“They both possessed a victimhood that had been conferred because they'd both been guilty of being female in a world where some men believed they deserved never to feel powerless.”
― Val McDermid, The Torment of Others
Atlantic City, NJ
“... I’ve got nowhere else to turn.”
It was like staring into a mirror, well maybe not quite the mascara stained tears rolling across cheekbones that could cut a man nor the relatively constant sobbing noise dredged up every couple of words from the back of her throat. Almost pathetically she cupped the coffee between shaky hands as though it might somehow warm her via osmosis despite steam no longer rising from it's surface- across the table Amber silently mourned the waste.
The words though, the desperation in her tone hit sharp somewhere inside the redhead that many would have long since declared desolate- apathetic and overwhelmingly indifferent, it’d been easier to simply ignore the sharpness of the world and pretend like it didn’t cut you all the same.
“... Tried the police but I can’t prove anything.”
Amber wished she could say that she felt something for the girl as her hair dripped onto the carpet, guttural noises emanating from some place inside that felt unfamiliar.
“My Dad was a good man Miss Ryan, and those bastards drove him into a hole. My Mom couldn’t live with what they’d done- they showed up pretending to mourn and handed her a fucking bill for showing up. He gave them everything, and they him them under a train to avoid extra paperwork from the IRS… Caledonia said you could make them pay for what they’ve done, that you’d done it before.”
It wasn’t exactly a lie but no doubt the details would have been mildly misconstrued- as if this girl would have been in the right frame of mind to understand even if the intent had been made clear. Amber Ryan was a shitty person, she’d be the first to admit it and probably chime her agreeance with most of the ever-lengthening line that followed. She’d done things that would have brought a tear of joy to the eye of a sociopathic serial killer and kept religion in semi-profitable business for the past decade and a half… hell, she’d done more damage trying to make good with her existence than her worst intentions could ever have managed.
To call upon her for ill-sought vengeance was like opening Pandora’s despite it being clearly labelled as a terrible idea and the locks having been jammed with silly putty.
“Bastards like that never seem to pay. Somehow they can justify just using everyone that crosses their path before tossing them cause they just don’t stretch and bend like they used to. I just want them to pay what they owe- it ain’t even about the money but it's a message that they can’t be this way.”
A momentary burning defiance fell back to a simmer- she’d seen that look before, in the eyes of those she stood alongside when the Insurgency and those who believed in the cause stood for something. In the mirror when everything she cared about was threatened despite never quite understanding the malice that opposed. In the eyes of an early 20 something who couldn’t comprehend how her actions could change the world around her only that she knew that the way things were happened to be wrong.
It occured to Amber almost painfully that the question was no longer would she help, but how far she’d be willing to go to enforce her will. Maybe those mascara stained cheekbones threatening to split fragile skin and the occasional sputtered sob where closer to a mirror image than she’d first dared to believe.
At that age hadn’t Amber done the same thing?
She’d chased monsters in the dark to make them answer for their sins, never quite understanding the cost it may have to others… all that mattered was that they knew, that they could finally grasp that consequences had a way of catching up and karma could manifest itself in the most curious of ways. Fought for things that she had no right to challenge and tore the world down by aiming for thinner air than she could breathe.
Pay what they owe.
What a novel fucking concept.
“Well if this isn’t all a kick in the guts then I don’t know what it.
Maybe we should have all seen it a mile off but we were just too blinded by the idea that friendship and camaraderie actually meant something in an industry where betrayal and manipulation are celebrated privately and scorned only when it's convenient and doesn’t clash with corporate interest.
Can’t really say too much though, can I?
Never quite could get away with playing the innocence card as well as Cali did, nor the quirky loveable sociopath like Omega. I won’t deny I’ve pulled my fair share of strings and pulled the world down around me just cause it wasn’t to my liking- I’ve scratched and clawed and hell I’ve probably used people to make my road a little less bumpy even though it meant driving them into the ground.
Except I never did care about those people… at first I thought that was the difference, I thought that was the only thing that set our actions apart Omega. I thought that at least I never created that emotional attachment to sever with those I had little use for except to pave the road to infamy.
Seems like there really isn’t a difference though.
Fool me once- or thousand times over in this case. I’ve never been one to learn my lesson.
I guess that's why I’ve stuck around and you poke your head out of the ground once the thunderous figurative footsteps of war have long passed you by.
