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It had been almost a week since April had picked Alyshia up at the airport. Alyshia had made some progress; she’d found Jade’s new address, which had enabled April to get a copy of the lease agreement. Funny thing was, Jade hadn’t signed the lease, neither as Jade Dupree or Lee Anne St. Clair. The signature on the lease wasn’t even in Jade’s handwriting. There was another woman’s signature on the lease, a Lonna Tassin, and she’d done an excellent job of burying her information.
Actually, April figured Alyshia would have been done several days ago, but they kept getting distracted. In fact, April was stretched out on the bed thinking about distracting Alyshia for the third time that day, while she sat on hold on the phone. Alyshia had found Jade’s address three days ago and April had a copy of the lease by nightfall that same day. Since then, the two of them had been picking away at the mysterious Lonna, but details were scarce. Alyshia seemed to think that Ms. Tassin had hired a pro to bury her information. If it had been your average person, Alyshia had told April, she’d have mountains of information by now, but this woman’s was too well buried. Finally, John’s secretary Linda came on the line.
“I’m so sorry, April. Mr. Dupree is in the middle of a contract negotiation with a company we’re trying to acquire, and my phone’s been lit up like a Christmas tree all morning,” Linda said with a laugh.
“That’s ok, Linda. I know John’s a busy man, but I’m calling in the hopes that he might be able to squeeze me in for a few minutes today. Any chance of that?”
“From the looks of his appointment book, I’d say no, but let me buzz him and see what he wants to do. I know he has you looking for Jade, so this is pretty important. Would you mind holding a few more minutes?”
“Not at all. I appreciate it, Linda.” Once again, April found herself listening to Muszac, and considered suggesting to John, next time they talked, that he find something that wouldn’t put his callers to sleep while they sat on hold. Thankfully, Linda was true to her word and quickly returned to the phone.
“If you can get here within the next twenty minutes, he can give you about half an hour. Will that work for you?”
“Perfect. I’ll be right there.” April hung up the phone and leaped from the bed in the direction of her dresser. She was only wearing panties and an old t-shirt. She discovered a good pair of jeans and a nice button down shirt to wear and quickly dressed. Heading for the door, she told Alyshia where she was heading, and scooped up her keys and wallet on her way out.
Soon, she was riding the elevator to John’s office, right on time. The doors opened on John’s floor and April jumped out, running right into Jasmine who was on her way out of her uncle’s office.
“Shit,” was all April could think as she felt butterflies in her stomach. She and Jasmine hadn’t seen each other since that day at Trish’s when Jasmine had coldly walked out on her. Suddenly, she felt irritated that this woman still had any affect on her, and her face turned hard.
Jasmine came to an abrupt halt as she almost bumped into someone on her rush back to her own office. Looking up, she saw April and felt her heart rate speed up. This last week, she’d done little but replay that morning at Trish’s apartment through her mind. She wanted to give April a taste of her own medicine that morning, wanted to show her how it felt to be left behind without a second glance. She thought April would eventually call her, or show up at her house in a temper, but nothing happened, and now she regretted what she’d done. She saw April’s face turn cold and felt her heart sink. Mustering up some courage, she tried to be as nice as possible.
“Hi, April. How are you today?” Jasmine cheerfully asked.
“Late,” came April’s flat response, and she pushed past Jasmine, hurrying into John’s outer office.
Jasmine heard the door close behind her with a dull thud and she hung her head to stare at the floor. She’d really done it this time and she had no one to blame but herself. She knew April had to be here because of Jade, who was her sister, after all, and considered marching back in and demanding to be included, but she was afraid that would only anger April all the more. Now might be a good time to back off a little, maybe try a different tactic. A new idea beginning to take shape, Jasmine started walking towards her office, wheels spinning.
As Linda escorted April into John’s office, April tried to get herself under control. Oh, she knew no one looking at her right now would suspect anything was wrong, but she was a wreck on the inside. Seeing Jasmine had stirred up so much. And where did she get off pretending to be so pleasant, when they both knew Jasmine thought she was the biggest jerk on the planet. April shook John’s outstretched hand and pushed all thoughts of Jasmine aside. She had business to attend to.
