The Beast of Bell Island part 20

About an hour later, Brooke went with Jack to find Patel and bring him back to the house. It wasn’t hard, as he was screaming himself hoarse for help as he lay on the mossy dirt in a pathetic paralyzed heap.

Jack made a face as he picked Patel up by the ankles.

Brooke snorted. “Wash your hands after touching that thing, you don’t know where its been.”

“I swear to god Ilyin, I’m going to sue you for every goddamn penny you’ve got!” Patel yelled. “Gonna ream you so fucking hard in court you’ll feel it every time you sit down!”

The giant stood up and dangled the smaller man in front of his face. “You wanna be able to walk or not?” he barked. Patel flinched. “Otherwise I’d be more than happy to let your sorry ass lay there all night. Just wait until you have to take a shit.”

Patel looked like a vein was going to burst in his forehead, though that might have been from being held upside down. “Fine,” he said through gritted teeth. “Let’s do this your way.”

Jack deposited Patel into the wine cellar from the same trap door that she’d first encountered him through. By now he’d regained motor control, and demanded to be set down in something resembling a dignified matter, even though he was still wet from his reintroduction to the pool.

“Amos,” Jack said. “Get our guest a towel. If he asks you for anything else, run it by me first.”

“Of course, Master Ilyin.”

Patel pressed his brows together. “Run it by…? The AMOS understands that?”

“Does now,” Jack grunted. “And if you’re good, I’ll even attempt an explanation later.”

With that, the door was closed, and Jack let out a long sigh. He ran his fingers through his hair and looked to Brooke. She was now, apparently, his partner in crime. “How’d he get in?”

Brooke swallowed. “He said that the board of directors was going to meet in a few days to give you the boot. I… I guess I figured that this might…” She put her face in her hands and groaned. “I don’t know what I was thinking. I should have told him to go to hell!”

Jack’s big hand went to her shoulders, easily spanning the distance between them both, and gave a little squeeze. “He’s a smooth talker,” he rumbled quietly. “It worked on me too, once. Don’t beat yourself up about it.”

She nodded, leaning into his comforting touch.

He hummed, deep and low in his throat, and rubbed at his new close-cropped facial hair. It made a satisfying scratchy sound. “They were probably trying to avoid replacing me as CEO,” he thought aloud. “Knew it would burn a very big bridge, which is not exactly something you want to do to your lead engineer while a merger is on the table. Even if he did up and disappear for a few years.”

“How has Orcasoft stayed afloat without you?”

He cocked a brow at her and flashed a wry little smile. “How has Apple stayed afloat without Jobs?”

Brooke knew that a tech junkie would have gotten the joke, but not her. She shrugged and shook her head helplessly.

Jack’s shoulder squeezing turned into full-on back rubbing as he explained. “They haven’t had an original idea since his death,” he continued. “Not in the hardware or software departments, at least. They knew this would be the case, so they’ve switched tactics, focusing on what the remaining star players know how to do: repackage the product and market the hell out of it.”

“So that’s what Orcasoft has done.”

“Patel was never a great engineer; decent programmer, but he couldn’t keep up with me. What he could do was run circles around me with numbers, though.”

“He’s a salesman.”

“Exactly. Nothing more.”

Brooke started for the pool and Jack followed. She could feel his footsteps behind her. “So what do we do with him? We can’t just keep him here, that’s kidnapping. Somebody’s bound to call the police, and I’m not sure if that magic’s going to protect you from a SWAT team.”

He slipped into the deep end of the pool and rested his elbows along the edge, thinking. “We string him along,” Jack decided. “Make him think I want to talk, that he’s got the upper hand; he might be inclined to stay for another day or two without finding out whether he can make it all the way to the dock again.”

“But the board meeting…”

“They can’t remove me from the company altogether, I still have majority shares.” Still, she could tell that this bothered him.

“The company you founded has lost all faith in you,” she murmured. “That’s not going to be easy to recover from, no matter what role you take going forward.”

A sad, bitter look creased the corners of his eyes and he inhaled sharply. “At least I have a ‘going forward’,” he said quietly. “For a while there, I wasn’t sure if I even had that much.”

It was her turn to put a hand on his shoulder, though it looked absolutely tiny against the expanse of strong flesh. “I know, Jack. I know.”

The best thing to do, Jack eventually decided, was to call up his old lawyer. He ignored many an attempt at her getting in contact with him over the years, and it was high time that she help him out now that his old life was coming back with a vengeance.

Brooke watched out the window of the office as he paced, brow furrowed with unease, on the lawn outside as he spoke with her on the phone. Amos had just notified her that her father had tried reaching the house, and she was upstairs to return the call now.

“Well,” came Martin’s voice on the other end of the line. He sounded a little stressed. “I found her.”

Brooke immediately knew there was a catch. “You found her but…?”

He sighed. “She’s at a hospital in Los Angeles. “Her car was t-boned by a semi three days ago.”

The young woman gasped. “My god, is she OK?”

“She was released from the IC this morning, but… still not in great shape.”

Brooke chewed her lip and did some pacing for herself. “One of us has to get down there, ASAP. Shit’s hitting the fan… Patel’s here.”

“Patel is there? Right now?” Martin cursed – he rarely ever cursed around her, and she could feel him sweating bullets. “I told him that I got what he wanted, that I found out Ilyin wasn’t dead, and that he’s been on the island. I have no idea what he’d…”

“Orcasoft wants to strip him of any say he’s got in the company now. I don’t think Jack had ever intended to sell, and Patel knew this years ago. This is his golden opportunity to take over. You did all he needed for you to do: find him, so he could follow.”

“Have you ever thought that maybe Ilyin shouldn’t be running that company? Aside from the obvious, he seems to be a little unstable. Maybe Patel’s better suited for the job.”

“Patel stole from Orcasoft. Jack wanted to forgive him so badly that he never even took him to court after he found out about the cooked books.” She sighed. “He’s a nice guy, dad – really. I think this thing did what it was supposed to do. Shake him up a little. But now he’s learned his lesson and he needs to get back to Seattle before Patel signs away all his hard work!”

Martin was quiet for a moment. “I’ll get on the next flight to LA,” he said. “Should be at UC Medical before dinner.”

“Thanks, dad.”

“No, thank Mr. Ilyin.”

She opened one of the windows near to where Jack was standing and thinking, and called over to him.

“What’s the verdict?”

“She told me to release Patel right away, that even if there’s no apparent physical mechanism for keeping him here, he could still claim that he felt his life was in danger.”

“Is she coming?”

Jack nodded solemnly before looking down at himself and grinning a little. “She wants me to sue.”

“Not sure how you’re going to be able to establish culpability, though?”

He shrugged. “Maybe we could set a precedent for cases concerning magic.”

“Yeah, about that… my dad finally found your spell-slinging perp.” Jack perked up at this. “She’s in an LA hospital after getting into a bad car accident, but he’s on his way there right now.”

Jack snorted. “What, her magic couldn’t save her?”



“We should go check on Patel. There’s nothing we can do until we hear back from my dad.”

“So that’s what happened, huh?” Patel said stiffly, though still trying to look casual as he sat at the teak dining set by the pool. His clothes were still a little damp and it was obvious that he was physically uncomfortable in them. Serves the bastard right, Brooke thought. “You caught some of that Illuminati shit.”

Jack just glowered at his business partner; it was obvious that he was physically uncomfortable to be talking to him. “Something like that,” he grunted. “Why are you here, Gary?”

Patel scoffed and adjusted his glasses. “Because I need this deal to go through, and I need it to go through smoothly.”

“What makes you think I’m going to help you?”

“Because if you don’t, I’m going to make sure this place is crawling with military before tomorrow. They’ll be dropping commados from planes when I’m done telling them about the threat to homeland security I found here.” Patel sat up straighter at saying this, adjusting his tailored suit jacket as though he wasn’t still soaked to the bone. Brooke knew that body language: the man was convinced he had the upper hand. And maybe… he did. “There’s 87 shares separating us,” he went on. “You’re going to sell me 88.”

“That’s insider trading,” Brooke noted, cocking her head at Patel.

“Bitch, nobody asked you.”

Jack was on him faster than she could wind up a fist. “You wanna go for another swim, little man?” he growled, squeezing until Patel let out a strangled cough.

“Alright!” he wheezed. “I get it! Be nice to the furniture!”

Patel landed in the pool with a painful slap against the water’s surface. That was gonna hurt.

“I should have pressed charges when I had the chance, you viblyadok,” Jack said when Patel surfaced again, utter disdain on his big face. “My mistake.”

“You’ve always made things more goddamn difficult than they need to be, you stubborn fuckin’ Ruskie. Get your head out of your oversized ass, Ilyin! Your time with Orcasoft is – say it with me – over.” Patel hauled himself out of the water again. “We don’t need you anyways. Scott’s been writing fantastic code lately, and we hired a couple kids from Caltech last year. Not only can they design circles around you with the robotic interface systems, but their fingers can fit on the fuckin’ keyboards!”

Jack’s jaw was set and the tendons in the back of his hands flexed as he squeezed his hands. Brooke was beginning to see that his pride in his work was one of his few proverbial pressure points – insult that and you are guaranteed to cut close to bone. She scowled and felt her own hands balling.

Ukhodit,” the giant spat.

Patel barked a laugh. “Oh! Can’t handle me all of a sudden, huh? What happened to the big talk, big man? You’ve lost and you know it. This is the -”


Patel was sent stumbling backwards when Brooke’s fist collided with his nose, and he landed, for the third time in a single day, in the pool. Except this time there were little red swirls from where his blood was gushing into the water, and his glasses sported a few handsome cracks.

Ow,” Brooke hissed, clutching her hand. That would hurt for a while, but it was worth it.

Jack just laughed; it was a booming sound that filled the air. Patel groaned in pain, holding his face as he made his slow way toward the steps at the other end.

He knelt down beside her and held his massive hand up for a high five. She gave him one with her uninjured hand. “Glad you did that and not me,” he chuckled. “I would’ve caved in that empty skull of his.” Then: “Amos! Show our guest back to the docks. I’ve heard enough weasel words for one day.”

