New to Quest Five?
The stories are best enjoyed when read in order beginning with May 1, 2009.

Welcome To Quest Five
Allison Beaumont is having trouble finding a job after college until one day the wealthy and powerful Joseph Candle offers her a job at his rather unusual corporation, where mistakes can lead to bare bottomed spankings. Adopting the alias of Virginia West, she joins four highly skilled colleagues, racing around the globe in search of mysterious treasures, but wherever she goes, trouble is sure to follow.
Note: Some stories contain scenes of a sexual nature, corporal punishment, non-consensual corporal punishment, and strong language which some reader's may find offensive. If you feel this material might be inappropriate for you please move on to another blog by clicking the next blog link at the top of the page.

February 1, 2010

Choosing Corners: Behind The Words

I knew what was coming. I could see it in the tension of his shoulders, in the glimmers of light flickering in his dark, expressive eyes. Expecting him to understand or more to the point, to agree with my decision was too much to ask. Jack would hear me out, but from there I had an idea where things would go. I hoped I was wrong as Jack took the seat next to me, a mile high in the sky.

"So, you and Tom," Jack said, securing his coffee mug in his chair's built in cup holder, "I can't say I saw that coming."

"Tom wanted to tell you," I said, avoiding looking at Jack. "I asked him to wait until we knew what we had. If you're going to be mad, you'll have to settle on being mad at me."

Jack said, "Why would you think I'm mad? I'm not, you're both adults, you can make your own decisions. I'm a little surprised is all."

I chanced a look at Jack beside me. He looked a touch sad, but not angry at all. I started to relax, wondering if I had read him wrong. "I would have chose you, Jack. It's just I can't quite figure you at times and with Tom, I feel safe. I can trust him," I said.

Nodding, Jack said, "He's a good man."

"One of the best," I said.

"You know it can complicate things," Jack said.

I said, "I wasn't planning on keeping it a secret forever. In fact, we had just decided to tell you right before Brian's call came in."

"That's not what I meant," Jack said, pausing to sip from his mug. "Our profession is a dangerous one and when you get emotionally involved, it can get hard, if not impossible, to remain objective. That's when mistakes happen."

I twisted in my seat to look at Jack more directly, feeling utterly confused. "Emotionally involved?" I said, "What are you talking about?"

"You and Tom," Jack said, returning my confused gaze with one of his own.

I blinked. "Wait," I said, "You think Tom and I are..."

"I saw you in the courtyard," Jack said.

I remembered. Tom and I had been talking about Patrick Hughes for the first time and I had wrapped my arms around him so we could talk in whispers unlikely to be overheard and yet not appear suspicious to anyone watching. I had not really thought of Jack as being the one to be watching though. I laughed, tickled by his assumption and reaction.

"We're not," I said between giggles, "It's not what you think."

Sounding relieved, Jack said, "You mean you're not..."

"Not even close," I said, "We're just colleagues inclined to be friends. Nothing more."

"I'm confused," Jack said and his face agreed.

I shook my head, holding back laughter and said, "I thought you were talking about the Hughes thing."

"Tom filled me in before we left. He was concerned I might take some action against you for keeping it from me," Jack said.

Surprised Tom would even have cared since he thought we should have told Jack from the start, I said, "Oh."

"I just assumed his concern was more than professional courtesy after seeing the two of you in the courtyard," Jack said.

I said, "It wasn't what it looked like."

"Are you sure Tom knows that?" Jack said.

My interactions with Tom over the past week replayed themselves in my mind's eye. "Yeah," I said shaking off the images of Tom's playful sparring and teasing, "He's not into me like that."

Jack raised a skeptical eyebrow in my general direction and sipped at his coffee. He kept his silence, but his thoughts were written in block letters on his face. I looked away feeling myself starting to blush at the uncomfortable attention. Why would he care anyway? He and Tom are friends and all, but I have never seen any indication they make a habit of dabbling in each other's personal life. It certainly should not matter to Jack whether Tom and I were having a fling unless of course he was... No, that's ridiculous.

"Really, Jack," I said, "There is nothing going on between us."

Jack nodded his head in agreement, but his eyes suggested otherwise. "If you say so," He said.

I said, "If you don't believe me, ask Tom."

"I believe you," He said, eyes laughing at me.

Denials were gaining me no ground even though they were the truth. My flushed face had me near perspiration and Jack's facetious agreements were starting to make me wonder if it was me who had missed something. I was fairly certain Tom only had eyes for Kyra, but maybe somewhere along the way, it had all changed and somehow I was the only one who had not noticed.

Jack said, "I suppose we should discuss the Hughes situation."

"Of course," I said, pleased with the change in subject.

Jack assumed a more serious demeanor and said, "Tom made mention of the fact you were reticent to tell me because you don't trust me."

"If we're being honest," I said nodding me head. "Tom is the only one at Quondam I feel I can trust completely."

"What about Joe?" Jack said, "You must trust him or you'd never have joined the team."

I shook my head. "I never trusted Mr. Candle," I said, "And just when I was starting to think I might be able to, things took a turn for the worse. After our recent conversations I probably trust him less than ever."

Jack said, "Yet, you trust me enough to say all this."

"It has nothing to do with trust," I said. "I just think it's best if you know exactly where I stand."

Jack said, "I think I know where you stand well enough. You're like a point guard who prefers to take a half-court jump shot rather than pass the ball to a wide open teammate under the basket."

