Chapter 1: Savior
Chapter 1 Savior
I was sort of dozing in my hospital bed when the door opened. I figured it was some nurse coming to check on me so I just stayed a sleep. Whoever it was stopped by my bed and remained motionless. I could smell the person’s cologne and instantly knew it was not any of the nurses that had visited me. Too expensive.
I slowly woke from my doze to look up into dollar green eyes. Gentleman Johnny Marcone had taking time out of his busy schedule to visit poor little old me. A bulky shadow from the door way clued me in on Hendricks’s position. Never saw one without the other.
“My, you look awful,” Marcone stated.
I did my best to glare at him but knew that I fell horribly short of it. “Yeah, well, not all of us can pull off thousand dollar suits.”
Marcone smirked at this. “It would appear that you have helped me out, Mr. Dresden.”
“I didn’t do it for you.”
“That may be the case but I still owe you a favor,” Marcone explained.
“I don’t need any favors from you. Like I said, I didn’t do this for you,” I growled.
Hendricks stepped forward a bit as if I was going to attack his boss. Yeah, right. At this point, I couldn’t even conjure a ball of light much less a powerful fire ball. Marcone lifted his hand to call off Cujo.
“Now, Harry, there is no case to be rude.”
“Don’t call me by my name!”
That smirk was back. A slight curl to a rather nice mouth. I may be straight but one notices attractiveness where it is due. And if there was one thing that Gentleman Johnny was, it was attractive.
“Fine, Mr. Dresden. But know this, whether you like it or not, people will think you got rid of Victor Sells for me.” Marcone bowed his head slightly towards me. “Get well soon, Harry.”
Marcone’s eyes stayed on me for a couple of seconds more before he exited the room. There was something in those eyes that bugged me. Not knowing what it was frustrated me. But one thing wizards love is a challenge.
The next day when I was discharged, I received another shock.
“You don’t have to pay anything Mr. Dresden. It has all been taking care of,” the nurse Sheila told me.
I stared at her flabbergasted. That was impossible. Wizards have lousy healthcare plans, myself even more so. There was no way that I didn’t have some sort of bill for my stay.
“There has to be a mistake,” I told her.
The nurse shook her head looking down at the papers in her hands. “No, no mistake. It says right here that everything was paid for by a Mr. Marcone.”
My eyes opened wide and my jaw dropped. That bastard. What was he thinking?
“Here, he left you a note.” Nurse Sheila handed over a white envelope.
I know you won’t appreciate this but I had to do something. You did something courageous and it deserves to be noticed even in this small way. If you want to rant and rave at me, call me. You have my business card.
Business card? What business card? My hand was gripping the envelope tightly and I could feel something else inside the paper. Indeed, I did now have his business card.
“How nice of Mr. Marcone to help you out like this. I’ll just have someone bring the wheelchair so you can be on your way.” Shelia cheerfully smiled as she exited the room.
Was that woman crazy? John Marcone nice? She apparently had never heard of the crime lord of Chicagoland.
Ensconced on my couch with Mister on my legs, purring like a miniature outboard motor, Marcone’s letter and card in my hands. I cannot believe I was even contemplating calling him. He was a mob boss, a powerful one at that. He was a killer and a criminal. I didn’t want to have any dealings with him. So why was my hand grabbing the phone and dialing the number?
“Marcone.” He picked up after the third ring.
“Why did you pay for my hospital stay?” I started out.
“Why Mister Dresden, what a pleasant surprise.” Marcone’s voice was just as rich even over the phone.
“Cut the crap and answer the question,” I ground out. I didn’t want to admit what just his voice was doing to me.
He sighed. “I told you, you deserved some form of recognition for your work. The city certainly never gives it.”
“But now people will think that I work for you.”
“And would that be such a bad thing? You would be receiving a much steadier and lucrative paycheck than what you get now.”
I could just hear the smirk in his voice. He really did think you could buy anything with the right amount of money.
“I can’t work for you. Call it moral high ground,” I responded.
This time I did make Marcone laugh. It was a nice laugh, deep and penetrating. It was the type of laugh that made me shiver, even a straight man like myself.
“Play it your way, Harry. I’ll be talking to you.”
Damn! He got the last word again. And he called me by my first name. I hate that!
Chapter 2: Can't Catch a Break
This takes place right after the second novel just like the first chapter took place right after the first novel.
Ch 2 Can’t Catch a Break
I ended up in the hospital again after my run in with the furry FBI. Even had the same nurse and room. Sheila just shook her head and checked my bandages. Murphy even came to visit this time. As long as no crime bosses showed up, this would be a major improvement from my last visit.
