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Lost In Paradise
By Suzette

 

Disclaimer: The characters in this story are original creations of the author. Some are descendants of characters that originally appeared in the Mummy movies.

Rated: R

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Chapter 1

(Note all italicized words are translated into Spanish)

“I don’t think anyone’s here…” the female voice repeated in a voice Roxanne just knew had to come from an industrially created blond head.

That’s right lady…ain’t nobody here…keep going. I do not have time to let you pet the “pretty horsies’ nosies”.  So leave already.  She hated these affairs at the L.A. Equestrian Center.  You had to smooze the public and as far as she was concerned the public could screw itself.

“Wait…let’s just go down this last aisle.  I really need to find this Ramon Mendosa fellow.” The male voice reasoned.

Damn. These were the people Ramon was expecting.  Roxanne HAD to deal with them.  This might be Ramon’s chance to quit the day job and make a living with the horses.  He was her best friend: she couldn’t ignore this.

She stepped from the stall, muck rake in hand, hay stuck in her hair, but who the hell cared: this was a BARN.  A fancy schmancy barn…but horses in fancy barns had to shit too. The man was tall, trim and darkish, but with eerie light grayish blue eyes.  He had shortly cropped hair and a neat little…what were those called?  Goatees. The woman was tall, trim and Barbi-dollish. …right down to the big boobs sitting on an impossibly thin body.  Rox imagined her feet were curled into that permanent high-heeled shape found on Barbie dolls and plastic blow up fuck dolls. “Hi folks.” She pasted on a somewhat pleasant smile. “Can I help you?”

“Ah, you see Tawny?  There was someone here.  Miss…we are looking for Ramon Mendosa.  Is he here?”

“No he’s not.  He should have been here by now…let me call him.”  She punched auto dial on her cell.  “Ramon…where are youCan you hear me?  OK….shit…  Can you hear me now? Take my trailer. Just go ahead and send Mario….his truck should pull it…hey…those movie people are here….yeah…I can stall them.  You know how I love to talk to people.  Yeah yeah…I’m always nice…only for you my friend…”

While she was talking, the blond had wandered over to one of the stallions.  She was tickling his upper lip making him reach for her fingers. “Kase, Look…he’s trying to kiss me”  She giggled.

 Jesus.  How stupid could people be. “I would only do that with fingers I wanted to lose…that’s a stud, and he’ll take ‘em off if he thinks you’re teasing him.”  The chick snapped her fingers back fast. Rox addressed the guy. “Ramon’s on the 405.  They had some trouble loading the bulls.  He should be here in 30 minutes.  Maybe you could grab a bite to eat or look around the barns at some other horses?”  In other words, scram and take Malibu Barbie with you.  Each barn was the size of an aircraft hanger and held several hundred horses.  There were four such barns…that could keep even the stupidest blond busy.

“Can we wait here?” The man asked.

“Suit yourself.  There’s some chairs over there – I have horses to get ready.”

“Can I help?” the guy asked. She eyeballed him. Surely he was kidding.  OK…he was in jeans…black leather ones. She could just imagine the fresh green manure squishing up over the top of those loafers, and she doubted the crisp white silk shirt would look half so expensive after one of the horses snotted it. It was nice for him to offer…but let’s deal with reality here.

“No…we don’t let just anyone handle them. But thanks.” Roxanne noticed the blond was looking really bored. “I don’t think your girlfriend wants to wait. Maybe you should just come back?”

“Miss…are you trying to get rid of us?’  Well, damn, he had half a brain…YES YES YES she wanted to yell. 

“No…it’s going to be busy here and I won’t have time to …”

“Entertain us?”

“Well…I was trying to phrase it nicer…but yeah.”

“It’s pretty entertaining already.” He smirked.

Oh great.  A comedian.  Ramon was going to OWE her for this. BIG TIME. What the hell. “Fine.  I have a horse to wash. You can watch if you want….so can … what was her name? Tawny.”

“Great!” The guy flashed a really bright smile at her.  What was this about this town?  Did everyone have perfect teeth?  Of course…there were more dentists and plastic surgeons than grocery clerks. He was pretty nice looking, if one went for handsome men…which she didn’t.

