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How to Win Friends and Influence People; Private Thread, Afternoon of Day 3
Topic Started: Oct 27 2010, 01:22 AM (1,826 Views)
Namira
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((Rosa Fiametta continued from Calculations))

Rosa finally decided that it was about time she slowed down and stopped running, having been moving at a gentle jog for the past couple of hours, just to make sure she was putting the appropriate distance between her and any potential pursuit. Rosa stopped moving, leaned back against a tree and heaved a couple of deep breaths, feeling exceptionally grateful for the fact she was in good shape. She was tired as it stood, she dreaded to think of what would have happened if she'd tried that kind of run, say, eight months ago.

As Rosa settled back, a few thoughts were going through her head, some of them mere concern for her siblings (they still hadn't been on the announcement, thank god), some of them just grumbles about various aches and pains. Some, however, were more distinct, sharper.

Point for the agenda number one: not keeping her bra on had been a REALLY fucking stupid idea. It was yet another of those long line of things that had seemed like a good idea at the time but had turned out to be pretty fucktarded, and probably would've shown themselves up as such if Rosa had actually been paying more than superficial attention to them. To put it bluntly, when Rosa had bailed on the killer Madelaine and the others in that mad dash, an unconstrained bust had NOT helped matters.

Point for the agenda number two: no more implicitely trusting anyone! What the fuck had that been!? Rosa had gotten changed like, five freaking feet away from a killer! Madelaine had been armed with a gun for crying out loud - she could've popped Rosa then and there if she'd been so inclined. ...That also made Rosa think that Madelaine maybe wasn't a cold blooded killer as she'd first assumed, but there had been no sense taking chances. After all, she could have been waiting for an opportunity.

Point for the agenda number three: where the fuck was she anyway? Rosa hadn't paid much attention to direction whilst running away - for pretty damn good reason so far as she was concerned. She must have come quite a way though, Rosa could've sworn that at the edge of her hearing, there was the sound of waves... Either way, she needed to figure that out sooner rather than later. No good trying to search if you didn't know where the hell you were, right?

Before starting to look for Ily and Frankie again though, Rosa really needed to find somewhere to change. Middle of the woods hadn't gone too well last time around. Too exposed - and she was stilll pretty goddamn sure that one or the other of Harun and Rashid had seen her getting dressed, because not meeting her eyes like that sure as hell meant something.

So the Fiametta set off, steadily getting her breathing back under control, wincing as she looked at how sweat soaked her tank top was. The damn thing was plastered to her... it was going to reek when that dried off. After a second, Rosa chuckled and shook her head. That really wasn't the kind of thing she should be worrying about. Hygiene could take a backseat to the more pressing issue of not getting her brains blown out.

A few more minutes of walking and... a clearing. An occupied clearing. Rosa swore under her breath, but didn't immediately back away. Whoever was there (a guy it looked like, but Rosa was behind them so she couldn't identify him) was both quite slender and without a visible weapon. Maybe she could try and get her search back on track. Asking people would sure help Rosa, maybe give her a location to base things off. This guy didn't look armed so... worth a shot.

Staying back in the treeline, visible but not in the clearing so that she could take off if necessary, Rosa called out.

"Hey! It's Rosa! Don't freak out, alright? I'm not hurting anyone."
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The gamble seemed a lot less worthwhile once the guy Rosa called out to actually replied. Setting aside the bizarre and pompous nature of the response (Ma’am? Client ledger? What the fuck), the speaker immediately identified himself with his voice where looks had failed. Jeremy freaking Franco. Whilst not the type of guy that Rosa would be worried would say… run around shooting people, but he’d surely sell them out if he thought it would save his own skin. The Fiametta had crossed paths with Jeremy back at Bayview more than once, and it had rarely been a good thing.

Even apart from the couple of specific incidents involving Jeremy and herself, the guy was just annoying. He was always telling tasteless jokes (one or two had gone around about Rosa’s promiscuity that had his hallmarks on them), he was always bragging about how he’d made so much money, or was about to make so much money, or had plans to make so much money, etc, etc. Hypocritically, ego annoyed Rosa, and Jeremy had bundles of it.

And now here he was screwing around with some kind of ledger? That was so Franco and given the situation, so completely fucked up. He couldn’t seriously be thinking about making money or turning some kind of profit at a time like this? Could he? … With anybody else, the answer to that would have been a stonewall certainty. With Jeremy, Rosa’s surety dropped dramatically.

