“I will have our legal team handle it,” Claudia Barrington said confidently, “you will be back at work in no time.”
Marissa thanked her Mom and asked her what she was going to do about Yvonne through her sobs. No one had seen her since she was caught on camera giving a patient the wrong medication that ultimately ended in his death.
“I will have Sid find her, dear.” Claudia was sure he would be able to find Yvonne and have his friends in the police department take care of her. Marissa calmed down, she had known Sid all of her life and trusted he would take care of it.
“Darling, will you be coming to the NACAC Charity Ball this year?” Claudia waited for the confirmation.
“Of course, Mom, I never miss a year to shake hands and win stuff at the silent auction,” she sighed. Her mother was so exasperating sometimes.
“Uncle Travis wants to come this year…” she said in passing not knowing Marissa cringed on the other side of the phone
“That’s great, Mom, I have to go…” Marissa told her mother goodbye and put the phone down, not only was her best friend acting crazy but Uncle Travis was trying to relay a message as well.
Jonathan sat in his office and watched the sun go down, he was contemplating calling Marissa again but she hadn’t answered not one phone call or text. No one had heard from Yvonne, it made everyone nervous that she was missing and not even the police or the ‘Barrington Secret Service’ could find her. He knew it wouldn’t be long before she popped up and his only concern was Marissa’s safety.
He packed his briefcase and got up to leave, ignoring the phone ringing on his desk. When he made it to the car and tried to find something to listen to before he drove off, someone opened the passenger side door and slid in. Yvonne gave him a smile and turned to him placing her elbow on the middle console.
“Jonathan, sweetheart, how are you?” Yvonne said coolly.
“Where have you been?” Jonathan asked.
“Around… you didn’t answer my call,” she winked.
“What do you want Yvonne?” he turned to her.
“How are you and Marissa?” she gave her most genuine smile.
“That is no more, thanks to you,” holding back the urge to take a swing at her, he had never hit a woman but she deserved it though.
“Aw, you sound a bit angry, I’m sorry… anyways I need another favor,” she excitedly clasped her hands, “I need the blueprints to the Capital City Event Center but I can’t get them myself for obvious reasons.”
“I want 50,000 dollars this time… cash,” his eyes smoldering.
“Wow… found your balls huh?” Yvonne chuckled a bit.
“Deal or no deal, Yvonne,” he turned back towards the steering wheel, giving the signal this meeting was about to be over.
“Deal,” she double tapped him on the arm.
“I’ll get them to you tomorrow afternoon, now get out of my car,” Jonathan put his Lexus in reverse.
Jonathan thought if he could figure out what Yvonne was doing then he could stop her, proving himself to Marissa and that he could be trusted. So, he decided not to tell anyone yet that he had talked to Yvonne, he would meet her tomorrow and try to gain as much information as possible. He knew she was too smart for that, so he stopped to Radioshack on the way home to get a small GPS tracking device.
Yvonne looked at herself in the mirror and cocked her head to the side. “Why doesn’t anyone understand me?”
“Don’t ask me, I don’t know.”
“What did I do that was so bad, that nothing good can ever happen to me?” she wondered.
“I guess the restaurant is ‘good’.”
Yvonne sighed. “That’s technically not even mine, I just manage it. I made Senator Johnson buy it for me. I was getting tired of him and was going to tell his wife about us,” she chuckled.
“Why did you do that?”
“I’m a business woman,” she put her hand on her hips; she flipped herself off in the mirror.
“What are you going to do about Marissa; it’s only a matter of time before someone finds you.”
“No one’s going to find me. No one knows about my second apartment,” she winked.
“Of course, so when are we going to start our project?” Yvonne jumped up and down, clapping excitedly.
“Tonight actually,” Yvonne spun around and made her way to the living room where she had all of her supplies laid out, “let’s get started! Where are those instructions?”
Marissa used her key to walk into her parents’ house, her Mom not only wanted her to attend the charity event, this year she had to help plan too. She knew this was her Mom’s way of keeping her busy so she wouldn’t get too depressed.
“Mom, where are you?” Marissa pressed the intercom and waited a few seconds.
“I’m in my office dear,” Mrs. Barrington sounded happy today.
Marissa made her way upstairs and walked into her Mom’s office, it always smelled like lavender and vanilla. It was comforting and reminded her of the many times she would hide under her mother’s desk.
