Illusions begin, p.5
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       Illusions Begin, p.5

           N.L. Greene

  Chapter Three

  Becky returned to her office, steaming cup of delicious coffee in hand, and continued her day as usual. She tried to stay on task, scanning e-mails, answering calls, and assisting the other attorneys that actually had cases. Though she usually failed miserably and had to be snapped back to attention whenever her phone rang or someone knocked on her office door. She really did try to enjoy her job and appreciate how lucky she was. After all, her future was secure, not only would she be set financially for life, but her grandchildren would be also. Even so, she just couldn’t help feeling slighted by the pressure of it all. Being an attorney didn’t call to her. She didn’t get a sense of comfort, joy, or even contentment when she was working here at the law firm. But being the good daughter that she was, she would do whatever was necessary to make her family proud, even if that meant scarifying her true calling to run the family business.

  Which was why she found herself day-dreaming often about doing magic. She felt such joy and excitement when she thought about her magic, that she could barely contain herself. Ever since her first (and sadly only as a child) circus trip, it has called to her. She was never, and still isn’t, one to believe in mystical things, magical beings or any other nonsense like that. Still, she couldn’t deny the deep gut feeling she had when she watched the circus man pull the bunny out of his hat. It was… magical.

  Since that day, she had spent every free moment learning the tricks of magicians. It had first started out with minor tricks; cards, scarves, pulling a coin from behind an ear, but once she mastered all of those skills, she couldn’t stop herself from moving onto bigger and better things. By the time she was in High School, she had solved all of the big name magician’s tricks. She knew how to make big objects disappear, how to cut someone in half, how a magician walked on water, and how to solve every other trick that had been performed. She even started doing research on magicians that dated back before she was born and studied and solved all of their tricks.

  At first, when she was still a child and discovered that there wasn’t any real magic involved, she was disappointed. But then the thrill of solving the mystery took over and she fell even more in love with magic and magicians. It was an adventure to discover their secrets and even practice some of them herself. She had perfected many tricks and even improved on some of them, making them significantly better. She knew that if she were given the chance, she could be one of the best magicians ever. But she knew that would never happen. Her parents would never be okay with her having a career that involved magic, not after all of the hard work and money they put into developing her career as a lawyer. So instead, she found her joy in watching every magic show she could possibly see, studying and then solving their tricks and occasionally putting on a small, secret show herself (okay, only once in public). She had even gone as far as to contact a few of the extremely good magicians and built a sort of on-line friendship with them. She wasn’t ashamed to admit to herself that she lived vicariously through them.

  Recently one of her magician friends introduced her to an on-line forum that was full of other magic lovers. Some were like her, and knew the ins and outs of the ‘magical’ world. There were also some that still believed in real magic. She tried to steer clear of them. While their thoughts and posts were entertaining and even stirred that long forgotten whimsical cord in her body, she couldn’t allow herself to get sucked down that path. Magic is card tricks and sleight of hand, some smoke and mirrors; that’s it. In spite of all that, she loved every aspect of it.

  Her phone beeped, pulling her yet again from her magical thoughts. The quiet ting letting her know that it was four-thirty and time to start ending her day. She glanced at her laptop and realized that she had only gotten about halfway through her e-mail list. She let out a tired sigh, knowing that she would have double that again in the morning. She made a mental note to try and get through at least a few more of them tonight before bed. But for now, she had places to be and no time for thoughts of her boring job.

  She quickly powered down her laptop, threw it in her briefcase, and grabbed her purse and dirty coffee cup. Pulling her office door shut behind her, she turned to check the lock when she felt a hand on her shoulder. Startled, she dropped her coffee mug, which crashed to the wood floor and shattered into a million pieces. Angry now, she whirled around and came face to face with Lance.

  “Damn it Lance! What do you want?” she demanded.