Oh fuck here we go kiddies, Little Miss O is gonna give us all another lesson on the terms of engagement according to… well, herself and Elijah cause lord knows they can’t be anything but correct.
Tell me Miss O, was it worth it?
I suppose I leave myself open for the play dumb act but let's cut the crap for once and get down to the brass tacks and glass shards. No more games and socioeconomic rants about what is and isn’t justifiable in terms of morality cause frankly it was all bullshit from day dot.
You brought war upon us, a war I gladly albeit naively gave years of my career for. A war that continues to be fought on our doorstep because you left the breadcrumbs before retreating back into your hideyhole so you can watch the peons duke it out to prove who is a little more ‘right’.
Funny isn’t it? As soon as the battle commenced the great Elijmega retreated to protect what they considered most valuable instead of fighting alongside it- hell if I had known then what I know now then I might have agreed with you not to trust me.
If only for the fact i’d have lit you both up just as I’d do with any other infectious, oozing cyst of propaganda and cowardice product churned out by that fucking Institute you ‘oppose’.
Princess and Prophet always above the masses manipulated into fighting on their behalf- those at the Academy, many were never ready for the hellfire you allowed them to be consumed by. No longer bound by the rules of morality and amorality so heartily preached forth- let the soldiers swarm like ants against a tidal wave so that their failure may be studied and song of lament written in their memory.
Fuck you and your war.
I’ll be the first to admit that I’m a soldier- always on the front lines cause frankly that's the best view of the world tearing itself apart at the seams. I always will be, I’m proud of that.
I’m proud of the mud in my veins and the blood on my hands, what I have done might not have been pretty but it's always meant something more than hollow epitaphs and philosophical sweet nothings designed to make the errant pliable to your cause.
You talk about only ever knowing the struggle yet you continue to fuel it, chucking gasoline on the fire then throwing bodies at it to try and smother the flames- it's all you’ve ever known cause you’ve never not been at the centre of your own disaster.
Must be easy to misremember that you aren;t the only ones who have ever fought or struggled, that others don’t have a normality to fall back on…
Let me give you a refresher sweetheart- without wrestling I’m in jail or in a wooden box. Maybe you’d prefer me to be either right about now. Really it's that simple cause outside of this industry there is nothing for me. You’ve run from the drama and encouraged it to give chase, I’ve allowed it to consume me cause I realized it costs more energy to flee than to burn and frankly i’ve grown accustomed to the warmth.
Maybe I’m a fence sitter, a tourist staggering blindly but the real reason you’ve gone cold is cause I see through the facade, no longer willing to sacrifice the same way I once was for you makes me untrustworthy. No longer a warrior but a rogue ant to be quashed before anyone catches wind that there’s a truth beyond the sermon being preached.
An errant pawn determined to cross the board against the orders of the Princess cause I’m supposed to fall and sacrifice like the rest. Disposable like a fucking tissue that's had the privilege of being in your goddamn fucking presence.
People aren’t disposable though Omega, maybe you forgot that somewhere along the way. Sometimes they find a way to defy and disrupt if only to see the look on peoples faces when their plans promptly fall to shit.
Caledonia Highlander gets it- if only a little late. Thing is, she still has some kind of personal stake in this, for me it's strictly the business of fucking with everyone… although smashing your pretty face through a few panes of glass certainly won’t be much of an issue either.
People can’t just be thrown away and titles aren’t just some fucking power play.
That's all the CWF World title is to you- go on, argue with me you silly little cow.
Tell me that it means more than a bargaining chip and an alchemists middle finger- that you don’t just want it cause it's something the Institute can’t quite have. That it's not just a trinket to be dragged through the mud and across the broken bodies of all those you let fall on your behalf before being shoved down the throats of those daring to oppose.
It's a symbol of excellence, not martyrdom and propaganda.
I’ve spent my career chasing titles while you wanted to build a fucking toy army to justify your actions. I need this world title to cement my legacy and prove that I have more than earned my place in the history books of CWF, you need a frontal lobotomy just to get your priorities straight.
As for your Malice in Wonderland, I’d be mildly impressed at the sadism if it wasn’t your idea.
Thing is, your idea doesn’t make it your advantage, laying claim to intellectual rights doesn’t give you an advantage- in case you forgot while plotting your next failed advancement on SSRI… I live for this shit. I’ve got more shards of glass buried under my skin than you’ve got whacked out personalities and I’ve spilled more blood under a CWF banner than anyone on this roster not named Jarvis King.
