"I know this call comes way out of the blue, but-"
"Regan, I said no. And you're right, it is way out of the blue. I like my life now. I like what I do-."
"Which by the way is...what?"
"It's got nothing to do with security, I'll tell you that much. I don't have to worry about stroppy celebrities, getting stuck watching their dogs while those celebrities shop, getting knocked into next week, getting a gun stuck in my ribs or mobsters promising to give me concrete flippers for a dip in the river. And I could go on."
"It's just one last job. This client-"
"Three years ago I gave you my resignation. On my last day when I was practically out the door, you asked me to do one last job, and what did I get for my efforts?"
"You got your cocked sucked, and more, and enjoyed it thoroughly before all the shit hit the fan."
"I was thinking more about 'the shit hitting the fan' part."
"Tell me the results of what went down three years ago ruined your sex life."
Pacey grinned, despite himself and Regan could hear it in his voice. "You're a canny old bastard, Regan."
"Delaney Santorini was dynamite though, wasn't she?"
"There's just one problem with dynamite, it's volatile and can blow up in your face at any time."
"You gotta light the fuse first, Witter-"
"Trouble is I had no idea that the fuse was already lit. I wasn't ready when she blew up on me big time." He ran a thoughtful finger along the side of his face, a reminder of another life.
"So, we got a deal here? I'll pay you your usual with a third extra on top."
"I didn't say I'd do it!"
"Not even as a personal favour to me?"
"What's with the hard sell, Regan? Why don't you get one of the others to do it? Is Maloney still there?"
"I want the best. You were my best-"
"And my favourite-"
"I'm immune to flattery."
"Look, this client, she's-"
"Yeah, your interest piqued now?"
"She's had death threats and an actual attempt made on her life."
"I'm sorry to hear that, but I've left that life behind. I moved all the way out here to get away from all that shit!"
"All the way where?"
"Do you want me to double my offer?"
"I don't need the money, Regan. It's not about that. I just don't want anything to do with that life anymore. You didn't see Kevin Costner come back for a sequel, did you?"
"I'm not going to back there, Regan." A hard edge crept into his voice now.
"If I told you her name was Josephine Potter would that make a difference?"
A long silence passed as Pacey clenched the cell phone at his ear, struggling to assimilate what he'd just heard. "Josephine Potter,' he repeated slowly, 'the novelist?"
"Stop pussyfooting around, Witter. Yes, Josephine Potter. The girl you grew up with. The ex-girlfriend you left behind in Boston ten years ago."
"How the fuck-?"
"You know me, Witter. I made it my business to-".
"How long have you known that?"
"You think I don't do thorough background checks on my men?"
"On your clients, yes and-"
Regan's tone hardened remorselessly now. "I need to know that the men who work for me can be trusted a hundred percent! I don't want any shit coming to hit me in the face at a later date. I don't want any blemishes on my company."
"You pried into my life! That's-that's - I can't believe you, man! I don't work for you anymore, dammit! And even if I did that would still be out of order! How on earth could information like that help you?"
"What? Like nobody could guess there was some mysterious girl in your past responsible for the all the risks you took while working for me?" Regan scoffed. "All I'm saying is she needs the best person for the job and -"
"That doesn't have to be me!"
"Come on, Witter-"
"Josephine Potter is ancient history. Surely your secret files told you that much, too?"
"Who are you trying to kid?"
"I should have got rid of this phone number a long time ago." Pacey muttered.
"Give it to me straight and for real now. Are you in or not?"
There was a short pause. "You know I am." Pacey breathed.
Pacey snapped the cell phone shut and seeing his hand trembling slightly dashed the phone away onto the sofa beside him. In a couple of day’s time, he'd be coming face to face with Joey again - and the thought was scaring the hell out of him. Already the memories were trying to crowd his brain. He shook his head vehemently as he tried to ward off their onslaught. He got up and strode into the next room, sat at the desk in the corner and opened his laptop. Angrily, he tapped away at the keyboard, bringing up the last chapter he'd worked on yesterday. He stared at the screen, but the words kept blurring. He sighed heavily and tapping a few more keys, he closed the current application, logged onto the internet and determinedly searched and entered the chat room he was looking for.
Damn! She wasn't there. He fired off an email instead.
Then he got up and restlessly paced the room.
'I want you back...'
Pacey smacked the side of his head and shook it. Then went into the kitchen, took a soda from the refrigerator and went back into the small living room. He stood in the middle of the room, glugging down the can's contents.
I love you! I don't think I ever stopped...
Pacey squeezed his eyes shut, lowering the can from his mouth.
"How can I prove it to you? Tell me Pacey. I don't want to lose you again...'
Pacey's head snapped toward the sudden sound. She was on IM. He exhaled heavily then sat at the laptop, setting his drink down beside it. He began typing straight away.
Leftside: You feel so fucking good. Wet and hot. I'm slipping a finger inside you, and another. My tongue is right on the button, honey and you're just about ready to scream my name. How does it feel?