April sat in one of the two chairs positioned in front of John’s desk and updated him. Now, she had a few questions hd abla for him. Ever since she’d seen another woman’s name on Jade’s lease, she’d had a few scenarios stewing in the back of her mind, but she needed more information before she decided just how plausible they were.
“The woman who signed Jade’s lease, this Lonna Tassin, does that name sound at all familiar to you, John?”
“I’m afraid it does.” John had been reclining in his chair while April outlined the new information she had. Now, he leaned forward to rest his forearms on top of his desk. “You see, at the time the girls’ parents died, I was engaged to a woman by that name.”
When John didn’t elaborate, April pressed on. “What happened?”
“I took custody of my nieces, since I was listed in their parents’ will as legal guardian, should anything happen to them, and Lonna didn’t approve. Well, it’s not that she didn’t approve of me taking the girls in, she just didn’t like the idea of becoming an instant mother to two girls she barely knew.”
“And why didn’t she know them?”
“I guess Lonna was never much into kids. Most of the time I went to my brother’s house to visit Jade and Jasmine, Lonna stayed behind, begged off for whatever reason. She’d only go with me on special occasions. You know, birthday parties and Christmas, events like that. When their parents died, I took custody of my nieces that very night. I had an awful time trying to get them to go asleep, they were so upset, and then, in the middle of the night, Jasmine woke up screaming from a nightmare and got sick. The next morning, Lonna said it was all too much for me to expect her to take on, that it wasn’t fair, and she demanded that I send the girls away, or hire a nanny.” John paused to take a breath and April noticed that John suddenly looked very much his age, and then some.
Taking a deep breath, John continued. “I couldn’t believe she’d ask me for such a thing. I got angry and, literally, threw her out of the house. She left town a few days later and I’ve never heard from her, or of her, since.”
April just sat for a minute while she processed everything John had just told her. She tried to choose her next words carefully. “John, do you think Lonna holds any ill will towards you for what happened?”
John gave a hearty sigh and sank back into his chair. “Probably. She was livid when I tossed her out. I heard through the grape vine that she left town because I had humiliated her, so yes, I’m sure I’m her least favorite person. Why? What are you thinking?”
“Well, it’s just that, the day Jade made her confession to you about the embezzlement, you seemed truly shocked. In all these years, you never suspected Jade held any resentment towards Jasmine, did you?”
John winced, and then sighed again before answering April’s question. “No, I had no idea. Jade was very good about keeping her true feelings hidden, I guess.”
John’s eyes narrowed and he leaned forward to prop his arms on the desk again. “What, exactly, are you hinting at, April?”
“I spent a good bit of time with Jade when I was first here, and I never noticed any bad feelings either. Well, not the kind that indicated any long-term resentment. In fact, Jasmine and I didn’t hit it off very well, in the beginning, and Jade went to great lengths to defend her sister to me. So, what I’m getting at John, is that I don’t think Jade’s embezzlement of company funds was really her idea. In fact, I always wondered how Jade managed it. She never struck me as having enough knowledge of computers to pull it off. I know she explained it all, but it never sat right with me. And now Jade’s disappeared, relocating to Baton Rouge with a new identity, which isn’t easy to do. I’m curious as to how she managed to recreate herself under her mother’s name with all the required paper work.”
“So, you think that this Lonna Tassin who signed Jade’s lease is the same Lonna Tassin that I was once engaged to? What, you suspect that the embezzlement was her idea as well, that she somehow convinced Jade to go along with it as a way to get back at me, after all these years?”
April sighed and leaned forward a little. “Listen, John, I know this must all sound very far fetched to you, but it’s entirely plausible, and would answer a lot of questions. Sometimes people get hurt, and they spend the rest of their lives wrapped up in that ‘I was wronged’ feeling. And that feeling of betrayal tends to eat at a person, warps them in some way. Besides, we both know that old adage of ‘A woman scorned’ and all that. So yes, to answer your question, I think this Lonna Tassin is the same woman you tossed out so many years ago.”
John looked a little chagrinned. “Well, if you put it that way…Ok, I see your point.”
“Good, because here’s another question for you. Did Jade know Lonna well enough to recognize her, or her name, after all this time?”
