Mercedes had been staying with Corlanthis and Rayvinn in his townhouse since her rescue from the slave compound. It had surprised her to learn that the other woman was another stray that Corlanthis had managed to acquire. Her benefactor was very accommodating but she was growing restless with the seemingly endless days of being couped up in the house, even though she was grateful it was this house and not a Master's house.
Jack visited frequently, bringing her some small token with each visit. The best gift of all was his willingness to listen. So, it was with happy abandon that she spoke to him of her life prior to the fateful night when she arrived in RhyDin. He really didn't talk much aside from asking her questions but Merci was rather self-absorbed lately anyway so she didn't notice much.
They discussed her career, and she was pleased to see he was properly impressed with her accomplishments. She had accomplished so much since her days as a street rat in Brazil. She was still alive and she had more money than she could ever dream of spending. Well, she used to have more money...right now she had nothing but the charity of a cheerfully strange man, an elf with far too much love for weaponry(and more clothes than Merci had!) and this strange green man that creeped her out at times with his intense stare.
During one of his visits, Merci had just placed a cup of coffee in front of him when Jack asked the question that plagued her mind almost constantly. "What are your plans now?"
She had just stared at him absently for a moment, lower lip worried between her teeth while mulling over her options. "I don't know, Jack. This might very well be the first time in my life that I don't know what to do next." Sighing, she dropped into a chair across from him. "Even on the streets I had a plan, just find enough food and shelter to get through one more day. When the next day came, I did the same."
She motioned around, not so much at Corlanthis' home as to the realm in general. "This is all foreign to me. I have seen things in this place that used to be only in the movies I watched. I don't know how to survive here." She had figured out something about Jack during the time they had spent together. He was a man of few words but when he spoke, it paid to listen. This advice of his was no different.
"You get out of bed, get dressed and then put one foot in front of the other. Keep your eyes and ears open and your mouth shut more often than not. Most importantly of all, Mercedes, don't trust anyone."
Mercedes had gotten up earlier than usual so she could resume her routine; putting one foot in front of the other as Jack had advised.
Her routine consisted of a morning workout followed by meditation, herbal tea and a massage, breakfast and finally her beauty regime. No point of this was ever skipped as it was all essential to helping her maintain the balance of beauty and calm. Stress caused wrinkles after all, and wrinkles killed a model's career.
She had soul searched after her discussion with Jack and decided sitting around moping was not going to get her home. She wasn't sure how she would get there but she didn't need to look like she had gone through an ordeal once she found her way back. She needed to be fresh and ready to resume her career. Thus her routine was reinstated and if it accomplished nothing else, it took up many empty hours that Merci had been using to cry and binge on ice cream. Her benefactor kept a very large stock of it in his freezer, she had found. How scandalous he was!
Mercedes wasn't a shallow woman though she frequently appeared to be. She had a persona to maintain. She was paid to smile and make the camera love her not to show the other traits that made her more than an object of envy and desire. At times it was difficult to separate her public self from her real self. It hadn't always been so difficult. When she had first been taken in by Jorge, her public image didn't matter. She went to a few photo shoots here and there but was by no means a recognizable celebrity. It had been easy to shrug off the role she played. Then she began receiving more and more job offers. Her face was recognized and there was the constant threat of flashbulbs and people vying to obtain her attention. She couldn't be Merci, former street rat. She was Mercedes, diva extraordinaire.
Perhaps her time in RhyDin would be a blessing in disguise and give her the down time needed to rejuvenate her spirit. Maybe Fate had orchestrated this entire ordeal and the woman would eventually regain her zest for life which had long been repressed...as soon as she overcame the trauma of being kidnapped and enslaved, of course!
Jack strolled casually up the path to Corlanthis' townhouse and lightly rapped upon the door. It was the usual time of day for his visit, this had become their routine over the past weeks.
One hand was clutching a sack with today's gift in it and the other held a to go cup of Chai latte, she had mentioned a few days prior that this was an indulgence for her and it had taken him this long to figure out what it was and to locate a vendor.
Jack was dressed considerably more casual today since they had arranged an outing that involved being out of doors. Khaki pants were paired with a short sleeved fitted navy shirt and loafers. The usual sunglasses were in place, as they always were when he was outside during the day since his eyes were sensitive to light.
.45 was resting on his hip in its self lock paddle holster and Walther P99 was in an ankle holster. It didn't matter that he wasn't working at his shooting range today or that he was "off duty" for The Division; if there was such a thing as being off duty, he still carried his pistols like they were just an extension of his own body. Normally both weapons would be in shoulder holsters but he didn't want to frighten Merci. He stood patiently awaiting her arrival to the door, expression impassive.
"Just a minute! I'm on my way!" Merci yelled from the stairs as she was descending. She checked her watch, a slight smile upon her face. She knew who was at the door and she knew it would do him some good to wait. She clicked across the floor to the first floor powder room and primped, readjusting a few choice strands of hair and touching up her light pink lipstick. Finally, she straightened and smoothed the white sundress she had borrowed from Rayvinn. Merci was much more compact than the Elven woman and had been more blessed with natural assets so it was sometimes a struggle to find something appropriate to wear.
She click-clacked her way to the door, thankfully Rayvinn's shoes fit, and paused for another moment. The door handle was finally turned and she offered Jack one of her brightest smiles, head tilted just so, as she pulled the door open. "What a pleasant surprise, Jack. Was I expecting you? I seem to forget." Amber eyes twinkled with mischief as she chuckled and held out a perfectly manicured hand for him to take so he could pass through the wards of Corlanthis' house.
Noticing that he had his hands full, she lavished an even prettier smile upon him and reached for the sack. "Here let me help you with that. Is it for me?" A faux surprised look replaced the smile. She knew it was for her as it was every day but the act must be maintained since he seemed amused by it.
"And what is this?" She pointed to the cup in his hand. "Are you bringing your own coffee now? I hope mine hasn't been that bad!" She raised a well groomed dark brow at the thought that he might not like hers. One skill Jorge had insisted she learn was making perfect coffee. He had cooks and housekeepers but had her make his coffee every morning.
This, however, would be a moment that he was not reserved; as he normally wasn't with Mercedes since they had begun spending so much time together. He heard her reach the door; a wide grin slipped over his handsome features as she made him wait, and he was barely able to suppress a chuckle. He enjoyed this aspect of her personality, this spoiled Princess mentality that he was doing his best to further.
Finally, the door was opened and he was greeted by pure sunshine in the form of her smile, that warmed him to his core. He finally released that chuckle he had been holding back as she pretended to not remember their appointment.
"Oh, perhaps I am the one that forgot the correct day and time. I will just come back another day." He took a step back, giving her a teasing smile as he did so. Her hand was being offered to him, however, and there was no way he could refuse a beautiful woman wearing a pair of heels, could he? Her hand was lifted for a smooth brush of his lips across the back of it as she led him into the house.
"No, I am afraid this time the sack isn't for you, Mercedes." He teased again, winking as she was already opening and removing the day's gifts.
"I could never drink coffee other than yours when it is offered, my dear. This is for you. You mentioned that chai latte that you miss so much. I found some." The cup was offered. "Its only tea, but if it eases even a fraction of your displeasure at not being on Earth, then I will bring this every day. Nothing should cloud the sunshine of your smile. Ever." He spoke simply, no overly flowery language or gestures that she was undoubtedly accustomed to. Nothing but the truth, and for a spy like Jack, that was truly something special.
Monsters are created in so many different ways. Apparently Jack had no qualms in creating one today.
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