Authors: Morgan Parker
Praise for Morgan Parker’s Novels
“…this was another great story from a great author. I recommend everyone read this book!”
Rock Out With Your Book Out
“I am unabashedly, all out, no hold barred in love with this book.”
“This is a love story, and one of the best I’ve ever read.”
Crazy Daisy Book Whore
“This book is so well-written that you’ll have to force yourself to put it down to participate in real life.”
Lisa – A Risqué Affair Book Blog
“This unique love story is a true roller coaster ride full of many twists and turns.”
MJ Loves to Read
“In true Morgan Parker style he gives me just enough to want more…”
The Book Bar
“Another hit for Morgan Parker!”
Daina – The Book Gurus
“Morgan Parker weaves a story filled with laughter, pain, hatred and ultimately love…”
“A funny & REAL story!! I loved it!”
Verna, Verna Loves Books
“I have not come across such a ‘smart’ book since Tarryn Fisher’s
D – Flirty and Dirty Book Blog
Visit Morgan Parker’s Amazon Page for to read more reader reviews!
This is a work of fiction. All characters, conversations, circumstances and incidents are products of the author’s imagination. Any and all references to real products, objects, locations, events, locations (yeah, nobody edits the disclaimer, which is why I said
twice) and people are meant to lend the reader a sense of authenticity but are used fictitiously. Even Emma in
was fictitious. Okay?
With the exception of quoted text used in a published review, no part of this work can reproduced without the written permission of QuoteStork Media, Inc..
For anyone who still believes that love is not an illusion. This story is for you.
Violets & Violence
a Morgan Parker novel
© 2014 QuoteStork Media Inc.
The conference room overlooked the Hudson River from forty-two stories above street level. The East-facing windows stretched the full length and height of the wall so that Edie Barrow and her grey-haired attorney had a nice, teasing view of the freedom hinted at by the water, sun and open air. At twenty-seven, Edie had a full appreciation for that freedom. That had been their intent, to tease her with a freedom only they could afford.
Quotient Financial Services had probably planned things this way to demonstrate that they were smart. Smarter than she knew.
“Ms. Barrow,” the bank’s long-faced, wrinkled lawyer said. “We know you were here on September twenty-seventh .”
Edie leaned forward to respond, but Janelle Emerson (the lawyer,
lawyer) stopped her by placing a soft hand over her forearm. The older woman reeked of sophistication, the kind that you learned at Harvard and developed over twenty years or so of defending guilty thieves. Like Edie.
“Listen,” Janelle started, and the way she intoned her words suggested that maybe she was trying just a little too hard at coming down to the bankers’ and bank-lawyers’ state school levels. “My client was obviously here on these premises on that date.” She nodded at the iPad on the table, the one with the image of Edie leaving the building with one of their younger financial advisors. “You have video evidence that supports her presence here, as well as
video evidence and a written statement from one of your own employees that she
the premises that same day.”
The men across the table appeared utterly unimpressed.
“What?” Janelle asked, chuckling because she knew. She absolutely knew what they had on their mind.
“Let me guess,” she offered. “You have prints on the vault.”
“You have an image of Miss Barrow returning to the bank and accessing the vault after hours?”
Still no response.
Despite the higher pitch to her tone, the older woman’s face remained stoic. “Your security guard apprehended her?”
At last, Janelle sighed. “None of us are new at this, boys. We both know Quotient can always pursue criminal charges with this evidence that nobody has seen yet. But you haven’t. You haven’t spoken with the authorities, the
, because, in fact, you have evidence that only proves that my client was
present to commit the crime you accuse her of magically pulling off.”
The bank lawyer cleared his throat, and his sagging face seemed to wobble. He addressed Edie directly. “Edith, the documents you removed from our client’s safety deposit box carried considerable value. Their safe return is important to Quotient, the client, and, if I may speak frankly, to your safety as well.”
“Whoa,” Janelle said, throwing her arms into the air in a dramatic show of lawyerism. “That sounded a lot like a threat, Mr. Rinker.”
One of the bankers, the one with fire for eyes and a scowl for a smile, spoke up. “I’m Rinker,” he corrected her. “And yes, it sounded like a threat. But realistically, it’s an offer. An offer of advice and compensation.”