“Luis…I’m taking Valiente to the rack…can you get El Gallo ready?” She called out as she clipped a lead to a big gray’s halter and led him towards the wash racks.

“Si…hey…get that blond’s shirt wet won’t you?  We want to see if those tata’s are real.”  Luis and his brother Jose were cutting up in the tack room.

They’re the best money can buy, boys…” she shot back at them…”Between the two of you, you might be able to afford a nipple.” Laughter poured from the room.

“How do you wash a horse?” Tawny asked.

Oh lord…Roxanne saw how this could  turn a pain in the neck day into a truly pain in the ass one.  She didn’t even try to keep the sarcasm from her voice. “There are a couple different techniques.  I use soap and water.” She clipped Valiente into the crossties and sprayed him with water…”Ooppsie”…a little sprayed onto Tawny  “Sorry…about that.”

“I’m going to the bathroom to take care of this…”she huffed off.  One gone, one to go.

The guy was chuckling again. “That wasn’t very nice.” At least he didn’t mind her getting his girl friend wet.  She hoped he didn't speak Spanish and hadn’t understood what she told the guys back at the barn.  He had an accent but it didn’t seem Spanish…he was dark skinned, but didn’t look Hispanic.  The accent was Englishy, and something else, but the nouns weren’t Spanish.

She dumped a cup of shampoo into a bucket and filled it with water.  “They don’t pay me to be nice.”  She took a big sponge and lathered the horses, starting at the top and working down, first the left side, then the right. Ohhh…ohhh…you like that don’t you big boy…” she purred as the horses rubbed his neck against the sponge.

“What do they pay you for, to be a bitch?” the guy asked.

Gee…should she dump the entire bucket on those Gucci’s for that?  No…she decided that would be hard to explain as an accident. “I’m a friend of Ramon’s.  I do it for free.  I’m a pro bono bitch.”  She was washing the stallion’s belly.  His sheath was next…oh the guy ought to just love this.  She slathered soap on her left arm up to her elbow, and reached up into the stallion’s sheath, and gently coaxed the penis out. It dangled long and limp while she cleaned the flakes of smegma from it. The stallion snaked his neck out, nodding his head. “Oooh…I know baby…that feels so good to get that stuff out of there…” she cooed.

“You have great technique.” The guy was flat out laughing.  Nice laugh….and he had water spots on his shoes…he didn’t seem to mind.  OK…so he wasn’t totally horrid.

“Oh I’ll bet Tamara could teach me a few things.”  Oh…she really hadn’t meant that.  “I’m sorry…that was mean…”

“Shhhhh…and you know it’s Tawny, so stop that.” The guy grinned as he rolled his eyes in the direction of the bathroom.  Roxanne looked under the stallion’s belly and saw tight blue jeans and high heels clickety clacking across the floor towards them.  The return of Tawny.

“Ewwwww,” Tawny squeeled.  “What are you doing?”

“Gee…what could I be doing?  Hm…Oh yeah…I’m washing a horse dick.” She hosed him off…she liked the wash racks here – they had warm water, which was nicer for the horses and kept her fingers from turning rigid from cold.

“There you go…put yourself away now.” She patted his belly. The stallion retracted himself back into his body.

“That was very educational, miss.” The guy said.

“No extra charge.”  She lathered the stallion’s tail and lower legs with a little bluing soap.  It made the white markings really clean. 

Tawny opened her perfectly red lips. “Look…I’m really bored.  Can we leave?  Have this guy call you.”  Ohmigod…she had the starlet whine down like soooo welll…she felt kinda bad for the guy.  BUT…she was sure the woman MUST have her qualities…she probably gave great head…particularly with those collagen-plumped lips.  Now THAT was a nasty thought.

“Tawny, darling…take the limo back. I’ll get a taxi.  It is important I make this. I really want this role…and I have some spare time now…”

Oh damndamndamn.  That’s why he was so polished…he’s a frickin’ actor.  Of course. No normal person looked like that. He was one of the pretty plastic men in the land of pretty plastic people.  She wondered if his lips had been collagened…they were sure pouty enough.  She knew the people coming to see Ramon were from the studio…she just assumed they’d be production people …not the ‘talent’.

