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It was about a month and a half later that Vivienne called Julian to meet her. She told him that she was finally ready to help him. Vivienne absently fixed her lipstick in the mirror as she made the call. She was wearing her usual black dress with heels. The only jewelry she wore was her wedding ring. Studying herself in the mirror, she didn’t think Blake was the only one in this marriage with the cold eyes.
“You were right about him,” Vivienne said, in a panicked voice as she concealed her pistol and silencer in her crocodile Birkin. “You need to help me. I found our chain and I’m ready to make a run for it. Meet me in half an hour.”
Vivienne hung up and walked back to the master bedroom where Blake was still in bed. She strolled over and picked Julian’s chain off of nightstand beside him. He sat up in bed, the sheets falling from his bare chest in a hopelessly seductive fashion. Vivienne sat down on the bed beside him and kissed him goodbye. Her hand slipped under the sheets and stroked her way up his naked thigh. Blake chuckled as he pulled her closer.
“If you keep that up, you might find running away difficult.”
“I hope you’ll find the idea of finally killing Namura as arousing as I do,” Vivienne whispered and wrapped her hand around the handle of her bag. “Because tonight I’m going to make passionate love to you, my dearly beloved.”
Vivienne slipped her sunglasses down the tip of her nose as she saw Julian appear in the entrance of the lobby. He didn’t look like himself. His hair was tussled, eyes red and he was wearing a grey peacoat. It was the peacoat part that unsettled her. It looked like something he got from a mall rack.
“Are you trying to keep a low profile?” Vivienne asked. “I barely recognized you.” When she looked down, she noticed he was wearing sneakers - not designer sneakers - Nike.
“I can’t shake the feeling I’m being followed,” Julian said as he rubbed his eyes. He glanced around the lobby. “Are you sure he doesn’t know you’re here? You called me on your cell phone that he gave you. I’m sure he’s listening.”
Vivienne showed him the gold chain around her wrist. “If he knew I was here would he have let me leave with this?”
Julian seized her arm and quickly covered the chain with his hand. He continued to glance around wildly like a trapped animal.
“Let’s go for a walk.” He led her in the direction of the park.
Vivienne walked with him past the bridge and the ducks. He was leading her in the direction of the other entrance that opened onto the street. He was walking with his back slouched and hands in his pockets. She imagined their time apart had been hard for him in ways that went beyond simple unemployment.
“Do you have any idea what we’re up against?” Julian asked, his voice trembling. “He’s not who he used to be. He’s a warlord with a army of goons and assassins at his disposal.”
Vivienne tried not to let her disdain show in her eyes. The easiest part of this was that somewhere in her memory she remembered a time when his words would have shocked her. She could bring that side of herself to the surface to calm his nerves. He still saw her as the innocent, awkward high school student he found at the fair in Remin.
Julian wrapped his arms around her and hugged her as though he expected tears. It was everything Vivienne could do not to shove him away in disgust. Even now, he reeked of body spray that stung her nose. Vivienne finally wriggled out of his arms and shook her head. “Sorry,” she said. “My stomach is moody these days. Your smell, it’s very strong. Do the girls really like it?”
Julian laughed. “You’re such a delicate flower, Vivienne. I could stop using it if it bothers you.” He grabbed her hand loosely in his and led her to a waiting car. Vivienne stood at the car momentarily and realized it was Victoria in driver seat. She slid out and waved to Vivienne. Julian took the driver seat and motioned for Vivienne to take the seat beside him while Victoria went into the back seat.
Momentarily, Vivienne felt awkward sitting in the front seat of the car as that was where the servant or bodyguard usually sat. She didn’t even know where to put her bag. Finally, she placed it on cramped floor space by her feet.
“Before we go anywhere, give me your cell phone,” Julian said. Vivienne rolled her eyes and handed it over. Julian threw it out the car window, much to her dismay.
“Where are we going?” Vivienne asked.
“I’ll take you somewhere safe,” Julian said. “There are still one or two places left in Coral City he doesn’t have his claws in.”
Vivienne idly stared at out the window as they drove out of the city proper, along the river to the rocky cliffs to a mansion encircled by pine trees. She remembered this location, it had been known in the papers as Gambit Castle because of all the illicit gambling that occurred there in the past.
“No one lives there now,” Julian said.
Vivienne wanted to sigh. She knew he was going to try hide her and keep her out of trouble. She expected as much. He didn’t trust her and rightly so. She wouldn’t have trusted herself either if she were in his position.