  He threw his hands up in mock surrender, but didn’t take a step back. He was standing way to close to her, invading her personal space, and her back was pressed to her office door giving her no were to go. She didn’t like it one bit. “Whoa, little miss goody two shoes knows some swear words. Cute,” he mocked as the corner of his mouth pulled up into a smirk.

  She narrowed her eyes. “You’ll hear a lot more if you don’t take a step back.”

  Now he narrowed his eyes, no longer pretending to joke. “What’s the matter Katherine Rebecca?” he said her name with a sneer. “Can’t stand to be this close to a man?”

  “I would answer that if there were a man around to judge by, but I don’t see one.”

  His eyes snapped and his jaw went tight. He had never physically hurt her, but she had felt the threat a few times, like now. And with his recent behavior having become worse, she knew she shouldn’t press him, but she couldn’t help it. She didn’t like to be cornered and threatened. He took a step closer, his front flush with hers now. She pushed back further into the door behind her, hoping to keep some space between them, but it was no use. She had nowhere to go. “You think you’re something else don’t you? Daddy’s little girl being groomed to take over the company? Well let me tell you something, you fucking bitch. I plan to get half of this company, just like our parents agreed to when I proposed to you. So you better get used to this man in front of you and you better do it quick. I’ve been patient, but no more. Do you understand me?” he whispered in her ear as he quickly moved one arm around her back and splayed his hand firmly on her butt as if he owned it.

  She shivered in fear.

  He purposefully mistook her action. “You like that baby? Maybe that’s where I went wrong with you. Instead of waiting for you to give it up, maybe I should have just taken what was mine. Is that it baby?” He squeezed her bottom, hard and she had to fight back tears. “You like it rough don’t you sweetheart? Well I’ll show you rough.” His voice was husky and Becky could feel how aroused he was. She was really scared now.

  She worked in an office full of people, but her private office was at the back of the hall and surrounded by attorneys that were her seniors meaning they were usually in court and hardly ever actually there. On top of that it was the end of the work day and everyone else was gone or on their way out. Usually Becky liked the peace and quiet she got from being so secluded, but now she was all alone with a very small chance of anyone walking by and stopping Lance.

  She whimpered. “Please, Lance.”

  “Oh baby, don’t worry. You don’t have to beg. I know what you want.” He dipped his head and ran his tongue up the side of her neck as he pulled her even closer with his hand still tightly on her butt. Then he moved his free hand to her stomach, placing it under her jacket and began moving it up toward her breast. She shivered with dread. Would he really do this to her, right here in the office? Not wanting to find out, she tried to push him away but he only held her tighter. She was just about to open her mouth to scream when someone spoke up.

  “Umm, I’m sorry,” her assistant muttered from behind them, causing Lance to back away just enough for Becky to wiggle free and race around him.

  “No! No, Helen it’s okay,” Becky practically sprinted to the older woman’s side, stopping her from turning around and leaving her alone with Lance again. “What is it that you needed?”

  Helen stopped and looked at Becky than glanced at Lance who pushed passed them with a muttered
curse, not making eye contact with either of them. “Are you okay?” Helen asked with narrowed eyes once Lance had disappeared around the corner.

  “Um…yes. I’m fine,” Becky assured her while smoothing the front of her shirt and tucking her unruly red hair behind her ear. She wasn’t fine. Her hands were shaking and her heart was racing. She didn’t know what she would have done if Helen had not come down the hall. Lance had never been so aggressive with her before, even when she broke off their engagement and refused to accept his apology. Yes he had been very angry and made her nervous on more than one occasion, but he had never actually touched her. He had crossed a line today and Becky wasn’t sure what to do about it. However, she did know that involving Helen right now wasn’t an option. She needed to think about it and decide what to do once she was calm and more rational.

  Helen’s eyes flicked to the shattered glass on the floor then back to Becky. She watched her for a moment, doubt clear in her eyes but when Becky offered nothing further, she let out a sigh. “You have a call holding.”

