Saturday, December 22, 2018

Studio Time: Forty Seven Part 2

The enemy of my enemy
The friend of my friend

Camilla strolled through his door, across his foyer, chose a seat in the center of the middle sofa and sat down.  She set her purse on the floor beside the end table after a quick inspection.  There would be no dirt on his floor.  Satisfied, she straightened her jacket, perhaps to ensure maximum cleavage was still in his face.  Duff waited politely for her to speak first.

She did not.  Deciding to be direct in a situation that would no doubt be anything but, he said, "Why are you here Camilla?"

As he expected, Will followed his lead but with a good deal more emotion. "What are you talking about?  Who told you my dad's selling Hitman?"

She leaned forward.  If Will was distracted he didn't show it and he probably was not.  She claimed his father was being threatened.  He would pay little attention to Camilla's breasts.

"They're not selling it because they feel like selling it. Gemma Wilson is blackmailing them she wants half the studio, she wants Slim's half and that's why both of you are here."

He glanced at Rayne who looked stricken and tired and she held his gaze as if asking for help. Whatever she needed from him, he would provide it.  She was cold, he could at least help with that.   "It is chilly by the door," he told her.  "Stand nearer the fire cara."

Camilla shifted on the sofa and kept on talking the way she always did but this time he listened with a great deal more care than usual. "I have a plan I just need Will to put it on paper and for us to sign it."

Will sat down, stared at her, turned around and looked up at Duff.  "She's talking about this woman blackmailing my father.  That requires a lot more discussion beyond drawing up papers and signing them.  I need details, don't you?  Regardless of what's happening tomorrow, we need to have a conversation."

Duff looked at Camilla who was for some reason contemplating the floor or more likely her shoes.  "Camilla, you will explain clearly, no one here wants to listen to something incomprehensible for an hour. Get on with it."

Camilla sat uncharacteristically silent before leveling her gaze on Rayne. "Maybe I didn't make myself clear or maybe you've decided it doesn't matter what I said but I do not want you here.  You have nothing to offer and I don't want to bother with the complaining and arguing and questioning.  Duff can you take care of this please?"

It was an incredibly presumptuous and insulting request.  Rayne had every right to sit or stand anywhere she pleased.  She was not a dog scratching at Camilla's legs.  He drew a deep breath, trying to control his anger, and turned and looked at Rayne.  Her expression was blank. He did not want to accommodate Camilla on this, was furious that she asked, but Rayne's feelings came before his own. He would leave the decision to Rayne.

"Cara, perhaps you should..."

"If this is about my father, I should know what's going on.  I have to know Duff.  Please don't send me away."  Rayne lowered her gaze, her body still, quiet.

That small gesture, Duff knew, was monumentally difficult for her.  When it came to her family, no one was fiercer than Rayne.  Softly he murmured, "I'll allow it but cara, you must promise to sit quietly and we will discuss everything later.  I do not know what she's doing.  I do not want you hurt by her outbursts."

Her mouth curved in the tiniest of smiles as she fleetingly looked at Camilla before dropping her gaze demurely.  They'd come so far in such a short amount of time and Duff was immensely proud of her.  He'd reward her for her acquiescence later.

"Thank you Duff."  Rayne gently smoothed the front of his shirt and stepped back.

Mindful of Will, trying to be careful, Duff swung his attention back to Camilla. "This is her home as well as mine, Camilla.  She stays where she pleases."

They looked at one another for a moment in silence, then Camilla shrugged and began again.

"Except for Jimmy Breaux Gemma hasn't done anything memorable which is her real problem she doesn't do anything memorable and she is utterly forgettable.  You also know about the contract Slim cancelled when Jimmy died, the one everybody got so upset about.  Everybody knows about that."

"So she has a problem with Slim.  Why do you think she is asking them to give her part of the studio, and why do you believe she is blackmailing them?  I have limited time tonight, Camilla.  Get to the point.  Tell me what this has to do with me now."

"That is the point! She wants to hurt Slim and she has something on Cooper that she's using to threaten Slim.  It's always been Cooper and Slim always protects him.  It's Slim she's going after.  That's why she isn't asking for the whole studio, she wants Slim's half.  She is deliberately grinding Slim down into the dirt and will take every single thing he has right down to the chair he sits in and she's making Cooper do it for her."

She was looking directly at Slim's son who sat frozen, looking back at her.  "I won't let her.  That's why I'm here and you're going to help me.  We're buying the studio, the three of us.  We have the means but we need to act.  If Slim and Coop don't own the studio Gemma has nothing to threaten to take from them because it's already gone."

Nobody moved or said a single thing for a long, tense ten, twenty, thirty silent seconds.  Duff cast a quick glance at Rayne who met it.  Her blank expression had become stony.

Will leaned forward, eyes fixed on Camilla. "Let me get this straight. Gemma Wilson is blackmailing Dad and Cooper into giving her half of the business, my dad's half.  You're suggesting we stop it by buying him out, buying both of them out.  What happens then?  Why wouldn't she use whatever she's got anyway, burn down the house on her way out?  And how the hell do you know any of this?"

