Illusions begin, p.10
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       Illusions Begin, p.10

           N.L. Greene
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  Chapter Six

  Becky finally woke up to the reoccurring harsh shrill of her cell phone ringing from the other room. Having not turned on any of the lights when she got home, it was dark in her apartment now, telling her that it was probably well past six. She groaned but quickly got out of bed and jogged to her living room to answer the phone. She knew before she even looked at the display who was calling. Taking a deep breath to help brace herself, she slid her finger across the screen, and placed the phone to her ear.

  “Hello mother,” she said on a sigh.

  “Don’t you take that tone with me young lady,” her mother snapped at her, but then her voice softened and Becky could hear the concern that was hidden before. “Are you okay honey?”

  “Yes, mom,” she let out another sigh, but this one in exhaustion and sadness, “I’m fine, really.”

  “Do you want me to come over, bring you dinner?” Her mother’s voice was so hopeful and as much as Becky didn’t want to have it out with her mother face-to-face, she couldn’t deny how much she really wanted to see her either.

  “That would be great. Could you bring me some soup?” She could hear her own voice become softer so she knew that she probably sounded vulnerable and more like a child than the adult she always insisted she was. But she couldn’t help it. Sometimes it was nice to be taken care of and babied by your mom. Her parents had tried to be there for her growing up, but they were very busy. As a result, she had always taken advantage of times like this, when her mother wanted to take care of her and pamper her. Just because she was an adult didn’t mean she couldn’t relish in the caring attentiveness of her mother. Besides, it would be good for both of them.

  “Of course sweetheart, is there anything else you need?”

  “No Momma, just the soup and you.”

  “Okay honey. I’ll be there in an hour. Just call me if you think of anything else. I love you Becky,” her mother said softly before hanging up the phone.

  As Becky set the phone down, she couldn’t help the soft smile that tugged at her lips or the moisture that gathered in her eyes. Her mother was very proper and formal all the time, only ever calling Becky by her nickname when she was feeling overly emotional toward her daughter. Becky hated that it was under the circumstances that it was, but she would take it. Glancing down at herself, she realized that answering the door in her bra and panties when her mom got there probably wasn’t the best idea. Her mom may be babying her, but she would still have a stroke if she thought Becky paraded around the house so indecently. She giggled at the thought of her mother being so scandalized at such a small thing as she headed to her room to get dressed.

  As she was throwing on her worn Juicy lounge pants and a matching tank top, her stomach grumbled, reminding her that she hadn’t eaten all day. But she ignored it knowing that the soup her mother was bringing would be well worth suffering through the hunger pangs. Having nothing else to do with her time, she flopped down on the couch and pulled out her laptop, deciding to tackle some of the e-mails she knew were waiting for her.

  She groaned when she saw just how many there were.

  “Are there really this many people that need legal advice?” she grumbled to herself as she started to weed through the hundreds of messages. Getting rid of the spam and the junk first, just like she did every day, she was able to get rid of about half pretty quickly. Her victory was short lived though, when she realized she still had over a hundred to read. Sigh. Snuggling deeper into the couch and resigning herself to her fate for the next hour, she started scanning the list. She decided to start at the bottom this time, needing to get to the ones that she should have the day before. She was about twenty messages in when she opened one that startled her. Sitting in her message box, it looked like all the rest. The sender being a normal name and the subject stating legal advice was needed. But when she opened the messages, her entire computer screen turned black.

  She stared for a second then checked the battery indicator at the bottom right of the screen. She had a full bar and the tool bar at the bottom was still there, letting her know that the laptop was still on and functioning. She narrowed her eyes and started pressing buttons on the keyboard, hoping to knock it out of whatever it was doing. Nothing seemed to be working. She sat back and stared again. “What the hell?” she mumbled.

  All the sudden, the screen flashed dark blue as if someone had shone a light on it. Then gradually words started to form on the screen. It was appearing on the screen extremely slow, almost one pixel at a time. Just when the image started to look as if she could make it out, there was a loud knock on the door. Startled, she looked up and shook her head, realizing that it was her mother. She glanced back down quickly to see what the image was but sighed when she saw that the screen was black once again. She blew out a frustrated breath and snapped the laptop shut.

  Chalking it up to a spam e-mail, one that probably just infected her computer with a virus, she hurried to answer the door. She opened it just in time to save her mother from another knock. “Hey mom,” she said as she breathed in the smell of homemade soup and smiled at her mother.

