“Ms. Winters, Mr. Pearce will see you now.”
With a smile and a nod to the receptionist, I stand and slide my phone into the pocket of my smart blazer, grab my briefcase and follow to the door she’s moved to hold open for me. A quick nod of gratitude to her and I’m in the office of Windsor Simon Pearce.
I find him standing in front of the huge wall of glass looking out onto downtown Minneapolis, he turns and smiles to me.
“Ah, Brittany, do come in.”
His right hand, Alice LaRue, is standing next to him… I still don’t like her. She had me shot with tranquilizers and tried to appropriate me for Windsor’s collection within five minutes of meeting her. She gives me a haughty smirk and I don’t give her the justice of acknowledging her existence.
“Ms. Winters if you please, Mr. Pearce, as I’m here in an official capacity it seems appropriate to stand on ceremony.”
“Of course, please forgive me. Ms. Winters.” His manner becomes more business-like with a slight narrowing of his gaze. He squares his stance as he motions to a chair across the desk from his and waits until I’m seated before seating himself. Alice remains standing at his shoulder… and if those high heels she’s wearing are as painful as they are expensive it’s a small victory for me.
“What brings you here today, Ms. Winters?” He asks over steepled fingers.
“By your own admission, I am owed a boon by your… benefactor, for aid rendered in the protection of his property and interests. I am here to negotiate the terms and conditions.”
With a raised eyebrow, he gestures with a roll of his hand for me to continue. Setting my briefcase across my lap I pop the clasps, bring out two sheaves of paper.
“Having purchased a location here in Minneapolis for a second Sacred Grounds, I am having a Way constructed to link the two locations. As this could be of significant interest to both the ”/wikis/summer-court" class=“wiki-page-link”> Seelie and Unseelie houses of Faerie, it is prudent to procure protection for it."
He nods, leaning back in his chair. The leather creaks for a moment before he motions for me to proceed.
“I feel there’s a rather bit of exquisite symmetry in having your benefactor help protect my house. If what I’ve been lead to believe is true, an acceptable term of service would be one year and one day.”
Reaching forward, he opens a box on his desk extracting a cigar, which Alice lights for him. Leaning back into his chair, fragrant smoke billows out of his amused smirk.
“You are right, there is a beautiful symmetry to your request. The length of term is likewise acceptable. Shall we begin at Sunrise tomorrow, until Sundown one year and one day from today?” He asks, leaning forward to shake on it, the small cloud of smoke about him swirling like wings with the motion of it.
I lean forward and take the offered hand, careful not to powder the bones of his hand in my grip. As I lean back into the chair, he quirks an eyebrow at me while Alice gives me a disdainful ‘Are you still here?’ look.
“Is there anything else, Ms. Winters?”
“One more matter… yes. As a signatory of the Unseelie Accords, I would ask that you bare witness to arrangements and caveats of my Last Will and Testament."
Alice’s gaze snaps to me at this. As I caught Windsor on the inhale, he coughs and sputters a bit on the cigar, smoke coming out in fitful puffs. I have to work keep from smiling. After a moment he’s breathing normally, he straightens his tie as he leans forward.
“Please, pardon me.” He clears his throat before continuing, “But why would you come to me with this?”
I give a slight shrug as I move to slide one of the sheaves of paper across the desk to him, “With your… firm providing security for my interests, I felt it appropriate that should something happen to me, you’d see to it that my wishes were adhered to. You have my word that you will not have to go beyond the already agreed upon terms.”
With a nod of understanding, he starts reading through the contract. As he gets to the third page, he smirks slightly and gives an almost imperceptible nod.
A half a second later Alice blurts out with, “The Dog!? You’re giving your ”/wikis/lost-girls" class=“wiki-page-link”> Freehold to the DOG?"
With this Windsor’s attention snaps to her, his gaze narrowing dangerously.
“Yes. Ripley will become the new Lord of ”/wikis/sacred-grounds" class=“wiki-page-link”> Sacred Grounds." I say, my expression still a deadpan as I slowly roll my gaze to her.
“You have anything else to ask, Ms. LaRue?” Windsor drones. She doesn’t want to go on, but I get the feeling that if she doesn’t, she’ll be reprimanded or worse after I leave.
“Why the Dog?” She asks, somewhat less emphatically than a moment ago.
I’d be lying if I didn’t let some smugness creep into my voice and expression as I answered, “Because the ‘Dog’ has not only been recognized as a representative of the Unseelie Accords already, but she already makes the Freehold her home, she has a vested interest in it’s continued safety. Not only that, when confronted while in possession of the Dragon’s Generosity, she showed more intelligence than most where doing the right thing is concerned.”
I turn back to Windsor, who nods to me before turning his attention to Alice again, “Is that all, Ms. LaRue?”
Her cheeks flushing slightly, she nods and squeaks out a small affirmative. Windsor returns to the will and after finishing his read through, signs off of the last page with a pen that probably costs more than my car.
“Everything seems to be in order, Ms. Winters. I trust that shall conclude our business for today?” He stands to offer me the signed copy.
I take it with a nod, level a death-glare to Alice, just to nail home fact that she acted unprofessionally. She returns it in kind as I turn to head out, a smile pulling at the corners of my mouth.
It’s not quite a tranq-dart in the ass… but being in trouble with daddy is almost as good.