This week’s scene sees Renee and Frei showing a lot of talent and some elegant and not so elegant dresses…
My thoughts: I do like seeing Renee and Frei in action together. Their relationship always makes me smile when they banter. This scene was one that I introduced during the rewrite but when I wrote it, I understood how much the story had needed it. When I am in Frei’s head, at times during a scene, she lets you in deeply enough that you hear just her thoughts. In a writing sense, that means I need to show where she is and move you in slowly so that the jump is not too jarring. Hopefully, by doing so, a reader knows where she is enough that the surroundings stay in their mind and as Frei interacts with the scenery and people, it builds the picture. It’s always a challenge when scenes are fast-paced to keep the pace up while keeping Frei showing where she is… I often find myself adding snippets of more scenery during edits to create more interactive scenes but while Frei moves… Hopefully, it works!
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Copyright © 2018 Jody Klaire.
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A glazed eyed string quartet played some minor-keyed version of classical pieces at the back of the huge ballroom encrusted with diamonds. The jewels rendered into the walls alone would cost more than most cities could make. Filthy rich was the correct description and Frei was fast coming to the conclusion that Theo’s brother was exactly that: filthy.
Along one side of the room, young women stood in ballgowns which plunged to their navels. Their dresses twinkled as if the women had been dipped in precious metals but their eyes were as glazed over as the musicians’.
Frei was in a plunging gown herself, thanks to Hartmann’s servants, covered in clear gems that were tinted with a touch of pale blue. Theo hadn’t been able to take his eyes off her the entire car journey and managed nothing more than brief nods. Frei should have found it sweet or amusing but it only made her think how her mother must have felt when she’d been paraded by Sven.
Frei glanced at Renee in the most indecent gown which managed to pull together at her bust, barely, then split once more so her belly button was on show and the crest of her hips. It slit to her hips each side and cut across her throat diagonally as if it were a necklace and all in slate gray. Frei wasn’t sure which one, Hartmann or Theo, was more flustered.
“What do you think?” Renee whispered to her as they were escorted toward the women lining the side of the room by Theo and Hartmann. “Real jewels?”
Frei nodded. “He made a lot of money out of selling information on Hartmann.”
Renee curled her hand around Hartmann’s suit sleeve like she loved the way Hartmann had her hand on her butt. Renee was back to being Roberta Worthington and it was a good thing Aeron couldn’t see her or she’d pass out. Frei smiled and focused on Theo as he trailed his arm along the small of her back. They could do with Aeron in cover. Not many irritated Samson.
The flicker of Aeron undercover floated around her and she smiled again. She wanted to ask Renee if she’d felt anything on Aeron’s location but they hadn’t had any opportunity to talk when Renee got to the estate. When Renee showed up, been dressed up, and shoved in the car by Hartmann’s servants.
Renee scraped her nails over the top of Hartmann’s chest and shot a glare at some slave loitering too near. Considering how fiery she was, Renee was calm as if she’d always been Hartmann’s mistress even when she hadn’t even been given a brief.
“What is your brother’s name, Theo?” Renee said in that stuffy, nasal English accent Worthington had.
Theo pursed his lips then narrowed his eyes at a thinner, glazed over version of himself sauntering their way.
“That is a sore point,” Hartmann said, beaming like she was enjoying every second of Renee’s attention. “He was born Tomas, however he’s decided he prefers to forget where he came from.”
“How so?” Renee eased herself in front of Hartmann and Frei tucked herself in just behind Theo. Mistress and slave positions. Theo held her hand tighter as if he didn’t realize the cue.
“He goes by his trade now,” Hartmann met Frei’s gaze and held it. She smiled like Hartmann had her attention too hoping it covered her tensing. “But call him what you wish because he is nothing but a sniveling rat.”
Theo shot a glare at her. “He can be reached.”
Frei and Renee exchanged a glance. It had only taken one look at the glazed over idiot enjoying something sniffed from a bottle to know that Theo’s brother was happy to be lost.
“Aunt Sabine,” Theo’s brother said with a slimy smile. He should be handsome with his low brow and dark hair but everything about him made her feel like something slithery and cold had crawled up her spine. “I see you found the thief is good company.”
“You are no one to cast that label.” Hartmann glowered at him. Theo was tall but his brother was average height. At the most, he bested Renee by a few inches. “How is your new owner?”
Theo’s brother sniffed and placed his thumb to his nostril. “He doesn’t own me.”
“Yes, he does.” Hartmann looked him up and down. “Or at least that muck he feeds you does.”
He lowered his eyes. Frei flicked her gaze over him. Yes, Hartmann was right. He had an earring in one ear but it was a slave earring.
Frei looked at Hartmann who nodded.
Theo’s brother sniffed at his thumb again and focused on her. “You think he can handle an asset like you?”