  “Oh my poor baby,” her mother cooed as she walked in the door and pulled Becky into a tight hug. It always surprised Becky how strong her small, fragile looking mother was. She was an even thinner and shorter version of herself, only twenty-five years older.

  Becky didn’t hesitate to hug her mother back. For some reason, the feel of her mom’s arms around her made her lose it just a bit. She had been strong and calm during and since the incident, but now she felt shaken and scared. “Thanks for coming Momma,” she whispered into her mother’s soft, fragrant hair. Becky only let go of her long enough to shut and lock the door, then they walked arm in arm to the couch. They both sat down, her mother setting her items on the glass coffee table in front of them, before turning to face Becky. He mother looked at her intently. Scanning her face, shoulders, and arms for injuries, Becky was sure. Once she seemed satisfied that her daughter wasn’t physically hurt, she leaned in and took Becky’s hand in hers.

  “Your father already told me everything and insisted that I not badger you about how unsafe it is for you here in the city.” She paused and gave Becky a pointed look before continuing, “So I will save that for this weekend when you come over for brunch. For now, I want to see you eat something and reassure me that you really are okay.”

  Becky let out a relived breath and relaxed her posture, thankful for the fact that her father had run interference. Her parents may not have been up for ‘parent of the year’ awards, but she had no doubt about how much they loved her and at times like this she was reminded of that love. But beyond that, she was thankful she was given a short reprieve from the motherly lecture. “Thank you Mom,” she squeezed her mother’s hand as she leaned back into the couch completely. Her mother did the same, but made sure her body still faced her daughter. “I’m fine, really. It shook me up a bit, but I was calm and kept a level head while it was happening. I’m so glad I did too because I would have hated myself for letting that man get away with what he was doing.”

  “I’m just so happy you’re okay. He could have really hurt you honey. And stealing his wallet? My goodness, you mustn’t ever do anything so dangerous again. It scared five years off my life when your father told me!” her mother said while fanning herself with her hand as if she were reliving the entire thing right now.

  Becky couldn’t help but to smile at her mother’s theatrics. She wasn’t an overly dramatic person usually, but whenever Becky was hurt, her mother seemed to lose it just a little and it was usually pretty entertaining. Well for everyone but her mother.

  She narrowed her eyes now at her daughter, seeing the laughter in her eyes. “Don’t you dare laugh at me young lady! I’m serious. I thought I was going to have a heart attack right then and there. Thankfully your father waited until we were home or I’m sure I would have worried the ent
ire office and had them all telling the story about it tomorrow.”

  “Well I’m glad you didn’t,” Becky said, the smile leaving her face and her mood sobering at the thought. “I don’t think I could have handled that.”

  “Oh, don’t you worry about me or your father. We have never been healthier than we are now.” She dismissed Becky’s worry with a wave of her hand then turned to the delightfully smelling food in front of them. “Now, are you hungry? I would hate for this wonderful soup to get cold. You know it’s just not the same heated up.”

  Becky welcomed the quick dismissal and change of subject. She didn’t like it when those morbid thoughts began to dance in her head. “Yes, I’m starving! I made sure not to eat a thing because I knew you would bring me the best soup in town and I didn’t want to spoil my appetite.”

  Her mother looked at her sternly while still opening up the containers and getting their dinner ready. “You didn’t eat lunch did you?” she didn’t even wait for Becky to respond before she was scolding her. “You know how important it is to eat Katherine Rebecca. I will not have you malnourished and getting sick. Do you understand?” her mother asked as she shoved the cup of soup into Becky’s hand.

  “Yes Mother,” Becky responded obediently before taking the first spoonful of her chicken and dumpling soup. She moaned her approval as she shut her eyes and savored the taste. It was SO good. Nanny still made the absolute best home-made soup she had ever tasted.

  “That good huh?” her mother teased her.

  “Oh my God! Yes!”

  Her mother rolled her eyes but Becky didn’t miss the grin she tried to hide as she took a bite of her own soup. Becky waited. “Oh, yeah, it is pretty good isn’t it?” her mother admitted. Becky laughed and they both chatted about nonsense while finishing their dinner of soup and sandwiches. By the time they were done Becky was surprised to find herself yawning.

  “Goodness. I don’t know why I’m so tired. I took an almost three hour nap when Daddy sent me how from work. I should be wide awake and ready to go,” she covered another yawn with her hand as she finished her sentence.

