EARTH You've Got A Friend

Discussion in 'Private Roleplay' started by Niamh O'Rourke, May 11, 2018.

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  1. Niamh O'Rourke

    Niamh O'Rourke Protogen Researcher

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    Seattle, Northwest American Sector, Earth. Twelve years ago....

    The antiquated looking clock was a poor fit for the room. Niamh didn’t understand why it needed hands when a digital one would have sufficed. Nor did she get the reason for its incessant ticking. The metronome like sound was making her hair stand on end. Another few minutes of it and she was going to scream.

    She did her best not to fidget. The waiting room was her own personal purgatory. Niamh was quietly enraged that she was forced to sit here on the pleasure of some Continental slut as if she was some slum dweller living on Basic. She picked at the skin at the side of her nail, lifting her little finger to her mouth to tear at it when she was sure that the secretary wasn’t looking. She didn’t want to admit it but she was scared.


    Scared that she was going to get caught. It brought back memories over twenty years ago to a child lying to their parents about what had happened to their new kitten. The company might as well have been Pontius Pilate, they’d effectively washed their hands of her. She’d been told that the junior always took the bullet but she’d never thought that it would go this far. She was a scapegoat, the sacrificial lamb. A token offering while they swept everything else under the carpet.


    It was so unfair. She was meant to have it all. Born to money, genius intellect, and not that hard on the eye either. She was in her mid twenties, at the beginning of what would no doubt be a glittering career. Only to have it all dashed because of the incompetence of a superior. That his corpse hadn't been recovered was the one silver lining to the whole sordid affair.


    She opened her makeup mirror to inspect her face, grimacing as she looked at her eyes. No amount of makeup could hide the lack of sleep and ravages of travel. A forced march for half a day after torching the camp, the teeth jarring lorry ride to the shuttleport, a VTOL to Paris for a debrief and now here in Seattle after another gut wrenching journey. She did not travel well.


    She smoothed out invisible wrinkles in her trousers, tapping her foot while she looked around the room again. Perhaps thrown to the wolves was being overdramatic. She did have one lifeline that she had been reluctantly offered. The corporation had tendrils everywhere. There was no guarantee that she’d emerge from this unscathed though. The path she’d envisaged since she was fourteen was rapidly being replaced with mental images of her in prison. She’d been told to swallow her pride, bite the bullet, and grovel for all it was worth. Then maybe, just maybe, there was a chance she’d still have a future.


    The secretary stopped in her typing as her earpiece sounded. Holding her hand to it, she looked to Niamh who half rose expectantly. "Mrs Dionisi will see you now" she told the Irishwoman in curt tones. Niamh hadn't helped herself on that front. She'd been in the waiting room two minutes when she'd asked for a window to be opened due to the pungent aroma of the pig manure she'd decided to wear as perfume.

    Niamh rose with a haughty expression on her face. She forced her back straight as she walked, entering @Lucrezia Dionisi 's office.
     
    #1 Niamh O'Rourke, May 11, 2018
    Last edited: May 12, 2018
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  2. Lucrezia Dionisi

    Lucrezia Dionisi Hell in High Heels

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    The conference call her next client had been asked to wait out had, in fact, ended some twenty minutes ago. It was quite uncommon of Lucrezia to extend this kind of treatment to her new clients; the woman on the other side of the mahogany door was an exception.

    It wasn’t even the charges hanging over the (admittedly pretty) head of Miss O’Rourke.

    Rather, it was the entity who’d gotten said Miss O’Rourke into that waiting room in the first place. Well-compensated as the scientist may have been in her former position, there was no way under the sun that she could afford the staggering fee of Dionisi & Shanghvi; either of them.

    Luckily for @Niamh O'Rourke, her bosses had called in an ancient favor, and so here she was, appalling deeds and all.

    Twenty minutes, then. Twenty minutes for the girl to sweat it out; twenty minutes for Lucrezia to thoroughly consider the evidence at her disposal.

    Thanks to those same bosses, she had a good deal more available than the opposition, and she had no intention of sharing.

    Twenty on the nose, the lawyer reached out and buzzed her secretary. A brief exchange followed; the door swung open, and in strode the defendant.

    Lucrezia motioned to the leather armchair before her desk. As with the foyer, no expense had been spared in choosing the décor of the office proper. Every inch of the room oozed money, including the attorney herself.

    “I’ve had greater men sweat for less in that seat, Miss O’Rourke.” Oh, but the pleasant air of her Oxonian accent never faltered. She folded her hands on the heavy desk. “I’d have thought mass murder would have you squirming by now.”

    She smiled.

    “Color me impressed.”
     