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The Beast of Bell Island part 19

Amos said nothing as the gate unlocked and the two stepped through. Brooke was prepared to lead the way, but Patel walked right on past her as if he owned the place. Maybe, when all was said and done, he was hoping to.

In fact, he completely ignored her as they made their way up to the house – that is, until the house itself came into view and Patel stopped to study the scene before him.

“The fuck has this guy been doing?” he muttered under his breath, noticing the very things that Brooke had noticed when she first walked up to knock on the door.

Brooke said nothing – the question wasn’t meant for her. They walked in through the gate at the fence and up to the door. Patel just opened it himself, knowing that it wasn’t locked.

“Ilyin!” he called. “I know you’re here!”

“He’s not in the house,” she said.

“Where is he then?”

“I don’t know, but he’s not in the house. Trust me.”

Brooke knew that sometimes, as a private investigator, the best thing you could do was to watch and wait for things to play themselves out. Here, this was all she could do as Patel rounded into an adjacent hallway, prepared to storm every room in spite of what she’d said. But as soon as he saw what had become of the great room, he was stopped dead in his tracks. It had begun to mist outside, and the chill, moist air drifted in unimpeded.

Patel’s mouth fell open and said nothing, but the look on his face spoke volumes. Clearly, Jack Ilyin belonged in a mental institute as far as he was concerned.

He dashed across the giant expanse of cushions, through the broken doors, and out into the battered courtyard, head turning this way and that to look at everything with wide eyes.

“Who in the hell did this?” He turned around and looked up at the shattered windows and gutted rooms on the second story.

“Jack did.”

“With his bare fucking hands? Yeah right.” He pulled out his phone and took some video, panning around for a few seconds before bringing it back to his face. Brooke was waiting for him to realize that there would be no cell service, and a moment later, Patel scowled and cursed. “You gotta be kidding me!”

“Who were you going to send that to?”

“It’s none of your goddamn business!”

They kept walking, with Brooke in tow. There was no sign of Jack anywhere, and she was wondering if he was making himself scarce or if he had something else in mind. Though what that could possibly be was beyond her. This was, it seemed, the end of the line for him. The pair were near the pool, now, and Patel was growing even more irritable. He stood beside the water, hands on his hips as he snapped his head around to look about.

“Jack!” he called. There was no answer. “Jack, you know I’m here! Stop being chickenshit!” Still nothing, not even a rustle. Patel scowled and walked over to the other side of the pool, Brook warily following, and shouted some more. But it seemed Jack wasn’t interested in confronting his friend-turned-enemy just yet.

But Patel was impatient. He smacked his lips together a few times in thought, rubbed at his chin, and eventually turned his eyes to her. She got the sense that he was changing tactics.

“So why are you here and not your dad, the man I hired?”

“He told you that Jack wasn’t dead. What more did you want? The job was done.”

“You didn’t answer my question, young lady.”

“I’m here because he hired me to do a different job,” Brooke said, trying to keep calm and collected.

Patel stepped up to her and scoffed. “What sort of job would a grown man have for a pretty girl like you that would involve gifts of designer clothing?”

“A man’s allowed to buy people clothes, Patel.”

Patel’s icy stare narrowed. “OK, let me rephrase that: what sort of job would involve lavish gifts and overnight stays?

Heat was rising to her face.

He took out his phone again, leveling it at her. There was a nasty smirk on his face. “I can see the headlines now: Jack Ilyin: Tech Magnate Turned Cradle Robber! And here’s the face of the girl sucking his dick! C’mon, smile for the camera!”

Patel didn’t seem to notice the faint quaking of the ground, or the deep, muffled thuds of something hitting the earth, but Brooke did. In fact, Jack was moving so fast that she only knew what direction he was coming from when she heard him yell. If his goal was to get Jack to come out, he succeeded with flying colors.

“Leave her alone, you son of a bitch!”

The next second was a blur, but there was a cry, a thud, and a splash, and next thing she knew Patel was in the pool, wiping the water from his face and glasses and cursing loudly.

Wait for it…

He froze as soon as he was able to open his eyes and look upon, for the first time in two years, his business partner.

Jack was standing next to Brooke, hands balled into fists. He was imposing, fierce, and solid. His face was screwed up into a deadly grimace, and his blue eyes dared Patel to move.

“Wh… I… Y-you…” the man stammered, moving backward in the pool to get away, to get a better view, or maybe both. “J-jack I-Ilyin?”

“What are you doing here?” he growled. Patel cowered at the sound.

“What the fuck happened to you!”

“What are you doing here?”

“I…. I’m not answering any questions w-without my lawyer. Th-that was assault, Ilyin!”

Jack turned to look down at Brooke. “I thought he tripped?”

She shrugged. “I saw him trip.”

Patel swam to the other end of the pool, and pulled himself out, looking over his shoulder at them every few seconds. “This is fucked,” he cried. “Fucked!” Then with all his strength, he made a mad dash for the trees and disappeared.

“I take it he’s going to be staying with us for a little while?” she asked.

Jack reached into the pool to grab the man’s phone from the bottom. He glanced at it for a moment and then tossed it over his shoulder with a sigh. “Unfortunately, I don’t see any other way out of this.”

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The Beast of Bell Island part 18

Brooke went upstairs to take a shower, feeling like several of Jack’s million bucks. She hummed a song and stepped out, fresh, clean, and ready to tackle the day. Well, maybe not tackle the day; there wasn’t much to tackle until –

“Good morning, Miss Foster,” Amos said. “Apologies for interrupting, but your father is on the line and wishes to speak with you.”

Well, shit!

“Is there like, a phone, or should I just talk?”

“Just talk, Miss Foster. I’ll connect you now.”

The green light flickered and stilled.



“Brooke! How are you doing?”

“I know you’re not going to believe me, but I’m doing great.”

“How’s… Mr. Ilyin been treating you?”

“Well, I, uh… I put my foot down, demanded some respect, and he honored that. He seems to be a man of his word.”

“Good. Good to hear. Well, I’m calling because I’ve got something for you.”

Her eyes lit up. “Yeah, and?”

“I’m not supposed to tell you this information, but -”

“Dad, we’re never taking her to court. I think Ja – er, Mr. Ilyin – just wants to speak to her himself. No lawyers necessary.”

He sighed – Brooke knew that sigh. “She may take him to court for using unscrupulous methods of tracking her down.”

“Dad, there’s not one courtroom in this country that he’d fit into.”

Martin let out a laugh, as though he’d almost forgotten. “I guess we are dealing with a very different sort of situation here…”

“Well, can you tell me or not?”

Brooke heard a shuffling of papers. “Her name’s Lisa Thomas. Oregon driver’s license – got her home address right on here. Lives in Bend. Or, well, she did two years ago.”

She took a few seconds to think, and began to pace. On her third round back around the room, Jack suddenly came into view through the window. She held up her hand and kept pacing. “Alright, let’s get hold of her. Maybe find out where she works?”

“You’re pretty darn good at this, you know that?” Her father’s smile carried on his voice. “I was thinking the same thing. I’ll let you know what I find, alright?”

“Sure thing. Thanks, dad.”

She reported the good news over breakfast that morning, and Jack lit up at the news. However, the tattoo story intrigued him.

“Do you think that means she’s done this to other people, if she’s got more tattoos to memorialize other similar situations?”

“That may be,” Brooke mused. “I wonder why there was a rush, though…”

“Maybe the ink is part of the magic somehow.” He thought this over for a moment and shook his head. “Magic is not my forte, as you can see.”

“I know you’ve thought about what you’d like to do once you finally found her, but what are you actually going to do? How do you plan on getting her to change you back?”

He shrugged. “I guess I’d always imagined just scaring the shit out of her. Throwing my weight around.”

“…but not anymore.”

“I’m not sure what I’d say now, to be quite honest.”

“Maybe that’s for the best.”

The two of them sat and ate in silence for a few minutes, which was nice. She listened to the shrill cries of seagulls, the chattering of a few local ravens, and the faint and distant sound of water traffic. Brooke looked to Jack, studying him for a second.

“What’s the matter?” he asked when he noticed her staring.

“I think I’d like to cut your hair and beard,” she said. “How would you like to feel clean-shaven again?”

“Hm… it would be nice…”

“If you have scissors..?”

“The beard could definitely use a trim, but I’m not sure about the hair. It’s beginning to grow on me.”

Brooke groaned at the pun, and Jack laughed.

“How about a nice shave, then? We could cook up some hot towels and everything.”

“That,” he said, “Would be great. I’d really owe you one.”

“You really wouldn’t.”

Jack shot her a look. “Brooke, after all the shit I’ve put you through, the least you could do is let me repay you.”

“Your good company is all the payment I want right now.”

Amos brought out steaming towels, scissors, a razor with a few extra blades, a hand brush, and some shaving lather. They decided that Jack should just lay on the ground; that would give Brooke the best access to the whole of his face.

“The nice thing about a mug as big as yours,” she said, surveying the situation from her vantage point on his chest with scissors in hand, “Is that it’ll be easy to hide all my mistakes.”

He gave her a quizzical look. “I thought you’ve done this before?”

She snapped the scissor blades a few times. “I said no such thing. Now hold still, this will only hurt a little.”

Jack sighed and looked up at the cloudy sky as she got to work.

Brooke trimmed the whole of his beard down to about an inch, brushing the hair away as she worked. When she stood back, it looked enough like fine stubble, and it would probably feel as much to him. Next, she grabbed the razor and lather, and attempted to sculpt the edges a little, but it was difficult. Though not too much thicker than a normal person’s hair, his was somehow tougher, and it seemed like each stroke of the blade –

“Ow,” he winced when the razor caught the hair wrong and drew a little blood.

– each stroke of the blade dulled the edge beyond usability.

“Alright, scratch that.”

Brooke used the hot towels to mop up the lather, draping them across his face and letting them rest for a minute before wiping everything away. She trimmed a small spot that she’d missed, and was done.

“Now I can be seen with you,” she declared, jumping off of him so he could sit up.

Jack’s hand went to his face to rub at it. “My chin hasn’t seen daylight in two years,” he said, getting up and walking over to one of the unbroken second-story windows on the house to get a look at himself.

“You clean up pretty good!”

