of Duquessa Bay

Year Two, Chapter Four


Inside a darkened boardroom, several unseen, seated members chat amongst themselves as a large, topographical map of Duquesa Bay is illuminated on a screen before them. Griffin Martel enters the room and stands at the head of the table.

Griffin: I apologize for being late, I just received some very positive news that I wish to share... we had a major breakthrough in our R&D technology

He quickly distributes folders around the table and begins a short software presentation.

Griffin: I have the utmost confidence that drilling will commence within a year's time

The room is abuzz with pleased commentary. Only seen by his hand holding a cigar, a man silences everyone and turns his attention to Griffin.

Cigar Man: That is indeed encouraging news, however, we have experienced some... incidents over the last few months - incidents that were not entirely cleaned up

Griffin: (Lowing his head) I am aware of the situation, yes

Cigar Man: And at the heart of these incidents is a KCON reporter by the name of Morrigan McBride

Griffin: I will be speaking with her shortly, I can assure you, Sir, that she will not be a further problem

Cigar Man: We'll see about that

A female voice, marked with a Southeast Asian accent, chimes in.

Woman's voice: What about the Coast Guard?

Griffin: Steps are being taken to make sure that their efforts are fruitless

Cigar Man: Those steps should have already been in place, Mr. Martel

Griffin: (Trying not to get ruffled) They ARE in place, Sir, we're just reinforcing them

Woman's Voice: Our contact in the UK should have the information we've requested by tonight

Cigar Man: Excellent... anything else?

The room is quiet as Griffin takes a seat.

Cigar Man: Well then, let's get down to our regular business.

Inside the opulent lobby of the Del Pilar, one of Duquesa Bay's most prestigious hotels, Morrigan McBride calmly waits for Griffin Martel to finish with the Pacific Coast Oil Cartel conference. She reviews a few of her notes, unconcerned with the bustling people around her until she feels a presence directly behind her back.

Morrigan: (Quickly turning around) Can I help you?

Erika von Meer, dressed in a formal business suit, stares down at her.

Erika: Griffin Martel will never answer those questions to your satisfaction

Morrigan: (Slamming her notebook shut) Dr. von Meer, might I ask what you are doing?

Erika: You might... my family has business interests with the PCOC, my father is out of town and wanted me to sit in on the meeting

Morrigan: (Now standing) No - what are you doing looking at my notes?

Erika: Oh, simple curiosity I suppose

Morrigan: Keep it at the lab

Erika: I apologize if I violated your privacy but it does not change my initial response - Griffin will not give you an honest answer to any of those questions

Morrigan: And why would that be?

Erika: You're a journalist, figure it out

Morrigan: I will

The two stare at each other for a moment.

Morrigan: The meeting started over 20 minutes ago, instead of standing out here, being all cryptic with me, maybe you should go inside?

Erika: I'm not concerned, KJ will catch me up

Morrigan: (Surprised) Your brother is here?

Erika: Yes, my sentiments exactly - today, he decided to become responsible and attend to Meeramar concerns

Morrigan: (Looking around) I didn't see him go in

Erika: He was here earlier

Morrigan: Hmm

Erika: If you'd like, why don't you join us for dinner tonight? - Griffin has cornered me into dining with him at the club

Morrigan: The club?

Erika: The Duquesa Bay Yacht and Polo Club

Morrigan: Ah right, which I am not a member of... sorry

Erika: KJ can come along, you'll be our invited guest

Morrigan: That's nice of you but I'm not really into foursomes - I can barley handle playing pinochle with my friends

Erika: What if I assisted you in getting the responses you seek out of Griffin?

Morrigan: Heh, what are you going to do, drug his drink?

The tall blonde flashes a smirk.

Morrigan: Oh my God, are you really going to drug his drink?

Erika: Actually, I am going to rely on your expert intuitive abilities as a journalist to flourish under a relaxed social setting

Morrigan: Uh... OK, sure

Erika: Or, you could simply wait here for another few hours, these meetings do tend to drag on so

Morrigan: I do need to get back to the station

Erika: Tonight at 8:00 then?

