as I'm sure you've realized by my slip earlier, I'm the source the DA is using to put an end to organized crime in the city."