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Hidden 18 days ago 18 days ago Post by LetsFly
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LetsFly Concierge of Crime

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In the sleek boardroom of a towering skyscraper, among the polished mahogany table and the ambient hum of discussion, Cal Crawford exuded an air of effortless authority. His tailored suit, a perfect fit to his chiseled frame, spoke volumes of his status as a man of wealth and influence. With a calculated smile, he leaned back in his chair, listening intently to the financial forecasts being presented by his colleagues as they delved into all the intricacies of shareholders and bonds.

But as the figures danced before him, the rhythm of the meeting was abruptly shattered by the arrival of Marcus, Cal's trusted right-hand man and assistant. Marcus approached Cal, purpose in his stride, and Cal's smile fell. Marcus knew meetings were never to be interrupted, except in the most urgent of circumstances. This must be one of those circumstances. His sudden appearance drew a collective hush from the room. Marcus leaned in close, whispering in Cal's ear: "We've got him, boss. In the basement."

Cal's smile returned, and he gave Marcus an astute nod. "Excuse me gentleman," he smoothly interjected, addressing the room, "Urgent matters call. We will regroup next Thursday." As he stood, he took a few moments to exchange handshakes and pleasantry. He told one of the men, Larry, to visit the reception desk, as Cal had picked up a gift for his granddaughter's birthday. Larry was delighted, clasping a hand on Cal's back, and Cal made his smooth exit from the room with a glittering white smile, leaving them to dismiss themselves.

He and Marcus entered the elevator, and the doors slid closed silently. With a practiced grace, he slipped off his suit jacket, revealing the crisp lines of his dress shirt and vest beneath. The fabric clung to his form like a second skin, accentuating the powerful contours of his physique. As he rolled up his sleeves with deliberate elegance, a subtle shift in atmosphere heralded the unfolding of a darker agenda.

"Where did you find him?" Cal inquired calmly, cracking his knuckles. It was perhaps his only unattractive habit, other than the occasional cigarette over a shared drink, when social needs demanded it.

"A seedy bar on the south side. Drunk in the middle of the day. Made getting him here a hell of a lot easier, I'll say that." Marcus seems at ease, perfectly delighted to share the details with his boss. Cal's lips curled into a smirk, his thoughts already turning to the confrontation that awaited them below.

Arriving at the basement level, Cal stepped out into a realm removed from the polished facade above. The cold embrace of concrete greeted him has he strode purposefully down the dimly lit hallway, his every step a testament to the power he wielded in the shadows. Behind him, Marcus trailed silently, his loyal shadow.

He entered a room at the end of a long hall, and Cal's gaze fell upon the bound figure before him. The man sat in a chair, blindfolded, with his hands tied behind his back. The room was a simple concrete square, with only one harsh light above them to offer any illumination. With a casual flick of his wrist, he removed the blindfold, revealing the fear-stricken eyes of John, a formerly trusted member of his organization. John was disheveled, his skin slick with sweat, and his eyes moved around the room wildly, squinting against the harsh light. Cal thought he might even cry. How pathetic.

"Hello, John," Cal greeted him, his voice laced with deceptive warmth that belied the gravity of the situation. As he circled the room with predatory grace, he probed. "So, explain it to me. Really, from your perspective. How did we come to be here?" The irony that John was gagged with cloth and wouldn't be telling Cal anything was not lost on him.

The situation was unfortunate, but necessary. John was a drug-runner, and had been skimming some off the top. That much, Cal had known for years, and had never paid any mind to. Everyone did it. He wasn't ignorant to that reality, and he could tolerate it within certain bounds. But John had crossed a boundary. Cal had undeniable proof that his drugs, marked with his signature, had gotten into a local public school, sold amongst students. It was a miracle that none of them had overdosed, yet. This little detail could not be tolerated. It had taken him a while to investigate the situation, to figure out the chain of events that had led to premium cocaine ending up in the hands of ninth-graders. And it all led back to John, who thought children -- children! -- could make a nice little addition to his income.

Cal pulled up a chair, straddling it backwards in front of John. "I don't have any kids, you know," he mused, reaching out and pushing sweat-dripping hair back from John's face -- a tender gesture, filled with poison kindness. "But I want them. Someday. You do have kids, right John? A son? What is he, twelve?"

John began to scream against his gag, his face twisting from agony to rage. Cal could almost swear he heard the words, "You leave my son alone!"