End Games. The Tower. Your Name In Lights. Parking lot brawls. Street fights. Bloodbath matches. Inferno matches. Unhinged briefcase matches. Stairways to hell. Ultraviolence is my fucking specialty and you think you’re somehow playing mind games- go on, play a little further into my hands and I’ll make you regret every syllable you ever spoke towards me.
We were family you traitorous cunt rag.
It meant something.
No, fuck you and your cause- see, maybe you were right all along that this is bigger than us. After all, it's easy to lord over everyone and tell them they don’t understand when you make up the rules as you go along, too busy trying to pretend like you are the only ones who get it.
You scorn me cause I refused to make a choice- you or Cali… Ha, I never made a choice cause there was never one to be made- truth is you’re both fucking wrong.
I’m the bad guy for not choosing? Fuck that I’d rather be neutral and choose the world title.
Some of us have worked too hard for too long to be making such trivial decisions mean more than they do Omega- for me, this is business. I made things personal before and you used my blood and bones for your amusement.
Come Golden Intentions- I’ll use yours to christen my world title.”
Sokaris Construction Head Office
How had this all end up so twisted?
It all had happened so quickly- information driving through Amber’s mind like freight trains with lead feet and cut brakes. Each one desperately trying to offload everything of importance before it too collided with the edge of her sanity and disappeared into irrelevance- the whole thing with Cali and Dan, the long term manipulation and mind games with Omega and Elijah, Golden Intentions and the Unhinged briefcase… and now trying to ignore elevator music next to a severe faced businesswoman with lips that looked like she was permanently sucking on a lemon and a stare that might have cut diamonds.
Amber mused silently, it’d been almost a month since a young, bedraggled girl stood on her doorstep begging for someone to help. Amber probably should have slammed the door and gone to bed like a rational person- however her name was Tiffany Summers, and she was seeking vengeance.
Amber didn’t know many things that were helpful- sympathy and empathy were foreign concepts that she mimicked and mimed for socially appropriate reactions and heartstrings to be tugged usually required something left on the end of them besides air and indifference.
However present a debt to be collected, something lost to be found or simply someone to be placed back in their box… Amber’s interest was piqued, and curiousity hadn’t quite yet succeeded in killing the redhead in quite the feline way. Something struck home, if such a cliche could be used, a familiarity that she couldn’t ignore and a certain corporate sadism begging to be fulfilled.
Hell, what if she knew then what she did now- would she have been so eager to be of assistance?
Would she have jumped into someone else's issues so blindly in an effort to distract from the growing tensions between people she’d felt so strongly for.
Quite simply the answer was yes, if only for the fact that Amber Ryan was an appalling decision maker.
Teetering on high heels that looked more expensive than they had any right to be, she couldn’t help but sneak glances at the other woman who’d slammed the 15 button with strict purpose- confronting a cheating husband maybe?
Firing a dissident inferior for an insufficient reason they couldn’t argue against?
Maybe she just fucking hated the position she’d found herself in.
Amber could relate, if only in theory.
Months of research had led her to this point- at first about Tiffany and her family... how her father had been ruthlessly fired in spite of his dutiful time spent so that big business could save a few bucks, how he fought with all their resources to prove unlawful termination only to be sued into oblivion cause he had the gall to refuse their bullshit excuses.
How he found solace only in ending his life so that his insurance might afford them some basic comforts while the bureaucrats drained them for everything they had left.
Only then could she concentrate her efforts onto Sokaris Construction- most of the internet searches brought up showcases of their work, filtered and photoshopped galleries of what she presumed was architectural magnificence in the form of office buildings and further extensions to the ever expanding concrete jungle. Those fluff pieces did little to inform of the gross misconducts, the cost cutting measures and the terminations and payouts for those who went sniffing a little too close to an uncomfortable truth.
All the good stuff was always shoved into the dark crevices and backs of filing cabinets in hopes that a nosy subordinate or inquisitive reporter might never stumble across something to sink their proverbial teeth into.
Problem was, even Amber had struggled to find anything of substance. Should she have been on the brink of starving for information, she might as well have gone to sleep and saved alot of time and effort all round. That's not how these things worked though- she’d given a girl hope in the same way she wished someone had done for her and now she had to back it up.
