Aurelia & Rick
It was the feeling of a cold sweat that woke her. Echoes of the dream still playing on her eyelids. She groaned; an unwelcome pang of unease flitted through her.
There was something about this job that didn’t quite line up in her mind and she was beginning to stress about it, not just in her waking hours but in the night now too. fuck. Regardless of her intentions, Humphrey's death really had done more harm than good. Or maybe she shouldn't be blaming Humphrey. Maybe she should blame Marcos. She had left him for a reason and she wasn't quite sure how or why she let him back into her life.
He was a fucking charmer, that was for certain, and she wasn't altogether upset that she had become the snake.
She needed to get out of this state she was in. She jumped up a from the silk sheets. Her satin pink nightgown fluttered a bit and she threw her hands on either side of her face, pushing her hair back and looking up towards the ceiling. For the first time in her life, she was at a loss as to what her next move was.
Two am had come and gone. The rush of cold water over tawny skin made her feel slightly more at ease, but the memory of the dream still haunted her. As the tub filled up she found herself letting it cover her face as she leaned into it, still in her silkshift. She laid silently underneath the water, and for the first time in something like thirteen years, she prayed.
Hail Mary, full of Grace,
The water spilled over the sides and onto marble tile.
The Lord is with thee
Blessed art thou amongst women
And blessed is the fruit of the womb, Jesus
She let slip a breath of air and bubbles rose up to the surface.
Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners
Now and at the hour of our dea--
She had to come up for air at some point. The water was still running and she couldn’t tell if what she was wiping from her eyes was just from the bath or if she had started to cry. There was only one other option she could think of to make this feeling of anxiety go away.
It was a half past three in the morning when her towne car pulled up in front of Marcos’ condo. She stood, leaning against the back passenger side door, her lace trimmed chemise still dripping on the pavement, her feet bare. She managed to throw on a jacket before she left the house. Her driver hadn’t said a word--but no one would think he wasn’t questioning his employers sanity. She grabbed a pack of smokes from her underwear drawer and smoked half the pack in the time it took for her to get across town.
She lit up another one with one hand, while dialing Marcos with the other. It rang only two times before, “Pick up, pick up, pick up.”
Marcos’ laid on his bed, only a single side of his face illuminated by the invading light of his cellphone, Elsie smiled at him. It was an old photo, one he had taken in happier days, one he wasn’t very keen on updating. He wondered if he should answer; he almost felt anxious, Elsie had kept him at arm’s length emotionally since his return, something he had expected. Now she was calling him in the middle of the night, a part of him was excited to be needed by her, another part....still hadn’t forgiven her. Vette stirred next to him, her delicate, perfect ass displayed just for him as the rest of her hourglass figure was covered by silk sheets. In its own manner, this was his own vindictive way at getting back at Elsie, fucking her friend behind her back. Suddenly the taste of Vette’s perfume on his mouth became oppressive.
Marcos answered the phone.
“Sissy, whatever it was, it wasn’t me.”
The moment before the line clicked over she blinked, reality setting in that she was falling back on old habits and relying on the one man that had let her down in the worst way. And then his voice. An exhale of something like irritation mixed with longing left her. fuck.
“I almost want to ask what you’ve been doing to have such a guilty conscience.” She took another drag. “But tell me with a bottle of whiskey. I’m outside.”
Marcos turned a few shades paler at the thought of Elsie being right outside his home. This wasn’t something he had planned for, Elsie had finally reached out and it could all go to shit in an instant.
“Alright, I’ll meet you outside,” Marcos made sure to end the call before cautiously getting up from his bed in an attempt to keep Vette asleep, and most importantly, away from Elsie’s eyes.
Before walking out the door, Marcos inspected himself in his vanity mirror, noticing his black shirt and pyjama pants. No, this simply wouldn’t do. He threw his shirt off and kicked his pants off, scrambling around the room in silent desperation in an attempt to find a suitable replacement.
Marcos made his way down stairs, passing his bar to grab a bottle of whiskey and two glasses before heading outside to the front patio. He waved Elsie over, wearing nothing but a pair of black cotton briefs.