But for all her distaste, Jeremy could be useful, to an extent. Not as an ally – god not as an ally, the dude was slime – but as a source of information. Rosa would have put a pretty safe bet on Jeremy having been memorising most of what he was seeing on the off chance it would benefit him. He always seemed to be getting hold of information, some of it more private than the rest (although once Jeremy had said info, it usually got to the standard of ‘common knowledge’ in record time). If anybody was going to know the whereabouts of either of her siblings, Jeremy was a better guess than most.

If that meant – fuck’s sake – Rosa was going to have to make nice with him for a bit, then so be it. Until then, the Fiametta hadn’t really considered it, but… how far would she go to make sure Frankie and Ily were both safe? Differences or no, the thought of either of them being… being killed. It set Rosa’s heart racing, chest constricting. There were far bigger lengths to go to than being friendly to somebody she didn’t like, if he potentially had information.

How much would I do? Is there a limit for those guys? Just… just what would I do to make sure that the pothead and the worrywart will be okay? I don’t know where I’d draw the line. Fuck, I don’t know. It… doesn’t matter how far I have to go, not with Ily. Not with Frankie. They might be a stiff and a stoner but… they’re all I’ve got.

As Jeremy reeled off his offer, seemingly eager to please indeed, Rosa forced a smile. Except, really, just a couple of people would have been able to distinguish it from the genuine article. It was practiced, it was easy. Rosa had spent years faking that smile, the little grin that for all the world looked filled with sincerity and warmth, that even to some extent reached her eyes. Rosa had a wealth of experience with that particular falsehood, too much.

But for all that, Rosa smiled at Jeremy Franco, not flirtatious or seductive in the slightest (though that too was something Rosa had considerable experience with) and when she spoke, she sounded genuinely pleased, happy. This… this wasn’t the Rosa of the past couple of months, the wild Rosa, the devil may care Rosa who dyed her hair and acted with reckless abandon. This was the Rosa that, not too long ago, would have comfortably picked out this mini skirt and tight tank top (which she was still uncomfortably aware was sticking to her), and would have gone out to fall into bed with the first boy or girl willing to accommodate her.

“Oh Jeremy! I can’t say how glad I am to hear that. There’s so many nutjobs running around. I’m glad at least one guy has his head on straight,” Right… let’s not lay it on too thick. Now… interested, but not too eager, okay? “You say you’re trying to help people? That’s so kind of you, especially at a time like this. What uh… what kind of help are you talking about?”

Slipping back into this old… persona? Mindset? It came far too easily.
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J. Franco and Associates. Are. You. Shitting. Me? I just can't believe how full of it this guy is. Earth to Franco? This is an island where somebody might be trying to kill you at any second, not hawking fucking potato chips out of your locker. Start taking this shit seriously for christ's sake ...And that hat is fucking stupid too. You look like a moron.

All of that went through Rosa's head, but naturally went unsaid. Instead, that false, endearing smile remained firmly in place, taking only a small effort to maintain in spite of her annoyance. She didn't even really need to think about it to do so. A few months back, the Fiametta would've whipped this expression out at a moment's notice. Rosa almost resented how little trouble she had with slapping the smile back on. Went to show that it took a lot more than bleached hair to change a person...

But now wasn't such a good time to be dwelling on those kinds of things. Rosa didn't need to think about the histories or the ease of being able to smile, just her reasons for doing it. Keeping Franco sweet in case he knew something. Sugar bought a whole lot more favours than twisting the arm. Next to everyone liked being buttered up and Jeremy didn't seem to be an exception to that rule. So much so that he didn't even act surprised about how friendly Rosa was being with him. Either he had a real short memory, or he thought she was an airhead that was too dumb to hold a grudge.

For some reason, a lot of guys thought that about pretty girls. Rosa had no idea if Jeremy was one of those types, but she wouldn't have been surprised to find it out.

Anyway, here came the pitch. It was time to find out whether Rosa could get anything of worth from the guy or if this had been a wasted conversation. The Fiametta listened... and she anticipated. Food and water was of no interest to Rosa at that moment. Insomuch as she could judge it, she wasn't in immediate danger of running out of either and nor were they what she was concerned about. Then, Franco, seemingly sensing her lack of enthusiasm, changed tack. And then hit the button.

Rosa didn't know if Jeremy was bullshitting about people not moving around much, but much as she didn't like him, she sincerely hoped that he wasn't. If he'd seen Ily or Frankie or (my god) both, then his help would be immediately invaluable. She took a couple of steps towards the guy, trying to mask her fervant interest. Part of her wanted to seize Jeremy and demand he tell her where to find her siblings, but... she had to keep her eyes on the prize. No good finding out that he could help her after all only to blow it by dropping the nice act.

