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Lydia Arden

"Do No Harm - that's what they say. But I always wanted to do better than that..."

0 · 755 views · located in Manhattan, New York

a character in “In Mafia Vita”, as played by LittleMissGeorgia

Description




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ImageFull Name:| Lydia Rachel Arden

Nicknames:| She’s often referred to as Doctor Arden in a professional setting. Many other’s call her Doctor, Doc, or any other medical-themed name they could come up with. Lydia always appreciated their creativity.

Age:| Thirty-eight

Gender:| Female

Orientation:| Heterosexual

Originally From:| New Hampshire, USA

Currently Living:| The Upper East Side, Manhattan. In her line of work, time is everything. The closer she lives to the Genovese family, the more chance she has of saving lives.

Occupation:| Lydia is the mob doctor. This means she treats anyone they want without questions. She also works part time as a doctor at Lenox Hill Hospital on the Upper East Side. This job gives her access to their patient records and the hospital, meaning she can get supplies, hide people within the hospital system and rule deaths as ‘accidents’ when required by the Genovese family.

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ImageLikes:|

Lydia does genuinely like her job. Although it’s exhausting and she spends most of her time working every hour there is, she feels like she is genuinely doing some good. Her work at the hospital helps her feel a little like she can make up for the wrong she is doing working for the Genovese family. It’s what she always wanted for herself, and she loves feeling when she knows because of her, someone else has survived what could’ve been fatal, had they not got treatment. And, even in the job she does for the Genovese family, when she’s saving someone’s life for them, even if they don’t deserve it, she still feels as if she is doing what she set out to do, just slightly differently. It’s the sounds that really get her. The steady beeping of a heart monitor, showing someone is alive. The deep breaths that people take as they rest to survive an illness. The jubilant sobs of a relative when they discover that their loved one is going to be alright. Lydia knows it’s clichéd, but it’s the thing that matters to her.

Lydia enjoys feeling close to people. Her life has always been so busy for her to have any real relationships or significant others and her family won’t even speak to her, so she treasures the relationships she does have. There’s nothing like a raw moment of two people that understand each other, connecting. Her friendships are really important to her and she never sees keeping up relationships as a burden. She loves to be busy, and when she isn’t working, she’ll always be doing something. She rarely has a moment to herself, but she doesn’t mind. That was the life she chose to live. But the more she does, the more exhausted she becomes. Lydia has developed a slight, although not severe, addiction to caffeine. She loves coffee and can’t get through the day without drinking it.

Other than the big things that colour Lydia’s life, she likes the smaller things too. She enjoys running and swimming. She loves children, and is particularly fond of the Genovese’s children. Not being allowed to celebrate Christmas, New Year, Easter or any other national holiday as a child, Lydia takes great delight in these festive events. Though she occasionally has bittersweet moments at those times of the year, remembering her family, she always makes sure to enter into the spirit of them. Lydia likes animals, especially the baby ones. And, although she doesn’t have the time for adolescent animals or dogs, Lydia loves her cat. She also enjoys learning new things and studying, as she was always really good at it.

Dislikes:|

Lydia hates to feel powerless. She hates standing by and being unable to do anything. Even if she’d at least tried to change what happened she’d feel better about it, but just giving in makes Lydia feel weak and useless. That’s party why she always keeps so busy, so at least she feels like she’s doing something instead of just sitting around doing nothing. This same rule applies to her professionally. Terminal cancer is the illness Lydia hates the most. Not because it’s undignified or because the person dies in pain, but because there’s nothing she can do. She hates to deliver any kind of news that someone is going to die, because she always feels there’s something more she can do, even if scientifically, all the odds say it’s hopeless even trying. Despite her caring, kind nature with the sick, Lydia could never go into palliative care for this very reason.

Although she never ever talks about it, Lydia has a strong dislike for the past and what happened in her childhood. She knows her parents are responsible for the death of her little brother, and that’s something she can never forgive them for. At the time, she knew that they loved him, but she could not, and still cannot, understand why anyone would let their child die for the sake of their faith. Lydia regrets everything that happened and hates that she couldn’t have done more at the time. She felt powerless to stop her parents ending her brother’s life, and she hated that there was nothing she could do. She also hates that her other brother agreed with them and refused to speak to Lydia. She misses him more than anything and has been back home countless times to see him, but she has never approached him as she isn’t sure she can bare being ignored by him. She checks up on him online though, every so often. She looks through his pictures and reads what he’s written, just to reassure herself that he really did end up happy.

Lydia hates to see people damaging themselves by smoking, drinking to excess taking drugs. In her line of work, she knows just how valuable life is and throwing it away seems like the biggest waste. She also hates attention-seekers and lazy people, who are content to allow everything to happen around them without having to put in any effort. Lydia hates to be undervalued, whether it’s people thinking she isn’t worth the effort or just won’t be able to do it. But she enjoys proving them wrong. She dislikes being late, although she finds herself perpetually being just that as she always thinks she can fit more into her day than she really can. Lydia isn’t a big fan of the countryside. She grew up a long way out from the big towns, and it’s sort of put her off. She’s a city girl now, through and through.

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ImageImageFears:|

Lydia is frightened that she may end up trapped in a marriage like her parent’s, and for this reason she has always shied away from making any long term commitment. She loves having a personal connection to people, but she was always frightened to commit to something. She never wanted to lose her identity and fight to a certain lifestyle.

Lydia is also afraid that she will make a mistake and a patient will die because of her. She’s been practising for years now, and of course many have died on her table or at her hands. But she’d hate to think anyone had died because she’d failed. Of course, this fear leads to very conflicting feeling for Lydia over making a ‘mistake’ with someone they need disposing off. These aren’t the kind of mistakes she’s afraid of because she let them die intentionally, and she tells herself it’s okay that she did it because they were bad people anyway. After a while, she felt a little less pain and sadness every time she let them die, but she never quite stopped caring. And, at the end of the day, Lydia still remembers the faces of every single person she’s killed for them, and she resents herself for each one.

She is also terrified that she'll be struck off from practising medicine if someone discovers what she’s done for the mob. She’s worked hard to get here and her life as a doctor is everything. To lose this would devastate her.

Lydia’s also frightened of getting sick or injured herself. She’s brutally aware of how many illnesses and things that could kill you out there. She’s seen people die, screaming in agony as she tried desperately to save them. And when she really sits and thinks about all that, it frightens her more than anything that the police could do to her for helping the criminals.

Secrets:|

Lydia lives two very separate lives. One, is her public life in which she works at the local hospital, she is a respected doctor. She doesn’t seen much of her work colleagues outside of the hospital, and they mostly assume she has no real personal life to speak of. Her other life is working for the Genovese family. She is terrified someone will see the double life she is really leading and she would be struck off what she’d done for the Genovese’s.

Lydia keeps her past very much a secret from the people she knows now. Very few know what happened when she was young and why she never sees her family. She prefers it this way, so she doesn’t have to think about her childhood. Secrets make you weak, and the less people know about the few people who are important to her, the better. She’d hate to have her family used against her, despite the convoluted relationships she has with them.

Lydia always wanted children, more than anything. But when involved with any kind of criminal activity, having anyone you love is dangerous. After seeing what Victoria goes through every day, even when her life is buzzing with security guards, trying to protect her children and worrying for their safety, Lydia isn’t sure she could do it. She's come to accept her time has probably run out now. But, there’s not a day that goes past when she doesn’t wish that things had turned out differently and she could’ve had a baby.

Hobbies:|

Although Lydia doesn’t leave herself much spare time to pursue hobbies, she does enjoy exercise, especially running and swimming. She loves the feeling of tearing through somewhere as quickly as she can, be it air or water.

She loves to cook, although she’s pretty terrible at it. Her mother was a wonderful cook; in fact, it was one of the only things she was good at. But no matter how hard she tried, she could never seem to teach Lydia. Her recipes just never worked out and she has no technique or natural talent what so ever. You would think, since she is so careful in surgery and has such a steady hand, she would be a good cook, but no such luck. But Lydia still enjoys it. It’s one of the few nice memories she has of her mother.

When she’s not working, Lydia still enjoys trying to improve at her job. She reads a lot, but it’s mostly non-fiction such as medical journals and new cutting edge treatment on the internet. Although it’s more of what she does in the day, Lydia does feel it helps her relax just a little.

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Lydia is a talented doctor and a great surgeon. She is dedicated to her job, having practised for years. She’s really passionate about what she does and determined to be the best she possibly can. She has saved thousands of lives in the time she’s practised and her talent has come in handy countless times. Working for the Genovese family has caused Lydia to become more inventive in her treatments, often improvising when she doesn’t have the time or equipment to use the traditional methods. This need to be creative has improved Lydia as a doctor, although often confuses the other doctors she works with. Lydia is genuinely proud of the time and effort she has put in to become the doctor is she today, and she's pleased she'd finally righting her parent's wrongs from her childhood.

Lydia is also pretty good with people. She’s kind and gentle with the confident air of a doctor that calms people down, making her really useful in a crisis. She’s also pretty fit, making her a fast runner, which is always handy when you work for the mob. She’s also a pretty good shot, but prefers not to use a gun if she can avoid it. She’s intelligent and able to make good decisions very quickly. She’s also a fast reader and quite good with money, following her loan crisis in her adolescent life. She’s also a pretty good liar, which is useful when lying to work about where she’s been while working for the Genovese family.

Deficits:|

Lydia is a terrible cook. She can spend all night attempting a dish over and over and still end up having to order take-out at the end of the night because everything she’s made is so inedible. She’s also frequently late, a quality which she seriously dislikes in herself. She's fairly organised and level-headed in most other areas of her life, it's just her ability to arrive at events on time that causes her a problem. She also cannot sing at all. She always envied those who could just open their mouth and a tune would float out, almost as if it was effortless. When she was ten years old, her mother forced her to be in the school play. It was here that she learnt along with singing, she was an awful dancer too, and from then on, avoided the arts in school.

Lydia’s not especially good at relaxing or stopping, even for a minute. She constantly has a busy schedule, always doing things. This trait occasionally causes her to crash as she just ends up exhausted. She’s also no good at housework and she has to pay someone to sort out her house for her. She’s very patient with people she treats, but when it comes to housework, it just winds her up.

Weapons:|

Lydia’s not a huge fan of carrying weapons, especially after seeing the damage they’ve done to countless patients that have been wheeled through the hospital doors. But, she knows, working for the Genovese family, it would be stupid not to have a weapon of some kind. She carries a Glock 26 in her handbag most places she goes and at home she keeps a Glock 17 handy if someone were to threaten her there, looking for information about the Genovese family. She's keen to protect herself and not in denial about the safety of the job she does.


Personality:|

Lydia is, and has always been, a very intelligent woman. This intelligence is partly what allowed her to get where she is today, and makes her such a good doctor. Some say it gave her an easy ride through education, but Lydia disagrees. She believes she worked every bit as hard as everyone else on that course. Unlike her mother, Lydia isn’t the woman who will sit at home, wishing for things she wants. She’ll go out and get them. She’s fairly stubborn in her personal life, liking to believe that she is right. But at work she knows this attitude does no one any favours and she has to be open to trying all options with a patient. She’s reasonably good at sticking to a decision once she’s made them. When she was young she would agonise over the smallest decisions for hours, but years as a doctor, being forced to make quick decisions that could mean the difference between someone living or dying, has taught her to make fast decisions. Lydia is pragmatic and logical in her thinking, quickly working through the options in her mind. She’s level-headed and good in a crisis, especially at reassuring others that things will be okay. She makes most decisions in life through the process of illumination, from the smallest things such as what to order on a menu to which medicine to administer to someone who is dying. Lydia likes to think she is down to earth and rational. And, though years of having to do things she hasn’t always been comfortable with for the mob, she still would hate to think her judgment had been influenced by the drama and ill-morals surrounding her.

After making a decision, once everything has played out and it can’t be changed, Lydia has a tendency to go through what happened and see if there was anything she could do to change it. This quality is no good as a doctor, but as a person, it’s what keeps her grounded. She will typically blame her failings on herself rather than passing it off as bad luck or another’s mistake. She’s been told countless times not to do it, but she can’t help but wonder if she’d done things differently, things might not have turned out the way they did. Lydia is a naturally regretful person and when her mind is empty, she finds herself thinking over the things she regrets or feels guilty for. Time and time again, she finds her mind returning to her brother’s death; her decision to leave her family; the way her remaining brother looked at her when she stepped out of the door; asking Victoria for help with the loan and embroiling herself deep within the world of organised crime and gangsters.
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Despite doing so many immoral things in her life and letting herself fall into murder and cover-ups, Lydia cares deeply for those she treats. When she first decided she wanted to practise medicine at the sweet age of four, she set out to make people better. When she took her vow to, ”Do no harm,” that wasn’t good enough for Lydia. If all she did was no harm, then she wasn’t doing her job right. She wanted to help people. She wanted to save lives and make the world a better place. Although ambitious, Lydia wanted to make a difference to the world and she wasn’t content in just doing no harm. She will pour all her energy into making sure a patient gets better, no matter how hard it is or how complicated a case is. She isn’t one to just give in and let them go peacefully, which has also been called a failing as well as an advantage. She tries her very best not to allow her own personal opinions get in the way of her treatment of patients. She’s patient and kind. Lydia is compassionate with patients, and like many doctors of the modern day, she won’t just rush through rounds or cases like she’s ticking boxes off a list. She genuinely cares and will always try to understand what they’re going through.

History:|

Lydia’s parents were both strong, old-fashioned Jehovah’s Witnesses, and their parents before them, and their parents before them. Her father, John Arden, met her mother, Rebekah Taylor, through their church when they were both sixteen. The relationship was as proper as they came. He bought her flowers, took her to dinner, sat together at church. He only ever kissed her on the lips, and only for a few seconds. He didn’t touch her or even discuss the prospect of any kind of sexual relationship. He was the perfect gentleman to her, and she the ideal, ladylike woman. But there was no real passion or love to the relationship. They never fought, ever. They simply did as the other wanted, following rules and regulations. They never had a conversation of any meaning or truth. The only subjects they really discussed were arbitrary and even then the conversations had no substance, they simply agreed with each other. But on Rebekah’s eighteenth birthday, John asked her father for permission to marry his daughter. Her father, more than happy to marry his daughter off as an obedient housewife to a god-fearing man, agreed immediately. In the fall of 1971, on a cold morning in October, they Rebekah Taylor became Mrs Arden, losing her name and any chance at an identity or life of her own to her husband.

It would be unfair to call their marriage loveless. But by no means were they living the dream. John and Rebekah loved each other dearly and if the situation called for it, John would have always protect his wife. But every problem was just swept under the carpet. They always did what was ‘appropriate’, as if their lives had been written out for them from the very start and there was nothing they could do to change their own fate. When they were both twenty-one, Rebekah gave birth to a little girl, Lydia. Four years later, a son, Thomas. And after four more years, another boy named Matthew.

As child, Lydia was a good girl. She followed the bible to the letter, obediently doing as her parents wanted. She loved her younger brothers and would always look after them for her parents. She loved to care for them, making sure they were always happy and well cared for. And whenever one of them got sick, she would dab at their foreheads in her young, ineffectual, but undeniably caring, way. She told her mother, aged four, “Mommy, when I get big I want to make people get better.”

Her mother dismissed the comment, telling her, “No, sweetie. You cannot change God’s will. You should let things be.” But in keeping with her personality, her mother’s tone was soft and feeble, and the young girl was not swayed.

Lydia was also clearly very intelligent from a young age. She was able to make exceptionally insightful comments about things she wasn’t even expected to understand. She was a sweet child, but this was tainted when she began school. There, she realised she wasn’t like everyone else. She wasn’t allowed to accept gifts at Christmas or wish anyone a Happy Easter as these were Pagan rituals her family refused to believe in. Soon, the other children saw how different Lydia was. Their parents told them to stay away from the young girl, but her classmates took this as encouragement to pick on her. Sometimes it was subtle, veiled comments about her family or just being ignored when she tried to talk to people. Other times, she was pointed at and even kicked. And this bullying coloured most of Lydia’s young life. But her faith didn’t waver. Sometimes she questioned why, if her family were doing good, so many people thought what they believed was wrong. But she never questioned the beliefs themselves.