“Sissy, sweetheart, what...what are you wearing? And what are you doing here at this hour?”
of fucking course. Bare feet hit pavement, then cement, then the patio. While she was happy with the whiskey, eyebrows furrowed in curiosity about why he wasn’t letting her into his home. But this was a fleeting moment that evaporated as soon as she was in close enough range for her to swipe the bottle from him. Without waiting for a glass, she unscrewed the top and took a hit straight from the bottle. She sucked in a breath through her teeth at the burn and closed her eyes for a minute.
“Do you believe in this team that we’ve built?” It was an abrupt question that flew off her still whiskey tingled tongue that she hadn’t thought to actually ask outloud. But the words of her lawyer were still echoing somewhere in the back of her mind and mixed with the dreams--
If they were going to fail at this, then all of her work and compromised morals and ethics were for nothing. She had never been a gambling man.
Marcos didn’t take a seat, he was about to, but Elsie’s question stopped him. Doubts. She was having doubts. Everything had been going so smoothly, is this why she was here, so he could calm her nerves? True, while they were both partners in this, she was taking a huge risk by fronting all the initial expenses to get their little enterprise going, but Marcos had honestly thought Elsie trusted him. He needed a drink. Marcos poured the brass liquid onto a glass and brought it up to his nose, inhaling the rich aroma before gulping the shot down. It was good whiskey, one that should be sipped, but he needed to be three drinks in by now.
“Hmmm, that burns so good,” Marcos whispered under his breath as he placed the glass on the table and motioned for Elsie to take a seat,” sit down, Elsie, you're making me nervous,” Marcos said it with a grin, but she truly was making him a bit anxious.
Marcos disliked the fact that Elsie had shown up at his doorstep at three in the morning unplanned, mostly because it showed her lack of confidence in the plan. It was a personal insult to him, and while he did feel some slight guilt at the fact that he had talked her into joining, she would come out on top from this. In a way, Marcos was doing this for Elsie, with the step-children circling the inheritance, she needed the safety net this heist would bring her. This was for her own good.
“Yes,” Marcos said under his breath, momentarily unsure as he stared off into the black horizon where the ocean and sky kissed.
”I trust this crew,” hesitation, was he trying to convince Elsie or himself? “They might be new to playing with others, but that’s why we are starting them on this job, it’s perfect.”
Marcos got a wave of confidence in that moment, his own words washing away his doubt. He was animated again, he always got like this when talking about his work, nothing made him more passionate than his art.
“Low risk, high reward, Elsie, It will set us up for the long game, allow us to test them, and, most importantly, you’ll get all the money you invested into this in one day, what’s not to like about that?” Marcos grin was wide and toothy, like a shark who had caught his prey.
Marcos swaggered over to the other chair opposite Elsie, the cold ocean air had perked him up, reminded him of who he was, a king in his prime. This was his destiny, his birthright, this heist would go according to plan through the sheer power of his own will.
“Now, tell me, Elsie,” Marcos slid the drink over to her, taking this time to figure out what he was going to say.
Elsie had come to see him, she was here, and there was so much he wanted to say, to scream, to accuse, but she looked scared, worried, she had come here for reassurance. He had to be better than old Marcos.
“Tell me, why did you really come here,” Marcos looked right into her eyes, like a storm, so beautiful and dangerous, ready to overtake him, ”....if it was for some...dessert, I could have driven to your place.”
She didn't sit. “Go and fuck yourself, Marcos.” both a curse and an action. “What I mean is,” She took another drag of her cigarette and flicked the ashed ends off with one swift tap.
“Go and fuck yourself is pretty clear in meaning, Sissy,” Marcos didn’t smile, but Elsie knew he was just being a smartass.
“I know you, Marcos. So much better than you think anyone does. You know me,” an exhale that turned into a laugh. Eyes rolled and head shaking in disbelief that the words were coming out, making it real. “--so you know how much I hate to admit this--better than anyone else. I can’t..” she paused. She didn’t know how to say it. As much as she hated him, she couldn’t ignore the history between them. “This has to work.” She took a slow slip of the whiskey, this time from the glass he had poured her. Half of it was gone before she spoke again. “The kids are this close to blocking me out of the rest of my money. If this goes south…” she almost choked. Not from the whiskey but from the words she hadn’t said out loud to anyone. Fading memories of their life together before all of this helped to push it all out. Around him, things seemed to get lighter. “I’ll be back to square one. And let’s be honest; the good ol’ days weren’t always so good.”
