International Rescue: The Next Phase


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Re: Playing with Fire [message #569 is a reply to message #568] Mon, 23 July 2012 21:45 Go to previous messageGo to next message
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The mail plane had arrived bearing the final delivery of supplies for the party. Nikki and Elise had spent a few hours online, ordering anything that they couldn't make themselves and a few items just for fun. Gordon had toted the big box over to one of the lounges in the cliff house before going off to work on Thunderbird Four. The two women had a few hours off each, and decided to start preparations.

They had opened the box and were sitting on the floor for ease of access. The inside of the package was a treasure-trove for Halloween-lovers.

"Oh, wow. This stuff is great!" Elise said, lifting out a long string of foil pumpkins.

They glittered in the sunlight pouring in through the window and twisted in the faint airflow from the A.C.

"Yeah!" Nikki said. "Though our decorations are better, I think."

The friends laughed and continued to go through the box.

"Oh, the prizes!" Nikki said.

She had pulled out a box with a clear plastic top. Nestling within there were several small plastic trophies. They each had a black pedestal bottom, on top of which stood a large, gold pumpkin.

"It's not much but it's better than nothing," Elise said. "The games should be good."

"Yeah, and at least the winners will have something to show for it."

The two continued going through the box, chatting and organising.

"Hmm," Elise said when the box was empty and everything was separated into neat piles. "We should probably start putting this stuff up around the pool."

"Yeah," Nikki said. She glanced down at her watch. "Too early for the kids; they'll still be in school. But we do need some help."

"Well, let's make a few calls and see who's free, and we can meet back here with the decorating crew in, say, an hour?"

Elise smiled. "Sounds like a plan!"


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Re: Playing with Fire [message #570 is a reply to message #569] Mon, 23 July 2012 21:45 Go to previous messageGo to next message
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Around the pool, later that day...

Elise placed the jack 'o lantern on the table and looked around. The decorations had arrived just in time, and slowly the pool area was being transformed. Orange and purple fairy lights were strung about the patio. The foil pumpkin streamers accented them perfectly. Elsewhere, ghosts and bats hung and flapped in the wind. She waved at Scott, who was draping nylon spider webs on the plants and deck chairs. Gordon and Nikki were in the pool, arranging floating candles and other various creepy crawly things.

"Hey! Things are looking great!" Virgil said, walking up next to her.

She smiled. "They are! What's that you have?"

"What, this?" He held up a box. "Check it out. Dry ice to make things smoky and spooky. I'm heading inside to put it in the freezer with the severed hands now."

"Severed hands?" Nikki called out.

Virgil nodded. "I filled some latex gloves with water and froze them. Figured a gory hand would be funner than just regular ice cubes. Also have some dyed cornstarch to drip like blood."

Gordon laughed. "That's great, Virg! Who'd have thought you'd come up with something like that?"

Virgil glared at his younger brother. "I can come up with plenty," he said slyly.

"Shaking in my shorts here."

"I would be too, considering your latest style of swimwear," Virgil shot back. Everyone burst out laughing.

"Low blow, bro," Gordon remarked, but grinned as he said it.

Scott joined them. "Are we working here, or has the party started early?"

"We're just about done actually," Elise commented. "I think just a few more tables will do it."

Nikki nodded. "One for the cake and deserts, one for the main foods and one for drinks?"

"That sounds good. Though we'd better make sure everyone knows which is the plain and which is the spiked punch," Scott added.

Gordon chuckled. "Aw, Scott! You're no fun!"

"Was he ever?" Elise added with a wink.

"Ha ha, all of you," Scott said, pretending to be hurt.

"But, much as I hate to admit it, he's right," Elise commented. "What if we put one on each end and maybe mark it with something."

"Good idea. And we'll need a table for presents too!" Nikki said.

Virgil glanced down at his watch. "All right then, troops, to your posts! Let's get this done so we can party!"


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Re: Playing with Fire [message #571 is a reply to message #570] Mon, 23 July 2012 21:46 Go to previous messageGo to next message
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Dominic yawned widely as consciousness returned. He sat up in bed and stretched, before getting up and padding barefoot into Joshua's room. The little boy was fast asleep, catching up on all the rest he had missed over the course of the past few days. Poor mite, Dom thought, resting his hands on the crib's side. Everything was so out of whack for him. Routine out the window, spending half the time in hospital... But he came through it like a right wee trooper. I'm so proud.

After spending a few minutes watching his sleeping son, Dominic walked out of the bedroom and to the kitchenette to make himself some coffee. As the kettle was boiling he walked into his bedroom to change, and pulled his Halloween costume out of the back of the wardrobe. He grinned. Now this is what I call a scary costume. Joshua's is cute, and matching! He hung it up on the outside of the wardrobe and then dressed in a pair of wide-legged jeans and a baggy t-shirt.

He went back to the kitchen to finish making his coffee. He picked up the warm mug and sat down on the sofa, tucking his legs up underneath him. So much has happened, he thought. It doesn't even seem real. But, I'm happy. Yeah: happy. At least now I've realised what a complete idiot I was being. I guess it'll be good to get to know Matth... Dad. God, I don't know if I'll get used to calling him that. Dominic sipped his coffee, and stood up. He went to the patio doors and opened them, and stood outside in the sun for a while until Joshua began clamouring to be let out.


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Re: Playing with Fire [message #572 is a reply to message #571] Mon, 23 July 2012 21:46 Go to previous messageGo to next message
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Nikki looked into her dressing table mirror and added the final attachment to her Halloween outfit. She then proceeded to curl a lock of her hair behind her ear. She wasn't used to having her hair in loose ringlets, but she had to admit she liked it like that.

"Right, that's that. I'm ready to go," she concluded to herself.

Moving to the full length mirror in her bedroom, she gave a twirl and took in her appearance. She had to admit the flamenco dress was beautiful. It was a red slanted dress which ended from just above her knee to her calf, married to black lace which was also slanted at the end from just above her knee to her ankles. The red sleeves were also made of lace which widened as it reached her wrist. And to finish off and accompany the outfit, Nikki wore an artificial red rose in her hair and a black and red laced fan to match.

She knew her dad would've loved to have seen her in her dress, although she thought he wouldn't appreciate it being worn for Halloween.

The thought of her dad made Nikki think of the past with him after he and her mother divorced. He really tried to connect with his children afterward so that they didn't lose touch with the heritage from his side of the family but being as stubborn as they were, they didn't want to listen and they didn't want anything to do with him. It took a long time for relations between them to get back to some sort of normalcy.

Nikki sighed. She wondered where she would be now if her father hadn't betrayed the unity and trust of the family with his affair. Well, no use dredging up the past. It can't be changed, Nikki thought as she shook her head slightly, bringing her back to reality. She looked at her clock. I better get going. She picked up her fan from her bedside table, opened it and made her way to her door.



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Re: Playing with Fire [message #573 is a reply to message #572] Mon, 23 July 2012 21:46 Go to previous messageGo to next message
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October 31, 5:30 PM

Will laid out his costume, making sure everything was there. He grinned to himself as he remembered the day he'd gotten the invitation. He'd had no idea what to go as, until he'd remembered one year when he was twelve, and he'd gone to a friend's birthday party, which had featured a magician. He'd been fascinated by the tricks and managed to find out where to go to learn them. He'd become pretty good, but as other things became more important, his interest had waned.

It had never completely vanished, though, and he'd kept all the paraphernalia he'd collected. So it seemed like a good choice for a costume. But he had to get what he needed, and that meant a call to his folks. He'd calculated the time difference, determining the best time to phone, and called them the next afternoon, while taking a break from his duties.

His mother had answered and was delighted to hear from him, as usual, but worried that something was wrong, since he usually called on the weekend. He'd reassured her, then explained what he needed, and why. She'd assured him that she knew exactly where to find his "bag of tricks", as she liked to call them. She'd even send his tuxedo, saying, "You look so handsome in it, and even though most magicians haven't worn one in ages, I think it would be perfect. Besides, what else do you have to put all those odds and ends in?"

He went out onto the balcony and leaned against the rail. He chuckled, knowing his mother had an ulterior motive for suggesting the tux, but he agreed that it was the best outfit for his costume. As he stood there, enjoying the view and reminiscing, he heard a child's laugh from below.

Oh man, Will thought. The invitation said that today was also Dom's birthday. I'd really like to give him something; he's a cool guy. But what?

He walked back into his apartment and began looking around. His meanderings took him into his kitchen, and he had an idea. Opening the freezer, he took out a rectangular package. Perfect. He headed to the second bedroom and opened the closet. Locating a long plastic container, he took it out, thinking, Mom, you think of everything. Even gift wrap and ribbon. You made unpacking an adventure, with surprises in every box and bag. He found the ribbon color he wanted, and wrapped it around the gift.

"Now, where would I put this? I can't just put it with the other packages, now, can I?" He grinned as he figured where it would go, and how he would present it to the "birthday boy".

The timer went off in the kitchen and he hurried to the oven. After putting on the mitts, he pulled out two cookie sheets of stuffed crescent rolls. He put them on two platters, then placed more unbaked rolls on the sheets. He also had labels ready; one said Mexican style and the other Spinach and feta cheese. Glancing at the clock, he thought, I'd better start getting ready. I should have most of my costume on by the time these are finished baking. He started the timer again, and went back into his bedroom.



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Re: Playing with Fire [message #574 is a reply to message #573] Mon, 23 July 2012 21:46 Go to previous messageGo to next message
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******Research Laboratory, 4:30 p.m.******

Callie had worked a lot of the day on the airplane fuel from the Malaysian plane crash. She had barely eaten any food all day long as she continued learning about the fuel's elemental make-up. "There's got to be something here to make it work," she said to herself. "I need to figure out the best way to deal with this fuel so we don't have a repeat of Canaveral, should we encounter it again."

For the next hour, she continued looking up information about the fuel, so much so, she had no idea what time it was. When she noticed the clock, she said, "Oh, man. It's almost time for the party. I'm gonna have to stop and get dressed in my costume."

Her costume, which had arrived three days earlier, was a perfect fit when she had tried it on. "I wonder how people are going to think of me wearing it. No, I shouldn't worry about tonight. I need to have fun and let loose. It's time to put the past behind and be fresh this evening."

******5:30 p.m.******

She returned to her apartment and started getting dressed in her costume. It took her nearly an hour to get all her components on. She adjusted her boots, made sure there were no runs in her fishnet stockings, adjusted her bustier properly, and saw her jacket fluff right at the shoulders. Finally, after putting a patch over her left eye and the hat on her head, she was finished. "That's it. Now it's time to head to the party." Loosen up, girl. Have fun tonight.


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Re: Playing with Fire [message #575 is a reply to message #574] Mon, 23 July 2012 21:46 Go to previous messageGo to next message
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Wednesday, October 31, 5:55 p.m., Tracy Island

Cherie left her room, heading down the hall toward the stairs. Ahead of her, someone was walking along at a very measured pace, as if they were having difficulty. From the size of the figure, Cherie guessed it was Alex.

"Hey, Alex!" she said as she drew alongside him. "Looks like you're having a little trouble. Why'd you have to choose Shibuka, anyway?"

Alex, who was dressed in what could only be called armor, and carrying an ornate lighted sword, lifted his red and white marked helmet. "Well, he is my favorite vid game character. I thought that the costume would be easy to wear, but this helmet... ugh!"

"So, leave it off until people start coming. Then put it on for pictures and the costume contest, and take it off for the rest of the night."

"I think you're right," Alex said wearily. He tucked his helmet under one arm, turned the lights off on the sword, and hung it from his belt.

At the top of the steps, Cherie started down, her blue skirt with its white poodle swirling around her calves. Alex stopped and made a face.

"I think I'd better take the elevator."

Cherie turned and looked her brother up and down. The armor, which was painted in sharp lines of red, white, and black, covered her brother from shoulder to ankle. The major joints -- shoulders, hips, elbows and knees -- allowed for movement, albeit with limited range. Alex's waist was also free and covered with fabric to close the gap between chest and lower torso. She wondered just how he was going to sit in the costume.

"I think you're right," she said with a nod. "Meet you in the dining room."

"Meet you there."

The dining room was full of activity when Cherie skipped her way in. The dining room table was stacked with plates and tumblers. A woman in a tall, pointed hat and a green face was putting out trays of fruit, and when she looked up, Cherie gasped.

"Grandma Tracy?"

"I'm the Wicked Witch of the West," Emily said in a high, quavery voice, "and I'll get you, my pretty!"