“Guess I do, don’t I?” He turned back toward her with a smile, and she could see now that he had a small dimple on one side. “Thanks, Brooke.”

She started putting the things back away on Amos’ cart. “All in a day’s -”

But Jack had grabbed her and pushed her into the grass on her back with a big hand.

“…work.” She’d be lying if she said her heart hadn’t started racing. “Can I help you, Mr. Ilyin?”

He bent his big head down to kiss her, pressing his big lips to her face. She giggled into the kiss, and found herself running her hands along his freshly-shaven cheeks, which almost scratched like real stubble too. He broke the kiss and dragged his gaze from her eyes down the length of her body, and back up again. “You know, I think you can.” Jack dove back in as his fingers crept up underneath her shirt to massage a breast and she gasped into his mouth, gripping his face harder.

Just as he was reaching back to yank away the sheet wrapped around his waist, though, Amos cut in.

“Uh, I don’t mean to interrupt, Master Ilyin, but it appears that a dinghy has just been launched from the Good News and is heading towards Bell Island.”

Jack looked at her, his face still hovering close, and she saw a flash of fear in his big gray-blue eyes. “Shit!” he hissed, tearing away from her and standing up, though unsure of what to do. “Good news my ass,” he growled. “What a terrible joke that is.”

“Amos, how many people are aboard?” Brooke said, standing up and brushing herself off.

“I’m detecting two, Miss Foster.”

She turned to Jack. “Have you talked to Patel at all about this deal?”

He looked away, almost embarrassed. “He’s been calling and emailing for about six weeks now. On the few occasions where I’ve gotten back to him, I just said that it needs to wait. It’s been three weeks since I last heard from him.”

“He’s fucking pissed,” Brooke muttered. “What are you going to do? You can’t keep putting this off, Jack.”

“We’re so close to finding that woman! I can feel it – we might have an answer from her in just a few more days, and then… then I can figure out how to proceed. Even if it means being stuck like this.”

Brooke nodded. That was all they could do at this point. If there was a chance he could be transformed back to his old self without anyone but a pair of private investigators from Anacortes being the wiser, then he was going to hold out for it.

“I’ll go meet him,” she said resolutely. “I’ll tell him that I’m your housekeeper; say that you’re not here. You haven’t been here in weeks, and I haven’t heard from you.”

“Tell him to come back later.”

She nodded.

Brooke waited by dock and watched, frowning, as the dinghy pulled up and tied off. Only one man got out. He strode up the dock with long, quick strides, looking around, before finally stopping a few feet short of Brooke.

Gary Patel was about Jack’s age, maybe a year or two younger, with black hair styled into a crew cut and a short, neatly-trimmed beard of his own. The black-rimmed glasses he wore accentuated the shrewdness of his sharp eyes, and Brooke immediately knew it was going to be hard to convince this man of anything he couldn’t see for himself.

“Mr. Patel, I’m guessing?”

“You’d be guessing right,” he said. “Who are you?”

“I’m Jess, the housekeeper. If you’re looking for Mr. Ilyin, he’s not here right now.”

Patel’s eyes looked up at the path beyond her, beyond the gate behind her, and he rubbed his chin in thought. “Can I come in?”

“I’ve been expressly forbidden to let anyone on the property while he’s away, Mr. Patel. If you come back in another week, he might be home by then.”

He studied her for a moment, looked back to the boat, and then snorted. “That’s good, real good,” he said, smiling. “You learn that one from your dad?”

Brooke’s blood ran ice cold all of a sudden, and she took a step back. “I don’t know what you mean, Mr. Patel.” She could have kicked herself as the words came out of her mouth – that phrase, and its close cousin ‘I don’t know what you’re talking about’, were dead giveaways that you knew exactly what was being talked about.

“Your dad, Martin Foster. You know, the PI I hired to find out what the hell was going on over here.” His eyes narrowed at her. “Where the hell is he?”

Brooke swallowed. “It’s just me here.”

“Just you, huh?” He chuckled, like a supervillain being told something he doesn’t want to hear. “Let’s see, how do I put this…” He paused briefly for effect. “You’re a fucking liar.”

“And you’re trespassing,” she said in a low voice.

He ignored her. “Who were you having breakfast with yesterday, Brooke? I saw two place settings at that table on the south patio when we did a flyby with the drone.”

She didn’t say anything.

“I’m going to ask one last time: where is Foster, and where is Jack?”

Brooke had backed up far enough to have run up against the bars of the gate. “My dad’s in Anacortes and Jack is… he’s…”

Patel held up his hand and flashed three fingers at her. “That’s how many days he’s got before the board votes his ass out of there. Now he can man the fuck up and speak to me, or we can do this the hard way.”

“Amos,” she murmured to the kiosk, not taking her eyes off of Patel. “Open the gate and let Jack know that his old friend won’t take no for an answer.”

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The Beast of Bell Island part 17

It looked amazing from afar, but got a little more intimidating the closer she got.

“You really don’t have to,” he said when she hadn’t made a move yet.

“I’m just… deciding on where to start, is all.”

Jack chuckled. “You can start by putting your hands on it…”

So she did. Her palms went to the sides of his head, which was eye level when she knelt down in the nest created by his crossed legs. The member under her hands jerked at the touch and she tried to hide the excited smile on her face. “I’ve been… wanting to do this for a few days now,” Brooke admitted, sliding her hands up toward the head and back down the length of him.

“I’d be lying if I said it hadn’t crossed my mind either.”

Brooke blushed and gripped him harder, dragging her hands down and bringing the foreskin with them.

Jack sighed and reached for her hair to bring her closer. She kissed him at that little gather of skin on the underside of the head, letting her tongue dart out to lick him, and his sigh turned into a deep-throated groan.

“You look good with a cock in your hands,” he said, staring intently at her little ministrations.

“Even this one?” She meant one so big.

Especially this one.”

Brooke stroked him harder, using the real estate on both of her hands to squeeze and rub with all her strength.

“Wait,” he grunted, and reached behind him for something. It was a bottle of lube – a huge bottle of lube. He undid the top and squirted something like half a pint on himself; his cock twitched happily, and he deftly worked the slick down his enormous length, giving himself a few expert pumps before reaching down to smear the remnants along Brooke’s front.

“Hey!” Her breasts glistened, and Jack seemed to like that.

When Brooke went back to her double-fisted handjob, it was a lot easier now. Her palms slid up and down his hard member effortlessly, and the faster she went, the more Jack began to make noises of his own; all of them deep, all of them rough, and all of them thrilling to her like no other sound had thrilled her before.

But it was when she decided to put her mouth on him. It was such that his hot length rested snugly between her breasts too – the sight coaxed a grin from the giant and he reached down to rub at one of her nipples with a finger.

“Mmm,” she said against him. Jack agreed.

Brooke worked him for a few minutes, circling the top of the head or lapping at the slit with her tongue. She was getting turned on again, and she really, really wanted to see how he’d finish.

He gave a little experimental buck, catching her off-guard; Jack settled instead on a gentle rocking motion of his hips in time with her hands. When she opened her eyes and looked up at him – past the hips, the abs, the pecs, and up to his face – his eyes were dark and his lips were parted, showing teeth.

“I’m getting close,” he reassured with a whisper, running his fingers along her jaw and neck.

Brooke picked up the pace, hoping that she wouldn’t tire before he came. She rubbed him with her lubed up tits, stuck her fingers under the lip of his foreskin, licked and kissed and sucked every square inch of his cockhead. Jack’s breathing began to hitch in his throat, and the muscles in his belly began to tighten.

“Mm… yeah…”

She tried to speed up, but she was tiring, and it was a struggle to keep up with him. At that point, he gently pushed her away from his cock, onto her back against his leg, and took the helm.

“Hope you’re ready for a very big load,” he said with obvious strain on his voice as he wrapped a tight fist around himself and began to pump.

How big? I’ll get to find out shortly!

She watched his balls as they began to tighten, his belly as the muscles clenched with building pleasure, his face as he stared at her before him.

“This one’s for you,” he grunted. Then his body stiffened, his teeth clenched, his eyes closed. “Unh! Fuck!

He came, sending a small geyser of white spunk shooting into the air. Some of it dribbled down onto his fingers, some of it splashed across her belly and thighs.

“Oh!” She gasped at the warmth of it. Jack shook the final few drips onto her while he caught his breath. He let go of himself and leaned back on his elbows. “You weren’t kidding,” Brooke giggled. She smeared it around on herself like warm, gooey oil, slowing when she came to her nipples and drew little circles around him. “This is a lot.”

“Don’t tempt me for seconds,” Jack said with a smirk. He grabbed the towel to clean her off, then positioned her on his chest as he laid down. “How was it?”

“Hottest thing I’ve ever friggin’ done,” she mumbled happily against him.

“No regrets?”

“Not a one.”

“And not because you lost it to the CEO of a multi-million dollar corporation?”

“Because I lost it to a generous, very handsome man who… did for me what no other guy has been able to do yet. And because he also happens to be twenty feet tall. You know, if I had my way, I’d want you to stay like th…” Brooke caught herself.

Jack’s brows lifted. “You… like me like this?”

Heat rose to her face and she turned away. “It’s… really hot,” she whined. “Your hands, your legs, your everything. The way you walk, the way your voice sounds, the -”

“Alright, alright,” he laughed.

They laid there for a while, with his fingers idly stroking her thigh, and her fingers drawing little shapes along his sternum. Sleep was beginning to droop her eyelids.

“You know, when you got here, I didn’t see any benefit to this at all. Now…” He paused to laugh again. “Now at least I know I’m not some unfuckable monster.”

“I know it’s cliched,” Brooke mumbled, stopping to yawn. “But looking on the bright side does have its uses.”

“Now that,” he said, yawning in response – it was quite the thing, a giant’s yawn. “Is not very Russian.”

Brooke spent the night with him like that, sharing his huge jerry-rigged bed. The chill air creeping in through the holes created by the ripped out doors made her cold, and at some point in the night Jack had put a blanket on her.

When the light coming in began making it impossible to stay asleep any longer, she opened her eyes and looked to see if he was awake. He was. “You’re not one of those weird genius types who only sleeps four hours a day, are you?” she asked, voice still heavy with sleep.