    #2 Lucrezia Dionisi, May 11, 2018
    Last edited: May 11, 2018
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  3. Niamh O'Rourke

    Niamh O'Rourke Protogen Researcher

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    Niamh wasn't staggered by the opulence of the room but it did give her pause for a moment. Pure decadence, she knew quality when she saw it and these weren't some ersatz imitations. Her gaze lingered around the room a fraction too long before she realised the attention of the other woman was on her. A slight flush came to her cheeks and she stepped forward uncertainly.

    She bit her tongue as the woman motioned to the armchair. No need for any sharp comments just yet. Niamh just didn't appreciate how she'd been granted permission to sit, as if she was the help. Christ she was gorgeous though. It made Niamh feel every hour she'd been travelling. A smooth unlined face, perfect bone structure. Compared to that she felt like a slug.

    She composed herself, defensive posture, legs and arms crossed. The crisp educated tones hit her ears and she tried not to grimace. "I am't a man" was her immediate response, cheeks flushed as she tried to go on the counter attack. Clumsy and ill chosen, she felt like a peasant protesting to the queen. Lucrezia's smile was disarming, her words hit home like a gut punch. She faltered for a moment.

    "There's no proof of murder" she said hoarsely, there sounding like dere. "I amn't-I'm not directly connected with any of those...tragic events that you may be referring to". Her arms unfolded and she clasped her hands in her lap. "It's a misunderstanding".
     
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  4. Lucrezia Dionisi

    Lucrezia Dionisi Hell in High Heels

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    Her serene smile widened.

    “Well, why didn’t you say so? I shall let Mr. Smythe know there’s no need to pay my fees for a mere misunderstanding.”

    Lucrezia leaned back into her plush chair and picked up her terminal. With a few precise gestures of her manicured hand, the call was online.

    In the silence following her words, the ring of an interplanteray tightbeam echoed louder than any gavel.
     
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  5. Niamh O'Rourke

    Niamh O'Rourke Protogen Researcher

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    Niamh did her best to keep her face impassive though her eyes betrayed her true feelings. The older woman just smiled at her, the picture of calm and serenity. Her crisp clear tones were reassuring as she spoke. Niamh blinked, she had to be bluffing. She kept silent as Lucrezia leaned back in her chair and picked up her terminal. She still hadn't moved when she'd dialled.

    "Wait" she forced herself to say. The ring seemed to reverberate like an earthquake. "Wait!" she said a little more shrill, leaning forward in the chair, her hand on the desk. "I didn't mean it that way!" she said desperately. She felt like she'd choke on her words, "Please. Just hang up".
     
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  6. Lucrezia Dionisi

    Lucrezia Dionisi Hell in High Heels

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    Well, that was quick. Suppose the girl had done some squirming after all.

    Still, in the spirit of hard lessons… Lucrezia let the call reach a fourth ring before she finally slid it off-screen. Not like her dearest, latest Alec was going to answer anyway.

    “Let me be plain, Miss O’Rourke. Every lie you tell in here is to your disadvantage, not mine. I’ll be paid regardless of what the judge and jury decide to do with you. Now,” she paused, glancing down at her notes for show, “you follow my lead, and perhaps the whole unfortunate incident does turn out to be a tragic misunderstanding after all. Or—”

    She spread her fingers in a magnanimous gesture.

    Or, you keep this up, and they ship you out to the Belt on the next shuttle. One of those prison colonies where the latest in fashion are rat-chewed rags, and the closest you’ll get to intelligent conversation is talking to yourself.”

    “You strike me as a woman whose refined tastes could ill-suffer such a… slovenly environ.”
     
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  7. Niamh O'Rourke

    Niamh O'Rourke Protogen Researcher

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    The wait up to the fourth ring was agony for Niamh. Her nails were digging into the palm of her hand. Her shoulders didn't sag until Lucrezia had cancelled it and placed her hand terminal back down. She had to sit there silently and receive some plain home truths from the lawyer on the facts of the situation. Win or lose, it wasn't going to affect Lucrezia. Niamh was the one whose head was on the chopping block.

    Niamh was tough. But not so tough that the thought of spending the best years of her life out in some horrific asteroid penal colony didn't scare her. She'd be a broken old woman by the time she got out. She swallowed the lump in her throat. "I'm willing to follow your lead Mrs Dionisi" she said in a small voice. Not quite meek but a far cry from the sharp tone she'd initially adopted. "What do you need to know?"
     
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  8. Lucrezia Dionisi

    Lucrezia Dionisi Hell in High Heels

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    Lucrezia tilted her head. Well, at least no-one could ever say her clients were dull.