“How are you feeling today, Mr. Dresden?” Nurse Sheila greeted.
“Better every time I see your smile,” I responded.
Hey, I may not have a great track record with ladies but I did know how to woo them.
Sheila chuckled. “Silly. If I were ten years younger and not married, I might just take a crack at ya.”
I smiled. “One can dream right?”
“If that is what makes you happy, Mr. Dresden,” Sheila told me while checking my vitals by hand.
The flower cart stopped outside my door and an orderly wearing sea green scrubs entered carrying an elaborate bouquet of lilies and roses. The vase was a crystal clear glass holding up white oriental lilies, purple calla lilies, and blue roses. To my eye they were the most beautiful bouquet I or anyone had ever received.
“These are for you, Mr. Dresden,” the orderly announced.
Sheila stopped examining me to smell the flowers. An envelope was attached to the side of the vase which she promptly removed.
“Seems you have an admirer. This came with the flowers.” Sheila handed over the envelope.
Sheila exited the room with a knowing smirk in place. Who in their right mind would send me an expensive arrangement of lilies and roses? I know Susan might send some flowers but nothing like this and I might as well forget Murphy. Better open the note before my head exploded with the impossibilities.
You just cannot manage to stay out of trouble can you? Always have to be the one to save the day. This time I thank you profusely. Not only did you save my life but the life of my bodyguard as well. We may not see eye to eye on certain things but I do believe that we have a somewhat understanding of each other. You, Harry Dresden, are a man who stands up for the weak and downtrodden without asking for a dime. And I think that is foolish but it is something that makes you who you are.
PS I have taking the liberty of paying for your stay at Cook County again.
I didn’t know whether to be royally pissed or extremely gracious at this turn of events. Who did he think he was that he could pay for my hospital stay? Again?
By the time I was released from the hospital, I had been stewing in my own thoughts. Should I be humble and roll with what Marcone has done or should I march right to his office to yell loudly at him? I really did not think I could do the latter but the former I wasn’t for sure about. All I ever really wanted was some type of acknowledgment that what I was doing was working. That all my magic was helping this large city from the big nasties. And the only time I got that was from the ultra crime boss of Chicago. How’s that for irony?
I clumsily made my way down to the basement with a few trashy novels that Bob had been wanting. It’s the least I can do for the help I received for the loup-garous that Bob helped me stop. The over stuffed work space was just the way I left it before the fiasco. Bob’s skull lit up with an orange glow.
“Hey look what Mister dragged in? You’ve never looked better,” Bob greeted.
I frowned. Considering that I still had a slight limp and a discolored bruise on my neck plus a few scabs, I knew that Bob was making fun of me.
“Nice to see you too skull brain. I guess you’ve already read these pirate romances. They even have some very interesting pictures too. I guess Mister can use them as a scratching pad.” I pondered this idea knowing just how to get under Bob’s skin. Uh, so to speak.
If Bob could have looked horrified he would have but the gasp and sputtering did nicely. “Harry, there is no need to act rashly. Put the books down slowly and then we can talk.”
I smirked as I placed the three books next to his skull. Who would have thought that a spirit of knowledge’s one weakness was trashy pirate romances with pictures. This world of mine was just weird.
“So, you made it out of the confrontation in fairly one piece,” Bob stated.
“More or less. I got another stay with the lovely people over at Cook County. I think they’ve even giving me my own room.”
“Only you would be granted their own room, Harry.” Bob paused as I came closer to his area. “Is that lilies that I sense coming from you?”
I could feel my cheeks heat up with the beginnings of a rather prominent blush. How is it possible that he, someone with no nose, can sense the lilies? And yes I still have them. Murphy helped me bring them in to my house after a good laugh at me wanting to keep them.
“Some one gave me a bouquet as a get well gift while I was in the hospital,” I responded.
Bob chuckled. “Who in their right mind would spend money to give you lilies? Carnations maybe but not lilies. And is that also roses that I sense coming from you?”
I huffed. “Does it really matter, Bob? I got them for doing a good job. End of story.”
That seemed to stun the little spirit. 1 point to me for making Bob speechless.
“You mean someone is acknowledging your work?”
“It can’t be Murphy. Is it the police chief?” He inquired.
I growled in annoyance. “Cut it out, Bob. It doesn’t matter.”
Bob chuckled again. “Oh yes it does if it is making you blush. Hmmm.. it’s not Susan, she would reward you in other ways. Who could it be?”
“Give it rest Bob!” I snapped.
