DISCLAIMER: All My Children is the property of ABC. No infringement intended.
ARCHIVING: Only with the permission of the author.
July 5th - 7:30 AM
Maggie spit out water while kneeling next to the tub. "How is it she always knows to splash around when I have my mouth open?"
"Maybe because you never shut it?"
Maggie blinked. "Do you like pain? Is there something about you that you haven't shared yet?"
Patrick was leaning against the door jam leading in to Maggie's bathroom, watching her bathe Miranda. He looked deep in thought. "Well I do have my secrets, but no, I am not in to pain, why do you ask?"
"Because, from the number of punches I owe you already this morning, your arm is going to be one giant bruise."
He laughed. "I think I'll survive." He leaned his head against the door jam and closed his eyes, fatigue obvious across his face.
Maggie looked up at him when he hadn't spoken for a moment. "You ok?"
He kept his eyes closed as he responded. "Yes, just tired. I've been here since a little after 2 AM, and I didn't get but about an hour of sleep last night."
Maggie leaned back and sat on her heels, Miranda splashing in the water to entertain herself. "2 AM? Why then? Why didn't anyone wake me up?" she asked, an exasperated tone to her voice.
Patrick opened his eyes, lifting his head as he did. "I had gotten a phone call from my old contact at the tabloid, alerting me to the pictures. I called the security team to get them over here to start investigating. As for not waking you, Bianca and I thought it best you get what sleep you could before we brought you up to speed on this. We knew it was going to be a long day today."
"So, you learned about the pictures at 2?"
"I got the call about 1:30 and swung by the newspaper office on my way here to pick up prints of the pictures."
Maggie hung her head, studying the bath mat. "Are there more than the two they ran?"
"Yes .many more. Mostly from Disneyland, and a few more of you two talking on the landing and enough shots of you two kissing to make a flip book I'm afraid."
Maggie wasn't sure if what she felt was embarrassment, or a deep seething anger like she had never felt before. "Great well " she leaned back to the tub to resume washing the little girl "will they end up running those at some point?"
"That's our concern right now. If they don't get something else of interest soon, they'll run either more pictures of the kissing, or maybe the ones of you two holding hands with Miranda squarely in the center of the picture, behind your hands."
Maggie stopped moving her hands and lifted her head to stare directly ahead. She was no longer uncertain of what she was feeling it was anger. "They they took pictures with Miranda in them?"
"These people know no shame Maggie. Pictures with children usually sell more papers than those without."
"Great well the windows are getting tinted later you said, so we should be fine here."
"Unless you try to leave the building."
Now Maggie just hung her head in defeat. "Don't tell me they're camped outside the entrances?"
"Yes, but we do have guards at both entrances, and at the elevator. They won't get in, but if you go to leave, you'll be hounded."
"Great just great. I needed to run some errands today."
"We can take care of that for you."
Maggie finally went back to washing Miranda, her anger turning to acceptance. "That's not the point Patrick. I want to be able to leave my own building, you know? Now I just feel like I'm a prisoner."
"Well, sadly, in a way you are .at least for a little while."
"Oh that makes it so much better," she said while rolling her eyes. "So tell me something, who in the world wakes up one morning and decides they want to be a slimy photographer invading other people lives anyway?"
"Oh they all have different reasons. Almost all of them do it for money, but there are one or two who do it for personal reasons."
Maggie looked Miranda over, making sure she hadn't missed any spots. Satisfied the little girl was clean, she grabbed a towel and lifted her out of the tub. "Personal reasons? What sort of personal reasons?"
Patrick folded his arms and looked down at the floor, continuing to lean against the door jam. "As you know, I have been a Cambias driver for many years now, and I actually was Alexander Cambias' personal driver for the last few years of his life."
Maggie was smiling and cooing at Miranda as she dried her off. "Yeah, Bianca mentioned it, I also know what a bastard he was."
