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
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
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!
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
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
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
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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