The Fiametta leaned forward a little, locking eyes with Jeremy. A couple of guys, perhaps with more than a superficial interest in her, had told her in the past that her eyes were one of her best features. Rosa was used to flattery... compliments usually came from the guys who wanted to score (they usually did), but... maybe those couple had been true. She tried to emphasise it with the look into the other's eyes.

"You could help find Ily and Frankie? You'd do that for me? Wow Jeremy... you're a saint."
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And... the catch. Always a catch. Rosa had been expecting it, because hell this was Jeremy Franco they were talking and what he did was make deals. But... hearing it put straight up like that made her realise something pretty damn important. Namely, that she didn't actually have anything to really offer him. Fuck. The ratbastard actually fucking knew something, but he wouldn't tell Rosa unless she... what? Goddammit, he was holding all the cards and she didn't even have an ace in the hole.

Rosa did a quick mental run down of the inventory. Walkie talkies. Right, because those would be a great bargaining chip. A draw that wasn't even a weapon and was barely useful. Supplies? No, Jeremy had already mentioned having surplus, he wouldn't care about getting more. The rest of the stuff in her bag? Nothing that Jeremy would be interested in. Just clothes and a couple of snacks, and Rosa doubted that Franco had any designs on crossdressing.

Oh fuck. He fucking knew but she couldn't offer anything to him and she was about to blow a gasket because of his stupid faux-apologetic face and he'd seen Ilario and Rosa had to keep her temper but it was fucking difficult and this goddamn SHIRT wouldn't stop sticking to he-...

Oh.

It hit her like a freight train. No, like a fucking oil tanker.

She had everything to offer to him, Everything she'd been offering for most of her teenage years.

But... no! No! I can't just- that's totally... Fuck! How else can I get him to talk? But... I ... that's not even just screwing somebody. That's fucking prostitution! I... my fucking god. I... What were you just thinking, Rosa? ...Ilario's out there somewhere. Franco knows where. I don't have time to wheedle it out of him... I don't even know if I could. It's in my power, it has to be, that's the kind of guy Franco is. ...I can do it. For them both, right? I've... I've done it for less.

Well. This'll certainly be a highlight of your life.


Rosa, quite deliberately, bit her lip, shifted her feet a little bit. Acting demurely. But it was just that, an act. She didn't know why she even bothered with it. Perhaps a front of reluctance made things... a little better. Except that it didn't. It really, really didn't. It changed nothing. She was going to give herself up... just for information.

Ilario had better fucking appreciate this.

Then she stepped toward him with purpose, closing the distance quickly. With practiced ease, Rosa slipped an arm around Jeremy's waist and pulled herself up against him. Tightly. Her breasts, under only a single layer of fabric, were squashed into Jeremy's chest, whilst her other hand slid down to his crotch. She gripped him through his pants, gently of course, but applying enough pressure to make sure he'd most definitely know about it.

Working her head into the crook of his neck, Rosa breathed softly against his ear for a couple of seconds, then murmured to him. 'How's this offer sounding to you so far?"

Whore. Whore. You fucking WHORE.

Jeremy laughed, sounding pretty damn nervous, then answered. "Well that's, uh, that's not really what I had in mind or- what I mean to say is that I mean, of course you're beautiful and everything so don't get me and wrong, but I'd just never take advantage of you or anything or try to force you to do something like that against your will or- but basically if you want to then yeah, yeah, that sounds great and I love it!"

So much babble. He'd said yes, just as she'd expected. Hoped? Well, perhaps. Rosa couldn't help but feel that she'd have been less than upset if Jeremy had turned her down. Still, he was excited (and she was pretty sure she could tell that in more ways than just his voice), maybe she could 'negotiate' a little. It'd feel... less dirty. Shifting herself around so that she could both hold onto Jeremy with both hands and press her lower body against him too, Rosa moved in again.

And kissed him. Fully. One could almost call it passionately, certainly, Rosa's turmoil wasn't showing in the way that she was willing to practically force her tongue down Jeremy's throat. They played tonsil hockey for a couple of seconds, then Rosa broke off, breathing a little heavier. Alright, this was the only chance she'd have to salvage a semblance of dignity.

"Alright Jeremy... here's the deal. Tell me your info about Ilario. And then you..." Rosa lowered her voice a little in what would probably be mistaken for seductive but was actually down to not wanting the embarrassment of announcing it for the world to hear on camera, "You can have me. Any way you want, whatever gets you going, I'll do it... Anything Jeremy."

