Chapter 13:

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Romance  |  House: Booksie Classic

Reads: 213

The two women who had more than Austin in common circled each other like sharks, each suddenly looking as if she were ready to leap on the other and wreak serious wardrobe damage. Though Austin suspected that Krystal in particular would be careful not to allow her skin to be marred in any way given that it was her financial livelihood but Whitney didn't always fight fairly.

At least they weren't fighting over him but someone else. Still, they were getting perilously close to the cabinet which held his family's gun collection. At least it was tightly locked but if one of them shattered the glass…

"Ladies…maybe you had better sit down so we can talk this over."

They both looked at him suddenly. Krystal threw her stole back over her shoulder.

"We can handle this ourselves Austin," she said, "And when I'm finished here, we can finish our earlier discussion."

Austin looked at her hesitantly.

"Krystal, it's over between us," he said, "I do hope you remember that."

She just shook her head at him and turned to face her advisory.

"Now listen closely Whitney because I'm only going to tell you once more," she said, "I never seduced Hans. I never even slept with him."

Whitney folded her arms.

"Now that's a likely story from a known hussy…"

Krystal's mouth hung open.

"Who's the hussy," she said, "I heard about you and your connection to that D.C. bordello."

Austin's brows shot up at that. How could they not? To think that his ex-fiancée, the woman he had been ready to marry after only knowing her several months could be attached to something so…illicit not to mention illegal.

"Austin…she's a lying little tramp," Whitney said, "I never had anything to do with those call girls. I just went to school with Madam Beverly, that's all but besides from being on the Homecoming Committee together, we didn't hang out."

Krystal's eyes flashed.

"That's a likely story," she said, "I guess we'll all know when Beverly makes bail and pens her tell all book."

Whitney's face paled a bit.

"She never said anything about that…"

Austin turned to look at her.

"So you did have connections to her," he said, "Why Whitney?"

She sat down back on the couch.

"Oh Austin, Hans needed some money for his latest art investment," she said, "All I went to Beverly for was a loan."

Krystal harrumphed.

"A likely story," she said, "Don't tell me you believe her Austin."

At this point, he really didn't care what had happened, as this situation had dissolved in a mess but it was up to the two women to work it out or not.

"Ladies…I think that we're done here," he said, "I've got work to do."

Whitney frowned at him.

"Oh Austin, we have to discuss my husband's case…"

Krystal chimed in too.

"We have to talk about what to do about my crooked agent…and about us."

Austin put his hands up to direct traffic.

"Look, it sounds like maybe you should consider going to a mediator to resolve your issues," he said, "I've got a stack of cases on my desk that I still have to review."

Max walked in the room.

"Hi ladies," he said, "Austin, Shayna's waiting in her office for you."

Austin sighed as he ran his hand through his hair.

"I know Max but I've got these two ladies here who are almost at each other's throats about to kill each other," he said, "and I'm trying to block the gun cabinet."

Max looked over at it and nodded.

"I see what you mean," he said, "but these two beautiful and charming ladies aren't going to do physical harm to each other. They just need to work it out between them."

Krystal looked at Max.

"Thank you," she said.

Whitney picked up a Zane Grey novel on the coffee table and just threw it at Whitney. The other woman ducked and it hit the wall with a thunk before falling on the floor. Krystal just looked at her.

"Are you trying to ruin my modeling career," she said, "You know that one cut on my face and millions of dollars down the drain."

Whitney snarled back.

"I would think a relic like you would be insured against damages even those you deserve."

"Why you…."

Austin looked over at Max.

"I think a brawl's about to break out."

Max nodded quickly. Then a door opened and out came Shayna who stood looking at all of them with her arms folded, quite cross.

"Can you just keep it down a couple notches," she said, "I have a box filled of discovery on Hans case to review by tomorrow morning."

Austin looked over at her.

"They're just a little upset…"

Shayna rolled her eyes.

"They're behaving like two spoiled brats," she said, "Honestly Austin, you sure know how to pick them."

The two women turned towards Shayna.

"Excuse me," Krystal said, "Is this the perennial girl Friday speaking up?"