Cal dropped the act, his face quickly shifting from vague interest to one of utter disdain. "That's the difference between you and me," he said seriously, looking the man right in the eye. "I don't fuck around when it comes to kids."

He stood abruptly, turning his back on his captive. "In the head," he said simply to Marcus, a bit apologetically. "I'd do it myself, but don't have time to clean up. Big gala tonight." With that, he left the room, and as he made his way back toward the elevator, his footsteps were suddenly drowned out by the echo of a single gunshot, reverberating through the confines of the basement. Cal didn't look back.
Hidden 18 days ago Post by Arista
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Arista Le Insomniac

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In a modest-sized office, with navy-blue painted walls and gray furniture Sar a woman typing away at her computer. The single large window that decorated the left side of her office let sunlight stream in, which had her squinting at her screen before she let out a huff of air and rose to her feet. She was dressed in black pants and a white-sleeveless shirt, brown hair tied in a bun atop her head with black-heeled boots bringing the look together.

Her expression softened as the harsh sunlight dimmed as she half closed the blinds, a huff from her right has her head turning to peer at her companion with a snort. Sprawled on the white carpeted floor, a sable-coated German Shepherd lays with her head half-raised as if in protest to the lose of sun. Ellie snorts again and moves back towards her desk, tired eyes blinking twice as she settles in her chair once more.

Technically her shift ended four hours ago, but the Director had asked her to return at seven, it's now close to nine and she'd rather be home sleeping off a twelve-hour shift. She's interrupted just as her fingers touch the top of her keyboard, by the door opening to reveal Director D'Angelo himself.

Delta flips over onto her belly at the new presence with her ears perked, Ellie blinks again before lifting a hand in a half-hearted wave. "Come along, Hale. We need to talk." His tone is even and calm, his expression blank in a way that has a shiver racing along Ellie's spine. She stands slowly and moves around her desk, stomach fluttering as D'Angelo moves away from the door and to let them pass. His usual smile and teasing is gone, he's serious in a way he only gets when something large in happening in a case, or something went wrong and they'd lost a member during a case or investigation.

Delta follows beside her as they walk down the hall, her office closing with a click as the automatic lock settles into place. D'Angelo leads them with long strides, broad back covered in a beige suit that's a few shades darker then his blonde hair. The main area of their headquarters is filled with cubicles and long glass tables used for debriefing any large-scale cases, passing them all without pause Ellie can't help but feel appreciation pool in her stomach. She's rarely called out to deal with very important cases on her own, usually she's sent out with an older agent who can help curb her tendency to obsess over a case until she's able to solve it.

D'Angelo's office is grey with brown furniture and black carpet, the opposite of her own. He gestured to a cushioned chair and she settles in it quietly, brows furrowed even as Delta sits on her feet with a sigh. "Sir?" She asks with cautious politeness, fingers burying themselves in soft, warm fur.

"I need your help with a case, Hale. You're going to have to go undercover, and plant a device so that we can get some much needed information. " A pale hands holds out a crimson folder, taking it she opens it up to see what's inside.

The picture pinned at the top is followed by printed information, her head tilts as she reads what's before her, silently wishing that she'd had coffee before sitting down to finish her own half-finished case reports. The establishment in question is a beautiful hotel with what looks like five floors, a place the screams it's usual clientele are those with money. "You've been asking for a real case for awhile. This shouldn't be too hard." His tone lifts and when she glances up he's grinning at her, nose wrinkling at him as it settles in that this isn't as big of a case as she'd thought she can't help but shake her head at him.

"Now, what's this about a Gala?" She asks with a finger pointing down at the sheet before her, the only response she gets is D'Angelo's laughter filling the air.
Hidden 18 days ago Post by LetsFly
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Arriving at a ritzy, glamorous hotel in his sleek town car, Cal couldn't help but feel a swell of pride as he gazed up at the towering edifice before him. It was his. Though he hadn't constructed it himself, of course, he had molded it into the epitome of elegance and luxury it had become. An old chateau, reborn under his meticulous guidance, it stood as a testament to his vision and ambition.

Stepping out of the car with the grace of a man accustomed to luxury, Cal beamed at the building, acknowledging the doormen and valets with charm-dripped greetings. They knew him by name, of course, and their deferential smiles only served to bolster his ego. As he made his way through the opulent lobby, he greeted bellhops and receptionists with practiced ease, his charisma radiating from every word and gesture. A flirtatious wink here, a playful quip there -- Cal Crawford effortlessly commanded the attention of all who crossed his path.

