Status: Setting up for the next act.

All out and Over

Chapter Twenty: Preparing The Blow Off.

“You have to do this right, Magic Man,” Malory said as she paced inside his tent. Xavier, somehow, always got his arrangements set up before everyone else. Probably due to the relationship his long legged assistant had with different boys in the circus.

I wonder if my lion tamer was ever with her too?

“Have I ever failed you, Fortune Teller?” Xavier caressed her arm from her elbow to her wrist, drawing her attention away from her wicked imagination.

“Not for a lack of trying,” Malory smiled as she stared into his eyes. She saw a future in his deep gaze, a future she was beginning to like.

Are you as devilish as you are handsome, Magic Man?

“I want her to wake from the trance as soon as the deed is done.” Malory moved closer to him. His black suit fit him well, and she found herself letting her eyes wander. She had to admit, he was handsome for an older man, especially when she was used to playing with pretty boys. “I want her to see what she did before they take her away.”

Xavier took slow, deep, breaths. Malory knew she drove him crazy with confusion. “Careful, Love.” He whispered, his voice husky. “You wouldn’t want to give the wrong impression, would you?”

“Who says this is the wrong impression?” Malory leaned closer in the dim light. He smelled of herbal tea and sweet incense, or maybe that was her perfume. She couldn’t be sure of the scent, but she wanted to fall into the Magic Man’s flames.

Light moved through the entrance as the little flame finally entered. Rickets followed Malory’s instructions to the letter. She smiled. Her shadow faintly danced on the floor in the dim light as she turned to Cara. Little Flame, for once you have done something correctly.

“Xavier?” Her voice filled the room. Malory watched the way Cara’s hands moved around her toys. Her knuckles growing white each time she squeezed the hula hoop. You should be nervous, Firecracker.

Cara’s eyes landed on her, and Malory knew exactly what to say. “Sweetie, its time. Chicago is the place.” She said, her tone was a mixture of sweetness and sternness. “Tonight is the last night Dmitri will enjoy.” A wicked smile crossed her ruby lips as she watched her little experiment. Cara’s eyes grew wide; her grip loosened on her toys.

Xavier stepped forward, standing at Malory’s side. His shoulders were back, and he stood straight. This was the kind of man that Malory needed, wanted. A man that exuded nothing but confidence, and was willing to do what needed to be done.

“Care for some tea?” His voice was low and smooth. The huskiness that lingered on his whispered words to Malory did not exist in these words. An emotion, a jolt, Malory hadn’t felt in a long time moved through her body.

She’s always thirsty, always hungry. The little firecracker always wants something.

“NO!” Cara shook her head violently. “I don’t want any stupid tea! What the hell is going on?!”

“Nothing is…” Xavier started, but Cara turned. Malory knew this wasn’t a job for his charming ways. Cara knows the magic is wrong.

“What’s wrong, Firecracker? You seem frazzled.” Malory’s tone was low and soothing. She felt like she was trying to lure a child into its playpen. This is unacceptably degrading.

“We’re not bringing anyone else into this, remember? You told me over and over. Just us.” Cara’s face was turning bright red. Her eyes lingered on Xavier as she continued to get wound up. “What is he doing here?”

Malory laughed as she said, “We are in his tent.” Her smile faded as Cara’s glared turned on her. “Don’t look at me like that! He is a good man who can help get what we want.”

“How do you know?!” Cara’s voice was on the verge of snarling, but Malory knew the girl knew better.

“Because we needed a new member to this family of ours. We needed someone to look for mistakes, and Xavier is the most observant person I know.” Malory reached for his hand as she spoke. She could feel his fingers slide between hers while his gaze locked onto. “He is with me, Cara, and he will not hurt us.”

The flame flickered within Cara as the word ‘family’ left Malory’s lips. That’s right, Firecracker, eat your heart out. Malory knew exactly what buttons to push, and Cara stepped forward as she expected. Offering her arm, Malory welcomed Cara into a one armed hug as she held onto Xavier’s hand. The magic man let out a silent sigh of relief before breaking his hold on Malory.

“I think we all need to have a chat,” Xavier said. He watched as Malory led her pet to the table, sat her down, and then stroked her hair. ‘You think you’ve got the power of suggestion on your side,’ Malory thought, ‘But this time the power is mine.’

She felt like a school girl; lying, giggling, and getting away with whatever she wanted. And she wanted this. “I agree, Magic Man. Why don’t you make the tea?”

“I don’t think I like tea…” Cara trailed off, her voice was hindered and week.

“A girl after my own heart,” Malory beamed at her. “Make it two coffees and a tea then.”

Xavier frowned as he met Malory’s eyes. She knew he couldn’t put anything in coffee. The Fortune Teller would have to be the one to play the role here. Cara needed to be calm, and right now…

“Why do we need him?” Cara’s voice broke their gaze. Malory patted her comfortingly on the shoulder as Xavier brewed coffee.

“My dear, Firecracker; I thought about what happened to you on the train. How could that mangy knife thrower be so…idiotic?” She clicked her tongue a few times while shaking her head. “No, I cannot have a debtor trying to wreak havoc on my people.”

“So…” Cara’s eyes followed Xavier’s movements, watching his hands closely.

“He is going to take care of the pesky knife thrower in a way that Rickets failed to.” Malory smiled and stoked her messy hair. “No one is going to hurt you again. We’re going to finish what we started.”

“Now?” A spark erupted in Cara’s eyes. Not the spark of excitement that Malory expected, but a spark of nervousness.

“No, silly girl! We will take care of him tonight after his show when all eyes are off us.” The fire dancer’s brow furrowed, but the tension in her shoulders eased.

“I don’t know if I can…” Cara started, but Xavier cut her off.

“Here are your coffees.” Xavier offered two cups before he gathered his own cup of tea. “Why don’t we chat about what is going to happen next, Ladies?”
♠ ♠ ♠
Blow Off — The end of the show when the concessionaires come out. Also, the visual "punchline" of a clown gag.

Another player in the Game. Will Xavier be an addition to the team, or will he quelch the fire? Cara doesn't know what she's in for, will she find out before it's too late? What will be in that tea?

Maybe Freddy will whisper it in her ear, the next time he makes a move? Or perhaps Rickets does have a heart after all?

To find out, stick around on the circus grounds. Sneak peeks can be bought by leaving comments below.