Morrigan: Fine, I'll see you there

The petite brunette watches Dr. von Meer head into the conference room.

Morrigan: Thanks... I think

That evening, seated at a private booth inside the club, Griffin and Erika share a bottle of champagne while waiting for KJ and Morrigan to arrive.

Griffin: Honestly, Rikka, I don't know why we couldn't have spent the evening alone together?

Erika: (Raising an eyebrow) Come, Rif, you're always hounding me about being more social - this should please you

Griffin: (Draining his glass) I'm thinking of other ways you could please me

Erika: You have Ms. Shepperton for that

Griffin: Kylee is a whore and nothing more - perhaps you enjoy living the life of a monk, I do not

Erika: (Smirking) Who says I am?

Girffin looks horrified as KJ bounds over to the table.

KJ: (Kissing Erika on the cheek) Hey, Sis

Erika: Kage, where is Ms. McBride?

KJ: She just called and said she was on her way from the station... thanks, by the way

Erika: For what?

KJ: For setting this up, she has been dodging me all week

Erika: Really?

Griffin sighs and looks at his watch.

KJ: It's kinda strange... Dad saw her strolling along the beach all by herself last night

Erika thinks for a moment as Griffin pours himself another drink.

Griffin: I have an idea, after some appetizers, why don't you take her to another table for some privacy, KJ?

KJ: (Pointing) Excellent idea, Grif, thanks!

Erika: I thought you needed to give Ms. McBride an interview?

Griffin: And I was all set to do just that after the conference until YOU suggested we all meet for dinner

Erika: I am only trying to help

Griffin: (Leaning back in his seat) And how exactly is that?

Erika: If she is in a social setting, she might not be as... sharp on her questions

Martel considers this for a moment as the waiter brings them an appetizer assortment.

KJ: She has a strong point there - you know, Rik, I could use you in the courtroom

Erika: Assisting with father's business is more than enough, thank you

A shocked expression washes over KJ's face, causing both Griffin and Erika to turn around. Dressed in a stunning magenta cocktail dress, Morrigan slowly approaches their table.

KJ: (Standing up) WOW

Griffin: (Following the other man's lead) She cleans up rather well

Erika: (Eyeing the woman) Indeed, she does

Morrigan: (Taking a seat) I hope I'm not too late

KJ: (Wide grin) Not at all - you look really hot!

Griffin: (Kissing her hand) What Mr. von Meer truly means is that you are a splendid vision of radiance, Ms. McBride

Morrigan: (Trying not to blush) Thank you, Mr. Martel

Erika: That really isn't your color

Everyone looks at Erika with slight astonishment.

Erika: I believe green is more suited to you

Morrigan: (Half smile) That's what my mother said

Erika: Wise woman

Morrigan: Yes, she was

The dinner progresses on with polite conversation and delicious food. Morrigan peppers both Griffin and KJ about PCOC and Meeramar business matters but tempers her questions to appear innocuous. She slyly observes Griffin's interaction with KJ and listens carefully to their responses as a few businessmen come over to the table and greet them. As they leave, Erika smiles to herself until she observes Morrigan shivering.

Erika: (Feeling the other woman's exceedingly warm arm) Are you cold?

Morrigan: (Taking a deep breath) It's only the chills, I think I have a touch of something

KJ: Ooh, that reminds me of the time when we were all in Zermatt for New Year's and mom had that projectile vomiting thing

Griffin: (Scowling at Erika) A perfect topic of conversation

KJ: Do you ski, Morri?

Morrigan: Not really, I went to Mammoth Lakes once with my dad's side of the family and hated it - I had more fun making snowmen with icicles protruding from inappropriate places

KJ: HA - Frosty the Boneman!

Erika: Clever

Griffin sighs in disgust.

KJ: Although I love skiing, I'm more of a Spring man myself... hiking in the hills when everything is just beginning to bloom - you can't beat it!