"That's putting it mildly." Patrick said under his breath. "Well, while I was his driver, there was one paparazzi in particular, named Guy Kachel, that I was constantly having to keep away from Mr. Cambias. The first couple of times we encountered him it just seemed he was more determined than most. Then I started to realize it was something more than just the usual desire to sell a picture."
Maggie was drying Miranda's hair with a towel, which she seemed to find immensely amusing from the number of giggles coming out of her. "Like what?"
"Well, we simply couldn't go anywhere without him showing up. No matter if it was a meeting, a club, a woman's house, when Mr. Cambias came out, Guy was there waiting. So I finally did a background check on him and discovered that one of Mr. Cambias' earliest land deals was for a piece of land owned by Guy's parents."
Wrapping Miranda in a dry towel so she didn't get a chill, Maggie walked towards the door. "Pardon me kind sir, but I must dress this young lady." Maggie said with a huge grin, and a flip of the hair like it was a royal decree.
Patrick smiled at them both. "But of course." He stepped backwards allowing them exit in to the bedroom, bowing at the waist as he did.
"So land deal, Guy's parents what happened?" Maggie asked as she walked over and set Miranda down on the bed.
"Alexander had gotten some advance information of a luxury hotel looking to buy all the land in that area. He bought all the properties up under dummy corporations, so that when the hotel was ready, he could sell them the real estate in a massive block. He then found a way to default on the payments to the land owners due to a hidden clause that they didn't vacate the land quickly enough."
"So he never paid the land owners, but he got all the money from the hotel nice guy!" Maggie said as she was pulling a shirt on to Miranda.
"When Guy grew up, he made it his job in life to harm Alexander in any way he could. He figured out that becoming a paparazzi allowed him to kill two birds with one stone; it allowed him to hurt the Cambias reputation, and earn enough money to take care of his now ailing parents, who were now penniless due to the land deal."
"Well, in his case it almost sounds noble."
"It might have been, but he got so blinded by his vengeance that he didn't care who else got hurt. People lost jobs for being pictured having sex with Alexander, couples broke up, politicians were disgraced, it was a mess. But in Guy's mind, if you dealt with Alexander, you were no better than he was. The sad thing was, he thought all the while he was hurting the man he felt was responsible for his parent's situation, but he wasn't. Alexander loved the attention, he made a game out of it."
"So they got to where they fed off of each other. What a sick little pair they made." Miranda was all dressed now. Maggie picked her up and headed towards the kitchen. "Come on, I need coffee and she needs her breakfast."
They entered the kitchen and found Bianca sitting at the butcher block, nervously tapping a pen with her right hand, holding her mobile to her ear with her left. She looked over and smiled as the trio walked in. "I'm on hold again. She all clean?"
"Yep! Just going to feed her now and make some coffee you want some?"
"Oh god yes, I'm going to ." Her attention was pulled away "Yes I'm still here." She stood up and walked towards the dining room for some quiet.
"I'll make the coffee, you sit down."
"Thanks Patrick." Maggie walked over and sat down at the butcher block. "So, Alexander made a game out of it, Guy followed you guys around everywhere, what happened after Alexander died?"
Patrick started filling the coffee pot with water, his back to Maggie. "I saw him one more time at the funeral and then nothing. I contacted my informant at the tabloid he sold most of his pictures to and asked where he was, only because I liked to keep my guard up. He told me Guy had left the country and that with Alexander gone, he didn't really see any need to stay."
"Wow sounds like you knew him almost."
"Oh we talked a few times well, more shouted at each other. I always wanted to punch him actually," Patrick poured the water into the coffee maker "but Alexander wouldn't allow me to. 'No no Patrick, you'll ruin my fun! Let him hold onto his miserable little dream he's hurting me.'"
"Wow bit different working for Bianca I take it?"
Patrick chuckled as he ground the beans for the coffee. "Just slightly. But, since Guy left, things have been quieter, and up until these events "
Maggie's cheeks started to turn red and she shifted uncomfortably on her stool.