  Trying to regain some sort of composure, Becky grabbed on to the work related item quickly. Leaving the broken mug on the floor, sure the cleaning staff would take care of it later, she ushered Helen down the hall toward the front office. “Who is it and did they say what they were looking for?”

  “No, actually he didn’t. He was very evasive but persistent that he spoke with you. I asked him to hold instead of sending the call straight through. I wanted to give you a heads up.”

  “Thanks Helen. I don’t know why so many people insist on speaking directly to us. If only they knew you could probably help them better than I could,” Becky forced a chuckle, trying desperately to sound calm and relaxed. She knew Helen wasn’t buying it. Like almost every one of the other employees in her family’s law firm, Helen had been a permanent fixture in the office since Becky was a child. She had actually been her mother’s assistant but moved to be Becky’s when she started working there. Becky had felt awful, worried the older women would feel as if she had been demoted. Helen only laughed and reassured her that it was an honor to be put into the position and that the raise wasn’t bad either. Over the last few weeks Becky had been more than grateful for the woman. Helen helped her with everything, having become more of a friend than an assistant, and was the only reason Becky hadn’t quit yet.

  “Yes well, most people don’t realize how much an assistant in a law firm really does. At least here our attorneys are educated and do a lot of their own work. You should have seen the office I worked for before your parents hired me. The assistants did everything except appear in court. I honestly think that if they could have gotten away with it, we would have done that too.”

  Helen’s laughter and easy mood are what finally eased Becky’s nerves, giving her yet another reason to be grateful to Helen and her friendship. “Thank you Helen,” she said again, thanking her for more than screening her calls.

  “You’re welcome, honey,” she replied, looking for just a moment as if she wanted to say more so Becky quickly picked up the phone to stop her from doing so.

  “Katherine Wellington, how may I help you?” she said to dead air. “Hello?” she listened for just a moment longer then shrugged and hung the phone back up. “Hmm, I guess it wasn’t that important after all,” she said to Helen with a wink.

  “It usually never is,” she smiled back. Glancing at Becky’s brief case she asked. “I see you’re headed out on time again today.” Her lips twitched and Becky knew she was holding back a smile. Becky was very much not the norm when it came to office hours. She got here at exactly eight in the morning and left at exactly five every day. Everyone else came in early and stayed late, the only exceptions being the other attorneys on her floor who were usually in court in the afternoons, still working though. Becky couldn’t stand to be there the hours she was forced to; she definitely didn’t stay a second longer than she had to. Helen found it amusing and Becky knew the woman probably sensed her reasons but she never asked. She just picked on Becky about her ridiculously accurate internal clock. Helen didn’t know she set an alarm to be reminded it was time to leave every day. That was another of Becky’s little secrets.

  Becky smiled. “Yes. I’ll probably finish up some e-mails at home later but I have an appointment I need to keep. Goodnight Helen.” She offered a small wave and headed toward the elevators before Helen could ask about her appointment.

  “Goodnight honey. See you tomorrow,” Helen called after her. Helen was definitely one of the many that stayed past the end of the work day. Becky had tried to send her home several times, but Helen wouldn’t hear of it. She claimed she needed just a few more minutes without the phones ringing to get organized for the next day or she wouldn’t sleep at night. Becky finally quit arguing and left the woman to her own devices. She knew how much she hated it when someone tried to tell her what was best for her; she wouldn’t do it to someone else.

  The elevator was there within seconds of pressing the button and completely deserted, just as it was every day. She hummed with the instrumental music playing softly into the quiet space as she descended to the lobby. When she stepped from the elevator, her eyes scanned the large space, verifying that it too was empty, except for Ralph of course.

  “See you tomorrow Miss Wellington,” Ralph said stoically, but she could see the corner of his lip twitching.

  “Good evening Ralph,” she said with an exaggerated eye roll. His smile finally broke through and she heard his chuckle just as she exited through the giant buildings elegant glass doors and onto the busy streets of lower Manhattan.

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