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Evanescent. [closed] Read 7372 times

Pride

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Re: Evanescent. [closed]
« Reply #60 on: January 02, 2015, 05:02:14 pm »
Chris arched an amused brow at his best friend’s suggestion, glad to see her in better spirits. “A pirouette? Please, Penny. I don’t know if I could handle all the fans I would have following me around after showing a crowd how graceful I am.”

Jokes weren’t entirely his strong suit either, but he wanted to keep Penny smiling now that she had started again and he knew she would recognize his dead-pan arrogance for what it was. “Tomorrow works for me. I need to get home and situate myself, but I do not foresee any pressing issues that would keep me.”

The young man stood, glancing out the window again. The snowfall seemed to be slowing and would likely stop by the time he arrived home, thanks in part to his decision to take his time walking back. Climbing up the usual path to his bedroom window wouldn’t be an option tonight, not with all the ice and snow making it dangerous, so he’d have to go through the front door and deal with his father first. The long walk would give him time to clear his head, put together his lie, and take him the cold part of his heart he needed to be in when dealing with Malcolm Hawke.

Christopher turned back to Penny, light eyes meeting dark. Perhaps it was more accurate to say that he was leaving his heart here, in this warm house with a girl who looked far too adorable in an over-sized sweatshirt and messy hair. He reached forward and tousled her hair a bit, smiling a little down at the shorter girl.

“Coffee and ice skating sounds like fun. I’ll text you when I get everything sorted at the manor.”

--

There was an unfamiliar car idling in the looping drive way that came up to the large oak doors marking the entrance to the Hawke Manor. Christopher glanced from the white that had accumulated on the car’s top to the driver playing with his phone in the front seat, factors indicative of the length of time it had been waiting there. That too was unusual – most visitors rarely spent longer than five minutes meeting with Malcolm Hawke before being sent on their way, the rare business deal gone wrong gathering an unfortunate ten minutes for those who made the mistake of angering the business tycoon. This guest had clearly been here before the snowfall that had stopped half an hour ago.

Christopher entered the manor with a growing sense of unease, his coat stripped from him by a servant who wouldn’t meet his gaze. That in itself was nothing remarkable – Chris was used to that reaction from common people - but the quiet woman’s greeting gave him pause.

“Good evening, Master Hawke.”

Icy blue darted to her bowed head, surprised at the title. Master?  No, his father was ‘Master Hawke’. Christopher was ‘Young Master Hawke’ until he was married or taking over the family business. The servant must have felt his stare on her because she stilled, hands neatly folding his coat now frozen in place and head bowed to hide her expression. The blonde man frowned at her, wondering for a brief moment if she was new to the manor and had mistaken him for his father because of their similar look – but no. After a longer moment of consideration, he recognized her voice: Elise Cantrell. This woman had been working on the estate since Christopher was in middle school. She wouldn’t have made such a novice mistake in a household run by a man with very little patience for errors.

“Ah, Chris! So good to see you, my boy.”

It was Christopher’s turn to stiffen. No one in this household called him that – even in the rare moments when his father addressed him as something more than ‘boy’, it was always with his full name. There was only one person in the world who was allowed to address him in such a familiar way without getting the full brunt of Chris' ire. This reedy, winded voice calling to him from the grand staircase was certainly not her.

“Mr. Hastings.” Christopher turned smoothly and inclined his head politely to the heavy, stout man making his way down to the main foyer. Though infallibly polite, Christopher did not return the smile offered to him and his tone was almost as cold as his stare. “An unexpected pleasure.”

Theodore Rupert Hastings III, the CEO of Hastings Enterprises and the only major competitor left to stand against Hawke Industries, was a short and balding man whose weight led him more to waddling than walking. He was also the father of the girl that had teased Penelope when they were younger, leading to a brief but conclusive fight with Christopher that left her and her friend as pariahs. He hadn’t seen Sydney since she transferred schools a few months after, but he had not forgotten Penny’s expression when she fled the classroom that day. He would never forget it.

But perhaps more pressingly, Theodore Hastings and Malcolm Hawke hated each other. Why was this man here?

“My, you are so much like Malcolm,” Hastings said with a boisterous laugh as he finished his descent, a handkerchief pulled from his pocket mopping at a sweaty brow.  He grinned up at Christopher’s level stare, either oblivious to the ire there or indifferent. “You look and sound exactly as he did when we first met. Quite the impressive sight, I assure you.”