He chuckled, his voice made even deeper and rougher from the same. “Hardly. I’m just not used to sleeping with someone on my chest.”

“Oh, I’m sorry, I… you could have kicked me off if -”

“Really, it’s OK,” he said with a smile.

Brooke went to go stretch, when her feet touched something. “Oh?” She looked behind her to see him firm and erect. She blushed and looked back to him with, she assumed, to be a surprised and questioning expression on her face.

“You don’t have to do anything about that,” he grunted. “It’s just morning wood.”

“Is that why you’re always up before me, then?”

“I figured it wouldn’t be polite to let your guest wake up and see her giant host with a giant hardon first thing in the morning. That sheet doesn’t hide much, you know.”

“Oh, I’ve noticed.”

A rakish grin spread across his face and he gave her ass a sudden squeeze. “If I’d known I was hosting a voyeur, I’d have been happy to put on a show much earlier,” he said. Brooke’s whole body blushed, and she licked her lips. But when he grabbed her, it was to gently set her on the floor so he could duck outside. “Now if you excuse me, nature’s calling.”

Brooke pouted, but still enjoyed the view as he disappeared beyond the courtyard and into the trees.

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The Beast of Bell Island part 16

In due course, she had two more lemon drops, and her feet were dangling in the pool like his. Jack had downed another half-bottle of Tovaritch!, but it was difficult to tell how it was affecting him. She imagined that, being so huge, it would take quite a bit to get him going; add to that the fact that he was probably a heavyweight drinker to begin with.

But three lemon drops was what it took for her to gather up the courage to get in the pool.

“I’ll be right back.”

“Where are you going?” he asked as she stood up and headed back toward the house.

“I said I’ll be right back!” she called back to him with a laugh.

Before she knew it, she was standing at the top of the stairs in the bikini, towel wrapped around her waist to hide from the chilly air while she was in transit to the pool. She sucked in a breath, steeled her nerves, and went back outside.

“Oh, what’s this?” he said, cocking a brow at her as she pitter-pattered up to the edge of the pool and got in to the first step. The water was pleasantly warm. The towel was still wrapped tightly around her waist, though, and she was suddenly hesitant to cast it aside. “What’s the matter?”

“Nothing,” she said, staring at her toes through the water. Pool lights made everything look funny. “I just…”

He chuckled. “You think I haven’t seen a woman in a bathing suit before? You look great. Just get in!”

That’s not what I wanted to hear!

Brooke went red as she fingered the edge of the towel. Suddenly, it was off: she’d undone it herself and tossed it to the ground. Feeling very exposed, and rather cold, she quickly submerged herself up to her chest to try and hide from his gaze, staying along the side of the pool further from him.

“Better?” he asked, cocking his head and grabbing a second bottle.

“It’s actually really… really nice…” Brooke tried answering normally, tried pretending that this was a normal situation, but shyness was beginning to crowd the other emotions she was feeling. Moreover, this was not normal.

Jack made a faint, breathy ‘hum’ in satisfaction, sucking down more vodka as he looked away. Brooke looked away too, focusing on the swim, on the depth of the section of pool she was in, on the temperature… anything but him. And when she did glance his way, trying to avoid taking in his massive form, she saw his expression, framed as it was by wisps of hair not long enough to stay in the stubby ponytail. He was looking away, and it seemed rather deliberate. To her detective’s mind, it spoke of a longing – a longing he was trying to bury for good.

Brooke swam, leaving the shallows of the pool and doing a few laps, holding her breath for as long as she could manage. When she made it to the deep end again, she forewent another, and instead let herself sink to the bottom to feel the pressure of 12 feet of water above her. To feel her own heavily beating pulse.

The water was disturbed, suddenly, and she opened her eyes just long enough to see a pair of huge legs slip in, followed by the billowing white of a sheet now submerged. Brooke’s airless lungs ached for breath, though, and she came up. In front of her, up to his chest in the water, was Jack.

“Mind if I join you?”

Brooke brought her knees up as she tread in the deep water. “S-sure.” She forced a smile.

He seemed to enjoy the floating, holding the sheet down between his legs or it would drift around in the water. “We should switch spots,” he said, pointing at the deep end of the pool. Brooke nodded and they passed each other on their way to the opposite ends. Well, not ends – she still stayed mostly in the middle.

With his free hand Jack flicked a little water at her, and the splash got her in the side of the head. “Hey!” At least this was a game she knew how to play. Brooke cupped her hands together and gave a few tight squeezes, sending little spurts of water shooting in his direction. None of them landed, and he splashed her again with a little laugh. She tried another tactic, cupping one hand and using it to launch a jet of water with a skimming motion. That went further and managed to get him in the arm.

“I hope you know that’s a declaration of war,” he said with a mischievous smile. The tension was leaving her, though she wasn’t sure that she wanted to get into a water fight with a twenty-foot man. He performed much the same trick as her, except that his cupped hand was about five times bigger, and his arms many orders of magnitude stronger. The jet he managed to produce went shooting over her head, and when he wound up for a second salvo, Brooke ducked under at the last second. She took in a mouthful of water, closed the distance between them, and before he had a chance to regroup, she’d stuck her head out of the water and launched the payload point blank at his face. Clearly, this was a suicide mission.

She actually caught him off-guard long enough to land the shot to his cheek, and she quickly went under again to avoid whatever retaliation he had in mind. But as she looked up through the water at him, all Brooke heard was the muffled sound of laughter; in the pool, that sound sunk into her every pore, saturated her bones, and vibrated deep in her chest.

Brooke’s gaze, even with that bleariness inherent to opening your eyes underwater, wandered for the last moment before she expected to come up for air, and caught sight of tenting beneath his sheet. The white fabric lazily billowed against his hardening length, and she felt a sudden jolt of excitement and fear.

She quickly surfaced with a heavy gasp, wanting to swim away, but the look on his face told her that he knew that she’d seen him.

“You know,” Jack said quietly. He looked at her with a peaceful face that betrayed a certain darkness to his eyes that she couldn’t pinpoint. It’s like his pupils were dilated or something. “I’m not sure who we’re trying to kid. There’s something going on here, but I’m not sure it would be… right to find out.”

And there it was, out in the open. Just like that.

Brooke bit her lip, slowly treading out of arm’s reach. She was tempted to go underwater again or hoist herself up onto the ledge and race over for her towel because deep down she knew that he wouldn’t try anything. But something compelled her to stay – some part of her wanted to know just how this would turn out.


He just looked down at her, skin glistening with wetness, as he waited for her to gather her thoughts. Her biting turned to anxious chewing as she tread water before this broad beast of a man. He reached up from under the surface and brushed the pad of his enormous thumb against her mouth, compelling her to stop.

“I have no idea who this side of you is,” Brooke whispered. His hand was still gentle against her face.

Jack’s eyebrow twitched, and he swallowed. Was that the barest hint of sadness at the corners of his eyes?

“I could show you if you let me.”

Brooke wanted to pull up into herself, or wanted him to pull her into his arms and just hold her, but she knew neither of those things would alleviate the pressure building in her chest nor the ache building between her legs.

It was clear he recognized the trepidation in her face because he nodded and went to step out of the pool. “You’re still scared of me. I understand.” But she found herself reaching for his arm, and he stopped. With a small wave she beckoned him back down, and once his face was close enough, she pressed her lips to his bearded jaw. Brooke wasn’t so good with words, so she was just going to stop trying to say any.

With the rushing of water she suddenly found herself pressed to his chest which was now beneath her. One of his hands was under her chin and the other was behind her head as he pressed his lips to hers. They were so big. His beard tickled her neck.

He broke the kiss, but kept his lips near, and she could feel the hot gust of his breath on her shoulders as she half-floated, half-rested on him. A smile crossed his face as he gazed down at her with those dark eyes.

“Do you want me to stop?”

Brooke shook her head, and an instant later he rushed in to kiss her again, this time opening his mouth and taking her bottom lip between his teeth. His hand rubbed a short patrol up and down her back, sinking a little further toward her ass with every stroke, it felt like, until his huge hand came to rest there when his kisses grew rougher and more passionate. Jack exhaled sharply through his nose and crushed them together even tighter.

When his mouth left hers, he kissed a trail down her neck to the cleft between her breasts. Brooke sucked in a breath as the giant licked a broad line between them. He chuckled against her, sending tickling vibrations through her little body. When the hand pressed against her rear began to move, and when a single massive finger found its way underneath the waistband of her swimsuit bottoms, she suddenly pressed her face to his chest, almost trying to hide.

“W-wait,” she said. He waited. “Jack, I’m… I’m a virgin.”

Brooke expected him to balk at her inexperience, like guys sometimes did. But he just removed his hand from her ass and let it come to rest on the small of her back.

“You… are?” He paused for a brief moment to think about this. “How old are you?”

She swallowed and slipped back into the water until only her head was sticking out. “Twenty-two.”

“Fifteen years isn’t so bad,” he softly concluded. “I mean, if you’ll still have me, that is.”

Yes! She wanted to have him! Or rather, he have her. Brooke floated back over to him. He was on his knees now, and he brought her to him again to kiss her. The feeling of her belly and breasts against his hard chest was like mana from heaven. And he was warm! So warm. Still holding her, he rose up in the water and walked over to the shallow end where he would be able to sit comfortably and lean against the edge.

“You’re a good kisser,” he noted between open-mouthed explorations.

“You are too,” she breathed.

He smiled, running his hand up and down her spine again. “Really? Even with this giant face?”

“I like it.”

Jack cocked a brow at her and licked his lip, as though it had never occurred to him that his inhuman size could be a… benefit. “Maybe that’s good then, because I think I’m enjoying it too.” His words went straight to her belly and Brooke found herself arching against him in the water.

His fingers caressed her rear through the fabric of her swim bottoms, and she couldn’t help but begin to gyrate against his hand. A breathy chuckle left him, and before she knew it Jack was slipping the garment from her hips, down her legs, and past her ankles. Instinctively she pressed her thighs together, but as he massaged at the generous swells of her ass, tracing around from tailbone to the top of her thighs and up again, Brooke loosened up.