He watched as her reply appeared in the little box on screen and tried to concentrate, tried to let the flow of her words incite some life into his cock. But Joey's image loomed into the front of his mind.
Gritting his teeth determinedly, he undid his jeans and slipped his hand into his boxers, focusing on the screen again...
Cherry: ...your cock's so big and hard in...
'Something's unresolved otherwise your cock wouldn't be so hard right now. I can feel it, you know...
"Fuck!" Pacey cursed, viciously.
"Bite me, Pacey...
"Fuck!" he yelled. "Fuck! Fuck! Fuck!" He pulled his hand out of his pants and stared down at his lap in disgust. His cock just would not co-operate.
Cherry: You still there, baby?'
Leftside: I'm here. I'm gonna have to go. Sorry.
Cherry: What's wrong?
Leftside: Just gotta go. Sorry.
Cherry has logged off.
Pacey slumped back into his chair. So much for cyber sex forcing Joey out of his head. He might as well give in. Leaning back he fastened up his pants again. He exhaled deeply, his eyes falling on the small bookcase beside the desk. Ignoring the set of children's books beside them, he now leaned over and pulled three other books out. Closing the laptop and pushing it away, he laid the books in front of him and picked up the first one. On the cover was a beautiful, placid photograph of the creek Joey had grown up beside in Capeside, and imposed over it was the title and author...
He'd wondered why she'd used her full name. She'd always hated being called Josephine. He turned the hardback book over. On this side was a synopsis of the novel...
Deborah (Debbie) Carson can't wait to get out of Capside. As each year passes, the walls close in on her further, and the more suffocated she feels. Maybe it's because of the stigma attached to a motherless young girl who has a father languishing in prison for dealing drugs, maybe it's more to do with having no choice but to live with her sister, Carrie, unwed and pregnant with her black boyfriend's baby, the black boyfriend who also lived with them. Capeside was a typical hive of narrow-mindedness and bigotry. Or maybe it was because she had no idea where her childhood best friend Danny began and she ended. But he was the one saving grace she had to cling to amongst the tittle-tattle of town gossip. That and her drive to be a top student and go to the college of her dreams. Except Danny, her film geek best friend was completely oblivious to the fact that she was in love with him. He lusted after the next door neighbour from New York...
Will Debbie ever realise her dream of getting out of Capside? Would Danny ever see her as more than just a friend? And if he did...was he really what she wanted?
...and above the synopsis was a photograph of Josephine Potter. She looked about 21 or 22, a wistful smile played on her lips and her simple, straight dark hair blew gently about her face, where she stood outside the Potter B & B. Her eyes looked sad though.
It gave him some bitter, ironic amusement to know that while he and Joey hadn't seen each other in years; had been, at his insistence, heading in separate directions...they had both ended up becoming novelists. She didn't know of his existence, but he knew of hers. He'd followed her rise and progress. He lived in Santa Monica now, but went back home every now and then. He'd been to Capeside for a fleeting visit six years ago. And his mother had gushed incessantly about the celebrity they had in their midst - despite the fact that Joey hadn't lived in Capeside for the past few years, and that his mother had never been an avid reader of fiction, or ever been able to remember Joey's name properly. She'd shown him the book, praising Joey and ended up asking him, 'You dated her once, didn't you, dear?" Well, that said it all, didn't it? When he'd got the job at Regan's security company, his mother had somehow reduced it to a security guard position at some superstore. He hadn't bothered to disabuse her of the notion. Well, that was one up from being a dog groomer, right? She was just happy that he was doing okay. And his father? John Witter, still Capeside's sheriff at the time hadn't been impressed, either. "When you want to become a real cop, Pacey, why don't you give me call?"
He hadn't bothered to explain any further to him, either. He felt a crushing sense of disappointment in his father. John Witter knew Pacey had been in a bit of trouble in the previous couple of years. He, and his brother Doug especially, knew other cops outside of Capeside, who'd informed him of his younger son's wayward adventures. Doug had even had to bail him out a few times. But Pacey had long given up hoping that his father would find something in him to be proud of. So although he still visited every so often, it was merely out of duty and he barely discussed what was going on in his life. They certainly didn't know he was now a novelist himself. They probably thought he was bumming around the world. Only his sister, Gretchen knew any different.