In high school, everything changed again. As she finally began to see more of the world for what it was and her place within it, things became brutally clear for Lydia. Her beliefs were a laughing stock wherever she went. No one really understood them or even wanted to try. And as Lydia was shown more of the world and her perspective widened, she found conflict between what she believed and what she wanted. For Lydia, her schooling had become exceptionally important. She was effortlessly an honours student, maintaining A’s across the board. But her real passion was Biology. She loved to discover how everything worked and she listened with utter fascination as the finer details of the body were described to her at length. Combined with Lydia’s lifelong love of caring for people and desire to help wherever she could, being a doctor seemed like the obvious choice to most others. But this idea did not fit in with any of her parent’s beliefs. Her family didn’t believe in higher education. They saw no purpose to college, instead expecting Lydia to do as they did and marry young like the old-fashioned Christian couples of the past. But Lydia didn’t want to be part of the past. She wanted to be the future. She wanted to do something with her life that really made a difference. The conflict burdened Lydia for her later high school years as she begged them to let her attend medical school. But in this, came another problem. Their religious beliefs taught that so many of the procedures doctors were required to perform, such as blood transfusions, abortion and the like went against what they believed. Really, it was God’s decision who lived or died and in doing what Lydia so desperately wanted to, she would be sinning and going against her parent’s wishes.

In the summer before Lydia’s final year of high school, she was still undecided as to what to do. She so badly wanted to make a difference, but how could she go against her parent’s and, most importantly, God’s wishes for her? But a sunny afternoon in August changed everything for Lydia. She was seventeen and she’d been asked by her parents to take her two younger brothers out to the park outside the church. Thomas was thirteen at the time, and Matthew was just nine. It wasn’t a long walk and the weather was lovely. None of the children had any objections to spending some of their long holiday in the sun. They all bought ice-creams and paddled at the edge of the duck pond. For a while, Lydia forgot the fight with her parents and the trouble at school. But, while crossing the road to walk home, Matthew was hit by a car. The driver had spent the afternoon drinking in the sun and careered straight into Matthew before driving off, leaving the nine year old to bleed to death. Lydia was left holding her little brother’s broken body and screaming for an ambulance. Fortunately, they were quick and Matthew was rushed to hospital. But before he could be sent in for surgery, Lydia’s parents arrived. Matthew had lost a lot of blood and if he was going to survive, he needed a transfusion. But his parents refused to consent to it. It wasn’t because they didn’t love their son. Both parents were devastated by what happened. But, their faith taught that blood transfusions were wrong. Even though he so desperately needed the blood to survive, they would be cast from the church and Matthew would lose everlasting life. But, before the hospital could get a judge to overrule Lydia’s parents, Matthew passed away.

Following Matthew’s death, Lydia’s parents were involved in a lengthy court case to determine if their negligence was what caused their son’s end. But no matter the ruling, Lydia’s mind was made up. She couldn’t be a part of a faith that subscribed to the senseless death of a child. She wanted to help others, not see them die when it so easily could’ve been prevented. Lydia applied to medical school, gaining herself a place at New York University School of Medicine. Her parents disowned her and her church shunned her. And, to this day, Lydia has not spoken to either of her parents or remaining brother since she stepped on that train to New York.

But living in New York was expensive, and without any funding from her parents and quickly dwindling savings, she was struggling to pay the bills. Lydia was forced to take an underhand loan, which didn’t require a credit rating or good character reference. She promised herself she would get a job and pay it all off a soon as possible.

Six months after starting med school, Lydia showed exceptional talent and dedication. Her hard work earned her the coveted position to shadow Dr Parker, New York’s best OB-GYN. It was here she met Victoria. It was also where she had her first encounter with the Genovese family. Of course, Lydia knew who they were and what they did. They were infamous across New York, something Lydia understood, even though she’d only been here a short time. But this was the first time she’d ever had personal experience of them. Victoria was very young at the time, and pregnant. But, while going over her x-rays with Dr Parker, they found something. Although Lydia hadn’t been a medical student for long, she was intelligent and learnt quickly, and she quickly recognised the hallmarks of years of abuse of Victoria’s body. They discovered multiple little fractures to Victoria’s bones, some old, some new. She also had some bigger breaks in more dangerous places, from the most recent beating. They were able to repair some of the worse fractures that hadn’t already healed back together wrong and, though the bigger breaks proved more of a problem, they were also able to deal with these too.

Dr Parker decided, since Lydia was a woman too and much closer in age to Victoria, and besides, she needed the training, that she would speak to Victoria. Finally, Victoria confessed to the abuse she had suffered from her father and the brutal beating she had suffered as a culmination of all these years of mistreatment, just before she left Wyoming. She begged Lydia not to tell Jonathon and to make sure none of the Genovese family discovered what had happened to her. Lydia agreed. Victoria was so grateful to her that she promised, if Lydia ever had a problem and needed the young mother or her new family’s help, she would always be there. After this, Lydia and Victoria remained close friends. And, although she was finished shadowing Dr Parker a week after Victoria’s treatment, he decided, since she’d done such a good job with Victoria, to keep her on this particular case until the end. Lydia observed every one of Victoria’s appointments and when Dr Parker delivered her baby, the young doctor assisted. She also helped with every Victoria’s subsequent pregnancies and births.

But, by the middle of Lydia’s second year, her debts were increasing. When she wasn’t studying or doing rotations at the hospital, she was working two other jobs to try and earn money. The men she’d loaned the money from were becoming more and more insistent that they got it back. Every day she couldn’t pay the money, they increased what she owed. It got to a point that, even if she were working full time as a doctor, she still couldn’t have paid off the debts she’d run up. Lydia was terrified. The loan sharks were becoming ever more threatening towards her. She couldn’t go home to her family though, and Lydia couldn’t bear the idea of giving up her dream of becoming a doctor. Frightened and left with no other choices, Lydia asked Victoria for help. Victoria promised to help her out by having her husband pay the debt men off. She also volunteered to pay for the rest of Lydia’s medical training and help with rent and costs of living if Lydia’s salary couldn’t quite cover it. In exchange, she would work part time as a doctor for the Genovese famil. She would treat whoever they wanted, hide patients who didn’t want to be found within the hospital system, cover up murders when they came into the hospital and cause ‘accidents’ to happen to people who were in hospital that the Genovese family needed out of the way.

Five and a half years later, when she began her residency, Lydia treated her first patient for the Genovese family. It was a simple gunshot wound. She extracted the bullet and patched up the hold. But it was here she first learnt the precedence the Genovese family had. She didn’t ask questions, she just did. She wasn’t totally happy with the deal, and she was even less happy when she was asked to cover up murders and even cause deaths. But she was ever grateful to the Genovese family for what they did for her, and eventually learnt to desensitize when she needed to do something she didn’t want to. She completed her residency and began working for Lenox Hill Hospital on the Upper East Side in 2005, at the age of thirty.

In Lydia’s time with the Genovese’s, she has seen things she never thought she would. She’s saved the lives of numerous associated of the family and treated the family themselves. In 2010, Lydia was called by Jonathon to perform an abortion on their daughter, Charlee. Initially, the understanding was that Victoria wouldn’t hear a word of this. Lydia was uncomfortable with the whole situation. She’d always been close to Victoria and betraying her friend like this felt wrong. When Jonathon agreed to tell her, without any of the children being aware of this, Lydia was exceptionally grateful.

Now, she works for the Genovese’s, splitting her time between Lenox Hill Hospital and any medical emergencies the Genovese’s may have. She finds herself having to slip out of the hospital mid-shift when she’d called, and she’s got good at covering it up. She is gradually becoming more and more embroiled in the family and their illicit business as her services are used for an array of illegal practises.

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Miscellaneous:|

Lydia loves animals, and since she doesn’t have enough time for the more needy ones, she has an eight year old cat that she adopted from a shelter last year called Tiger.

Pale blue is her favourite colour, and she is very typical in her shopping habits in that she will always be more likely to buy blue version.

So begins...

Lydia Arden's Story

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Victoria Genovese Character Portrait: Charlee Shaee Genovese Character Portrait: Sienna Rose Character Portrait: Dylan Genovese Character Portrait: Lydia Arden
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"And... She's back," Lydia confirmed, her voice filled with triumph and relief as the long, constant bleep of the heart rate monitor was replaced by intermittent bleeping, indicating a heartbeat. She took her hands of the patient’s chest where, only moments ago, they’d been rhythmically pressing down on it in an attempt to restart her heart. The muscles in her arms immediately relaxed as they fell back to her sides and her laboured breathing from the exertion of keeping someone alive evened out.

The girl lying out on the bed was just nine years old, the age Lydia’s brother had been when he’d died, she thought bitterly. Her long, blonde hair fanned out around her heart shaped face and wires wound their way under the sheets to various places where they disappeared under her pale skin. Machines sounded around her as they monitored everything from the child’s heart rate to the oxygen level in her blood. Messy, quickly dressed bandaged criss-crossed her chest and her tiny wrist was bent at an angle, in serious need of a cast. The girl had been in a serious car crash with her child-minder. The adult had died upon impact but the little girl was saved by being in the backseat of the car. She’d been rushed into the ER where Lydia and her team had been working tirelessly on her for the last ten minutes, until, thirty seconds ago, the girl had crashed. But they’d managed to stabilise her, meaning Lydia was fairly confident about her chances of survival. Now she needed to be taken up to the ICU for more tests to make certain she wouldn’t need surgery. But, as Lydia was about to issue the order, she felt a hand on her arm.

“Dr Arden,” Lydia turned at the sound of her name, being met by the face of her boss, Dr Jacobs, “Your shift ended twenty minutes ago. What are you still doing here?”

“I just had some things to finish off… I’ve just got to get this girl up to-“ she was cut off.

“I’ll make sure the girl makes it up to ICU safely. You go home,” Dr Jacobs told her.

Lydia glanced at her watch, aware she was meant to be at the Genovese’s Gala in just forty minutes, a prospect which was looking fairly unlikely at the moment.

“It’s fine, really,” Lydia reassured, but once more she was cut off, “I just have a few more things to-“

“Go,” Dr Jacobs told her firmly. “Hospital policy says you should’ve been off this site twenty minutes ago.” Lydia liked Dr Jacobs. They had an understanding between the two of them. She would be able to continue flitting off when she was required by the Genovese family, and he would turn a blind eye, as long as she continued to work hard and continue saving lives under his leadership.

Lydia finally nodded. “But the patient needs ten milligrams Actilyse and fifteen milligrams of-“

“-propafenone, I know,” Dr Jacobs finished for her.

Lydia flashed him a grateful smile, before leaving the girl in his capable hands and making her way along the corridor to the office she shared with others on the same pay grade as her. Here, she hung up her white coat and collected her bag before making her way towards the exit. As she followed the long hospital corridors, Lydia stopped outside room five hundred and twenty-seven before pushing open the door tentatively. Mr Myers was sat up in his bed doing something with his phone.

“How are you feeling?” she asked, her voice a little lower than if she were talking to an ordinary patient. Because, in actual fact, Mr Myers was a man sent by the Genovese’s, requesting he was hidden within the system. He had a bullet to his abdomen that, although serious at first, he was recovering from well now. She had a feeling it was from a drugs trafficking operation gone wrong, but she didn’t know for certain. That was the whole point of her job. She didn’t ask questions, she just did as she was told and saved lives.

She exchanged a few words with Mr Myers before checking his stats and leaving the room. Finally, at half past seven she had left the hospital. The drive home wasn’t far, but with the current New York traffic she found herself stationary more than actually moving. Lydia was always late, to everything. It was a terrible habit of hers that she wished she could do something about, but never seemed to be able to overcome, no matter how hard she tried. Eventually, she reached her house.

Quickly, Lydia showered and blow-dried her hair out before styling it neatly into a low bun, slightly to the left of her head. She chose out a blue dress that she’d bought for the event last week and slipped into the tight, shiny blue material that clung to her curvy figure. Though they could barely be seen under the length of the dress, her heels were a dark coral pink, to match the jewels set into her large earrings. She reapplied all her makeup naturally, and once certain it was good enough, she left.

The journey to the Genovese’s wasn’t much quicker than the journey from the hospital to home, but she wasn’t too late, thankfully. That was one of the good things Lydia found about living in New York, at least it was fashionable to be late here.

“Name, please?” one of the bouncers enquired as she reached the door of the Genovese’s mansion.

“Dr Lydia Arden,” Lydia told them, unfazed by the security. She knew how worried Victoria had become recently about protecting her family, especially her children. This was only to be expected.

The bouncer stepped to the side to let her in. “Have a nice evening, Dr Arden,” he said politely.

“Thank you,” Lydia smiled, entering the house.

She attended plenty of Victoria’s parties, and so, was familiar with the faces that usually frequented them. Mostly it was socialites and the influential rich. But, despite how much Lydia saw of these people, she never felt entirely comfortable in their presence. She was aware they looked down on her, mainly because she actually worked for a living, and of course, because she wasn’t on the arm of a wealthy husband.

As she entered the large room where the main party had begun, Lydia spotted Dylan and Charlee standing together. Charlee had said something to him, and Lydia flashed them both a friendly smile. She was particularly fond of the Genovese children. She’d been present at each of their births and throughout their childhoods. Every time they’d got sick, she’d been there to prescribe them antibiotics, if required, or just to promise them they’d feel better soon. She’d even performed Charlee’s abortion for her, a memory of the children Lydia didn’t hold with quite so much affection. In a way, her familiarity with the children helped her with the fact that she didn’t, and now probably never would, have any children of her own.

Across the room, Lydia saw Victoria, stood talking to… Lydia looked again, not quite believing what she saw. Sienna Rose? She hadn’t been around for… Years. Crossing the room, Lydia went to let Victoria know she’d arrived.

“Victoria,” she greeted her with a smile, kissing her on the cheek, the familiarity of the friendship easily evident. Then, Lydia looked at Sienna. “I apologise for interrupting,” she told her, her apology genuine. “Sienna,” she greeted the other woman with a less familiar smile. They’d never been close, but she was one of the few others who had been around the family as long as Lydia had, and she was still pleased to see her, if a little surprised.

The setting changes from genovese-mansion to Manhattan, New York

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Victoria Genovese Character Portrait: Charlee Shaee Genovese Character Portrait: Sienna Rose Character Portrait: Lincoln Genovese Character Portrait: Dylan Genovese Character Portrait: Lydia Arden
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Lincoln Genovese


“Candy, why don’t you mingle with the other guests? I’ll just say hi to my family.”
“But---“
“It’ll just take a few minutes.” He cut her off laughing. “Go on. I’ll see you in a bit.” Cindy pouted but sauntered towards the group of women by the windows. Linc walked briskly towards the stairs and climbed up the second floor. He guessed the meeting will take place in the library. He’s jogging past the rooms and stopped in front of a polished oak door. A closed oak door. He sighed. He’s not gonna be in this meeting and he wouldn’t dare knock. His Genovese pride wouldn’t let him. Linc exhaled slowly and smoothed his Calvin Klein suit. He tugged at his collar and adjusted his bowtie. He’d love to get out of his suit but he has to keep up with appearances. There will be other meetings. He will be involved in the family business, it’s inevitable. Like the waves crashing to the shore. It will happen. He smiled as he walked back to the party.

He spotted his mother, in deep conversation with Sienna and Dr. Arden. Her mother dressed in a moss green gown, exudes an aura of confidence and elegance. He’d talk to his mother later. He plucked a glass of champagne from a passing waiter and scanned the room once more. The crème de la crème of New York is in complete attendance. Anybody who is somebody was invited. He saw his siblings, Dylan and Shae standing together and he decided to come up and say hi.

“Did I miss anything?” he said by way of greeting.

