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Issue Three – Billionaire’s Date
Starling Chase was rarely nervous, even this deep into one of the rougher parts of town. Today however, she could not shake a sense of apprehension.
Perhaps it was because Baker had refused to give her any information over the phone, insisting she come to see him personally. Something about the tone in his voice seemed off. After being lured into a trap by Tom Danvers in her superheroine alter ego, maybe she was just being paranoid. Baker was a two bit drug dealer, not a criminal mastermind.
Her cab arrived at the corner of Salt Lane and Addison a short time later. The young reporter fished two twenties out of her clutch, and gave them to the driver before exiting the vehicle. She waited for the cab to pull off, then walked a half block north, before turning down an alley. It was narrow, darker than it should have been even in the day time, and the closeness caused the thunk of her shoes to echo noisily.
She was wearing a pair of tan heeled sandals, which made her already gorgeous legs look about a mile long. The effect was further aided by a pair of white cutoff shorts hugging the curves of her delectably round booty. Above that she was wearing a fitted blue button up, with a few extra buttons undone to display her flawless cleavage. Her crimson mane was pulled back into a loose pony tail, which danced flirtatiously behind her as she walked.
Baker operated out of the back room of a diner on the end of the alley. Starling had always suspected he paid his rent in product. For some reason, he had always had her come down this alley to meet with him. She assumed it made he feel like a big shot, she on the other hand, hated this alley, hated coming to see Baker in person, but she needed a new lead on Danvers and he claimed to have one.
Apprehension continued to churn in her stomach, as Starling arrived at a rusted set of double doors which led into the storeroom where Baker “worked.” She knocked, and an unfamiliar voice told her to enter. Cautiously the red haired reporter opened the door and stepped inside.
She saw Baker immediately, he was noticeably taller than her, but overly skinny with cropped dirty blond hair, and a scraggly goatee. He was wearing a dirty wife beater and ripped jeans, his usual uniform. His arms were covered in poorly done, uncoordinated tattoos making them look like the scribblings in a child’s coloring book, and his eyes had a perpetual glaze, even though he claimed to “never get high on his own supply”.
“The fuck have you gotten me into, Star?” he snapped right away.
Before she could even begin to reply, the door slammed shut and a very large figure stepped behind her.
“Shut up, Baker!” snarled a man she hadn’t really noticed sitting at Baker’s old metal desk.
He stood slowly, a pair of sunglasses and a black fedora obscuring his face, save for the thin black goatee outlining his chin. He was wearing a grey tweed jacket, like a college professor and khaki slacks.
“Baker, what the…” Starling began.
“You shut up too, sweet tits,” the stranger snapped, cutting her off. “Take your clothes off.”
“I will not!” Starling gasped bewildered to even be asked such.
The man reached into his jacket and produced a small pistol. The color drained from Starling’s round cheeks. She had super human reflexes but she didn’t think they were attuned quick enough to dodge bullets.
“You wanna talk to me, I’m gonna be damned sure you ain’t wearing a wire,” the man spoke quickly. “Now strip! And hand over your cell phone.”
Starling glanced over at Baker, who crossed his boney arms and nodded solemnly. Starling handed the man her entire clutch, he fished out her phone and promptly smashed it on the ground.
“Hey!” the reporter squealed, lunging forward instinctively.
The man whipped the gun at her, and in this case her enhanced reflexed allowed her to avoid the blow. She stepped back a step, as he aimed the pistol at her again, thumbing back the hammer intentionally.
Starling heaved a sigh, and began to unbutton her blouse reluctantly. Underneath she was wearing a purple demibra which barely seemed able to contain her voluptuous D-cups. She shrugged off the shirt, dropping it onto the floor. Then she unbuttoned her shorts, and slid them down her statuesque legs, revealing her sheer purple thong.
“No wire,” she snorted. “Happy now?”
“Underwear too, pumpkin tits.”
Starling started to protest but the man cut her off with a waggle of his gun. Heat rushed into her cheeks and her stomach twisted a bit. She scowled at the man but unclasped her bra, letting it fall into the pile of clothing. Then, hooking her thumbs into her thong she let it fall around her ankles.
“Shoes too,” the man added.
Starling complied wordlessly, kicking her shoes and thong over with the rest of her discarded clothing. Standing before the man with a gun, completely naked, she blushed from cheeks to nipples. She awkwardly tried to cover her boobs with one arm, while the other hand concealed güvenilir bahis her primly shaven mound.
