Thursday, January 28, 2010

My Fair Genie by Tigra-Luna LeMar

Prologue


Christine Lago walked into the office building on Gershaw Street and headed straight for the elevator. She felt a bit hurried to get all loose ends tied up before her trip, but business came first.  She was taking some time off for a vacation and to do some personal research on Amante Salvador. 

While at university, in between researching and writing papers, classes, partying and pep pill buzzes, she spent every extra minute reading about the life of the famous lover from Mexico.

Now that she owned her own business, though she had to answer to her clients and some others, she could pretty much do what she wanted. As long as she wasn't using company funds, got her work done, and didn't cause any public relation nightmares or legal issues, she would be fine.

From what Christine had heard, Mexicans loved retelling folklore. Maybe she would be lucky enough to find some far off descendant of the infamous lover.

The doors slid open and immediately the ringing of telephones assaulted her senses.  People conversing in hush tones on phones or with each other around her caused a slight dash of paranoia to flow through her. There was something about so many people whispering that unnerved her--needlessly.  She smiled with her normal pleasantries and hurried to her office with her personal secretary and friend Ginger Phelps right on her heels.

"You got a few calls from Paul Mizer." Ginger flopped down on the leather sofa in Christine's office, a folder in her hands. "He's been calling since last night. He keeps leaving messages. He wants to know if we found anything yet on his Loga."

Christine poured herself some coffee, then sat down in her chair and crossed her legs. "Give him Duval's number in Columbia." Christine frowned. "Let him deal with Mizer."

Ginger wrote it down then looked up at Christine. "Mrs. Stovenhiem called. She wants to book an appointment with you as soon as possible."

"Have her meet with Bridgette. I'm leaving for Mexico tonight." Christine sipped her coffee.

"About that...are you sure you want to pursue this? I mean, this man has been dead for thousands of years. Who cares how he died?"

"I do. There has to be something there...I mean you don't just become the greatest lover of all time and disappear, and no one wants to talk about you.  Something must have happened. Something really bad. I mean, sure, if he kept stealing other men's women then I could get it, so why can't I find more information on him?"

"You just be careful. Maybe someone doesn't want stones being turned over, and if you flip it and something pops out..."

"I know...Whammo."

* * * *

Packing her laptop was the final thing she had to do before her shower. She glanced at the clock and sighed, but didn't have time to sit down for a bit. She hurried into the bathroom, stripping as she went. By the time she closed the door behind her, she was naked and stepping into the shower.  Rubbing a hand up her left leg, she realized she needed to shave but she didn't have the time. Besides, no one could see anything, unless they were brassy enough to rub their hands up her leg and that would just get them hurt.

She grinned underneath the water and turned her face up to the downpour.  The water flowed over her face, then her hair, then down her back.  She felt relaxed and wished she could stay like that for a while, but knew time was flying by and her limo to the airport would be there soon.

By the time she got her clothes on, her stomach began growling. She hurried into the kitchen and pulled out a large bowl of grapes. She headed back to her room with it so she could pop a few while she put her makeup on and checked her passport and other belongings.  She had just stuffed her passport and other papers into her purse when her doorbell rang.

"Coming!" she yelled as she darted down the stairs. She yanked the door open and smiled. "Hi," she said. "Come on in. I brought the suitcases down here so you didn't have to bother with the stairs."

"That's appreciated," the driver said with a genuine smile.

"Anytime." She grabbed the smallest of her suitcases and walked out the door with it as the man pulled the large one and closed the door behind him. She heard the distinctive click that told her the door was now locked before she stepped into the limo.

On the drive to the airport, Christine did not know how she managed not to bounce through the roof of the large black car with tinted windows.  She was so pumped up and excited that all she could do was touch up her already fresh make-up and try to do some crossword puzzles, but nothing helped. She was too excited about the possibilities of the trip.

When the driver announced that they were at JFK Airport and that he would see to her bags, she almost leapt from the car. She stuffed a fifty-dollar bill into his hand and thanked him before hurrying to check in.

Her flight was long, but Christine barely got any sleep. She kept talking herself into positivity. Perhaps if she thought nothing but good thoughts, the trip wouldn't be a complete waste of time and money.

* * * *

Near the end of her trip, Christine had run out of options; one door after another slammed in her face.  The one library she was allowed to search through had nothing on Amante, and the librarian simply gave her a blank stare when she asked about him.

It was a hard decision, but Christine finally decided instead to enjoy the little time she had left in Mexico before going home. Glancing around, she saw a food cart and smiled.  Jogging over, she purchased a burrito and before took a bite, the idea hit her.

"Puedo hacerle una pregunta?" Christine spoke to the friendly-looking man at the burrito stand.

"Question? Si!"

Returning his smile, Christine cleared her throat. "My question is about Amante Salvador?"

The man got a scared look in his eyes. He instantly slammed the window on his vending cart shut. He was swearing at her in Spanish, and if she was any other person she would have clobbered him when he called her a burro, but she watched in utter astonishment as the man shoved his cart and began running with it down the slight hill.  At his speed, one would think she had threatened to murder him or had lit his pants on fire.

"Fuck!"

Turning, she dropped her uneaten burrito into a nearby trash can and returned to her ride. She wondered what was so dangerous about Amante, why no one would talk to her about him. With a sigh, she drank from her water bottle before re-corking it and dropping it back into the bag.  There had to be someone who--

Her thoughts were interrupted when a vehicle that had been driving beside them suddenly veered sharply and slammed into the side of their car.  She screamed and grabbed onto the seat before her. Her heart began hammering into her chest and her head pounded slightly from the sudden rush of adrenaline. The men in the attacking car were all clad in black, with their faces partially covered. They were yelling someone that she didn't quite understand.

"Hey! Watch it, you morons!" she yelled out the open window. That was probably the wrong thing to say, because the other vehicle simply swung away to gather its position. It turned once more and crashed into her vehicle. She heard a slight cracking sound as her head was flung forward, and she prayed that she hadn't broken something. Her nails dug into her seat, harder and deeper.

Her driver swerved all over, trying to retain control of the vehicle only to be hit once again.  They veered dangerously close to falling off the road into a deep ravine, and she screamed in fear. When she looked up again, the other van was taking up position for another hit.

"Slam on the break!" Christine yelled in Spanish.  The driver did as she commanded. The vehicle lurched forward dangerously but stopped instantly, causing the other car to miss crashing into them a fourth time. The attackers didn't stop to check on them but continued speeding away from the scene.

Christine was angry as hell, but there was nothing she could do about it. She did, however learn one thing for certain during that fiasco.  Chasing a ghost was not worth her life.   It was time to switch careers. If she stayed in the research business, she didn't think she have the courage to let go of her obsession with Amante Salvador.