“I’m so happy you decided to come and help your dear old mother.”
“Yes ma’am, I am here to help.”
“Okay, I just need you to confirm with all of the vendors that everything is in order,” she handed Marissa a spreadsheet, “I will be doing the seating arrangements with all of the rsvps we’ve received.”
“Will do,” Marissa sat down at the phone and started making her calls. After a few, her Mom went downstairs to get some snacks and lemonade.
In the middle of talking to some 20-something year old about how many flower arrangements were required for the banquet tables, she smelled a familiar scent. She never looked up at his face but she always noticed how shiny his class ring was. It was like he cleaned it every five seconds yet never took it off. She knew every detail of it: the class of 1968, same as her father’s, they were both Kappa’s at Prairie View A&M University. He wasn’t her real uncle but she was forced to call him that. She hated him and was scared of him all at once. No one knew what he really was, no one knew he was the devil, no one knew but Marissa that the beloved Uncle Travis loved little girls. She memorized every detail of that ring during the many nights he spent sneaking into her room.
He walked away because he knew she would never acknowledge his presence directly. Marissa finished her phone call and stared out of the window, remembering her mother saying he was going to come to the charity event this year. She could dodge him at family functions but something in public like that; she would be forced to smile through any interactions. Barrington’s never caused a scene and he would know that better than anyone.
Marissa sighed and leaned back in her chair and dialed the number to the caterer. Her mom sat a chicken salad sandwich and a glass of lemonade in front of her. She wasn’t in the mood to eat but didn’t want to hear it so she ate in between the remainder of the calls. When she was finished she asked her Mom if Sid was able to help with finding Yvonne.
“Sid does his job very well, I will let you know when there’s something to report,” Claudia said sharply. Marissa didn’t quite know what Sid did for her parents but he’s been around since she was a child. She always appreciated that Uncle Travis didn’t come near her when Sid was around.
“We will find her and turn her over to the authorities,” Claudia tried to sound reassuring. “It won’t be too much longer.” Marissa sighed and said okay. She wasn’t going to be able to sleep until she got to the bottom of this.
“Mom, will you do me one favor?” she stood up and walked over to her mom’s desk.
“Will you tell Sid that I want to talk to her before he turns her over the police?” she asking pleadingly.
“May I ask why?” sounding overly curious, Claudia looked up from the seating chart.
“I just want to know exactly why she tried to frame me for murder,” Marissa said straightforwardly for the first time.
“Okay, I understand that completely, even though I think I know why,” she said quietly. Claudia Barrington had been holding this in since Marissa brought Yvonne home one day to study and spend the night. She had never forgotten that troubled little girl that she would sometimes rock to sleep. As soon as she saw her, she recognized the hurt in her eyes but didn’t know if Yvonne recognized her, she was only five years old when they met but neither said a word.
“Mom, tell me what you know,” she crossed her arms and planted her feet, steadying for the revelation.
“Before I adopted you, sweetheart, I tried with another little girl. We kept her for six months but it didn’t work out so we had to give her back to the State. We tried and tried but she was just too damaged from whatever trauma she had been through earlier in her life.”
“And that little girl was Yvonne…” Marissa plopped down in her chair so hard she almost fell out of it. “I can’t believe this; you and Dad kept this a secret all these years. You didn’t think to say anything when I became friends with her?”
“I didn’t think she remembered and there was no sense in bringing up bad memories for her or anyone else,” Mrs. Barrington put her head in her hands and exhaled.
“She knows. She knows exactly who you are and she hates me for it, not you!” Marissa yelled at her Mom out of frustration for the first time in her life.
“I’m sorry honey.”
“Sorry doesn’t make up for lying! Sorry doesn’t make her hurt any less and sorry sure as hell doesn’t bring back the patient she killed!” She stormed off and left the house. All of that charity work and why she spent so much time with the North American Council on Adoptable Children made sense now. Mrs. Barrington was trying to make up for the one little girl she deemed unadoptable all those years ago.
Jonathan went first thing in the morning to get the blue prints Yvonne asked for and then went to work. He knew she would contact him whenever she was ready to make her move. He went through the whole work day without hearing from her.
Unknown Number: Republic Square @ 9. I’ll find you.