Sokaris Construction had the world at it's proverbial fingertips while Amber Ryan came armed with a knack for cold reading, misdirection and the intent to bring them to their financial knees. Never seemed like a fair fight when she looked at it from that perspective.
It was the ding of the elevator and the businesswomen's clacking heels like a metronome that brought on the sudden revelation that Amber wasn’t entirely sure what she was about to do. After all, confronting a man teetering on the edge of bankruptcy while convincing the world around him that he had more money than he could logically spend seemed like the type of thing that might get her shot.
Or thrown out of a window.
Not that anyone would ever remember her though- just another nameless woman trying to be seen for more than her cup size and cheek coverage in a charcoal pencil skirt and blazer with white blouse unbuttoned one too far to be professional and spectacles that did nothing to improve her 20/20 vision. She’d even brushed her hair for the occasion… Hundreds walked these halls and none of them knew that she might be the one to bring their world down around them… or that she might fail spectacularly and they’d watch as she was unceremoniously scraped off the pavement outside.
“Can I help you?”
Amber hadn’t even noticed the elevator doors open by the time the receptionist chimed out accusingly across the smaller lobby outside the glass walled office- she was prettier than the businesswoman earlier albeit it not a hard thing to manage, tapping away at a computer either busy working or updating her social media. Perhaps soon she’d have to do the same for her resume.
Amber smiled politely yet distantly, or at least presented the closest thing she could muster to it, hoping to come across with an air of importance that she didn’t have.
“I hope so. I have an appointment.”
She didn’t but it didn’t matter.
“It doesn’t appear so, I’m afraid.”
Quickly watching the plan take a 90 degree nosedive Amber cleared her throat, putting on her best 'offended authoratarian' tone and seized upon the assumption.
“You never asked for my name. Not that it matters I suppose- after all a woman can't possibly be in such a position and be taken seriously even by other women.
I’m representing a potential client on a tight schedule. One who has the intention of putting more money into this company than you can potentially count zeroes.
We called a week ago, I could give you a transcript if you like- otherwise we spoke to a lovely young lady who gave us one of the few remaining time slots on this day. If your boss no longer wishes to see me on behalf of my client than perhaps a call could have been made so we wouldn't be wasting our time having made the trip... Unless, well, I hope you aren’t implying that there’s been some kind of scheduling mistake..."
Nothing like the implication of having fucked up to make someone scramble to placate- there was no call ahead, no appointment made however the paranoia was enough to make the receptionist second guess. A little venom spat at the end of a woven authoritative bullshit spiel and the receptionist was quickly on the phone trying to make amends for a mistake she hadn’t made.
“My sincere apologies. Mr Smythe will see you now.”
Game on kiddies.
“It's been mused that one is the loneliest number…
Can’t say I disagree- after all, there's only enough air for one at the top of the mountain.
No one ever tells you how lonely it's going to be at the top though, there's no instruction manual or walkthrough for what happens when you find yourself on top looking down with the realization that it's the only way left to go.
Or how steep that drop truly is.
Seemed inevitable that we’d end up like this… although maybe it's a little sooner than expected.
People are going to say that I’ve fucked up, that declaring my intentions gave up my greatest advantage- that I’ve made a mistake before the match ever happens.
Maybe I have, but it's not for the reasons everyone claims.
No, see what they don’t know was after my match at Paradise- I kept my gear on while others changed ready to spend their nights in leisure, during the main event I lingered at the curtain with briefcase in shaky hand watching as probably my best friend got her hand deservedly raised while I contemplated an ethical decision.
Maybe I should have acted then- it would have been easy, most would say successful judging by the war waged. I could very well have been walking into Golden Intentions in your place Cali, having taken the greatest prize in our industry through an act of selfishness and cowardice…
It could have been real easy.
Fuck, since when have I ever done anything the easy way.
No, if we were gonna do this… it was gonna be the right way.
Until it all went to shit…
Now, the world title is an afterthought.
Don’t try bullshit me and tell me it's not- this got personal the moment you learned the truth. I won’t justify it, nor condone but at the same time it seems like only one of us remembers what we’re really fighting for. Omega accuses me of ‘not getting it’ and more than likely you would too… Understandable if only for the fact that I refuse to make this about anything but what it truly is- I fought for that briefcase so i could fight for that belt, I won that briefcase so I could become CWF World champion.
Somehow the world title has become an exclamation mark instead of the be-all-end-all.