"She won't. Don't you see?  If she gets the half studio okay maybe all of the studio I mean as if Coop would keep the other half, she would have a studio and a whole industry ready to ruin her.  If she doesn't get the studio she's still got a chance to be a successful agent unless she burns down that house.  If she burns down the house she still ruins herself and still gets nothing because what's she going to do then? Nobody is going to work with her as an agent.  She had one shot and she's taken it and it's not going to work."

Finally, as if it were an afterthought. she added, "She's not particularly good at keeping her things to herself.  You can stand on the first floor in that building and hear a toilet flush on the third."

Unexpectedly, the woman who had been diligently and obediently quiet said, "This is ridiculous."

Duff looked at her, surprised.  Will, halfway to his feet anyway, looked at her and then back at Camilla. Camilla was caught in another mid sentence, and stopped, and looked at Rayne with equal surprise.

Rayne sat back in the chair and folded her arms.  "You heard something through a wall?  Unless you've been spying on her and I mean real spying, not listening to toilets flushing, you don't know anything at all.  All you know is that Gemma hit on Heydon."

"Right, yeah, uh-huh, okay."  Will turned and started walking away from them.  "I'm going to go upstairs, run some numbers and work something out.  And I'm going to call my dad."

He should end this.  Camilla had given them enough information to at least consider her request.  There was no reason to allow her to stay any longer.

He began - "Camilla, you've told us enough - "

She cut him off while still focusing on Rayne.  "I am not leaving. You can follow Will upstairs or you can stand there and look at me but I'm not leaving."

Neither was she staying without his permission and she knew it.  For Rayne's sake though, he would give her a few more minutes.  Rayne should have the chance to push her if she so chose, and she obviously did. Her point might appear reasonable if they were dealing with anyone but Camilla.  "You may have a few additional minutes."

Camilla glared at him.  Rayne's expression was neutral.  She touched her cheek though, an uneasy gesture that did not necessarily mean she was intimidated.

"I will be back shortly," he said, and reluctantly turned to leave them alone with one another, ready to quickly return.  Rayne was trying to give him what he wanted and needed in their relationship.  He had to give her what she wanted as well and that included allowing her to fight her own battles.  It was no easier for him than it was for her.

As soon as he turned his back, he heard Rayne begin again just where she had stopped.  "How do you know all these details about what she wants and how she wants it done? You can't possibly know by listening at walls!  Come on, Camilla.  What does Gemma have on my father?  How do you know?  You'd have to be...well you'd have to be Gabe to do something like this, and you are not Gabe!"

Duff hesitated near the staircase.  Once again, Gabriel Lombardo entered the room. It was a pity he had never met the man.  He must have been one impressive son of a bitch.

"I don't have to be Gabe.  It's not as difficult as you think, other people can do some of the things he did." Camilla looked relaxed, at ease, in control, and she normally would be, and at this moment still was.  "What would you do if you knew what Gemma can claim Cooper did?  Threaten her?  How?  You can't protect him that's what Slim's tried to do.  You would do what you've always done and somebody will suffer and it won't be Gemma Wilson.  I will not tell you what I know and I will not tell you how I know it."

Her voice tighter, angry and low, Camilla paused then struck out even harder. "Do not presume to tell me what Gabe would do. You don't know anything at all about what Gabe could or would do.  You don't know anything about him and he would not remember you.  He wouldn't recognize you if he fell over you on the street."

Rayne laughed.  "Oh yes he would and I did know him.  It might not have been the way most people know each other but I knew him.  The gift he gave me when I was a little girl is still sharp enough to cut to the bone, and if I needed help, Gabe would have helped me and he would not bullshit me.  There is no way he would do what you're doing.  Don't tell me not to talk about him. You don't own him Camilla.  No one ever owned Gabe."

Rayne fell quiet.  Duff waited, prepared to intervene if Rayne faltered, but Camilla looked down and said nothing.  It was as if Gabriel Lombardo reached back from the dead and held her hands and silenced her.

Rayne stood up, went to the bar, brought out a bottle of wine and two glasses.  The vintage was a good one, one of the best he would keep in a bar in the living room, and she would know that, and so would Camilla.  Camilla followed her.

"He changed my life." Rayne set down the glasses.  "More than anyone else, from the time I was a little girl, he changed my life.  That's how I recognized Duff.  I knew he was mine because of Gabe."

Rayne handed her a glass and Camilla took the wine.

Rayne held hers, standing motionless.

Camilla lifted her glass.  It was a toast.  "Blood in the water".

"And a blade in the hand."


  1. Come into my web, said the spider to the fly. That's what I think of when I see Camilla and Rayne together. In this instance I'm not sure who is who exactly. Duff might the fly in this one though he may not think he is, regardless, he's in a tough spot and I don't envy him at all. When Camilla comes calling it's never easy. And the ghost of Gabe strikes again....interesting. I can't wait to see what's next :).