“Great. That’s not crazy at all,” Jonathan said out loud to himself. He checked his watch and decided to pick up something to eat since it was just after seven. This also gave him enough time to activate the GPS he put into the bottom of the canister with the blueprints and find something to put over it.
When he arrived at the park four minutes before nine and sat down at a bench, he checked his phone and contemplated calling Marissa for the hundredth time. Then, Yvonne stepped into his line of sight with a briefcase and sat down next to him.
“Good evening, Mister,” Yvonne took a seat next to him. “Here’s your present.”
“Here is yours.”
“Thank you very much,” she gave a half smile.
“What are you planning on doing with it?” he said nonchalantly.
“That’s none of your business Jonathan; do we have to have this discussion again?”
“Just curious what your brilliant mind has planned now…” he turned and faced her, searching her eyes.
“Don’t… that won’t get you anywhere. So bye,” she laughed. Yvonne didn’t waste any time disappearing into the night with the blueprints.
“Damn,” Jonathan sat back and peeked inside the briefcase. There was a bottle of Scotch sitting on top of the bills. He smiled and took it out. The evening was beautiful and perfect for drinking away his sorrows. His sister was sick again, he lost Marissa before he even really had her and he played a key part in an innocent person’s death. He unscrewed the top and took a big gulp, sighing with satisfaction at the burn going down to his stomach. He took another sip, closed the briefcase and sat it down on the bench. He had nothing and no one to go home to, so he lay down on the bench, resting his head on the briefcase.
The next evening, Marissa stepped out of the shower and wiped the mirror off, tonight was the night of the NACAC Charity Ball and she wasn’t looking forward to it this year. Every year she went with Yvonne and had a good time talking about everyone in the room and going to war on paper during the silent auction over vintage jewelry and trips to exotic islands that they would just share with each other.
She dried herself off and freed her hair from the floral shower cap she used to keep her hair from getting wet. Yvonne had bought her that, she had the same black one with the holes in it for years, Marissa could hear Yvonne laughing and saying her old shower cap had been through a drive by and needed to be laid to rest. Tears came to her eyes; she missed her best friend and wanted nothing more than to just talk to her so they could get through it, get her some help and understand each other better. After ten years, both of them deserved that chance but her best friend was obviously too far gone and too angry at the world.
The tears ran down her face as she begin to think about that little girl her Mom gave back. How could she do that? No child should ever be given up on but it made sense. Her whole childhood, Marissa had been groomed to perfection and it probably looked like she had an ideal life and was adopted into the perfect family. She was an exceptional example of what a Barrington child should be. She could see why a child that had issues wouldn’t be tolerated.
Marissa walked through her room and stepped into her closet, she had bought a beautiful strapless red dress for tonight. She laid it across her bed and went to her dresser. She thought about calling Jonathan, although she hadn’t spoken to him since he revealed his secret but didn’t want to go alone tonight. Marissa got a really bad feeling when his cell went straight to voicemail but she took a deep breath and started the long process of slicking her hair back into a bun.
An hour later, she was dressed with her hair perfect and her ears and neck sprinkled with the diamonds her mother gifted her at the cotillion ball when she was sixteen. She planned every dress around those diamond studs and necklace every year, it always made her mother happy. Marissa slipped on her shoes and grabbed her clutch, double checking her makeup and her teeth before she walked out.
Yvonne was invited to the NCACA Charity Ball every year but of course this year she couldn’t just walk in the front door. She parked at the loading dock of the Capital City Event Center and went in through the kitchen, donning her black slacks and crisp white shirt with a black tie and her hair pulled back with no makeup. Simply putting on glasses and dying her hair made her look completely different. She could get in and out of the place with no problem after just a quick look at the blueprints Jonathan got for her.
“Keep the glasses full and the hors d’oeuvres coming for the first hour, we will be serving dinner promptly at seven, so be alert,” said some man in a tuxedo. Yvonne really didn’t care about the instructions she would just be slipping away at the next possible moment anyway.
Meanwhile, Marissa and the Barringtons’ arrive to the venue to greet all of the guests one by one. This was important for record donations and high bids at the silent auction. Shaking hands and fake smiling wasn’t Marissa’s thing but she did it for her mother. “Thank you for coming,” Marissa smiled again. “Enjoy the evening.” She broke away from the procession line for a moment and went to get a drink. When she flagged down a server, relief came to her, and then someone caught her eye. “Would you like for me to get you some hors d’oeuvres as well?” the server asked.