"Not if I can help it!" Alex, helmet back in place, held up an arm. He pulled his sword off his belt, and pressed a button that was nestled in his left palm. A ray of red light shot out to hit Emily on the shoulder.

She laughed, a high-pitched and evil sound. "Your weapons are no match for my eeeeevilness! There's only one thing that can stop my beautiful wickedness!"

"Then you'd better not bob for apples," said a voice behind Emily.

Lisa had come out of the kitchen. She wore a deep maroon skirt that flared out just short of her ankles, a sweater of the same color with a series of cream colored Vs stacked down from the neck, and a tiny little short sleeved bolero jacket. She wore a beret on her head, covering her hair, and a pistol in her belt. Kyrano came out after her, wearing an old-fashioned brown suit with cuffed trousers, a white shirt buttoned at the throat, and a brown tie with a design on it. He also wore a brown fedora, and glanced toward the replica shotgun in the corner.

"Well, you two look nice! A bobby-soxer and a... warrior of some kind," Lisa said.

"His name is Shibuka, the warrior prince!" Alex said, taking a few swipes with his sword.

"Who are you supposed to be, Grammy?" Cherie asked, cocking her head to one side, her pony tail swinging behind her.

"Why we're the most famous robbers there ever were, honey," Lisa said as she put an arm around an uncomfortable looking Kyrano. "I'm Bonnie Parker and this here is Clyde Barrow."

"I see! You're Bonnie and Clyde!" Alex exclaimed. He'd taken his helmet off again. "I read about them in US History."

"Indeed we are," Kyrano said, nodding. "I must get the finger sandwiches, and Dr. Tracy's brownies. Excuse me." He turned and hurried back to the kitchen.

Lisa watched him go, then sighed. "I'm afraid he doesn't like the costume very much. He thinks we're glorifying a couple of criminals."

Alex and Cherie glanced at each other, and Cherie shrugged. Neither of them really knew what to say.

"Well, you two can help bring some of these down to the pool area," Lisa began. She stopped, then looked closer at Alex. "Maybe you'd better help up here, Alex. I can see you're going to have problems navigating those steps."

"Yes, Grammy," Alex said.

"Cherie, you and I can carry things down," Emily said. "Anna's there to help with the food, and Elise, Virgil, Nikki and Luke are setting up games."

"Where's Rommel?" Alex asked, his eyes lighting up.

"He's down by the pool," Emily said.

"Poor thing!" Lisa added, chuckling. "They dressed him up, too!"

"I want to see that!" Alex hurried over to the doorway as best he could.

"I can see that someone's going to be taking his costume off early," Emily murmured to Lisa.

"Those kinds of costumes don't last long," Lisa replied.


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Re: Playing with Fire [message #576 is a reply to message #575] Mon, 23 July 2012 21:47 Go to previous messageGo to next message
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Luke looked in the mirror and shrugged. "Well, it's not as bad as it could be. Pretty comfortable really." He was wearing a pair of olive green shorts and shirt, left over from his days as a forest ranger. He pulled on a faux fur vest and fastened a rubber ax at his belt. A whine made him look down and he grinned. "Poor Rom. It's only for a little while, I promise." The dog laid his head down, his face an expression of pure patheticness. He was also in costume, wearing a pink night dress and mop cap. Luke chuckled and grabbed his hat. "C'mon, mutt, time to meet Elise." He picked up some sealed containers holding his hot wings and condiments, then he and the dog went down stairs.

Luke knocked lightly on the door, then stepped inside at Elise's greeting. "Come in! I'll be right out!" A few moments later, she moved into the living room. "Well?"

"Looks good!"

Elise wore a blue and white peasant dress, with pale blue stockings. She had a bright red cape tied around her shoulders. "See, the costume isn't that bad!"

"Yeah, but don't say that too loud. Rom isn't too impressed." They both glanced over at the dog, who whined.

Elise laughed. "Poor baby." She knelt down and gave him a quick pat. "It won't be for long. We just need to make an entrance." She spied the containers in Luke's arms. "Are those your wings?"

Luke nodded. "Yep. Made them good and hot too."

"Great!" Elise looked around in confusion. "I thought I left my shoes out here..."

Luke turned and saw them under the table. Reaching down, he grabbed them, glancing quickly inside. He grinned then handed them to her. "These what you're looking for?"

"Thanks!" She quickly slipped them on, then grabbing a small picnic basket; she hooked her arm through his. "Ready?"

"It's off to Grandmother's house we go!"


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Re: Playing with Fire [message #577 is a reply to message #576] Mon, 23 July 2012 21:47 Go to previous messageGo to next message
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"Do I have to wear a tie?"

"Yes, you do." John sat on the edge of his bed, helping Tyler knot a skinny black four-in-hand. "It's all part of the costume."

Tyler shuffled his feet and sighed heavily. "Can I take it off after they judge the costumes?"

"I suppose so, but then you won't be a man in black anymore." John eyed his work critically, and nodded. "There, done." He stood and went to put on his black suitcoat, while Tyler struggled into his. "Remember, we could actually be two different sets of people: Men in Black and the Blues Brothers."

"Who are the Blues Brothers again?" Tyler buttoned just one button on his coat then picked up his sunglasses.

"They're brothers who play blues music, and they're on a misson from God." John adjusted his sunglasses. "We really should have hats to play them; the men in black don't wear hats. Still, we can use their lines."

"Okay." Tyler went over to the mirror and looked at himself critically, then put on his sunglasses. "Hm. I've got to admit, I make this look good."

Behind him, John snorted a laugh. "Okay, Agent T, let's get going."

"Right, Agent J." Tyler picked his big, brightly colored Nerf dart gun off the bed, while John chose a smaller model. "I'm ready! Let's go!"


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Re: Playing with Fire [message #578 is a reply to message #577] Mon, 23 July 2012 21:47 Go to previous messageGo to next message
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The pool, around 6:00 pm...

Elise smiled as she looked around. Things had fallen perfectly into place. The spooky Halloween accents added just the right touch to the party atmosphere. She and Nikki had made sure that other than the nylon webbing, there were no spiders to be found. No use freaking Dom out at his own party, she thought to herself.

She carefully arranged the plastic Halloween plates on the table, placing them in front of the food. She was just folding some napkins when someone slipped their arm around her waist. "Hey, Red, don't go into the woods alone."

She turned and smiled at the black masked man behind her. "Why, Señor de la Vega, am I in danger?"

"You could be." Virgil glanced around then placed a swift kiss on her lips. "You look terrific."

"You don't look so bad yourself," she replied. Virgil was dressed as Zorro, complete with black cape, hat and mask. "I hope everyone has fun. And that we've managed to keep the birthday party part a secret from Dominic," she added.

"I'm sure we did. Hey, look at this." Virgil led her over to the punch table. "See, I knew I'd find a good use for the goop." He had rimmed the glass beverage tumblers with red dyed corn syrup. The syrup ran partway down the edges of the glass, looking like blood.

"That's perfect! And I see you've marked the punch bowl too," she added, pointing to the Jolly Roger, "Drink if you Dare" sign adhered to the spiked punch.

Virgil chuckled. "Poor Alex. I can see he isn't going to stay long in his costume."

Elise followed his gaze to where the boy was playing with Rommel. "I just hope neither of them ends up at the pool! Ah, Luke took care of things," she said, watching as the man calmed the dog with a word.

Virgil's forehead furrowed. Of course he would. But he smiled. "Good. I imagine Alex would sink pretty fast in that outfit."

"Rommel too!"

"Have we got everything all set?" he asked, changing the subject.

Elise nodded. "I think so. Nikki hid the scavenger hunt clues, the tub for apple bobbing is all set, all we need is a plan for the costume contest."

"Hmmm. What if we put out some ballots and asked everyone to vote on their favorite costume? Then we'll tally up the votes and award the prize. That way no one's feelings are hurt and we're not omitting someone to be a judge."

"Great idea!"

They both looked up as the music blared. Luke flinched and turned it back down. Then he shot an "I've got everything under control" wave over to them. Elise giggled. "I told him to wait until Gordon got here, but he insisted that he knew what he was doing." She watched a moment longer as Luke fiddled with some dials. "There, he's got it now," she said as the music sounded again, much softer this time.

Virgil bit back a retort, instead, taking Elise's hand. He bowed gallantly and kissed it. "Well, my lady, I must return to my duties. Perhaps you can save a dance for me?"

"Of course, sir. I would be honored." She blushed as he kissed her hand again and watched as he sauntered away.

Luke walked over and draped his arm around her shoulders. "Well, that looked cozy," he teased.

She elbowed him in the ribs. "You're just jealous."

"Of Virgil? I don't think so." He smiled down at her. "You two look good together. You just...match somehow."

She looked up, her eyes twinkling. "Really? That's sweet." She gave him a hug. "Now scat! I have to finish here."

Across the patio, Virgil watched in annoyance. I'll have to keep an eye on this.


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Re: Playing with Fire [message #579 is a reply to message #578] Mon, 23 July 2012 21:47 Go to previous messageGo to next message
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"Jeff, stand still and let me help you."

One of Jeff's bushy eyebrows, dyed a dark brown, rose in challenge. "And just what do you know about putting on a fake mustache, m'dear?" He peered into the mirror as he adjusted the small hairpiece. "I let your mother help me in LA because she does know about wigs and such. But you, my deah, don't."

Dianne sighed and shook her head carefully. "Please hurry then. I need to find the shawl that goes with this." She touched the wig, with its brown sausage curls. "I don't think I could ever get used to wearing this hairstyle." She fanned herself with a decorative fan. "Or so much fabric! I'm beginning to think we should have gone with the superhero costumes."

"Oh, I don't think so," Jeff said, smiling. "I think I like this. Sure, it's a lot of clothing, but it looks kind of... classy. Much better than spandex." He found the shawl and brought it to his wife. "And I must admit, this dress looks very good on you." He paused, and chuckled. "Just think, you could have chosen that... that green velvet thing."

"Oh, I'd be sweltering in that!" Dianne said with a little shudder. She regarded him for a moment, and smiled, a sultry expression "Ah must say that hair color looks terribly sexy on you, suh." She raised a hand to smooth her fingers over his temple. "The little bit of silver we left here... so distinguished!"

"I'm glad you like it. I'm also glad it'll only be for a few days." His brow furrowed with a worried thought. "That is what the color instructions said, isn't it?"

"Yes, dear. It'll wash out in three to five days." She held up a fine lace shawl. "Please help me with this?"

Dianne draped part of the shawl over one shoulder, and Jeff, glancing at a picture, spread the rest neatly over the bustle and the wide, hooped skirt. He stopped to kiss a smooth, bare shoulder. "Why don't we party right here?"

She blushed a little. "Later, love. After all, we have a birthday to celebrate."

"You're right, m'deah." Jeff picked up the gift he and Dianne had chosen for Dom. "Now, John has the boys..."

"Correction: John has Tyler. Alex said he could handle his own costume, and Cherie said the same." Dianne picked up her fan, made a final adjustment to her chestnut wig, and headed for the door.

"Can you get through there with all that?" Jeff asked, just now noticing how little difference there was between the width of his wife's copious skirts and the doorway.

"I'd better!" Dianne replied as she eased her way through. "Women used to wear these all the time and could get through doors!" She turned to pick up the end of the shawl, which had become dislodged in passage. "We can drape this again outside the suite; I don't want it to rip on the way." Turning to Jeff, she smiled mischievously. "At least my mother didn't have to break the laces on my corset trying to get me into this!"

Jeff lifted an eyebrow and smiled slyly as he followed her. "Corset? What corset? Franky, mah deah, you don't need one!"

Dianne sighed slightly. "I can see we're going to have a whole evening of you trying to sound Southern."

Jeff's sly smile turned into a grin. "Bettah Southern than English, m'deah."



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6:23 PM

"Welcome, Will. Happy Halloween."

"Why thank you, Miz Scarlett." He placed his platters on the refreshment table, putting the labels in front of them. "And may I say how lovely you look in that gown?"

"You may." She smiled slightly and waited.

He looked puzzled for a moment, then realizing what was said, grinned. "In that case, you look very lovely. That gown must have been created with you in mind." He noticed Jeff standing close by, amused at the interplay between his wife and his mechanic.

Will executed a slight bow and said, "Your servant, Mister Butler."

Jeff grinned. "Not tonight, young man. We're all more or less equal here."

Will looked around at those who were already there and replied, "I suspect, though that some will think they are more equal than others." He noticed Rom. "And some less so. Especially our four-legged guest."

Both Jeff and Dianne laughed. "Poor thing," she said. "He looks so embarrassed."