The setting changes from manhattan-new-york to Genovese Mansion

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Victoria Genovese Character Portrait: Charlee Shaee Genovese Character Portrait: Lincoln Genovese Character Portrait: Dylan Genovese Character Portrait: Lydia Arden
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Shae threw one arm around her little brother's shoulders. "Me? Miss a chance to dress up? Never." she told him, voice dripping with sarcasm. The ecstasy hadn't kicked in yet and Shae wanted nothing more than to blow the party and hide in her room. One look across the room at their mother and Shae knew it would be impossible to do such a thing. "Why aren't you enjoying yourself?" Shae asked Dylan. She could understand why he wouldn't be though. He was far too young and protected to be a part of the family business, and Shae prayed that even as he grew up he'd never be exposed to anything of the sorts. She'd only been four when she and her siblings had been kidnapped and she vaguely remembered the details herself. In Shae's opinion, Dylan shouldn't have to grow up facing things like that and she would do almost anything to make sure he didn't. Dylan and Shae were probably the youngest ones in attendance, which certainly could put a damper on things. There was only Jonah's business associates and older men and women to schmooze. Add everything up and it equaled an evening of certain boredom.

Caught in conversation with her brother, Shae barely noticed Dr. Arden flash a smile in their direction. Nonetheless, Shae returned it and continued socializing. Before Dylan had the opportunity to answer, Lincoln walked up. "Did I miss anything?" he asked his younger siblings. Charlee let Dylan take the reins and while he answered about spilled champagne, her mind wondered and her body relaxed. Shae wasn't sure if it was the beginning effects of the E or if it was Linc's presence. Whenever he was around, she'd always felt more relaxed - protected. She knew that her brother would never let a single thing happen to her as long as he could help it. He had been the one to keep both she and Dylan calm during their kidnapping. If there was one person she trusted on this earth, it would have to be Lincoln.

After Dylan had finished talking, Shae took it as an opportunity to question her brother about his date tonight. "So, who's the broad?" she asked, her tone defensive and weary. Shae was always concerned when Lincoln had a new girl on his arm. Her brother could handle himself in his love affairs, obviously, but the first girl to break his heart would get a not-so-nice visit from one Charlee Shae Genovese.

The setting changes from genovese-mansion to Manhattan, New York

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Victoria Genovese Character Portrait: Jonathon Genovese Character Portrait: Anthony "Tony" Rizzo Character Portrait: Jess Garcia Character Portrait: Sienna Rose Character Portrait: Nate Hagen Character Portrait: Kole Marinos Character Portrait: Dylan Genovese Character Portrait: Theodore Kinlan Character Portrait: Lydia Arden Character Portrait: Special Agent Luke Hitch
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#, as written by Korrye
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Theodore Kinlan. The name was clear and boldly printed on the face of his fake ID. The driver’s license from New Hampshire had an outdated photo of him on it, his hair shorter and better kept. He looked happy, smiling to the point that the photographer had allowed him to. It felt like he was looking at a stranger. When he dropped the ID onto the glass top of his desk, the former Genovese techie looked up into a mirror hung on the wall opposite him. His cheeks were sallow and his complexion pale. His eyes were dark, evidence of his recent bout of insomnia. His lips were cracked and his hair was longer. He swallowed then, sighing and turning to his computers, the dual set of monitors up and running. His phone remained face up in front of him, next to the old ID. He knew that Jessica had decided to go undercover into the mansion, something he had been particularly against. She had been to see him the day before, pleased that he was walking unassisted. His physiotherapist had cleared him. He was finally healthy. He could breath without an inhaler. When he had washed up on shore he had had water in his lungs. Three of his ribs were broken, as was his right elbow and left ankle. He had stress fractures in his shins and in two vertebrae. His neck had been torqued and he’d had a severe concussion. How he was alive he didn’t know. No sooner were all the screws in his broken joints and everything else set had he lapse into a violent case of pneumonia. He had been hidden far away from the city all together since the day he had been found. The CIA had in fact been the one to air lift him out. There was no documentation within the FBI that he was alive. Whenever he contacted Jessica his messages self destructed and re-routed themselves endlessly. He was off the map so far as any of them were concerned.

Tonight was the first night that he was back at it. He plied at his keyboard for a moment before setting into hacking, his fingers rushing through the keystrokes at a rapid fire pace. A minute later and he was within the Genovese’s internet provider’s servers. He routed his connection through to the mansion, finding himself at a brutal fire wall within their security channels. He needed eyes within the mansion. He needed to be able to warn Jessica if someone appeared to recognize her or follow her. He checked his phone again then. Quickly then he started again, initiating a program to hack through the firewall. It started and rolls of code automatically scrolled through the window before disappearing and suddenly he was in.

Leaning forward, Theo initiated every camera he had access to. Phones went live, and with two strokes he disabled any sensor light that would show a user their own technology was being used against him. Any phone or laptop using the house’s man network became a camera for him and thirty windows popped up. He transferred them to a second screen, glancing over them before maximizing one in particular. Dylan’s bedroom.

Theo sighed, moving his hand to the mouse while his left tapped in a control algorithm, allowing him to shift the camera mounted on top of Dylan’s monitor. As he peered down he saw the robot that the youth had been working on for months. It was nearly complete, the primary circuit board exposed to his line of sight.

For a moment he paused, looking down at his phone again. Minimizing the window he scanned the others, frowning when he saw no sign of Jessica through any of the possible camera options.

He pulled up his email then, knowing she had her phone with her.

“Gone to eat?” he tapped in, sending it immediately after knowing that the program would cover his tracks. Jessica would know that he wasn't actually asking her about food, but where she was. Then he opened a second window and hesitantly he tapped in Dylan’s email.

“Message from a friend,” he typed first. He knew that the youngest Genovese would likely try to find the source of the email, or worse put someone else knowledgeable about IP address tracking on the task. “Secret,” he added then before concluding, “double check your primary power source on bot. Tell me what you find.”

It was a trust exercise. Nothing dramatic but it was about something Dylan cared about.

The setting changes from manhattan-new-york to Genovese Mansion

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Victoria Genovese Character Portrait: Jonathon Genovese Character Portrait: Anthony "Tony" Rizzo Character Portrait: Sienna Rose Character Portrait: Nate Hagen Character Portrait: Kole Marinos Character Portrait: Lydia Arden Character Portrait: Special Agent Luke Hitch
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#, as written by Korrye
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“So help me God,” Victoria prayed silently, watching Sienna touch her arm gingerly to reassure her. Contact had never been a way of doing that. Still, she didn’t shrug away from the woman, knowing she meant well enough. Breathing deeply, Victoria prepared to step forward into the cordoned off dining area to walk through all of the installations before they opened the room up for browsing. Then Sienna’s phone rang and whatever semblance of a smile she held disappeared in an instant. Her eyes glared at the mobile device while Sienna took out an iPhone from her clutch.

“I'm sorry,” she apologized. “I just need to check this, might be something to do with the pieces up for Auction.” Victoria clenched her jaw, forcing herself to sigh again to try and feel less high strung. Could they not have one thing, just one bloody thing, go right this evening? she thought in frustration. She pulled away from Sienna, watching the brunette scroll through a text but not stepping forward to read it herself. She trusted it was related to the evening. If it wasn’t…she didn’t even want to think bout what she would do.

“We have a solution for your Statue problem,” Sienna announced. “The problem I don’t even know about?” Victoria asked, having only heard that a statue seemed to be missing it’s male appendage.

“Mrs. Stanford, who had the accident with Eric Winter's Statue. Well her daughter has offered to purchase it out of Auction. A gesture of good will have you. She's offered to buy it for one hundred thousand dollars. In my opinion Victoria, I think you should accept because honestly although it's the only piece by the Artist here tonight, Eric Winter's work is not what people want any longer. And you probably won't get nowhere as near as much as Mrs Stanford's daughter is offering. You'll be luck to get sixty thousand for it and seeing as it is for charity it would make sense for you to get the best asking price for it, especially now that it's damaged,” Sienna elaborated.

The explanation made the family matriarch purse her lips. She put her left hand on her hip while her right hand moved to pinch the bridge of her nose. She didn’t need to know about this. It seemed like some idiotic detail the party planner could have handled. Hell, Sienna could have left and dealt with it. It was clear that they would get the money from it. That was what mattered. So long as it was out of the room she would be happy. The mocking wouldn’t ensue that she had somehow damaged a one of a kind piece, that her staff were stealing it or whatever the hell else high end socialites wanted to say about her. Sienna took her silence gravely and the brunette prattled on about additional options. Victoria closed her eyes, feeling punished that she had this woman in front of her, forcing her to deal with something so…mundane.

“Of course, the decision is completely up to you,” Sienna concluded, waiting for a moment. Victoria tapped her foot, hearing the rhythm and feeling more present. She dropped her hand and looked at the MET director, her former friend, exasperated at that moment. “Just make her pay for it and take it and get it out. Now. Please. Before anyone sees it. And get rid of Heidi.”

It was at that moment that the two of them were joined by a third. Victoria turned to see a friendly face – Lydia Arden. The family’s doctor and her close friend since arriving in New York smiled.

“Victoria,” Lydia greeted. Victoria smiled weakly at her firned, turning from Sienna and accepting the doctor’s European style kiss on the cheek for a greeting. She had never understood it and she hugged her friend instead. “Thank God, a friend without a problem for me to deal with,” she whispered to Lydia, smiling and huffing out a breath. The tension fled from her shoulders.

“I apologise for interrupting,” Lydia added. “We just finished dealing with a crisis. No harm done,” Victoria shrugged.

“Sienna,” Lydia nodded towards the brunette. They were all familiar with one another, though Victoria was sure that the doctor was just as surprised to see the brunette as much as she was.

“Sienna love, I will leave you to do what needs to be done. No time for a walk through. I trust you to handle any other…issues if they arise. It’s better if I don’t know about these things unless it’s dire,” Victoria said gently, ushering her friend to remedying the statue incident as nicely as she could. “I don’t want to snap on you. I don’t want any of us to snap. You and the MET have done such a lovely job so far.”

For a moment she paused, sipping her champagne. “Do you want me to tell Nathaniel that you’re here?” she added.




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Engrossed in his explanation, Kole did not register Jonathon’s reaction until he finished his words. The informant looked up at his adoptive father wearily. He froze the moment Jonah rose to stand, walking around the monolithic desk. Kole stared at the intricate designs carved into the dark wood, his hands twisting in his lap now, his elbows balanced on his knees while he hunched forward. When Jonah approached him then he hastily moved to stand. He lacked the fluidity of the crime boss, fumbling with his jacket before looking up at Jonathon fully. He looked only at him for an instant before averting his gaze to the side. Looking behind him then, Kole noted that even Nathanial was now standing.

Jonathon extended a hand to his shoulder, a move reassuring to many but to Kole it felt like an added weight to his mind. Jonah’s hand was powerful, gripping him and commanding attention. The informant looked at his adoptive father then, fighting to stare into his cold eyes. He couldn’t help but wonder how the man was so ruthless. Kole knew that he would never go back on what he did, that it had been right. It was all justified in his mind only his entire body seemed repulsed by what he had done. His logic was sound. He had acted the way he had to. Moreover he had wanted to do it. It was right to save them, to protect his family and himself. Yet he felt conflicted. It reminded him of a passage in Harry Potter, describing how death shattered the soul. He had never believed in such things until now, when some part of him that he couldn’t describe was in agony.

“You did well, Kole. You managed this situation where many men would’ve panicked, and you have nothing to feel guilty about; he would have taken you down without a second thought. I know this must be difficult for you, and I understand that you feel the way you do, but he’s not worth it. Think of what would have happened had you not done what you did. Any one of us would have done the same thing,” Jonathon commended him. “I know I shouldn’t feel guilty. I know that I did the right thing. I wouldn’t go back on it. But it’s just there in my head. It never leaves me, just like he never leaves me,” Kole replied, swallowing and narrowing his eyes. He was beginning to feel wrong for feeling guilty.

“Your father was not your fault, Kole. There was nothing you could’ve done to help him, and you need to know that,” Jonah countered. “I know that. I hate him. But he’s the only other dead body that I’ve seen die.”

Death was such a funny thing to watch.

"Any idea where the fuck Tony is?" Nate suddenly asked, his language bitter and breaking the tension. Kole stepped back and ran a hand through his hair again, sighing and looking up at the ceiling of the ornate office before sliding back the cuff of his suit jacket to check his watch – a black granite Fossil and gift from Jonathon himself. “I have to be out there now,” Kole noted. “If I’m not Mom will hang me.” The way he spoke about Victoria was gentle and amused. She had only ever briefly been Mrs. Genovese or Victoria to him. She had pushed him to call her Mom as his birth mother had never been that close to him. Initially she had commented that he could call her Mama, her southern accent breaking through. That had been too much and he’d instead referred to her as Mom. “We can talk more tonight? They expect me to stay over,” he asked, referring to his unit and assorted personnel permission for him to stay the night. “They’ll want something, even if it’s small,” he added, knowing that with his position so tenuous he would need to bring some bit of information that the agency could act on. They were hungry to hit the business hard with the failed raid.

“If you want anyone to run into unexpected trouble with the law, you know what to tell me. Also, there’s a new agent within the unit. He’s a nasty one Jonah. You’ll want to read up on him. Lucas Hitch.”

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Victoria Genovese Character Portrait: Jonathon Genovese Character Portrait: Anthony "Tony" Rizzo Character Portrait: Kalista Ross Character Portrait: Sienna Rose Character Portrait: Mick Carter Character Portrait: Nate Hagen Character Portrait: Kole Marinos Character Portrait: Rebecca Vendetti Character Portrait: Lydia Arden
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#, as written by Mela
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“I know that. I hate him. But he’s the only other dead body that I’ve seen die.” Kole said, and Jonah sighed, at a loss as his hand fell from his son’s shoulder. He had nothing more to say. This was something Kole needed to sort through and deal with alone, because no one could help him. The patriarch only hoped his adoptive son was up for it… hoped so very badly that he’d pull through. That he was strong enough, or rather… cold enough. The ability to kill was not what defined strength in a man to Jonah, although many be think so of him. What defined strength was being able to pull through in spite of all odds being against you. Strength was balancing the dark sides of life and still finding room to let in the light. If you could do that, you were among the strongest of men… or women for that matter.

“I know,” Jonah finally noted quietly, letting his mask of coldness fade for brief moments with his son as he then continued, “Just promise me you will face this, Kole. Do not shut it out; do not try to ignore it. It will only come back and tear you apart later.” With that, Jonah sent the briefest of looks in Nate’s direction, but it was so quick there was no way to tell whether that was what he’d actually done, as he looked back at his son. Before the crime boss had a chance to say anymore, Nate’s voice rang out, and Jonah couldn’t stop himself from smiling wryly at the tone. The two of them shared a very distinct dislike for the casino manager, but he made money. Lots of money, and Jonah was not going to throw away a good investment unless he had very good cause to. Then his mask was back up suddenly.

In response to Nate’s words, Jonah checked his phone, frowning at the time. Was it really eight already? And Tony had yet to arrive? He glanced up at his second in command, placing the phone back in his pocket, almost too calmly. “Not here yet, as usual,” he said coolly. Rendetti, Mr. Mick Carter, and Miss Kalista Ross seemed to be the only ones who still had the ability to arrive on time. He and Nate would have to have a little… talk… with the rest of his associates. Jonah paused, his gaze landing on Kole once more when he began speaking, noting that he had to go… and that he needed something to take back to the unit. He listened quietly to all of it, nodding once when he had finished speaking.

Before he could reply, however, knocking sounded, and he took out his phone briefly, wanting to see if it was Tony like he’d requested, or not. Sure enough, the money maker had decided to show. Well, he would be let it whenever it damn well pleased the boss. And so, Jonah ignored him for now, putting his phone away and replying to his son. “I’ll be sure to look into it. Both the information and the hitch.” Jonah picked up the thank-you envelope from his desk and handed it to his son, more or less putting it into his hand for him. “Put it in the guest room’s safe for the evening, just in case.” He ordered casually. “And take the alternative way out.” Jonah had other ways to get out of his office than through the library. One of them was through the conference room, which led to a smaller hallway, which led to his and Vicky’s bedroom.