John seemed thoughtful for a few minutes, while he considered April’s question. “The girls saw very hentai porno little of Lonna, and when they did, she kept her distance from them. Jasmine was so young at the time, I doubt she’d remember Lonna at all, or even recognize the name. I’m not sure about Jade, I mean she was twelve when their parents died and I threw Lonna out. I suspect that would be old enough to remember, especially as traumatic as those first few weeks were, after their parents died.”
April frowned. If John was right, it just blew some of her theory out of the water, but there was also a small chance that Jade didn’t remember her, or maybe Ms. Tassin wasn’t using her real name in public. She shook her head to clear her thoughts. No, that wasn’t right either, because even if Tassin was dealing with Jade under a different name, wouldn’t Jade recognize her face? Then again, it was a traumatic time for the sisters, so maybe Jade had blocked out the whole thing, or just had so much going on at the time, that the quick exit of a woman who was practically a stranger to her, didn’t linger in her memory. April rose out of the chair on a sigh and thanked John for his time. She started heading for the door when the sound of John’s voice had her turning back around.
“Before you leave, April, I have a question for you.”
“Oh. Ok. What is it?”
“What, exactly, is going on with you and my girls? Let’s start with Jasmine.”
April just stared at John for a minute. Actually, she really wasn’t all that surprised by his question. If anything, she was surprised he hadn’t asked her sooner. John struck her as an old fashioned gentleman, which is one of things she liked and respected about him. She could be old fashioned herself when it came to certain things.
“Between myself and Jasmine, nothing at all. Your niece, John, has made it pain-stakingly clear that she considers me the equivalent of pond scum.” April maintained eye contact with John. If he wanted to run her out of town because she’d slept with his girls, so be it. At this point, there wasn’t much reason for her to stay, anyway. But she’d be damned if she’d slink out with her tail between her legs. Yes, she’d slept with both of his girls, but there was more to it than just that. She was in love with Jasmine, God help her, and she cared very deeply for Jade. She knew she and Jade weren’t in love with each other, but Jade was now an old lover who, in the course of their emails, had become a very close friend, and hell would freeze over before she apologized to anyone for that.
John sat, studying the defiant look on April’s face. He liked the feisty P.I., even respected her, and God knew she was doing great work for him. Some how, instinctively he guessed, he knew his beloved nieces were safe with her, but recently he had started to suspect that something had happened between April and his girls. A few days after Jade’s confession, he had sat down with Jade and Jasmine, trying to work out their family problems. April’s name had inadvertently popped up during the course of conversation, and he hadn’t missed the weird looks that had appeared on their faces, or the looks they gave each other. And ever since April had returned to New Orleans, at his request, Jasmine had been acting strangely, but he hadn’t quite put two and two together until this conversation with April about old relationships.
Now he studied the woman who stood in front of him, tall and proud, hands on her hips, almost spoiling for a fight. He chuckled to himself. If she was getting involved with either one of his girls, she’d need that fighting spirit, otherwise his nieces would just chew her up and spit her out. Knowing that they hadn’t managed to do that to this woman, he suddenly saw her in a new light. He was careful with his next words.
“Jade and Jasmine are grown women, and more than capable of making their own decisions, very capable of taking care of themselves.” John almost laughed out loud at the ‘No kidding!’ look that spread over April’s face, but he stifled the laugh and went on. “I’ll be honest here, April, and admit that I always pictured them both finding some nice young man and settling down with families of their own while they helped me run this company. When they both finally confessed to me that they just weren’t interested in men, I was a little upset at first. I suppose I felt like I had done something wrong, somewhere along the line, when I was raising them.” He held up a hand, as April was about to interrupt him. “No, I realize know that how I raised them wasn’t the deciding factor, but I like to think it’s natural for a parent to feel that way, at first. Now, I’m ok with their decisions for their personal lives. I just want them happy, and to find someone decent to spend their lives with, but because I’m old fashioned, I tend to treat their female suitors the same way I would if they were men.”
April smiled at John’s admission. She gave him points for making peace with his nieces’ personal choices and knew, as old fashioned as he was, he was kızıl porno handling things the best way he knew how. In the end, he loved Jade and Jasmine just the same as he would if they were both his biological daughters, and he was looking out for them. April walked back towards the desk and retook the chair she had sat in earlier.
