Chapter 8: The Devil You Know – part 4
Addison slipped into her black, floor-length gown with more happy anticipation than she’d had in months. Although she wasn’t yet ready for her usual form-fitting evening wear–ten more pounds of baby weight to go–the flowing silk dress was an acceptable compromise. It had been far too long since she’d attended a concert, and she intended to make an impression. After one last mental check on her children–Ashlynn with Svetlana, and Jake with Myers–she walked to the recital hall alone.
A hundred of Addison’s colleagues, all in tuxedos or fine dresses, filled the smaller of the Alpha facility’s concert halls. And with good reason: the violinist, a slender young man named Paresh Singh, was marvelous. Addison closed her eyes, letting the familiar strains of Telemann’s Fantasia in E minor wash over her.
Addison knew the piece, although she’d never been able to master it. Maarten had played along with her then. His bow had danced on the strings, easily moving from the fantasia’s slow, solemn start to the frantic presto.
Oddly enough, Addison had more trouble with the grave than the following fast section. “Stop thinking,” Maartin had said, flashing his boyish grin. “Your fingers know what to do. You have to feel it.” And he did. Addison felt his melancholy as he played. His whole body moved, blurring the boundary between musician and instrument. Addison watched the sinewy muscles in his arms as the piece sped up. It was then that Addison decided he’d be her first, age difference be damned.
The fantasia ended, bringing Addison back to the present. She joined the audience’s applause; Singh certainly deserved it.
By the end of the recital Addison’s desire to see and be seen at the reception had waned. It wasn’t due to Daniel or Myers. Neither of the wankers had attended. She missed Maarten. His critique of Singh’s performance, be it positive or negative, would have been passionate. That’s why she hadn’t had Finn be her arm candy for the evening. Although her employee was telepathically malleable and an acceptable lover, he didn’t care for music. She could make him care, but she’d know it was false. Addison swept her gaze over the handsome couples milling around the atrium. How many of you are false?
Heads turned when Paresh Singh entered the room, dabbing perspiration with a handkerchief. Although not traditionally handsome, the musician moved with a graceful confidence, much like Maarten had. Addison drifted toward him. After two months of Finn’s adequate services, passion would be a refreshing change.
“–that dress?” a woman snickered. “My aunt wore that to my uncle’s funeral!”
“Shut up, Casey!”
Addison nearly stopped short. A Casey–Casey Hildebrant–was one of her interns. Addison put a knot of concert-goers between her and the catty young woman. She stretched her mental senses to eavesdrop, plucking a flute of champagne from a passing waiter’s tray.
“–pretty sure she left. I bet she’s got Finn tied up in her bedroom waiting for her.”
“You’re sure? That she left, I mean.” The embarrassment surging from the man marked him as Sachin, another intern.
Casey paused. “I don’t see her. Besides, what could she do? Just ’cause I work for her doesn’t mean I have to like her… what’s the word… matronly wardrobe.”
Addison’s jaw clenched. Apparently hiding weight gained from carrying one’s second child made one matronly in the bint’s eyes.
“Relax,” another young man–Jim, the other intern–said. “Harris has totally lost her edge since popping that baby out. I’m surprised that Arnez hasn’t taken over yet. Dude’s crazy-ambitious.”
“Really?” Casey enthused. “I’d love to see a throwdown.”
Jim laughed. “It probably wouldn’t last long. I heard she’s a wreck since Myers dumped–”
“Excuse me,” Addison growled. The empathic suggestion accompanying her words parted the crowd before her. Donning her best ice queen facade, Addison glided up to the now wide-eyed interns. Ironically, short little Sachin looked the most likely to soil himself.
Addison looked at each of the fools in turn, well aware of the other concert-goers’ eyes on her. “Sachin Verma, James Nemec, Casey Hildebrant. So good to see you here tonight.” She gave Casey her sweetest smile. “Especially you, Casey.” Casey’s mouth worked, but no sound came out. Addison smirked, gesturing at the girl’s velvet, lace-trimmed dress. “I see you take Triptych’s sustainability policy to heart. Wearing your prom dress again is sure to have saved some trees in the Amazon.” Addison tugged at the black silk of her dress. “I can’t say the same. I had this overnighted from Rome.”
“It’s… it’s nice. Pretty,” Jim stammered. Then his head rocked from Addison’s telekinetic slap.
“Shut it, you lying little shit.” Addison focused on Casey and Jim. Stay. To Sachin she said, Go. The twerp scrambled away, leaving his companions staring helplessly.
Addison turned to address her growing audience. “Ladies and gentlemen, these two interns are no longer in my employ. Be forewarned that they’re immature and have little respect for authority. Also, Hildebrant will eat anything not nailed down.” She reached into the girl’s mind, tweaked it, then faced her former interns. “Try not to let this ruin the reception for you.” You may go.
Jim bolted for the exit. Casey followed, but was distracted by a waiter carrying a tray of hors d’oeuvres. She snatched the tray from the surprised young man, then stuffed mini-quiche in her mouth by the handful.
Schooling her expression from gleeful to amused took effort, but Addison managed. She sipped her champagne as she made her way to Singh, who’d just noticed the commotion on the other side of the atrium. “Mr. Singh,” Addison called. “Dr. Addison Harris. I so enjoyed your performance tonight.”