“Happy now, you old pervert?” the young woman grumbled.
The man grinned, looked her curvaceous form up and down, then motioned to the big man behind her. The brute stepped around, scooped up her stuff and carried it out the doors which led into the actual diner. As he passed Baker, he grabbed the wide eyed dealer by the arm and led him out as well. Then it was just the reporter and the man with the gun.
“Well, you’re obviously not wearing a wire now,” he said smugly, taking another pass over her nubile naked form.
Starling scowled. “You could have just frisked me.”
“If I was worried you were with the cops,” he replied, moving back to the desk and sitting. “The people I fear are much more clever, they’d’ve sown fiber optics into your clothing or…”
“…Or I could be an android, streaming live from my camera eye,” the red head spat sarcastically. “Is your hat lined with tin foil too? I’d say it’s a stylish update except, well, there’s nothing stylish about a fedora.”
The man chuckled, and removed his hat to show her there was no foil in the lining. He was balding, with a neat horseshoe of fading brown hair. He also pulled his glasses off, dropping them into the hat. He looked older without them, although it was due less to his actual aging than to a clear tiredness behind his eyes. He softened quite a bit almost immediately, laying the gun on the desk and slouching back in the chair.
“I’m not crazy,” he said, that same tiredness seeping into his voice. “And I assure you that any paranoia is well justified.”
“Who are you, old man?” Starling asked, her embarrassment beginning to turn to irritation.
“You can call me Mendeleev,” he said, looking up at her. “That’s how I’m known on the streets anyway.”
Starling had heard the name before, only not in reference to a man. “I thought ‘Mendeleev’ was slang for meth?”
“Well yes, my meth, my formula,” he replied.
“I see, so you’re a drug dealer?”
“Manufacturer,” Mendeleev corrected. “I leave the dealing up to men like Baker, not Baker of course because he’s an idiot, but men like Baker. Speaking of, you should probably be careful in your dealings with him, he’ll get you killed…or worse.”
“This is all very fascinating,” Starling said. “But why does any of it require me being naked?”
Mendeleev looked perturbed for a moment, then nodded, sighing. “I suppose you asked Baker to help you find information on a man named Tom Danvers and if he had any connection to Synodyne?”
“Well, I might have some information like that,” he said. “You see, I was a chemist in another life, and I worked for Synodyne.”
Suddenly Starling was far less concerned with her nakedness. She stepped forward, still errantly keeping herself covered, but listening intently.
“I was there when Danvers came on,” Mendeleev went on. “They called him a consultant, but I don’t know what he was consulting on, the man was no chemist, no scientist at all really. Oh, he was sharp enough alright, very intelligent, dangerously so, but it was pretty clear from day one he was there to oversee not to assist in any way.”
“Oversee what?” Starling asked.
“New projects,” the old man spat, an old grudge flashing through his eyes. “Synodyne had a new ‘investor’ and the entire company was switching gears to accommodate.”
“Danvers was this investor?”
“No, he was just the right hand man…or maybe… the iron fist,” Mendeleev continued. “Anyway we all began work on various projects under some umbrella program called ‘summit’.”
“So who was the investor?”
“That IS the question isn’t it,” the old man snorted. “The money came from the Ashtons, but I always suspected that wasn’t the whole story. Danvers was no corporate headhunter, he was…” Mendeleev paused, as if remembering something difficult. “…something else altogether.”
Starling turned it all over in her mind for a moment. “So what was this ‘summit’ program?”
“None of us ever really knew,” he explained. “Compartmentalization, they called it, we only ever knew what we were working on individually so none of us ever got to see the big picture.”
“What were you working on?”
Mendeleev eyed her closely now, not checking out her naked body but appraising her question. He seemed uncertain, considering his words carefully now. “I didn’t know it at first, but I was developing mind control drugs.”
“And when you realized, you figured there was a fortune to be made on the streets?” Starling accused.
“No!” the old man gasped. “I quit! Or I tried to…Tom Danvers paid me a visit and let me know in no uncertain terms that I would be back at work on Monday. I went underground to get AWAY from whatever they were working on!”
“Oh of course,” Starling sighed. “The poor persecuted drug dealer, oh I’m sorry I mean drug manufacturer.” She concluded with a dramatic eye-roll.
A scowl played across Mendeleev’s face. “So why do you care?”
