#19 – Business Before Pleasure

August 25th, 2011


  • Harry Custone planned a meeting to exchange cash for information to help Oliver Jordan take over Waterford Holdings.
  • Harry Custone arranged for the disappearance of Senator Charles Taylor’s wife Vivian.
  • Kerstin Waterford‘s new neighbour, Frank Denzre, is quickly growing on her.
  • Sarah Price missed a day of work (because she’s in the woods with Oswald Glendale).

Harry wrapped the elastic band around the last bundle of hundred dollars bills and laid them into the little case.  They fit surprisingly well considering it was supposed to hold – ironically – legal briefs.  He ran his hands along the top of the bills, “twenty thousand dollars,” he said out loud to no one at all. “When this is all over you can bet that son of a bitch is going to get twenty thousand dollars worth of hurt.”

He was interrupted by an alarm sounding on his phone.  He grabbed the case and his jacket and headed out the door and down the stairs to the front of the building.  He was in a hurry and so barely even took a moment to look out at the beautiful ocean view that had been the site of his wife’s death.

The long white car pulled up almost immediately as he rounded the corner.  He glanced furtively back and forth before pulling the door open and ducking inside.

“Mr. Jordan,” he said tucking the case alongside his seat as he slid around to find a comfortable position.

“Harry,” Oliver said politely.  “Have a drink,” he said gesturing to the bar in front of him.

It was early in the morning for even Harry to consider drinking.  “Business first,” Harry said.

“Very well,” Oliver said.  “You’ve got a meeting with…  which one is it?”

“I’d rather if you didn’t know the details, Mr. Jordan.” Harry said, with an apologetic gesture, “but yes.  He said that he’s got some good information from the daughter and he’s going to hand it off to me today.”

Oliver nodded, “and that’s the purpose for the case?”  He inquired, “you don’t normally have the case, Harry.  It looks strange on you.”

Harry chuckled bitterly, “no sir, actually, that’s a bit of a hiccup.”

“A hiccup, Harry?  You know I don’t care for such things.”

“No, no, sir,” Harry corrected, “nothing for you to worry about.  This guy… he’s asking for more money.  He said something about…” Harry paused in the middle of the sentence, choosing instead to leave out the part where his man felt the need to subcontract – loose ends would not make Oliver Jordan happy.  “He wants more money for the job.  I don’t know…  maybe he wants to buy the girl an effing car or something.”

Oliver smirked, “you are going to give him his money?”

Harry nodded; his jaw was set and his eyes narrowed.

“You don’t look happy about it,” Oliver observed.

“I’m not, sir,” Harry said biting out the words.  “But once this is all through, with your permission, I will…  express my displeasure with him…  up close and personally.”

Oliver gestured dismissively, “of course.  What you do on your own time is your own business.”  He chuckled, “but it’s nice to see that you haven’t lost your fire.”

The men shared a laugh.

“Did he tell you anything about what he’d found?”  Oliver asked.

Harry shook his head, “no, but he did say that she had a lot more information on Waterford than he’d expected.  Names of partners and stuff, he said he got copies of all of it.”

“Partners?”  Oliver mused, “really?  Well that is useful information.”

The car slowed as it entered the parking lot of a long abandoned warehouse.  “Be back in a flash,” Harry said as he grabbed the case and stepped out of the car.

“Oh my God,” she said laying her hand over her head.  “Why am I awake at 6:45?”

She rolled her head to the left to look at the unoccupied side of the bed.  She puffed out her cheeks and blew out a long, loud breath.  “Okay, Kerstin, you might as well get up…  hey, maybe you can even read the paper that you pay for, y’know, for a change.”

She slid her slippers on and plodded into the living area of her apartment.  The boxes had slowly been being reduced in number but the amount of furniture in the space was still decidedly lacking.  Growing up at Red Terrace seemed to have left her completely incapable of decorating a space – or perhaps that was just what she told herself in order to justify the laziness of not doing it.

She pulled open the door and bent down to pick up the paper left in front of her door, hearing as she did the sound of a door opening on the opposite side of the hall.  She looked up from the paper to see Frank Denzre squatting in the doorway to his own apartment and retrieving his own paper.

She burst out laughing.

“What?” He said in an accusatory tone.

Rather than reply she just pointed at the opening that had been created in his robe by the squatting position.  His eyes followed her finger, although she was certain that he could feel the draft.  His knees snapped together suddenly and the volume of her laughing increased such that she had to steady herself against the door frame lest she fall over.