"Are you a real magician? Y'know, you shouldn't wear a magician's outfit unless you are. I think it's part of the magician's code," said Tyler as he walked up.

Will grinned down at the boy. "If I can show you a trick, will that satisfy you?"

"Depends on the trick. Let's see."

"Okay." Will lifted one arm and reached behind the cape. He drew out a large black and white kerchief by one corner, and flicked it up into the air, catching it as it came down, transformed into a wand. "How's that?"

"A very good start," said Dianne, effective forestalling her son, "but I suspect he'll want to see more later. Right now, however, you should go enjoy yourself."

"Thank you, Miz Scarlett. Until later, Mister Butler. Tyler, or whichever Man in Black you are..."

"I'm Agent T."

"Of course. Why didn't I think of that? Anyway, Agent T, I'll see you later, and I'll show you another trick or two."

"Promise?"

"Promise." He winked at the boy and walked off.


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Re: Playing with Fire [message #581 is a reply to message #580] Mon, 23 July 2012 21:47 Go to previous messageGo to next message
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Tin-Tin spun around in front of the full-length mirror, her gold costume jewellery twinkling in the light. She admired herself in the mirror and smiled. Oh, I do love this costume, she thought. She was dressed as Cleopatra, wearing a long white sleeveless robe with a wide, embroidered collar of many colours. A beautiful, wide gold, cloth belt was wrapped around her slim waist, the ends flowing down towards the ground. Gold arm and wrist bands, low-heeled shoes, bracelets, and a bejewelled tiara completed the look. She had brushed her hair down around her face, and put on thick black eyeliner. Perfect!

"I think I'm ready to go now," she said, and walked towards the door.

Just as she was about to open it, the chime sounded, and she smiled. Brains is right on time as always. She opened the door; had she not known previously what Brains was dressing up as, she would have died of shock. In fact, the only reason she knew that it was Brains was because of the glasses -- tinted black, but still with his trademark blue frames..

"Brains, you look absolutely wonderful!" She said.

"Why, uh, thank-you-very-much, Tin-Tin," Brains said in his best Elvis impression. He smiled, and said to her, "You look beautiful," and held out his hand.

He was wearing white satin gloves. Tin-Tin's eyes travelled up the arm of his white jacket, which was embellished with gold. The collar was wide and open -- though Brains had put on a white t-shirt underneath. A golden cape hung from his shoulders, and his bell-bottom trousers were laced in gold.

"You know, it's funny," Tin-Tin said, taking the proffered hand. "Even though our costumes are so different, with the white and gold, we almost match!"

"I suppose you're right, Tin-Tin," Brains said. "Shall we?"

"Of course," Tin-Tin replied, and the two began to walk up to the lounge to make their way to the pool.

As they reached the top of the stairs they were greeted with a resounding 'BOO!' Tin-Tin nearly toppled backwards; Brains caught her around the waist.

"GORDON!" She yelled. "That was dangerous!"

Gordon grinned widely at them.

"But I got you, didn't I?"

Tin-Tin frowned, then her eyes widened in surprise. "Gordon! Your costume!"

He grinned again. "Like it?" he asked, turning. The aquanaut wore long flowing robes of blue, accented with a paler blue sash. He had either shaved his head or wore a bald cap. A deep red earring twinkled in his left ear. Suddenly, Gordon noticed exactly what Brains was wearing. Instantly, the smile dropped from his face. He placed his hands inside his sleeves and bowed. "Greetings, Prelishelvihano. I am honored to be in your presence. And also in yours, Undlieek-asjaphe. May Undlieek keep and bless you."

Brains groaned. "Oh no! I'm not going to have to put up with this all night, am I?"

Tin-Tin looked from his stricken expression to Gordon, who was still bowing. "I'm afraid so."

Brains groaned again. "Terrific."

"Prelishelvihano, your every wish is my desire," Gordon told him.

"Then I desire you stop this insanity!"

"Hey, what goes on here?"

The little group turned around, and Tin-Tin smiled.

"Oh, Scott; that's a very good costume," she said.

Scott smiled, showing off some impressive sharp incisors before pulling his cape up to his face.

"Vhy tank you, Tin-Tin. Perhaps I shall spare your blood tonight...for now!"

Gordon crossed his arms and shook his head.

"That's not scary at all -- or even original. In fact, didn't you wear that same costume a few years ago?" He asked.

Scott let the cape's edge drop back towards the ground, and he pinned his brother with a no-nonsense stare.

"At least I didn't decide to dress up like an insane cultist," he said.

Gordon rolled his eyes.

"Whatever," he said, before turning back to Brains. "Now, Prelishelvihano, shall we make our way to the party?"

He bowed to Brains once more.

"Oh, boy," Brains said.

The group made their way down to the pool, and the party.


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Re: Playing with Fire [message #582 is a reply to message #581] Mon, 23 July 2012 21:48 Go to previous messageGo to next message
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Cassie made her way to the pool area, carrying her camera, bow, and the card for Dominic. She had taken Tin-Tin's advice and had decided to do something for him as a gift. A made-up coupon for that service was tucked away in the card.

"Shoot," she grumbled as her foot slipped out of the flimsy gold sandal that was part of her costume, for the second time. Pausing, she slipped her foot back into the sandal.

She had chosen to dress as the Greek goddess Artemis thinking the costume would be simple. She had bought the main part of her costume- the white, ankle-length, sleeveless Greek goddess chiton - on a costume website. It had come with the laurel leaf wreath and the sandals. To distinguish herself as Artemis, she had bought a bow and a quiver of arrows. She had thought the quiver of arrows would be the nuisance part of the costume. The sandals were quickly proving her wrong.

Footwear back in place, she continued down to the party area. Many of the others had already arrived.

"You're actually wearing a costume that involves a dress," Luke commented teasingly as Cassie joined them.

"Watch it, Morel, I'm carrying a weapon," she replied lightly.

"I might be scared if I thought you knew how to shoot that thing," her friend told her. "Seriously though, nice costume. A little more creative than mine."

"Thanks. Your costume suits you, though I'd have to vote for Rom over you in a best costume contest," she told him, as she took a quick picture of the dog and his trainer. "Think I'll go take some more pictures. I'll talk to you later," she then told him, turning away.

She spotted Tin-Tin, Brains, and Scott not far way. Approaching them she asked if she could get a picture of the three of them. They happily agreed, Tin-Tin handing Cassie her camera so she could take one for her, too.

"Here, Cassie, why don't you stand with Brains and Scott and I'll get a picture of the three of you," Tin-Tin said, stepping forward.

Cassie handed over the cameras and approached the two men. As she did, she caught the front of her sandal, stumbling a bit. Instinctively she reached out for the nearest thing, which happened to be Scott's arm. The Thunderbird One pilot reached out with his other hand to steady her.

"Are you okay?" he asked, as Cassie regained her balance.

"Yeah, I'm fine," she replied, feeling her cheeks growing warm. "These sandals are getting to be a nuisance though."

"Could make for a long night," he commented, trying to hide an amused smile.

"No, because this is one Greek Goddess who is going barefoot tonight," Cassie told him, taking off the sandals. She tossed them under a nearby deck chair so they were out of the way.

The footwear issue solved, Cassie took a place between Scott and Brains for the picture.


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[Updated on: Mon, 23 July 2012 21:48]

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Re: Playing with Fire [message #583 is a reply to message #582] Mon, 23 July 2012 21:48 Go to previous messageGo to next message
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Brandon arrived at the party, dressed in the outfit Shannon had sent him. He walked over to the food table, and stopped suddenly when he heard two overlapping wolf whistles. He grinned sheepishly at Nikki and Elise, then was stunned when he heard a third one, and saw Gordon grinning. Blushing slightly, he put his dish of meatballs on the table, then turned as he heard the redhead call to him.

"Hey, Brandon, are you gonna dance for us later? If I'd known what you were coming as, I'd have provided the proper music."

"Very funny, Gordon." Brandon reddened somewhat, but grinned back. "With my two left feet, I'd make my grandfather look silly."

"Your grandfather?"

Brandon looked around to see that Nikki had approached him. "What's your costume got to do with your grandfather?"

A few others moved closer as he answered. "I found out from Shannon that our maternal grandfather was a Chippendale's dancer when he was younger. She'd found his costume in the attic. I thought it'd make a great costume for the party, so I asked her to send it along. She also sent me a couple of pics of him, as well as a copy of a page from our grandmother's diary. Seems they actually met at a Chippendale's club."

"Now that's a cool story," said Elise. "But doesn't it feel a little weird, being about your grandparents?"

"Tell me about it!" Brandon exclaimed, then he chuckled. "Fortunately, I was able to get over it enough to wear the costume."

Not far away, Emily was watching Brandon as he arrived, and chatted with the others. "Land sakes," she said to Jeff and Dianne, who were standing nearby. "That costume sure takes me back."

The sound of breaking glass made her turn, to see that Jeff no longer had his drink in his hand. "Mother!"

"Oh, Jefferson, don't be such a prude. I'll have you remember that I wasn't always this old. And I am still able to appreciate a fine figure of a man." She smiled mischievously at Dianne (who was struggling hard to contain her laughter) as she turned back to watch the others.



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Re: Playing with Fire [message #584 is a reply to message #583] Mon, 23 July 2012 21:48 Go to previous messageGo to next message
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******6:30 p.m.******

Callie finished wrapping her birthday present for Dom and then wrapped her chicken-battered bat-shaped wings in plastic.

Looking at the mirror, she double-checked to make sure nothing was wrong with her costume. "Okay, stockings are fine, no runs. Skirt fluffs just right, shoulders are fine, eyepatch is okay, and the hat's perfect. All right, time to get out of here."

She walked out of her apartment and made her way down to the monorail. As the monorail made its way toward the launch bay, she smiled. I can just see the guys' faces...total shock. I'm not gonna hold back anymore.

As soon as the monorail reached its destination, she walked to the elevator and took it up to the Villa. She did another check of the costume. "Good, nothing wrong so far."

After the elevator stopped, she stepped out and walked towards the pool. Okay, this is it. Make this impression count!

The minute she stepped outside into the pool area, she said, "Hi, guys."

Brandon was the first to see Callie in her costume. "Hi, Ca--" His mouth was left hanging. "Oh, my God...Callie, is that you?"

When they heard Brandon's remark, the other gentlemen looked at her. Gordon wolf-whistled and said, "Wow! Callie, you sure caught me by surprise...dressing up as a gorgeous pink pirate."

Dianne smiled. "Your costume is absolutely beautiful. I never would've expected to see you like this. What convinced you to take such a bold step?"

"I needed to let go a little and do this for myself," she answered. "I held myself back because of something which happened to me several years ago. I couldn't quite let go of it...until now."

"Well, you picked the right night to do it," Virgil said. "Even Lady Penelope would be impressed if she were here."

Alex walked up and said, "Have there really been female pirates?"

"Sure," she answered calmly. "There's a history of female pirates but not many that would dress up like this."

Elise was busy with presents when she saw Callie in her pink pirate costume. "You look so stunning!"

"Thanks." Callie placed her bat wings on the table and handed Elise the birthday present for Dom. "Here it is, a remastered collection of jazz legends of the 20th century."

"Oh, Dom will love that!"

"I think he will, too. And it looks like he's the only one left."

"Yes, and he'll be in for a big surprise."

Callie smiled. "I can't wait for his reaction." I also can't wait to see what he thinks of me in this costume...


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Re: Playing with Fire [message #585 is a reply to message #584] Mon, 23 July 2012 21:48 Go to previous messageGo to next message
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Anna walked up to the group around Brandon. She was wearing a long, green tunic with matching leggings A bow was slung across her back and a quiver filled with arrows hung from her belt along with a knife and a metal tankard. She looked Brandon over, slowly. "Nice, very, nice. Can we compare you to your grandfather's pictures?"

Brandon turned slightly pink but nodded.

Gordon grinned at her. "What would your husband say if he saw you drooling like this?"

"We have a deal," Anna replied. "Window shopping is fine as long as you don't go into the store." The women laughed and Anna continued. "Can I get a picture later? It's too late for the 'hunks in trunks' calender but my daughter will probably like it anyway."

Gordon looked at her. "You're giving your daughter a calender of men in swimsuits?"

"Oh, no. I'm not. She's having one made up. Seems a friend of hers, DeeDee, was a big fan of yours during the Olympics eight years ago. She was going to ask me to get an autographed picture from you but we figured this would be better."

"A new saying and design every month? Did you get enough different shots?" Nikki inquired.

Gordon was smiling. She had got the better of him but he could survive having one college girl see him in those suits.