She pressed her pubic bone against his belly, but he still had to bend his head to reach her lips with his. She held onto his cheekbones, pressing the side of her face to the corner of his mouth when he slipped a finger down between her ass cheeks. Brooke sucked in a breath when he stroked her rear entrance for a second, and let it out in a halting, breathy moan when his thick digit found the folds around her entrance. He rubbed her there, back and forth, and when he ventured just a little further forward, she gasped at the sudden sensation against her sensitive clit.

“Have you orgasmed before?” Jack asked, still massaging her.

“Mmh,” she mewled, mind swimming in pleasure. “N-not with a guy, though.”

“Let’s see if I can have the honor.”

He rocked the pad of his finger against her, and she lifted her ass up into the air, savoring the feeling of his being all around her. His free hand tugged at the tie holding up her bikini top and when the knot was free, the garment fell away, revealing a pair of modest breasts. She pressed herself against his hard chest, nipples grazing his skin and sending electricity shooting to her pussy.

Brooke’s little body strained as she arched her back as far as it would go to give him better access. She was panting and making little moaning sounds in her throat and it felt so good but… something was missing. Something that would push her over the edge.

“F-fuck me, please,” she begged, not wanting to look him in the eye.

Without a word he adjusted the placement of his hand. His middle finger curled down between her spread cheeks, hugging her core and poked gently around until it found her entrance again. Suddenly, there was and immense pressure.

She hissed and his insistent finger kept pushing until it felt like something in her gave way, and he slipped in, inch by inch, knuckle by knuckle.

“A-ah!” she cried when that girthy digit was seated inside of her as far as it would go. It’d pushed the air from her lungs, it felt like. Jack gave her a moment to catch her breath before slowly withdrawing and plunging back in.

“How does it feel?” he asked, stroking her wet hair.

“S-so good…”

“That’s what I like to hear.”

Still impaled on his finger, the giant hiked her up so that he could kiss her again as he pumped in and out, in and out. His other hand drifted down too, but this time it was so he could rest his thumb on that little button of nerve endings, and massage that too.

Brooke cried out, chest heaving, heart pounding as so much attention was being paid to these most sensitive spots. She squirmed against him, almost to get away from the intensity of the pleasure, but mostly just to struggle for the sake of struggling, to feel those massive hands keep firmly to their positions even as she bucked and moved.

She didn’t last long like that. Maybe another ten or twenty seconds, before the building pressure in her loins exploded and she stiffened against him, muscles clenching, lips parted and all manner of breathy sounds being squeezed from her lungs. He sped up with expert timing, following the crescendo of her cries, then let off the gas and watched with very dark eyes as she rode out her aftershocks on top of him.

Jack kissed her again when she’d caught her breath. Brooke felt more like warm, tingling jelly now than at any other point in her life. She could feel like this forever.

When Brooke glanced up at him again, he was looking down at her with the same kind of warmth that he’d had when he’d picked her up and told her she was beautiful. But it was tempered, she could tell – and that struck her as something remarkable. He’d gone years wearing his intensity on his proverbial sleeves; saying and doing what he wanted, when he wanted; getting his way with few repercussions; going zero to sixty in seconds flat.

Yet here he was, Jack Ilyin, the twenty-foot giant who could uproot a tree and probably lift a small car, giving more of a damn about her enjoyment than his own. Perhaps this was more than one kind of first.

He lifted them out of the pool, and she hissed when the cool air chilled her skin. He reached for her discarded towel and wrapped her up in it.

“Have a good time?”

Brooke glanced over his shoulder as he carried them back to the house, spying the bedsheet floating in the water. “I did,” she murmured contentedly. “What about you?”

“I’m glad that I’m still capable of making a girl feel good.” He kissed the crown of her head. “And making a virgin feel safe.”

Jack bent down to deposit her onto his bed in the greatroom, reaching off to the side for a pile of what she quickly realized were several full-sized microfiber towels. He mopped up the moisture on his body with his back to her while she stared, transfixed, at his naked rear for the first time.

“…What about you?” she repeated, licking her lips.

He turned, tossing the towels back inside the greatroom, and twisted around as he crouched down to slip inside. He didn’t even both hiding himself as he sat down on the floor next to her, legs crossed and hardon standing tall and proud.

Whether it was her post-climax haze, she didn’t know, but it seemed that his was the most beautiful cock she’d ever seen in her life. Thick, still a little wet from the pool, with a bright red head that peeked out from underneath a handsome sheath of foreskin. It must’ve been almost two feet long and as wide around as her neck.

Jack gave her a look that tried to hide his smugness. “What about me?”

“I know that it won’t be like the real thing, but… what if I wanted to return the favor?”

He sat back a little and patted the inside of his thigh. “I’d be the last person to stop you.”

Brooke dropped her towel and climbed into the embrace of his lap.

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The Beast of Bell Island part 15

Brooke spent the day wandering the house and browsing the internet while she waited for her father to get back to her about the tattoo shop, and hoping that Gary Patel wouldn’t try anything again.

She browsed Jack’s collection of books – tomes on everything from software design to logic systems to biographies of classical music composers and Russian painters – and his vinyl record collection, which consisted mostly of the likes of Chopin, Dvorak, Vivaldi, Miles Davis and a lot of jazz musicians she didn’t recognize, and a few records of 80’s German industrial music. He was quite the cultured man, wasn’t he? Brooke put a Vivaldi on the record player in the smoking room, spent a moment trying to figure out where to put the needle, and then was greeted by… some magically beautiful music. She’d never heard Vivaldi before.

The haunting violins of his Four Seasons suite played softly in the background as she stood at the window, looking out into the trees, and at the tiny, gray sliver of water she could make out through them. It seemed like a fitting soundtrack for such a place as Bell Island, and Brooke was suddenly altogether sure that Jack’s inner life was set to such a theme, too.

“Amos,” she asked the otherwise quiet room. “Has the Good News left yet?”

“I’m afraid it doesn’t appear so, Miss Foster,” the robot replied. “It’s moved to the eastern shore, out of the ferry lanes, and has put down anchor several hundred feet off.”

She chewed her lip. “Hm.”

Later that night, as the faintest hint of daylight was disappearing behind the distant hills of Vancouver Island, she ventured to the shore again. The twilight was barely enough to light her way down along the rocks as she tip-toed from jagged boulder to jagged boulder, keeping her eyes on the lights from the yacht moored a few hundred yards off Bell Island’s east side – the Good News. She sat down on an appropriately-shaped rock and took her shoes off to let her toes dangle in the water.

“Shit!” she hissed – yep, still icy cold. Brooke wasn’t sure why she thought that would be a good idea.

The air was still, though, and sounds carried, though she couldn’t hear anyone on the yacht. A smaller craft made its way through the passage, probably toward Anacortes. She watched as its red and green bow light disappeared into the night.

“You know,” that deep, rumbling voice said from behind her, “The pool is much warmer if you’re thinking about going for a swim again.”

Brooke turned to see the pale shape of a giant standing in the trees behind her. He seemed relaxed – that was good, especially after the scare earlier. She smiled at him, though was sure he wouldn’t be able to see it.

“Hardly,” she scoffed.

“Really, it’s yours to use if you want. You… know how to swim, right?”

She laughed aloud at this. “You grew up with computers, I grew up in the water.”

When he smiled, she saw it. His teeth practically glinted in the faint moonlight. “In Russia, they have these things called Walrus Clubs,” he said as he took a step closer to the shore. She supposed that he wasn’t afraid of being spotted in the darkness.

“Walrus Clubs?”

Jack strode past her, balancing his immense weight on the rocks until he was up to his calves in the water. “They’re a bunch of crazy bastards who go swimming in the winter.”

Brooke could imagine it, but couldn’t believe it. “You’re joking.”

“That’s Russians for you!”

She giggled. He stepped deeper into the water, until the bottom of his bedsheet dipped into the gentle waves. “Wait, are you going to go for a swim right now?

He shrugged his great shoulders. “Why not?”

Brooke pointed with her whole arm. “That’s Patel’s boat over there!”

“All the better, then!” he declared. That’s when Brooke began to suspect that he’d had something to drink. “Right under the motherfucker’s nose! I should swim over there and cut his anchor line,” he chuckled darkly. “I’d love to see the look on his shitty little face when he wakes up in the morning and realizes that he’s drifted out to sea!”

“Jack, someone might see you…”

“Let them! I’m a dead man anyway.”

She sighed and stood up. “Jack, c’mon. I’ll go sit by the pool with you.”

He muttered something in Russian under his breath at the boat before turning and following her back to the house. When they returned, he offered her a cocktail, and even though she knew it wasn’t he best idea in the world, she took him up on it.

“I used to love dirty martinis,” he said, sitting with his legs in the pool as he poured the ingredients into a shaker (which was absolutely tiny in his enormous hands), gave it a rattle, and poured it out into a chilled glass. “Here.”

It was strange and bitter and salty and she made a face with her first sip. “What the hell kind of..?”

Jack just laughed. “It’s a dirty martini. It’s got olive brine in it.”

Brooke shook her head and set it down on the flagstone beside her. “No thank you. Definitely not my thing.”

“More for me,” he thundered, plucking up the glass and tossing the entire drink down his gullet, olives and all. “What kind of drink would you like, then?”

“Lemon drop,” she blurted, realizing a little too late what she was getting into. Oh well… what was a drink or two, anyways?

Jack nodded. “Amos! You catch that?”

“One lemon drop martini coming up, Master Ilyin.”

Two minutes later, and the white robot was pressing the stemmed glass into her hand. “Miss Foster,” it said before retreating back into the house.

Jack reached over to his other side and held up an entire bottle of vodka. Yep, he’s definitely been drinking. She tentatively held up her drink in response. “What are we toasting to?”