“Stop!” he said, although it was meant to sound stern there was the slightest hint of pleading in his voice.  “It’s cold out here.”

She clasped her hand to her mouth in an attempt to stifle the giggles that had replaced the all out laughter and pushed herself upright.  She looked at him with sorry eyes, she simply couldn’t stop herself from giggling.

A door opened down the hall and an elderly woman stuck her head out and scowled dourly at the pair.  Frank, having retrieved his paper and stood, waved at the woman and said, “sorry”.

He crossed the hall and took Kerstin by the arm and pulled her into her apartment.  Her giggling began to subside and she wiped at the tears that had formed in her eyes.  “Oh, I’m so sorry,” she said, “I don’t know… that was just too damned funny.  You were just, y’know…”

“Yes, I know,” he said, a smile playing across his face.  “Did you see the look on…  I don’t even know her name.  The woman in 507.  Did you see the look on her face?”

Kerstin nodded, “she was pissed.  But if she’d seen what I saw…”  She made an unflattering gesture.

“Okay funny lady,” he said spinning her around and pushing her out of the entrance way of her apartment.  “What are you doing up at this hour?”  He asked as he stepped into her kitchen and began the process of making a pot of coffee.

“Damned if I know,” she said opening the paper on the small table and standing over it while she read, “I just woke up and decided to get out of bed.  What are you doing up so early?”  She realized that she wasn’t certain if this was customary for Frank or not.

“I have a meeting this morning at a warehouse downt… I have a meeting,” he repeated.  “For a…  business…  thing.”

“A business thing,” she said, looking up from her paper, in a tone that clearly mocked his broken delivery.  “Well, if you’re just that eloquent you’re sure to woo the pants off them.”

She watched him lean across the counter and place hands widely spread on the lip of the opening between the kitchen and the rest of the apartment.  He had a strange smirk on his face, he said, “those aren’t the pants that I was hoping to woo off.”

She laughed and looked back down at her paper for a moment before looking back up at him.  He hadn’t changed his expression or his stance.  She could feel the colour coming to her cheeks, “what?”  She said letting a smile appear on her face.

“You know,” he said.  He pulled back from the opening and joined her in the living room.  He walked up to her and put a hand on either one of her hips.  She looked up into his eyes and into his face.  Her smile broadened to a playfully cheeky grin.  “So,” he said, “what’s the deal with you and that bar guy?  The one that showed up here the other night?”  Her grin faded quickly.

She sighed, “really? You want to talk about Jehua?”

“Yes,” he said, “I want to know what went on between the two of you…  all of it.”

“What time is your meeting?”  She asked.

“Shit,” he said turning away from her to look at the clock, “I have to go.”  He walked toward the door, pointing a finger at her as he walked, “I’ll be back as soon as I’m done with business and then we’ll talk.”

She waved him off and he disappeared through the door.  She dreaded the idea of having to rehash her complicated history with Jehua Stanley – or Jehua West as she’d known him.  But something was happening between her and Frank, and that would mean setting his mind at ease that the working relationship between Jehua and herself was exactly that.

That’s all it is, isn’t it?

A gentle ding from within the kitchen made her smile, “the coffee’s done,” she said to herself, “I love it when the coffee’s done.”

Jordan TowerHarry Custone and Oliver Jordan had ridden the rest of the way to the Jordan Towers office in silence.  Harry was annoyed at having to give up 20,000$ from the contingency fund for the Waterford caper.  That money was to be his upon the successful completion of the takeover.

Oliver Jordan’s voice jarred him from his ruminations, “this is interesting,” he said.  “It seems that Lawrence Waterford has been engaging the same silent partners for decades.”

Harry nodded along with the boss.  He hadn’t had a chance to review all the papers before they’d arrived at the office, but he and Oliver had split the pages and were now leafing through them.  His plan had worked suitably for their purposes.  The man had assured him that he would stay close to the daughter in order to get as much more information as he possibly could.  Harry was quite certain that it had as much to do with continuing the stream of money that the man was receiving as it did any dedication to himself or Oliver Jordan.

One particular seemed to hold Oliver enrapt for a long time.  He looked up from it after a moment and spoke, “I’m sorry, did you say something?”

Harry shook his head, “no, sir.”  He paused, “but I suppose the next step is to contact these interests and buy out their stakes?”