"Oh, yes. Although we might not be able to use the 'Mr. Yuk' shot. This is a family calender, after all."

"You think she'll take it home instead of keeping it in her dorm room?" Elise asked.

"It's not just for her. Her sorority was trying to think of a fund raiser for the Forgotten Children's Fund. They came up with the 'hunks in trunks' calender idea and were getting shots of guys around campus. I told them I had these pictures of you and I was sure I could talk you into helping out. I need a legal disclaimer but it is for a charity, after all." Anna smiled serenely and went to put the plate of brownies she had brought on the table.

"Are all of the pictures of guys swimming? And how do I order a copy?" Nikki asked, glancing at Gordon. "I have some friends back home I need Christmas presents for."

Gordon stood there shaking his head. "For charity. Never let it be said I don't do things for charity. Which suit are they going to show me in?"

"Most of the shots are of guys in swimsuits, although someone sent in a photo of a guy stretched out in a streamer trunk, he wasn't wearing a swimsuit. Actually he wasn't wearing anything just holding a hat box in front of him. They haven't picked the final photos yet. There are thirty finalists and three of your photos made it in. The entire school is voting on what shots to use. At a dollar a vote, they've already raised over a thousand dollars. I think 'Rear of the Year' will make it. It shows you stretching after climbing out of the pool. 'Grab Here' has a lot of support, too. Scott caught you from above, diving into the pool. They might use both. 'Nice Cheeks' is cute but it just shows your rear, not the whole body."

"How much a copy? Can we pre-order?" Elise was standing next to Virgil who was trying not to laugh.

"They're $15 each. I can take any orders and have them to you by mid November." Anna looked at Gordon, who had a bemused look on his face. "Your Grandmother has already ordered three copies. She wants one for your baby book and one to send to a friend of hers back home, someone named 'Aunt Tina' I think." Anna finished a brownie and brushed some crumbs off her hands. "She and Lisa were sure they could find somewhere to hang the third copy. They were deciding where in the kitchen to hang it when I left to change."

Thanks to Boomercat for the use of Aunt Tina. If you haven't read 'Whirlwinds', you should.



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[Updated on: Mon, 23 July 2012 21:49]

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Dominic adjusted his wig and pursed his lips in front of the bathroom mirror. He only held the pose for a fraction of a second before dissolving into laughter.

"Oh, I look so stupid. Great!"

He walked back into the apartment's lounge and picked Joshua up out of his play-pen. The little boy had smudged his face paint a little; Dominic licked his thumb and scrubbed at a particularly messy part. Joshua scrunched up his nose and tried to push away from his father.

"Ack, give over," Dominic said, before taking the boy in both of his arms and throwing him into the air.

Joshua squealed with delight. Dominic caught him and then hung him upside down, causing more delight. When the boy was pinned down on the sofa and was being tickled mercilessly, he could do nothing more than laugh.

Dominic chuckled as his son's face lit up with joy, and he picked him up again.

"Ready to go to the party, Josh?"

"Wooooooof! Woof-woof!"

"Yes, woof. You make a lovely dog," Dom said, and kissed the boy on his forehead.

The little tail attached to the back of Joshua's puppy costume swished as Dominic picked up the diaper bag, and made his way to the monorail.

***

John and Tyler were posing back-to-back in their identical costumes as Tin-Tin snapped a photo of the two.

"Lovely, boys," she said, and waited for the picture to come up on the camera's screen.

She showed it to the brothers, and Tyler's face broke into a huge grin.

"Cool!" he said. "We look awesome!"

"That we do, Ty," John said.

He was about to open his mouth to speak to Tin-Tin, but something red and shiny flashed in the corner of his eye. He turned around, and immediately felt like his lungs were going to explode.

"What the --" he managed to get out, before he doubled over in laughter.

Dominic was descending down to the pool, carrying Joshua in his arms. That was normal. Nothing else was. The man had donned a long, dark wig, split into two pigtails tied with blue bows. His lips were painted bright red, and he was wearing a knee-length blue gingham dress over a puff-sleeved white t-shirt. On his feet were the items guilty of grabbing John's attention: a pair of sparkling, high-heeled shoes. To top things off, Joshua was dressed as a Scottie dog.

"Hey guys," Dom said as he approached.

"Dude..." Gordon said, walking towards him. "That is...awesome!"

Joshua began to reach for Gordon, and Dominic handed the boy over.

"Thanks, Gordon."

"No problem, Dorothy."

Dominic smiled and made his way to the drinks table. He smiled and waved at the dropped jaws and laughter that accompanied him. Awesome. Callie came over and poured herself a drink.

"Dom -- Dorothy. You're ridiculously good on those heels."

Dominic had to take a moment to take in Callie in her costume, and he nodded appreciatively.

"Nice one, Callie. You're gorgeous."

"Thanks!" she said.

She waited for a few moments as Dom ignored her comment, before she coughed significantly.

"The heels?"

"Hmm? Oh. I was part of a charity drag act in university. We performed quite frequently, especially for the Freshers at the start of the year. Believe me, I've walked in higher than these!"

Callie laughed and shook her head.

"I get the feeling there's a lot I don't know about you," she said.

"I get the feeling that you're right," Dom replied.

He held his glass up in a toast, and the pink pirate tapped hers against his.

"Who's that dark-haired guy standing with Dr Tracy?" Dom asked.

"Are you serious? That's Mr Tracy!" Callie said.

Dom's head swung between Jeff and Callie, before he downed the rest of his punch.

"Whoa. I've got to go over and sleg him."

"Sleg?" Callie asked.

"Make fun of, in a nice way," Dom answered, before walking towards the man and his wife.


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[Updated on: Mon, 23 July 2012 21:50]

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"I must say, Jeff, I do like your hair this way." Lisa took a sip of her drink, then smiled. "If Dianne hadn't come out on your arm, I might not have recognized you." Her gaze turned critical as she reached up to touch the darkened hair. "Looks like you didn't use a permanent dye, though."

Dianne shook her head. "No, Ma. He decided that he'd earned every gray hair..."

"And wanted everyone to know it?" Emily completed the sentence. Dianne chuckled and nodded. Emily shook her head. "Land's sake, Jeff, a little bit of vanity never hurt anyone." She smiled, an expression made ghastly by the green make up she wore. "I remember when you actually did look this way. Brings back lots of good memories."

"Not to mention the fact that, without the mustache, you look very much like Scott," Lisa added.

Jeff sighed. "I just don't like coloring my hair, all right? Makes me feel..."

"Girly?" Dianne offered.

"Fake?" Lisa said.

"Conceited?" Emily chimed in.

"All of the above," Jeff replied, an embarrassed scowl on his face.

"Well, I think you look wonderful, very youthful," Dianne said, kissing him on the cheek.

"And if we ever run into the situation where IR's commander has to make an appearance, I think coloring your hair would be a far better solution than a fake beard," Lisa said, nodding firmly.

There was a moment of quiet as they sipped their drinks. Then Emily asked, "So, Dianne, what made you choose this blue dress over the green one?" She looked Dianne up and down with an appraising eye. "Not that I think the blue doesn't suit you, but I don't remember it much from the movie. The green one, made from the curtains, is far more memorable."

Dianne sighed. "True, it is." She turned slowly to show the wide, dark blue skirt. "This is Scarlett's portrait dress and I just liked the look of it better than the 'curtain' one. The off-the shoulders look was far more... attractive to me."

"Don't you mean sexy, m'deah?" Jeff said, raising a dark eyebrow in challenge.

"Ah s'ppose it's possible, Mistah Butlah," Dianne added, fanning herself and giving him a coquettish look. "Though if Ah'd wanted to go 'sexy', Ah would have chosen that red numbah from Ashley's pahtay." She sighed. "Truth be told, Ah've always thought that curtain dress was hideous."

The foursome laughed. Jeff idly scanned the pool area, but when he reached the stair, he started and his eyes widened. "Oh my God."

Dianne turned to look, and her jaw dropped. Lisa and Emily followed her gaze, and Lisa covered her mouth, while Emily laughed. "Oh, my!" she said as Dom, dressed as Dorothy, entered the scene. She rubbed her hands together and gave out a witch-like cackle. "This is gonna be fun!"


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As Dominic trotted along on his heels towards Mr and Mrs Tracy his face broke out into a huge grin as he spotted a familiar face...painted green.

"Awesome!" he said loudly.

Emily was rubbing her hands together and had hunched her shoulders.

"Who killed my sister?" she cackled, walking towards Dominic. "Who killed the witch of the east? Was it you?"

"No, no!" Dominic said, cowering. "It was an accident. I didn't mean to kill anybody!"

Emily let out a loud cackle, and Dominic and the others couldn't help but laugh.

"Man, that's a nice coincidence," Dom said as the two walked back towards 'Scarlett' and 'Rhett'.

"What on earth gave you this idea?" Dianne asked, shaking her head slightly.

"I dunno," Dominic said. "It was just a silly idea. I wasn't going to come in costume tonight, what with all that happened. But then I thought, 'why not!' It's just a bit of fun. I like your costumes. Very nice!"

"Thanks, Dominic," Dianne said.

Dominic gave Jeff a toothy grin and nodded to his hair.

"Is this a new way of life?" Dom asked.

Jeff rolled his eyes.

"You're the seventh person who's asked me that. No; it's just for the party."

He looked over at Dianne, who was smiling and trying not to laugh.

"You're taking it so seriously," she said.

Jeff reluctantly smiled.

"I guess you're right," he groused. "And Dominic? Make sure you keep that skirt weighted down. There's Halloween-scary, and then there's just plain nightmarish."

Dominic smiled widely again, and gave his employer a thumbs-up.

"FAB, sir," he said, before going off in search of his son.


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Virgil shook his head in disbelief, staring at Dominic's costume. Chuckling to himself, he walked over to Elise. "Well, now that the guest of honor is here, should we bring out the cake?" he asked.

She nodded. "I have it hidden over there, near the covered table where the presents are." They made their way over, winking at the others as they passed them. Taking the cover off the cake, Elise smiled. "Your grandmother is a genius."

"I'll say," Virgil added, glancing down at the cake. It was in the shape of a Jack 'o lantern, complete with triangle eyes and toothy grin. He held the tray while Elise lit the candles. "Ready?" She nodded. "Then let's go."

They started forward, heading towards Dom. The Irishman's back was towards them, so he didn't see them coming. Elise waved to get everyone's attention, and started singing. Slowly the others joined in and Dominic looked up in startlement.

"Happy Birthday to you! Happy Birthday to you! Happy Birthday, dear Dominic! Happy Birthday to you!!" The group finished then burst into loud applause.

Virgil set the cake down on the table in front of Dom. "Here you go. Blow out your candles and make a wish!"

Dom still looked shell-shocked but complied and blew them out, setting off another cheer from his friends. "I--I don't know what t'say," he mumbled.

"Then don't say anything! Just cut the cake!" Gordon yelled out, causing everyone to laugh.

Elise handed Dominic a knife. He stared at it for a moment before Emily and Lisa stepped in. "We'll handle this, dear," Emily told him. "You sit back and relax; it's your day after all." The two women quickly sliced up the cake and passed it around.

"When you're done, there are presents too," Nikki added, gesturing over to the table.

Dom's eyes widened in surprise. "You didn't have to do that!" he exclaimed.

"We know." Nikki smiled.

"This is terrific cake, Grandma!" Scott called out.

"I agree, Mrs. Tracy," Luke added. "Chocolate, my favorite."

"Anything chocolate is your favorite," Cassie quipped. Luke merely grinned at her.

"When did you want to open your presents, Dom?" Callie asked as she took a sip of punch from her cup. It tasted a little funny, but she figured it was the sweetness of the cake reacting to the citrus of the punch.

Dom shook his head. "Anytime would be fine with me." He smiled. "There's never a bad time for presents." They chuckled.

"How about we save the presents until a bit later? It's getting dark and we want to get the scavenger hunt started before it gets dark," Virgil said. There were murmurs of agreement as everyone finished their cake.

Once the plates were cleared, Elise clapped to get everyone's attention. "All right, why don't you all get into teams and we'll get this started."

Kyrano quickly excused himself, offering instead to help Emily clear the plates. "I'll skip this one too," Dianne added. "Ah'm not exactly dressed foah the occasion."

Cassie grimaced. "I think I'll have to head back to the Cliff House for shoes." She looked ruefully down at her bare feet. "I may look like Artemis, but I certainly don't have her stamina!"

Tin-Tin frowned. "I remember from your uniform measurements that we're the same shoe size. Would you like to just borrow a pair of mine? That would be faster than going back to your apartment."