Omega doesn’t want it except to gloat, you want to keep it out of spite.
I want it cause I fucking want to be world champ.
I’ve seen so many people become champion who never gave a fuck beyond the politics- you look at guys like Jace Valentine and Chaolin Sahn looking only to further an agenda rather than simply prove to the world why CWF wrestling is better than what everyone else can manage. It's about representation and proving why what you do is better than what anyone else does…
Nearly 16 years I’ve been doing this shit- I started in CWF before your husband could string the letter together, I was there when the Insurgency was just a countermeasure to the Cyndicate and into it's heyday when The Entourage was briefly a stable that meddled between wards raged by the stables that mattered.
I stood alongside Elijah and Omega in blissful ignorance that they were pulling the strings, lacing dynamite beneath us before handing the detonator to someone else. Your husband, as fucking daft as he might be, was one of us before you were in the picture.
He fought us almost as much as he stood beside us- I know his mother, she still sends me Christmas cards a week late.
It's not unfair to say that you never should have made it to where you are- that Caledonia Highlander should never have been world champion ahead of Amber Ryan. I left CWF though, I walked away in pursuit of other challenges only to return and find the landscape was nothing like the way I remembered it.
Things changed, as they are want to do, and my god did you get good… I went from being your maid of honour at your wedding to cheering as you did the one things I could never achieve, knowing I had the power to take it right away from you again.
Maybe I’ll never understand how things got this way Cali, but I do understand better than the both of you how things are supposed to end.
It's not with Omega winning, if only because karma has an innate way of stepping in when required. She named a stip designed to unnerve and undermine you and only you Cali, I have no doubt she’ll pretend like she views me as a threat but frankly it's tunnel vision with the gold as an extra bonus.
Unfortunately it's not with you winning either Cali, although I’ll be damned if I don’t make sure it comes at Little Miss O’s expense. I love you, I really do… Please remember that when this is over- however your distraction will be your undoing, you want hands on Omega more than you want to retain.
I’m an extra body to be disposed of, a plot twist yet to unfold and while you two are intent on killing each other- I’m the one slipping away with the prize.
Everything with Dan, it's got your mind rattled. That's been proven, Omega went for ultraviolence cause it's against your nature- the deck isn't only stacked but it's multiplied and while you are a tremendous underdog, there are odds even you can’t quite overcome.
This isn’t the battle of the academy, this isn’t the chase for the world title… This is a distracted and emotionally unstable Caledonia Highlander vs a manipulative and ethically shortsighted Omega vs … me.
I’m coming into this without baggage, without ulterior motive and without the dictations of morality to stop me doing whatever needs to be done.
That's always been the difference between us Cali, you’ll tell the world that you’ll do whatever it takes but balk when things get too far into the grey areas of integrity and honor. You’ve no issue getting blood on your hands provided it doesn’t end up staining your clothing- you’re limited by human decency and empathy.
It makes you a great friend and wife, but in a Malice In Wonderland match?
Well, I don’t think I need to spell it out.
As for me? Well I’m sure you know where this is heading...
It’s been a long time since the boundaries of social aptitude have made any sense- I’ve proven a willingness to commit horrendous acts against other if only to prove a point or achieve a goal. Your sense of compassion is only matched by the level of my killer instinct, you hesitate at the sight of blood in the water and I jump straight on in with a gaping head wound…
Granted I’ve never been one for the smartest decisions but when it comes to rate of success when things get macabre… Just ask your husband, ask Alex Cain or anyone who’s tried to talk me off a ledge only to watch me jump out of spite.
At the end of the day Cali, this is business so I guess you could say that whats about to happen… well it could be considered a favour. A weight off your shoulders, one less distraction, a return to focus perhaps… I’d say it's what friends are for but I doubt you’ll see it that way to begin with.
Give it time- you’ll come around to see my way.
You always do... and for good reason.
In any case- you’re welcome.”
“Please accept my apologies, I’m not quite sure how your appointment slipped through the cracks. My receptionist tells me you represent a potential client looking to do business- do take a seat Miss…”
CEO of Sokaris Constructions, Gerald Smythe didn’t have a good poker face. Perhaps it was why he’d found himself in such dire straights as of recently, among other poor business attributes- it was his word that put many of out a job, his false sincerities that tore families apart leaving them scrambling for anything to keep food on the table.
Actions had consequences and some men needed to be made an example of.