Oliver nodded thoughtfully, “but it will have to be done with some tact.  I’ll need to know who these men are before we approach them.  We’ll have to be able to be sure that they will sell and sell quietly before we can proceed.  Any word gets to Waterford and the whole deal will be done.”

Harry nodded, “so I guess I’ll be working nights for the next while?”

Oliver chuckled, “I suppose so.” He shook his head, “I have no idea how you get some of this information, Harry.”

“Mr. Jordan, you don’t want to know.”

Kerstin leaned her head lightly to the side, pressing the phone against her ear, as she flipped backwards through the newspaper.  It was her father’s way of reading the paper and it had worn off on her years before.  She always started with the obituaries and then worked her way toward the cover.  “No,” she said, “I haven’t heard from her in a few days, either.”

Leticia McKinelle, on the other end of the phone conversation, said, “it doesn’t make a hell of a lot of sense.  This is the second day in a row that she’s missed work.  Her father doesn’t know where she is, her brother doesn’t know where she is.”

“Mmmm,” Kerstin said, “John Price…  have you seen him naked yet?”

“Focus,” Leticia chided, “but no, not yet…  I mean, no.  Bitch.”

“I’m just saying, it’s going to happen.”  Kerstin said, “but no sign of Sarah, huh?  It’s entirely possible that she’s trapped in a sweater or something.”

“You are right rude today,” Leticia said, “she’s become a lot more capable than she was when we were kids.”

“I know,” Kerstin replied, “I said ‘sweater’…  sweaters are hard.”  She giggled.  “Especially those tight ones that she…  holy crap!” she exclaimed. “Vivian Taylor was kidnapped.”

“Oh no!” Leticia said, “wait, is that someone I’m supposed to know?”

“Senator Charles Taylor,” Kerstin prompted.


“His wife.”

“Holy crap,” Leticia parroted.

“Yeah.” Kerstin agreed.  “They’re, like, good friends of my Dad.  It doesn’t say anything much about the kidnapping.  There was no ransom note…”

“That’s not good.” Leticia interjected.

“No, it’s not.”  Kerstin looked up as the door to her apartment opened and Frank Denzre walked in.  He was carrying a brief case that he sat beside the door.  “Hey, Let, I’ve gotta go.  I’ve got…  uh, I’ll talk to you later.”

Leticia laughed on the other side of the phone, “he’s back, eh?  What are you going to tell him about Jehua?”  She sang his name.

“Uhm, shut up.”  Kerstin said flatly, waving at Frank to indicate that she was talking to the person on the phone and not to him, “okay…  buh bye.  Let me know if you hear from Sarah.  Talk soon.”  She hung up the phone and tossed it onto the table.

“Hi,” she said in a voice that was intentionally too sweet.

“Who was that?” Frank said with a crooked smile on his face.

“My cousin Leticia,” she replied, “on my Mom’s side.  She was calling to tell me that my friend Sarah hasn’t shown up for work two days in a row…  which is weird for Sarah.”  Kerstin said, “although Sarah’s kind of weird.  This one time when we were kids she got the idea to dye her parents swimming pool her school colours…  but dying a pool two different colours doesn’t really work when you don’t turn off the filter…  it just sorta turned brown…”  Her voice sort of dropped off as she realized that she was rambling.  “It was…  fun.  We got in trouble.”

Frank stepped over to the table and stood above her while she sat.  She looked up at him and smiled, “how was your meeting?”  She could feel his belly button through the fabric of his shirt against her chin.

Frank glanced quickly toward the door and then back down at Kerstin, “it was good.  Profitable.”  He smiled.  He bent down and kissed her forehead.  She tilted her head back and pressed her lips against his.  They kissed that way for a long moment before he pulled back from her and took her chin in his hand.

“Very, very good.”  He repeated.  “This is a business arrangement that’s going to work out just fine, I think.”

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2 thoughts on “#19 – Business Before Pleasure

  1. Simone Schaffer says:

    I love the joke about getting trapped in a sweater. I think that’s actually happened to me a couple of times.

    Leticia’s reaction to Vivian Taylor being kidnapped was priceless and very real to me. I’m interested to see where this thing between Frank/Kerstin/Jehua goes.

  2. MadHacktress says:

    Heh, yeah I reckon it’s happened to me a time or two, as well… but, I really think that Sarah could remain trapped in one for days. She’s not much of a problem solver and I wanted to convey that.

    Kerstin’s relationships – all of them – are not going to get any simpler for a long time to come.

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