"Logic will get you from A to Z; imagination will get you everywhere" Albert Einstein

Prologue

Prologue

Riley stood outside of Wild Nights and tried again to think of another option. She’d been wracking her brain for weeks, trying anything and everything she and others around her could come up with, with no luck. This was it, her last chance. Squaring her shoulders she held her head high and walked towards the front entrance preparing to meet Greg Carlyle, her last hope.

The conversation she’d had with her best friend in the world, Lacy, was still ringing in her ears with every step she took, but she didn’t falter. Not for one second. This was for her kids, and for her children she would do whatever was necessary.

“Come on Riley there has to be another way! A legal way.” She and Lacey had been having this argument non-stop for the past three hours, ever since she’d told her friend what she was planning to do. She didn’t want to do it but she was desperate.

“I have tried all the legal ways already Lacey and all that did was get me rejected and drain my savings. At this point even if I do get my kids back by some miracle, I won’t have the money to really take care of them. If you have another option, please, tell me. I would give anything for there to be another way but there isn’t. The cops are convinced that I knew all about what Kyle was doing, they took my kids Lacey, my babies.”

“I know Riley, but there has to be-” The constant repetition of her friends argument finally made her lose her temper. Did she really think she would even be considering this if there was another option? Any other option.

“What? What does there have to be? Come on Lacey tell me! Are you going to suggest a lawyer, because if you’ll remember I had one. All he did was cost me nearly all the money I had set aside, before basicly telling me to just roll over and take it with a smile. Maybe your way is to tell the truth? Seems like the easiest way to go right? Wrong! I did that too remember, but my truth didn’t match up with what the cops wanted to believe so they didn’t believe me. I was declared unfit, a danger to my own children, Lacey! Unless confessing to a crime I didn’t commit and going to jail for the next three to five years is your grand plan on how to work within the system, this is it. I either get this Mr. Carlyle to help me or I just give up, and resign myself to a life that doesn’t include my kids, because I am at the end of my rope here.”

Lacey had eventually been forced to agree with her, this was her last Hail Mary pass. If Mr. Carlyle refused to help her she was done.

Greg Carlyle looked in the mirror on the wall of his office and loved what he saw. He was a man to be reckoned with now, a business man, someone others either respected or feared. He was the man he’d always wanted to be. Hearing the soft buzz of the intercom he pressed the button to answer his “secretary”.

In reality she was just one of his former dancers who had gotten too old, but who still owed him a debt. If she couldn’t make him money working one way he would get something out of her another way. In the end he always got what was coming to him.

“Yes, Jeanine?”

“Sir, there’s a woman here to see you.” That wasn’t unusual given the business he was in, but he didn’t remember scheduling anything for now.

“A dancer?” Maybe someone looking for work. He was always happy to lend a helping hand to those who needed a leg up in the world. For a price of course, he was a business man after all.

“I don’t think so.” There was just enough lust in her voice to tell him that if she wasn’t a dancer it wasn’t because she lacked the goods.

“A spurned wife?” He got those from time to time, and if they paid enough he would even ban their cheating other half from his club. Of course if the man paid more the ban could always just as easily be lifted.

“Doubt it.” So no righteous anger or bitter tears in sight.

“Send her in.” Might as well have a look.

Taking his seat behind his desk he waited for this mystery woman to appear. When she finally did she didn’t disappoint. This here, was a former beauty queen, make no mistake.

He’d met his fair share of those over the years, usually by the time he met them though they had fallen so far from grace thinking of them as the queen of anything was laughable.

This one though, she wasn’t a fresh face naive miss but she wasn’t beaten down by the world either. She was a delightful balance that fell somewhere in the middle.

“Good evening Mrs?” He let the question hang there, leaving the information flow up to her. She could tell him, or not tell him, whatever she wanted.

“Parks. Riley Parks. Are you Greg Carlyle?” She looked so nervous he almost wanted to laugh. She kept clutching and tugging at her purse strap, it was so adorable.

“That I am. Not to be rude, but I don’t recall ever having laid eyes on you before, and believe me if I had I would have remembered. So how is it that you’ve heard of me while I’ve never heard of you?” Not that strangers knowing of him was all together uncommon, it was just that normally he attracted a certain type and Mrs. Parks wasn’t even close to being it.

“Well, I have found myself in a spot of trouble, legal trouble, and a friend of mine said that if all else fails maybe you could help me out.”

“Always happy to help if I can. Please take a seat and explain to me everything that’s happened and just what it is you think I can help you with, then we’ll see what can be done.” If he could help her he knew he would, he would do just about anything to get this woman in his debt. Then once she was there he would never let her go.

He didn’t believe in love at first sight, it just wasn’t his style, but he had certainly felt something since first clapping eyes on this lovely creature.

“Well my husband, Kyle, he took a job doing some long haul driving for this construction company after he blew out his knee and lost his job. Three months ago the cops showed up at our house and said that he had been involved in some kind of theft ring or something. Something about copper, or copper pipes I think. They searched the house, but came up with nothing. They questioned me on and off for nearly a week, they even questioned our friends and family.

“Well, the cops were convinced that I knew what Kyle was doing out of town on these jobs, they would not believe that I was telling the truth when I said I didn’t have a clue. About five weeks ago the cops showed up at our house again only this time they brought CPS with them and they took my kids into custody. I got a lawyer and went through all the different hoops they make you jump through just for them to tell me that unless I’m proven to be uninvolved with my husband’s criminal activities I could not retain custody of my children. They had me declared unfit.”

He listened to her whole story, finding it almost comical. She had been a law abiding citizen and only once the legal system fucked her over did she step outside of it. The cops had pushed and pushed until they made a criminal of her, he loved it.

“Where is your husband, Kyle, in all of this?” If he was going to have to deal with a selfish sad sack, which her husband certainly sounded like, he wanted to know now. Not that he couldn’t handle the man if he did show his face here, but if he didn’t want to get caught doing something a little less than legal then there were steps that needed to be taken.

“Jail, they had him dead to rights on the whole thing, he’s facing a minimum sentence of five years.” So he would have at least five years with the lovely Mrs. Parks. Maybe more. He couldn’t wait.

“I take it you want me to help you get your children out of the system and back into your house?” They had to be clear about the terms. He would only do what he said he would do, there would never be any of that what you said versus what you meant bullshit. Anything beyond what was outright stated at the start of their little agreement would be a different deal entirely.

“Yes.” She looked so relieved, it tugged at what little good he had left in him. Not that there was enough left to stop what was to come, but it was still fascinating.

“What are you prepared to do in exchange for my help Mrs. Parks?” What are your limits?

“Whatever it takes.”

“Excellent, I believe you and I can come to some sort of an arrangement.”

 

A/N – Since it is a little AU some of the characters will be acting a little OOC but I tried to remain faithful otherwise.