“Oh türkçe bahis forgive me if I don’t automatically trust a creepy old drug dealer,” the naked red head balked.
“No, I mean why are you investigating this?” he clarified. “And don’t give me any B.S. about a news paper article.”
Starling was taken aback, Mendeleev was sharp. “It’s more of a personal project, I believe my father was involved with Tom Danvers.”
“Then your father was into some bad shit,” he said, putting he glasses back on and standing. “Listen little girl, you keep chasing this rabbit down its hole and you won’t end up in wonderland, you’re dealing with some very dangerous people.”
“That’s exactly why I’m chasing it!” Starling said. “Not all of us can slink off to the sidelines and let the world turn to shit.”
“Of course,” Mendeleev snorted. “And some of us have to learn the hard way; that’s a turn you can’t stop!”
“Then why are we talking?” Starling asked. “Why even come?”
The old man put on his hat and stepped around desk. “The drug I was working on wasn’t mind altering recreation type drugs, it was real mind control stuff, specifically targeting women, I guess someone had seen the Stepford Wives one too many times.” He paused, his head drooping sadly. “When I tried to quit, Danvers slipped my wife a dose thinking it would motivate me to refine and perfect the formula…so maybe I was hoping you’d be one of those people who can’t just watch the world turn to shit.”
Mendeleev nodded without looking up at her. “Ox let roll!”
The big brute came back in almost immediately, trailed by Baker. He deposited her pile of clothing on the desk and followed the old man out the door.
With danger seemingly have passed, Baker was returning to his usual self and ogling Starling as if he’d never seen a naked woman before. Which immediately brought her embarrassment rushing back.
“Do you mind?” she said sheepishly, clutching herself a little tighter.
“Not at all!” Baker said, boldly grabbing her naked butt cheek.
Starling gasped indignantly, slapped his hand away then realized she had in effect flashed him her vagina. Quickly covering back up, the girl blushed as red as her hair.
“Damn girl, you shave?” Baker tittered like a school boy. “You a closet freak ain’t you? One of these days, I’m a figure out how to make you come out to play!”
“Not on your life,” the reporter scoffed.
Realizing Baker wasn’t going to give her any reprieve she began to sort through her clothing as quickly as possible. Let the two bit dealer ogle to his heart’s content.
“I don’t care who’s fault it is, I want the entire team fired and gone before I get back from lunch!” The angry young man tossed the cell phone to his assistant, who quickly hung it up and tucked it away in the pocket of his suit.
Pierce Ashton, soon to be C.E.O. of the Ashton conglomerate, sole heir to the Ashton family fortune, and bona fide billionaire playboy was not having a good day. His morning latte had only been lukewarm. The health and fitness magazine he read every Wednesday morning was apparently lost in the mail room somewhere. His sexy receptionist Layla, had apparently taken a position where she’d actually be able to use her law degree, which left him with Karen who was a low 7 on her best day. Worst of all, his computer software had been updated over the weekend, erasing all of his Minesweeper high scores, which was why he now had to fire an entire team from the I.T. department, because they hadn’t kept track of who updated which systems. It had been an emotional forty minutes.
The elevator doors slid open, and Pierce stepped out, making a B-line through the lobby. Another issue being that his private elevator was having maintenance done, so he had to come and go through the lobby, like a peasant.
He had told Karen he’ be back after lunch, but he probably needed to just take the rest of the day off, all things considered.
“Excuse me, Mr. Ashton?”
Pierce kept walking, ignoring whoever it was calling his name.
“Mr. Ashton, please,” the speaker bade once again. “Just a moment of your time?”
When Pierce turned to rudely dismiss this mouth breathing yokel, he stopped dead in his tracks. Standing before him was a perfect set of D-cups, and the best pair of legs he’d seen in a long while!
“Well, I guess I have a moment, if you make it quick,” he said.
He gave her a complete once over while he introduced himself to the hot young thing, and her tight purple top with a neckline displaying every inch of her magnificent cleavage. She had a nice trim body, with a tight waist and salacious curves. Which she flaunted in a tight, tan skirt, long enough to say “I’ve got some class” but short enough to show off her incredible legs, which were themselves accentuated by a pair sky-high heeled sandals, with silver straps. Her face was pretty enough, with a youthful girlish quality, she had green eyes (he preferred blue), but her makeup was definitely on point. Those eyes, plus the fact that she güvenilir bahis siteleri was a candy apple red head, rather than a blond (gold or platinum would do) dropped her down to a high 8…possibly a low 9, depending on her ass.