It wasn’t something he would usually allow, but he didn’t need Tony to get any interesting ideas about Kole, even if the cops did think he was spying on the Genovese for him. No reason to tempt fate. So he put the papers Kole had give him away and then opened the door for Kole, not bothering to see him through it before he moved towards the other door, noting behind him, “Nate, make sure he gets out of here, then make sure to keep Rizzo here while I speak with my dear wife. He’s at the door.” Then Jonah was out of the office, in the sitting room, and then in the library, to which he opened the door, facing Tony with a deadly cold look in his eyes.

“You’re late,” he merely stated, his tone dangerously calm. “I trust you will not be so next time I give you direct orders.” Then he opened the door wider. “Get inside.” Jonathon was clearly not pleased, and Rizzo would feel that soon enough. After the meeting, he would deal with those who had decided to be late. He gave the guy a coldly calculating look before he made his way downstairs, quick to distinguish his wife’s voice. Wait, had she just said Sienna? He would have frowned if he had been a male more expressive. Instead, Jonathon’s eyes merely hardened and he sped up, not even pausing to greet the people who were eagerly trying to talk to him. He didn’t stop until he was beside his wife, facing the other two ladies. Indeed. Sienna Rose. And Nate didn’t know she was there? Good.

Jonah cleared his throat to make his presence known, inclining his head quietly in Doctor Arden’s direction. A show of respect and a greeting all in one, but for her benefit, he added, “good evening, Doctor.” Then his gaze fell on Sienna, beyond ice cold, but he said nothing to her, instead he leaned in to whisper in his wife’s ear. “I will be starting the meeting in a couple of minutes. Make sure everyone’s busy, hm?” Then he straightened entirely, eyes once more on Sienna, anger seething in him. “Ah, and dear, would you please get this… woman… out of my house before I do it myself? Do not tell him anything.” He noted, taking one dangerously threatening step towards Sienna, his eyes almost murderous.

Then he leaned in to whisper, his voice menacing, but low enough to only be heard by her. “You practically tore out my best friend’s heart when you left him, you little bitch. You have a lot of nerve showing your face in my house. Get the fuck out before you leave here in a less than pretty state.” Before she could even reply, Jonah was off, not caring one bit why she was there or what purpose she served. All he cared about was keeping her away from Nate. The man was cracking enough as it was; he didn’t need this little lady to come screw any more with his head. In fact, Jonah was going to make sure she got the hell out of Manhattan as soon as possible. She had caused Nate enough pain, and Jonah honestly didn’t take too kindly to that.

As he walked back up the stairs, heading back to his office, Jonah sent out the text to all of his associates, minus Tony. They would all know who the text was from, but it was completely untraceable.

To: All business associates

”Library. Now. Slip out unnoticed.”

From: Sender Unknown

The setting changes from genovese-mansion to Manhattan, New York

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Victoria Genovese Character Portrait: Jonathon Genovese Character Portrait: Sienna Rose Character Portrait: Nate Hagen Character Portrait: Lydia Arden
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The setting changes from manhattan-new-york to Genovese Mansion

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Victoria Genovese Character Portrait: Jonathon Genovese Character Portrait: Sienna Rose Character Portrait: Nate Hagen Character Portrait: Lydia Arden
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Sienna's panic when Victoria asked whether she wanted to let Nathaniel know she was here or not vanished as soon as Jonathon Genovese step next to his wife.

His cold stare was returned with an equally belligerent one from Sienna. Even after all these years just being in his presence made Sienna's skin crawl. His evil was too incomprehensible for normal words. The loathing she felt for this man was beyond palpable it was beyond all reason entirely.

Sienna watched with a cold gaze as Jonathon leaned into his wife and whispered something in her ear and then he turned back to her. His eyes as cold and void as ice. Whenever she looked into them, the only way she could describe them as was alack of a soul.

“Ah, and dear, would you please get this… woman… out of my house before I do it myself? Do not tell him anything.” Jonathon said to Victoria.

A sickly smile came over Sienna's lips.

Taking an intimidating step towards her, Jonathan came into her personal space threateningly, lips a breaths space away from her cheek and spoke in a low utterly cold and vicious whisper for her ears only . . .

“You practically tore out my best friend’s heart when you left him, you little bitch. You have a lot of nerve showing your face in my house. Get the fuck out before you leave here in a less than pretty state.”

Sienna did not flinch a single muscle as she stood there calmly and listened to his words. She almost laughed coldly in her face.

He knew absolutely nothing about what happened between Nathaniel and herself! How could she have broken Nathaniel's heart when he didn't want her in the first place? It was Nate who chose his so called 'family' over her, then how could she break something that was never in her possession to begin with? Sienna seethed angrily . . . But it was none of Jonathon's business! She did not need to explain herself to anyone! Especially not him!

She listened to his little speech patiently. She wasn't afraid of Jonathon Genovese like everyone else. For she knew what he truly was, which was nothing more then a two-bit thug in a designer suit.

Sienna followed his retreating figure with slitted eyes as he headed back up the stairs, until he was out of sight and then she turned back calmly to Victoria with a gentle smile as if that scene hadn't played out in front of Victoria's very eyes as Dr. Arden looked on with an astonished face. Sienna hadn't had a chance to return the woman's greeting but it didn't seem all that important now.

“Don't bother.” Sienna said to Victoria still smiling calmly “I know my way out of here very well.”

She stopped as Heidi who had also witnessed the scene with a gob-smacked face moved closer to Sienna like her personal back up.

“Can you let Mrs Standford's daughter know that the statue is theirs and have the Auctioneer deal with the details.”

“Done.” Heidi replied as she dialled a number on her phone and started making the notifications.

“Don't worry.” Sienna added turning to face Victoria again “Everything is set up and ready to go. Once the Auction is finished with the Auctioneer and his team will deal with all the delivery and payment details.” Sienna smiled genuinely at the woman as she place a hand over Victoria's clasped ones “Have a Goodnight.”

Sienna turned and walked away before Victoria could say anything. Sienna was calmer then she had expected to be.

“Okay! What just happened there?!” Heidi asked as she came into stride with Sienna who headed for the front door.

“I was just kicked out of the party.” Sienna said with a wicked smile.

“What?! Are you freaking kidding me?!” Heidi chocked out with a grin “Sienna, you are so bad!”

“You have no idea.” Sienna said lowly as she tried to push Jonathon Genovese's words out of her mind . . .

Nathaniel . . . Heartbroken . . . She did not believe it. It couldn't be true . . . Her mind flashing back to that night fourteen years ago when everything had changed between Nathaniel and herself . . . It had meant everything to her . . . She had lived on that memory for over a decade . . . But it couldn't have meant anything to Nathaniel . . . She had asked him to choose, to come with her and he had chose them with out so much as batting an eyelid.

Sienna had cried so many nights thinking about that until one day there were no more tears left . . . Just her incomplete life . . . And she stopped thinking about it . . . and she didn't want to remember it now either.

“Let's get out of here.” Sienna said to Heidi as they stepped out the front door as people were coming in and staring at her in shock and whispering Is that Sienna Rose? “I need a drink.”

“You know I'm always on board for that but what about Landon?” Heidi question as she followed Sienna out into the cool crisp night pushing people out of her way, as was Heidi's usual way to deal with people who got in her way.

“He's at my sisters.” Sienna replied simply trying to stay calm and not allow the memories of years ago take her over.

She really needed that drink.

“Rebecca's?”

“God no!” Sienna chocked out a small laugh “I wouldn't do that to the poor boy. He's at Lyndsey's.”

“Good! Because I was going to say.” Heidi said relief touching her voice as they walked passed the queued up people waiting to be admitted who stared at Sienna openly and then a rush of flashes beamed in Sienna's direction and a whole host of voices filled the air.

Sienna turned in the direction of the bright flashing lights . . . and there behind a barrier were masses of Paparazzi screaming at her.

Sienna! Sienna! Miss Rose! . . . This way, please! How does it feel to be back in New York after so many years away?” And so on they sang out.

Sienna turned to face the camera's smiling as she did so and posed for them.

“Wonderful, of course!” She replied, lying to their most forthcoming question.

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Victoria Genovese Character Portrait: Jonathon Genovese Character Portrait: Sienna Rose Character Portrait: Nate Hagen Character Portrait: Kole Marinos Character Portrait: Lydia Arden
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Kole felt Jonah pull away physically but that didn’t stop his adoptive father from trying to be reassuring. As he rambled his way through the last of his talking points, Jonathon’s points lingered. Face it. Head on. Like a game of chicken only you’re going to collide with it and you need to. It wasn’t the first time he had been told this. In fact, it was something both of the Genovese’s told him in a regular basis growing up. If I had a quarter for every time they told me that… Victoria had always been particularly keen to tell him the exact same thing: don’t try to not deal with something. It would only prove more painful in the future. Yet, hiding things and bottling up his emotions had been his way of life growing up. His birth parents had never wanted to know that he had a problem. They didn’t have the time of day for him in the first place. If he raised an issue he was locked in his room. Having grown up that way, Kole still lapsed into the habit. Now that he had been away from home so long he had been repressing so much of his unease. Now that he was curtly reminded by his adoptive parents not to do so it was like removing a cork from a very pressurized bottle.

“I’ll be sure to look into it. Both the information and the hitch,” Jonathon thanked him, before picking up the manila envelope filled with cash and forcing it into his hands. Kole looked down at it, feeling his stomach churn uncomfortably. Did Kalista always feel this way when she was paid to make a kill? It didn’t rest well with him. I feel like a mercenary. He swallowed the lump in his throat painfully. “Put it in the guest room’s safe for the evening, just in case,” Jonathon added. “And take the alternative way out.”

Kole bit his tongue and settled the envelope of cash into his inner jacket pocket. He looked up at Jonathon in the eyes, seeing that he was beyond their meeting then. His father opened the door and moved him through with nothing but a flick of his eyes. Kole paused as he stepped through. “I miss you,” he noted solemnly. Rarely was he so soft, but his father was someone he felt like he needed right now. The stress of the evening had Jonathon withdrawn and he didn’t like feeling so distanced from everyone he cared about. He watched Jonathon cross the room, ordering Nate to ensure that Kole was absent by the time he returned before exiting to speak with Victoria. No sooner had the crime boss departed for the main lobby of the mansion then did Nate step forward, gesturing for Kole to get a move on without so much as a word. Kole bit on his tongue as he slid through the secret hallway, emerging behind a discrete doorway within Victoria’s walk-in closet. He stepped into the couple’s elegant master suite, noting the strewn and wet gown on the floor. He frowned then, before proceeding to his former bedroom directly not wanting to linger in his parents’ private space.

His former bedroom felt sterile when he stepped inside. The furniture was the same, but any of his personal affects had been removed and the walls had been repainted a more neutral tone. It bothered him to feel like his family had almost moved on from him. It felt like overwhelming. Closing the door behind him, he moved to a familiar painting opposite of the desk he had used all through high school and college, a rendition of James Earle Fraser’s “End of Trail.” He had picked it himself with Victoria when she had unceremoniously dragged him to an art gallery one afternoon on business. He had felt connected with the native American depicted slumped over and worn out, his emaciated horse digging in its heels as if it was being pushed over a precipice. By what many asked? Civilization? Colonists? The determination of that horse had always drawn him to it. Kole liked to believe the Indian was ready to sit upright and engage in the hunt at any time. It made him feel like even at the end of a very hard fight, raw determination could be enough to push back. It was oddly motivating to see it again.

Gripping the frame, he pulled it off the wall to expose a small safe. He slid his thumb down a fingerprint scanner before inputting a six digit code. It read his combination and print, blinked twice and then unlocked. When he opened it, the safe was empty, making it a simple task to set the money inside, reset it, and hide it. He was glad to be done with the cash. It wasn’t like he needed it. Jonathon knew how uncomfortable he was in taking it. He had every mind to leave it there and “forget” it by accident. No sooner was it put away then did he leave the room.

Kole stepped into the hall, closing the door behind him lightly. He exhaled deeply then, smoothed his suit jacket, and then moved to the staircase. From the top of the lobby he gained a bird’s eye view of the guests. The hum of voices was quite audible and the crowd was thick as people proceeded from the mansion’s lobby to the dining hall and exhibit. Despite the din and clout of all the people, Kole was able to immediately spot both Victoria and Jonathon. His mother looked chique as always, while his father remained tense. Offside his three adoptive siblings conversed. He nodded towards them, not even caring if they saw him. He hurried himself down the steps then, finding himself nearly running into none other than Sienna Rose. He had only known her for an instant, with his arrival conflicting with her departure, but he knew her face and the sight of her surprised him. Kole watched her usher her way past him and he sent the woman a look over his shoulder as he approached Victoria. His mother lit up at the sight of him but no sooner was she looking at him then vehemently at his father. He had known things were tense but he was surprised by what he saw.





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Sienna had no chance to speak. Victoria inhaled and found herself drowning in the scent of Jonathon’s cologne once more. She closed her eyes, feeling his tension and sharing it. Her frustration with her husband re-emerged. Having seen him not twenty minutes before was no where near enough time for her to let the incident go. Victoria looked at him from the corner of her eye, listening to him clear his throat. She stepped away from him, not reaching out to hold his hand in the slightest like she normally would. His coldness was severe and she immediately disapproved of his demeanor. It was warranted for his business but not for his guests. Lydia received a cold greeting and Victoria stared at the floor while he leaned towards her.

“I will be starting the meeting in a couple of minutes. Make sure everyone’s busy, hm?” he ordered. Victoria flared her nostrils and stepped away from him then, turning to look at him coldly with a severity she reserved for the moments when she was most frustrated with him. She moved to speak, but he beat her to it.

“Ah, and dear, would you please get this… woman… out of my house before I do it myself? Do not tell him anything,” Jonathon commanded sharply. “Now you wait a damn minute,” she hissed but that didn’t stop him. Her husband stepped forward and toward the curator and bitterly threatened the woman. Victoria wanted nothing than to grab his arm and to tear him away from the woman responsible for organizing her entire auction, for antagonizing someone she cared about. While she found herself in the middle of their quarrel, Sienna was first and foremost a friend. Whatever he said was enough to remove any trace of a smile Sienna had and Victoria felt her blood boil.

“Don't bother,” Sienna told Victoria bluntly and the family matriarch stepped back, offended for the brunette. “I know my way out of here very well.”

“Sienna!” Victoria called out, trying to reason with her, to get her attention and make her stay. The MET director marched two steps away however, meeting with Heidi and barking an order at her. The blond curtly took out her phone. Victoria was speechless, and she brought a hand to her hair as Sienna turned back to face her. “Don't worry,” Sienna explained. “Everything is set up and ready to go. Once the Auction is finished with the Auctioneer and his team will deal with all the delivery and payment details. Have a Goodnight.”

“Wait please,” Victoria begged, only to find her attention withdrawn. She turned to see Kole, walking into the fiasco. His presence only lightened her mood for a split second but his distraction had her turn away from the curator who then left without further notice. No sooner was that over then she turned to Jonathon, sticking a finger out into his chest and staring at him with a biting glare.

“You had no right to do that,” Victoria snapped, unafraid to tell her husband off. Perhaps she was the only one who didn’t fear the stone cold look he was exuding at the moment. She hated him right then and there. “I am not interfering with your business. Get out of mine. She is the MET curator. If she leaves, they all leave, and then this whole thing ends. I don’t care what she said.”

She wanted to cut at him, to show him how unhappy she was with this side of him. Victoria had never taken well to being bullied by him and tonight was no exception. “You have relegated me to this, now let me do my job,” she demanded curtly, staring at him before she pushed past Kole as he approached them, turning over her shoulder momentarily to look at Lydia. "I'm sorry, I will talk to you in a minute." Walking forward, Victoria extended a hand to her adopted son’s shoulder, lingering on it before she stormed past him and through the crowds after the MET director. She didn’t care if Jonathon called after her. She knew he wouldn’t apologize. She didn’t want him too because then it would be insincere. But he needed to know how upset she was.