“I’ll see you tonight?” Tawny cloyingly asked.

“Of course.  We’ve got that thing in Malibu…I’ll call you.” Yep – Malibu Barbie…she knew it. Roxanne looked away as they exchanged body fluids…spit specifically. It was one of those tonsil-wrestling kisses. Tawny clicked away on her little stilt shoes and was gone.  Praise the Lord.

“Too bad…the boys in the barn will miss her wet shirt.”

“You are one mean chick.” She couldn’t tell if the guy was pissed or entertained.

“Like I said…I ain’t paid to be nice.”  Valiente was rinsed off…good thing he dried quickly – the performance was less than two hours away.  Whatever was she going to do with this guy for two hours?

 “Look…this has been real fun…but I have to get myself ready. Why don’t you just sit in the chairs…we’ve set up a little area there for ‘visitors’…you can watch a video of Ramon on Regalo…I assume that’s why you are here…you’re the guy he’s supposed to teach to ride?”

“I’ve done some riding…but I’m up for a role requiring a lot and I really want to do my own stunts.”

“Cool.  Knock yourself out.  The videos are on top of the VCR.” She looked at her watch. “Ramon should be here any second.” Pleasepleasepleaseplease.

Just then she saw him running through the main aisle of the barn. “Hello….” Oh thank you God…it was Ramon… he ran up to the guy with an extended hand.  Ramon was as warm with people as Roxanne was cold. Rox quickly stepped into the tack room to change into her costume for the show.  She couldn’t ride like the boys could, but they liked to have her along. She knew how to handle the show committees and smoothed their way into the barns…in other words…she was their mother.

 Her horse Monty, was ready: she got him ready before the others.  His training wasn’t finished: none of her horses ever were, but he was pretty, and could do the elementary moves.  He wasn’t even a Spanish horse – he was a plain old All-American Morgan…but she wasn’t Hispanic, either.  This was an exhibition of Iberian riding styles and her friend Ramon was one of the few rejoneo (mounted bull fighting) trainers north of the border.  They asked him to do a demonstration…which mean bulls.  Granted they weren’t going to kill them – just attach Velcro flags to their backs with each pass…but they still had to have bulls.  The show committee wouldn't let them keep the bulls there -–they had to haul them in each night.  Thank goodness it was the LAST night of this.  Those bulls weren’t the easiest things to load and last night a couple of them got a mite…upset in the trailer and popped some welds trying to get out. Damn bulls needed to become steaks, anyway.  In any case, they were short a trailer for the horses now, and had to send one of the guys back to her place to get her trailer for the ride home after the show.

Her outfit was the female version of the charro suit: long black split skirt, short matching bolero jacket and the huge, heavy hat.  She really didn’t like the hat – it made her head hurt.  Alas…the price one pays for fame.  She shimmied into the skirt: it was tight over her stomach and buttocks: very form fitting.  She had a little more junk in the trunk than the skirt was made to fit. Her hair pulled back with a big red bow – which was traditional, too. A little lipstick..egads…she actually could still look like a girl.  She tried to pout like Tawny…hmm…she decided it looked like a horse anus. Not a real flattering effect.

The boys were all ready for the demo…all she had to do was mount up and join them.  Her biggest role was cantering in with them, and cantering back out when they were done.  During the bull fighting demo she just sat on Monty along with a couple of the other guys.  They were “background color”.  Whoopie Zip.  Still…Monty looked great – he was palomino and his color was always a big draw.

It went well – all the shows had, but she was glad they were over.  One of Southern California’s famous torrential rains had settled over the city and streets were flooding all over town.  It was going to be a sucker of a drive home, hauling the trailers. She was glad…for once…to be the “girl” in the bunch.  Her macho Mexican cowboy friends were sweet…and male chauvinists.  She didn’t let them treat her like a “girl” very often, but tonight, when they volunteered to haul the trailers so she didn’t have to…yeah…she was more than happy to play helpless.