She accentuated that with what could only be described as a grind against him. "And then... once you take me to him, you can have, uh... seconds," Rosa paused, then decided to remphasise the selling point. "Whatever you want, anything you can think of. All those things you fantasised about but were too scared to actually try," Rosa leaned again, at a whisper. "I'm yours to do them."
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Mentally, Rosa began to psyche herself up for what was to come (oh goddammit). Jeremy really, really wasn't making it any easier on her with the terminology he insisted on using. Referring to this as a deal made it sound like... well it made it sound like exactly what it was - that she was going to fuck somebody for a fee. Oh sure, it wasn't literally for money, but it was good as. Jesus Christ. Rosa was really going to do this, wasn't she?

No backing out now...

Shut up with the stupid FUCKING compliments and get to the FUCKING point you prick. Rosa thought, but did not say, since she'd already tossed the scraps of her self-respect out of the window in making the offer in the first place.

Rosa tried not to think about what was going to happen and the twisting knots in her stomach in favour of attempting to pare the babble out of Jeremy's story into the parts which were actually relevant, committing them to memory as best as she damn well could.

That little fact was probably why, when Jeremy continued to speak, that Rosa's expression changed quite as much as it did. Normally, she had a pretty good poker face, but to hear something that struck her as so fundamentally wrong took her off guard so much that her mask slipped. The fake smile vanished from Rosa's face and her eyes narrowed.

Ilario. Freaking out. Ilario, being calmed down by Jeremy goddamn Franco? No, no fucking way. Ily was a worrywart and he got damn worked up over things, but when had he ever well and truly lost his cool? Never. Ilario never lost his composure, he ALWAYS maintained his air of calm and confidence. Maybe he didn't have the balls to tick her off, but nor did he ever lose his temper at her or Frankie. That would have been odd (suspicious?) enough in of itself to Rosa, but the second part tipped it over the edge. If anything had rattled Ilario that badly, of all the people to get his head back on straight... Jeremy Franco was not one that Rosa would pick.

Which meant Jeremy Franco was lying.

"You know, Jeremy, this 'deal' of ours kind've relies on you... oh I don't know, telling me the fucking truth. Just thought I'd throw that out there. This is my brother, Jeremy, I know my brother, so don't you even fucking DARE to bullshit me. If you know and you want me to fulfil my side of the bargain, then say, if you don't..." Rosa's glare intensified. "This is not me pissed, Jeremy. Where's Ily?" Inspiration. "How was he dressed? See his weapon?"

If you're lying, you piece of shit...
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He was scrambling, he was trying to find a lie, he had to be. It was just too familiar for it to be anything else. Rosa had been there - a detail not quite being right, getting picking up on and holes being punched in the story. She'd dealt with it from this side before too, a couple of boyfriends that weren't exactly loyal, getting snarled up in their own lies. Their expressions... they'd been near identical to the look that Jeremy had on his face now. The pauses for remembering... they were just the kind of shifty tactic somebody would pull when they were groping. And he was groping, hard.

Maybe the bright side was that he wouldn't get to grope in another fashion.

Every word out of Jeremy's mouth dug him a deeper hole, built up Rosa's rage. She let him keep talking though, perhaps for too long... because in it all, she had a hope. A little, tiny glimmer, but a hope nontheless. That her paranoia was wrong and Jeremy really was just getting things muddled because he didn't expect to be second guessed, not because he was making it up on the spot. Because, whatever the nature of all of this and how downright dirty the 'deal' was... Rosa wanted to see Ilario. She wanted to see Frankie. She wanted to tell them both that, well, she really did care about them, that for all the shit they put each other through (especially the two girls to Ily), they were her siblings and she loved them a lot. Damn sight more than any of the rest of her family, anyway. Fuck Junior, it was her brother and sister that really mattered to her, in a weird, half-hating kind of way. It wasn't Ilario Fiametta III's fault that Ilario Fiametta Jr didn't give a fuck about his daughters, played favourites... they weren't the same guy.

But Jeremy continued to speak, and his story tied itself in so many knots that even that faint ember was snuffed out. Contradictions, twists and turns, correcting himself in the middle of the next sentence, as if he was taking a complete stab in the dark - what kind of answer was 'a nice shirt'? - no shit Ily would be dressed well. Not to mention apparently being able to calm him down whilst having a conversation at a distance. Right.

Time to show Jeremy some of that notorious Fiametta temper.

Rosa screamed a string of Italian curses into Jeremy's face, practically unitelligible even to anybody who spoke her first language and then drove her knee as hard as she could into his groin. Not happy with that, as Jeremy folded up, Rosa wound up then punched him straight in the face, the impact sending a jolt through her body and hurting her knuckles to boot. She swore at him one last time and then... well, then she ran like hell.

Rosa wasn't a lunatic, nor did she want to beat the shit out of Jeremy... just hurt him. The suckerpunch got her point across.

But now it was back to square one.

((Rosa Fiammetta continued in Fell Tidings)
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