Marcos had been staring intently at Elsie, but he hadn’t been listening. He never did; he understood she was having doubts and looked rather anxious, but in his head he was already thinking of a solution. Not to her real fears, but the fears Marcos had decided on. Elsie’s fear of stagnation, her fear of boredom, her desire for thrill. That’s what Marcos wanted to help with, to find her a distraction, even if that wasn’t what Elsie needed right now.
She finished the glass, finally sat down with a graceful exhaustion. It hung delicately between her thumb and middle finger, her pointer tapping the rhyme to an unknown beat. She slouched a bit, making her already short chemise raise another inch up her thigh. Her other hand ran through her still damp hair. Elsie hadn’t expected him to respond. The look on his face was all too familiar, she reached up to refill her glass and took a big gulp and sighed. “Teddy has something up his sleeve against me and I’ve been racking my brain to figure out what it could possibly be.” another hit from the glass. “The one thing they could possibly go after is some kind of evidence that Humphrey didn’t really love me. But how does one prove that? Like, of course everything in that house was his, or something that he and his first wife had built or bought together. God, even half the jewelry I have now was there before I go--”
The force of the realization almost made her audibly exhale air like a punch in the gut. Through everything else how could she have forgotten. On their first anniversary, the old man had showered her with gifts, fourteen in all (they had been married February first, he wanted to give her one present everyday until Valentine's day). It was the simple bracelet, antique sterling silver with turquoise filigree that he gave her on the last day. There could be no denying that he had bought it for her. It was representative of her Persian heritage--the only thing left of her mother resided in Elsie’s own blood. He had told her that despite their many differences, he would be her home, her family. It was that moment she knew, despite the con, that she really did care for this man too.
She stood up abruptly, trying to remember where she’d kept it. Bare feet padded softly on the patio for all of three seconds and then--Another wave of panic as balmy nights with too much wine al fresco, vines climbing up parchment coloured walls of the patio, the private terrace on the rooftop, the smell of old books over full walls. One of the last times she’d been with Humphrey before the very worst of old age finally took him away. Right in the middle of Palermo Soho. Argentina. In the house that no longer belonged to her. “I have to get out of here. I have to go to Buenos Aires.” she downed the rest of her glass, set it on the table and turned to leave.
Elsie was distraught, whatever idea had invaded her thoughts had made her crazy enough to want to run off to Buenos Aires during the preparation of their heist.
Marcos was suddenly paying attention. Buenos Aires? Tonight? No, no , this wasn’t happening, Elsie wasn’t just having doubts, she was emotionally distraught. Elsie had to stay here, in LA, they still had so much to plan and the preparations for the heist had just begun, he had to stop her, to calm her. He had to fucking do something.
“Elsie, Elsie, wait!” Marcos stood, reached out for her arm and grabbed it, first to stop her, then to pull her closer to him.
Marcos placed a finger on her chin and raised her head so their eyes could meet, he stared into the deepness that was her soul, wishing he could jump in and never have to come out again.
“Everything is going to be fine, Elsie, we have each other, we’re a team, a duo, we’ve done this before and will do it again, we’ll get your money, more than you could wish for, and you’ll never have to worry about these brats again, you’ll just have to worry about where we will go spend all this money...together, okay?” Marcos whispered his words, letting them gently cascade over Elsie’s delicate skin.
Marcos wanted to kiss her, to taste her tongue one more time, but Humphrey’s memory hanged over them like a specter. He moved his finger away from her chin.
It was familiar, but she pushed back the memories and the longing for him to touch her again. A little shiver almost showed itself on her skin. She had kept herself distant from him for so long. She had a mission. “You don’t understand Marcos. What if you’re wrong about everything?” something inside of her made sure the word ‘again’ didn’t slip out. one problem at a time “This is the only security I have.”
“Speak to me, Sissy, what is in Buenos Aires that is so important?” Marcos had to know what she was after so he could more effectively talk her out of this foolish pursuit.
