All too soon, they were landing. The jarring woke Lily up but good. It always seemed that you had just dropped off into good sleep, when.... It never failed. She rubbed her eyes and sat up to watch Rock bring the plane in. They did ask for a clearance code and Lily replied to his raised brows, "Let me the fuck in". Lily's lips twisted into a grin but Rock seemed less than enchanted as he repeated the phrase for the tower operator. Lucky for them, those were the code words and they slipped onto a landing strip and into a hanger without difficulty. Rock cut the engines and the whining slowed to a stop. Lily's ears rung with the lack of noise for a few moments. It was disorienting. The main cargo door slid open and she could hear men moving the sick team members and directing the ones who could walk. They were taken to a secluded wing of the multi winged structure. They needed acute care. Not to worry. Hayu kept a skilled team on staff. Lily disembarked, identified herself and was taken to her quarters almost immediately. She hardly gave Rock a second thought. It suited her mood to ignore him.

She was amazed at the opulence of her rooms, but not totally surprised. It was a beautiful room. Large, with a four poster canopy in a gauzy material. Typical of Hayu. It was dark wood with floral printed spreads trimmed in six inch lace. There was the vase of dried flowers and such by the door, including of course eucalyptus, to provide that clean smell. There were fresh cut flowers, obviously placed by the bed recently. A small square of white caught her eye in the bouquet. She smiled a smug, self aggrandizing smile of victory. Conquest. Lily knew how to handle Hayu. How to bring him to his knees, and do her bidding willingly. She plucked the card from the flowers, saw her name written in his hand, calligraphy. Gold calligraphy. She smiled again, feeling very secure and patted the card against her lips as she thought. She decided to wait to open the card. She would make reading it part of "an experience". The bathroom was all done in white. Tile all around. Gleaming stainless steel faucets and drains. The shower was large enough for four normal sized people. It had two powerful heads that knew no satiation of hot water. The tub could have held three people of extraordinary size with ease. It had seats, and drink holders. She was enchanted. There was a mini fridge in the bedroom, disguised as part of the dressers, holding all sorts of potables. She took a bottle of artesian water to drink and went immediately to start filling the tub with hot water. She felt so dirty since leaving Brazil. A hot bath would be nice. Wash away the dirt and blood. The smell and feel of the battle. The sound of men dying. Yes, she needed to bathe in the worst way. She discovered some bubble bath in the armoire and was gone for some time indulging her senses in this luxury.

Rock looked around his quarters and found them at least within his due. They were like the other suites. Opulent, lushly overdone with thick carpets and drapes, four poster beds, pull bells by the bed. One didn't see those everyday. He strode over to a standing armoire and found it filled with clean towels, soaps and shampoos, scrubbers, buffers, and a thick oversized bathrobe. Rock stared at the garment sourly. What am I supposed to do with that huge thing? Parachute to freedom? In a fit of pique he slammed the doors shut and crossed to the window to see what was behind the drapes. The bedroom window over looked a covered garden. It was obvious the rooms were built around a central courtyard, then that was covered with some sort of translucent dome to allow light in, but keep rain out. There was a lush garden growing all around, a walking path interrupted by many small benches, statuary, small ponds that jumped with fish and frogs. Rock almost wished the window was openable. That failing, he decided he would pull the call bell to see what he could get that way.

Lily was deep into her bath, done with her bottle of water long before the water in the tub ever filled. She had mixed herself an attitude adjustment, a big one, before getting in the tub. She had almost forgotten the card. It lay on the tub side, slightly wet now. She picked it up and peeled away the sodden envelope. The card inside read: I love you, but not this time. Hayu.

Lily sat upright in the tub mindless of the water sloshing over the rim. Her bottom lip practically exploded into a pout. What did he mean, "not this time"? Hmmmph! She was quite put out by this. After all she had done for him! Not to mention, to him! Honestly. Oh no. They were not nearly done with this. This was a challenge. A dare. Hmmm. She wondered how she should approach Hayu. A needy little girl? A self assured woman, who knows what she wants? She made a resolve that she would be all woman with Hayu. A secret smile crossed her lips as she sank into the tub and decided to deal with him tomorrow. The classic "Scarlett O'Hara" school of thought. Fiddle-dee-dee. I won't think of that today, I'll think of that tomorrow!

Rock wanted to go and stroll around the complex, but found his way obscured by guards who wanted to hawk his every step. The stifling environment was beginning to tell on him, and he was curt and rude to all who addressed him until he was back in his chambers. Hmmph. He thought. Keep me in here, huh? Dammit. He was thinking of Lily. Where was she? Why hadn't she come to him? A knock on the door disrupted him. A highly dressed house page was there to tell of dinner to come in an hour and a half. Rock thought sarcastically that he didn't have his dinner suit, when a knock at the door announced the arrival of his dinner attire. Oh, really, was his attitude when it was delivered. But when compared against the dung stained pants of Brazil, the suit seemed the obvious choice. He went to shower, but not without reservations.