"That would be great! Thanks!"

"I'll get them for you as soon as we get settled here then."

"If you don't mind, I'll sit out too. It's been a long day," Dom told them.

"More cake! More cake!" Joshua jumped up and down in front of his father.

Luke laughed. "Yeah, that's just what he needs. Good idea, Dom. Relax and feed your son more sugar."

There was some giggling and shuffling around as people sorted themselves, but finally everyone was separated into teams. Virgil held up five envelopes. "All right. You all have clues that will eventually lead you to the treasure. However, all the clues are different, so you can't cheat by following each other, Gordon."

"Hey!"

Virgil went on, ignoring his brother. "All right, Team A?"

"That's us!" Gordon stepped forward to snag the clue, turning back towards Brains. Tin-Tin handed Cassie a pair of sneakers then joined them.

"Team B?"

"Right here!" John took the clue and joined Tyler and Anna.

"That would make us Team C," Luke waved from his group consisting of Callie and Alex. Rommel's tail wagged with excitement. Luke handed the clue to Alex to hold. "Before we get started, I want to take this getup off Rom. He doesn't need it anymore and I don't need him to get snarled up anywhere." Luke quickly stripped the nightdress and mop cap off his dog. Rommel gave a huge shake and let out a happy, "Wuff."

"Team D?" Virgil called out.

"Over here," Scott waved from where he was standing with Cassie and Will.

"And that would make us Team E," Jeff said, taking his clue and turning to Cherie and Lisa.

Elise called out to everyone. "All right, the first team back here with the treasure is the winner. We'll call the rest of you back in when that happens. Any questions?"

"Is it real treasure?" Tyler asked?

Virgil winked. "You'll have to find it first and see."

No one else had anything so Elise nodded. "Then open your clues! And good luck!"


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Re: Playing with Fire [message #591 is a reply to message #590] Mon, 23 July 2012 21:52 Go to previous messageGo to next message
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Alex opened the scavenger hunt clue and peered at it in confusion. "What does it say?" Luke asked.

"F Choose Life U Lung," the boy replied.

"What?! That doesn't make any sense."

"I know, but that's what it says. Here, look." Alex handed the paper to Luke who read it and passed it to Callie.

"That's what it says all right. Any ideas?" she asked.

Luke shook his head. "Not a one." He glanced up to see the others were just as puzzled over their clues. Nikki, Virgil and Elise grinned in satisfaction. He frowned. "OK, this can't be that hard. I mean, they want someone to find the treasure, right?" Callie and Alex nodded. "Then what does this mean?"

"Can I look at it again?" Alex asked. Luke handed him the clue. "I wonder..."

"What, Alex?" Callie asked.

He looked up at her. "Do you think it could be a code of some sort? Or the letters got mixed up? Like one of those anna...anna..."

"Anagram," Luke finished. "Alex, you're a genius. Let's take a look again." Together the three of them worked on the clue. "L-o-o-n-g...no, c-h-e-f...chef....the kitchen?"

Callie shook her head. "There are too many letters. Keep trying."

"G clef? The lounge, near the piano?" Alex tried another track.

"Again, not enough words...Wait. Lounge." Luke beamed. "Cross out those letters and see what we have left to work with."

"F-c-h-o-s-l-i-f-e-u," Alex told them. "House!"

"And that leaves us with l-f-i-c-f...cliff! Cliff house lounge!" Callie exclaimed. Then she sobered. "I hope all the clues won't be this hard."

"Nah, we've got us a crack team here, we'll figure them out!" Luke glanced around. Cassie, Will, and Scott had already started off towards the Villa, with John, Tyler and Anna following in the same direction. "All right, first things first. We'll need fortifications."

"Fortifications?" Callie asked.

Luke grinned. "Provisions. Food. Chocolate!"

"But of course!" Callie giggled.

"Next, Alex, you might want to take off that costume so it's not so bulky."

"FAB." The boy saluted and began removing his outfit.

Luke looked dubiously at Callie. "Are you going to be able to walk in those boots?" he asked.

She raised the edge of her dress and twisted her leg. "I should be fine. I mean, we're not going that far, right?"

"If you say so." Luke glanced over at the food table. "I'll go grab us some snacks and be right back."

"And if we're going to be walking, I'd like another glass of punch before we leave." Callie headed towards the drinks as Luke walked over to the food. He grabbed a handful of cookies and some of the Halloween candy. He paused on his way back to hand some to Josh, who was still eating cake.

"Do you have your clue figured out?" Elise called out from where she was sitting near Dominic.

"Oh, I think we've got it," Luke replied.

"Well, you'd better get going then! You don't want to come in last, do you?" she teased.

Luke leaned over, putting both hands on the table. "Wanna end up being eaten by the wolf, Red?"

"Wolf? You mean that pussy cat you brought with you to the party?" She laughed.

"Very funny. Must be off now. Clues to discover, treasure to find." With a wave, Luke walked back to his group, stuffing his hands in his pockets. "All right, team; to the Cliff House we go!"


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Re: Playing with Fire [message #592 is a reply to message #591] Mon, 23 July 2012 21:52 Go to previous messageGo to next message
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It didn't take team D long to figure out their anagram, and Scott led Cassie and Will up to the schoolroom, where they found their next clue: Train to the big donut.

"Big donut? Something that's round and has a hole in the middle," said Cassie slowly. She pondered for several seconds. "That sounds like..."

"Well, the only thing I can think of - though it looks more like a bagel to me - is..." Will began at the same time.

"The Round House!" Scott and Cassie exclaimed together.

"I can't believe none of us thought of that right off the bat," Cassie said as they turned to go to the monorail.

"How often do we go there, or even see it, Cass?" replied Will. "I doubt that even Scott uses it very often. Am I right?"

"Yeah. My duties lie in other areas of the island. Anna would've thought of that right away, or even Lady Penelope, if she was here, since their quarters are there. That's probably why they didn't give the clue to team B."

They hurried down to find the car ready and waiting for them. "Too bad you don't have a trick that would take us to our next clue instantly, Will," Cassie said teasingly.

"Hey, I'm a magician, not a telekinetic," he replied with a chuckle. "And taking the transport isn't that much slower."

"Let's go, then," said Scott, and they got into the monorail that would take them to their next destination and clue.


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Re: Playing with Fire [message #593 is a reply to message #592] Mon, 23 July 2012 21:53 Go to previous messageGo to next message
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Dianne sipped her punch and watched as the small groups first pored over their clues, then went off in different directions. She sighed as she saw Alex take off his costume and leave it in a tangled heap at the other end of the pool's patio.

"Did someone get pictures?" she asked Emily, who rejoined her after dealing with the plates.

"I know I saw Cassie with a camera, but from the family?" Emily shook her head. "I'm not sure."

"I believe that Tin-Tin was taking photographs. She took one of Lisa and myself." Kyrano came out onto the patio area, dressed in his regular clothes.

"Kyrano! You took your costume off!" Emily exclaimed. "Did everyone get to see it?"

"I do not know, Mrs. Tracy," the retainer replied, his tone and facial expression showing his discomfort. "But I could no longer wear it. It... I... was uncomfortable." He glanced across the pool. "I see that Alex has also removed his costume. I will collect it." With that, he hurried over to where both Alex and Rom's costumes lay.

Emily was about to make another protest when Dianne tapped her on the hand. Emily turned to her, and Dianne shook her head. "Don't, Emily. If he's more comfortable without the costume, then let him be."

"All right. I will." Emily sighed. "He's always been so formal; I was hoping that he'd learn to loosen up some."

"He is," Dianne told her. "But it'll take time."

She stopped speaking and sipped her drink again as Kyrano brought the costume bits and pieces to her. Elise followed him over. "I'll take Rom's costume, Kyrano," she said, gathering the nightdress and cap up as Kyrano handed them to her. "Thanks for picking them up."

"You are welcome, Miss Elise," Kyrano said.

Elise smiled. "I'm sorry to see you took off your costume; it really looked nice on you."

Emily and Dianne exchanged glances as Kyrano inclined his head. "Thank you, Miss Elise, for the compliment."

At that moment, Josh decided to toddle over. He was smeared with chocolate cake and orange icing, and put his pudgy, crumb-covered hands up to Emily. "Gramma! Gramma!"

Emily laughed and picked him up. Seeing this, Dom came over to retrieve him.

"See, my pretty!" Emily said in her best Witch of the West tone as she handed Josh over. "I said I'd get your little dog, too!"


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Re: Playing with Fire [message #594 is a reply to message #593] Mon, 23 July 2012 21:53 Go to previous messageGo to next message
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"Hey, Dad!" Cherie called out. "There it is!"

Lisa followed Jeff up the stairs to where their first anagram clue had led them: the Villa balcony. Cherie snapped up the clue marked for "Team E" from the sun lounger and opened it, then frowned. She handed it to her father.

"Hm. Eighty-eight keys will lead the way." Jeff shook his head. "That's not hard. Has to be the piano."

Lisa had already ducked into the lounge and pulled their next clue off of Virgil's baby grand. "Here it is." Jeff and Cherie gathered around her as she read the paper. "Where R. and the Shadows live and relax?"

Jeff shook his head. "I don't get this one."

"Neither do I," Lisa admitted.

"R. and the Shadows... R. and the Shadows..." Cherie muttered. Her face lit up. "Of course! R is for Richard! Cliff Richard, Jr. and the Shadows!"

"Okay, I can buy that," Jeff said, nodding. "So, where they live and relax?"

"The lounge, of course," Lisa said. "That's where we live and relax."

"Good call, ladies." Jeff grinned. "Let's hit the monorail and head on over to the Cliff House."

"And when we get there, I'll take the right hand one, and you take the left, Jeff," Lisa said as she strode along in Jeff's wake, with Cherie hustling right along at her side. "After all, the clue doesn't tell us which lounge to look in!"


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Re: Playing with Fire [message #595 is a reply to message #594] Mon, 23 July 2012 21:53 Go to previous messageGo to next message
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"Here it is!" Tyler skipped back to John and Anna, clue held aloft triumphantly. "I found it on one of the lamps."

John put out his hand for it. "I hope it's not as hard as that last one. I'm not into Cliff Richard."

"Good thing that my daughter has a passing acquaintance with him then, isn't it?" Anna said with a grin. She looked over John's shoulder as they stood in one of the Cliff House's lobbies. "What does it say?"

"'Train to the big donut'." John looked at his companions, a confused look on his face. "The donut can only be the Round House, but... there's no train to it."

"The monorail?" Tyler asked. "Would that be the train?"

"But there's no access to the Round House from the monorail," John explained. "No way of putting in an elevator, so Dad figured that it was just as easy to ferry people down in the carts."

"Well, it is a relatively straight line," Anna said. Suddenly a sly smile crossed her face. "Maybe we're looking at this too literally. Maybe the 'train' is the carts. They do link up... an 'engine' and a 'luggage car'..."

"You may have something there, Maid Marion," John said, grinning. "So, which way do we want to go here? The carts? The Round House? What do you think, Agent, T?"

"I think we should check the carts first, Agent J." Tyler nodded firmly. "I like the way Maid Marion thinks."

John ruffled Tyler's hair. "So do I. Besides, if the clues aren't on the carts, it's only a short walk to the Round House." He grinned again. "In fact, we can even take a cart there and back!" He turned and offered his elbow to Anna. "So, shall we go?"

Anna put her hand on his arm. "Let's."

With that, they stepped out to the platform, where the monorail car they'd put on hold waited for them.


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Re: Playing with Fire [message #596 is a reply to message #595] Mon, 23 July 2012 21:53 Go to previous messageGo to next message
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"I sure hope this next one isn't an anagram," Gordon commented, as team A spotted the clue envelopes in front of the school room door. "Wait, Prelishelvihano, allow me," he said as he noticed Brains was about to pick up the clue.

Brains let out a sigh, but took a step back to give Gordon room. Gordon bent down and plucked the envelope off the floor. Opening it, he read, "View the pool."

"That's it?" Tin-Tin asked.

"Yeah," Gordon said, handing it to her.

Tin-Tin took the piece of paper from him. With Brains looking over her shoulder, the two of them pondered what the three word phrase meant.

"Probably means you have a view of the pool from wherever the clue is at," Brains said, thinking out loud.

"Well, the pool isn't exactly secluded," Tin-Tin commented. "I don't remember seeing any envelopes around the area when we were down there though."

"Well, if you're out on the balcony you can see the pool from there."

"You're right! Gordon what ..." Tin-Tin trailed off as she looked up to see Gordon looking around. The envelope with team B's clue was in his hand. "What are you doing?"

