Further Negotiations

Silver Oak Bed & Breakfast — The Kitchen

The kitchen of the unusual B&B is old-fashioned and homey. The table is oak and sturdy. The floor is smooth, fitted stone. The walls are a combination of plaster, wood, and stone. Flowers grow profusely out of pots along a criss-crossed mullioned window and fresh fruits and vegetables are collected on a wide butcher block counter beside a large, stainless steel double sink. A step stool is on the floor before the counter. The most remarkable thing is that when she said 'hearth', she meant it. There's a wide fireplace at the far end, complete with a spit and cauldron. All in all… this really does have the feel of an OLD English inn.

A place outside of time.


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Corrie Rhys

The first of the month has come and gone. The weekend has passed. So far as Corrie knows, things have been quiet. She's not making waves here. If anything, she's being absolutely helpful (likely much to Winnea's chagrin). Rhys was right. It really was much like an unexpected trip to the spa, though she feels utterly ridiculous at the necessity of having been hidden in a safe house.

At the moment, Corrie is sitting at the kitchen table with her laptop. Trying to input several spells from memory into her new digital grimoire. The basic spells. Those she uses all the time. Easily and quickly typed in, with her own subtle variations on things noted in a footnotes section.

She almost actually looks relaxed. Like nothing has transpired recently. There's very little makeup on her face, her hair's been pulled back into a loose ponytail at the nape of her neck. Her clothing is a simple pair of jeans and an old somewhat worn college tshirt that's tucked in neatly.

Her feet are drawn up under her in a cross-legged fashion on the kitchen chair, and she's got a thoughtful expression on her face as she stares at the screen.

~

Winnea is conspicuous by her absence at this moment. Not that it's likely to be a long absence. The strange woman is rarely out of her kitchen for long. Of course, the kitchen isn't unattended. Pali, the odd little creature, is curled up almost cat-like beside the large hearth. His breathing is deep and regular, though it's debatable as to whether or not he's actually asleep.

There's movement down the corridor presently, however, and the sure footsteps of someone accustomed to the passageways. Rhys enters the kitchen and pauses briefly by the door. He regards the woman for a quiet moment and then inhales a soft breath before moving fully into the room.

"Good evening, Corrie," he greets simply. "Have you had a good weekend?"

~

Corrie doesn't glance upward at the sounds right away, she's become accustomed to Winnea coming and going with other people. She's just learned to stay mostly quiet and try to blend in to the surroundings of the kitchen much like Pali. So she continues to stare at the screen until she realizes that whomever just entered the kitchen is addressing her directly.

Slowly, she glances upward, eyes widening. He did say that he'd have things settled by Tuesday, but she actually really wasn't expecting him.

"Oh, yes, of course. Winnea has been absolutely wonderful. She fixed the issue with the glamouring, for which I owe her dearly." She will find something to pay Winnea for that, eventually. Her teeth nip onto the left lower corner of her lip and she peers up at him curiously. "What's the verdict?"

~

Rhys gives a mild shrug and a lopsided smile. "We're all squared away," he says lightly. "The vampire shouldn't be a threat any more." He moves toward the counter, where the perpetual pot of tea stands waiting and, without preamble, pours himself a cup. "Refill?" he asks her, lifting the pot towards her, noting an empty mug on the table.

Pali lifts his fuzzy head briefly to blink at both of them, but then settles down, a faint churr rising from him.

~

"Explain 'squared away' to me, Rhys?" The fact that the vampire shouldn't be a threat anymore means that Aidan is likely dead, paid off, or something will have been done to keep her from him. Not that she'll complain about any but the first. She never really wished Aidan dead merely just to leave her alone.

"Hmm? Oh, yes, please. I'd forgotten that my mug was empty." Sliding it toward him, she saves the file she was working on then pushes the laptop lid closed.

"What do I owe you for all of this?"

~

Rhys pours some tea into a mug for Corrie before replacing the pot on the counter. He then takes a sip of his tea and turns to lean against the counter. "Traditionally, vampires and sorcerers have a certain… tacit understanding," he says after a moment. "In a nutshell, we don't mess with them; they don't mess with us." He kicks out a foot and hooks a chair, pulling it out and moving to sit on it. Thrusting his feet out along the tiles, he leans back. "There is one small snag, however," he admits, leveling his steady gaze at her.

~

"Ah."

Corrie did figure there might be something she'd be owing Rhys. Resting her hands around her mug, she allows them to warm (not that they were cold) before lifting the mug to her lips. She doesn't ask what the snag is, she doesn't look at him. She chooses instead to keep an eye on Pali, watching him as he sleeps (or chaperones, whatever the case may be).

~

Rhys takes another long sip of his tea, watching her avoid his gaze. His lips quirk slightly. She's never been good at maintaining eye-contact, anyway. "The vampire won't bother anyone that is under the protection of my family." A beat. "You're not." He leans forward. "And there's not a whole lot I can do about that."

