The Two of Hearts
By Marilyn Douglas
Date: June 10, 2019
Ch. 10Unraveling the Spider’s Web

Finally, Charles found his words, “You are saying our relationship was a total sham? Is that what you are saying to me Danica James?”
Slowly she nodded her head confirming the truth to her story. Charles rubbed his temple as the cogs in his brain turned, connecting the dots of this sordid tale. Rising from her chair, Danica moved to stand next to her heart broken friend. Taking his sobbing face into her breasts, Danica consoled him as best she could. “It’s alright Honey… let it all out… Danica is here to help in any way.”
Shifting her body so that his face settled further between her breasts, Danica rubbed his back before lowering her face close to his. As he sobbed she brushed her lips next to his and prepared to deliver a more carnal form of healing. At that exact moment the door to the penthouse burst open and in walked the illusive Cassandra. She was there, and in good time, to represent herself.
Stanley called her cell moments after she left the first day of her orientation. The cruise liner required all personnel to be trained in fire and safety hazard-the training was brutal and she smelled of smoke. Stepping onto the sidewalk to make her way back to the roach motel she called home, Cassandra paused to take the call.
“Hello, this is Cassandra.”
“This is Stanley from the hotel… I need you to meet me around the service area around eight tonight. You know I would never call if it wasn’t important. Meet me around eight.”
Before she could respond, he ended the call, leaving her quite confused. He never called before, so there must be a good reason. She didn’t want to run into Danica so it was good that he suggested the service door. This was strange indeed. After a brisk walk home and a shower, Cassandra dressed quickly and rode a bus to the outskirts of the upscale district. She would walk the rest of the way. Her sneakers made no sound as they hit the pavement outside the door where she waited for Stanley. Barely a minute had passed before he appeared looking a bit concerned.
“Hurry” he urged as he slipped back inside and disappeared up a side stairway that appeared to be infrequently used. The belly of the hotel was somewhere she was unfamiliar with. Even though she knew many of the staff, she had never been privy to see the true space where they worked.
Arriving at a door that seemed unopened for years, Stanley fiddled with keys until finally choosing one and shoving it in the slot. As it clicked open to reveal a room full of phones and computer screens, Cassandra hesitated. So far Stanley hadn’t told her why he called her or why it was so hush hush. The dark, musty room didn’t calm her fears either.
Settling before the most modern of the computers in the room, Stanley tapped on a keyboard and an image appeared on the screen in black and white. Turning in her direction, Stanley finally said.
“You may have run away from your situation, but the reality is there are vultures waiting to devour what is rightfully yours. I hope you find the answers you are seeking. Call my cell and I will come to get you when you are ready.”
Pointing to the phone next to the computer he added, “Sometimes, the wealthy forget the staff is around and they say things they shouldn’t. Maybe today one of the maids knocked the phone off of the cradle by accident. It wouldn’t hurt to check that it’s not the penthouse that such a mistake was made in.”
Quietly exiting the room and leaving her alone, Stanley departed knowing Cassandra was smart enough to connect the dots. Maybe the butler Danica yelled at last week had enough of her hateful ways. Maybe he told Stanley the sordid plans being laid by Danica to crush Cassandra’s and Charles’s budding love-maybe…
Settling in the now vacant chair, Cassandra watched intently as the camera focused on a butler she knew all too well, opening the door for a haggard looking Charles. Her heart beat double time at the sight of him and it bled while she looked at his pained face. Danica entered the room in a flurry, kissing him and lingering too long for comfort.
Cassandra’s bright eyes narrowed as she picked up where this was going, but still she hesitated to jump to conclusions. Picking up the receiver of the antiquated phone to her right, she pressed it to her ear and listened as their voices came into earshot-muffled at first, but clearer as they got closer to the dinner table on the screen.
The sorrow in Charles’s voice was gut wrenching and Cassandra became aware of just how much she had hurt him. Listening to his unanswered questions tugged at her heart, but it was Danica’s explanation of the unfortunate events that killed her. Describing Cassandra as a gold digger out for a free ride was the direction her friend took as she destroyed her character instead of defending it.
When Charles started sobbing Cassandra lost it and sprang into action. Stanley didn’t go far and she found him just outside the service door smoking a cigarette and chatting to a pretty maid. Almost instantly he dropped it and nodded at the maid. Maybe she was in on it.
Leading Cassandra through a myriad of doors finally arriving at the lobby Stanley, without saying a word, nodded in approval of whatever she chose to do. She deserved to confront those seeking to destroy her. Over to the elevator, she ran and she counted every floor with earnest and impatience.
The slow opening doors took an eternity to let her through and when she finally burst into the penthouse, Richard the Butler gave her a knowing smile and wink. Dashing into the direction of the pair and announcing her presence with running feet, Cassandra bounded into the room, bringing Danica’s intended kiss to an abrupt halt.
“You deceptive bitch!” Cassandra yelled. “You bring him here to tell him lies about me and screw him?! Is this friendship to you? You told me he would never love me because I was poor and average.”
Shifting her focus to Charles, who was staring at her as though she was an apparition, she pleaded her case. “I never wanted your money Charles… never! I would have told you the truth about who I was but she convinced me that I wasn’t good enough as a simple waitress to get someone like you and I was wrong for doing it… I know that now but never did I intend for you to find out like this… never.”
For the first time since Cassandra entered the room Charles spoke. “How can I believe you? How can I trust you after this stunt you pulled? Am I really nothing more than a bank to you?”
Stunned that he would question her sincerity, Cassandra paused and stuttered to answer. It was at this point that a new voice was introduced into the dialogue, taking it to a new level. “She is telling the truth sir,” The butler stepped into the room and made his voice heard.
“Ms. James here constructed the story and I heard on many occasions as she tried to convince Cassandra to trick you. I also heard with my own ears Cassandra here telling her she wasn’t comfortable doing it. If anything, it was Ms. James to blame. Ms. James seems to have forgotten the conversation she had a few weeks ago with her other friend on the phone. Janice knows full well that the plan was to humiliate Cassandra and get you into bed as soon as she was out of the picture. Sir, don’t you find it odd that she worked at your charity event?”

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