“Enough.” Theo’s warning tone was deep and threatening enough that several loitering slaves cowered. “You act like you were never given manners.”
“I was, I just threw them away.” Theo’s brother laughed at him. Clearly the brotherly love wasn’t requited. Oh no, Theo’s brother might well have just sneered.
“So, you’re boring.” Renee shrugged and turned to Hartmann. “I don’t do small talk with slaves. Where are the important people?”
Hartmann nodded to a man sitting in the corner of the room with several women and a young man all lounging around him.
“That is Marcello,” Hartmann said like she was planning on removing body parts. “He is lower tier, of course, but as ‘Snoop’ here sold some of my assets to him, he thinks he is clever.”
Snoop laughed at her. “Aunt Sabine, he is far cleverer than an old woman like you.”
Woman said like that was the ultimate insult.
Renee sneered, pulled her gun and rammed it under his chin. Snoop staggered back, lost his balance, then clattered back onto his butt. “You want him to suffer or can I just get rid of him so you don’t have to look at him?”
Snoop scrambled backward as if that would help him. Theo went to move but Frei held him in place.
“Let her work,” she whispered in his ear.
“I don’t know,” Hartmann said with a laugh as Renee strolled forward, gun raised, body drawing far more attention. “It might be worth seeing you take out your mood on him.”
Snoop’s eyes glinted with fear as he scrabbled back into Marcello’s feet. “You wouldn’t.”
“Oh, I would.” Hartmann set her gaze on Marcello. “Do it.”
Renee fired. Zip. Zip.
Marcello and Snoop’s eyes rolled. Out cold.
Frei touched her earpiece. “Mom, you are a go.”
“Go, go, go.” Stosur commanded into the earpiece. Stosur’s teams burst in through the doors, dart guns out, zapping the guards as they went.
Frei moved away from Theo who was still staring at Snoop in shock. “Team one, you are on rounding those women up. I want the full check over.” For Susan to run their DNA through Jessie’s system. They looked far too compliant for people who’d just seen their owner darted.
Renee dropped to her knee and stabbed both Marcello and Snoop with a breadcrumb. “Jessie, can you forward this to…” She hesitated and met Frei’s gaze then looked to Theo. “…Our medical team.”
“On it,” Jessie’s voice sounded in her earpiece. “Mom, your target is on the third floor.”
Frei nodded and pulled her picks from her bra. Theo stared at her. “You should take dear Aunty Sabine for a stroll.”
Hartmann laughed. “Don’t look so stunned, Theo, ladies dislike being insulted.”
Theo frowned. “But——”
Hartmann rolled her eyes and grabbed his hand then dragged him back across the room.
Renee shook her head. “He’s not the quickest, Urs.”
“No.” Frei shook her head back and they strode through the ballroom up the main set of stairs to the third floor. “But then he thinks Snoop is going to come to his senses.”
“Yeah, what is all that about?” Renee broke the heel of her shoe off and held it in the air, holding onto Frei with one hand for support. “Jessie, what is that sound?”
“Scanning,” Jessie chimed back. “It’s a laser blade of some kind. Invisible beam. It’s about two strides in front of you.”
Frei cocked her head. “New toy?”
Renee grinned. “New toy.”
Frei pulled a device from the toolbelt strapped to her thigh. She hit the button. “Deactivated.”
“Hey, cool.” Jessie sounded like they were playing snow mounds with Bess.
“New toy?” Renee said, reattached her heel with a smirk, and they hurried up the stairs.
“No, I had a very painful experience with a slicer once.” She winced and tried not to visualize the huge gash on her hip. That had hurt for a good while.
“You know,” Renee said as they reached a heavily armed corridor. “I once fell off a rock right onto a bear during training.” She pulled her gun. Zip. Zip. Zip. Three hostiles down. “She wasn’t happy and my butt was not happy with the claw gouges in it.”
Frei blew out her lips. Fired her pistol. Zip. Zip. Zip. Three more hostiles down. “Shame you didn’t have Aeron there to nurse you.”
Hostiles spotted their dropping colleagues and opened fire. Crack. Crack. Crack.
Frei and Renee ducked into narrow corridors opposite sides from each other. Plaster and jewels spat out of the wall as the bullets hit.
Renee narrowed her eyes. “If Aeron had been there to kiss it better,” she muttered and spun out, bare thigh on show. She fired. Zip. Zip. Zip. Three more hostiles napping. “I would have had to explain that to Abby.” She smirked across as she ducked back into cover. “Now, she did nurse me.”
Frei ducked out. Zip. Zip. Zip. Three more slaves down. “Best not to tell Aeron that.” Zip. Zip. Zip. Corridor was filling with sleeping guards. “You might find out how competitive she can be.”