Griffin: I disagree with that statement, counselor - nothing can compare to the vibrant death of Autumn

Morrigan: That's very poetic, Griffin

Griffin: And I've only had two glasses of champagne

Everyone fake laughs.

KJ: (Patting Erika's back) Sis here is a Summer Girl - loves her bikinis and the water!

Griffin: (Refilling his glass) I'll drink to that!

KJ: Hey, we'll all have to go out for a sail soon while the weather is still nice

Erika: What about you, Morrigan, which one of us do you agree with?

Morrigan: Actually... none - my love has always been for Winter - back in Montana, on moonlit nights, I would take long walks in the fresh snow, lie down in a drift and look up at all of the gleaming stars, enjoying the cool, crisp stillness of it all - I have never felt more at peace in my entire life

Griffin: (Half smile) Now who is being poetic?

KJ: I am DEFINITELY taking you to Tahoe this year!

Erika: Do you miss Montana?

Morrigan: At times, but I'm glad I'm here

Erika: Why?

Morrigan: I'm not sure yet

KJ suddenly spots Dr. Sanchez and his wife, Ona Rosa, being seated on the patio.

KJ: Oh, would you all excuse me for just a moment, I need to say hi to someone

Morrigan: (Looking past them out to sea) No problem, I need to use the restroom

The woman quickly jumps up from the table.

Griffin: (Throwing his napkin on the table) Well, wasn't this a romantic evening - you owe me, Rikka!

Erika: (Softly twirling her dessert fork around two fingers) Did Morrigan not toss puffball questions to you about PCOC?

Griffin: True, but I would have preferred her hardball questions earlier if it meant having an evening alone with you

Erika can't help but smile a little bit as he kisses her hand.

Griffin: Now, if you'll excuse me, I still have some business matters to deal with - tell KJ I'll see him tomorrow and if Ms. McBride has any further questions, please have her contact me at the office

Erika: Will do

Griffin: And I'll see you for dinner, ALONE, this Friday

Erika: Griffin

Griffin: (Sauntering away) This Friday, Erika, no arguments

Erika: For now

After running her hands under cold water and wiping her head with a wet paper towel, Morrigan jots down some notes in her purse concerning Griffin's responses to her PCOC questions. As she goes to leave, Erika enters.

Morrigan: I suppose it's not the same unless we literally run into each other somehow

Erika: (Noticing Morrigan's extra pale appearance) Are you still not feeling well?

Morrigan: Not particularly, thank you for a wonderful evening though... please let me get my share of the bill

Erika: Please do not concern yourself with that

Morrigan: I do concern myself with that

Erika: Three multi-millionaires were present at your table this evening

Morrigan: Look, just because I'm a journalist getting paid peanuts doesn't mean I can't take care of a bill

Erika: The champagne we drank alone was five-hundred dollars

Morrigan: Ah

Erika: (Cocking her head) A glass

Morrigan: OK, maybe I need to smile and say thank you

Erika: (Softening her expression) Tell me, were you able to find the answers you were seeking tonight?

Morrigan: Indirectly, I now have more leads than I would have by asking Mr. Martel outright... those businessmen he spoke with earlier, they were from a Meeramar subsidiary in Alaska, correct?

Erika: How astute

Morrigan: They are overflowing with oil up there, it's not like PCOC needs to drill for any more down here... especially in an area that's filled with ardent environmentalists and Indian burial grounds

Morrigan watches in the mirror as Erika slowly paces in back of her.

Morrigan: (Fixing her hair) Thank you for setting this evening up, Dr. von Meer

Erika: I enjoyed myself

Morrigan: Why did you do it?

Erika: I have my reasons

Morrigan: (Half smile) I'm sure you do... and I'll figure those out later - please tell your brother I would love to take him up on his offer of a sail soon

Erika: Why don't you tell him yourself?

Morrigan: I need to get going

Erika: Working late at the station?

Morrigan: (Hesitant) I'm waiting for someone - goodnight

The von Meer daughter holds the door open as Morrigan looks at her watch and rushes out.

Erika: Goodnight, Ms. McBride

Surfaced on July 1, 2000
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