Edie swallowed and glanced at Janelle, nodding for her lawyer to speak up.
The lawyer leaned forward on the table, linking her fingers and grinning. “What kind of compensation?”
The bank lawyer spoke next. “Primarily freedom. The freedom to vacate New York City and never return.”
Janelle frowned while Edie watched on. “Elaborate,” Janelle ordered.
The lawyer shifted in his chair, his bushy eyebrows forming a
over his eyes. “It’s well-known that our client is mighty upset. Freedom is priceless, no?”
“What else?” Janelle prompted.
“Secondarily,” Rinker went on with a voice that teetered on violence, “we wish to extend a financial reward of two hundred thousand dollars for the anonymous return of those documents.”
“Anonymous?” Edie asked, surprised. “I don’t understand.”
Rinker reached inside his jacket and produced a small bankbook and debit card. He pushed it across the table to Janelle. “It doesn’t matter how the documents return to us,” he explained. “Once we have them, that account in Edith’s name will become active and a deposit in the agreed upon amount will appear.”
Edie’s eyes widened as she studied the banker.
,” he said, making a wild hand gesture. “Like magic.” He winked.
Janelle leaned forward, back to her colorless facial expressions that betrayed nothing but years of professional (and successful) experience. “My client knows nothing of those documents.”
Rinker shrugged. “Then she has nothing to lose. And in the event that whomever has those documents comes to her—or
—senses, and realizes that they are highly traceable and cannot be fenced for anything more than our offer? Well, if she—or
—returns those documents, then Miss Barrow might just find herself a couple hundred thousand dollars richer all the same.” He smiled, crossed his arms over his thick chest and leaned back in his chair.
“What if,” Janelle asked, “those documents never show up? You’ve threatened my client’s safety; it’s unfair to assume she has any involvement in this.”
The bank lawyer consulted Rinker briefly, then turned his stern attention back to Edie. “Your safety is of no concern to us, I’m afraid. And we have no control over our client’s violent tendencies. So our advice remains: you may wish to explore settling elsewhere, Miss Barrow.”
The meeting in the panoramic conference room ended shortly thereafter. And by the time Edie resettled in Detroit under a new identity that she established using the two hundred thousand dollars in her new bank account, that part of her past involving Rinker and the crazy client had all but vanished as well.
The heavy stage lights beat down on her like the dessert sun.
My seat in the second row, slightly offset from center, afforded a view unlike any other. From here, I admired Violet’s flesh-hugging, gleaming tights. The light reflected off her thighs, each step allowing the shadows and brilliance to move along her legs like hungry fingers sliding up toward her—
“You, sir,” she barked, pointing a long, purple-polished fingernail straight at me. “In the second row, there. Yes, you.” She smiled, her bright red lips curling upward in an equally welcoming and intimidating sneer. “Don’t be shy.”
The sold out Fisher Theater in downtown Detroit stirred with subdued laughter. Thus far, her act had lacked any real humor. Standing up, I watched her call on the audience to applaud me as I squeezed past knees and legs, inching down the aisle toward the stairs leading to the stage. A female stagehand in a violet outfit and a sexy, sparkling mask (she was one of roughly a dozen attractive female assistants) escorted me to Violet, the female alternative to Criss Angel.
Up close, I could see that Violet had short-cropped, dark hair and wore a trademark Cat Woman-like, black theater mask to match her one-piece black body suit. But I noticed her hazel eyes, I couldn’t miss those.
She smiled at me before asking, “What’s your name, sir?”
“Uh, Carter,” I said, aware of the trembling in my stuttered voice.
“First name, Mr. Carter,” she quipped without missing a beat, arousing a little more laughter from the audience.
“Okay, don’t hurt your brain, Carter.” Her lips curled into a smile and I watched the light reflect off her eyes as she surveyed the crowd.
During our introductory exchange, half a dozen women in those violet outfits and sparkling masks rolled a large wall of glass onto the stage area behind us and made sure it was secured properly to the floor.
Violet slid her hand into mine once the women finished, and then she steered us toward that thick wall. “Ladies and gentlemen, this is a four-inch thick slab of glass.” She veered toward the backside of that wall, then stopped and made an elaborate show of trying to shake her hand free of mine, except what the audience didn’t know was that she was squeezing mine so tightly that I couldn’t let go even if I tried. “Um, Carter, dude, you need to release me. This isn’t a date.”
