“C’mon, it’s easy money,” Emily said. She looked tired of giving Michelle, one of the most attractive girls in her network, reasons to take a job she offered. She found a gap between throw pillows that hid the age of Michelle’s couch and carefully sat down. She crossed her ankles, leaned forward, and rested her forearms on top of her thighs. She fiddled with the cap of her empty water bottle as she waited for Michelle to come up with another reason not to take the job.
“You call that easy money?” Michelle asked. “Because I don’t call it easy money.” Michelle stood across the small room, turned toward a mirror, and checked her hair and face casually. She smoothed out her dress with her delicate hands and frowned at some lint on her dress that no one would ever notice. “Besides, I don’t want to do that anymore. I’m focusing on my acting fulltime now.”
“You need to eat until you land that big part, don’t you?” Emily said. “Look – all you need to do is wear a flirty uniform, serve drinks, and be friendly.”
“Oh yea? Just friendly, huh? And who am I going to be friendly to? Whose party is it going to be?” Michelle asked.
“George Brown’s,” Emily answered.
“Are you kidding me?” Michelle said. “No way I’m going near that guy.”
“What do you have against George Brown?” Emily asked.
“Oh, I’ve got plenty against George Brown,” Michelle said. She sat down in a chair that was next to the sofa where Emily sat. “Two weeks ago, I was on a yacht with Joshua Davis.”
“The Joshua?” Emily asked.
“Yes, the Joshua,” Michelle answered. “I was on his yacht making some of that easy money you’re talking about. We were inside having drinks because we were in the middle of some storm. The ocean was choppy, but everyone was having a good time.”
“So it wasn’t a big party?” Emily asked.
“Nah. It was more of a weekend getaway with his friends and me and some girls,” Michelle answered. “The yacht was big though: it had a crew. Really fancy. So, everyone was laughing about how sick some celebrity got on Joshua’s jet. Then Joshua just told one of his guys to sit down.”
“One of his friends?” Emily asked.
“Hard to tell. He was a quiet type. Didn’t speak unless spoken to. Looked like he could be a body guard or something,” Michelle answered. “And so everyone stopped laughing. It was like we were listening to canned laughter and somebody turned off the TV. Joshua then asked, ‘Kevin, where’s that blue rock I gave you?’ And then no one made a sound. Even I knew to hold my breath. All I heard was white noise outside from the rain and the yacht’s hull slapping the occasional wave.”
“What did the guy say?” asked Emily.
“He swallowed hard and took a while to answer,” Michelle said. “It was like he wasn’t too bright. Like he was really thinking about it. Then he said, ‘I sold it to George Brown so I could retire someday.’ The room was so quiet. Nobody looked at Joshua, but everyone looked at Joshua: you know what I mean? I was really getting scared, but I couldn’t go anywhere. The room had this weight in it. It felt like I would die if I moved without Joshua saying I could.”
“Wow,” Emily said.
“Yeah, I didn’t know someone could do that to a room,” Michelle said. “So then Joshua said, ‘Who said you could retire?’ Kevin’s face turned white. Joshua started laughing and looked around the room at the other guys. So we all started laughing. I mean; it wasn’t really funny, but I was just so scared. You know?”
“You poor girl,” Emily said.
“Then Joshua stood up, grabbed Kevin by the collar, and pulled him up and out of his chair,” Michelle said. “He dragged the guy across the room and through the door leading out onto the deck of the yacht. When Joshua opened the door, the sound of the rain outside drowned out every sound inside. It looked pitch black outside to me. It was just crazy for him to go out there and drag Kevin out there too as the boat heaved and waves crashed onto the deck from the storm. Then one of the guys tried to say to another without me hearing, ‘Did I just see Joshua drag Kevin out?’ And the other guy was like, ‘I wouldn’t believe it if I wasn’t right here.’ I didn’t know what was going on. I just tried not to cry.”
“Where were the other girls?” Emily asked.
“They were with some guys on the other side of the yacht,” Michelle answered. “Joshua liked me, so he kept me around most of the time. I thought that was great since he was paying the bill, you know? But I didn’t want to be there right then. I asked one of Joshua’s friends if I could go be with the other girls, but he just shook his head. He was probably right. No one moved from where they were – not even to close the door. Then Joshua emerged from the dark and walked back into the room. He was soaked, of course. He grabbed an ice bucket where we’d had a champagne bottle earlier and stuck one of his hands in it. He told us to have a good time, and then went to his room. I didn’t see him again the rest of the trip: not even when we got back to port.”
“I still haven’t heard what you’ve got against George Brown,” Emily said.
“Really? Joshua Davis, George Brown, the Boogeyman – they kill people,” Michelle answered. “I’m not going anywhere near scary people anymore.” Michelle stood up and walked back to the mirror to look at herself. She combed through her hair with her hands and straightened a necklace she wore. “Do you think Joshua was mad about the blue rock or the guy wanting to retire?”
“Oh, he was mad about both,” Emily said. She leaned back into the couch letting the throw pillows gather around her as she sunk in. “He called it a rock, but it looks like raw benitoite.”
“Like what?” Michelle asked.
“It looks like a blue gemstone called buh – nee – toh – aight,” Emily said. “Look it up on your phone.”
“But it’s not a bunny toe thing?” Michelle asked. “What is it then? And how much was it worth that he got enough money to buy his way out of the bad business he was in?”
“Well, I heard it’s not just some fancy jewel,” Emily said.
“Go on,” Michelle said.
“I heard it has powers,” Emily said.
“Shut up!” Michelle said. “What powers?”
“You touch people and you get their strength,” Emily said.
“Like, where do you touch people?” Michelle asked. “Do you touch them with it? Or do you say some magic words?”
“I don’t know,” Emily said. “But it makes sense when you think about it, right? That guy Kevin was muscle for Joshua. And he always had that blue jewel with him. He had a reputation of being unstoppable. Tough and loyal, but not too bright. That’s probably why George Brown was able to get the jewel from him.”
“You heard all this where?” Michelle asked.
“Joshua Davis mentioned it when he, um…” Emily hesitated. She leaned her head back and looked up at the ceiling.
“When what, Emily?” Michelle asked. Emily swallowed and straightened her posture. She made eye contact with Michelle.
“When he told me to tell you to steal the jewel back from George Brown,” Emily said.
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