Eliminate – Part III

Intoxicate – Part I

Resentment – Part II

“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.

“Sure baby.”

“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.

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Resentment – Part II

Part 1 – Read First

Yvonne sat in her loft alone after her run, staring out of the window. Sometimes she would think back on her life and fan the flames of anger inside of her, but the line of cocaine she just had probably doesn’t help either.

She was taken away from her mother at three years old. Apparently, she couldn’t raise her, and smoke crack and be a prostitute, so Yvonne became a casualty of the 80’s. Malnourished, dirty and forgotten, she was sent to live with a foster mother that only cared about the checks she received from the State of Texas.

With the other children watching out for her, Yvonne was adopted by the Barrington family when she turned five. The Barrington’s had kept her all of six months before she was deemed uncivilized and unworthy. No amount of therapy, patience and discipline could keep Yvonne from becoming a terror. A child with behavioral problems didn’t fit the mold, so she was returned to sender, address unknown. That angry little girl, too young to understand, grew up to be an angry young woman looking to feel wanted by someone. Anyone.

She began dating older men when she was sixteen, getting everything she could out of them. Yvonne was smart and saved her money. When she aged out of the system, she was going to do all she could to become something other than a drug addicted prostitute like her mother.

******

Marissa walked through the automatic doors of the hospital with the biggest smile on her face; nothing was going to bother her today even though she was running a little late after the beautiful night with Jonathan. She went straight to the locker room and checked the schedule. Hospital administration always had her bouncing around, but today was one of her favorites, she was in Pediatrics. She put on her light pink scrubs and went to get her ID out of the front pocket of her purse. Then she dumped her purse over on the bench and searched through all of her junk. No ID. Marissa dismissed it and figured she left it at home. A paper one would have to do for the day, and she would have to phone ahead and be buzzed in everywhere but no big deal.

She went on her rounds with Dr. Benson and when it was lunch time she sat down in the cafeteria with her chicken salad sandwich and vegetables. She decided to text Yvonne:

Marissa:

Hey hun! What are you doing today?

Yvonne:

I gave myself a day off lol. And don’t hey hun me! Spill it! What happened last night?

Marissa:

We had a wonderful evening, so wonderful… I let him come home with me.

Yvonne:

WHAT!!! Was it good to ya??

Marissa:

More than good lol

Yvonne:

I’m glad you found someone you like babe.

Marissa:

Me too 🙂

******

Yvonne couldn’t help but roll her eyes, even though she set them up and told Jonathan exactly how to get in her pants, it still annoyed her. Marissa has been getting everything handed to her for her whole life. When they met in Nursing School six years ago, she honestly liked Marissa; they became friends through study group and remained close all the way to clinicals.

Marissa clipped on her badge their first day at the hospital together. “Marissa Barrington,” Yvonne said with her head cocked to one side, “I know that last name are you related to Frederick and Claudia Barrington?”

“Yes, they’re my parents,” she said dryly.

“Well, aren’t you lucky…” Yvonne held back her disgust. It was a shock to the heart, and she was trying to control herself, especially when Marissa just shrugged her shoulders nonchalantly. How could she be so ungrateful? Wasn’t her life easy: private schools, vacations, she probably got into college on her last name alone and nursing school proved to be a breeze as well. She had reaped the benefits of a charmed life that wasn’t even hers to begin, so how dare she be ungrateful and nonchalant?

Yvonne’s whole life was a struggle, from day one, and she couldn’t help but wonder what made Marissa so much better than her? She vowed to herself that day, she would ruin every Barrington she knew, and Yvonne would start with Marissa.

******

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“What are you doing in my office? Who even let you in here?” Jonathan said a little louder than he should have.

“I think the receptionist is scared of me,” Yvonne laughed. “Just give me what I want and I’ll leave.”

“I don’t know about that. What are you going to do with it?” he pressed.

“Do you really want to have this conversation again, Jonathan? That’s none of your business. What will be your business is if I put a stop payment on that check I gave you yesterday.” Yvonne folded her arms, as if daring him to say something.

“I just want your evil ass out of my life,” Jonathan reached in his side drawer and handed her Marissa’s hospital badge. “She trusts you, you know.”

“You don’t know her like I do,” Yvonne turned to leave.

“What has she ever done to you, to warrant whatever you’re about to do?” he said curiously.