He looked from her to the sky, then, rakish grin fading into a fainter smile, and spoke with much less bombast: “Ya piyo za razoryenniy dom, za zlooyo zizny moyo, za odinochyestvo vdvoyem, I za tyebya ya piyo,— za lozy myenya pryedavshikh guoob, za myertviy kholod gulaz, za to, chto mir zyestok i guroob, za to, chto bogu nye spas.” When Brooke looked at him, waiting, curiously, to what the beautiful words meant, he turned back to her and repeated himself in English. “I drink to our ruined house, to all of life’s evils too, to our mutual loneliness, and I, I drink to you – to eyes, dead and cold, to lips, lying and treacherous, to the age, coarse, and cruel, to the fact no god has saved us.” He brought the bottle to his lips, but just before he tipped the glass back, he gave her a mild little wink. “I drink to you, Brooke.”

The vodka disappeared from his bottle and he set it down gently so he could squint up at the stars.

There were emotions in her – emotions she didn’t know how to explain – and so she followed his gaze and downed her drink too.

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The Beast of Bell Island part 14

Light from the morning sun blasted into her face and Brooke woke up with a groan, turning over and putting a second pillow on her head. She was having such nice dreams, and was sleeping so soundly after rubbing another one out last night… this just wasn’t fair.

As she was about to close her eyes again, though, another box placed at the foot of the bed caught her attention – Amos must have delivered it at some point. She stared at it for a moment, waiting for her eyelids to decide whether or not she was going to fall back asleep or not, and when they didn’t begin drooping, Brooke knew the box had won.

Nail clippers from the bathroom did the trick of splitting the packing tape, and inside she found a shopping bag stuffed with blue, sparkling tissue paper. She tore out the paper and let it sail to the floor. Inside, at the bottom of the bag with a gift receipt was the prettiest two-piece bathing suit that she’d ever seen. The construction was good, the swimsuit spandex of surprising quality, and the cut was neither too modest nor too revealing. She wouldn’t have to worry about her boobs falling out, which was something she appreciated in her swimwear.

With a smile, she stood in front of the full-length mirror and changed out of her bra and panties. The suit was cut perfectly to her body – Amos musthave measured her at some point, and it flattered everything. But her excitement turned to naysaying and she watched her own shoulders slump.

“This is just asking for trouble,” she muttered. What trouble? Brooke thought with a grimace. The kind of trouble that might land you in the arms of a giant hunk as you figure out how to make out with each other?

But she knew that the making out wasn’t what was eating her.

“You’re still scared of him, aren’t you?” she murmured. Just his… sexuality, she reasoned, not even trying to hide this from herself anymore. You don’t know what kind of sex drive he has, what his preferences are… whether you’d even be able to keep up with him when he was just six feet tall… And he’s got home field advantage, too.

She didn’t know what to expect, is what it came down to. She wasn’t ready for such a loss of power, for being quite literally in over her head. It was exciting to think about, Brooke knew, but that was just it: it was exciting to think about.

With a sigh she took the suit off and put it back in the bag before getting dressed in some real clothes.

Breakfast, like the day before, was had on the south patio. Today the fog was especially thick, and she could see the swirls of cloud moving silently through the trees just at the edge of the deck. It was cooler today, too, and Brooke was forced to put on the sweater she’d been wearing when she plunged into the sound. Jack, it seemed, was not cold – he still wore nothing but the sheet.

“What do you do in the winter?” she asked. “Or when it rains?”

He shrugged, taking a bite of potato – an entire potato. “I’ve got a few things I rigged up. I bought several bolts of wool felt that first year. Got a sail needle, some string, and sewed together a kind of… cloak, I guess. It looks pretty silly, but it does the trick. I don’t get as cold as I used to, though. I guess I’ve got more padding now. My core temperature seems to hold steady at about 102.6 degrees fahrenheit now…”

He talked a little bit more about what changes he’s noticed about his body (aside from the obvious); how fast his hair seems to grow, his higher tolerance to pain, his diminished clotting factor, among other things. He really was a big geek, wasn’t he?

“What about the fog? Is that a side-effect of the magic?”

He nodded. “Amos, the lack of cell service, and my… apparent ability to keep people from fleeing when I want all seems to be part of the package. I always wondered why, though.”

Brooke considered this. “Well, if this witch lady wanted to teach you a lesson in being nice to people, then there might be a method to the madness…” If the spell itself could be thought of as a criminal, then she began profiling it.

“A witch casts a spell on a powerful shithead to punish him,” Jack mused. “Sounds like a damn fairytale.”

“It sure does, doesn’t it?”

But a strange sound greeted their ears from somewhere nearby, and the pair paused their conversation to listen. Whatever it was, it was moving above the treeline, making this sort of flat, whining buzz. Brooke scowled and Jack moved away from the table in a crouch, but didn’t stand up.

Suddenly, she saw the shape of it in the fog. “There!”

It was a quadcopter drone outfitted with a camera on its underbelly. “Pizdets!” Jack hissed and quickly disappeared into the dark, foggy pines. “For fuck’s sake! I can’t be seen like this!”

Brooke broke into a sprint as the drone began to circle the house, pointing its camera into the windows, and shouted at it. “Hey, hey, hey!” she yelled up at the thing. “You’re in private goddamn airspace! Gain altitude or this is trespassing!”

The drone clumsily whirled around and the camera focused on her for a second, probably zooming in to get a clear look at her face, before lurching upward and back into the fog, where it wouldn’t be able to see squat.

“Amos, where the hell did that come from?!”

The nearest green light, located at the top of a slim pole sticking out of the ground, blinked to life. “There appears to be a boat anchored about 100 feet from the shore, Miss Foster. Registration number is WA-4739-FN, with a name on the stern that reads ‘Good News’.”

“Who does that vessel belong to?”

“One moment… Ah, yes, according to Washington State records, it belongs to none other than a certain Mr. Gary Patel.”

Brooke turned toward the trees where Jack had sought cover, and dashed back over. She found him some ways into the thick stand. He was crouched and frowning before looking her way when she ran up to him.

“Patel’s looking for you,” she said quietly. “But I think its gone, now.”

“Fucking bastard,” he muttered, standing up. Jack balled his hand into a fist and smashed the side of it into the trunk of a tree. Brooke started at the suddenness of it, but the tree was ultimately undamaged. “He’s getting impatient.”

“Google is expecting him to get his shit together so they can close this deal. You’re the last loose thread.” He didn’t say anything, just started off into the distance with a black look on his face. A thought occurred to her, though, and she had to ask: “You don’t want to sell the company, do you?”

“Are you kidding me?” Jack snorted. “Google was one of our main competitors. Letting them buy us would be the very picture of defeat. But Patel’s a businessman and therefore a coward first – it’s no surprise that he wants this to go through so badly.”

Brooke couldn’t help but find his way of speaking any less than, well, charming in its own rough-hewn way. But the simple admonishment of his business partner spoke volumes to her: Jack Ilyin, then, valued skill and hard work more than he valued money. Maybe that’s why he was able to come to value her.

“Cmon,” he grunted. “Let’s finish breakfast before it gets cold.”

Brooke was about to voice her agreement when her hip bones were suddenly enveloped in a two sets of strong fingers. She bit back a yelp as he hoisted her up into the air to sit in his hand while he walked back to the patio. With one arm around the back of his neck, she looked down at the ground far below her, remembering her held breath and let it out.

“You know, I could almost get used to this,” she laughed nervously.

“I might too, if it didn’t mean being a top-billing act at a Coney Island freakshow.”

She looked up and saw his brows were furrowing worry lines into his statuesque face. Hers soon followed suit, and the hand resting along the side of a pectoral muscle drooped.

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The Beast of Bell Island part 13

She held on tight, eyes closed because she half-expected him to kick her from him like a piece of garbage stuck to his leg. She could feel the flexing muscles under his skin, the hard tendons like cables strung up the length of his towering limb. And still she held on, pressing the whole of her body to his skin like she was trying to squeeze the anger out of him.

“I’ve had nothing else to do for the past two years than think about the man I used to be,” he said quietly, though no less bitter than before. “I know why she did what she did. She came to the party that night to test me. I failed that test, and it may very well cost me my life.”

Brooke felt a tightening in her chest as his words touched something in her. “I’m sorry, Jack,” she found herself saying.

The leg shifted, and she let go just in time for him to crouch down and lift her up to him, leaving her to stand on his bare thigh with her face crushed to his broad, fuzzy chest. One of his big hands was splayed along her back, covering her from shoulder to shoulder, and the other at her ankles. Still, even like this, his chin was several feet above her.

God, this felt good.

“Don’t be sorry for me,” he said. With her ear pressed to him like this, his voice was so deep that it practically enveloped her as much as his hands were capable of doing. “I… deserved it.”

Brooke pushed away from him to look him in the eye. “I think that if you can admit that, then you don’t any more.”

He paused suddenly, looking around expectantly and cocking a brow for a moment, before looking back to her. “I guess the magic doesn’t work like that,” Jack chuckled faintly. “I’m still here.”

Brooke couldn’t help but laugh. She stopped, though, when she felt his hand go from her back to her hair, and around to brush along her jawline with a rough knuckle. He looked at her, distantly sad, and she watched as his eyes darted from one facial feature to another.

“You’re quite the clever girl,” he murmured. “And quite beautiful. I just wish we could have met under different circumstances.”

Her heart was pounding, and there was a little tremor in her hands as she braced herself against him. But she didn’t have anything to say – she wasn’t the kind of woman who knew how to use words to coax men into doing the things she wanted them to do, nor did she have any sense of good timing for it.

So when Jack let her gently down to the ground again, giving her one last wistful, lopsided smile, she let him. And when he stood up again, she watched, tight-lipped as those muscles carried him back to the house. He had no idea what he was doing to her, did he?

Brooke sat on a rock by the shore and watched the sun set that evening as the tide came in. A few boats puttered about here and there, but they more or less disappeared when the sky was more stars than twilight.

She sighed and got up, and when she went back to the house, Jack was lounging in the great room, touchscreen tablet set on his bare chest (and rigged up like a remote) as he paid very close attention to a news segment with furrowed brows.

“Jack Ilyin, CEO of Seattle-based Orcasoft, has not returned from his multi-year sabbatical even as his VP of operations, Gary Patel, is close to closing a deal with Google. Ilyin, the software and robotics engineer behind the prototype AMOS technology, has apparently not left his private island residence since a heated altercation with a party guest two years ago threatened to cripple his public image…”

Jack growled with irritation and Brooke risked sitting down on one of the cushions near his elbow to watch the rest of the segment.

