• Through Fire And Flame •



Prologue



            Katherine strode down the street briskly, suitcase in hand, with a look of determination that clearly reflected she meant business.  There was nothing pleasant about getting off work, only to find a message on her cell phone about something or other with her friend's living arrangements.  Tying her hair up deftly in reaction to the Chicago heat of summer, she stopped in from of her residence.  She jogged up the steps to the door of her spacious townhouse, shuffling in her purse for the keys.  With a look of displeasure on her face, she swung open the door, yelling loudly.

            "Jake!  What's this I hear about you going off to Hawaii again?!" she screamed, shrugging out of her lipstick-red light coat and hanging it in the closet, wondering where the hell her roommate had gone to.

            He walked out of their home office, head bent and poring over the papers he held in his hands while munching on an apple.

            "What can I say?  Being an entrepreneur is hard work.  People want resorts.  I have to go oversee the interior—"

            She waved away his explanation with her hand.  "Yeah yeah.  Whatever.  I don't care about your work."

            "So why exactly did you waltz in here causing an enormous amount of clamor in our humble abode?" he inquired, with another crunch on his apple.

            "Okay, first of all, I don't waltz.  Second of all, can't you just say that I came in here and screamed my head off?  Do you really have to sound like you're working?  I've had enough of that today."

            He paused for a second, taking a large bite out of his apple and chewing it tauntingly.  "Yes, I know you've had enough of it.  Being a lawyer has its bad points, doesn't it?"

            "Yeah.  You could say that."

            He took yet another bite of his apple.

            "Now back to the point," she continued.

            He nodded.  "Exactly.  And what was your point?" he asked between chews.

            "You're going to Hawaii, from what I gather.  I want you here because you're my friend, but I think I'll survive otherwise.  The problem is–you're going to be gone for three months, Jake.  Three months.  I can't exactly cover your amount of the rent for that long.  I mean, I make good money being a lawyer and all, but so do you.  I mean, not being a lawyer, but you get the idea.  I could do without trying to manage the blasphemous amount of money on this 'humble abode', as you call it," she explained rather quickly.

            He ripped a chunk out of the fruit still in his hand.  "I know.  But I have it all covered.  You have nothing to worry about."

            "Huh.  We'll see about that," she mumbled doubtfully.

            Jake chomped on his blood-red apple, staring at his friend.

            "Okay, what's your brilliant plan, Mr. Entrepreneur?" she asked, trying to resist the subtle lure of her attention with his comment.

            "Ha.  I knew you'd ask.  See, I have this brother—"

            "I know you have a brother, Jake.  That's nothing new, unless your parents decided they were lonely after they shipped you off."

            "Haha, very funny," he dismissed, chewing loudly on his apple that was becoming increasingly annoying.  "I have a brother.  And see, he lives in San Francisco.  Big houses there, you know.  Giant, really.  All fancy and expensive as hell.  Anyway, back to my point.  I have a brother.  His name is Sam.  Sam Calder.  And it just so happens that he's taking a vacation for–what a coincidence–three months.  Well, mostly.  He has some business to attend to here, but it's mostly a vacation.  So I suggested that he come here.  And he's loaded, so he'll be able to pay my part of the rent, no problem.  Might even convince him to pay your part, as well.  I'm sure you've got some rather interesting ways to convince people to do whatever you want them to."

            "Hey, just because I slept with one person doesn't make me a whore.  He was a good fuck, and I'm not going to get tied down with a relationship, so I don't see what the problem was with that.  It's not like you're a virgin either.  And I am not convincing your goddamn brother to sleep with me, just to pay the rent on this 'humble abode'.  I'm not that far in lack in terms of my monetary conditions," she retorted.

            "I wasn't suggesting that, but obviously you were thinking about it, considering you're the one who brought it up."

            "Yeah.  'Wasn't suggesting it' my ass."

            He just shrugged lackadaisically, still chomping on his apple.

            "Okay, gimme that stupid apple!" she screamed suddenly, grabbing it from his clutches.

            With her apple, she calmed down and stood there, eating the annoying fruit contentedly with a smile on her face.

            "Feisty today, aren't you?"

            "Yeah, well what can I say?  I go to work, defend some idiot lady whom I know is not innocent, and then I come home only to find that you're abandoning me with your dumb brother for three months."

            "Hmm.  Maybe you have cause.  Meanwhile, I'm leaving."

            "Wait, now?" she asked incredulously.

            "Yep."

            He walked into the home office, put the aforementioned papers he'd been reading into his suitcase, closed it, and walked out with his bags.

            "Are you going to be okay?" he asked Katherine.

            "Yeah.  I'm an independent woman."

            He smiled.  "Okay.  Don't kill my brother."

            "I'll try not to."

            He gave her a hug and walked out the door, calling a taxi to pick him up.

            Sighing, she waved to him from the door and walked back inside, plopping down on the couch.  Three months with a complete stranger, she thought.  And living in the same house.  Should be interesting.  Maybe stir up some trouble.

            Little did she know there'd be more trouble than she could've ever predicted.


Author's Note -- Please read and review. Thanks.

1.28.2004 .julia.