“No thank you…” Marissa wasn’t really paying attention she wanted to get closer to the person she was looking at.
“Marissa!” Claudia Barrington called, “can you come here please?”
“Okay, I’m coming.” Marissa made her way back to the front as the person she was staring at headed for the kitchen.
“Uncle Travis wants to take a picture of the three of us, smooth your hair,” her mother waved around her head.
Marissa eyes rolled so far back they almost fell out of her ears, the champagne threatened to come back up, her stomach was so weak from all of the sudden stress in her life. She never looked him directly in the eye but he still made her sick. Her dad and Uncle Travis were getting too old to stay out late drinking and smoking cigars, she guessed he had to find other excuses to come around. She held back the disgust and smiled for the picture. “Beautiful,” his gold tooth shined under the crystal chandelier they were standing underneath.
“Baby, are you okay?” her mother looked at her worried, “You’re getting clammy.”
“Yes Mom, I just don’t feel well. I think I just need to eat something,” Marissa gripped her stomach. “It’s only cocktail hour, dear. People are bidding in the silent auction and mingling so get something small but don’t spoil your dinner. It’s going to be amazing!” her mother’s eyes gleamed with excitement.
“Okay, I’ll meet up with you later. I’ll and talk to a few people,” she gave her best smile. “I love you.”
“I love you, too dear. You look beautiful tonight,” she hugged her daughter extra tight.
Marissa took a shrimp cocktail from one of the passing servers, she hated lying to her mother but she would never tell anyone about Uncle Travis. Every time he was around she had to excuse herself. It took her years to control the spontaneous vomiting whenever she saw him, at every family function she seem to get “the stomach flu.” She was deep in thought about all of the times she wanted to tell her parents but didn’t want to make anything difficult for anyone else. Then suddenly she felt someone’s energy behind her and turned around. “Marissa, I need to speak with you.” He placed his hand on her arm.
“Yes, Sid… what’s up?”
“I don’t think you should be here,” he looked concerned and she could see it on his face.
“What’s wrong? Is it Yvonne? Did you find her?” Marissa didn’t give him a chance to answer any of the questions.
“No and that’s the problem, I need to tell you something… walk with me.” He took her to hallway that led to the bathrooms for privacy. “Jonathan was found in Republic Square Park late last night, he had fifty thousand dollars in a briefcase with him and…”
“He had money?”
“He was dead, the Scotch he had with him was laced with a lethal amount of MDMA, and his body temperature got so high it boiled him from the inside out.”
“Oh my God,” Marissa found a chair to sit down, “that’s so sadistic and cruel… he didn’t deserve that.”
“No one deserves to suffer like that,” Sid looked down as a lady came out of the bathroom and passed them up, not giving a second glance to the pale expression on Marissa’s face. She debated leaving and hiding, she didn’t think Yvonne would kill her but she didn’t want to take that chance. Marissa honestly just wanted to talk to her, to get through to her and to see if her best friend was still in there. She knew her best friend wasn’t in there; it was all a false front and for a long time. What was the end game? What does Yvonne want… just to kill everyone, one at a time?
Yvonne stayed out of sight and in the kitchen mostly but she couldn’t help but wonder how Marissa was taking the news of Jonathan. That was obviously what Sid was telling her in the bathroom right now. She wanted to snap a photo of the look on her face and savor it; she delighted in the fact that she took away the one man Marissa ever gave a chance to. She was always acting so innocent and virginal, but gave it up to the first guy who made her feel special. Yvonne held back her anger but it wasn’t time yet. She collected herself and took another tray out to the dining area, being sure to keep her face neutral behind her glasses.
After another thirty minutes the chef rang the bell for dinner to be served. As everyone was looking for their names at the tables and seating themselves, Yvonne slipped away and made it to her car. She opened the trunk and removed a little wooden chest. She had won it at last year’s silent auction; it was the perfect size for the amount of C4 she had packed inside. She tucked the chest under her arm and walked back through the kitchen, she ignored the annoying voices that called for her to pick up trays of filet mignon, mashed potatoes and something green to bring to the pretentious, rich bastards that were about to go to hell anyway.