“My name is irrelevant, capital I if we’re being pedantic. As is the name of those I represent- although I trust it won’t take long for you to figure out.”
Fortune tellers used the same tactic, create a framework and let the human mind fill in the spaces. It was astonishing how much people took from the simplest prompts- and furthermore how quickly the colour drained from the CEO’s face.
Perhaps he knew this day was coming, a day to answer for the terrible decisions he’d made. A man on the edge of oblivion was an easy target, not a bigger enough loss to become a martyr but enough to create a ripple effect.
“What do they want now?”
His tone was irritable, no doubt this wasn’t the first time someone had stood on his doorstep demanding a pound of flesh. Money could only stave of the vultures for so long, by now there couldn’t be much left to pick away- however there was certainly no harm in trying.
“What they always have Mr Smythe.”
Amber paused and rose from the chair, pacing slowly so that the echo of her heels punctured the silence between her thoughts. Pretend like you belong, she mused, despite the fact her feet had never hurt more in a shorter span of time. Act like you know something they don’t, let them create the narrative before you tell it to them.
“Only now, the means are in place should you decide the outcome of this friendly conversation is not in mutual interest.”
“You’ve got nothing.”
A USB stick didn’t cost much, however the implication that it might have something on it was invaluable- few things were easier to play on than paranoia, that inking feeling inside that you’re one step behind in a game you didn’t realize you were playing. Visibly, Gerald Smythe sunk into his seat a little bit despite his facade of defiance.
Holding the USB delicately, Amber twirled it almost playfully between her fingers.
“I don't appreciate being told what I do and do not have Mr Smythe- I've been nothing but polite so far and I would courtesously ask the same of you. Now, what I have is enough to put you in a cell with a former bodybuilder nicknamed ‘Tiny’ looking for a bunkmate to snuggle with. I’m sure you know as well as I do that people from money don’t fare well in general population.”
She had nothing except a guilty conscience to work with. A cold reading approaching absolute zero, it was difficult to restrain the level of amusement she had for how quickly he was sinking into his own made mire.
“How did you-”
“Means are a formality. Even you must be aware of the prevalence of security problems… As for data? It’s a known fact that most men in positions of power- quite like yours- use sentimentalities for passwords. Wives…”
“... Pets …”
“... Hobbies …”
“Even their children's names…”
“Seems almost silly when you think about it- using the names of sons…”
“... and daughters …”
An glint and eye twitch.
“... to guard our greatest secrets. Tell me Mr Smythe, do you think you precious daughter would be able to comprehend just what her identity truly means to you?”
Amber’s cold half-smile tore through the mans psyche, his hands buried beneath the table as if that might hide their shakes.
“Pretty girl your daughter actually, I suppose she gets her beauty from her mother although I'd hope her business accumen outstrips yours... Quite the talent. Bright too, you must be incredibly proud- although I can’t imagine she’d feel the same way if all this went sideways...”
She’d never seen his daughter- but he didn’t need to know that. Every little girl was the apple of Daddy's eye, the epitome of angelic perfection and the greatest gift a higher power could bless- regardless if she looked like a troll with a shrunken head or was badly mutilated in a Disney On Ice freak accident.
Pride of place in heart and mind.
“She doesn’t need to know any of this.”
It was almost pathetic the way he whimpered, broken down by his own neurosis and guilt. For all intents and purposes he probably was a good man who’d just done some really stupid things from a position of power- that didn’t excuse nor did it provide for those who’d been damaged by the fallout.
“Perhaps not- but that's up to you. If I walk from this room without a result, this USB somehow gets displaced and falls into hands of those with a vested interest in what it contains. I’m sure you don’t want that though… Alternatively- you pay what you owe and this becomes damaged beyond repair.”
“I’ll go bankrupt.”
“Most likely, yes based off your recent financials. Otherwise you’ll soon be making new ‘friends’ with unofficial qualifications for prostate exams. Decision is yours Mr Smythe, just like it always was. You have two days, if my client hears nothing- well then I’d start stretching if you know what I mean.”
Clack. Clack. Clack.
Behind the desk, Gerald Smythe was trying to make a coherent sentence but couldn’t find words beyond rage and despair. There wouldn’t be much to gain financially, but knowing that somehow the world might have changed a little for the better- it was enough to bring some semblance of a genuine smile to the face of a hurricane.
If someone had done something like this for Amber when she needed it…
Maybe none of this would ever have happened.