She stayed after they loaded up and pulled out – she always was the last one out – making sure everything was taken care of and nothing was left behind.  Her old truck was one of the last vehicles in the parking lot. It was a 1980 GMC dually, painted in lovely primer gray.  Ramon’s brother Mario found it for her.  He was a mechanic and she needed something to haul hay and pull a horse trailer.  She came out of the divorce with the Mercedes sedan.  Not the most practical thing, given her life out here, and she traded straight across for the truck.  She did wish Mario would get around to removing the glass packs off the side…she really didn’t care to have a truck that announced its arrival a full block before it pulled up to the curb.

The starter complained a bit – condensation in the distributor cap no doubt, but she turned over, the strong engine singing Mario’s praises. Rox popped a CD in – yep..good engine and good sound system…what more did a girl need?  AC/DC blared loud and hard from the speakers. She shifted into first…and realized what else this girl needed: a new clutch… the gears ground and grumbled before slipping into synch.

Some poor sap was standing in the bus kiosk.  Oh man – he was doomed – it was 11:20 on a rainy night in L.A..  No one was going to stop: taxi’s were impossible to find and he’d be lucky if a bus stopped there before dawn.  Best thing to happen would be for the cops to pick him up and take him home.  She rumbled by, eyeballing the wet idiot…then it hit her between the eyes…she knew the idiot – it was the actor.

Sonofabitch. She knew the guy – she couldn’t just leave him there.

She brought the truck to a hard stop, hydroplaning a bit, and shone a flashlight at the guy. “Hey you… want a ride?” She yelled over the music. He winced into the beam. She realized she had blinded him with the flashlight, and pulled it away from his face “Sorry”.  She turned the cab lights on and the music down. “It’s me – the bitch.  Do you need a ride or do you want to wait until someone nicer rolls along?”

He was sprinting to the truck and opened the door before she had to ask again.  “Thanks. I’ve been waiting out there for almost an hour. I stayed for the show, then found my cell battery was dead.”

“So why didn’t Yawny come back for you?”

“She’s pissed because I didn’t make it to a party in Malibu.”

“Oh well. I’m sure something else will pop up for her. So where do you live and please don’t tell me it’s in Ventura County….”

“No it’s just up Cold Water.”

“I don’t know the streets up that way – you navigate.” She wound the truck up the on ramp onto the freeway.  They had gone maybe three miles before an accident up ahead turned it into a used car lot.  “Hell. I hate this town…can we take surface streets?” She asked.

“No…not really.  The exit’s not too far.” He appreciated the easy way she downshifted the truck: she had skill with a standard.  Not many women did, and this wreck of a truck had a blown clutch: she had to feather the pedal to get the gears to synch. It couldn’t be easy to drive in traffic

“Great.  So…Mr. Actor…did you enjoy the show?”

“Kase. Yes.  It was very nice.  Your friend Ramon is very good.”

“He’s the best horseman I’ve ever known. Did you get what you wanted from Ramon?”

“Yes.  I am going to start working with him. Hey…I’m dripping all over your truck..”

“You’re not going to hurt anything…there is a towel behind the seat if you need to dry your crotch off.”

“Excuse me?”

“Your leather.  Water’s bad for it and it’s pooling in your lap.…oil those pants when you get home and you might save them.”

“You’re slipping.  That was nice.”

“Don’t let it get out. I AM a professional bitch.  So when do you start with Ramon?”

“Tomorrow morning.”

“You can’t.  He works tomorrow morning.”

“Look…he gave me a card and said I was supposed to be at this address at 7:00 am… I assumed it was his place.”

Shit.  She bet she knew the address. “What’s the address?”

She watched him pull a drenched piece of paper from his hip pocket.  He had to thrust his hips up to get his hand deep enough to reach it. His wet leather pants appeared to be shrinking a bit. He was definitely male.  She averted her eyes. Ain’t anything there she wanted to deal with.

“67 Spade Bit Drive.”

“Sonofabitch. That’s my place.  What the hell am I supposed to do with you?” She glared at him, swearing if he gave her some smart ass answer he was walking home, flooded freeway or not.

“He said he wanted me to start hanging around the barn, doing barn chores, that sort of thing.”