" I haven't had any problems to deal with." He poured the grounds in to a filter, put it in the pot and started it brewing. He turned around, leaned against the counter, and smiled a tiny bit. "I haven't thought of Guy in ages. If he was still in the country, I would have suspected him of all this, but my contact at the paper didn't know who had sold them the pictures." Patrick chuckled to himself. "Funny how I can laugh about him now."
"Maybe you got a rush from it too?" Maggie asked, her head bent down, resting on top of Miranda's who was sitting on her lap.
"Maybe although it wasn't much sport, you always knew he was coming. Either you smelled those god awful Gauloises cigarettes he was always smoking, or you spotted that ratty leather coat of his in the crowd, he could never sneak up on you."
"Hey you can't say much Mr. Smoker Man!"
"I'm still only at one a day thank you "
Maggie's eyes grew wide, and she sat upright. "Wait a minute did you just say 'leather coat'?"
"Huh? Oh! On Guy? Yes, he wore a brown leather coat all the time, didn't matter what the temperature was. I remember one time "
Maggie was up and off her stool, moving towards Patrick. "Hold her, I'll be right back." Maggie shoved Miranda in to a shocked Patrick's arms and bolted for her room, leaving the door open after her.
Patrick stood there, not sure what to think, but waited for her to come back. She returned a moment later with a piece of paper.
"Is this him?" Maggie asked, holding a piece of paper towards Patrick.
Patrick handed Miranda back to Maggie and took the paper, a puzzled look on his face. It was a picture of a disgruntled Bianca in front of It's A Small World with Miranda, and off to the side, a man in a leather coat. "Sacre Bleu! It's him!" Patrick reached under the back of his suit coat and pulled out a walkie talkie. "Christoph! It's Patrick, get up to the penthouse immediately, I know who we need to be on the lookout for now, I'll meet you by the elevator."
Patrick started to head for the dining room, but quickly turned to Maggie before leaving. "Thank you Maggie, this helps more than you could guess." With that, he turned and headed for the entrance hallway, leaving Maggie and Miranda alone in the kitchen.
Maggie lifted Miranda and turned her around to face her. "Did you hear that Munchkin? For once I was observant!" She pulled Miranda tight to her chest and held Miranda's left hand in her right and spun her around like they were dancing, all the while singing "Go me! Go me! Maggie was observant! Go me! Go me!"
In the dining room, Bianca rolled her eyes at yet another Maggie created song.
July 5th 9:33 AM
"Thank you Aurélia. Yes, please bring the papers over later this afternoon when they're ready. And Aurélia? Thank you for your help this morning, you've gone above and beyond and I won't forget it." Bianca hit the end button on her mobile, closed her eyes and bowed her head. Things were falling in to place. They were costing her, or more appropriately Cambias Industries, a lot of money, but if it meant safety and privacy for her family, it was worth every cent.
She could feel the knots in her shoulders, she always got them when she was tired. And sitting in the dining room for some quiet wasn't the best on her back. She raised her right hand to her left shoulder and started squeezing and rubbing it, but it wasn't doing her much good, no matter how much she screwed up her face in effort.
Bianca felt fingers slide under her own, and another set come to rest on her other shoulder and they started rubbing and squeezing the knots out. She let her hand drop to the table and she ate up every second of time the phantom massager would give her.
"All done?" Maggie asked, her fingers working the deepest muscle tissues she could.
"For now oh yeah, right there there'll be some papers for me to sign later, but Aurélia will bring those by." Bianca hung her head loosely, letting it loll lazily back and forth. "Oh man, I want to ask what I did to deserve this, but I'm afraid you'd stop."
Maggie smiled. "You looked like you could use it. You've had that phone pinched to your ear for nearly two and a half hours! What have you been working on any way?"
"Something I don't want to say anything until it's a done deal, but it should help matters in the future." She went silent, enjoying getting these knots worked out of her shoulders, it just felt so good, she never wanted it to stop, and
There was a polite cough from the doorway that led to the entrance hallway.