Victoria marched through the throng, excusing her way through a dense group of people until she was able to push her way through the main entrance. The red head reached out to Sienna, who at that exact moment was answering a reporter’s question.

“Wonderful, of course!” the brunette chimed, exasperation lacing her words. “Sienna!” Victoria called out to her. “Sienna turn around, please. That was uncalled for. He knows it and he had no right to say so. Please come inside.” It was not like her to beg and her tone was far from pleading and more so instructive. Still, she looked at Sienna with warm eyes, a look she reserved when she was desperate or dealing with her children. "It will serve him right to have you there."

The setting changes from genovese-mansion to Manhattan, New York

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Victoria Genovese Character Portrait: Jonathon Genovese Character Portrait: Charlee Shaee Genovese Character Portrait: Sienna Rose Character Portrait: Nate Hagen Character Portrait: Lincoln Genovese Character Portrait: Dylan Genovese Character Portrait: Lydia Arden
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...Wrong location. Sorry.

The setting changes from manhattan-new-york to Genovese Mansion

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Victoria Genovese Character Portrait: Jonathon Genovese Character Portrait: Charlee Shaee Genovese Character Portrait: Sienna Rose Character Portrait: Nate Hagen Character Portrait: Lincoln Genovese Character Portrait: Dylan Genovese Character Portrait: Lydia Arden
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Victoria pulled Lydia into a friendly hug, smiling weakly at her. Lydia took in the matriarch’s expression of tight-lipped concern. Clearly, things had not gone quite as smoothly as she had been hoping they would tonight. And Lydia had a feeling it was something to do with Sienna Rose’s presence.

Victoria’s next whispered words confirmed this, “Thank God, a friend without a problem for me to deal with.”

Lydia laughed softly at her friend and tilted her head slightly, giving her a small, sympathetic smile.

“We just finished dealing with a crisis. No harm done,” Victoria said in response to Lydia’s apology. She then turned back to the conversation with Sienna, strangely, Lydia noted, regarding Sienna’s role in tonight’s art auction. She referred to Sienna being here with the MET. She must have taken a job there when she returned, Lydia concluded. Evidently, though, this meant she was back for good, a fact that was certain not to go down well with everyone here tonight. Though Lydia had never played a large part in Sienna’s relationship with Nathaniel Hagen and her subsequent departure, following their split, she had been aware of the situation. She’d also had a few lengthy conversations with Victoria not long after Sienna had left, regarding what had happened.

Suddenly, out of nowhere, Jonathon Genovese appeared. Victoria’s reception of her husband was icy and she took a step away from him, where he’d come to stand at her side, a very clear show that something between them was not right.

The patriarch turned his attention towards Lydia, nodding slightly towards her in greeting. ”Good evening, Doctor.” The greeting was by no stretch of the imagination friendly, but, it was formal and respectful, which was more than Sienna was about to receive.

“Mr Genovese,” she returned the greeting with a smile. Although she was nowhere near as close to Jonathon as she was to Victoria, she was still very familiar with the man after years of service to his family. Usually, she probably would’ve addressed him simply as Jonathon, but under such a formal situation, and especially one as tense as this, she thought it best to remain impersonal. Besides, he was kind of her informal boss, so to speak. Which reminded her, she still needed to talk to Victoria about the people that had come through the hospital early that morning, following an explosion in a house near central park. Two people had come in dead, one the owner of the house, the other a young man who was walking his dog past the house when it happened. The pregnant girlfriend of the dog walker had been brought in too, clinging to life by a tendril. Lydia had been the attending doctor on her case. She’d worked tirelessly to save the woman, even more so after being told she was pregnant, but her injuries were too severe. She had burns from the explosion to most of her body and was bleeding onto her brain after being thrown back by the blast and hitting her head. Really, there was nothing Lydia or anyone else could’ve done to save her. Tomorrow, Lydia needed to write a report up for her death. The hospital were looking over the body of the homeowner and deciding, in their opinion, if they thought the death was an accident. Lydia had come to understand that any particularly violent death in this city was rarely an accident and that the Genovese’s or one of their associates was usually, in some way, related to the incident. She needed to find out from Victoria if these deaths had been their doing and whether Lydia needed to make certain they were ruled an accident, to cover the Genovese’s backs.

Jonathon then turned to his wife, leaning close to her he whispered something in her ear that Lydia couldn’t quite catch. But whatever it was certainly did not please Victoria. Her expression became colder and she took another step away from the man she was supposed to love.

Jonathon’s piercing blue eyes fell on Sienna with the cruellest gaze before announcing, ” Ah, and dear, would you please get this… woman… out of my house before I do it myself? Do not tell him anything.” He took a threatening step towards Sienna and Lydia, not for the first time in her life, was glad the mafia boss was fond enough of her never to take this tone with her.

Victoria was fuming. “Now you wait a damn minute,”

But Jonathon wasn’t done there. He took another step towards Sienna and told her quietly in the bitterest tone Lydia had heard him use in a long time, “You practically tore out my best friend’s heart when you left him, you little bitch. You have a lot of nerve showing your face in my house. Get the fuck out before you leave here in a less than pretty state.”

Lydia watched on, astonishment on her pretty features. That was low, even for Jonathon. Usually he had enough respect and courtesy to at least take someone to the side instead of throwing them out of a party in amongst the most affluent of New York. Public humiliation wasn’t usually Jonathon’s style; he preferred to hurt someone quickly, as opposed to making them suffer. If he was being this ruthless towards Sienna, he clearly had a point to prove and a deep hatred for the woman. Maybe there was more to the story than Lydia had originally thought?

“Don't bother. I know my way out of here very well,” Sienna told her, pre-empting Victoria’s response, who, meanwhile, looked murderous.

”Sienna!” Victoria called. Sienna ignored her protest and exchanged a few words with a blonde Lydia recognised from somewhere, but wasn’t familiar with. She presumed she was something to do with the art auction. Sienna then turned back to Victoria, explaining a few more details surrounding the MET’s involvement in tonight’s proceedings before wishing her a good night.

Victoria, again, tried to protest, but Sienna had already crossed the room to leave. Acknowledging this, the matriarch turned back to her husband, offering him a furious rant. And rightly so, Lydia thought to herself, not that she would be sharing that opinion in front of Jonathon. He’d been more than harsh to Sienna and had humiliated not only her, but Victoria too. His bullying behaviour, although characteristic of him in his career, should be kept for his enemies and not his wife.

Jonathon left and Victoria turned back to Lydia. ”I’m sorry. I will talk to you in a minute.” Lydia gave her an understanding nod as she watched the woman leave after Sienna.

Gazing across the room, Lydia watched the other guests. She must’ve been to a hundred of Victoria’s parties over the years, but she still never quite felt as if she fitted in. She was familiar with most of these society men and women who frequented these parties with their loose purse strings and socially-climbing agendas, yet they still looked down on her. Of course, Lydia could go and talk to some of them while she waited for Victoria to return, and she could watch them greet her with tight-lipped, false smiles. But as she looked out across the sea of opulent dresses and showy suits, the Genovese children caught her eye once more. Lincoln was with them now; Dylan was doing something with his phone and Lydia watched him hand it back to his brother with a triumphant smile.

But Lydia’s gaze caught on Charlee. Maybe it was just a trick of the light, or the way she turned her head, but Lydia, in her constant doctor’s mind-set, saw something a little…off about the girl. Her pupils looked dilated, and Lydia did a double take, wondering if it was just her imagination. Someone else without a medical background may not have noticed it, but Lydia was well attuned to a body’s natural response to stimulus, and Charlee’s eyes should not look like that. There were a number of elaborate medical conditions that could’ve caused that response, but Lydia came to a less innocent conclusion about the young girl. When the doctor had taken some of Charlee’s blood a month after the abortion, just to make sure all the hormones in her body had returned to where they should be, the results had come back not quite as Lydia had expected. There’d been traces of cocaine and Tramadol, a pain reliever, in Charlee’s blood. At first, the older woman considered telling Victoria, but Charlee was miserable enough as it was. She didn’t need her mother’s concern and harassment upsetting her more. So Lydia passed it off as a phase. The poor girl was, understandably, heartbroken over the abortion, but she wasn’t a bad girl, so to speak. Lydia was certain that, as soon as she came to terms with what had happened, she would get off the pills and return to normal. Recently, Lydia’s worries had been put to rest as she saw Charlee’s studies going well and her prospects of getting into a good university looked positive. But maybe she’d been wrong.

Lydia approached the children as they stood away from all the other adults in a little group together. Dylan looked wrapped up in something on his phone, and Lincoln had just got his own phone back.

“Hey Linc, Dylan,” she smiled at the two boys, but she didn’t expect a great deal of a response back. Besides, it was more Charlee she was interested in.

Close up, the doctor confirmed what she’d already suspected about her enlarged pupils and her eyes were ever so slightly glassy. Perhaps talking to the girl would gain her more of an insight, Lydia concluded. “Shae,” she smiled friendly at the girl with a certain familiarity that only knowing someone for the length of time Lydia had known Charlee for could bring. “How’s applying for colleges going then?” she enquired. Partly, she was interested in her life, but she was mostly trying to confirm her suspicions regarding Charlee’s possible drug habit.

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Victoria Genovese Character Portrait: Sienna Rose Character Portrait: Lincoln Genovese Character Portrait: Dylan Genovese Character Portrait: Lydia Arden
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While Dylan was tinkering with his phone, he looked around the room. He saw Kole nodding towards their direction. He inclined his head in greeting. He’s wondering though, if it’s safe for his adoptive sibling to be seen at a Genovese event. He’s a spy for his father and that in itself is dangerous. Good thing all of them knew how to protect themselves. His father made sure of that.

"If you want to try out any other colours, just let me know. It's just a matter of changing... Never mind."

Looking back at Dylan, Linc took his iPhone and placed it back to his pocket. “Yeah, its all greek to me. I am so lucky to have a techie brother. I’ll bring my laptop over so you can change the settings as well.” He said grinning. His smart, brainy brother.... he could probably hack the Pentagon in his pajamas before he's finished with his first cup of coffee. Dylan’s phone buzzed, his brother’s brows furrowed while reading a text message. “ Problem?” he asked.

“Hey Linc, Dylan,”

Dr. Arden’s familiar voice greeted them. “Hello, Dr. Arden.” Lincoln greeted in return but the good doctor was more interested in her sister’s college application. The doctor seemed to be studying his sister’s face. Its not uncommon, since Dr. Arden was his sister's attending physician when she had her baby terminated.


"Sienna!”

He knew that tone very well. And it usually means someone’s behaving badly. Linc excused himself and walked towards the entrance.

“Sienna turn around, please. That was uncalled for. He knows it and he had no right to say so. Please come inside.”

He saw his mother and Dr. Rose talking heatedly. The latter moving closer, saying something but he couldn’t make out what it was. Dr. Rose then got inside her car and left. Linc stood beside his mother and said “Let’s get you inside mom, you might catch a cold.” He took her mother’s elbow in an attempt to usher her back inside. Whatever happened clearly got his mother upset. That damn woman is nothing but trouble.

The setting changes from genovese-mansion to Manhattan, New York

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Jess Garcia Character Portrait: Charlee Shaee Genovese Character Portrait: Lincoln Genovese Character Portrait: Dylan Genovese Character Portrait: Lydia Arden Character Portrait: Special Agent Luke Hitch
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"You want to know if there's anything you need to know about me? I like to take my targets down hard and give them no where to run. When there world comes down around them, then I'm happier then a pig in shit. As far as helping you get home to get your beauty sleep you might as well ask someone else because as long as I'm in New York, I don't stop working. My job's not done until Jonathon Genovese is behind bars. I will turn this bastards entire family against him if it means bringing him in. His wife, his kids, his damn great grammy are all fair game as far as I'm concerned." Jess grinned. That grin slipped as he asked about Frank's investigation, then widened as he deposited sweets on her desk. "Oh, Hitch, I think we're going to get along just perfectly."

She handed Hitch a brown paper folder emblazoned with the FBI logo. "That's everything you need to know about the case. I have two suspects. Kole Marinos and... Well, you can see for yourself. I'm pretty sure Ethan, or "Mick", isn't our mole." She ripped open the packet of sweets, popping one in her mouth. "Kole... Well, he fits in a little too well with the Genovese family for my liking. But he's a good agent. And... Unless you've met him, you can't quite understand Kole." Jess couldn't quite word what she meant, but she hoped the information in the file would be enough.

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"Problem?" Dylan heard Linc ask. He looked up. "Oh, it's nothing." Just then, Doctor Arden appeared. "Hey, Linc, Dylan." She said, watching Shae closely. "Hey, Doc." Dylan greeted her. He was still puzzled about who the message was from. There was something familiar about the whole thing. It felt like he knew exactly who the sender was, like the name was on the tip of his tongue, but he couldn't get it out.

For some reason, his first encounter with Theo came to mind.

It felt like so long ago. Dylan had been trying to retrieve an early prototype of the robot he was building. Instead of no remote, however, it had been controlled from his laptop. Unfortunately, it had misinterpreted an order and had smashed, going full speed, into a table leg. The table leg had been left intact, luckily enough, but the robot hadn't. It's entire control panel had been smashed. Dylan was trying to locate the wreck. He had passed by the techie and had gotten a glimpse at the techie's laptop screen. Dylan's curious nature had, of course, provoked him to try and get a better look, and ask the inevitable question, "How are you doing that?"

And thus their friendship had begun.

Dylan gave up trying to think of anyone who could have sent him that message. The list was too long. It could be the new Techie, but why didn't just she come over and speak to him? And he was pretty sure that she hadn't left the room to investigate his robot.

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Victoria Genovese Character Portrait: Jonathon Genovese Character Portrait: Charlee Shaee Genovese Character Portrait: Sienna Rose Character Portrait: Nate Hagen Character Portrait: Kole Marinos Character Portrait: Lincoln Genovese Character Portrait: Dylan Genovese Character Portrait: Lydia Arden
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#, as written by Korrye
Ugh

The setting changes from manhattan-new-york to Genovese Mansion

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Victoria Genovese Character Portrait: Jonathon Genovese Character Portrait: Charlee Shaee Genovese Character Portrait: Sienna Rose Character Portrait: Nate Hagen Character Portrait: Kole Marinos Character Portrait: Lincoln Genovese Character Portrait: Dylan Genovese Character Portrait: Lydia Arden
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#, as written by Korrye
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Her husbands rebuttal to her snide remarks echoed in her ears as she pleaded with Sienna not to leave. “Victoria, do not start a scene.” Well damn right she was causing one then for the first time in years. Her collected and cool demeanor was absent as she fought to get a grip on a night that she felt she had no control over. “And I had every right. I don’t give a fuck who she is; don’t you dare go against me on this,” Jonathon had snapped. And I don’t fucking care about you ordering me around. I don’t bend to your will this way. I will not lose on two battles today. With that she had added the remark that it would serve her husband right for her to be there. She knew of Jonathon’s animosity towards the woman who had left Nate in a depressed spiral for months after her sudden departure from the city. Victoria had always remained quiet on the subject. Jonathon didn’t know just how sudden her own departure from her old life had been and moreover how hard it had been on her to uproot herself from the only thing she knew. But it had been for the better. She had hated so many aspects of that life in Wyoming. She could to a degree understand Sienna’s discomfort. It was no secret that she hated Jonathon. Victoria didn’t like her for that but they understood things about each other. Leaving. Being uncomfortable with the life one led. She desperately wanted to talk to the woman but it was clearly not in her control to force the woman to stay her. Jonathon had done his job of playing the pitbull too well.

Sienna responded to Victoria quickly, turning and putting a hand on her shoulder solemnly. Victoria felt the gesture was done out of pity. For some reason when she looked at the MET Director, she thought the woman was looking at her with a sorry look, like she was sorry to leave her there with the people inside. I am breaking Victoria thought to herself bitterly. She stiffened as a slew of reporters somehow pushed their cameras through the wrought iron gates to snap pictures. She turned her cheek away from Sienna as they stepped offside behind the valet’s podium.

