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Subject: Chapter 226 - Part 2 (16 and above) (end of chapter 226)

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Date Posted: Wednesday, March 01, 07:02:49am
In reply to: Katherine Gilbert 's message, "Dreams in the Dark (chapters 221--?)" on Monday, February 13, 07:24:07am

These concerns would have to wait, however; she drew herself back together in the next moment, not wanting to give Madeline any new victories, her smile pleasant once again. But the woman saw it anyway--her own, far-less-pleasant smile growing. She pushed the knife in further, her gaze on Michael--enjoying her revenge not only for the man's emotional defection from the studio but for the vicious shove he had given her when he had run to the idiot Nikita's defense; she might have had much worse, many times, but the desire to put him back in line lingered poisonously. "Could I get back the script I gave you the other week?" Her look enjoyed all the pain she would inflict. "We've made a few casting changes since then."

In some ways, this should have been a blessing--if only it were Susan that the new actor would be put with. But Michael was far from naive enough to believe it, his silent nod only just enough to be considered polite. They were planning on pairing up his beloved elsewhere; something in the back of his eyes burned. And they didn't even give a damn about what might happen to his increasingly pregnant wife.

The tutor caught the look, of course, triumphing in it--the cruel smile slithering further up her features, as she looked to the woman she had come to so dislike. "You'll make a lovely pairing with Andrew in his first film. I'm sure the audiences will love you."

The creature which seemed to smile at the actress from the back of her enemy's eyes was hideous, barely human--its look of triumph exactly mirroring its mistress. Nikita blinked, the vision fading quickly--and was left to wonder where it had come from; her hand squeezed her husband's tightly as she forced herself to ask just one of the questions which plagued her, one the tutor had knowingly backed her into. "And Michael?"

It was just as the poor woman had expected--Madeline's gaze a disturbing combination of venom and honey. "Oh, don't worry." The terrible look moved to the actor Nikita loved. "We have plans for him."

To put it rather mildly, this was a less than encouraging answer. But it was Michael who rose to the moment, his gaze warning, even if his voice continued to be polite. "I won't have you overworking my wife, Madeline." His eyes blazed quietly, making his point clear. "Not in her condition." Even if she could only be a couple of months pregnant, at most, his sweet solicitude for her was growing further by the day.

It was a wonderful attempt to bring the tutor into line--but nothing could work anymore, her smile just deepening. "We'll take care of her condition, Michael." Anything like warmth there died in a heartbeat. "That I promise."

The day was only getting worse with the woman's every response, but there was no avoiding this anymore. She pulled herself from the brutal gaze she had fallen into with Michael a moment later, looking over them all in her typical, coldly pleasant manner. "But before we start anything else, you should all get to know each other. I'm sending you on a publicity tour together for a few weeks." Her eyes blazed a sudden, fatal message to the pair. "You should enjoy it." The fact that she clearly intended it to be their last didn't need to be said.

She left them with this deadly, if unspoken, pronouncement, calling Andrew along behind her like her dog. The man just sighed heavily, closing his eyes. He wasn't entirely certain what he had gotten himself into, but he was damn sure he wasn't going to enjoy it; his head shook once. He should have stayed on the stage.

It was a moment later that he pulled himself together, speaking to the couple quietly. "I'm sorry. I . . ."

"Andrew." Madeline's voice was quiet but with a terrible sort of authority--not letting another word be spoken. "We have other people you need to meet."

Lord. His head dropped, but he said nothing else to the pair--hoping that they could discuss whatever viper pit he had fallen into later; he nodded to himself. "Coming," he called, turning only one more look back to the couple. "I'll see you later."

The man had tried to show some genuine feeling toward the pair, but it wasn't enough to comfort them now; Nikita's terrified gaze met her husband's. What in God's name had they gotten into?

They couldn't discuss it at the moment, in that place, but the possibilities swirled terribly before them--one thing certain. Michael's status, for all he had long been their masters' favorite--for all his following--was in danger. If they had discovered someone else to take his place, . . . Well, no actor was indispensable in this town.