~

Corrie lifts her eyes to him, and just stares for a moment. "Is that it then?" Beat. "That's all that matters. I can handle myself." She'd laugh, really she would, but the situation is still serious enough that it just doesn't seem appropriate. After a moment or two of silence, she lifts the mug to her lips taking another small sip of the warm liquid.

When the mug is set upon the table, she sets her eyes right to his. "I accept my responsibility in the situation. I'll deal with my end of the fallout." Beat. "What do I owe you for all of this?"

~

Rhys regards her for a long moment, before he smiles. It's more rueful than smug. Not the smile of a playboy sorcerer. "That remains to be seen," he says with a mild shrug. "We'll leave it as an outstanding favour, for now. Money certainly won't cover it. I know that won't sit terribly well with you, but it's the best I can do, right now."

Another beat.

"That said, I will make you an offer: The chance to return hands-on as Dumnonia's manager and we'll forget whatever you owe me from this, if you sign with Reese Entertainment."

~

At the offer, she blinks at him.

"What's wrong with my boys? What'd they do?" Why is this the first place Corrie's mind goes to? Because she knows Tristan.

She doesn't jump at the chance, nor does outright say no.

"What is it you're not telling me, Rhys? I'd much rather you be honest and upfront, so that I know what I'm potentially getting into." Rubbing a hand over her face, she turns again to stare at the wall. "For that matter, why would you want me signing with Reese Entertainment? I'm quite apparently nothing but trouble." Beat. "And if you say that it's to keep your enemies closer, I may just throw the remainder of my tea at your head."

~

Rhys laughs outright at that, his eyes twinkling. "You are far too suspicious, Corrie Kavanaugh," he chides gently. "In first place, your boys have done nothing wrong. Tristan," — Yes, he knows where her mind went; he's heard the reports — "and the others are merely boys being boys." If Reese can deal with Rhys' supposed antics, really, the antics of a few active young men aren't that much worse.

"There is nothing I'm not telling you," he says simply, giving a mild shrug now. "I can't protect you from the vampire; I told you that. There's not much I can do about it, unless you willingly put yourself under the protection of the Dynasty. Contrary to popular belief, you'd hardly be the first Witch to do so, and it's not without its advantages. The vampire would have to leave you alone or risk provoking an inter-racial incident, you'd get to be closer to your boys, and, quite possibly, have access to resources that are currently far beyond your means."

Another beat. A roguish grin. "And you'd get to work with me, of course."

~

"It's better to be suspicious," she says quite calmly, "then to be wooed by a known charmer and have a surprise crop up in the near future that's going to put me in even more difficulties that I am now."

That there's nothing wrong, that Tristan hasn't been making trouble just because she's not currently keeping an eye on him allows her to breathe a sigh of relief. She did ask him to behave, but it really did have to be his choice. If he didn't like Rhys, she's certain that Tristan would be making a bit of a public relations nightmare.

"As for the offer, it's not without its disadvantages as well. Mainly being absolutely disowned by my family." Beat. "Yes, I know you likely don't think it will be that big of a deal, but it's still a rather great risk." Fiddling with the mug, she stares up at the ceiling. "I just can't decide right now if Aidan poses the bigger threat, or if the potential of losing my family does."

God help her, there's a small pause before she queries, "Access to spells I wouldn't otherwise have?"

~

Rhys shrugs his brows and twists his head lightly. "Quite possibly," he replies. A beat. He lets out a soft chuckles. "Though, I doubt my brother will approve your access to any sorcerer spells." Might as well get that out of the way right up front.

"It's your choice, Corrie. I'm not going to strong-arm you. It's merely an option. I don't know what threat Aidan poses to you. It depends on how amusing he found you, I would suppose."

Another beat.

Another shrug. "You're quickly developing a reputation for being more trouble than you're worth. Like everything else, that can be a double-edged sword."

~

"I don't give a bloody rat's ass what your brother approves of or not," Corrie says snappily as she draws to her feet. She stares at Rhys for a long moment, and then looks down at her mug. "I really think I need something stronger for this type of conversation."

Chuckling, she sets the mug back on the table. "I honestly don't know that Aidan actually does pose a threat to me. He saved me from your brother, you realize. For whatever purpose, I can't actually be angry at him for that." Beat. "Now the messing with my mind? That I'm less than thrilled about."

A thought, and then, "If I agree to signing with Reese Entertainment Media — provided I've not got a clause in my current contract about non-competition — would you be amiable to coming with me for dinner at Flare to meet him? I'll sign the contract at dinner." A glance in his direction will tell him that she's not trying to actually manipulate the situation, just see if it's agreeable to him.

"Though I would like, if at all possible, that the protection fall to my family as well, and I will do whatever it takes to get that clause added to the contract."

~

"If you want to sign the contract at Flare, I'm fine with that," Rhys says easily. "Better to serve notice that way, I should think." He expects the vampire will be somewhat put out by the whole thing, but he also doubts the vampire will make waves. The detente between the two factions has been long-standing for good reason. And, typically, only the very young violate it. Aidan didn't strike Rhys as being all that young.