    “Start from the top and spare me no detail.” She paused a beat; made a point of meeting those sky-blue eyes. “I’ll know.”
     
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  9. Niamh O'Rourke

    Niamh O'Rourke Protogen Researcher

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    Lucrezia's stern demeanor made Niamh feel like she was back at school. She'd opened her mouth to protest but one penetrating glare and a firm warning had made her shut up. She nodded, embarrassed at being caught on the back foot.

    "I was part of a team that was operating in Central Asia. You've probably seen the news there about separatist nonsense, rebel movements, local atrocities. The area is one of the most deprived sectors in Asia due to the sparse resources and higher percentage of the population on Basic. We were meant to be working as part of aid relief, charitable efforts, it was through a subsidiary company for deniability. It wasn't too bad at first, we were at least fifty kilometres behind the front lines. But the conflict started to extend and local forces couldn't handle it. The Security Council ordered more troops in-" she cut off to take a breath, "You've probably seen this all on the news, I'll get to the facts".

    She couldn't quite keep eyes locked with Lucrezia for too long. "A lot of vaccines we've developed over the years have been achieved only by extensive human testing. Usually it was done on people living off Basic but the ethics laws have begun to tighten up. A local war was the perfect place to try it. We began using it on patients. There were....adverse...effects. We could cover up some of the deaths but it began to spiral out of control."

    Her hands fidgeted nervously as she looked down in her lap. Niamh was callous and contemptuous of most life but even she'd been affected by the scale of what they'd had to deal with. "People began asking questions. We had an 83% death rate at one point. The vaccine hadn't been pretested enough for human experimentation. Our project leader panicked and ordered it shut down. We razed the place to the ground to cover it up as rebel action and torch the evidence. We pulled out two days ago".

    Her gaze finally met Lucrezia's, quietly defiant now she'd gotten it off her chest.
     
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  10. Lucrezia Dionisi

    Lucrezia Dionisi Hell in High Heels

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    Miss Dionisi did not take notes. A tête-à-tête in a sound-proofed room was already far enough. Though she had her office swept for bugs every two weeks now (a result of a smaller spying mishap years ago), it never hurt to be too careful.

    Insignificant as the matter was in the grand scheme of things – people died in droves at the edges of Basic every day, not to mention the Belt – for the young twenty-something in the plush leather seat, it was the end of the line.

    Lucrezia refrained from inspecting her nails with a modicum of effort. Damned if one of her first cases didn’t have a higher death toll than this. Talk about a drop in the ocean.

    If she was going to get indigestion over this line of work, she’d missed the chance by two decades.

    “How involved were you? Paper trails, money, research in your name…” she waved the girl on, cataloguing every expression. “And the leader? Where is he in this bleak picture, Miss O’Rourke?”
     
  11. Niamh O'Rourke

    Niamh O'Rourke Protogen Researcher

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    Niamh hadn't expected such a calm reaction. Lucrezia didn't even look surprised, Niamh could have sworn that at one point she looked....bored. It deflated her a little bit. She paused in anticipation, expecting a bigger reaction but she was just waved on, the questions fired at her in quick succession. "I...well I was one of the doctors at the site. My documents were registered as such". Her cheeks went a little red, "I...I'm still relatively newly qualified. I haven't published much research beyond my thesis".

    She clamped up at the mention of the project leader but Lucrezia wasn't having any of it. "He's dead" she admitted, trying not think of the dusty plain and the bark of automatic weapons. "There was some shooting during the destruction of the evidence" a nice euphemism for the razing of tents and buildings, some with people still inside them, "He was shot in the confusion. We don't know by who". That was her story and she was sticking to it.
     
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  12. Lucrezia Dionisi

    Lucrezia Dionisi Hell in High Heels

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    The blushing virgin act? Well, well. Lucrezia certainly hadn’t thought the girl had it in her. Desperate times, desperate measures.

    Speaking of which – “Dead,” she echoed, a little colder, a little softer.

    This, finally, grasped her attention. The rest of the tale only served to confirm her suspicions.

    “Frankly, it doesn’t surprise me this debacle is coming down on your head. Corporations like the one that employs you… after a fashion, of course; in my experience they appreciate having their orders obeyed.” She paused to enunciate, “Do not lie… have you always had trouble following simple rules?”

    There it was again – the winning smile – so entirely divorced from her sharp timbre that Lucrezia might as well have been speaking a different tongue.

    “I don’t care if you personally squeezed the trigger, Miss O’Rourke. But I should impress upon you that the premature demise of your fearless leader is quite possibly your only real opportunity to emerge from this with a clean reputation.”

    “Relatively speaking, of course.”
     