"If I can make the shot and my teammate can't then it's the right call, like it or not," I said.

Jack said, "You'll never know what your team can do if you don't give them a chance."

"It's your team remember," I said half teasing, "I'm just the interloper."

Jack shook his head with a disgusted frown and said, "And with your attitude, that's all you'll ever be."

"I don't want to fight with you," I said, realizing I had upset him.

"Then don't," He said. "I shouldn't have to, but I'm going to remind you, you're still on probationary status. I'm perfectly within my rights to turn you over my knee for carrying out this Hughes investigation behind my back when I specifically told you to inform me of any side investigations."

Defensively, I said, "Tom and I were investigating Hughes before you ever said anything."

"Then you should have told me then," Jack said, his dark eyes running coldly over me.

"Until we discovered who was on the other side of Hughes' hand off I considered it safest to keep the investigation secret," I said.

"Because you thought it was me," Jack said.

I said, "Because it could have been you or anyone else in Q5."

"But it wasn't, was it?" Jack said, "It turns out you are closer to the one actually involved than anybody on my team."

"And you wouldn't even know about it, if not for me," I said, angrily. "Kyra had everybody convinced the mole was already found and stopped. Only problem was I already knew something was going on with Hughes. You can keep trying to twist it all around on me, but the bottom line is I've got good reasons not to trust your team in its entirety."

Jack said, "Kyra's data was double checked and confirmed by Federal Authorities. She wasn't wrong, she just didn't know there was more than one leak and as far as things go, it is entirely possible there is still another one or more out there."

"Admittedly there are other possible explanations," I said, "But you can't just dismiss mine because you don't like it."

"Actually, I can. It's my team and I get to decide what explanations we pursue and which we dismiss," Jack said, "That's your problem, you expect me and everyone else to jump on board with you, just because you snap your fingers. Well I got news for you, it don't work that way."

"The only thing I expect from you or your team is to be disappointed," I said.

"If that's what you're looking for, then that's what you'll find," Jack said, glaring at me, "But if you ever pull another stunt like this Hughes investigation behind my back, I'll give you a spanking you'll never forget and that's a promise you can count on."

"I'm trembling with fear," I said, sarcasm dripping off of every word. I don't know why I said it, other than I was angry and just wanted to make him as angry as I was.

"You should be," Jack said and roughly grabbed his mug. He tossed back the last of it in one big gulp and pushed out of the chair. Stalking to his private office, he slammed the door leaving me alone to curse myself for being foolish.

"Why am I such a bitch?" I asked the ceiling.

"You come by it naturally," My grandmother said, appearing in her girlish form sitting next to me.

I glared at her for a moment of silence before deciding I could not get away with ignoring her. "What are you doing here?" I asked.

"Can't I just stop in to see how my favorite granddaughter is doing?" She said.

"I'm hardly your favorite," I said shaking my head at her, "You've made that abundantly clear."

"Alright fine, no small talk then," She said leaning in toward me, her head seeming to grow larger as she moved closer, "Osterman is luring you into a trap and if you're smart you'll turn around and head back to Los Angeles now, before it's too late."

"I don't believe you," I said.

"If you go, you will, but it will be far too late then," She said.

"Brian wouldn't do something like that," I said, convinced I was right.

"I never said it was intentional," She said, "He's being used, but the circumstances do not change the results."

"He said he found a message for me," I said, trying to get something useful out of her.

"He did, but it's not from me. It's all part of an intricate trap and you are walking right into it," She said.

"Is Brian in danger?" I asked.

"He's useless to them if you don't come for him," She said.

'That's not an answer," I said, annoyed and letting it show in my tone.

She said, "No, it's not. Danger is relative, Allison. Go home before it's too late and you endanger everyone."

"You're lying to me," I said, listening to a feeling shivering down my spine that I could not explain. It was something about the tone of her voice or the shadows in her eyes or maybe the set of her jaw, the curve of her cheeks. Whatever it was, it brought back images from my nightmares and the reflections in the dark water. "Why are you lying?" I asked.

Her lip protruded in a pout and her eyes shrunk to mere pinpoints as she stared at me. There was anger pulsing through her ethereal veins, pulsing in her neck and forehead. She remained mute for a moment and then with a glance over her shoulder, as if looking at something I could not see, she disappeared into the thinness of air before me. I glanced nervously around the cabin of the plane, feeling certain I was not yet alone, but there was no one wishing to be seen. The overhead speaker crackled to life startling me to the point I nearly jumped out of my seat.

"We're on final approach and should be on the ground in fifteen minutes," The pilot said.


  1. Ash,

    another outstanding story..Jack and Virginia still butting heads,wonder if Jack will follow through with his promise...

  2. Ash, it seems to me that Jack and Virginia need to sort things out before things go completely pear shape.
    Mmm, a family ghost Virginia can't trust, awkward.
    Warm hugs,

  3. I can understand how Jack might want to be a bit lenient with V, but there's no need to go overboard. He should know from experience that warnings alone won't do the trick with her.

  4. Al, Jack might, then again he might not. We'll just have to wait.

    Paul, Jack and V definitely have some figuring out to do, but it's going to take them all month and then some.

    Ace, Jack's a sucker when it comes to V or maybe there is something more going on. We'll just have to keep watching.