“I…Um…” I tried to pull free, but she didn’t ease her grip until she was ready. The audience loved the show, her playful comedy coming at my expense.
Once free, I watched her walk along the back length of that thick glass wall.
“Carter! Snap out of it. I need you to help me prove the integrity of this wall.” She started knocking on the glass, hard enough that the sound echoed along the stage and flooded out into the first few rows. “Come on,” she encouraged me. “Don’t be so shy.”
I followed her lead, except I stayed on my side, the front, and moved along, knocking all over the place. My knuckles began to ache after the first few bangs, but I kept going, pounding high and low and everywhere in between.
Once we met up at the other end, she asked, “Did you find any weak spots in that glass, Carter?”
“Man of few words,” she joked. “I like that.”
“Now to make sure I’m not some kind of fraud, I think you should do the same thing on the backside of this glass wall, Carter.” She moved to my side and started pounding again.
I did the same on the backside.
And at the other end, she asked, “All good?”
“Solid as a rock,” I answered.
She faked an embarrassed chuckle. “This is the PG show, Carter.”
The audience laughed, louder than before, and my face flushed. The lights were certainly beating down like the dessert sun—it was
up here, and I was beginning to sweat.
“Okay, just in case you’re some creep, I need to stay safe. I need to stay away from you, so how about you stand on the front side and I’ll step back here.” She walked around to the backside and began pacing the length of the stage. “Stay close, Carter. Follow me like you’re my shadow.” She changed direction and I followed, matching her speed and pace rather well, I thought. “And when I stop walking, you stop walking, too.”
We faced one another, our eyes locked. I wondered if
was her magic, the overwhelming intensity—
passion, romance, desire?
—that passed between us in that stare, in that moment, the glass keeping us apart.
She gave me a nod, as if quietly acknowledging that she felt what I wanted, and she wanted it to. She swallowed, her slender neck ripe for my lips. “Okay, Carter,” she said, snapping me back to reality. “Take a run at me.”
I frowned, confused.
“Let’s see if this glass can stop you.”
So I ran at the glass.
It stopped me all right. It nearly knocked me on my ass, even as the large slab teetered slightly on its base.
“Still solid as a rock?” she asked.
More laughter from the audience.
“Yes,” I answered, my eyes glued to her. I wondered what the rest of her face looked like, what lie hidden underneath that theater mask. It didn’t really matter; I was a sucker for a dark hair and glossy, red lips backed up by a snappy personality like hers. To me, Violet was pretty much flawless.
“Louder, Carter. Turn around and say it louder so everyone can hear you.”
I snapped back to reality, faced the audience and told them, “Solid!”
Later that night, I wondered if, by having me turn around, she had managed to fool me. And somehow, the audience as well. Because when I faced Violet again, she waved her hands and produced a deck of cards, seemingly out of thin air, as cliché as that might sound.
“Now for the entertaining part,” she promised, arousing a little more chuckling. “I will show the crowd why they can’t trust men.” She shook the deck out into her free hand, dropped the empty box and shuffled the cards elaborately, while walking up and down the length of the wall. I watched closely, hoping to discover the flaw in her act.
Violet talked the entire time. “Keep up, Carter. Now, what I’m going to do is throw some of these cards at you. Moments ago, we both checked this glass wall. We both confirmed that it was—your words, not mine—solid as a rock. I’ll throw these cards at random.”
She stopped walking and stared at me with a wicked smirk.
I stopped as well.
She started walking again, and I followed, then she flung her first card at me. It passed right through the glass like nothing existed between us; the card struck me in the face and dropped to the floor. I bent down and picked it up.
“Keep up, Carter,” she called after me, and threw another card, this one striking my arm.
I picked that one up off the floor as well.
“To prove to my PG-rated audience that I’m not full of poo,” she announced, her eyes wide with a hint of defiance, “I’ll show you this next card. It’s too small for the audience to see, so I need you to call it out, okay, Carter?”
She showed me the next card.
“Jack of clubs!” I yelled at the crowd. By the time I faced her again, she flung the card at me. It sailed through the glass and, this time, I caught it.