“Listen, John, I respect your position so I’ll be honest here. Yes, I had a very personal relationship with both of your girls. When you first hired me, I was on the tail end of a very rough couple of years. I had a case blow up in my face and it landed me in the hospital. About six moths later, my parents died in a car accident and they were all the family I’ve ever had. I’d been drifting for quite a while, and when Jade and I got involved, I was happy for the first time in a very long time. But she and I were never truly in love with each other and we’ve worked that out. Now, I consider Jade a very dear, close friend, someone I care about very much. As for Jasmine, well, she was angry that I left the way I did. I did it to give her and Jade time to work things out, but she didn’t see it that way. When I came back, I tried to work things out with her…” April sighed, “Well, she just didn’t see things they way I did.” April held her hands out, palms up, and shrugged.
John leaned a little further over his desk and looked April straight in the eye. “Are you sure about that?” he asked softly.
April looked at him in shock, for a minute, then lowered her eyes and sighed. “Yeah, unfortunately, I am.”
John just nodded and April thanked him for his time and left. John waited a few moments, giving time for April to leave his office, then buzzed his secretary. “Linda, could you ask Jasmine to come down here for a minute?”
He had a feeling that, where Jasmine was concerned, April was on the wrong track. He liked her, and suspected that his niece did as well. Loving his girls as much as he did, he thought it wouldn’t hurt to give Jasmine a gentle push in the right direction.
April stood around waiting for the Chinese takeout she had just ordered and mulled over her conversation with John. She had to decide if her theory about Lonna Tassin was valid enough for her to pursue, but John’s parting question kept interfering with her train of thought.
Climbing into her car, she carefully placed the bag of food on the passenger seat, and then just sat there, watching the people of New Orleans shuffle home. “Was she sure?” That had been John’s question. When she answered him, she had been, but now… “Oh, hell!” she thought, twisting the key in the ignition and feeling the car come to life around her. Shifting into drive, she carefully pulled into traffic and headed towards her apartment. A picture of Jasmine, smiling at her with the sun sparkling in her hair, popped into her mind, quickly followed with one of Alyshia, who was waiting for her at home. Next came Jade. God only knows what she was in to, or how much trouble she was in if April was right about Lonna using her to get revenge. A car streaked across her path and she jammed on the breaks. Swearing, she tried to clear her mind. If she didn’t focus on the traffic in front of her, she won’t have to worry about anything at all soon.
Fifteen minutes later, she strolled through her front door to find Alyshia asleep on the couch. She walked closer to the couch, the take-out bag still in her hands, and watched her sleep. She really liked Alyshia, and they were having a good time together. Maybe that was the best she was ever going to get, could ever dare to hope for. “Maybe I need to just learn to be happy with what I’ve got right now, instead of getting messed up over things I can’t control.” She decided she and Alyshia were due for another distraction, and she walked over to the kitchen to stash the Chinese food in the fridge. They could nuke it later, after April woke Alyshia up, properly. A smile on her face, she walked back towards the couch.
Jasmine had spent so much time talking with her uncle this afternoon; he had ended up rescheduling the rest of his appointments. She appreciated the fact that he had always put her and Jade first. As far as he was concerned, work could wait, family always came first. It had felt good to finally have someone to talk to, to help her sort out her feelings. Now she was finally sure that she was in love with April, and wanted to work things out between the two of them.
She felt a little nervous as she climbed the steps to April’s apartment. She thought she heard voices and paused, halfway up the steps. Deciding it was just her imagination, she finished climbing the stairs. Reaching the screen door, she raised her hand to knock, but her hand froze in midair.
April felt Alyshia’s hand slipping down towards her clit and she quickly flipped her onto her back. She was enjoying this sweet tension that was slowly building inside of her while she made love to Alyshia, and she wanted to hold on to it a little longer. Trying to distract her, April began trailing kisses down her body, but only made it as far as the valley between Alyshia’s breast, when Alyshia arched her hips, trying to grind against her. She groaned as their clits hit each other perfectly, and she tried to pull away.
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