I turned around and begun to climb the ladder out of my lab. The cold of the basement was just not cutting it for my sore muscles. Bob’s questioning was also really annoying.
“Aha, I know. It was Johnny Marcone!” Bob exclaimed.
I slipped on the last rung smashing my elbow on the floor. Damn spirit!
Chapter 3: Chapter 3 - Rhapsody
This is the first time that I have written in Marcone's head and I am not sure if I got it right. Oh well, here it is anyway. My original character also makes her first appearance in this chapter. Enjoy.
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
Who would have thought that finding a good pianist with a decent voice could be so difficult? After acquiring this tiny but lucrative piano bar, I was looking for a way to make it even better than it was before. Some talent was all I was looking for. But apparently the agency I was using were idiots if they thought I would use anyone who was sub par.
“Mr. Marcone, I don’t know what to say. All of the people we have heard today would have worked,” Mr. Sanchez remarked. “If only…”
I raised my hand to stop his rambling. “Stop, Mr. Sanchez. The people who have auditioned were all amateurs. I need someone who can bring a tear to the eye within the first chords of a song. That is all.” I dismissed the man as easily as shooting a gun.
Maybe buying this place was not such a good idea. It is not like I need the money but I liked the building and didn't want to see it go to waste.
The door opened slightly admitting a small girl with long auburn hair and luminous violet eyes that matched the pants she was wearing. Her boots clicked with every step that she took.
“I saw outside that you’re looking for a pianist/singer. Still hiring?” the girl asked in a voice between Louisiana French Quarter and London’s East End.
“Possibly. But you look barely old enough to be left on your own.”
She smirked. “Yeah, but you’re Johnny Marcone. I’m sure we can fudge the lines a tad.”
I smiled slightly at her boldness. “You really think I would hire you?”
She placed her hands on her hips. “Hey, if it makes you feel any better I am an emancipated orphan who is being home schooled. I need a job and this just so happens to be right up my alley.”
I contemplated the enigma that was in front of me. I took it as a great insult that anyone would hurt a child and by giving her job I would be inevitably putting her in harm’s way. But also at the same time I could offer the girl protection. It was quite the conundrum that I was willing to ignore.
“Well, if I am possibly going to be doing business with you, I would like to know your name,” I finally said.
She smiled brilliantly. “You may call me Jeneva Summer.”
“Okay, Miss Summer, if you want the job you must audition.”
“Well of course.”
She made her way to the piano, shedding her leather jacket on a table next to the instrument. Jeneva stretched out her fingers before starting a soft melody that was beautiful but sad, her voice joined a second after she started just as heart wrenching as the notes.
“Make my wish come true,
Let darkness slip aside,
Hiding all our hope,
Mocking what we treasure.
Battles we can win,
If we believe our souls
Hang in for the light till dawn.
Fate will not leave you,
Hate will not heal you,
Pray and one day
Peace will flow everywhere.” *
Her eyes were closed as she played but you could still see every emotion displayed on her face. Jeneva Summer lived for the music.
She looked startled when I softly clapped when the last note faded away. It was as if she had forgotten that I was still in the building. I walked over to her with a smile that I rarely showed to anyone.
“You played wonderfully, Miss Summer. It was the best that I have heard all day. I believe I have found my new pianist/vocalist.”
“Really?” she jumped off the bench excitedly.
“On one condition.”
Jeneva looked warily at me as she had every right to be. “What condition?”
“You have to come live with me.”
She looked surprised by my statement which I can understand. I am Gentleman Johnny Marcone. I did not take strangers in off the streets but Jeneva was a child. She could not be a day older than fifteen. I did my best to keep the streets as safe for kids like her while Dresden took care of the rest.
“W-why?” Jeneva stammered.
“You need someone to look after you. I don’t care that you are an emancipated teen, you’re still too young to be on the streets by yourself. This is my city. I take care of what is in my city. That includes you now.”
Jeneva eyed me up and down. This was not a girl that took things lightly. She was bold but calculating. She was the type that would take risks after all other options proved useless. In other words, a girl after my own heart.
“So, just like that, you’re going to invite me into your home? No questions asked?” she questioned.
“All I ask is for you to play and get your high school diploma. Anything else we will let come our way.”
I could tell that Hendricks did not like this new pebble in my life. For starters, we do not know a thing about her but I was inviting her into my home anyway. I could not place my finger on it but this Jeneva Summer needed my protection from something and by God I was going to give it to her.
The song that Jeneva plays is from Final Fantasy XIII. It is called Serah's Song.