"Victoria," Sienna sighed, commanding the red head’s attention. The family matriarch looked coldly towards Sienna, knowing that tone and knowing what it reflected, what her answer would be before she replied. “I don't care nor did I come here to spite your husband and I don't want to cause trouble for you either. To be completely honest I didn't even want to come here tonight but it's my job and I'm a professional. Now that everything is taken care of I have no need to be here. Save yourself and me the trouble . . .” Sienna reasoned with her. Victoria shook her head. “No, wait, that's not what I meant...” she sputtered and she was about ready to offer her own rebuttle when Sienna began stepping down the wide staircase to the valet.

“Goodbye Victoria," Sienna smiled weakly before turning to the driver who had her car waiting and Heidi who stood offside. Victoria felt stabbed. She couldn’t explain it. It was like Jonathon had thrown a knife into her back and now Nathaniel’s former lover was twisting it cruelly. She was completely out of control as Sienna stepped into her car. It was at that point that a hand brushed over her bare left elbow, looping his arm into her own. Victoria blinked twice before looking to see that it was Lincoln, her eldest son.

“Let’s get you inside mom, you might catch a cold,” he prodded. Victoria inhaled suddenly, having held her breath all that time. It was staggered and painful to do. She was seething, so angry she wanted to scream. Now she was left to deal with people who hated her for an event that was a front for something far more important that she had been kicked out of it seemed – her husband’s business. Jonathon had done so much for her. All she gave him was an effort to repay the debt of him saving her from her former life. She would die for her husband, go to prison for him, anything. He seemed to fear that now for the first time in their marriage. All of this had come out of her offer to deal with Theodore, to torture him, to make him suffer, to learn what he knew. If she was imprisoned for it, she had said she didn’t care. Jonathon had however, and he’d barred her from doing anything related to the boy, going so far as to arrange a client dinner with buys for the fashion house that she couldn’t get out of the night he had chosen to confront him and subsequently allowed him to fall off the balcony of their summer property into the river.

She hated this distance between them and even as her son linked arms with her, she was bitter and cold. Victoria squeezed his hand and leaned into him subtly. “Thank-you,” she whispered gently, in a tone she reserved for her children. “It’s nice to have you home,” she added. She rarely saw Lincoln with his school hours at Cornell being what they were and how in and out they all were.

As they stepped back inside, Victoria didn’t know what to do. Her eyes scanned the crowds and she saw Dylan and Charlee standing with Lydia off to the side. For the most part all of their guests had been allowed into the gallery and auction room. Checking her watch, Victoria noted that it was just after 8 o’clock which meant that she had a speech to make. “Time for the auction sweetheart,” she told Linc. She withdraw her arm from her sons and moved to kiss his cheek gently. “I look forward to catching up.”

With that she slid away, following her staff and finding Kole waiting beside one of the MET helpers assigned to inform people on any pieces that a guest had questions about.

“Kole, darling. Time to make our bit,” she announced gently. Her adopted son took Lincoln’s former position, linking arms with her and walking into the dining hall which had been converted into a mock auction house. Guests had assembled and were chatting and drinking champagne with their numbered signs. As Victoria and Kole approached the front a waiter tapped a spoon to the side of a spare glass. By the time they reached a glass podium for the auctioneer the large crowd had fallen silent. Victoria stepped away to speak first, leaning forward to tap the microphone gently. Hearing it respond she smiled. It was time to put on a show. If she was now relegated to being a trophy wife she was going to be a damn good one.

* * *


“One million, four hundred and sixty four thousand dollars Mrs. Genovese, All raised for your charity. That was quite the speech and that was quite the auction,” the auctioneer announced. Victoria smiled and leaned in to squeeze Kole who had remained at the front of the room with her for the entirety of the event. She was nothing but pleased.

“I invite you all to eat dinner and to mingle for the rest of the evening,” Victoria announced, smiling as the room erupted into applause and several guests moved to leave the dining room while a number approached her, shaking her hand and thanking her for holding the event. She wanted nothing but to talk with Jonathon then and she absently wondered if his meeting had concluded on time.

The setting changes from genovese-mansion to Manhattan, New York

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Victoria Genovese Character Portrait: Charlee Shaee Genovese Character Portrait: Lincoln Genovese Character Portrait: Dylan Genovese Character Portrait: Lydia Arden
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Shae openly scoffed at her older brother for taking her drink. Man, did she love him, but sometimes his protective brotherly actions pissed her off. Taking her drink and commenting on her dress had caused Shae to completely forget about the conversation of Candy or even Dylan's preference to his room than social settings. "My dress is fine. As was that drink being in my hand. One won't kill me. Mom hasn't even said a thing." Shae told her brother, though she didn't expect her response to carry much weight. Victoria probably didn't even realize Shae had been holding the glass. "You really don't have to worry." she added. Even if Linc didn't give the drink back, Shae knew she could easily get another once he wasn't paying attention. A smile played on her lips as Shae thought of that very fact. Alcohol was also in supply at the Genovese mansion and Victoria had hardly noticed when Shae got into it. Her mother had always ordered a surplus amount.

Moments had passed. Dylan fiddled with his and Linc's phones. Shae was too caught up in her own mind to even acknowledge their conversation at this point. Her high was finally in effect and she enjoyed the relaxing feeling it provided. She was free. Her body was free. Her mind was free. Pleased with herself, Shae laughed just a bit before hearing "Hey Linc, Dylan." Shae snapped back to reality as Dr. Arden spoke to them. Her brothers gave their hellos first before the attention was turned to Shae. With the E in effect, all of the inhibitions and self-consciousness that should have been in place whilst speaking to a doctor high were out the window. "Shae, how's applying for colleges going then?" the doctor asked. Eye bright, Shae gave a dazzling smile. "Dr. Arden, it's so nice to see you here tonight." she began. "I haven't decided on which colleges I want to apply for. Honestly, I don't want to apply for them. I'd much rather stay here - stay free."

A commotion occurred causing Shae's attention to again shift from the conversation at hand. Sienna was leaving, her mother was yelling, and a scene was made. Linc rushed off to help their mother get back inside. The details of the argument unbeknownst to her, Shae just stared. After her mother returned inside, it was time for the auction to begin. A bore for Shae, but she stood and waited nevertheless. "Looks like things are about to get underway. It was nice catching up with you, Dr. Arden." Shae said politely before giving the doctor an unnecessary hug and literally prancing away.



Characters Present

Character Portrait: Jess Garcia Character Portrait: Dylan Genovese Character Portrait: Lydia Arden Character Portrait: Special Agent Luke Hitch
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Jess watched as Hitch left her office. "Call me if you want in, Garcia." The temptation was there. She could go with him. Hitch surely wouldn't rat her out if she shot Jonathon Genovese in the face. Or his black heart for that matter. All she needed was to stick her glasses back on and change her clothes. She would be, hopefully, unrecognizable once again. Her sense of caution held her back. It was too risky. Hitch was a big boy. He was responsible for his own actions. The team could function without him, if she was honest. But after losing Frank, if anything happened to her, she wasn't so sure the team could stay together. If conflict didn't rip the team apart, the brass surely would. She swung her boots onto the desk and sighed. She hit the intercom on her desk. "Aaron?" The office worker was quick to respond. "Yes, Agent Garcia?" She leaned back in her chair. "I need coffee. Three sugars, no milk. Go get Starbucks. I'll pay you back." She turned off the intercom and stared at her mobile on the desk. A small smile crossed her lips. She mightn't necessarily be on the front line, but Hitch needed to be monitored. She picked up the phone. "Hitch? I'm not going in there with you, but I'll be able to give you a little back-up. All from the safety of my office, of course. You need to understand, it's far too risky to send both the liaison and the tactical leader in." Her voice took on a mocking tone so he would know that she was joking. She hoped he would understand that they were going to need clearance to send both of them in, clearance they would never get. However, sending just Hitch in... She grinned to herself. If anything went wrong, she wouldn't be dropped in it.

She activated the computer and typed Hitch's mobile number into some tracking software. His co-ordinates appeared along with a map. "I don't suppose you have a headset or microphone on you? Never mind. Just one second-" She got to her feet and opened her door. "SANDERS!" She yelled. The Organized Crime's very own techie stuck his head out of his office. He was no Theodore Kinlan, but she didn't know if Theo could do this from where he was. She gestured towards her office. He rolled his eyes and made his way to her office. "Here's what I need you to do..."

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Dylan raised an eyebrow at his sister's unusual behaviour. "I apologize for Shae, Dr. Arden. Every so often she just acts like this, a little out of character." He explained, watching the commotion involving Sienna Rose and his mother over the doctor's shoulder. "I expect you're busy at the moment, especially after the explosion earlier. I saw it on the news." The awkwardness was beginning to kick in, so he decided to play it polite and make small talk. It was times like this when he felt like he was forced to be an adult. While he was more mature than the average teenage boy, he didn't like having to be so formal. All he wanted was to just be able to talk about things that really interested him, like robots and hacking.

When it was time for the auction to begin, he excused himself politely and took his seat at the front of the room. He felt eyes watching him. Not much was known about the third Genovese son, and people were curious. Well, he sure as hell wasn't going to satisfy their curiosity tonight. He smiled at them all, fixing his jacket sleeves and watching as Kole began to speak.

***


If Dylan was bored earlier, it was nothing compared to now. He had heard nothing from his mysterious contact. The talk of the evening had been art. Dylan had hung around some of the more mechanical sculptures, hoping he could find someone who knew something about engineering. His plan had failed. Everyone who had spoke to him was an art buff or someone hoping to find out some gossip about the Genovese family. He made his way to the dining room for the meal, smiling at everyone and saying hello as he passed them. He took his seat, marveling at his mother's powers of organization once again. He knew that he would never have the patience to organize such an event nor the skill to pull it off so successfully.

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Jess Garcia Character Portrait: Charlee Shaee Genovese Character Portrait: Dylan Genovese Character Portrait: Theodore Kinlan Character Portrait: Lydia Arden Character Portrait: Special Agent Luke Hitch
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For all the access that he had, Theo was surprised. He knew about the Genovese’s new hire. Jacqueline Siqueira was well known on hacker forums and at one point she had been related to the hacker group Anonymous. She was adept and she was young, barely older than he was. He knew he had limited time to have eyes on the mansion. His programs immediately began sourcing her and she caught sight of the blond, looking out of place with plugs in her ears and thicker make-up than most. The camera he had access to was coming directly from her phone and he had a momentary glance right up at her face before he saw the woman frown and usher herself outside of the thickets of people. Two seconds later her camera died and he typed back angrily on his keyboard, knowing that he was beginning a war with the woman for control of her own device. He began sourcing her phone, trying to get into the guts of it through her service provider. He wanted to know what Jonathon was saying to her. It was also a test of her skills for him. Could she stop him? The woman was formidable. He got through and was immediately cut off. Whatever program she had created erected a second violent firewall the moment he broke through, and then a third. It was infinite and regenerating. Smart. Theo admitted in thought. Before he knew it an hour had gone by and he turned away then, sitting back in his chair and holding his hands between his head, allowing his fingers to relax as he watched her cut off his access. Suddenly the entire left hand monitor showing his camera access was black.

Theo was impressed and yet not quite. He had been able to watch the gala, to see and hear a fiery argument break out between the Genovese’s. He had seen the return of a woman he knew to be Sienna Rose, one who had significant pull on Jonathon’s right hand man. He wrote down her name on a pad of paper beside his keyboard, tapping his fingers slowly and sighing, shaking his head and processing. She hadn’t been able to get rid of him for an hour and a half and he had committed a major breach without the full severity of his safeguards to prevent her from kicking him out. She wasn’t as good as he had thought. It was that or she was playing him back which was always a possibility. It made him frown. The effort from thinking through every possibility had a migraine quickly blister on the front of his forehead. As he stood he felt the familiar aches in his legs from broken femurs and a fractured disk in his back. Grunting, Theo grabbed his phone and moved to a couch in the small apartment, needing to recline and put his feet up. He had several messages by then.

"Had to get out. Murdock had a gut feeling, and our new tactical leader was scaring the office workers,” Jess had replied. He shook his head at her, even though he knew she couldn’t see him. A second message had come from Dylan almost instantly. "Who is this?" That made him smile. He tossed the phone on the couch and moved slowly to the kitchen, griping every stable surface along the way to help him walk. He was hungry and he needed a banana or something. When he opened his fridge he was greeted by a slew of pre-prepared meals from Jess and the force. He pulled a dish of lasagna and shoved it in the oven, taking his time to let it heat up before he ate it. The whole process took time and fortunately he had a dishwasher to do the cleaning work for him.

At that point, when he moved to the couch to lay down, his head on one side and his feet stretching to the other, Theo grabbed the phone a second time, seeing a new and recent message from Dylan. Kid learns quick. His protective algorithm had sent him several messages relaying attempts to source his number and location, all minor. When he opened the message it was garbled, looking like completely nonsense. He frowned, scanning it several times before he grunted, and moved back to his computer set. As he walked he sent Jess another message.

“Never liked the new guy. Don’t make me meet him. News: Anon add-in into the fam won’t be much trouble. Not good at her job. Stay safe." By that he was relaying what he thought of the new techie and some new task force leader named Lucas Hitch. His record made him look like a maniac. Theo knew he would likely be carted out to meet the brute eventually but he was more than happy to let Jess deal with him for now.

Sitting down at his desk then, he clicked back into Dylan’s message and typed it out. He pulled up a simple program – a decoder. Normally he would have been entertained to do it by hand but he was growing tired and he could feel his energy sapped from his body. How he wished he wasn’t so betrayed by his physical state. All he wanted to do was be able to work for 2 days straight like he used to.

Two clicks and he sat back, watching the computer source through the message word for word, identifying that it was in fact coded before it started ciphering it. It took two minutes and suddenly the text was clear as day in front of him:

“Findings on bot- few issues with wiring. Found crossed wire which could have made robot malfunction, possibly crashing into a table leg. All sorted. I don't know who you are. If you're reading this, you sure as hell know your stuff. We've proved ourselves to each other- who are you? And don't just say that you're a friend.”

Theo leaned in then, grabbing the old burner phone and rapidly letting his thumbs ply over the keys, his tongue between his teeth.

“Nice code. Good to hear on the bot. Nice work. Rivals most engineers. &I am a friend, nothing more, nothing less. Call me whatever you want. Just want to help. Ask me whatever you want.”

He wanted to establish connections with the boy, knowing he was extremely talented, perhaps more than the new techie Jonathon had hired. He was such a quick student but Theo had never been able to figure out where his allegiance laid. Dylan had always been close to Kole and especially to his mother but he had voiced concerns and irritations. But was it typical teenaged angst? He had never been sure.

Biting the inside of his cheek, Theo knew he wouldn’t be able to stay away too much longer. His eyelids were beginning to feel heavy and his aches were becoming more pronounced. It was time for his pain meds.

Still, he knew he wanted to sent out another message. He was curious. Theo had seen Charlee take something, the way she’d wandered around the mansion like a six year old, twirling and grinning.

“Dr. Lydia – Charlee Shae on pills, not sure what. She needs help.”

The message was anonymous, the number she viewed conjured by his program just the same as Dylan. He wondered if the woman would help. She was a doctor, wouldn’t the family’s health come first?

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Victoria Genovese Character Portrait: Jonathon Genovese Character Portrait: Anthony "Tony" Rizzo Character Portrait: Charlee Shae Genovese Character Portrait: Charlee Shaee Genovese Character Portrait: Kole Marinos Character Portrait: Lincoln Genovese Character Portrait: Dylan Genovese Character Portrait: Lydia Arden
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Victoria didn’t need Jonathon to tell her that he needed him, especially after his physical displays of rapture. Finally. Still, it was consoling and she tucked her chin into her neck and nodded at his words, feeling his hands brush across the strong line of her jaw, lightly pressuring her to look back up into his face. It wasn’t often she saw this Jonathon, her Jonah. There was a glisten to his eyes and a subtle smooth quality to his motions that was far more fluid. He was at ease and not thinking of anything else but them. It made her exhale deeply. Holding her eyes closed again for a moment, she let herself drift into the recollections of several months ago, how right before Theodore had been found out to be such a filthy rat child, Jonah’s brother and Tony had sat her down and confessed that they believed him to be a cheater. Ever since the distance her husband had kept with her, since the incident, since the pressure from law enforcement had been ramped up, her mind had circled viciously back to the accusations. Victoria trusted his brother, she had trusted Tony. But now it seemed…malicious. When she looked through low lids at her husband again, she knew it was a lie.