“She stole my life.” Jonathan could swear he saw pain in her eyes.

******

Later that evening, Yvonne put on the navy blue scrubs she purchased after leaving Jonathan’s office, hoping she remembered what color was right for working in the Recovery Unit. She plopped on the ridiculous curly wig that looked exactly like Marissa does when she did her signature wash and go. Yvonne was counting on whoever was in the Recovery Room tonight to be sleep deprived and happy to take a break when she got there. Honestly, no makeup and this wig, she looked like Marissa minus ten pounds. She snorted the three lines of coke she had on her dresser and gave herself one last look.

She drove to the hospital and made sure to park close so she could make a quick exit. Strolling right passed the front desk, the emergency room and the night security guard, straight to the elevator like she belonged there. It wasn’t hard; this was the same hospital Yvonne did the one semester of clinicals with Marissa, before she failed out of school. She pushed the button for the sixth floor, where all the surgery patients went to recover.

Yvonne buzzed herself in with Marissa’s badge and immediately went to work. Marissa rarely worked nights, so she was counting on this lady not  remembering what Marissa looked like.

“Do you need a break — Bea?” Yvonne asked, looking at her badge.

“That would be great.” Bea rubbed her eyes.

“You go ahead, and I’ll keep watch… I’m just going wherever I’m needed tonight to pick up extra hours,” she gave her best interpretation of a shy smile.

“I’ll be back in thirty minutes; I’m just going for coffee and to rinse my contacts,” Bea rose from her seat and walked around the desk, she paused before exiting, “You look like you’ve lost some weight since I’ve seen you.”

“Running,” Yvonne shrugged.

Yvonne had thirty minutes to do what she came to do.

As soon as Bea left out of the double doors, Yvonne started going from bed to bed looking for the perfect candidate. Everyone was still sleeping after their surgery or  groggy, and they wouldn’t remember much, if anything at all. She took out her necklace and unscrewed the top half of the cross, one last bump for courage.

******

The next morning, Marissa got to work and as soon as she stepped through the automatic doors, a police officer stepped in front of her.

“Marissa Barrington?” the way he said her name sent chills through her body.

“Yes?” she couldn’t even pretend she wasn’t scared.

“Can you come with me?” he said coldly.

“Sure, what’s wrong?” she tried to control her voice but her mind was racing with all the possibilities.

“Just come with me please,” he said even colder, if possible.

She was escorted to the top floor of the hospital and placed in a conference room by herself. After what seemed like an hour, her supervisor walked in, a nurse she couldn’t remember the name of and three people in dark suits and blank expressions that she didn’t recognize at all.

One of the dark suits spoke first.

“Maybe we should get the officer to step in the room,” she didn’t wait for anyone to agree with her before she peeked her head out the door and flagged down Officer Freeze.

“What is this about?” Marissa practically shrieked from the anxiety building inside of her.

Her supervisor spoke next.

“Marissa, a patient in the hospital died last night because he was given the wrong medication after his surgery. Your name and badge number were the last to be logged on that patient’s file,” her supervisor explained.

Marissa eyebrows almost met in the middle of her face. “I lost my badge somewhere in the last two days.”

“We reviewed the security footage, and you were clearly under the influence,” one of the suits spewed the accusation with toxic venom.

“Wait, you don’t understand, I wasn’t on the schedule. I worked yesterday during the day without my badge, but I was home last night, all night.” Marissa cried.

“At 10:26 pm, it’s clearly you on the footage until 11:08,” she whipped out an iPad with the video already pulled up and pressed play.

Marissa saw what looked like her on the screen with only half the thighs. She couldn’t believe what she was seeing and started diagnosing herself. She could’ve had some sort of a psychotic episode while wearing Spanx or blacked out while wearing Spanx or has started sleepwalking from all the stress but to kill a patient? It just wasn’t possible.

“That’s not me,” Marissa started to bawl.

“Well, Bea said she left you in the Recovery Room while she went on break,” her supervisor tried to confirm. Bea started to shake her head, “I’m not sure anymore. I was really tired, and my contacts were dry.”

“Well, Marissa you will have to be put on suspension until we can investigate and get to the bottom of this. Wait here, we will have someone bring your things from your locker.”

“When will I get to come back to work?” eyes still full of tears.

“There is no definite date in which the investigation will be done; if we decide further steps should be taken, you may not be eligible to come back,” another suit said matter-of-factly.