Shayna didn't budge.

"Damn straight," she said, "Now take it out on the helipad and work it out. Austin, why don't you loan them those sabers your great-uncle received when he served in the army?"

Austin looked at her dubiously.

" Shayna you are actually encouraging bloodshed?"

She sighed.

"No Austin, I'm trying to get my work done in relative peace and quiet," she said, "and I'd like to finish sometime in the next hour or so because I'm starving…"

He nodded.

"Okay…we've got to go get you fed."

She shook her head.

"Way too much work," she said, "I'm going to have to order in."

"But Shayna ….you need to be thinking about taking it easy after a long day at work…"

"Austin, don't coddle me," she said, "You've got worse problems than me."

" Shayna …"

Whitney just shook her head.

"Excuse me," she said, "but this tramp is about to bash me over the head with something."

Krystal flashed her a deadly look.

"You just watch yourself…"

Whitney leaned towards her.

"Oh just bring it…"

"I've brought it," Krystal hissed, "and you'd better get ready to crawl back to Hans."

Austin tried to put himself between them.

"Ladies…"

Max stood next to Shayna who just waited for them to all stop and go away. She did feel weary suddenly and damn, she had been ravenous for the past hour or so. Her feet hurt and her shoulders had tightened. She had been reading documents until her eyes had begun to blur. And why was she wasting her time helping a client who didn't do anything to help in his own defense and who was married to a woman once engaged to the father of her baby who was now circling another ex of her baby's father and both were out for blood…and the father of her baby caught in the middle.

"Excuse me…"

Max turned towards her.

"Mediation might help but it looks like the window of opportunity for that is rapidly closing."

Shayna could see that, because it looked like the two women would soon be fighting, just like had happened between the spurned wife and her husband's mistress had been rolling on the floor in a brawl on the night of that very peculiar party that had turned quickly enough into a bloodbath.

Their lives were just so damned complicated and the thought of bringing a baby into that mix, where the penthouse suite could be a working environment one moment, a love nest the next and then suddenly descend into a setting for violence and even murder…just threatened to be overwhelming at times. Maybe she should really just drop all this, sell her house and head off to the more peaceful and rustic surroundings of the countryside far enough from L.A.

She thought about that as she saw the two exes of Austin still circling each other slowly and in predatory fashion like exotic felines. Austin standing there in the middle trying to prevent bloodshed and Max contributing commentary.

"I'm getting out of here," she said, thinking about her car parked in the garage downstairs. She shook her head, no not fast enough. Then she glanced out where the helicopter remained parked outside the suite and she decided on her mode of transportation.

"I'm leaving…"

Austin looked at her while keeping a careful watch on the two women.

"To get something to eat," he said, "Honey I thought we'd decided on that."

She shook her head.

"No I'm leaving," she said, "I need to get away for a short while…I'll keep in touch…"

Austin looked at her, his brow furrowed.

"Where are you going," he said, " Shayna …"

But she had already began to stride out towards the helipad towards the chopper. She opened the door and cimbed inside into the pilot seat, firing up the rotors. Austin left the two women inside and walked outside.

" Shayna ….wait a minute," he said, "We can talk about this."

She just looked at him as the helicopter lifted off the roof and began to fly over the skies of L.A. He watched her go, feeling crestfallen. Max walked out to join him, putting a calm hand on his shoulder.

"It's all right Austin," he said, "She just needs some time away from this chaos."

Austin paused.

"She's pregnant…"

Max didn't seem all that surprised at the news and he didn't ask about paternity which relieved Austin.

"Then she'll definitely return," he said, "She just needs to get some space because there's a lot going on right now."

"I know…and I haven't been much help."

Max didn't correct him but he didn't lecture him either.

"Austin…she knows that you've both been very busy…"

"That's no excuse," Austin said, "I need to go try and find her."

"Well she's got a pretty big head start," Max pointed out.

"I've got to talk to her," Austin said, as they headed back inside the penthouse suite.

Suddenly, they heard glass shatter and they went running inside. Kylie stood there and just shook her head at the two women who had released each other and then shot Austin a look.