“Theories abound as to why Ilyin abandoned his public life and ceased all direct involvement with Orcasoft, but one thing is for certain: without the guidance of its majority share holder and lead engineer, the company, and its talks with Google, are dead in the water. Reporting live from Seattle, I’m Rebecca Thomas. Back to you, Phil.”

“History Channel,” Jack barked, and the enormous screen quickly changed to footage of divers off the coast of Mallorca. He groaned and rubbed at his eyes, not paying one whit of attention to the new program. “Would you like to watch something?” he said, suddenly tired. “Here.” He picked the tablet off his chest and set it in her lap. Brooke’s eyes bugged out at the weight of it and she proceeded to orient it toward herself, trying to position the cookie sheet-sized thing so nothing was digging into her legs.

The tablet, she realized, was hand-made. It wasn’t sleek like an Apple product, but was rough, slapdash, utilitarian. “Did you make this too?” she asked.

“Mhm. Last year. Also wrote the software.”

She laughed lightly. “You make it sound like its no big deal. ‘Yeah, I totally just built this fuckin’ piece of cool hardware. Whatever. Could do it in my sleep’.” He chuckled at her imitation of him.

“Built my first computer when I was eight,” he said, trying to sound disinterested, but it was apparent to her that he was enjoying the flattery. “I’ve been at it for a while.”

“Well it’s all very impressive.” Brooke glanced at the large screen and scrolled down through the channels. She was tempted to make him sit through some episodes of Spongebob Squarepants, but instead decided on a different guilty pleasure.

The screen changed again, this time revealing a the opening credits of Body of Evidence, one of her favorite crime procedurals.

Jack cracked a smile. “Studying for those midterms, huh?”

“This is purely educational, you see.”

“Ah huh.”

“Nothing fun about it.”

“I hope you’re taking notes.”

She tapped at the side of her head. “It’s all in here.”

He laughed some more and shook his head, propping himself up on an elbow to see better. “Amos, dim lights to 30%.”

The lights dimmed, and the show started.

Jack actually fell asleep at around 10:30, well before the marathon was over, stretching out with his hands behind his head and breathing slow and deep. He’d gotten quiet about half an hour before, so Brooke didn’t realize it until later, at which point she whispered a swear under hear breath and turned the TV off with the controls on the tablet.

“Amos, lights to 10%?” she whispered.

Brooke stood up, setting the tablet down on the edge of the ‘bed’, but didn’t leave. Instead, she watched him for a moment. The way his chest rose and fell, so much slower than any other person’s; the way his whiskered chin tucked up into his chest; the way his eyes moved behind his lids as he fell into REM; it was all so captivating. Her own eyes wandered down his chest, following the ripples of his musculature, the slight, blond hairs as they wound their way down his belly and disappeared under the edge of the sheet, which barely clung to his hips so skewed by a single bent knee. Her breath caught in her throat when she saw the outline of his flaccid cock laying limp against this thigh and –

Oh. Maybe it wasn’t so flaccid after all.

It moved the tiniest bit, lifting a little then settling down, and Brooke stood transfixed, staring. Heat rose to her face when she realized what she was doing, but, dammit, she couldn’t tear herself away!

When Jack shifted, laying both legs flat on the floor, Brooke jumped out of her skin and rushed out of the room, fearing the worst. But when she peeked around the corner of the hallway, the giant man was still fast asleep, and she was able to breathe a temporary sigh of relief. Verytemporary, because Brooke was aware of that familiar dull ache between her legs, and she knew it wouldn’t go away without a little help.

“You’re going to be the end of me,” she quietly whimpered to herself as she rushed up the stairs to her private bath. This was something that would be best taken care of in the shower, she decided.

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The Beast of Bell Island part 12

Brooke had a very nice conversation with the dot work specialist at Furious Ink. With a little suggestive social engineering, she was able to finally remember such a client.

“It was in the summer, I think? Yeah, summer. I remember she called us first thing one morning, wondering if we had a spot for her that day for a piece that absolutely, positively had to be done before some deadline,” came the smoker’s voice from the other end.

Brooke swiveled absentmindedly around in the chair some. A deadline? “Do you remember what it was?”

The woman sighed into the phone. “Ummm… I think it was a tarot card. I don’t remember which one, but it was like a skyscraper being struck by lightning or something.”

She scrawled that down to look into later.

Brooke perked up, trying to bit back her smile. “Did she say why she was getting it?”

“She said it was to commemorate something. Showed me a bunch of her other tattoos, said they were all tarot-y versions of events in her life. They were all pretty bizarre, I remember that much.”

To commemorate something! “Did she talk more about… oh, I don’t know, magic? The occult?”

“Not sure. I don’t remember too many specifics, I’m sorry.”

“Could you give me her name? Do you keep that stuff on file?”

“We keep that information on file for a few years, yeah, but I can’t just give it to you. I’m sorry.”

“Of course.” Brooke paused and thought for a minute. “You might be hearing from my father soon, then. He’s a licensed professional.”

The call ended amicably, though the tattoo artist did seem to wise up near the end of the conversation and asked if this was a murder or something being investigated. Brooke had certainly hoped not, and assured her that she wasn’t being treated as a suspect in any sort of case.

Martin was relieved to hear from his daughter, and even more relieved that she was being treated well. Of course, Brooke failed to mention her little encounter with hypothermia, but those were the kinds of details that the man didn’t need to hear right now. Maybe when she recounted the story again in a few years.

He was also, apparently, still interested in helping solve the case in any way he could – and if that meant knocking on doors and flashing his credentials, then he would be more than happy to. Especially knowing how much Jack Ilyin was paying them for their services.

“Give me a few days, and I’ll see what I can dig up for you,” he’d said, nervous but his voice still excitable with pride at his daughter’s handling of the situation.

Brooke wasn’t sure that her father should have been that proud of her handling of the situation. Her crush on Jack was becoming cloyingly obvious to her, and it was beginning to make her angry. She’d crushed on teachers before; local civil servants of the uniform-wearing variety; her damn babysitter when she was a pre-teen. They were all cute and harmless, she reasoned – but Jack was neither cute, nor harmless. And unlike her other crushes, who she could bat eyes at from afar, she was living in his house. This was all very unprofessional, unbecoming, and un-

“Miss Foster?” Amos’ ever-agreeable voice tore her from her whirlwind of thoughts.


“Dinner will be served in fifteen minutes by the pool.”

“Thanks, Amos. I’ll… be there.”

There was another outdoor dining area near the pool: a sleek bronze and teak set for six. It was smaller than the one on the south patio, effectively bringing her just that much nearer to his massive silhouette. Brooke decided that she’d have to do a lot of looking around at things that weren’t him tonight.

When she approached, he rose from the table – a dramatic sight if she ever saw one, all twenty some-odd feet of him standing at her entrance – and stepped around to pull her chair out for her like a child seating a doll at a play tea set.

“You’ve gotta be kidding me,” she said, laughing and trying to hide her blush.

“I need to get back into practice.” He returned to his end of the table and sat down cross-legged, tugging the sheet down for modesty’s sake. “Dining etiquette is a big deal in my… echelon of society.”

Amos proceeded to bring out the cart again: this time it was heavily laden with smoked meats of all sorts. Pork, sausages, salmon, potatoes… Brooke’s mouth was watering already.

“My god, that smells amazing.”

“Applewood,” Jack said, clearly pleased with his handiwork. “Please, help yourself.”

Amos served them, and they began to eat.

“How’s the investigation progressing?” he asked, dragging a tiny rib through his credit-card size teeth to clean the meat off of it. He wiped his fingers off on a towel draped over his knee.

“I’ve got a lead,” she said, beaming. Thank god he wanted to talk about the case – it was one of the few things that would reliably take her mind off of him. “I think I may have found a tattoo shop she visited a few days after the party. They might have her ID and release form still on file. Tattoo shops have to make copies of driver’s licenses or whatever before they’ll -”

“Yeah, yeah, I know,” he said excitedly. “When will you know for sure?”

“My father’s going to flash his badge at them and hopefully they’ll give him the info. It’ll be a day or two.”

Jack’s face twisted into a smile, but a smug and distantly vindictive one. She watched as his big tongue darted out to wet his upper lip. “My god, Brooke, can you believe it? I could have my life back in a matter of days! I could take back what that suchka stole from me.” He glanced at her with wild eyes before staring off into the distance. It was clear what was on his mind.

“Jack, I can’t make any promises,” Brooke said carefully. “I can only try to help you find her – I can’t make her do anything.”

The faraway look on his face faded into a frown as he looked back at his guest, then back to his meal. He heaved a breath. “No,” he said in a low voice. “I suppose you can’t.”

“Have you thought about what you’re going to to if you can’t go back?”

Jack paused, and she watched as his grip on the serving spoon tightened hard enough to bend the metal. Brooke swallowed as she began to think about escape routes.

“You mean if she can’t, or won’t change me back?”

“That’s besides the point -”

“Is it?” Jack suddenly shot her a glare, blue eyes icy again.

Brooke stood up from her chair, hands fists at her sides. “You know what? I don’t think you’ve changed one damn bit, Jack Ilyin.”

He dropped the spoon to the table suddenly, and the young woman jumped. Then the giant stood up. “If she doesn’t change me back,” he bellowed, “Fuck the company, the yacht, the parties, all of it. If she doesn’t change me back, I will die on this fucking rock!”

Brooke stood there, frozen to the spot as he grit his teeth together at her, pointing, muscles tense. His chest heaved angry breaths as he stared her down. She was steeling her nerves, preparing for him to break something, or throw the table, or even try to hurt her again. But none of it came. He just glowered at her with those harsh, angry eyes, and slowly, slowly let his hand fall to his side.

She swallowed, letting the fear slowly trickle out of her body as she took stock of herself, their surroundings, him.

It occurred to her, then, like sudden revelation, that Jack Ilyin wasn’t boiling over with hate; Jack Ilyin was scared shitless.

With a growl he turned from the table to storm away into the dusky wild little forest beyond the edge of the terraces. “I knew I shouldn’t have expected a kid to understand,” he harshly muttered under his breath.