“What card did you just catch, Carter?”
I held it up to the audience. “Jack of clubs!”
“Carter!” she barked.
I spun around and discovered Violet nearly four feet to my left.
“You’re supposed to keep up!”
She huffed and shook her head, flinging the remaining cards through the glass. The mess settled on my side of the glass, inches from my feet.
“Carter, check the glass again.”
I walked up to the glass where the cards had just passed through and knocked, loudly—I didn’t care if my knuckles bled, I wanted everyone to hear this and confirm that I wasn’t the only one going insane here.
“Maybe it’s the cards,” she said, then started walking the length of the glass again.
I tried to keep up.
“Or maybe it’s my side of the glass,” she offered, and when we met at the outer edge of the slab, she stepped over to my side, the front side, the back of her fingertips brushing across my wrist. It felt like a perfect accident; I shuddered at her touch.
She walked to the front row and pointed at random audience members. “So, you, in the front row, can I borrow your cane? And you, how about your ball cap?” Her stagehands (I later learned that she called them
) collected those two items. “Now, I need someone with a business card.” Several men stood and waved their hand; she chose someone closer to the middle, along the aisle. “Send your neighbor up with it, just to make sure we haven’t met before.”
A woman brought his business card to the stage and handed it to one of Violet’s violets who hurried it over.
Violet held up the business card and read the name. “Is this your card?”
The man she had pointed to waved and said something I couldn’t hear from my position on the backside of the glass.
And then Violet faced the glass and tossed it at me, Frisbee-style. The card fluttered right to me like nothing separated us, and the card settled a little off to my right.
“What does it say, Carter?” she ordered, one hand on her hip while the other pointed at me in a show of dramatics. “Scream it because nobody will hear you.” She pointed to one of the stagehands. “Can you get him a mic?”
I read the name out loud, aiming my voice upward like I could catapult it over that slab of glass, “Tim Harris!”
A few people in the front row squinted like doing so would allow them to read the words off my lips, but then the microphone arrived and I repeated the name. “Tim Harris.”
Violet turned to the audience. “Tim, stand up!”
The same man from earlier stood up and took a bow, like he had done all of the heavy lifting himself.
Next came the cane and baseball cap, which Violet threw through the glass and then asked me to hold onto the items so I could return them to the people in the right rows. I hurried up to the front side of the glass, to the edge of the stage and, once the audience members had their items, she asked them to ensure they were indeed theirs and not some stage prop.
Of course, everyone confirmed that they were the owners.
“A big round of applause for Carter!” Violet shouted, holding out her arms as if to summon approval for my contributions.
As I started to walk back toward the stairs at the edge of the stage, Violet hurried after me.
“A souvenir for being such a good sport, Carter,” she said quietly into her mic as she handed me one of the playing cards.
I looked at the face of the card and noticed a local number handwritten across it. I glanced up at her hazel eyes—or maybe they were grey with a hint of green, or gorgeous with a hint of rage—and watched her smile.
“I bet you believe in magic now, don’t you, Carter?”
More laughter as I walked numbly back to my seat and Violet prepared the audience for the final act, her biggest illusion yet. She would disappear in the most unlikely of circumstances and reappear somewhere in the audience.
To accomplish this trick, she called on two healthy men, apparently chosen at random from the crowd, asked them to lie side by side on their backs, and then she placed a piece of plywood across their chests.
“To distribute my weight,” she explained. “Now, hold hands,” she told the men.
The crowd laughed.
“I’m joking,” she admitted as the one guy reached for the other’s hand. “Four more volunteers,” she called and brought four more people up onto the stage.
She positioned these four standing men around the two on the floor with the plywood across their chests, using these new additions to form something of a box.
“So we have a box,” she said, as if reading my mind. “The men on the floor will share my weight, all one hundred and twenty pounds of me. They will prove there’s no trap door for me to escape. These other four men will box me in to prove I didn’t run off stage when nobody was looking.” She stepped onto those two men on the floor. “Are you okay?” she asked them, before facing the audience, raising her slender hand above the heads of the four-man wall, and snapping her fingers. “The only way out is up.” One of the violets rushed toward her with a bed sheet so white it appeared to glow, and then she draped it over Violet. “Drumroll please.”