"They're about to get into it," Kylie said, "So I had to send them to their opposite corners."

"Thanks Kylie," Austin said, and the receptionist returned to her desk.

Austin turned towards the two women.

"I think you two should just leave now," he said, "My associate has taken off and I need to go find her."

Krystal shook her head.

"She's just playing with you," she said, "trying to get your attention. It's the oldest trick in the book."

Whitney just looked chagrined.

"I've got to go find my husband," she said, "Do you think that Shayna will still help him?"

Austin sighed.

"She won't just drop off the case without giving him plenty of notice," he said, "but you have to admit, he hasn't been much help to her."

"I know…and I will have a long talk with him when I see him about that," Whitney said, "I'll try to get him to change his attitude. Clyde's good but he needs someone like Shayna in his corner."

Krystal just folded her arms.

"I'll be leaving too," she said, "I've got a manicure appointment."

"To sharpen your claws?"

Krystal just glared at the other woman.

"I pity Hans, I really do," she said and then walked out of the lounge area.

Austin watched them both leave, hoping they would work it out or fight it out somewhere else. He needed to figure out where Shayna had flown to and how to find her.

And pretty soon.

Shayna enjoyed looking out at the wide expanse of sky in front of her and all around her when she piloted the helicopter. The rest of the world lay below, the buildings much tinier and the millions of people who populated a city like L.A. just about invisible. After days like this one, she often took to the sky to fly to some place outside of the city to stay for a while or if she couldn't spare the vacation time, just to the coast where she could see the ocean.

Today, she knew exactly where she wanted to fly and so she set the coordinates of the flight plan on the console, a smile on her face. She would be heading to Catalina Island where a friend of hers would be staying at her beach house just outside of Avalon.

That sounded perfect just about now, she decided as she steered the whirlybird in that direction.

The older woman poured her a cup of steeped tea that wafted up with a hint of mint, and Shayna accepted it gratefully.

"That should help you feel better," the woman said, with a smile.

Shayna sipped the tea and indeed it did hit the spot, warming up her insides and calming her nerves.

"It's delicious…"

The woman shrugged.

"It's an old family recipe," she said, "I'll have Hank see to your helicopter."

"I think it was just low on fuel," Shayna said, "The gauge lit up while I made my approach."

She had landed a bit roughly on a patch of meadow in a valley just outside of the town of Avalon pretty close to where Annie had been tending her garden. Shayna had known that the old family friend of Austin and his family when he'd been growing up. She'd been a doctor but now likely had retired.

The older woman had looked at her startled for a moment, and then her face broke into a broad smile and she held her arms out to Shayna who went straight to them.

Annie had a daughter that Shayna had never met, a woman about her age named LouAnne who stayed with her. She seemed really nice. She had offered Shayna use of her wardrobe because she hadn't bothered to leave L.A. with a packed suitcase and showed her to a bedroom. She changed into some worn jeans and a flannel shirt before heading into the kitchen where she asked Annie if she needed help making some dinner.

The three of them had eaten hefty servings of beef and vegetable stew and freshly baked bread with butter. Afterward, Annie and Shayna sat in the living room while Lou went out to feed the animals.

"So she's a veterinarian when she's not here?"

Annie nodded.

"She liked the medicine part but didn't want to look at people all day," she said, "She likes her animals too much."

"I miss the rustic lifestyle sometimes," Shayna said, "It just seemed so much easier to move to the city when the career got going."

"Well it's closer to where you both work now," Annie reasoned, "and the commute can get draining after a while."

"I've been thinking about that a lot lately. Austin still spends time on his ranch when it's quiet."

Annie remained silent for a moment but Shayna knew her mind worked.

"So how long have you known?"

Shayna wasn't surprised that the woman had figured it out, only that she hadn't asked her about it so far.

"Not long at all," she said, "A couple days…very eventful days."

Annie nodded.

"You've been to a doctor?"

"Yeah…to get the test done," Shayna said, "I got a referral to a great ob/gyn."

"How you feeling…"

Shayna sipped her tea again.