It was Brooke’s turn to frown. A second later, and she was chasing him down like a kitten at the feet of a German Shepherd. “Hey,” she called up to him. “Hey!” He was ignoring her, speeding up his steps and quickly beginning to out-pace her. “Hey, you big, stubborn -!”

Jack stopped and stared her down. “If you don’t leave me the fuck alone right now little girl, you’re fired.”

Despite her pounding heart, her shaking breaths, despite the fact that she probably should have done as told and went back to the house, Brooke followed her gut and stepped closer, and as soon as she was able, threw her arms around his hard, muscular calf.

It was a risk, but a calculated one. After all, it seemed to her, sometimes all people like Jack needed was a good damn hug.

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The Beast of Bell Island part 11

It was a very intimate thing, sitting on his shoulder like that, she realized. Through her jeans she could feel the cordage of his neck and shoulders and the hard ridge of his collarbone. At her elbow was an ear the size of a small plate, and his loose hairs tickled her shoulder. In the silvery light of the sun through the cloud cover, his hair was not a vibrant blond, but a dull sandy flax. This was the first time that she noticed the grays, though, sprouted up here and there at his temples.

Brooke set the palm of one hand on the great expanse of his shoulder, and the other at the nape of his neck as he began to walk again. Jack seemed to walk with deliberate care so as not to jostle her around too much, taking his time finding his footing along the dirt path.

“When was the last time you shaved?” she asked.

“About three months ago… with a pair of garden pruners. Was a pain in the ass.”

“What if I helped clean you up a little bit? Maybe that would make you feel a little bit more like the man you used to be.”

She watched it in his eyes as he considered this. “You’d do that? I mean, I’d pay you for it, and…”

“You don’t have to pay me,” she laughed. “I’d do it because of the good and sufficient reason that I wanted to.”

“Oh. I, uh… Thank you.”

She looked down, spying another white sheet clinging to his hips. “I could help you make something a little sturdier to wear, too. I’m not too handy with a needle and thread, but I could at least try sewing a couple of those together with a proper tie so you don’t feel like you’re wearing a piece of tissue paper.”

He laughed, looking down at himself and grabbed the “hem” of the thing as a gesture. “To be honest, I normally don’t wear anything if the weather’s good like this. I rigged this up when your dad came ashore. It’s not the most comfortable thing in the world, but…”

Brooke’s face turned beet red as she imagined him going about his business completely naked. She imagined those thighs, those hips, and the thing between his legs that she’d caught a glimpse of the evening before. Suddenly, her brain took a turn for the naughty and she couldn’t stop herself. Jack was in her mind’s eye, now with an erection standing long and firm, high above her head…

“Anyways, don’t worry about it. You’ve only got a week.”

His voice snapped her out of it, but she still shifted her seating on him a little to ease the building discomfort between her own legs.

Brooke cleared her throat. “OK, yeah, sure thing.” Then: “I, uh, I think I’d like to be put down now, if you don’t mind…”

He wrapped his big, strong fingers gently around her and lifted her from his shoulder to set her onto the ground. “There you go.”

She laughed nervously. “Thank you.”

“…You alright?”

“I um… it was a little high for me up there. Good to have my feet on solid ground again, you know what I mean? Anyways, I think I need to use the restroom.”

Jack nodded. “I should too.”

“I’ll be back in a few minutes!”

And like that she took off for the house, still aching in her belly for release. When she looked behind her, she saw him remove the sheet, throw it over his shoulder, and step off the path. “Why does he have to be so hot?” she whispered to herself, ripping her eyes from the sight of him doing something so banal as taking a piss, and darted into the nearest bathroom.

Thank god there were no Amos terminals in the bathrooms.

Brooke looked at herself in the mirror. Her face and shoulders were framed by deep brown hair, her cheeks and slim shoulders sprinkled with faint freckles. She was very obviously aroused: face flushed, eyes dark, and even the way she stood seemed to accentuate her modest chest and rear end. She didn’t even know she was doing that!

Quickly she shimmied her pants and panties off, and laid herself down onto the floor. She sighed when her fingers traced her own opening, stroking the lips and circling her throbbing clit. Distantly, she couldn’t believe she was doing this. Masturbating in somebody else’s house, over a man she had not 2 minutes ago been engaged in pleasant conversation with. This is fucked up, she thought as she dipped two fingers in.

Brooke bit down on her lip as she stroked and fingered herself, afraid of making even the slightest sound. Her mind was buzzing with image after image of debauchery; she imagined his massive cock in his hand, pressed to her belly, oozing sticky rivulets of clear pre-cum. She imagined that deep voice of his, grunting and growling as he pumped his fist around himself, looking down at her and rumbling sweet, dirty nothings…

She didn’t take long; she never did. The smoldering fire in her belly suddenly ignited into full-on flames, and her hips bucked against her own little fingers. Brooke moaned in her throat, not daring to open her mouth as her orgasm washed over her sending every nerve ending abuzz with white-hot pleasure.

A few moments later and she lay there, panting, staring up at the ceiling and wishing that it was him.

She put her pants back on, washed the smell of her fluids off her hands; threw some water on her face. She still looked flushed, and her hair was a little messy, but Brooke at least hoped that the worst of it was over. Jack Ilyin would provide masturbatory fodder for her for years to come, she knew – but making any moves was simply out of the question.

Mostly, this was because Brooke was still a virgin. Not for any particular reason, she just never got around to it, and never found the right guy to do it with. She’d fooled around some – she knew her way around a cock – but there was something about initiating sex that didn’t come naturally to her, and that left her to rely on the impetuses of other men. And when you relied on a man’s impetus for sex, it was always a gamble on whether or not it would be at all worth your time.

Of course, there was, too, the fact that Jack may not be emotionally stable enough for sex. He’d gone from being a type-a socialite to a completely isolated hermit literally overnight – and that also surely meant the sudden cessation of his sex life, with likely no cessation of a sex drive. Suddenly, the thought occurred to her that he had regularly been doing during her stay what she just did – slipping into the sound-dampened obscurity of the trees around the property and gotten himself off to lecherous imaginings of his small, young guest. The idea made her heart race with both excitement and unease. She was acutely self-aware now, moreso than she’d been at any point before, of how her ass fit into these jeans, of the way this bra cupped her breasts, of the way she might have been walking or talking or looking at him. Had she been unconsciously showing tells of attraction that she didn’t know she was experiencing? Had he noticed?

And besides, he was huge! It would never work, she – nor any other woman – would be able to give the man what he so deeply craved: stuffing his cock inside a tight, warm hole. She didn’t have a hole big enough to accommodate… well, any of him.

So that was that, then.

Brooke realized that she’d spent altogether too long in the bathroom and decided that the most sensible thing was to go back out there and finish their walk.

“Platonic,” she chanted under her breath. “Strictly platonic.”

They did finish their walk around lunch time, and with no further mishaps. It was beginning to be a struggle to keep her heart rate down around him now, and she was vigilant about finding any signs in his face or body language that might tell her he was experiencing the same thing she was. So she could nip it in the bud, of course.

The other problem was that she found her eyes constantly wandering to his hips, to see if she could catch a glance of an outline through the sheet – which she did several times as he walked. This was not at all what she needed, but Brooke just couldn’t help herself.

“I think I might take my lunch upstairs,” she said when they approached the house again. “I should catch up on some emails and send a note to my dad.”

Jack looked a little disappointed, but he nodded. “Of course, go ahead.”

So she did. Amos made her a rye sandwich, the same kind that she’d made herself that first day on the island only better, and she took it up to the third floor with her. Going over emails was a welcome distraction, and she found herself calming down. Brooke looked over the notes that she’d taken regarding the charities, and decided to call them up. There wasn’t a phone, so she figured Amos what who she needed to ask.

“Amos? Are you the.. phone around here?”

“I am,” said the light at the computer.

“OK, I have some numbers I need to call…”

Just as she expected, none of the charities knew of any such person as Zelda DuBoix, nor did they ever have someone in their employ who looked like her. Once she was done a little over an hour later, she sat, swiveling around in the chair, and thought.

“Well, there goes all my damn leads,” Brooke mumbled, throwing her pen onto the desk and watching as it rolled onto the floor. “Ugh.”

Her father often spoke of the value in talking to people face-to-face, asking questions in person. But she couldn’t exactly do that, nor did she have any clue as to where to start, even if she did have the option.

“Amos,” she called.

“Yes, Miss Foster?”

“Were you around when Jack had that party? Do you remember the woman he’s talking about?”

“My facilities were limited before the change, but I do have a few primitive memories in my databanks of that night. Mostly voice requests from guests, however, wanting to know where the bathrooms were, which wine paired best with which hors d’oeuvres, that sort of thing.”

“Do you remember any odd requests? From women, that is.”

“Give me a moment to search.” It ‘disappeared’ for the better part of a minute, before returning. “I’ve come across four results which might pique your interest.”

“Lay ’em on me.”

Amos didn’t just repeat the queries told to its old self, it replayed the recorded queries for her. She could hear the murmuring of guests in the background of them all, laughter, music.

“Amos, are there any secret passageways in the house?”

“Amos: How much money does Jack Ilyin have? Was he ever married?”

“Hey, Amos! How big is Jack’s dick!”

“Amos, where’s the nearest tattoo shop that specializes in dot-work?”

Brooke hummed and hawwed, quickly deciding the third voice query was just silly. The first and second were spoken by women who sounded just as drunk as the third, so she discounted those too. But the fourth voice was level, cogent, and oddly sober.

“Amos,” Brooke asked. “Was that question asked before or after Jack’s public altercation with the strange woman?”

“It appears that this was asked of me at 11:49pm that night, at the unit just outside the front door. This was mere seconds after I recall Master Ilyin telling her to leave.”

“She sounds awfully composed for just having been sexually harassed in front of 100 people, doesn’t she?”

“I might say so, Miss Foster.”

“What tattoo parlor did you direct her to, by the way?”

“The Furious Ink studio in Seattle. It’s quite famous.”

“Hm. I wonder if their dot-work artist would remember a client from 2 years ago…” Brooke spun around to face the computers, and clapped her hands together. “Ring them up, I’d like to talk to them.”

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