It wasn't long before the deep resonance of what sounded like a gong sounded throughout the house. Lily noticed the speaker in her ceiling and realized that it was being piped in. She wondered if there was really a gong at all, or if it was taped. She had helped herself to one of the gowns in the other side of the armoire, and it fitted her beautifully. The gown itself was a work of art. Lance would have died to see it. She could hear him now. First he would love it, then he would start making alterations.

It was off the shoulder, surrounded by black turkey feathers, long full sleeves of sequins ending with rolled lace at the hands. The princess styled bodice was of the same black sequins and tightly fitted down to the knees where it flared out in a pouffe of taffeta, crinoline, and was decorated with more sequins. She could only move her legs from the knee down, making her take small delicate steps that caused her to kick the ruffle in the front as she went . A pair of black Poi De Soi pumps completed the ensemble nicely. She worried over her hair in the mirror. A timid knock on the door caused her a curious moment. Who could it be? Rock? She tried to quiet the little quiver in her belly and answered the door. A black woman of small stature stood there in the hall. Hands behind her back, a waiting look on her face. She had a little smile curving her full, beautifully shaped lips. Her big almond shaped brown eyes appraised Lily's attire.

"Not too bad." She said, almost smirking now. Lily looked down over herself and looked back to the stranger with a quizzical look on her face.

"Thanks, I think. Who are you? Fashion police? " Lily replied.

The girl finally broke out with a laugh, showing her even white teeth, before she covered it with her hand. She struggled visibly to control herself then, clearing her throat, stated

"My name is Vicki. I am here to help you dress for dinner." This said she tipped her head to one side and again maintained that slight, Mona Lisa smile to her lips.

Lily laughed out loud now. She was enchanted by this person and stepped aside and bowed low with a sweep of her arm, admitted Vicki to the room. Vicki stepped in without hesitation.

"Oh, you got the Lily rooms. They're the best. She must be someone." Vicki stated as she walked over to the armoire and pulled open a drawer Lily hadn't looked in, and it was filled with hair styling products. These Vicki brought to the small vanity table by the window, and began plugging in various size curling irons. So. Vicki didn't know who she was. This was an opportunity for fun. Lily shucked the gown, laying it carefully across the bed. She had a moment where she thought no, the cat will lay on it, then remembered that Basil went with K. She missed her fuzzy little baby. She sat down in the chair Vicki motioned to, and allowed her to start brushing out her hair.

"So, who is Lily? Why am I in her rooms? Why is she so special? " Lily asked.

Vicki got a smile on her beatific face, her cheeks round and pink as a cherubs. She had a secret look in her eyes as she met Lily's gaze in the mirror. She pursed her lips together and then laughed again.

"I don't know. I just know that Hayu is crazy about this girl named Lily, and no one ever gets these rooms. Just in case she shows up here, you know? I don't think she's been here since I have, I've never seen her. "

"Never? Have you been here long?"

"I've been here for almost two years. Two years come summer. " Lily was stunned. Had it been that long? Really? It was amazing how the time flew. Had she not seen him in that long? Probably. It was easy to get lost in her business. She felt a little guilty now. But it didn't last long. Hmmph. She had certainly paid for her role. She felt bad too, pretending to Vicki. Vicki seemed like a lovely person, and she didn't want to start off on a bad foot. Lily decided to confess.

"I'm Lily." She stated, and looked in the mirror to see Vicki's face. Vicki looked a bit chagrined. She smacked lily lightly in the back of her head. She had a twisted smile of realization on her face now.

"You coulda said something!" She laughingly accused. Lily took it in good humor. She blushed, and laughed herself.

"I would have, but, I thought you knew who I was, then when you didn't, I couldn't resist to hear gossip about me. Thank you Vicki. Sorry to mislead you."

Vicki took a step back, to evaluate Lily. Lily turned around to look at her directly and allowed Vicki's wandering gaze to size her up.

"Well? Do I pass muster?"

"What?" Vicki looked grossed out.

"Do I meet up to your standards?" Lily repeated in words Vicki could understand.

"Oh, Oh yeah. Yeah. You do. You pretty." Vicki declared, her hands on her hips, appraising the whole package.

"Thank you. How long until dinner? I'm starved." Vicki broke into laughs again, and told her soon, and motioned for her to turn around so they could work some art to break Hayu's heart. They chatted and laughed like girlfriends until her hair was a masterpiece. All curls, pinned up high for maximum dangle. A small curl dangled prettily in front of each ear, the rest piled high. Vicki helped her into her gown again, and stood back to assess the effect. She got that sideways smile on her face again. The one she got when she was pleased and tickled at the same time.

"You're gonna kill ‘em." She said finally. Lily smiled a genuine smile at her new friend, and said,

"Let's do it!"

and they headed down the hall to the dining room.


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