Malcolm? The casual use of the name threw Chris, leaving him unexpectedly off balance. He had never known anyone but his late mother to address his father by his first name – such a disrespectful familiarity would have had the elder Hawke livid. Surely Hastings, a family name so closely tied to old money and older traditions, wouldn’t make such a slight in the man’s own home. It didn’t help that Hastings was still grinning, looking and sounding so genuinely friendly as he walked up to clap the taller man on the shoulder.

“I’m sorry you missed the final negotiations, my boy – I heard you encountered some sort of emergency, I’m quite glad you’re okay - but no need to fret! Your father and I got everything settled and squared away for you.”

Christopher wondered if he had ever felt dread like this before, so heavy and thick in his chest. “Negotiations?”

The loud man laughed, taking the question as a joke. “Yes, I suppose that is a rather technical word for it, but Malcolm is fond of it and I’m not inclined to disagree after all these long months of back and forwards. We are merging two of the biggest companies in the world, after all.” Again, Christopher wasn’t sure if his ability to mask his feelings or the fat man’s obliviousness to it all was more responsible to the Hawke’s astonishment to pass by unnoticed. Hastings was already moving on, looking sheepish. “Not that the business side is the most important part of this matter, naturally! All the buzz and congratulations will be more for you two than our company’s merger, I’m sure. ”

Christopher Hawke was wrong. The dread from before was nothing compared to the feeling in his chest now, the crushing certainty of knowing that something was very wrong, limiting him to one word questions like a simpleton. “Two? Congratulations?”

That annoying, too-loud laugh again. “Why, on your engagement to my daughter, of course!”
« Last Edit: January 02, 2015, 05:11:04 pm by Pride »

Pach_Work

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Re: Evanescent. [closed]
« Reply #61 on: April 03, 2015, 06:53:23 am »

He never texted.

It was unlike Chris to forget plans, sometimes he had to cancel, but he usually let her know. The following day Penny spent a lot of time by her window, watching the gentle snowfall. Her black boots had been kicked off to the side. She had woken up early since that was Christopher’s preferred timing, and dressed warmly for their day.

She sent him a message that afternoon, “Still on for today?” but there was no response. It was dark by the time Penny’s phone lit up with a response from him confirming the cancellation. No explanation.

Penny sighed and fell back into her pillow, and without bothering to change into her pajamas she pulled her comforter over her head and closed her eyes.

The next few days went by without much word from him. She had sent text after text, asking if he was all right, if he needed to talk. If there was a response it was generic and short. Her suspicions went to Christopher’s father. He had plainly stated how he felt about Penny. Perhaps he was forbidding Chris to spend time with her.

During her break at the coffee shop, she stepped outside to check her phone. No missed calls, no texts. She sighed and stared at the screen, white numbers displaying the time peered up at her. Part of her wanted to see “Dad” light up the screen saver, but she knew that wouldn’t happen. He wasn’t here. No one was.

She swiped to the right, unlocking her phone and opened up her text messages. Penny tapped Chris’s name and the screen that followed was a mass of messages sent from her over the past few days. The touch screen clicked under her fingertips as she typed out another message,

”Please. I feel so alone.”

Her thumb hovered over the “send” button for a brief moment, but then she tapped the “delete” button and erased it all, shoving her phone back into her pocket and returning to work.


Her mother was dealing with the stuff her own way, staying busy, going on about her day like nothing was different. Bethany was always glued to the computer or the TV, her age prevented her worry from seeding too deep. She was oblivious and innocent to the dangers of daily news and reports by media conglomerates overseas.

Sometimes she wished she were.

Her sister was in the living room when Penny returned home that night. She looked around, the kitchen was empty, so was the back porch, “Where’s mom?” she asked, avoiding looking at Ranger’s food and water bowl, still sitting on top of the stool so he would have an easier time reaching to eat and drink.

Bethany glanced up for a second, “Not sure, something about the tree in the back yard being dead. I think we have to cut it down.”

Penny blinked, “What…?” Then, she thought of something suddenly and tossed her wallet onto the counter. She dug back into her bag for her keys before she turned around and walked back towards the door,

“Where are you going?” She could hear Bethany’s voice echo through the empty hallway that used to be where she dried off Ranger after his baths, took his leash off after walks, held him back from jumping on visitors at the door.

“I’ll be back!” She called in reply.

The park was covered in snow, and more was falling. Penny parked by the soccer fields, but she followed an old path into the scarce woods behind the fences. She could see a set of footsteps and didn’t even have to guess who’s they might be. Her pace quickened, the path less bushy due to the winter. She had to avoid a few naked branches jutting out. Something about the walk seemed less welcoming than usual. When she reached their tree, she saw him. Her breath hung in the air in front of her,

“Hey.”