But then why say it? Why would his own brother tell her that he was cheating?

She asked about Anthony then. She knew that Jonathon would not let her in on that scene, no matter how much she wanted to violate the man, to make him feel the way she felt. Jonathon would not be as swift as he normally was and that justified her stepping aside. She didn’t want to look at the man either. Never again. He had looked so betrayed at her when she’d run away and that stung. How could he have ever thought…? her mind trailed. Jonah turned back to his own inquisition.

“Why?” he asked her lowly, though his tone was not at all accusing. “Because your brother and him told me that you were cheating two months ago. The more I think over it, he’s been trying to turn me against you Jonah, and perhaps your sibling as well. He might have information about people trying to hurt us from within,” she replied lowly, wincing as she thought about the second Genovese brother, currently out of the country and on business in France.

She had wanted to lighten the mood then, turning back to her comments about their rougher bouts of making up. That made him grin and Victoria felt her heart flutter at the sight of her husband so amused. He kissed her and she tried to hold it, but he stepped away to collect his pants and briefs, all hastily discarded at her feet.

“You’re right. You need a new dress though,” Jonah commented. She snorted. “Yes well, it’s not like I have a short supply. I’ll get one of the seamstress’ at the fashion house to fix it. Shouldn’t be that hard,” she replied with a smirk, moving away from the wall to step out of the black silk and jersey, leaving herself in only her underwear for a moment before she stepped towards a small closet beside his desk, collecting a housecoat reserved for days when Jonah spent hours on end in his office without seeing visitors. Slipping it over her shoulders, she turned back to him, letting him hold her cheek in his hand. Victoria smiled, feeling her cheeks dimple as her lips were spread like a Cheshire’s grin.

“It’s generally been too long,” Jonah added. Victoria hummed her agreement, chuckling at he moved to kiss her on the nose. It was a gesture that took her back to when they had first started seeing each other and how playful his affection used to be. Before everything got serious and his father was shot and I was nearly killed and we had children… They had never had the phase like most newlyweds to simply be together without the mundane concerns of babies, family, and serious careers. Victoria had never thought she had needed it until the past few months.

“I’ve missed it… I’ve missed you. Missed us; you and I,” Jonah confessed. “Then quit shoving me out and making me force my way back in,” Victoria teased him, raising an eyebrow as she moved to slide her hands along the sides of his bare and chiseled torso, allowing her thumbs to follow the ridges of his abdominal muscles before she pulled back and slid her fingers up so gently along his sides to tickle him – from hard to soft in a split second, the epitome of who and what she was.

“I think it’s time to get these ridiculous people out of our home,” she concluded, smiling so that her teeth showed.

* * *
Morning After the Gala


The morning light filtered through the curtains of their bedroom, slicing across the floor and onto the mattress, illuminating her frame and the wild splay of red hair behind her. The evening had been cut short for all intents and purposes. While the social aspect of the evening had been set to go into the early morning, Victoria had decided to call it a night early. Her staff had been informed as much and she had retired to her room early and a bath with soft music and lavender to try and relax her mind while Jonathon left with his associates to take care of the business that was Anthony. When she’d gone to bed he still hadn’t been home and now as she rolled over, she wondered if he would be there. They had made up? She was due to have breakfast with Lydia, a quick text having confirmed that. Kole was also in the house still, having spent the night. He had plans to take Dylan and his dog to Central Park for the morning, a thought that made her smile. She missed having her adoptive son around to do those things for her, and with Dylan. He had still looked troubled however. She hadn’t had time to ask Jonathon why that was. For all that she smiled as she pulled herself from bed and moved to the wide and luxurious ensuite bathroom, her mind was wound up in concerns for her children – as it was most mornings given that she had essentially four children to worry about. Her husband would have a morning gym session undoubtedly and today she didn’t want to join him. Let him get out the aggression. Let him talk to Linc and Rome and the boys.

Getting herself ready was a quick routine. Victoria left her hair in a soft tumble of curls over her left shoulder, washed her face and put on fresh makeup before doning a yellow sleeveless shirt and dark skinny jeans. She would be doing errands later and wanted the mobility of pants for once. As she took the stairs to the kitchen to see to preparing breakfast for herself and her guest, the house was quiet. The extra staff were gone, with only two maids cleaning, and Pierre present. The security personnel were outside and out of sight. She didn’t like them in the house lately. They made her paranoid. Nate assured her they were to be trusted, all contracted former military personnel. Still, she didn’t like that she needed so many guards. The silence she welcomed instead, wanting nothing but a quiet breakfast with a close friend and perhaps the glimpse of her children or her husband before she had to leave for the fashion house and business management issues – things she was taking on in the interim until they had hired someone to replace Tony.

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Victoria Genovese Character Portrait: Charlee Shaee Genovese Character Portrait: Sienna Rose Character Portrait: Lincoln Genovese Character Portrait: Dylan Genovese Character Portrait: Lydia Arden
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Both Dylan and Linc had replied to Lydia's greeting politely. The may not have been brought up in house with a white picket fence and a Labrador, and their family certainly did not abide by typical family values, but the children had still been brought up well. They had good manners and they were genuinely nice children; more than likely as a result of Victoria's talent as a mother, which had always been a strength of hers.

But Charlee's response dragged Lydia's thoughts quickly away from the other two and Victoria's skills as a parent. Her eyes became even brighter as her pupils dilated further, unnaturally so. Her smile stretched across her young face, pearly white teeth beaming out at Lydia. "Dr. Arden, it's so nice to see you here tonight. I haven't decided on which colleges I want to apply for. Honestly, I don't want to apply for them. I'd much rather stay here - stay free." The girl's tone was fast and jumpy, as if she was lacking control. There was something very wrong with Charlee.

The girl's attention quickly shifted, flitting away, as if she had no ability to focus on any one thing for a long period of time. Charlee's eyes glazed over as she stared blankly at the commotion between Victoria and Sienna Rose. Lydia probably would've paid more attention to her friend's argument, had she not been so concerned about Charlee. Linc left to aid his mother. Usually, Lydia would've gone to her friend, but she was glad Linc had gone instead, so she could continue to watch Charlee. In the background, she heard Victoria announce the start of the auction.

Suddenly, Charlee turned back to Lydia. "Looks like things are about to get underway. It was nice catching up with you, Dr. Arden." Completely out of the blue, Charlee flung her arms around Lydia in a hug, which Lydia reciprocated, confused. She'd known Charlee for many years, and this behaviour was not like her at all. Lydia watched the girl prance away, concern and worry painted across her features.

Evidently, Dylan had noticed the doctor's concern. He raised his eyebrows as he watched Charlee leave. "I apologize for Shae, Dr. Arden. Every so often she just acts like this, a little out of character." So even Dylan was noting it to be unusual, Lydia concluded. Lydia was almost certain it was drugs. The only other explanation for Charlee's strange behaviour would be a selection of rare and complex medical conditions, that you would never expect to find in someone Charlee's age. But Lydia couldn't determine the drug just from her behaviour. It was clearly some kind of stimulant, and the doctor had a few guesses at which, but she couldn't be certain. Lydia knew she couldn't just leave it, she was going to have to do something. But she didn't want to go straight to Victoria, not when Charlee had been through so much. She didn't need The Victoria Inquisition if there was a perfectly reasonable explanation or if it was just a one time thing she was trying out. But equally, Lydia couldn't just assume that. She had to test Charlee. But before the doctor could get any further in her plan, her thoughts were interrupted by Dylan speaking.

"I expect you're busy at the moment, especially after the explosion earlier. I saw it on the news," the youngest Genovese said.

Lydia nodded and smiled sadly. She didn't want to reveal too many details to Dylan, especially considering the full details hadn't even been released to the media yet, and she hadn't had a chance to speak to Victoria about it. "Yeah, it was a horrible explosion. We've been rushed off our feet," she told him, being purposefully non-specific with the details.

Finally, everyone took their seats for the auction, something Lydia was quite pleased about. Firstly, she hadn't realised how tired she was until Dylan had mentioned it. But now he'd said something, she could feel the exhaustion washing in waves over her body. She'd had been up since early that morning, dealing with the explosion victims. She'd been working constantly all day, not even taking a lunch break so she'd have everything done in time to leave early that evening for Victoria's Gala. And, now, she was exhausted. Secondly, because the auction meant everyone had to be quiet. Which meant Lydia managed to avoid some idle rich person starting a conversation with her about something she really didn't want to talk about. Though Lydia had known the Genovese's for a lot of years and had been coming to their parties for as long, she wasn't really part of their world. Lydia worked for a living, she lived alone and she wasn't especially rich. She had gradually learnt to pick up their social graces and customs over the years, but there was still a huge, glaring difference between her and them. She always felt slightly uncomfortable under these situations, even though she'd been time and time before. She knew she didn't fit in here, and the effort it took to appear like she did was exhausting.

The rest of the evening passed in a blur. The auction happened, Victoria spoke before disappearing off God knows where. They'd eaten, which had been particularly painful as Lydia had been seated opposite a recently divorced businessman in his late fifties, who'd spent most of dinner staring at her breasts in a rather nauseating fashion. And to Lydia's left had been a elderly couple who talked incessantly about the Gala they were hosting the following weekend which was going to better anything Victoria had achieved tonight. Frankly, Lydia had been exceptionally grateful when she'd heard everyone was being sent home early.

The taxi ride home was short, but it was there that Lydia had received a message to her cell.

Dr. Lydia – Charlee Shae on pills, not sure what. She needs help.

It had come from an unknown number, but more worryingly, they seemed to have sensitive information about the Genovese daughter. At first, Lydia had considered asking the driver to turn around and go straight back to the Genovese mansion so she could speak to Victoria or Jonathon about it. What if the message meant Charlee was in danger from someone else? Lydia still remembered that horrendous time when the children had been kidnapped. Victoria was still paranoid about it happening again. But then Lydia reread the message. The author had asked Lydia to help Charlee. There had been no threat against her, or even threatening undertones to the message. In fact, all it had done was to ask for help. If anything, the sender was trying to help Charlee, not hurt her. But this brought Lydia to a final conclusion. She was going to find Charlee tomorrow and she was going to get blood from the girl, no matter how many elaborate lies she would have to tell and stories she would need to fabricate. There was no way she could ignore it any longer, or make excuses for the teenager. Charlee really needed her help.

XXX


The Morning After the Gala


XXX


Though Lydia was used to unsocial hours and little sleep, getting up that morning had been a task. After exchanging a couple of texts with Victoria to negotiate breakfast around half eight, Lydia eventually managed to get up. She'd showered, drying and quickly styling her hair. She quickly put on a pair of simple, blue skinny jeans and a loose, white jumper, taking little care over the outfit as she knew she would be changing for her shift at the hospital later that day. She lightly applied a little natural make-up and picked up her bag before catching driving across to the Genovese mansion.

The breakfast that morning was primarily to see her friend and catch up, it seemed like such a long time since they'd last been able to find space in their busy lives just to sit down without distractions or other things they should be doing instead and just talk. Lydia also knew she needed to talk to Victoria about the explosion victims. She'd meant to find her friend after the Gala last night and have a discreet word with her about it, but Lydia had been informed by the staff that Victoria had retired to bed early, and so Lydia decided she would just discus it that morning instead. The doctor was still debating as to whether she should broach the subject of Charlee. She knew, by right, she should tell Victoria that she had suspicions and she was planning to run some tests on the girl. It was her daughter, after all. But, on the other hand, if the tests came back clear or there was some other explanation, Lydia would've worried Victoria unnecessarily and caused Charlee more problems than she needed right now. Glancing back over the text from the mysterious stranger last night as she parked in the Genovese's driveway, Lydia came to the conclusion that she would run her tests first. But she promised herself if it came back positive, she would definitely speak to Victoria, without hesitation.

As Lydia approached the mansion, she was instantly greeted by security. The Genovese's had always had diligent security staff, but it seemed every time she came round their collection had increased in size and intensity. Lydia didn't recognise the man on the door, but he'd clearly been pre-warned she was coming. He took a step forward to meet her before she reached the door and looked her up and down very carefully, as if checking her against a description he'd been given.

Finally, he greeted her. "Dr Arden," he said, opening the door for her and letting her into the foyer, "Please wait here, I'll let Mrs Genovese known you've arrived," he told her formally.

Lydia noted the moment he stepped inside, another guard replaced him watching the door, and another guard stepped into position beside her when he left to find Victoria, watching Lydia to make sure she didn't do anything. Previously, the Genovese's security team had made her feel safe. But now, they were just daunting and a little unnerving.

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Character Portrait: Lincoln Genovese Character Portrait: Lydia Arden Character Portrait: Jared Romaro
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“My boy’s all grown up.” Lincoln said dramatically. Knowing full well that Dylan is more interested in computer chips than girls at the moment. Then he got serious, "You'll tell me if something's wrong, will you?"

*The Morning After the Gala*

Lincoln climbed up the steps to the Genovese mansion. Nodding to the guards, he pushed the front door and let himself in. It’s amazing that he can still walk after spending the night with Candy. If sex was food, that girl would be morbidly obese. Unfortunately, she ruined it by hinting that she wants to take their relationship to the next level. He knew right there he had to call it quits. He sighed, now he needs another outlet to release his extra energy. He pulled out his phone, loving the white text on black background, he texted Jared:

“hey u n town yet? Or r u stuck @ the senior ctzen’s lane?”

With that he hit send. He liked that guy ever since Jared pounded his guts when he was training him.

He then spotted Dr. Arden, he’d very much like to shower and change his clothes first. Taking in his wrinkled dress shirt and linty trousers, he decided she wouldn’t mind. The good doctor is family. He remembered the doc’s actions towards Shae at the Gala. He had a theory but he wanted a professional’s point of view. Now is a good time to probe.

“Good morning Dr. Arden! You’re looking mighty fine as usual. Forgive my appearance, I .... uh.... just got in. Would you like to join me for breakfast?” Lincoln said as he offered his arm.

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Character Portrait: Victoria Genovese Character Portrait: Jonathon Genovese Character Portrait: Dylan Genovese Character Portrait: Lydia Arden
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Spanish omelets were her meal of choice that morning. Victoria found herself falling back into the routine of the kitchen, happy to have no staff to bother her as she pulled out the eggs and vegetables and milk from the fridge. She had been away from cooking for a few weeks now, with things so busy and her kids often absent or out. Victoria knew that her attempts to reinstate the family dinner every other night would be protested – both by her husband and Charlee and Lincoln who were out and away more often than not. Still, she yearned for the simpler days, when her kids were in high chairs and within sight and her control. In the midst of whisking eyes and heating a skillet on the range, Victoria laid eyes on her youngest. Dylan yawned and moved to the family’s coffee maker on the counter, leading her to frown.

"Morning, Mom," Dylan greeted. “Morning sweetie,” she replied, before turning and slapping the spatula on her wrist to show her discontent with the fact that her fifteen year old son needed coffee in the morning. “I'm heading out with Kole- I'll grab breakfast when I get back, okay?" he informed her. “That coffee had better be for him,” she told him with a smirk before leaning to hug him, her son reciprocating with a kiss on her cheek. It brought her back to when he was barely walking, how Jonah used to sit with her and Dylan between them, poking her cheek. “Kisses for Momma!” he’d told his son and Dylan had always leaned in with a giggle and kissed the air next to her face. She could hear herself laughing in her mind. "Have fun and listen to Kole please," Victoria told her son as he flew out to the front door in a hurry.