"Just putting a little trick into the night," Gordon commented.

"Put that back where you found it," Tin-Tin told him.

"Oh, come on."

"Gordon, Tin-Tin is right. It's not fair to the other teams to go moving their clues."

Gordon sighed, seeing he was out numbered. Then he grinned again, "Yes, Prelishelvihano," he told Brains, bowing.

"Let's go check the balcony," Brains said, turning away from Gordon.

Slipping her hand into Brains's, she fell into step beside him. Gordon quickly placed the other envelope back on the floor then followed his teammates. "By the way, where are we headed?"



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[Updated on: Mon, 23 July 2012 21:53]

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Re: Playing with Fire [message #597 is a reply to message #596] Mon, 23 July 2012 21:53 Go to previous messageGo to next message
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Team D arrived at the villa lounge. As they walked in, Will, Scott and Cassie all looked toward Virgil's piano. On top of the piano sat three envelopes.

"Looks like the two of you were right, again," Will commented as he walked over to the piano and picked up the envelope with a D on it.

"Guess those piano lessons were good for something," Scott said teasingly who had first made the connection of 88 keys on a piano.

Cassie smiled at Scott's reference to the abandoned piano lessons she had told them about. "Yeah, well, I wouldn't go saying that to my mom. She was very upset when I quit. What's the next clue, Will?"

"Where R. and the Shadows live and relax," he read out loud, his voice reflecting his puzzlement.

The three of them thought the clue over a moment. Scott was the first to speak up.

"Well R. And the Shadows probably refers to Cliff Richard, Jr. and the Shadows," Scott said. "So my guess is somewhere at the Cliff House."

"Okay," Cassie commented, not questioning as Scott seemed so sure about it. "The Cliff House is a big area; where would they put the clue?"

"Live and relax," Will said again. "Well, our apartments are there but they wouldn't put it in a particular apartment due to privacy issues. That leaves the common areas so maybe the lounge. That's a place where we all relax."

"Sounds reasonable. Let's go. The monorail would be the quickest way there," Scott said, as he started heading that way. His two teammates followed.

"By the way, who are Cliff Richard, Jr. and the Shadows?" Cassie asked.

"They're a popular rock group in Europe," Scott replied. "Tin-Tin loves the group. She has all of their recordings."



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Re: Playing with Fire [message #598 is a reply to message #597] Mon, 23 July 2012 21:54 Go to previous messageGo to next message
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Luke, Callie, Alex and Rommel searched the Cliff House lounge, looking for their clue. They found one labeled "Team E" inside one of the dryers. "That's not us," Alex said.

"Nope. We'll try the other one," Luke replied. They made their way over to the opposite side of the building, Alex and Rom racing ahead. Callie stumbled a little and Luke caught her elbow. "Easy there!"

"Thanks," she told him, smiling gratefully.

Luke grinned back. "I love the costume, by the way. It looks really good on you."

She blushed. "Do you think so? I wanted to do something different; something no one would expect to see me in."

"Well, honey, you succeeded. Pink is definitely your color."

Callie self-consciously smoothed her dress. "Thank-you," she said softly. She looked up at him. "Luke? Do you..."

They were interrupted by Alex's shout. "I found it! I found it!" Luke and Callie joined the boy in the lounge. "It was here on the weight bench!"

"Great job! Wait, don't open it," Luke commanded. "Rommel, come." The dog trotted over and sat down in front of his master. "OK, team, it's time we put the four-legged member of our team to good use." He pulled two objects out of his pocket. One was a lacy fan, the other a piece of gingham cloth. He held them out to the dog, who sniffed them. Luke then let him smell the envelope. "Rommel, find." The dog sniffed both objects and the envelope again, then turned his attention to the floor.

"What's he doing?" Callie asked.

"Watch and see." The dog wandered a moment, then looked back at Luke, giving a short "Whuff!" He then turned and raced out the door. "C'mon, follow him!"

Alex giggled and raced out the door after the animal, Luke on his heels. "Wait, isn't this sort of cheating?" Callie asked as she tried to keep up, wobbling on her high heels.

"Nope," Luke replied. "Just using all the resources we have at our disposal. We can't help it if Rom has a better sense of smell than we do!"

"I suppose that works." Together they followed the dog as he meandered down to the monorail. They took the train back towards the Villa. Rommel paused once they reached the station, sniffing at the ground again. Luke led him upstairs and out the back of the Villa, again giving him the objects to smell. A few moments later, the dog was off, this time heading down the path leading to Kyrano's garden.

The dog moved carefully throughout the foliage, staying on the path, finally coming to a stop in front of a small Buddha statue. He then turned to Luke and barked once. The man walked over and patted him on the head, also giving him something he pulled from his pocket. Rommel gobbled down the treat as Luke searched through the bushes. "Eureka!" He held up a box.

"Oh! Let me see!" Alex took the box and opened it. A tattered piece of parchment fell out. He picked it up and read it.

"Congratulations! You have found the treasure! Enjoy your spoils!" He handed the note to Callie and rummaged through the box. "There's tons of candy in here. And look, squirt guns, bubbles, all kinds of stuff!"

Callie snagged a piece of candy. "I love Halloween candy."

"Who doesn't?" Luke replied, taking a piece for himself.

Alex pulled out a small square packet and held it up. "What's this?"

Recognizing what it was, Luke nearly choked on his candy. "I'll take that, thank-you very much." He quickly grabbed the packet and stuffed it into his pocket.

"Is that what I think it was?" Callie asked, giggling.

His face bright red, Luke nodded. "Yeah. How the heck did that get in there?" He and Callie looked at each other for a moment, then both spoke at the same time. "Gordon."

The three of them sat there a few minutes, examining their "treasure". Luke and Callie both reached for a large chocolate bar. "Here, we'll share." Luke broke the bar in half, muttering as the chocolate melted on his hands. Callie reached for her piece. "No, let me. I don't want you to get all dirty." He gently placed the candy in her mouth.

She smiled shyly. "Thank-you. It's delicious."

"I guess we should head back, before the others get here," Alex said, stuffing a squirt gun into his pocket. Together they made their way back down to the pool.

"So, what are you going to do with your...prize?" Callie asked quietly with a giggle.

Luke chuckled and patted his chest pocket. "Save it for a rainy day, I guess. Man, I almost died when Alex held that up. Wait until I see Gordon!"


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Re: Playing with Fire [message #599 is a reply to message #598] Mon, 23 July 2012 21:54 Go to previous messageGo to next message
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Virgil and Elise stood under a tree, a little apart from the others. The sun had nearly set, turning the sky a myriad of oranges and purples. He put his arm around her shoulders and pulled her close. "Are you having fun?" he asked quietly.

Elise smiled up at him. "Yes, I am." She glanced over at Dom who was teasing Joshua with what looked like a toy bat. "I'm not sure what happened to Dominic in Ireland, but it's good to see him smiling."

He followed her gaze. "It is. This was a great idea. Not just his birthday, but the whole party. And your birthday is next if I remember right."

She blushed. "It is. But I don't want a party."

He held her tighter. "No? Then how about a candlelight dinner, just the two of us?"

She turned and looked up into his brown eyes. "I'd like that."

"It's a date then." Vigil bent and placed a soft kiss on her lips. They both looked up as Alex came running down to the patio.

"We found it! We won!!" He held the treasure box above his head.

"Congratulations, Alex," Emily said as Alex placed the box on the table. "Why don't you show me what you won."

"Sure!" The boy dumped the box out, spreading the candy and toys out. Josh toddled up and grabbed a piece of candy.

"Oh no, you've had quite enough, little man." Dominic deftly swept his son up in his arms and took the candy away. Josh squirmed, trying to get it back.

"Well, y'all did that fast. We didn't think you'd be back for a while," Dianne said as Luke and Callie joined them.

Virgil nodded. "That's true. You figured out the clues pretty fast."

"Well, we had help, right Rommel?" Alex said, patting the dog.

"Help?" Elise looked puzzled and Luke laughed. "What's so funny?"

He pulled the gingham cloth out of his pocket. "I believe this belongs to you?" He then handed Nikki her fan. "And this is yours."

Elise stared down at the cloth for a moment, then glared up at him. "You cheated! You had Rommel track us! Cheater!" She walked over and slapped him on the shoulder.

Luke fended her off. "We didn't cheat! We just took advantage of Rom's nose!"

Dianne, Emily and Dominic burst out laughing. Even Kyrano smiled as Nikki helped Elise with her assault. Virgil glowered, his arms folded across his chest. Finally, he spoke up. "Don't you think we should call the others in?"

"Good idea," Dianne added.

Virgil pressed a button on his wrist communicator. "Fellow seekers, the treasure has been found. Please head back to the patio."

A short time later, the others had returned. They gathered around the table, admiring Alex's "treasure". Tyler stood off to the side, pouting. His expression got even darker once the story of how Luke and his team had found the box. "That's not fair!! We had to figure out our clues and they used a dog! It's not fair!!"

John knelt down in front of the boy. "Tyler, it's OK. It's just a game."

"It's not OK! They cheated!"

Luke walked over. "Tyler, maybe we did stretch the rules a bit, but it was all in fun." He waited until the boy looked up at him. "Furthermore, do you really think Callie, Alex and I need all that candy?"

"You mean I can have some?"

"You sure can. Help yourself. In fact," Luke lowered his voice. "If you dig around, there's a little flashlight with a pumpkin on top."

"Cool!" His anger forgotten, Tyler rushed over to the table.

"Well, now that we've gotten that settled..." Elise waited until everyone quieted down. "There's plenty of food, so dig in. And please vote for best costume. There are paper and pencils over near the drink table."

"Not to mention there are tubs and apples for bobbing, music...Enjoy!" Virgil added.

Joshua toddled over to his father, a present in his hands. "Da? Mine?"

Dominic chuckled. "Well, little man, it's actually mine, but you can help." He put the gift on the table, pulling Joshua into his lap. Nikki and Cassie began carrying some presents over, while the others wandered off to find food and drink.

Gordon waved from the other side of the patio. He stood near a large tin washtub that was up on a low table. A large basket of apples sat near the tub. "Hey! Who wants to go first?"

"Me! Me!" Tyler ran over to join his brother.

"You do realize he's going to fall in and ruin that suit," Dianna told her husband.

Jeff took the punch glass out of her hand and stole a sip. "I really don't think he cares," he replied as he watched his youngest plunge his head into the water.

Thanks to Dianne for her help with this!!


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Re: Playing with Fire [message #600 is a reply to message #599] Mon, 23 July 2012 21:54 Go to previous messageGo to next message
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"Will, I don't see your gift to Dom here. Didn't you bring him anything?"

"Of course I did, Nikki. But you don't expect a magician to simply place his gift on a table, now, do you?"

"Well then, let's see what you've got in mind."

"I'll need a small assistant. Joshua, would you like to help me give your da his gift?"

"'Kay." The toddler went over to Will, who put him on a chair and moved behind him. "Now, all you have to do is stand there. Oh, and look at this cloth." A black cloth with a jack 'o lantern on it suddenly appeared in Will's hand. "Now, do you see a present on this?"

Joshua looked at both sides, then shook his head. By this time, several people had gathered around.

"Okay, Joshua. I'm gonna put this cloth against your front." He suited action to speech. "Do you feel anything?"

The boy started to shake his head then, just as the cloth started to move away, he said, "Brrr!" He put his tiny hands against the cloth.

"What's in there, Joshua?"

"Cold."

"It is, huh? Then maybe we should see what it is." Will moved the cloth slightly forward, gently shaking it from side to side. As he did, something began to appear at the top. He moved the cloth farther in front of Joshua, and higher. It was a rectangular package, about four by six by two inches in size, with a green bow. Then with a, "Catch, Dom!" and a SNAP!, the cloth disappeared, and the package fell into Dom's quickly outstretched hands.

"That was great! It is cold; what is it? Do I need to put it in the refrigerator?"

"Nah; you can leave it out until it thaws completely. There are butterscotch brownies in it, made by my mother. I had them in the freezer. Personally, I think they're the most fantastic dessert on earth, and I thought you and this little guy here," he reached down and picked up Joshua, who laughed in delight, "would enjoy them, too."

"They sound delicious. But do you really want to share them?"

"Dom, my mother baked six batches for me. If I don't share them, I'll gain so much weight, I won't be able to do my job right." Will winked and grinned at him, then gave Joshua a little toss in the air, catching him easily. The tot shrieked with laughter.

Dom chuckled. "Careful, or he'll expect you to do that every time he sees you."