    1. Hi Muzegoddess and thank you for the comment! Rayne can definitely hold her own but Camilla is a force that most people would rather not butt heads with. Duff as the fly...interesting to think about...he is caught in ways he is unfamiliar with in his relationship with Rayne but ultimately, he is in control. The dynamic with Rayne and Duff is a lot different than either of them expected or is accustomed to so their growth as a couple will be fascinating I think. At least, I hope.

      As for Camilla and Duff, she talks a good game with him but he is always, ALWAYS in control and even Camilla knows that. She can push only so far and only as much as he allows.

      Thank you so much for sticking with us!

  2. Really loved this update! So much tension in the air, yikes! At least everyone stayed relatively calm though and there weren't any out bursts. Duff is so smooth and it was thoughtful of him to be respectful of Rayne's feelings, this really does show that they are growing as a couple and in a good way. It makes me happy too because I love these two together! Rayne seems to be able to hold her own though and she did well in staying in control and then the whole wine offering, which was unexpected but cool. ;)

    I'm up to date, finally! Look forward to your next update ladies! :)

    1. Rayne and Camilla would have continued a semi-hostile, wary relationship if not for Gabe. Both of them knew him. Both of them feel he did something remarkable and was someone remarkable, which is true but that truth is complicated. That's a strong bond between the two women like two people worshipping at the same alter. Plus Rayne isn't Cammie but she's not far off and both of them suddenly realized how alike they actually are. Camilla offered the toast and waited to see if Rayne would understand and respond - it was a test. Are you a grownup or are you going to sulk like a child? She passed.

      Duff got to overhear something he wasn't prepared for too. Rayne's claim on him was unexpected.

      I cannot thank you enough for reading and providing so much moral support by leaving a comment. Just thank you.

  3. Man! I swear Duff just gets finer (like that vintage he's hiding under the bar). *Ahem* excuse me.

    "He'd reward her for her acquiescence later." That line gave me chills.

    I don't know how I'd feel about being partnered with Camilla. On the one hand she's a savvy businesswoman but on the other she's just so cold and scary that I'd have to think I was in bed with the devil herself. And that's just no bueno.

    I wonder how this will all work out. I just don't trust Camilla. Not even for a second.

    P.S. I don't know what the hell Rayne is talking about. Gabe ain't give her shit! Duff belongs to me and me alone. Period. The hell? "He's mine" pashaw! That tat you read on his ass, I put that there. Guess I should have initialed it too.

    1. Daijah V!!! It is so good to hear from you! Thank you so much for reading and taking the time to leave a comment. And for remembering bad boy Duff.

      Yes, Camilla is scary but she's also loyal - she's a dragon. If you cross her she's likely to scald your skin off. If you're a friend or a family member, she'll do what she can to protect you and she'll take revenge on your enemies. Duff doesn't count her as a friend but he's known her a long time and there's no bad blood between them. As far as sex goes, they'd make terrible partners. They're both dominants. That doesn't necessarily mean they've never been involved together in something with a submissive, or two, or more.

      Gabe rescued Rayne as a little girl and she never ever forgot him. He was the prince of her life, a guiding star, her ideal, the lover who came to her in her dreams to reassure and encourage her. He changed her whole life with that one act of compassion and mercy. From her perspective, no one else has ever had a bigger impact on her life than Gabe. Camilla and Gabe were like brother and sister. They cared a great deal about each other, and Camilla was instrumental in killing the woman who was complicit in Gabe's death. So yeah, although it might not appear that way, Camilla and Rayne do have Gabe in common. They both put him on a pedestal he didn't deserve and didn't want. Saint Gabe.

      What can I say about Rayne claiming Duff? It's news to him. Does he like it? I don't know. He gave up his job for her but being claimed has to be a new experience.

      And if you signed his ass, you'd be the first woman he would ever allow to do that! High five!

      Thank you again. It is truly flattering to get a comment from you!

    2. Hi Daijah V and thank you so much for leaving a comment! I wondered if you had moved on from Duff...I recently stumbled on a photo shoot I did for you with him and Rob...

      Anyway, I won't add much more to Beth's reply other than one thing about Duff and what he overheard. He left a job he loved for her which means she means more to him than the job. He would not have done that for any other woman. Ever. The fact that she told Camilla something that he personally had not heard from Rayne will shake him but not in a bad way. I don't think either of them understands or has stopped to consider how deep their feelings go. I suppose Rayne's claim could ruin everything but I seriously doubt it. I know what's in his head and I hope one day we can reveal it to everyone else.

      Thank you again for taking time to leave a comment! It means a lot.

    3. I remember that shoot! I tried to get to it a while back but the link I'd bookmarked was gone :'(

      Mmm Mr. Porter. The only one that has ever made me look twice at Duff...but only for a moment (or three) .

    4. I still have them although I don't know if I ever put text to it. I will find them again one of these days and put them up for you. I just need to remember where i might have posted it :thinking:

    5. That is, of course, a big assumption on my part that you might want them again.

    6. I do! I do! And it was here:

      See >< that's how insane I am.