"Pretty good…hungry a lot of the time…except the mornings when I can't eat…"

Annie chuckled.

"I remember what that's like," she said, "Feel like you're dragging at the end of the day?"

"Yeah…more energy in the mornings," Shayna .said, "but I've been sleeping well at night."

"That's great…your body's going through a lot of changes right now," Annie said, "You eat plenty of good food, get exercise and plenty of rest and you'll be in great shape."

Shayna ran her hand through her hair.

"I don't know about that," she said, "I left the office in a helicopter and Austin…"

"He just stood there," Annie guessed. "at a loss for words?"

"No, he was trying to keep two of his exes from brawling," Shayna said, "I don't know it turned out."

"I'm sure it turned out just fine," Annie said, "Austin's really interested in helping people but he recognizes what's important.

Shayna sighed.

"I know that," she said, "but there was just this moment when I felt so isolated from what was going on, so pressured by this legal defense case I've taken and I just had to get out of there."

"That's okay," Annie said, "We all have to get away once in a while when the world gets crazy."

Shayna looked at her cup.

"I think I hurt his feelings and that's the last thing I wanted to do," she said, "I don't want him to think I walked out on him."

"I think he'll understand what's going on but if you want to call him to let him know you're safe, maybe that would reassure him."

Shayna nodded, thinking that a great idea so she reached for her cell phone.

Austin sat in his office, his feet resting on his desk, while reading a magazine. He had been trying to get his mind off of Shayna leaving his office earlier and taking off in his helicopter. That had left him very concerned because he hadn't heard from her and night had fallen over the city and likely wherever she had gone. He sighed, knowing that she had been feeling the stress of having to deal with Hans' refusal to fully cooperate with her defense of him and then there had been his two exes, Whitney and Krystal of all people ready to brawl in his office due to some undisclosed history that they had which he never would have suspected. The world could certainly be a small place at times.

Whitney and Krystal both arguing about connections to some pretty seedy activities that had shocked him to his core too. He had gone to get some Scotch once the room had cleared itself of estrogen and had tried to figure out how to find his best friend until Max had warned him that maybe she just needed some space and didn't need him tracking her and his helicopter down and bringing them both back. She had looked fine enough when she had left him besides being piqued. Wearing her woolen suit that molded over her curvy body that would soon be filling out as their child grew and her hair in curly waves around her face that had drawn his attention. Her hazel eyes had flashed at him as she had spoken and he had wanted nothing more than to pull her into his office and close the door to the rest of the world while he adored her body, running his hands all over it while he kissed her.

Maybe not the right kind of thinking to be doing right now but he loved having this kind of relationship with her even though it had taken so long. Way too long, he had realized the first time they had hit the sheets in the hotel. Who would have guessed how it would have been between them, how easily it had been to take that leap of faith that their friendship could survive and even blossom with sex in the mix. And after a couple of times he had spent convincing her, she had begun to drop her defenses and believe that too.

And these had been the best days…and nights he had ever experienced with any woman he had known. News of her pregnancy had surprised him but had left him feeling good too, put that strut into his step that he had gotten something he had always wanted from a woman it had taken a while to know that she was perfect for him. And that he didn't want to lose her, go back to their status quo or do anything but share a life together. With her and any children that came along.

Max poked his head in the office.

"You ready to leave soon?"

Austin nodded, remembering that his partner had offered to take him to dinner at the steakhouse. He just hadn't wanted to leave in case Shayna called him.

"You know if she does call," Max said, "It will probably be on your cell."

Oh yeah, Austin remembered pulling it out and seeing no messages.

"I'm about ready to go…just let me finish some signing here and I'll be out in a minute.

Then he heard his cell phone ring and he looked at it again, and saw what looked like Shayna 's cell phone number.

"I'll be there in a bit…"

Max nodded and left him alone.

"Hi… Shayna how are you doing…where are you?"

"I'm fine Austin…I'm staying with a family friend of yours someplace nice and quiet…We just had dinner and we're sitting by the fireplace relaxing and talking."