Both women shot Patrick a dirty look, he just grinned back at them. "Sorry to interrupt, but Bianca, I need to brief you on the information Maggie provided me with while you were otherwise engaged. It led to some interesting results."
Bianca turned in her chair and looked up at Maggie with a perplexed look. "What in the world did you know about all this?"
Maggie shrugged her shoulders and smirked. "What can I say, I really am a know it all!"
Bianca couldn't help but laugh. She turned her attention back to Patrick. "Well, come in and have a seat. You can bring me up to speed before I pass out."
"I think I'll take Miranda back in to my room for some play time. I've already heard the story once this morning." Maggie leaned over closer to Bianca's left ear. "Can I get you anything before I go?"
Bianca turned her head to look up at her with a huge, toothy grin. "No, I'm fine, thank you though. I'll come see you two when I'm done here."
Maggie stared at her friend for a beat longer than she probably should have, but it was hard sometimes to look away from that smile. Her own smile always felt a bit feeble in comparison, but she did so anyway. "Ok I am sure we'll be working on something ultra-important " Maggie said over her shoulder as she walked away, "like rescuing a princess or building a skyscraper!"
Bianca watched Maggie walk away and gave a contented little sigh as she turned back towards Patrick who was grinning from ear-to-ear. "What?" Bianca asked as she looked down with her head and tucked wisps of hair behind her ears.
Patrick shrugged and continued to smile in a 'I'm-not-blind-you-know', kind of way. "I didn't say anything."
Her cheeks turning bright crimson , Bianca shifted in her chair and pulled it closer to the table. "Oh shush you. Now what is it you need to bring me up to speed on?" her business demeanor returning.
July 5th 9:57 AM
"No! You can't take my child! She is all I have! No!" said a woman's voice.
"Oh but I can and I shall!" was said by a gruffer, but still oddly feminine speaker.
"But I gave you our only cow! Please leave my precious little girl!"
"No! She shall come with me and be raised as my own!"
Miranda sat on the floor, her legs spread in a v-shape, her eyes wide, and her jaw slack, as she watched an invisible person on the far side of the bed act out this scene with two dolls. To someone of her age, this was better than the most sophisticated special effects of a blockbuster summer movie!
Maggie had to admit, she was kind of enjoying it herself. Her impromptu play at an end, she lifted her torso up to look over the bed and see if her audience had enjoyed it. They most certainly had, as she awkwardly clapped her hands and laughed and the little girls mother joined in.
"Oh bravo! Author! Author!"
Maggie slammed her head in to the bed, a doll still clenched in each fist, resting on the bed. "When did you walk in?" came the muffled question from the bed sheets.
"I believe " Bianca said, leaning down to pick up her daughter and moving to sit down on the bed, "it was just about the time the mother had sacrificed her pigs as well as the cow to save her daughter."
"Wonderful!" Maggie threw the dolls over her shoulders so they thudded to the floor. "I shall now just crawl under my bed and die of embarrassment!"
"Why? For keeping my daughter entertained while I took care of our little problem?" She went to lay down on her side, then paused. "Do you mind?"
Maggie stole a glance from her face-down pose and saw a window of opportunity to change the subject. She made a dismissive sound. "Of course not."
"Thanks. I can't believe how exhausted I am and it's not even 10 AM yet."
Maggie lifted her head, brought her hands together, and lowered her chin on to them to support her head while she talked to her friend. "How did your conversation with Patrick go."
"Well " Bianca started playing with Miranda's hair as she talked, "the security team has confirmed it was this Guy Kachel character. The owner of the building across the street said he had shown Guy the apartment a few days ago, but under another name. He did rent the apartment to him, but didn't think Guy had moved in yet. When the security team checked it out, all they found in the apartment was cigarette butts everywhere and a folding chair by the window he would have had to take the shots from."
"Oh that's just wonderful. So he's been watching us for awhile, just waiting for .something to happen?"
"It appears that way," she said with a yawn.