“Can I see that until you come back with my things?” she said pointing to the iPad.

“Sure.”

Everyone left the room; Marissa tried to catch her breath and focus before she threw up all over the conference table. She didn’t want to embarrass herself. She pressed play on the video and watched it from beginning to end.

“Those aren’t even the shoes I wear to work,” she said out loud to herself, “who is this person?”

She wiped her eyes with the back of her sleeve and pressed play again. In the end she saw it, but it couldn’t possibly be who she thought it was. There was no stopping it; she lost her breakfast all over the iPad and the conference table.

******

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Jonathan drove to Marissa’s house unannounced she answered the door with puffy eyes and the smell of cigarette smoke hit him in the nose.

“I’m actually glad you’re here,” she gave him a hug.

“You weren’t answering my calls, and I got worried. You’re not regretting —?”

“No,” She cut him off, “but I need to go take care of something. If I don’t call you in a couple hours, please call the police.”

“Whoa, whoa, whoa!”

“WHAT?” she practically screamed.

“Just tell me what’s going on.”

“The whole world has gone insane and I think my best friend is murdering people dressed as me! I can’t even wrap my head around that! And they wouldn’t even listen to me and suspended me anyway!!” She rambled and walked back and forth in the front hallway. “No one listens to me when I speak, EVER! I’m so tired of it. I just need to know what the HELL is going on!”

“Start at the beginning,” he said, following her into the living room

Marissa explained everything to Jonathan from the moment she walked into work that morning. When she was finished he just sat there with his head in his hands, rubbing his temples.

“I know, I sound insane but I think it’s her!”

“I definitely know it’s her. I need to tell you something, but you have to promise me you will listen to the whole story.”

“Okay.”

Jonathan didn’t know how she was going to take this, but he had to tell her, someone died because of what he did and whether Yvonne meant to kill someone or not, he had to tell Marissa his part. His little sister became very ill last year and was diagnosed with Stage III Uterine Sarcoma. He’s always taken care of his parents and his sister because his salary could allow it. After a year of treatments, long stays in the hospital, the trips back and forth to Houston and all the surgeries, he was depleted, even with insurance. So, when her cancer came back, he wasn’t going to be able to swallow all of the expenses like last time. Of course, he would do anything to save his sister’s life.

Yvonne gave him 20,000 dollars to take Marissa’s ID, and she had more work for him to do but wouldn’t tell him until the time came.

“…but I wasn’t expecting to like you as much as I do,” he sighed, “I’m sorry Marissa.”

“Sorry? Are you sorry? Get out… just get out,” she was going to throw up again, “you’ve been lying to me since the moment I met you, how do you fuck up someone’s life you don’t even know?!”

“GET OUT!” she screamed at the top of her lungs, Marissa sat there with her eyes shut tight and her hands over her ears. She didn’t want to hear another word or another lie. What did she ever do to anyone to deserve this? No one knew what she had been through, and no one cared to ask because her last name was Barrington.

She could only think of one thing to do; Marissa had to call the one person she never wanted to admit any fault to but the one person she trusted the most, her mother. She would know what to do. She would know how to make their souls burn in the middle of hell without even being in the same room.

She sank to the floor, crying, the weight of confusion and betrayal threatening to crush her. Marissa dialed the number she had been dialing for help since she was five years old.

 

Part 3 – Eliminate

Intoxicate – Part I

“Lord, I hate these things,” Marissa says to herself pulling her skirt down as she walked out of the elevator. Her friend Yvonne invited her to a gathering to mingle with her service industry friends and she was nervous. Marissa is a shy, smart and beautiful woman who has worked herself up to being the highest paid Nurse Practitioner in her hospital. She had to get up early in the morning to work out before her shift in Pediatrics, but for her best friend, she would do anything and be anywhere. She began to rethink the length of her skirt but obviously that squat challenge was working and that sent a smile to her face.

Yvonne’s place is a gorgeous loft with a breathtaking view of Downtown Austin. Although, they never talked about money, Marissa figured her restaurant must be doing well. It didn’t bother her that they’ve never discussed it because no one knew as much as she did that people knowing you have money to spare makes relationships so much harder. Marissa never disclosed her trust fund to anyone, under any circumstances, so she knew where Yvonne would be coming from.