That sounded like Ramon.  He insisted who ever he trained not only rode, but worked with the horses on the ground – and that included a lot of barn chores…but why HER barn?  “Don’t bother if this rain doesn’t stop: it’s pure adobe up there.  If it’s not pouring, I guess you can come up.  There’ll be a mess to clean up. Wear something you can get filthy. …and old shoes….wait…I might have some muckers that will fit you…what size are your feet anyway?” They looked like gunboats.

Thirteen, American size.”

“Yeah – I’ve got some big old rubbers that will fit…”

His eyebrows shot up “What?”

‘Rubbers…rubber boots…oh good God. You didn’t think…oh shit, of course you did.  You’re an actor. Those things are handed out like butter mints at your parties, right?”

“Something like that.” He laughed.

“Trust me…you won’t need those at my place.  What directions did Ramon give you?”  Ramon knew his way around horses…but not streets.  He was famous for his poor sense of direction.  Kase read some instructions that had no logical connection to anything on this side of Earth. Typical.  “Look – if you follow those you’ll end up in Bakersfield.  Just get on the 405 south to Crenshaw.  Take Crenshaw south until you reach Palos Verdes Drive North – turn right.  Spade Bit is to the right – maybe ¼ mile from the intersection.  Just follow it around until you see the truck parked on the street. You can’t miss this truck.  There’s a drive that leads past the house to the barn.  Come on down when you get there: I’ll already be in the barn.”

“That’s my exit coming up…you’ll have to get over.”

“No problema.” She hit the blinker and worked her way across traffic. She didn’t wait for an opening: if she had, she never would have gotten across.  This was, after all, a Los Angeles freeway on a rainy night.  In other words, a combat zone.  She just happened to have the biggest tank.  The truck muscled its way to the far right lane and headed off into the canyon beyond.  It quickly turned into a winding twisting canyon road…the sort that around here meant you were in the land of millionaires and movie stars. Beverly Hill Billy central. Rox wrapped the old truck around the curves, not slowing much.

“Interesting driving.” Kase remarked.

“Ya ought to see me pulling the goose neck down the 405…I leave a path of destruction behind me like Sherman in Georgia.”

“Who?”

“William Tecumseh Sherman – Union general in the Civil War….?”

“Ah. Yes.  American History. The march to the sea.  I have been learning about this war lately.”

“You’re not American, are you?”

“No.”

“Fine – I’ll it made real clear right now that if you don’t have a green card or if your visa is hinky in any way or you are illegal, I don’t care but I DON’T WANNA KNOW. I don’t know if all of Ramon’s friends are legal, and I don’t ask. In my business I can’t know this stuff.”

“And what business is that?”

“Professional bitch.  I’m an attorney.”

“Ah, I should have known.  My papers are all in order.….I bet you’re hell in a courtroom.”

“I do very little courtroom stuff. – I do contract law, copyright infringement that sort of thing, and I’m a great legal researcher. At least I used to be. Now I work from a computer at home. You’ve seen the signs on the busses for eLawyer.com?  I’m one of the ‘thousands of on line lawyers that provides answers for a small nominal fee’ as the commercials say.” She opened the truck’s ashtray and pulled a business card from it, handing it to him.

“Obviously it pays well…this is quite the ride you’ve got.” His was joking, trying to play along the mood – he found he actually almost liked this woman – she was at least different from the women he usually hung with, but something about his tone pissed her off and the next words from her mouth dripped with vitriol.

“It pays the bills and gives me lots of time to play cowgirl, and right now that’s what I want and it really is none of your Gucci-healed business, now is it, Mr. Underemployed actor?” She was tired of the conversation anyway. She didn’t want to like this guy, and she was finding him very likable despite that. She turned the music back up. They continued the last few minutes without speaking. 

“THIS IS MY PLACE. AND TURN THE MUSIC DOWN.”  He yelled over the din. Rox didn’t respond well to yelling.

Shit. He lived in a freakin’ mansion.  Maybe he was the houseboy…or the pool boy…or the wife’s cabana boy…or the Kato Kayelin for the new millenium and lived in the guesthouse around back picking up any stray gloves.

He switched the music off. “Stop at the guard house.” His voice was a low monotone.