“Oh and also ‘Mr. Ashton’ was my grandfather,” he went on. “Please, call me Pierce.”
Regardless, fucking her would be just the thing he needed to turn this day around!
“Um, okay Pierce,” she was saying, holding out a hand. “My name’s Starling Chase…I’m a reporter with the River’s Run.”
“Oh you’re a reporter?” he frowned, ignoring her out stretched hand. “No comment.”
Pierce turned away, starting towards the front doors once more. The truth was being a reporter dropped her into the 7 midrange, too smart, too nosey, probably a talker. If she had an amazing ass she might be able to rebound into 8 range, but Pierce Ashton didn’t have time to try and upgrade a 7!
“Oh no, nothing like that,” the girl pressed, following. “I was hoping you could help me research a piece I’ve been working on, it’s about Synodyne.”
Pierce froze. Shit. He was certain that every connection to Synodyne had been buried, what was she doing here? He painted a smile back on his face and turned to the pretty reporter. “I’m sorry, about what?”
“Synodyne?” she repeated. “It was a tech company your conglomerate invested in a few years back, I can’t seem to find any public information on the merger…”
“Oh, you’re a tech girl,” Peirce replied, time to hit her with a neg to take her off her game. “I guess that explains your outfit.”
“I’m sorry, my outfit?” she asked, glancing down at her clothes.
“Don’t apologize, not everyone needs to be into fashion,” he grinned then added. “I’m sorry what was your name again?”
“Um, Starling…” she replied, absently fastening one of the buttons of her neckline.
“Right, right,” he cut her off. “Starling like the bird?…weird name,” she blinked, taken aback, exactly the reaction he wanted.
She was beginning to fidget now, looking down. “So, my piece…” she went on. “I was hoping you could help me get into some of your archives, and do a little research.”
“Damn, that sounds boring,” Pierce teased. “How about you come to lunch with me instead?”
“Oh gosh, well see I’ve kind of got this deadline…” she explained.
“Oh, gotya,” he sighed. “Alright, well why don’t you come up to my office and tell me a little more about this article, and I’ll see if I can help.”
“That’d be great!” Starling replied.
Pierce nodded to his assistant, who returned the nod knowingly, then walked away without saying goodbye. Pierce motioned back towards the elevator, and the red haired reporter turned and walked that way. Turns out she was a solid, SOLID 8. Now he just had to figure out why she was snooping around Synodyne…and make sure she stopped!
Not into fashion? Not into fashion?! Somewhere Sara Chase was dropping dead, just so she could roll over in her grave!
Of course, she was into fashion! Fashion was a family affair, hell, it was a core family value in the Chase household! But then, Starling hadn’t exactly brought her “A” game either. Pierce Ashton was a notorious womanizer, so naturally she had assumed she’d have a better chance at getting in with the girls on display, and wearing a tight little skirt.
She also had to admit that his suit was pretty amazing, this year’s Brioni, probably this WEEK’s Brioni. He was a billionaire after all, her nicest clothes would probably still look like rags to him.
Pierce had taken her up to his office, where he must have intended to question her extensively on her supposed article. Shady corporations couldn’t be too careful when it came to tech firms they invested in then mysteriously closed. Fortunately, Starling had a fairly convincing back story for her pretend article. It also probably helped that she was willing to flirt shamelessly to keep the heir apparent off his guard.
Actually it had turned out to be easier than she anticipated. Pierce was actually very easy to talk to in general, and something of a flirt himself. Not to mention, handsome! By the time his assistant was bringing their third cup of coffee, Starling realized how distracted she’d gotten chatting with the man.
She finally convinced him to take her down to in the clerical archives, where she spent the rest of the afternoon. She was a little amazed she been granted access. However, she had quickly realized why. The records room was an absolute mess! Everything in hardcopy files, arranged by year, but the years were hopelessly jumbled. Which probably shouldn’t have surprised her when the company had so many different departments, presumably each department tracked what was needed in their own way, and the hard file stuff came here to be compiled together…or more accurately PILED together.
She had been able to narrow down the date of the Synodyne purchase to a two year span, and she was able to find those two years in the archives fairly easily. However, once she found the years it became nearly impossible to find anything else. At one point she found a box of financials from Warden City Diagnostics, but it was mostly receipts for new signage and to seemingly overhaul the entire lab. But Nothing on Synodyne.
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