  Her mother rubbed her back for a moment while reassuring her, “All the excitement from the last two days is probably just catching up with you. You need a good night’s sleep and I’m sure you’ll feel much better in the morning.” She patted Becky once, signaling it was time for her to go before she gathered up their trash and threw it away. “Now if you don’t feel better, you make sure to call your father and let him know you won’t be in. I don’t want you over doing it Katherine Rebecca,” her mother told her sternly, with a half raised eyebrow to back up the tone of her voice.

  “Yes ma’am,” Becky mock saluted her.

  Her mother’s eyes narrowed further but her lips twitched at the corners before she pulled Becky into another tight embrace. “Get some sleep young lady. I love you very much,” she whispered into her hair.

  “Thank you Momma and I love you too,” Becky whispered back, fighting tears. She didn’t know why she was so emotional all of the sudden. She pulled back and took a deep breath to help her keep it together. She didn’t want her mother worried any more than she already was. “I’ll call you tomorrow when I get home from work just to check in and I’ll see you on Sunday.”

  “Alright baby and don’t forget I’ll be giving you the third degree on Sunday so bring your boxing gloves.” She winked at her daughter before turning down the hall toward the elevators. Becky knew there was a driver waiting in the lobby for her mom, so she closed the door and locked up for the night. While she was turning out the lights and getting her things together for the next morning, she spied her laptop. She hesitated, wondering about the odd e-mail and the way her computer acted up when she opened it. She hoped it worked properly tomorrow when she got to work. The last thing she needed after the last two days she’d had was to have to worry about replacing it.

  Deciding that worry could wait for the morning, she grabbed her cell phone, turned out the lights and went to her room. She plugged her phone in to charge, making sure her alarm was set for the ungodly hour that she had to get up, then washed her face and brushed her teeth. As she was pulling her fiery hair back into her usual ponytail for sleep, she glanced down to see that the business card from the night before was still on her bathroom counter. She picked it up and flipped it over a few times. The image seemed familiar but she wasn’t sure from where. Deciding that she needed to figure out where this card came from, she finished up and brought the card out of the bathroom with her. She placed it next to her phone so she wouldn’t forget it in the morning, and then turned off her lamp.

  She lay in bed running over the past few days and weeks in her head. She was so exhausted and a little depressed. While she had been exhausted during school, doubling up on classes and studying as much as possible to make sure she aced every single one of them, she still had time for herself. She made the time to enjoy the one thing that she loved and that was hers alone. Not only had she spent time researching and connecting on-line with people who had a deep love for magic like her, but she had even been brave enough to do a small show herself.

  She had been chatting with a group of amateur magicians in one of the many forums she frequented on-line. They were discussing the shows they all did to help raise money to fund their passion in hopes of one day making it a career. Becky knew the odds were slim that any of them would actually make it big, but she encouraged them as best she could. Truthfully, she was more jealous than anything. None of them would probably ever become famous magicians, but they were all pursuing their dreams and they were happy doing it. Becky envied the freedom and independence they had. She wished that just once, she could have the freedom and courage to do what she wanted to do. She voiced her dream and was encouraged to do a performance of her own. She told them all how impossible it was, given who she was and who her parents where. Not one of them would entertain her excuses though, and within in an hour her ‘friends’ had come up with a plan for Becky to do a magic show.

  It had been one of the best nights of her life. She had gone to a costume shop just outside of the city, where hopefully no one would recognize her, and purchased a sexy magician’s outfit. One that was low cut and paired with fishnet stockings and red heels. She hesitated when trying it on, knowing that it was way more revealing than anything she would ever wear, but then she spied a matching mask and went for it. Something about hiding her face behind the mask gave her the confidence she needed. If she was going to do this, she was going to do it big. She had everything else she needed at home, having collected quite a few things over the years. With her wardrobe and equipment all secure she was ready to go. She chose a section of Central Park that would be pretty populated at night, but was far enough away from her work and home so that hopefully no one she knew would be around. Becky set up a small table with trembling hands and tentatively began her little show. She started performing basic tricks, using cards, and flowers as her props and before she knew it, a small crowd formed around her.

  It hadn’t been much and she had done it under a disguise but she did it and that was what counted. She thought back to that amazing night and couldn’t help but to become even more depressed. That night happened before she graduated law school and then immediately started working for her father. She thought she didn’t have time before, but now that she was actually working, there never seemed to be enough hours in the day. She knew that small performance in Central Park would be her one and only.

  She finally drifted off to sleep, dreaming about how truly magical that night had felt.

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