She would be so happy to drop this one off…SOOOO holy firiggin shitfully happy…. She pulled up to the guardhouse, slamming on the brakes, making the truck slide and buck.  She looked at him and smiled: yes you ass hole, she thought, I did that on purpose.

“Roll down the window. Now.” He ordered. Ordered. Yep…it was an order. She didn’t respond well to orders, either. Fine…the sooner she followed his instructions, the sooner he got out of the cab. She cranked the window down, letting the rain pelt inside the cab.

He leaned across her to the window.  His hand was high on her thigh and his arm rubbed against her breast.  She thought it was just coincidence.  He didn’t seem to be aware he was feeling her up. The man in the guard house smiled when he recognized him “Kase…whatya doin’ in that?  Ya have car trouble?  Why dintya call – I’da sent the limo back fer ya.”

“No. Phone trouble and female trouble – I’ll tell you about it tomorrow.” The iron gate already slid open. “Pull the truck around to the front door.” He growled at her, squeezing her leg hard before returning to his side of the truck. His smile let her know that he did that on purpose. Jerk. She thought about slapping him, but something in his eyes told her not to do it. The house was just a little bit farther up the drive and she screeched to another hard stop. He opened the door before the truck stopped bouncing. “Thanks for the lift.  I’ll see you in the morning. Can’t wait, sweet pea.” He slammed the door and ran through the rain to the house.

Inside he stripped off the sopping clothes in the foyer.  They were ruined, and he dropped them in the downstairs bathroom sink.  He’d deal with them in the morning. He sprinted, naked and freezing up the stairs two at a time. He let a hot shower steam away the chill. He’d had a hell of night with the women, he reflected.  Tawny was no doubt still fuming, and the one with the truck…good grief. He’d met better natured scorpions.  No.  That was wrong.  Actually, she wasn’t as bad as she wanted him to think, but he didn’t have time or interest to straighten her brain out.  All he had to do was get along with her long enough to brush up on his riding skills. Then again, he mused, her thigh was muscular and firm under his hand and he liked the way her rounded hips filled her riding skirt. It has been awhile since he had been with a woman that wasn’t all angular and pointed. Yeah, right, Kase – he chuckled at himself – she was so anti-male he bet she was lesbian….or kept a supply of battery operated toys at her bedside….or a really big dog. Yuck.  That last was really distasteful. His mother would be ashamed of him for thinking that. He was ashamed of himself for thinking it.

There was something about her name that was familiar. Roxanne V. Baker. Attorney at Law.

He turned off the water, shaking the water from his hair.  He liked the ease of the shorter cut, but this new role asked for longer stuff, so back out it would grow. THAT would please his mother: she liked his hair longer. He wrapped himself in a towel, padded downstairs and raided the fridge.  A slice of cold vegetarian pizza called his name and he took it with him back up to his bedroom.

Kase shoved a huge bite of the pizza into his mouth as sat at the computer, powering it up and loading a web site he hadn’t visited in a while. He clicked on “search”.  The site prompted his user I.D. and he typed in his password…it got him past the first firewall. That was surprising: Sam should have changed it …but what the heck if it worked…he typed in the second password. “Shit!”  The screen turned red and the computer locked up.

The phone rang. He knew who it was without caller I.D. “Hey Sam.” He mumbled, his mouth still full of pizza.

“What do you think you’re doing bro?” His brother’s voice over the phone was annoyed.

“Trying to get into the data base…but you already know that.  So drop the firewall, unlock my system and let me in.”

“Ya know, Kase, if you came back to work for me, you wouldn’t have to beg permission to access a search. C’mon – you were damn good in the field. Give up the acting thing – a couple months of training and I’ve got a great position for you.”

“We’ve got an uncle who wants me to work the other family business…you know the one people know about? He reminds me of all those years in college and my degree and what a loss it is to the company not to have me producing. Look – I asked for one year to get this acting bug out of my system.  It’s only been a few months.”

“Have you gotten any jobs?”

“I’m up for one now…and I just missed out on some sword and sand epic.” He laughed – “You’ll never believe it, Sam.  They said I didn’t look Araby enough.”