This fact was impossible to ignore, the truths before them goading. At least at Premiere, no actor was ever brought in with any similarity to the current star, unless the current one was extremely disposable. And Andrew's whole look was telling. Perhaps he was missing the exotic foreigner angle, but one could be created for him, if the studio wanted it. Besides, foreigners weren't the most popular people these days--the country doing its best to focus only on its own problems, determined to ignore the world around them, as it went mad. Michael almost snorted. It might only be a benefit for Premier, if they had an all-American version of himself to replace him.

This thought nearly brought out a shudder--his fears for his beloved eating away at him. Even the possibility of being bought by another studio seemed unwieldy--and unlikely. Wolfe never liked to let any possession of value go, would no doubt see to it that his career was in ruins--one way or another--before they would cut him loose. And he didn't even have the comfort of thinking that he could simply move away with his beloved--her contract unlikely to be given up, if they wanted to punish him. No, this way was far crueler. They could destroy him--and force him to stay to watch every second of his degradation.

None of these truths in any way encouraged him--but another phrase of Madeline's was ringing through his head, making his soul clench. If they had "plans for him," would even these punishments be considered enough?

He had no answer to this terror--neither of them did--but none of the likely theories were encouraging, even survivable. While he wasn't certain whether Madeline were truly through with attempting to control him, would be happy to merely ruin him, it wasn't worth risking; his heart firmed. They would have to be very careful, if they had any chance of seeing themselves through.

His look went over to his beloved with this thought, hoping to give her strength--never wanting her to have to return to her days of fear. But, as he gazed at her adoringly, his eyes moving along her form, something in him seemed to seize--yet another of their enemy's implicit threats shaking him--the look returning, in fiery determination, to her own. He had to lean close to speak so they wouldn't be overheard--looking as though he were whispering sweet nothings to her. If only. His hand was on her cheek. "Don't eat anything at the studio anymore, Nikita."

This wasn't the sort of advice she had expected, her mind already in turmoil--her immediate reaction based only on physical need. Over the last week or so, her appetite had grown tremendously; she was, as they said, "eating for two." "But . . .," she began.

"Don't drink anything, either." He kissed her cheek, feeling her fear but unable to explain--trying to keep up the act for the room. "Promise me."

Their gazes met again a second later, his wife's look all confusion and distress. "Michael . . .," she started once more.

"We'll bring something from home," he assured her quietly. They would then just have to face the question of where they could leave it safely.

It took her a second, but she finally saw what he was getting at--her soul simply unwilling to listen, up to now--and something within her seemed to catch, the gaze widening in horror. "You think they'll . . ."

He stopped her with a kiss, determined to keep her from being overheard--but at least she saw his real fears now, understood Madeline's threat. There was really only one way to "take care" of a pregnancy--and that wasn't by nurturing it; his hand lingered on his lover's cheek, as he pulled away, his eyes strong. But he would be damn sure that nothing damaged either her or their child again.

They were caught in that look for several, long moments--Michael's gaze giving her the strength she so needed, even if his mind returned to the past. He had already discovered that Madeline wanted to drug him to help him through after the death she had planned for his beloved, knew she clearly had the materials she might need to cause a miscarriage. And killing their child would--as he had, to his shame and self-rage, caused Nikita to point out the other day--be the ultimate excuse for a divorce, breaking the public bond between them. Then, the tutor could force the actress toward her new find; something in him shuddered. It was all very well planned out, indeed.

But no. His look was steely now--undermining the woman's every plot, his voice reassuring. "They won't win." He saw her sigh, trying to agree, and smiled at her tenderly--all his determination on the rise, focused on one, single point. It didn't matter who or what was doing the plotting--his eyes now fiery. No one, while he lived, would ever harm this beloved woman again.

[End of Part 226]

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Katherine this is just sooo good!!!MaryThursday, March 02, 01:10:23pm
I am sooo looking forward to more chapters !!!jantaySaturday, March 04, 12:40:50pm

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