Her breath caught, a sting like acid on her eyes. fuck She didn’t want him to see her like this. She pushed him away from her and went back to the table to pour herself another drink. It was just a distraction while she fought off the tears. “Humphrey has only bought me one thing that is unique enough to matter to the courts that he really did love me. I left it in the house in Argentina after our last visit. I didn’t expect to lose almost everything to the kids.” She closed her eyes and took a deep breath, counted to three before putting the glass to her mouth, taking a slow, long sip.
Marcos had to fight the urge to walk up behind her and wrap his arms around her, to pull her in close and smell her hair, to kiss her perfect neck, to whisper in her ear that she was his, to hear a moan escape from her once again. If Vette hadn’t come around he could have taken her up to his room and given her something to truly distract her, but it looked like her mind was set on this gift from the old man. Marcos clenched his jaw, he was never the jealous type, but Elsie had been there with him since the start, she had been his number two, she needed him right now but the constant talk of Humphrey was making him want to punch a wall.
“Okay...okay, Sissy, If that thing is so important, let’s go get it, right now, we’ll fly to Buenos Aires, get that fucking thing, have breakfast, and be back here by tomorrow,” Marcos finally worked up the courage to walk up to her, placing his hand on her shoulder and slowly turning her to face him.
Elsie looked away from him, but Marcos could see a single, moonlit tear sparkle down her cheek. He wiped it away with his thumb, rubbing against the corner of her lips.
“Who’s better than us, babe?” Marcos used to say that to her all the time right after they stuck up some convenience store or grifted some college kids off a few thousand dollars. It was one hell of a gamble to say it now, especially with a naked woman sleeping in his bedroom at the moment, but he hoped it would make her smile.
How was it always this way? To fall back into old habits so easily, still want to strangle him, but want it to just go back to the way things used to be? She closed her eyes and leaned into his hand after he caught the tear that had escaped her attempts at remaining strong. He was always the stoic one. She sighed again, stepping back from his touch and lifting the glass with the dark amber liquid once more. “Okay.” she finally said, tilting the glass towards him in a toast, “Okay.” she punctuated her agreement with one big gulp and a clink of glass on table.
In her haste to clear her mind and the instinctual flight to Marcos she had forgotten her lack of clothes and shoes. “Fuck.” she said this one out loud and turned back to him, the corners of her eyes crinkled in annoyance at the lack of preparedness. It had been a while since she’d needed to think about these things.
“Don’t tell me this is all you brought?” Marcos teased with a raised eyebrow.
“Ay muchacha, what am I going to do with you...I’ll get you a robe, let me go inside and get my things, i’ll be back in a minute,” Marcos nodded to Elsie and made his way back to his bedroom where Vette was still in the deep slumber of one who had been properly fucked.
Marcos left her a note explaining he had left and would be back the next day, he put on a simple black v-neck shirt and a pair of black jeans with black boots before grabbing one of his many bug out bags, this time going for the one designated simply as “Macao”. Marcos grabbed Vette’s shoes and took out his favorite jaguar bathrobe for Elsie to wear, then turned to look back at Vette’s glorious ass one last time before closing the door and heading back to Elsie.
Admittedly the jacket she had brought had not survived the trip on her soaking wet body. She was relatively dry now, and the robe he had brought out was warm. She resisted the urge to bring the collar up to her nose and breath the scent of him in deeply. The shoes he handed to her next she furrowed her eyebrows at. She didn’t put it past him to have some girl kicked out of his place sans shoes for whatever reason she could have left them for--the label on them a faded Marc, clearly off the rack. She snorted a little at the memory of a conversation she’d had with Vette once. One of the men she’d been a companion of had once bought her an outfit and tried to pass it off as designer. Vette has squealed when Elsie tried it on in front of her; Elsie just rolled her eyes and said “No one gets fucked for bridge-wear.”
Almost anything was better than bare feet, her jacket might be dry enough to wear on the plane and even if not, her chemise was flattering enough with the heels to pretend as if this was a choice. Everything would be better when they got to Argentina. She just really had to believe in this; above everything else she had to believe that he was right, she could have her money and feel secure in the job he had planned and everything would be just fine.
There is heat in freezing, be a testament.