"As long as I can, I will. Well, Happy Birthday, Dom." He grinned and nodded as he walked away toward the refreshment table.


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Re: Playing with Fire [message #602 is a reply to message #600] Mon, 23 July 2012 21:55 Go to previous messageGo to next message
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Alan leaned his head on his elbow and sighed heavily. He stared out the windows of Thunderbird Five, gazing down at the Earth. I'll bet the party is in full swing now. Wish I could be there. He fiddled with the computer a minute, then decided he really didn't feel like surfing.

He sighed again, and leaned back, resting his hands behind his head and staring up at the ceiling. A beep from one of the console's caught his attention. "This is Thunderbird Five."

"Hey, Al!"

"Gordon! What's up?" He glanced at his watch. "It's early still. I figured you'd still be at the party."

"Oh, I am. Just wanted to check in. Hey, give me a few seconds, then check your email."

"My email?" Alan pressed a few keys on the keyboard, pulling up his private accounts. "What are you doing? This isn't going to get me into trouble, is it?" he asked warily.

"Alan, you wound me; just give me a sec." There was the sound of music and laughter from Gordon's connection. "Wait, I can't see you, Virg. Move over! There, now everybody say 'Cheese!'"

An icon popped up on the computer, indicating that Alan had mail. He opened it and laughed out loud. Everyone was standing together, waving at the camera. "Wow! Look at you guys. Hey, what did Dad do to his hair?!"

"I know! Isn't it a riot! We're trying to get him to keep it like that, but he won't bite. Keep going, Tin-Tin has been taking pictures all night. She said she'd send them up to you."


Alan waited a few minutes. "Got them."

"Great. I've got to run. Dom's starting to open presents, and then we'll be announcing the winners of the costume contest."

"OK. Thanks, Gordon! And thank Tin-Tin, too."

"FAB. See you tomorrow sometime." Gordon disconnected the call.

Alan opened the email from Tin-Tin and laughed out loud. Gordon was posed standing next to Brains, who was dressed as Elvis. He had a resigned look on his face as Brethren Gordon stood next to him. Another picture showed his grandmother, Lisa, Kyrano, Josh and... "Is that Dom? No way!" Laughing again, he went through the rest of the photos, pausing as one highlighted Nikki. She was smiling and waving, her fan held coquettishly in front of her. He smiled to himself. "One more day..."



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Re: Playing with Fire [message #603 is a reply to message #602] Mon, 23 July 2012 21:55 Go to previous messageGo to next message
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Dominic grinned widely as he unwrapped his first gift.

"Aww, cool!"

It was from Nikki, and was a framed picture that looked like a newspaper clipping of a sports page with the headline 'KELLY SIGNS ON FOR NORTHERN IRELAND' emblazoned across the top, and a by-line that read, 'KELLY SEALS RECORD £10,000,000 DEAL'.

"Thanks, Nikki," he said, marvelling at how authentic it looked.

"No problem," Nikki said. "Glad you like it."

He couldn't quite believe that everyone had gone to as much trouble as they had for his birthday. In shock, he had told them all there had really been no need, though he was shot down on that comment by the entire gathered party at once. It had been a scary moment.

"Ours next," Dianne said, indicating the package.

"Yes ma'am," Dom said.

He pulled off the beautiful wrapping, and his eyeballs just managed to stay in his skull.

"Whoa," he said, and picked up the box of his brand new Musicman K.I., which revealed the box of the appropriate speaker/docking station beneath. He whistled through his teeth. "I've heard that these are awesome; top of the range! Thanks!!"

Jeff and Dianne smiled, and Jeff nodded at the sleek, slim music player as Dom lifted it from the box.

"It's already charged. Turn it on for the rest of the present."

"Rest?" Dom asked, and slipped the earphones on. He flicked the little switch, and watched as the screen lit up, showing the name of his favourite jazz artist. "Awesome. The complete works of Henrietta Xavier! I'm astounded," he said, looking at the couple. "Thank you so much."

"It was no trouble," Dianne said. "I'm glad you like it."

"I love it!"

When Dom finally tore himself away from the new music player he picked up the next gift. It was from Cherie.

"Now that is really something," Dom said as he unwrapped the package to find a drawing of himself and Joshua in a neat frame. The best part was that the picture was what he understood to be 'chibified': big headed, cutsie figures that were grinning widely. "Thanks so much Cherie. That was really sweet of you."

Cherie shrugged, but couldn't help but grin.

"You're welcome," she said.

He glanced down at the pile of opened presents beside him. As well as the personalised newspaper clipping, the new music player and speakers and the drawing of himself and Joshua, Kyrano and Lisa had given him a new non-stick wok and a multi-cooker ("Perfect for preparing all of your vegetables," Kyrano had said), Alex and Tyler had given him a large picture book of Ireland ("To remind you of home," Tyler had said, which had made Dom want to reach out and hug the stuffing out of the boys), a new yoga mat and wrist/ankle weights from Elise ("Your old mat was starting to look a little...gross," she had joked), and of course, the gorgeous-looking batch of brownies that Will had given him. So looking forward to eating those! Dom thought. Joshua had been so awestruck by Will's magic trick that he hadn't left the man's side since.

After everything that's happened recently, this is just what I needed. Despite still feeling tired from all the stress and travelling of the past few days, Dom couldn't help but keep smiling, and he reached for the next gift.


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Re: Playing with Fire [message #604 is a reply to message #603] Mon, 23 July 2012 21:55 Go to previous messageGo to next message
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"Open mine next," Luke said, his eyes bright and glinting in the dimming light.

Dom reached for the flattish packet and took a moment to feel the filling through the wrapping.

"I have no idea what this is," Dom said, pressing his fingers against something hard and bumpy.

"Just open it!" Nikki chided, grinning.

Dom's face pinked slightly, and he began to pull off the paper. "Yes ma'am," he said.

He unwrapped the package, and it revealed an intricately carved wooden frame in a design of Celtic knots, and inside, was a beautiful picture of Joshua. Dominic felt his eyes well up, just briefly.

"This is wonderful," he said, looking up at Luke with a smile. "When did you take the picture? Where did you get the frame?"

"Well, the picture is courtesy of Brains," Luke said, motioning to the man, who swung his arms up and pointed to Dominic is a decidedly un-Brains-like and fully-Elvis-like fashion. The crowd chuckled. "He took it one day when Joshua was with Emily. The frame, well, I made it myself."

"You made it yourself?" Dom asked, his mouth falling open. "This is amazing. It's so complex. Thank you!"

"Ah, it was nothin'," Luke joked.

Dominic stood up and looked around for his son. Joshua was still trailing on Will's coat-tails. He stood up and went to retrieve his son, giving Will an apologetic glance, and hefted the little boy onto his hip.

"Look, Jak," Dom said, "It's you. Isn't it lovely?"

"Me, me, me! Lovely me!" Joshua giggled.

Dominic laughed and kissed the boy's forehead, before taking his seat again. This is one amazing birthday, he thought.



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Re: Playing with Fire [message #605 is a reply to message #604] Mon, 23 July 2012 21:55 Go to previous messageGo to next message
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Who haven't I taken a posed picture of,? Cassie thought, trying to remember what photos she had taken that night. She had taken one of all the recruits in their costumes earlier but she had also tried to get individuals too.

She spotted Dom with a sleepy looking Joshua in his arms. Josh was still trying to take in what was going on around him though Cassie could see that sleep was starting to win that battle. Other than the group shot and a couple of pictures while he had opened his gifts, Cassie didn't have any pictures of the nurse.

"He looks about as tired as I feel," Cassie commented, approaching the two of them.

"Aye, he's just about asleep. The lad's had a long day though he's enjoyed it. I've had a lot of fun myself and appreciate all the trouble Nikki and Elise went into planning it."

"I've enjoyed tonight more than I thought I would," Cassie admitted. She remembered her reason for coming over. "Can I get a picture of the two of you?"

"Sure," Dom replied. After a little prompting he got Joshua looking in Cassie's direction.

"Thanks," Cassie said after snapping the picture. "That should be everyone now," she commented.

The uneasy silence that seemed to follow the two of them around fell over them. Cassie found herself watching what was going on around them. She wanted to say something but everything she thought of seemed silly. It was finally Dom who broke the silence.

"Thanks for the gift, by the way," the Irishman commented. "Twenty hours of baby-sitting is definitely something I can use, though ..." he let his voice trailed off, suddenly not sure how he could finish the thought tactfully.

"It's okay, I understand," Cassie told him looking over at him. "I went back and forth about the decision quite a bit." She paused, thinking over her next words. Did she want to tell him what was on her mind? She had a feeling if she didn't now she might never get the courage up again. "Truth is, though, I know I can't keep hiding from it. I've been in touch with my therapist back in New York and believe me it's been interesting trying to explain things to her without giving anything away. She's convinced me that I can't just keep avoiding you. It's not fair to you, me or anyone else here. At the very least we need to work together, and given the chance I think maybe we could be friends."

"Aye, I do believe that is a possibility," he commented, happy that she had brought up the subject. He had wanted to himself but hadn't wanted to make the situation worse. "Luke's told me a bit about you."

"I'm almost afraid to ask," Cassie said, thinking of the stories that Luke could have told.

"Don't worry. It's all been good."

"Seems you've got the advantage on me. Other than your occupation, that you have a son, you do yoga and that your birthday is on Halloween, I know nothing about you."

"We could change that if you'd like. Truth is, I'd feel more comfortable leaving Josh with you if he knew you a little better. If you don't have plans already, how about coming over for dinner on Saturday, and the three of us could get better acquainted."

"I'd like that."


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Re: Playing with Fire [message #606 is a reply to message #605] Mon, 23 July 2012 21:56 Go to previous messageGo to next message
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Plate and glass in hand, Will looked around for a place to sit and eat. He'd been entertaining various people here and there (with an excited Joshua as his "beautiful assistant" until his father came over and got him) with card tricks and the old disappearing coin popping out of someone's ear trick, and was hungry.

He noticed Luke, Elise, Brandon, and Gordon at one of the tables, and Luke was waving at him to join them. He headed over to them and said, "Hey, everyone. Great party. Gordon, who are you supposed to be?"

"You haven't heard about the Brethren?"

"The Breth... Oh, you mean those kooks who showed up at the hospital when Dr. Tracy was injured? I saw the retrospective and couldn't believe my eyes. Don't tell me you guys met them!" He sat down, and began to eat.

"Yep; they showed up at one of our rescues, to help us. You should have seen Scott's reaction to them. It was priceless!"

"It was hard for most of us to keep straight faces," Luke added.

"They even have a website. I found out that they call their Supreme Leader 'Prelishelvihano'. And he's none other than Elvis," Gordon added.

Will choked. "Elvis? As in Elvis Presley? Is that why Brains came dressed as him?"

"I think so. I suspect someone found out who I was coming as, and told him."

"Y'know, it takes longer to say that name than it does to say his real one." Will grinned as the others' eyes lit up in amusement.

"Anyway," said Luke, "I wanted you to come over because Elise and Brandon here were telling me how much they like the mailboxes we made."

"You came up with a cool way of identifying which box belonged to who. Or is it whom?" Elise added mischievously.

"Some of them are really right on the mark," Brandon put in. "I especially liked mine, Luke's and Elise's. I'd love to be there when Scott sees it. How'd you two come up with that way of labeling the slots, anyway?"

Will and Luke looked at each other. "I dunno. We were just talking about labels and the idea came up. We started throwing around phrases, and the IDs were born. It was fun," Will answered.

"Yeah, that's sort of what Luke said earlier," Elise remarked with a grin. "But he's so modest sometimes, I just wanted to be sure."

"You know, it might be cool to have a mailbox or two for those of us who live in the Villa. Then Cherie wouldn't have to go all over the house, delivering it all," Gordon said thoughtfully. A mischievous look crossed his face. "I wonder what the labels would say for us, though."

"Yours would probably be 'What's my next joke gonna be?'," Elise retorted.

"Aww, c'mon. I'm not that bad."

"That's not what I heard," she replied.

"Or maybe it'd be 'Where's the water?'," Luke said.

"How about 'I'll get right on it, Mr. Tracy,' for Brains?" Will suggested.

"That's a good one," Gordon said.

"Of course," Elise interjected, grinning, "Scott's would probably be, 'I'm in charge.'."

The suggestions began to come thick and fast, each one more outrageous than the last. A few others, attracted by the laughter, came up with more ideas, even Jeff and Dianne, who suggested for herself, "Ah'm the doctah and yoah mothah, that's why!"