As if on cue Jonathon entered, sauntering across the kitchen with a relaxed posture. “Morning, darling,” he greeted her. Victoria turned so that her back leaned into the kitchen counter, feeling a grin pull at her lips. “Good morning,” she purred. He leaned in to kiss her gently and she could smell his cologne on top of the strong smell of his personal body wash. Victoria pulled a hand through his hair, her eyes searching his. Glancing down, she pulled his right hand into her left, running her thumb over his knuckles where he had washed himself nearly raw with soap. He’s dead. He’ll never do what he did again. He’ll never threaten us again. Victoria kissed his hand, smiling, her gratitude silent. She didn't need to ask him what he had done. “I missed you in bed,” she teased him, lifting an eyebrow coyly before she turned in his arms so that her back was to his chest, reaching out for her egg mixture and dumping it into the skillet with a sizzle, allowing he hips to grind into his playfully. The both of them were nearly forty but that didn’t stop the play. Or her attempts to.

Despite her efforts, the moment was interrupted by Pierre. The old man didn’t look at them with prejudice. He had seen so much but had worked for the family since Jonah had been a boy, and his father before him. Victoria smiled warmly at the butler who tilted his head in his usual greeting. “Miss Arden is here,” he announced. “Well bring her in. Since when does she need an escort from the door?” Victoria replied, shaking her head at the security measures. She didn’t like it that one of her friends might feel alienated by the precautions. Pierre left and Victoria sighed, bringing a spatula to flip and close the half cooked omelet.

"Lydia said she had some important things to discuss. I thought breakfast might be nice," Victoria informed Jonathon, wondering absently if this would be the only time she saw her husband that day. Will things stay the same as they have been or was last night as much of a breaking point as I think it was?

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Character Portrait: Victoria Genovese Character Portrait: Jonathon Genovese Character Portrait: Lincoln Genovese Character Portrait: Lydia Arden Character Portrait: Charlee Genovese
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As Lydia waited, she contemplated quite how strange this whole situation was. The only time she'd been treated like an imposter in the Genovese household was at the very beginning, when she wasn't known so well. But at soon as she'd begun working for them, and become close friends with Victoria, she had always been let straight in. Of course, last night had been an exception due to the sheer mass of people arriving, some of them, undoubtedly, impostors or people who shouldn't be there. But she frequently had breakfast with Victoria, she was known by most of security and her name was informally on the list of people who were just allowed in.

As she waited, her mind flashed back to Charlee once more, gazing up the stairs, wondering if the girl was home. Lydia made a mental note to ask Victoria about her daughter's whereabouts when they'd finished their breakfast. She was still struggling with what to tell her friend, should she ask why Lydia needed to see her daughter. She could tell the truth, but as she'd thought earlier, she didn't want to worry Victoria if everything turned out fine. But on the other hand, Lydia didn't want to lie to her friend. She could tell her exactly what she was planning to tell Charlee, which was that it was just a check-up, to make sure there were no outstanding problems following her abortion. But if Lydia did find what she feared she would, and she was unable to talk any sense into Charlee, she'd have to tell Victoria, and Victoria would know Lydia had lied to her. Which didn't sit well with Lydia at all...

Her thoughts trailed off as she saw Lincoln through the window, coming up the drive. She laughed softly at the sight of him. He was dressed in his clothes from last night, although they were distinctly more creased than before.

"Nice night?" she joked with a smile, recalling distantly the pretty blonde Linc had arrived with last night. As Lydia waited, she contemplated quite how strange this whole situation was. The only time she'd been treated like an imposter in the Genovese household was at the very beginning, when she wasn't known so well. But at soon as she'd begun working for them, and become close friends with Victoria, she had always been let straight in. Of course, last night had been an exception due to the sheer mass of people arriving, some of them, undoubtedly, impostors or people who shouldn't be there. But she frequently had breakfast with Victoria, she was known by most of security and her name was informally on the list of people who were just allowed in.

As she waited, her mind flashed back to Charlee once more, gazing up the stairs, wondering if the girl was home. If Lydia was right about what she'd taken last night, Chalee was probably still in bed. Lydia made a mental note to ask Victoria about her daughter's whereabouts when they'd finished their breakfast. She was still struggling with what to tell her friend, should she ask why Lydia needed to see her daughter. She could tell the truth, but as she'd thought earlier, she didn't want to worry Victoria if everything turned out fine. But on the other hand, Lydia didn't want to lie to her friend. She could tell her exactly what she was planning to tell Charlee, which was that it was just a check-up, to make sure there were no outstanding problems following her abortion. But if Lydia did find what she feared she would, and she was unable to talk any sense into Charlee, she'd have to tell Victoria, and Victoria would know Lydia had lied to her. Which didn't sit well with Lydia at all...

Her thoughts trailed off as she saw Lincoln through the window, coming up the drive. She laughed softly at the sight of him. He was dressed in his clothes from last night, although they were distinctly more creased than before.

"Nice night?" she joked with a smile, recalling distantly the pretty girl Linc had arrived with last night.

“Good morning, Dr Arden! You’re looking mighty fine as usual. Forgive my appearance, I... uh… just got in. Would you like to join me for breakfast?” Linc said, offering his arm.

“I’d love to, Linc, but can we take a rain check on it? I’m afraid I already have breakfast plans with your mother,” she explained apologetically.

It was at that moment that Pierre, the security, returned. “Come on through, Dr Arden,” he told her, standing aside to let her past.

Lydia nodded, then, she turned back to Lincoln. “You’ll have to excuse me. Victoria won’t want to be kept waiting, as I’m sure you know,” she smiled, “But maybe some other time, yeah?”

With that, she turned away and made her way through the familiar path in order to reach the Genovese’s kitchen, where she could smell something cooking, though she couldn’t place what exactly. The door to the kitchen was open at the end of corridor, so she was able to observe the scene before she reached it. Victoria was stood over the hob, spatula in hand, as she cooked an omelette. Victoria was a wonderful cook; a skill Lydia did not possess herself, despite her best efforts. She always hoped that Victoria was cooking when she came for a meal at the Genovese’s, despite them having plenty of paid cooks who were perfectly capable of the task. Jonathon was in the kitchen, stood close to Victoria, behind her. His stance was affectionate, but not inappropriate.

“Victoria,” Lydia smiled at her friend, announcing her entrance. "Jonathon," her smile altered slightly, becoming more polite than the friendly, comfortable one she'd given Victoria.

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Character Portrait: Victoria Genovese Character Portrait: Jonathon Genovese Character Portrait: Lydia Arden Character Portrait: Charlee Genovese
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"Yeah? How much, exactly?” Jonathon taunted her. Victoria gasped and leaned her head into her husbands shoulder, allowing it to roll along to his neck while she sighed. “You have no idea,” she replied coyly before batting her eyelashes and finding herself confronted with the family butler. The moment ended, and she felt Jonathon let go, pulling away but kissing her cheek gently. “Well bring her in. Since when does she need an escort from the door?” she wondered aloud, rolling her eyes and moving to slide the omelette she had been making onto a plate on the counter.

“A lot of them are new, baby. Give them a chance to realize who’s who,” Jonathon chided her gently. That comment only proved to make her sigh a second time, louder, more…irritated, showing her husband that her patience was thinning with the whole enhanced security situation. It hadn’t even been this intense after the children had been kidnapped. Such a reality only proved to show her that her husband was spooked. She knew she was too. Changing subjects, she referred to the reason why she had invited the doctor to breakfast.

“I see,”
he replied lowly. Victoria tilted her head slightly, watching her husband move around her before taking her cheek in his palm and closing the gap between them. When Jonah kissed her, she still felt fifteen, her entire body reaction to his passion fervently. She pushed the plate of breakfast away and allowed her hand to rest over his, while her left moved to press the back of his neck, her fingers running through the shorter portion of hair. When he withdrew she was breathless and slightly flushed. “I love you,” he murmured. At that Victoria heard the sound of clicking heels and she turned to look at the entryway to the kitchen. Lydia stood before her, Pierre off side behind her. The family matriarch couldn’t help but grin at the sight of one of her closest friends.

“Victoria,” Lydia smiled. “Good morning!” Victoria beamed, turning to let her nose rub with Jonah’s, her hand dropping from his neck to his lower back. "Jonathon," the doctor added. She watched her husband respond, the ease of moments before melting away from his features as he replied with his own groveling vibrato. "Good morning, Dr. Arden."

"Well, suppose I'll leave you ladies to it," he added. Victoria kissed his cheek quickly and held onto his hand for as long as he could until he strode off, their fingers sliding apart so easily. She shifted then, twisting her wedding band between her fingers before turning back to her guest. “Sorry about that,” she apologized, southern courtesy reminding her that having a friend walk in on an affectionate encounter was a little inappropriate.

“I hope the security wasn’t too much of a bother,” she added, taking a butter knife to her omlette, cutting it in half before sliding the new portion onto a second plate. Taking them both in hand she walked over to a small kitchen table. Despite the formal dining room, she had always loved feeding her family right where she cooked, looking over at her kids while they did her homework and she finished the spaghetti dinner – or whatever she happened to be cooking at the time. As she set the plates down, she placed Lydia to her left instead of across from her. She didn’t like formality. Today was all about being comfortable. Normal.

“Come sit,” she gestured. “I feel like I haven’t seen you in ages. Last night proved near insanity. I’m so sorry that we didn’t get to speak. To be honest I think this is better though. Less priss and lipstick. I saw you speaking to the kids?” Victoria moved to put salt and pepper on her plate, along with a blob of ketchup. She didn’t care to put a napkin on her lap or to be proper. She leaned an elbow onto the table and her palm into her hand, just wanting to talk and be relaxed.

Victoria well intended to sit and listen until Pierre stepped back into the kitchen, prompting her to sit up in her seat and look at the man with thinned patience. “I apologize for interrupting Mrs. Genovese, but Charlee appears to have taken quite ill upstairs. The maid tried to open the door and couldn’t.”

If any remnant of her flush skin remained, it blanched then. The mother dropped her fork, looking across the table at Lydia before standing, moving from the table and out of the kitchen without even so much as looking behind her. She didn’t feel like she needed to say anything. Motherly concern had her gripped and wholly focused on her only daughter. Pierre would not have bothered her for a simple flu but he had been told that if he or any of the other staff noticed anything concerning, they were to alert Victoria and Jonathon immediately. She just didn’t think it would happen so soon. She had an abortion. What now? My baby…

When Victoria stepped into her daughter’s room she was confronted by a mess she hadn’t anticipated. Charlee’s quilt was fiercely knotted at the bottom of her bed, the flat sheet completely pulled off of the corners. Pillows were on the floor and clothes were tossed haphazardly around the room. On top of the mess it smelled like sweat. It was incredibly hot and she moved to push open the windows immediately before she walked over to the ensuite bathroom door. “Charlee?” she asked gently. “Charlee, open this door please.” She heard it then. Unrelenting sobbing and a cry that only belonged to her daughter. “Charlee!” Victoria found herself crying out, panic rising in her throat at such sounds. She grabbed the doorknob with both of her hands and jimmied it violently. Having to luck she stepped back, feeling her eyes water as she lifted her foot then to kick it down. “Charlee, I’m coming in. Stay back from the door.”

And with that she slammed her knee into it. The frame splintered and the lock detached itself. The door swung open with little mess, revealing a barely dressed Shae on her knees in front of the toilet. The heavy scent of bile and vomit lingered and Victoria immediately fell to her knees in front of her daughter. “Honey, honey bee,” she cooed, reaching for her gently, concern completely taking over. There was no anger in her, just fear. “Shhh, breathe,” she instructed, knowing that how hard her daughter was crying was a hard thing to suddenly stop. She looked over her shoulder then to see if Lydia had followed her.

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Character Portrait: Victoria Genovese Character Portrait: Lincoln Genovese Character Portrait: Lydia Arden Character Portrait: Charlee Genovese
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So caught up in her own tears was Charlee that she didn’t notice her mother entering her room outside the locked bathroom door. She also didn’t hear Victoria’s softer spoken words of concern.

But she did hear her mother shout, “Charlee!”

The sound of her mother’s worried voice made Shae jump. And then she panicked. Her mother was just outside the door, and if Charlee knew her mother, she was not going to stay that way for long. She would have the door open, and then she’d see what had happened. Charlee watched the door handle twist quickly back and forth, but thankfully she’d managed to lock it and it gave her a few more moments to try and compose her confused, grief-stricken mind and come up with an excuse for what her mother would soon see. Shae may have got away with her habit for this long, and her mother may have chosen to turn a blind eye, but when the evidence was this obviously laid out before her, Victoria would have no choice but to do something. Even if Charlee was able to pass this off as overindulgence in alcohol the night before, which was better than her discovering the E, she would still find herself being watched much more closely. Which would make it almost impossible to continue in the manner she had become accustomed to.

“Charlee, I’m coming in. Stay back from the door,” her mother’s voice came again.

Shae began to panic. Her body was still wracked with sobs, and even though she’d been forced to gain slightly more clarity, the comedown was still gripping her tightly and preventing any kind of respite from her tears. Then, a thought struck her. Her hair was still fairly wet from her late night shower, and her head throbbed under her damp locks. If she could convince her mother she’d slipped while showering, purely by mistake, and hit her head, which wasn’t that far from the truth, then that may suffice as an explanation for the vomiting, erratic behaviour and tears.

But all thoughts of excuses and plans rushed from her mind as a crash echoed from the door and it swung open. Shae let out a small, frightened scream. Paranoia sliced through all sense of reason; another symptom of the aftereffects of the ecstasy. Someone was coming in. Loud noises and light and colour surrounded the girl, immersing her in overload of senses that her fragile mind didn’t know how to deal with.

“Honey, honey bee.” Shae could barely distinguish the noise as words, let alone those of someone who cared for her.

Suddenly, gentle hands were on her, trying to sooth her. At first, Charlee struggled. Fear overtook her and removed her ability to reason out what was going on. She fought against her mother’s grip

“Shhh, breathe.” These words came stronger, more like an order than a request. But Charlee was finally able to pick out the comforting arms, caring words and familiar smell as that of her mother’s.

Shae’s panic dissolved into sobs. They were less gasped than her previous, frantic, frenzied tears. These were simply sadness. Tears ran down her cheeks, eyes stinging with last night’s mascara that was now running black streams down her face. She clung tightly to her mother, like a young child who’d got lost in a department store. Despite the gap the passing years had created between mother and daughter, right now, all Shae wanted was for someone to promise her everything was going to be okay and hold her until it was.

But, all of a sudden, there was another voice in the room. “Mom what happened?”

Shae began to shake again, her whole body trembling. This voice was deeper, yet still filled with the same concern. It took Charlee a few moments to recognise it as the voice of her eldest brother. She felt his hand against her hot, ashen skin. She glanced up, watching him through jumpy, tear-impaired, blurred vision as he soaked a towel in water. She also saw Dr Arden, stood at the door, watching her wordlessly with an expression Charlee could not distinguish.

In that moment, Shae remembered her lack of clothes. She’d was still wearing her panties and bra from the night before, but it appeared she’d managed to shower in them, not that she’d noticed at the time, and their pale colouring mixed with their dampness was causing them to offer a lot less coverage than she might’ve hoped for. Charlee wasn’t uncomfortable with the way she looked. In fact, she’d been told time and time again how beautiful she was, although often drunkenly with the intent of sleeping with her. But this didn’t bother the Genovese girl. She appreciated the attention, and enjoyed being naked around them. But before her mother, brother and family doctor, even in the condition she was currently in, her state of undress felt inappropriate and her cheeks flared with embarrassment. She tried pathetically to cover herself, unable to bear the thought of clothing her overheated body.

Shae felt a cold, damp towel against her pallid cheek and was instantly grateful. Her dull, weak gaze felt on her brother’s worried face. “Mom do you want to move her to the bed?”

But before her mother could respond, Charlee choked out between sobs, “I’m fine.” Although her appearance told of anything but ‘fine’. “I-I hit my head,” she told them, a fresh wave of tears filling her hazel eyes. Her words were simplistic and her voice cracked as she spoke them. They were very childlike in their tone and simply came out sounding frightened and tearful.

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