"Well that's just flat out creepy. At least he must have been bored. Up until yesterday we had barely even seen each other for two weeks."
"Yeah " Bianca's eyes started to close and she shook herself awake. "Sorry about that, maybe I should go catch a nap on the couch in the den "
"Don't be silly." Maggie said, interrupting her. "Sleep here, I don't mind. I'll just take Miranda well I was going to say to the park, but I guess we'll just go watch TV in the den instead."
Bianca's voice was even drowsier now. "There should be a play house delivered for her in just a little bit. I had Aurélia order it up from one of the Cambias subsidiaries, Wonky Wiblets. we can set it up in the library."
While Maggie tried to stifle a laugh over the company name, in the kitchen, a mobile phone rang. They both looked over at the door to the kitchen, but Patrick didn't come walking through and they heard his voice.
"Well, ok. I'll take her for now, we'll wait for the playhouse, and you can get some sleep right here." Maggie made to stand up, and as she did, she could see Bianca was already asleep.
Around the taller girl's neck, Maggie could see she still had the rose necklace on. She smiled, feeling the weight of her own around her neck. As she finished standing up, she leaned over and placed a very light kiss on Bianca's forehead. In her sleep, she smiled and rolled over.
Maggie placed a cover over her, picked up Miranda, propped her on her right hip and walked towards the kitchen door. As she got closer, she could hear Patrick arguing in French. She opened the door to the kitchen, looked back at the resting Bianca and smiled. She flipped off the lights, walked in the kitchen, and closed the door behind her.
Patrick was still going at it on the phone. Maggie pressed a finger to her lips and made a "shh" sound at him and nodded her head towards her room.
He nodded and walked off towards the dining room, still jabbering away in to his phone. Maggie stopped, put Miranda down and retrieved some juice from the refrigerator to put in a sippy cup for her. She did a quick mental inventory of the contents. "Man " she muttered "I really need to get out to the grocery store if we're going to be oh wait that doesn't work."
She closed the door and sighed. "I reckon I'll have to make a grocery list and give it to Patrick Munchie since we can't leave yet." She set the juice down and got a cup down from the cabinet. "I don't care what Alexander had done to Guy's family, this isn't fair to my family "
'Her family ' That gave her pause for a moment. True, it may not be a family in the traditional sense, but it was a family none-the-less. They had their father figure, a baby and her . "Oh god, ok, none of the introspective mumbo-jumbo today! I got enough going on!" She poured the juice in to the cup, threw the bottle out, picked up Miranda and marched off towards the den.
As she passed through the dining room, she noticed Patrick was off his phone, but looked shell shocked. She stopped in front of him. "Patrick, what is it? What's wrong?"
"Things are about to get a lot worse for me." He said.
"For you? What's going on." Maggie's voice was sounding more and more concerned. She pulled out one of the dining room chairs and sat down across from him.
"I didn't have time to tell Guilia I was leaving last night, and she just woke up to find me gone."
Maggie snorted out a laugh. "Oh smooth move there Frenchie...smoooooth."
"It gets better, she just saw the paper."
"Yes she's calling her mother she knows the old ways you see, she said something about putting a curse on Guy."
"Well I'm all for that!"
"And she's coming over here."
"Ok I'm still not seeing the problem here."
"She wants to cook for the both of you, to cheer you up."
"Again still not seeing the problem here Patrick, help me out a little."
"Do you know how long it has been since I spent a whole day with my wife?"
"Oh well I don't know. How long has it been?"
Maggie's brows knitted together. "Really? You two always seem to get along so well when I see you."
"We do specifically because we don't spend the entire day together!"
Maggie had to laugh. "So, what you're trying to say is, the success to your together time is your away time," she asked as she stood up and pushed her chair back under the table.
"One day won't kill you Patrick!" Maggie said over her shoulder as she started towards the den again, chuckling to herself the entire way.
"Damn you Guy!" Patrick muttered under his breath. "Invading their privacy was bad enough, now you're making me spend an entire day with my wife!"
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