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  13. Niamh O'Rourke

    Niamh O'Rourke Protogen Researcher

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    Niamh kept her mouth shut. Hands clasped and ears open while Lucrezia mulled over what she'd said. It had sunk in that this woman was her lifeline. She'd crawl to her feet if it got her off free of charge. Her mouth tightened as the stern sharp tone came back, ordering her to tell the truth. Niamh swallowed and nodded in response, "I have" she confirmed, embarrassed at being addressed like a child. "I-I find them restrictive" she added, a defensive tone in her voice.

    She kept very quiet as Lucrezia voice her own opinion, the older woman was far too shrewd for her own good. She felt the first faint flutters of hope as there was an admission that there might be a slim chance of this turning out in her favour. "You mean you can get me off?!" she burst out before she could help herself. She coughed and said in a quieter tone, "I apologise Mrs Dionisi, I didn't mean to interrupt". Not a chance that she would to her new saviour.
     
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  14. Lucrezia Dionisi

    Lucrezia Dionisi Hell in High Heels

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    Desperate and eager. It was all Lucrezia could do not to rub her hands together like some sort of straight-to-video villain.

    But god, if the situation wasn’t right there, ripe and begging to be plucked. It didn’t take a genius to figure out where the wind was blowing on this one. Protogen would never spend this much money on a lawyer this good if they weren’t protecting an important investment.

    Despite all the blood under the nails, Protogen had a good nose for business. If they thought someone was worth their cash and time, then they were worth her scrutiny.

    “That’s quite alright. I’m being paid enough that you needn’t prostrate yourself, Miss O’Rourke.”

    Lucrezia took a long sip from her glass of water, measuring the girl over the rim all the while.

    “I mean there’s a chance. Namely,” she paused, sweeping over her notes again, “one Cristóbal Molina, MD. Your erstwhile superior, now presumably scattered to the four winds, may well be your salvation.”

    The woman leaned forward ever so slightly, all but pinning the girl into the chair with her gaze. “If you want to avoid a prison sentence, you’ll have to be completely truthful with me, do you understand?”

    “I can’t go in there with any surprises looming, and believe me, the state will pull out the stops on this. The prosecutor is a bloodhound if I’ve ever known one. There’s few things he enjoys more than corporate scandal.”


    There was, perhaps, some embellishment to the vivid description. What mattered now was exhuming as much dirt out of the girl as she could while she was still running scared.

    Never know when you’re going to need ammunition for a rainy day.
     
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  15. Niamh O'Rourke

    Niamh O'Rourke Protogen Researcher

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    Niamh tried not to go any redder out of embarrassment as Lucrezia acknowledged her grovelling. She sat there, trying not to squirm under her gaze while she had some water. Lucrezia's eyes never left her once. Niamh listened intently, her entire attention focused on the fact that she might still yet come out of this whole situation with her name intact.

    She was transfixed as the other woman leaned forward, her gaze piercing. "I-I understand Mrs Dionisi" she whispered. She felt a cold hand grip at her heart as Lucrezia described the prosecutor that she'd have going after her. "I am being truthful" she insisted, desperate to show that she was a good girl in one way.

    "What else do you need to know? I'm cooperating" she insisted, but her nerves betrayed her. "You think we can blame it all on Cristóbal?" the name rolled off her tongue a lot more awkwardly than it had Lucrezia's.
     
  16. Lucrezia Dionisi

    Lucrezia Dionisi Hell in High Heels

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    Tracing a finger along the rim of her glass, Lucrezia pondered the options on the table. Not a whole lot, all told, but far from the worst she’d dragged from the brink. Vested interest in the girl’s survival notwithstanding, she didn’t have much to lose here.

    “These sorts of cases are slow to proceed, so time at least is on your side. For now.”

    She clasped her hands together once more. “I’ll need everything you have on the situation. Your colleagues, what might have survived the fire, that sort of thing. As for you…”

    “Well. There’s a number of things you can do to make your claim to innocence more believable… and my job easier. Alter your usual attire and coiffure so that you won’t be recognized by every other sod on the street. The media is to be avoided at all costs, liable as they are to spin this beyond recovery.”


    Lucrezia stood to open a small glass cabinet behind her desk. From it she extracted a pair of crystal tumblers and a matching bottle full of amber liquid. She set the ensemble between them and poured them each a glass.

    “I don’t imagine you’re altogether unfamiliar with playing a role, Miss O’Rourke, and for the duration of this process you will need to don another one.” She took a small, burning sip of the alcohol before setting it down again. “You were just a young researcher, fresh out of school and eager to prove yourself. You even tried to stop your supervisor when things started getting out of hand, but it was too late. Very regrettable, how science drives good men to such unspeakable lengths.”