Renee laughed a full soldier laugh. Zip. Zip. Zip. “Then, that’s every reason to tell her.”
“Mom,” Jessie muttered. “I can hear this conversation.”
Renee laughed harder. “Sorry, Jessie.” She nodded to Frei. “On three.”
“Three.” Frei dashed out and they sprinted down the corridor, hurdled the guards——zip, zip, zip——and took out several more mid-stride. “I’m charging you for her therapy bill.”
Renee ejected her clip and shoved it in her bra then reloaded with a new clip from her thigh. “Jessie, falling from rocks onto wild animals with sharp claws is not advisable.”
“And then some,” Jessie wheezed out. “You need the third room on the left.”
Zip. Zip. Zip. Frei hit the guards spilling out of a side room. “Update on the ballroom?”
“Clear,” Stosur fired back. “And I’m intrigued to know how you escaped an annoyed bear.”
“I was still attached to a winch.” Renee stopped, pulled off her heel and flashed it at the door. The door buzzed back. “That’s what you get for letting boys fly, Jessie, they rarely have the skill to handle a tight space.”
“Miroslav can do a three sixty in a tight space,” Jessie shot back. “I’d trust him to fly.”
“I am glad one of us would.” Miroslav’s sweet tone filled the earpiece. “I would rather Miss Locks fly.”
Frei poked her tongue out at Renee. She pulled a spark grenade from her toolkit and threw it, it stuck to the door, whirred and the door cracked, smoked then shattered. “Pressure plate on the floor.”
“Urs is a fixed wing kinda girl,” Renee said back. She did a cartwheel over the pressure plate as if to poke her tongue out back. “I’m your rotary woman.”
Frei backflipped over the plate. “Yes, she is a lot like a chopper.” She caught the USB Renee threw from her bra and plugged it into the computer on the desk. “Never shuts up.”
“One of us has to talk or Jessie gets nervous,” Renee fired at her, gun on the open doorway.
Ah, that’s what she was doing.
“Jessie or…” Frei glanced behind her as if Theo was nearby. “Our medical friend.”
“I get nervous whether you talk or not,” Susan muttered as if she was on top of Jessie’s computer. “And your tone used when nursing was mentioned does not appear a medically approved way to treat lacerations.”
“Worked for me,” Renee said then held up her heel again. “Why can I hear a whistling sound?”
“A what?” Frei downloaded the system and sent it to Jessie.
“Whistling.” Renee wiggled her finger in her free ear. “Jessie?”
“There’s no electrical reason,” Jessie mumbled. “Checking cameras.”
“Can you hear it?” Renee shook her head as if to shake it free. “Full on whistling… like Aeron?”
“Mom, hurry up you have hostiles heading your way.” Jessie sighed. “Both ways.”
Frei pulled the USB free and headed to the window. “Window spikes.”
Renee was too busy gripping her head.
“Jessie, do you have a different route?” Frei kept one eye on Renee and peered up from the window. Marcello had installed two sets of spikes.
“None.” Jessie groaned. “I’m looking.”
“And I’m trying to digest my cuticles, Ursula. I can’t nurse you from this distance. Move,” Susan muttered and then muttered to the chair, introducing herself, and asking it if it had ideas.
Renee pulled her hands away from her head. She staggered into the wall. Something shot from beside the window. Frei dropped, hauling Renee with her as a huge metal spike launched over their heads, hit the group of guards ducking out to fire their rifles and set off some kind of explosion on the other wall that took out the rest.
Renee raised her eyebrows. “Um… how?”
Frei pulled her to her feet and they hopped over the pressure plate. The corridor was empty but for felled and sleeping guards. “I don’t know but let’s get Hartmann and Theo back to her place. She owes us answers.”
“When doesn’t she?” Renee hurried along with her and they headed out past streams of very compliant slaves being placed in trucks that Stosur’s team had parked up. “I swear I heard her whistling, Urs.” She chewed on her lip, getting into Hartmann’s car. “I heard her. I know it was her.”
Theo stared straight ahead without so much as glancing Frei’s way as she got in beside him.
“Did you retrieve the information?” Hartmann asked with a sigh as if Theo had yelled at her.
“We downloaded his system. Jessie will work on it.” Frei reached across and squeezed Renee’s knee. “If you think it was her, it was.”
Renee nodded, flicking her eyes to and fro like she was trying to process it. Hartmann patted Renee on the hand as if to offer comfort and stared out of the window as they drove off. Renee looked at her, studied her, then smiled a genuine smile and Hartmann waved it off like she wasn’t thrilled.
Frei didn’t have to look at Theo to know he was irritated with her and she tried to quash the guilty thoughts about Susan. They had the information and somehow they had Aeron with them. That boosted her more than any of the solid evidence.
A smile filled her heart and she smirked at Renee. “Maybe she got the memo about the bear?”