On his way back to LA from that particular visit, he'd bought his own copy of Joey's novel, staring down at her photo on the plane back for a long time before opening its cover and starting to read. He'd felt like he was intruding on her private thoughts, yet the voyeur in him hadn't been able to put the book down. It was about a young woman's struggle to fight the demons in her life; the death of her mother at an early age whose cheating husband abandoned both daughter and mother due to being in and out of prison constantly - and a childhood best friend who meant everything to her, who she spent most of her life fighting and making up with, who eventually died in a plane crash. It was the raw emotion and conveyance of pain, love and regret that stood out and caught at the heartstrings more than anything else. He'd been eager to find out which of her other childhood friends had earned a part in her novel. He'd recognised everyone in the book - even himself. But his character was the only one left almost completely in shadow. If he remembered rightly, he had a couple of one liners and was acknowledged as 'Danny's' other best friend. But he was barely fleshed out. The story focused almost completely on her home life and 'Danny.' Well, it was part fiction. Not a complete biography. The whole 'triangle' between himself, Joey and Dawson was barely alluded to and totally skimmed over. It hadn't surprised him. But it had hurt. Then surprisingly, despite the success of her first novel she hadn't followed it up immediately. Instead, she'd released a succession of children's books with her own beautiful drawings illustrating them, 'The Little Girl Who Couldn’t Grow Up.'
But she did release her second novel in time to vie for the top spot of the bestsellers list with his own. He had won that particular battle. When a few weeks later her book had surged up again after an extra blitz of book signings, TV appearances and the like she had knocked him off that top spot. He hadn't attended the party to celebrate her success, although invited, but in his stead sent her the biggest, most beautiful basket of flowers he could with a brief congratulatory note, apologising for his absence and signed with his pseudonym, Jay Wittermon.
Pacey set the book down and picked up the next.
The photo on the back of this one, as well as the story inside, intrigued him. It was a shot of a very precocious looking Joey with unruly hair, shadowed eyes and dark lipstick. He thought the unhappiness in her eyes was more evident in this one. And he wondered just how much inside the cover was actually true. It was a continuation of Debbie Carson's life at college. A Debbie Carson gone bad. The reason why wasn't clear. There was her up and down relationship with Danny, and her heavy crush on her attracted professor. Pacey even recognised the character of Peter as Charlie and was suspicious that Nina was actually Norah. And there were a lot of nameless male faces - anyone of which could be himself. But she'd mixed in the fiction quite well with the period of time he had known Joey at college. No direct mention of their short affair though. But it was all written with the same simple, emotion filled eloquence of her previous novel. The only difference was the inclusion of sex. And it was good sex! In the sense that on more than one occasion it had got him going.
The third book he hadn't liked much.
He Sees Me
Danny was on the scene, but Debbie was involved with a man he didn't recognise in any way. Richard. Someone who she was, on the whole, happy with, but reading carefully between the lines you could see the discontent lurking in the background of her life. Just little clues that all wasn't right between Richard and herself. The relationship came to an abrupt end when he died in the same plane crash as Danny and the rest of the book had Debbie deal with the fallout of that.
He turned the book over and gazed down.
It was a very glamorous photograph. A mature looking Joey. He allowed a forefinger to trace her features. Her hair, rich, glossy and dark and way past her breasts now compared to earlier press photos. Her eyes were made up to stunning effect, her skin, flawless. He drew his finger along the shiny shy half smile. She looked stunning. But still, he imagined he could see the tiny play of sadness in her eyes. Was it only because he wanted to believe she was heartbroken over him? Still? All these years later? Is that why he believed that in Wild Child, her downward spiral in college had been prompted by their break up? He sighed, deeply. Her personal bios never revealed if she was married or not, just general stuff about where she grew up, where she now lived. But he'd heard enough snippets from home to know that Dawson was very much on the scene. In what capacity, he didn't know. But that much hadn't changed. Her public profile had risen greatly in the last two years or so. She had done many book signings until the crowds had become too big and boisterous, and guested on many chat shows promoting her latest novel, True Love Awaits, but was always tight lipped about her love life. He hadn't even dared try to analyse the title of her latest literary offering. And even though his agent had sent him an advance copy of the novel, he and Joey were signed to the same publishing house, it was still encased in its wrappings, untouched, in the top drawer of his bedside cabinet. He refused to reason why.
Pacey glanced at his watch. He needed to call the airline to book his ticket to New York and get packing. But instead of picking up his phone, he wandered out into the next room, opened the sliding glass doors, and stepped out onto the balcony of his apartment and looked out onto the cold blue ocean. He was high up and the air was bracingly cold. He shivered, yet ignored the goose bumps that popped out over his skin. He breathed it in deeply. He couldn't imagine never living close to the sea.
And he was glad he had a lenient agent. He never really worked to deadlines. He could spend merely a week or three solid straight months writing, but when the mood hit him he would be out in his boat on the sea. The timelessness of being out on the boat was so surreal. He would forget all sense of time and reality, just sailing, drifting, relaxing, for a week, sometimes a couple of months! It had taken time to become adept at blocking Joey out on these solitary voyages, too. He had never expected to actually enjoy writing. But he did and he always came back from a bout on the sea chomping at the bit to finish whatever his latest novel was. But it was going to have to take a backseat again. Something else had come up, but it wasn't the urge to go sailing. It was to go to Joey. To protect her - and, if at all possible slide his hands around the neck of the person responsible for endangering her wellbeing, and squeezing the life out of that person.