    “Oh and… shed a few tears, will you?”
     
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  17. Niamh O'Rourke

    Niamh O'Rourke Protogen Researcher

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    Niamh nodded. Greim an duine bháite, the grip of the drowning man. She'd do anything in this situation to save her skin. "Absolutely Mrs Dionisi, I can give a list" she had abandoned her misgivings of telling her anything. She'd spill out everything if it got her off the hook.

    An expression of annoyance flickered for a second on her face. "What's wrong with my attire?" she demanded. Niamh took pride in her appearance. The suit she wore now wasn't some off the rack brand she'd bought on sale. Hand measured and tailored to provide a very flattering cut.

    She took the proffered glass gratefully, taking a bigger gulp. The burn was comforting as it worked its way down into her belly. She shifted in her seat, a little disturbed by how well Lucrezia could read her. She didn't protest though, it was a very fair analysis. She listened as the older woman described her new personality. It was playing on her strengths, a young woman, out of her depth, it would look good for the tabloids.

    She did blink at the last bit, not quite getting it. "Shed tears? Most of them were on Basic, some didn't even meet that criteria" unregistered, off the system, even lower than the scum she'd been dealing with. Was she meant to mourn the cow that had been butchered for her meal?
     
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  18. Lucrezia Dionisi

    Lucrezia Dionisi Hell in High Heels

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    Despite herself, Lucrezia blinked in turn. Her gaze flickered downwards to the file on her terminal – the personnel dossier of one Niamh O’Rourke, PhD.

    Wasn’t she supposed to be some sort of genius?

    The lawyer raised the drink to her lips again. Apparently not.

    “Absolutely nothing. Apart from the fact that it doesn’t suit your new image, of course. Savile Row is hardly the prime shopping spot for a girl that ought to be neck-deep in student debt, no?”

    She counted the zeroes on her cheque and bit back the comment at the tip of her tongue. This was going to be a long day and an even longer month, by the looks of it.

    “I understand. Believe me, I do, but— the resentful masses love to crucify the privileged few, Miss O’Rourke. However, if you were to appear more like them...” she trailed off, tapping a finger against her glass. “Think of it this way. Either you pretend to be pathetic now, or you assuredly will be… in prison.”
     
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  19. Niamh O'Rourke

    Niamh O'Rourke Protogen Researcher

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    Niamh made a face. She liked how she dressed. She used it to impress, intimidate, another weapon in her arsenal. Her teeth gritted at being referred to as a girl but Lucrezia was hardly a hag. "It isn't" she agreed reluctantly. Damn the woman for being so agreeable, so reasonable. Niamh hated to admit that another person could be right. "How should I dress then?"

    Christ bloody well curse it, why did she have to be held accountable for something like this!? Her expression was sullen as Lucrezia told she was going to need to be a bit more contrite or pathetic. Her eyes welled up and her expression turned sorrowful. "I-I didn't know any of this was going to happen. I just wanted to help people" her voice had risen in pitch, making her sound younger than she was. She choked back a sob, "Those poor people". She brought her hands to her face as she cried, chest rising and falling with each tortured sound.

    The sobs cut off and she let her hands drop from her face. She wore a smirk as she looked back up at Lucrezia, wiping away a stray crocodile tear. She cleared her throat, her voice businesslike "So I need to be a bit more like that?"
     
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  20. Lucrezia Dionisi

    Lucrezia Dionisi Hell in High Heels

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    When she was about the age Niamh was now, Lucrezia had often wondered. Wondered about wondering, even. Shouldn’t she have lost at least some sleep over the decisions she’d made, the people she’d elected to defend?

    But you can’t force self-reflection, it turned out.

    While the girl practiced her snotty charm, Lucrezia finished off her drink. A mild indulgence. Letizia absolutely abhorred the taste of cognac, but it was better than the drugs she’d gotten hooked onto in those same younger years.

    “Quite. You shouldn’t go overboard either, however. A few restrained tears, a well-timed kerchief when you get to the grisly details… we’ll have time to hash out the whole approach. As for the dress, pick something cheap and subdued. Black is good – the color of mourning.”

    Lucrezia took down a few vague notes. “Compile that list by tomorrow and bring it straight to me. Don’t leave anything out.”

    She reached into her purse and handed Niamh an embossed business card. Who the hell was pretentious enough to use real paper in this day and age? It had the best of both worlds, though – the middle layer was printed circuitry for ease of scanning directly into a terminal.

    “Call me if you think of anything else. Until tomorrow, Miss O’Rourke. Nine o’clock. Don’t be late.”
     
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