"Extending protection to your entire family may take some doing, however, particularly given how hostile your mother is to us."

~

"It would be worse," Corrie comments, "if I were marrying into the Reese Dynasty. As it's only employment…" Well maybe Prudence won't kill her. Maybe Prudence won't disown her.

"Give me a week to give notice and set my other clients up with new representation." Beat. "I would offer to take them with me, but I think Randall would sue then and I doubt you want that to be hanging over the head of a new employee." Corrie fidgets a little, looking rather uncomfortable. "So you're perfectly certain that you've passed this plan of yours by your father and brother, and that they're alright with this arrangement. That this will square away what I owe you?" Beat. "As I said, I really don't think that Aidan means me harm. I'm not doing this for that reason, though it does provide a nice bonus."

Pause.

"If you can put me in contact with Ghost, I think I would like to repay her in some way as well."

~

Somehow, Rhys doesn't really think bringing the Corrie into the family through marriage is actually a good idea — though God knows his father has been poking at Gideon to settle down sooner rather than later. It's highly doubtful, however, that Corrie's a candidate for that. Not at this point, certainly.

Still, he smiles as the woman agrees to his proposal. "You let me worry about the details on our end." His father certainly doesn't have any difficulty with it. His father couldn't care less. Gideon, on the other hand, still needs to be broached. Rhys doubts, however, that he'll be as big an obstacle as she might think. "If you sign with us, we'll write-off this little incident as a minor inconvenience to negotiations," he assures her. "If not…" he shrugs, "I'm sure something you can aid me with will present itself in due course."

He downs the rest of his tea, now. "As for Ghost, speak with Winnea. She'll pass a message to her."

~

Corrie would balk at the thought of marrying Gideon at any point, to be certain. She'd likely run and hide somewhere for the rest of her life, selling spells and magic to the highest bidder to make ends meet.

"I'm not signing with Gideon." Beat. "I'm signing with you." That's the difference to her. Rhys isn't a complete arse. "That means, Rhys, that I will, while at work, take orders from you. If Gideon would like me to do something, I'd really rather have him discuss it with you." Beat. "I know that's not always going to be a possibility, and I will promise not to attack him again." At least while on the job. A little binding spell if he annoys her though…

"Sorry," she says after a moment. "I know I'm not in a position to really be making demands. Especially not after you've gone through all this trouble on my behalf when you really didn't need to." Beat. "Why did you?"

~

Rhys rises to place his mug in the wash basin. "You put my family in danger as much as your own, Corrie," he says. "I didn't have much choice. Don't make the mistake of thinking that the vampire is a 'nice guy' just because he saved you from getting smacked by my brother. He has plans of his own. What they are, I can't begin to fathom, but I'll not be foolish enough to imagine they don't exist. You may have been nothing but a passing amusement to him. If so, so much the better — if you'd stayed with him, you'd have died. Or he may have discerned some greater worth to you. If so, you'd still have died… it would simply take longer and exact a much higher tole on everyone involved."

He turns back to her. "Don't look a gift horse in the mouth, Corrie. Just say thank you and let it go."

~

"Except my choice of names was purely coincidental. It's not as though I was doing it on purpose." Corrie sighs and then glances at the ceiling again. "He knows I'm a witch, which is likely the only plan he has. Get a witch in his corner." It seems to be the going thing. All things considered, she may still be dead. Either way, she's a fly facing spiders. It's not really a fun location to be stuck in — that tangled web.

"Tch. Obviously…" She gives her head a shake, and she grins at the Sorcerer. "Thank you, Rhys." Beat. "Though if you expect me to bow and pay homage, you've got the wrong girl." What? She may be defeated. She may be trapped in the corner. But she's still Corrie.

~

Rhys snirks now. "Please," he scoffs. "When I want homage, you'll know."

Another brief shrug. "Look, it doesn't much matter if you intended to cause trouble or not. You did. It's now solved. And you got a pleasant weekend retreat out of it. Not many can say that. Consider yourself lucky and call it done."

Giving an easy smile, he nods his head in a sort of greeting to her as he makes his way toward the passage way. "I'll draw up the paperwork and send it to you through the usual channels. Until then… try to stay out of trouble, hmm?"

~

"I figured."

Beat.

"I know. I do. It is." Done. She can go home. She'll try to stay safe, but chances are… well chances are that no matter how much trouble she tries to stay out of, it'll come finding her. But first things first, she'll call Tristan and tell him the good news. Then she'll call Jean and tell her she's okay.

Then she'll call her mother and try to explain herself and likely be hung up on.

Corrie follows Rhys toward the passage way, allowing a small nod of her head. "I'll do my utmost." Then without much warning, she's standing on the tips of her toes and softly placing a quick, friendly kiss to his cheek.

"Thank you, Rhys. I really do appreciate everything you've done."

~

Rhys blinks a little as Corrie kisses his cheek. He gives a wry smile. "You're welcome. I'll see you soon, I'm sure." With that, he takes his leave for the evening, leaving her to seek out Winnea for answers to her other questions.

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