"Oh Shayna I was so worried…"

"There's no reason to be and I'm sorry if I caused that," she said, "I just needed some time away to just not think about everything going on at the office. It's been so stressful…"

"I know and I'm sorry for that," he said, "I had no idea that Krystal and Whitney even knew each other, let alone that they would try to kill each other."

"I know…listen I do want to talk to you again," she said, "I'll call you in the morning okay?"

"Is the baby…"

"It's okay Austin," she said, "He or she is doing just fine."

"What about you?"

She paused.

"I'm feeling a lot better," she said, "I'll talk to you soon."

He sighed, missing her a lot and frustrated at not knowing where she was staying but he forced himself to relax, knowing he could trust her judgment.

"Okay you just get plenty of sleep and relax," he said, "Everything's just fine here despite what happened earlier and I'll talk to you soon."

"I'll look forward to it…"

They said goodbye and Austin clicked off his phone feeling relieved that she sounded okay but his heart remained heavy. He wanted nothing more than to see her again, to hold her and to show her that it would all work out. Being a man of action more than words, he needed to find a way to do that.

He left the office and Max just patted his shoulder as they walked towards the elevator.

Shayna sighed as she put away her phone.

"I didn't know that would be so difficult," she said, "but I just need my space right now. Maybe tomorrow…"

Annie smiled.

"I think he understands what you need," she said, "Austin's always cared greatly about the people he considers family and friends and I know he really adores you."

Shayna looked at her hands.

"I've always loved him," she said, "I didn't realize how much until I found out I was pregnant."

Annie looked at her with concern..

"Well I think he loves you too…"

"I know he does…as a friend," Shayna said, "but our relationship's mostly been a tight friendship that started in college."

"It's clearly changed if you're sharing a baby together."

Shayna thought about it and nodded.

"It happened rather quickly, the change in our relationship and certainly its boundaries," she said, "but it felt…right. Like it was meant to be."

Annie smiled.

"Well you make a very nice couple I have to say," she said, "So how's life in L.A.?"

"Busy…frantic at times," she said, "but we both keep very busy with our investigative firm which has grown so much and I've been doing some legal defense."

"Did you miss it," Annie asked, "such a direct application of the law?"

Shayna sipped her tea, nodding.

"I enjoy working with law more than I thought but I really enjoy working with Austin most of all…at anything …investigating cases. He's always been the best partner at work…"

"And now he's your partner in something else very important," Annie said, "Having a child means a lot of decision making, a lot of compromises but it's rewarding for both parents."

"But you raised Lou alone?"

Annie nodded with a trace of sadness in her eyes.

"I had to after her father died," she said, "It was very quick, one morning he had been in our lives, but by nightfall…he was gone."

"I know a little about that," Shayna said, "Sometimes I worry I'll lose Austin that way…his job can be very dangerous and he's been shot a few times."

"So have you," Annie said, "You face the same danger…"

"I know and we're going to have to discuss about whether or not we want to raise our child in those circumstances," Shayna said, "but I don't know if I could ever ask Austin to give it up like his ex Whitney did and she wasn't the only one…"

Annie pondered that and then looked at Shayna with eyes filled with the wisdom of a full life lived, filled with its joys and perils intertwined together in ways where they couldn't be separated.

"You're going to have to work it out between you," she said, "to figure out how to make it work for all of you that doesn't cause you to lose too much of yourselves."

Shayna nodded, knowing the truth behind those words.

"Right now, I just miss him so much," she said, "but I had to do this. I hope he understands."

"I think that he does underneath it all," Annie reassured her, "Austin's very smart and he's very quick to the draw. One hell of a businessman and a great friend, I'm proud to have known him."

"You saved his life Annie when he got bit by that rattler as a kid," Shayna said, "If you hadn't been there, the world wouldn't have been quite as good a place without him."

When she said that, she realized how much she really missed him. She somehow had to find a way to work it out with him how the future would be.

She could start on that project tomorrow morning by inviting him back in that process.

Miles away while eating dinner with Max, Austin vowed to do the same thing.

 


Submitted: April 06, 2012

© Copyright 2022 Marzy Dotes. All rights reserved.

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