“Somehow you managed to get all the Anglo-Saxon genes, bro – you’re the only one with blue eyes in the whole damn clan. OK…I know it’s late there and I’ve got a meeting coming up.  Who ya looking up?  One of your blond bed partners?  You’re going to get diabetes from that steady diet of over-refined white sugar.” Sam was laughing. He had married young to the first girl he loved, and always teased his brother about his stable of beautiful women.

“No…I don’t think this one is ever going to see the soft side of my sheets. She’s just someone I met, but her name’s familiar.  Look, drop the firewall: you can watch the search too.”

“Oh I intend to, baby brother. OK…you’re unlocked and have full access.  Type her in.”

Kase put the name in and chatted with his brother while the system searched. “So how’s London this time of year?”

“It’s February in England.  Haven’t seen the sun in twelve days and I’m starting to get real homesick for a sandstorm.  The kids are great. They really enjoy it here, but the boys are looking forward to summer with their cousins.  Soraya’s…um…I haven’t told the family yet…she’s pregnant again. “

“Geez, Sam, haven’t you figured out what causes that yet?” Sam and his wife had five kids – four boys and one girl: Jenny, the oldest at 15. “Congratulations, man…when?”

“September. If it’s another boy I’ll have my own basketball team. We’re kinda hoping for a girl – she and Jenny can be bookends – Soraya swears the factory’s closing after this one, no matter what. Kase, Jenny hasn’t forgotten your invitation: she wants to visit L.A. this summer.  You ready for that?  She’s a handful.”

“It’s your fault for giving her that name. I’d love to have her here and I promise I’ll guard her virtue with my life.”

“Don’t make promises you can’t keep…she’s a wild one…Here comes your search results.”

Until then, Sam hadn’t seen the name typed in or he would have recognized it straight away.  Roxanne V. Baker. He read it and cursed in Arabic. He had lived in England for 10 years and didn’t often use his native language.  “How’d you find this one Kase? Do you realize who she is?”

“That’s why I’m doing the search.  Who is she?”

“I’ll never forget that name. I was more involved with the case that you were. …remember when you worked here and we had that security breach?”

“Yeah yeah…what a pain in the ass.  Some stupid bitch doing background work found a way to hack into the…. Shit.  It was her?”

“Yep.  And I don’t know about the bitch part, but she isn’t stupid – she was a hell of a hacker.  Just out of law school and stuck in some back office doing research. I’d love to have her working for me.”

“No you wouldn’t – she’s accepted the bitch part as a life’s career.  She really has a thing against men.”

Sam chuckled.  “Keep reading – I’ll think you’ll see why.  I did a search on her a while back. I wanted to find out where she learned to corrupt a firewall that completely. Husband was a real bastard. Download the file ‘cause five minutes after I hang up you’re locked out again. Hey bro  - I need to fly – drop me an e-mail later, eh?”

“Yeah.  Thanks Sam. Give my best to Soraya.  She’s too good for you, you know.” 

Kase finished the pizza and read the file.  Roxanne V. Baker grew up in Reno.  Honor student and lettered athlete all the way.  A picture of her showed nothing special: a boring little brown haired girl in good physical shape. Attended UC. Davis, appeared headed for veterinary school but shifted halfway through and went into pre law.  Accepted at McGeorge School of Law, graduated second in her class.

She had no police record, paid her income taxes on time and lead, according to her file, a boring little brown-haired life.

He scrolled down to the special section.  The stuff NOT in the average personal files. This was where all the dirty laundry was found:  boyfriends…drug problems…he smirked…girlfriends.  If she had them, they’d be in here. Lessee what our little scorpion has under her rock…No serious boyfriends through undergraduate school…started dating her married contract law professor her last year in law school. Aha. Now there’s some dirt. Got a job working for his firm right out of school and within six months he had divorced his second wife and made her wife number three.  Marriage lasted nine months.  He clicked on the transcript of the divorce, then hit print.  He wanted hard copies of that – it should prove interesting – but there was too much to read tonight. It was 2:16 am…he was tired, and was actually looking forward to sleeping alone for a change.

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Lost In Paradise – Chapter 2