As the joking died down, Luke said, "Will, these stuffed crescent rolls are good. Where'd you get them?"

"I made them."

"You made them???"

"Yeah; they're fairly easy. I dated a Greek girl for a few months, and she taught me how to make some of their dishes, like that spinach one. Then I experimented with other fillings, and had some of my friends act as taste testers. These two were the most popular. I'm glad you like them. And these wings are great!"

"Luke made those," said Elise.

"Nice going."

There was silence for a few minutes as everyone relished the food on their plates. Then Elise looked around at the rest of the partygoers and said, "We've still got to vote for the best costume, but I'm having a hard time choosing; there are so many good ones."

The others turned to check out who was wearing what, and agreed with her. They began discussing who was their favorite. Brandon said, "I never expected Dom to come in that costume. But," he added with a grin, "I think it kinda suits him."

"Thanks, Brandon."

They looked up to see Dom and Nikki, who had walked up as he said that. She laughed. "But doesn't Joshua look adorable as Toto?" She chuckled as she looked over at the toddler, still in his father's arms, but squirming to get down when he saw Will. Dom put him down and he headed over to the mechanic-turned-magician. Will smiled down at him and gave him a small piece of chicken, which Joshua munched on contentedly, leaning against the man's leg.

"He's so cute, anyway," replied Elise, "that he'd look adorable no matter what he wore."

Dom smiled at her, then glanced down at his son. He squatted down to look closer at the boy. "I don't believe it. He's asleep standing up!"



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Re: Playing with Fire [message #607 is a reply to message #606] Mon, 23 July 2012 21:56 Go to previous messageGo to next message
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Elise clapped her hands, trying to get everyone's attention, but no one seemed to notice. Virgil put his fingers in his mouth and let out a loud whistle. The conversation died. "Thank-you, Virgil. OK, I've tallied the votes for the costume contest and we have a winner!" She held up a large chocolate pumpkin and a small trophy. "But there is a slight problem. Seems our winner isn't human so he can't really have the prize."

Luke groaned. "Rom! Do you always have to be in the middle of everything?"

There was laughter from some of the others. "As I was saying," Elise went on. "Our runner up is also not human. Gordon, would you come up here please?"

Gordon grinned as he jogged forward. Pausing in front of Brains, he folded his hands into his sleeves and gave a low bow. "Prelishelvihano, it has been an honor." Brains groaned. Gordon took the trophy from Elise and kissed her on the cheek. Then he turned to the crowd and bowed again. "I thank you, my fellow Tyrikalicans for your support."

Virgil gave his brother a shove, "Get out of here, show-off." Gordon bowed once more and walked over to show his grandmother his award.

Luke nudged Elise on the elbow. "Hey, now that that's over, the mutt and I are going to head home."

Elise looked up in surprise. "You're leaving already?"

He nodded. "I'm not really a partier. It's been a blast, but I'm ready for some quiet."

She smiled and placed a quick kiss on his cheek. "All right, I guess I'll see you tomorrow then."

"Count on it, Red. Watch out for wolves." With a wink he turned, gesturing to Rommel. Together man and dog walked up the steps to the Villa, heading towards the monorail and home.


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Re: Playing with Fire [message #608 is a reply to message #607] Mon, 23 July 2012 21:56 Go to previous messageGo to next message
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Callie enjoyed the exotic-flavored punch so much, she took another cup. "Mmm, this is one of the best drinks I've ever had," she said in a slightly tipsy state.

After she placed her glass on the table with the other dirty dishes, she walked up to the washtub to bob for apples. "Let's see if I can get one with my teeth." She forgot to take off her pirate hat, which fell over her eyes. As a result, she lost her balance and fell forward into the tub. Feeling the cold water hitting her face, she bolted up in surprise, staggering a little.

Scott quickly came to help her and said, "Easy. You okay?"

"I... think so." She looked at her costume. "Oh, no... the top's all wet now. I'd better change."

Scott saw her wobbling a bit. A sudden thought struck him. "Callie, which punch did you drink?"

"Uh... something about 'dare to drink' I... think," she replied.

"Oh, no... that was the spiked punch! How many did you have?!"

With a struggle, she muttered, "Uh... four or five?"

Scott shook his head as Gordon chuckled. "Sounds like someone is going to be hurting tomorrow morning..."

Scott glared at his brother before turning back to Callie. "C'mon, let's get you to the monorail. I think Luke left a few minutes ago; with any luck he'll still be waiting near the train."

"You sure you don't mind?"

"Not at all." With one hand on her elbow to keep her from stumbling, he escorted her through the villa and into the elevator leading to the monorail. Once the elevator reached the bottom, he let out a sigh of relief at seeing Luke. "Hey, Luke! Are you headed back to the Cliff House?"

"Yeah, the mutt and I have had enough partying for one night." Luke looked over at Callie's disheveled state. "What happened?"

"Seems Callie missed the announcement about which punch was which," Scott told him. "She fell into the apple tub."

Luke tried unsuccessfully to hide a smile. "Oh, honey..."

"I feel so... weird," she said. "I've never had that much to drink before."

Scott shook his head. "Are you going to be all right?" he asked Luke as the train pulled up.

Luke put his arm around Callie and helped her towards the door. "We'll be fine. I'll get her to her door, don't worry. Go back to the party." Scott nodded and turned back to join the others.

Luke and Callie both entered the monorail and took the ride back to the Cliff House.

Part of her costume still soaking wet, she felt a chill. "Oooh, I'm getting cold. Mind if I... get a little closer to you?"

Luke nodded. "Sure. Lean on me." He wrapped his arm around her, pulling her close. Rommel lay down at their feet, his tail thumping. "That better?"

"Much better, thank you." She felt very comfortable next to him.

A few moments later, the train pulled into the Cliff House. Luke stood and held out his hand to Callie, who got unsteadily to her feet. He led her out the door, Rommel trotting in front of them.

When the door opened, she said, "Why don't you come in for a bit?"

Luke politely declined, but when she stumbled towards the door, he took her hand and assisted her. "Whoa! Easy there." He helped her into the room, the door closing behind them.

"Thanks," said Callie.

"Well, I guess I'll be heading home myself. Good night, Callie."

Taking a hold of his hand, she said, "Wait. I want to thank you for helping me get home... really want to thank you."

Luke dropped her hand like he'd been stung. "Um, Callie, I don't think..."

"Then don't," she said huskily, moving closer to him.

Luke backed up until his back hit the door. "Callie..."

Callie held his face in her hands and planted a wet kiss on his mouth. Noticing the fear in his eyes, she whispered, "Don't be afraid." Rubbing one finger down his left cheek, she added, "I won't hurt you."

She leaned in again, only this time Luke caught her hands in his. "Callie, wait. This isn't a good idea."

"I know," she purred. "The couch would be much more comfortable." She took his hand again, trying to lead him to the couch.

He pulled himself free. "Wait, you don't understand. Callie, we... I..."

"What's the matter?" she asked, as she removed her costume jacket to expose her bustier.

Luke went pale, then red with embarrassment. For himself or her, he wasn't quite sure. "I... I like you Callie, really I do. Just not the way you're thinking of at the moment."

She sat down on the couch, curling her legs up underneath her. "Why don't you come sit down and we can talk about this," she said, patting the seat next to her.

Luke didn't move. "I can't." He sighed, running a hand through his hair. "Callie, I don't date... girls." Seeing the confusion on her face, he continued. "I'm gay."

"You're what?" Suddenly she realized what he said and the blood rushed to her cheeks. Callie suddenly felt nauseated. "Oh, my God... I had no idea."

He shrugged. "It's not something I'm ashamed of, it's just who I am." He looked up at her, seeing the stricken expression on her face. "Are you all right?"

She shook her head. "Luke, I'm so sor--" She had to stop and hold her mouth because she was about to lose all the food she had eaten for the evening. Getting to her feet, she stumbled for the kitchen sink.

Luke sighed wearily, and snapping his fingers, he and Rommel left for their own apartment.

Two minutes later, she returned to the living room, only to find both Luke and Rommel gone. "Oh, no." She sat down on her couch. "I don't blame him for running off so fast. Why did I drink so much of that punch?" She lay down on the couch, mortified at what had just happened. "I can't believe what I've done. What will Luke think of me? How can I ever face him again?"

Too tired to think anymore, she closed her eyes and was soon fast asleep.

Callie losing her inhibitions with Luke, by TracyFan4Ever and Lillehafrue


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Re: Playing with Fire [message #609 is a reply to message #608] Mon, 23 July 2012 21:56 Go to previous messageGo to next message
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Will was chatting with Brandon, when he felt a tugging on his cape. He looked down and saw Tyler. "Hey there. What's up?"

"You promised to show me another trick. And I gotta go to bed in a few minutes."

"You're gonna do more magic? This I've gotta see," said Brandon.

"Alright, then." Will moved over to a chair and sat down. "Okay, now watch. Tyler, would you take the handkerchief out of my breast pocket, please?" When the boy complied, he took one corner of it in his left hand with a smile of thanks, and made a show of indicating there was nothing in his right. Then he curled his fingers of his right hand with the back of his hand to his audience, and handed the kerchief back to his helper, asking him to stuff it into the top.

Tyler pushed it into Will's hand until the entire handkerchief was out of sight of the audience, who had grown. Will looked over at ten year old and asked, "Which magic words should I use?"

Tyler thought for a minute, then said, "Alakazam!"

"A good one. Alakazam it is." He moved his left hand so fingers were above and below the right, and opened the hand he'd stuffed the handkerchief into. The kerchief was gone, replaced by a large sized egg.

Amid the applause and exclamations of surprise, he heard Tyler say, "How'd you do that?"

"I'm not so sure I should say. A magician's not supposed to tell, you know."

"Aw, pleeeeease?"

Will looked at the eager pleading face for a moment, then finally said with a twinkle in his eye, "Well, I suppose it's okay this once." He put the egg down on a table. "I'll have to start from scratch, though. Okay, first, take the handkerchief from my pocket again."

"Hey! How'd that get back there?"

The redhead grinned. "Magic, of course."

Tyler gave him a look of scorn as he once again took the hankie from Will's pocket, who told him, "After I handed that back to you, I quickly got this from a pocket in my cape." He showed the boy a plastic egg, with a hole near the top, on one side. It was big enough to easily stuff the kerchief into. "You hold the egg so the hole is toward you, and it's all hidden from your audience." He looked at the boy. "Your hands are a bit small for this trick, but as you grow, so will they."

As he was speaking, he had Tyler push the handkerchief into the egg once again. Then he again showed the egg, carefully keeping the hole toward him. "And that's all there is to it."

"Oh man; that's too easy. But what if someone is standing where they can see the hole?"

Will grinned once again, this time mischievously. "Well then, you just," he began peeling a sticker off the egg, "remove the opening." He held up a hole-less egg.

This time, the exclamations and applause was joined by laughter, and a stunned look on Tyler's face. Then Dianne stood up and said, "Okay, time for bed."

As the boy reluctantly turned to leave, Will reached out and drew him closer, so he could whisper, "I promise that when you're older, if I'm still here, I'll teach you how to do that. If you're still interested by then, of course."

Tyler's face lit up and he nodded. Then he happily went off with his mother and brother.


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Re: Playing with Fire [message #610 is a reply to message #609] Mon, 23 July 2012 21:56 Go to previous messageGo to previous message
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Dianne staggered a little as she and Jeff headed toward their suite, causing Jeff to put a supportive arm around her waist.

"Looks like you had a little more than you should have, Miz Scarlett," he said, an amused smile on his face.

Dianne slid her arm around him and leaned on his shoulder, turning her face toward him as much as she could. "Well, you maht could be raht, Mistah Butler," she said, her drawl heavy and her words slightly slurred. "Ah wasn't able to indulge at th' last pahtay."

Jeff's smile faded a little. "I remember," he murmured, his voice husky.

She sighed, a contented sound. "So Ah'm jes' makin' up foah lost tahm. And Ah wasn't drinkin' alone, eithuh."

He chuckled. "I noticed."

They had reached their suite and the door slid open obediently. Dianne's eyes were closed now, and her weight on Jeff was heavier.

"Hey, there, Scarlett." Jeff gave her a little shake. "You're not going to sleep in this dress. Those hoop skirts..."

Dianne stirred, and drew in a deep breath. "Kiss me," she said in a half-whisper. "Ah need kissing, badly."

He took her in his arms. "I think I will." He laid a long, smoldering kiss on her lips. "You should be kissed often, by someone who knows how."

"An' you sure know how," she murmured.

Jeff laughed, then guided her into the suite.


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