“Heeeeey! You look amazing,” Yvonne said as she opened the door. She was wearing a black lace top with a white bra you could clearly see underneath with freshly starched white shorts and a pair of wedges that would make any fashionista jealous. She could dress like this; she had the body to do so. Her beautiful brown eyes sparkled as they hugged and kissed on the cheeks. Yvonne took Marissa’s purse and said she would go run and put it in her bedroom, seemingly reading her mind as she knew Marissa didn’t like carrying her heavy ass purse around.

To immediately subdue her social anxiety, Marissa went straight for the wine nodding at everyone and smiling, she reached the kitchen and found a Chardonnay that would do the trick.

***

Jonathan couldn’t help but train his eyes on the thick thighs in the sparkles that just walked in the room. He had never seen someone that moved like she did and he was immediately drawn to her in every way. The way her shiny, curly hair moved with her, it was obvious that she was in shape but still would be soft to hold. He could tell she was a natural beauty because she wasn’t wearing all that stuff women like to cake on their faces. Most of all, that tight smile she was giving everyone, obviously not wanting to start up any conversations, was so damn cute and he wanted to know what was on her mind.

He quickly downed his Scotch, so he would have an excuse to be in the same room with her and bee lined for the kitchen.

“That’s a really sparkly dress,” Jonathan chuckled and poured Scotch into his glass.

“It’s a skirt, thank you very much,” she said as she rolled her eyes and continued to struggle to open the wine.

“Here, let me help you.”

“Thanks.” Marissa sighed, feeling relief that she would get to the wine quicker.

“Nervous?” he asked with his thick eyebrow raised and popping the cork on the Chardonnay. Marissa looked up and that’s when she noticed his hazel eyes, his smooth mocha skin, and the dimple that disappeared and reappeared, she immediately felt that feeling in her stomach. Nervous as hell and wishing she wasn’t such a shy person. She wasn’t a stranger to being hit on by any means but when someone knocks your breath away, you take notice and those eyes and those dimples in a suit with cologne coming off of him, made her notice.

“I’m okay, I just don’t like gatherings. I feel like I have to put on a show when I’d rather be curled up in my pajamas and watching The Walking Dead for the fourth time. I would like some wine and too much cheese then to fall asleep and dream about kicking some Zombie ass.” she surprised herself with her translucent response and not a drop of wine in her system yet.

Jonathan laughed at her candidness and handed her a glass of wine.

“Heavy pour of Chardonnay for the gorgeous lady, so she doesn’t run away from me and into the arms of the zombies,” he winked.

“Marissa, my name is Marissa,” she said with a chuckle and toasted his glass of Scotch.

***

“Is everyone making themselves at home?” Yvonne appeared around the corner, smiling from ear to ear when she saw Marissa and Jonathan toasting each other. So, glad to see her best friend not in the corner hooking herself up to an IV full of wine to calm her nerves.

Jonathan spoke first, “We are definitely feeling welcomed. You have such a nice home Von and the spread isn’t too bad.” He motioned to the numerous liquor bottles on the counter, along with finger foods and mixers, mini desserts and her best crystals.

“Why thank you Jonathan, I’m going to go turn on some music, make Marissa have fun.” Yvonne smiled and waltzed off, knowing exactly what she just did.

“So, tell me more about these zombies you like so much better than people.” Jonathan turned to his now only interest in the room.

“It’s not the zombies I like,” Marissa said, finding it hard to keep eye contact with him, “it’s the characters, the storyline, if you haven’t watched the show; I don’t know what you’ve been doing with your life. I bet you watch ESPN 24-7.”

“Maybe you could get me to stop watching ESPN,” Jonathan said hopefully.

“That was corny. Try again.” She was hoping he really would try again.

“Okay.” He thought for a moment what would get this woman to find him half as interesting as he found her, staring at her while she looked off to the side and sipped her wine, he had an idea. He really only knew two things about her, her favorite show and she was incredibly shy.

He didn’t want to say the wrong thing or just force himself on her, so Jonathan suggested that he would watch all the seasons on his own and then they could meet up for lunch or dinner and discuss everything she loved about the show. They could analyze characters together, plot twists, whose deaths they were sad about and those they were happy about. He figured a stimulating conversation would definitely intrigue her into getting to know him better.

Marissa found the idea very interesting and accepted his invitation to something that probably wouldn’t happen for a month. She was willing to wait.

***