Stopping to exchange pleasantries with a cocktail waitress, Cal's smile widened as he basked in the adoration of those around him. His effortless charm was a weapon in his arsenal, honed to perfection through years of practice and refinement. But beneath the facade of affability lay a mind as sharp as a dagger, always calculating, always plotting his next move.

Arriving at his private suite, Cal wasted no time in shedding his day-clothes, exchanging them for the elegant lines of a tailored tuxedo. The gala would be starting soon, and he needed to be ready to greet his guests with the grace and poise befitting a man of his stature. As he dressed, his thoughts drifted to the event at hand -- a fundraiser hosted by his company, Circus Corporation, in support of some charitable cause or another. The specifics eluded him for the moment, but Marcus would fill him in later. For now, his focus was on ensuring that everything went off without a hitch.

Pulling out his phone, Cal found a text from Marcus, confirming that John had been disposed of without a trace. A pang of regret tugged at his chest, but he quickly pushed it aside. John had made this choice, not him, and Cal had no room for sentimentality. One misstep could unravel everything he had built, and he was not about to let that happen.

With a final glance in the mirror, Cal straightened his bow-tie and adjusted his cufflinks, his reflection a portrait of confidence and refinement. Below the ballroom, his best tech specialists were hard at work, laying the groundwork for their next move. Tonight's guest of honor, a billionaire -- and arms dealer, though only Cal knew -- with a dubious moral compass, was about the become the unwitting pawn in Cal's game of deception. Cal had gathered that this man -- Charles Vanderbuilt, that was his name -- would be participating in a transaction tomorrow, in which he would be handing off hundreds of illicit firearms to a rather feisty terrorist organization in Saudi Arabia. He'd already been paid. If all went according to plan tonight, Charles's phone would be pilfered and promptly brought to Cal's tech people, where they would use it to redirect the funds to the charity of the evening, in Charles's name of course. By the time Charles ever realized what had happened, it would be too late. He would demand to see the funds from the terrorists tomorrow, and they would not take too kindly to his insolence. Cal's carefully orchestrated plan would ensure that the consequences would be swift, and severe.

Satisfied that everything was proceeding according to plan, Cal made his way to the ballroom, ready to play the role of the gracious host. As the guests began to arrive, he would be waiting with a smile and a handshake, and no-one would be any wiser of what went on below their feet.
Hidden 18 days ago 18 days ago Post by Arista
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Arista Le Insomniac

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Ellie took the hand offered to her with a smile, letting her chauffeur who was actually another undercover officer help her out of the limo they'd arrived in. She wore a long strapless golden dress with matching heels, her hair had been styled and tied up high in a hairstyle she couldn't pronounce. D'Angelo had explained what she would be doing exactly, from start to finish with clear instructions on what she needed to accomplish.

Looking up at the near gleaming hotel as other guests moved towards the front doors, she couldn't help but wish she hadn't pestered her boss into letting her out into the field. This hadn't been at all on her mind, but here she was and though not a high-ranking case she had no intention of failing.

Turning to collect her small purse which held a decoy phone and the device she needed to strategically place, she let her other hand move through Delta's fur once before moving away. Exhaling through her nose she ascended the stairs that led to the doors, head high and expression calm despite her stomach being twisted in knots.

She tried to keep her eyes from widening as she was let inside, pace only stuttering for a fraction of a second at the sheer beauty of the entrance. Willing her heart to settle as she walked forward to where a line had formed, Ellie let her eyes close for a second to center herself.

She was the daughter of a foreign businessman who wanted to see if Mr. Crawford and his company would be a great aid in helping expand his own business would be a good venture. Her eyes caught on the man everyone was pausing to greet with handshakes and smiles, no doubt this was the man in charge of tonight's event.

Forcing herself to calm and not look like a panic foal caught unawares, Ellie let a practiced smile curl her lips as the line moved forward. Mannerisms drilled into her from a young age by loving parents who held money and a regular presence at social gatherings that demanded respect, she fell easily into them now. She needed to prove that she could do this, that she could curb her own hyperfixation on certain cases by herself without someone tugging her ear to get her attention.
Hidden 18 days ago Post by LetsFly
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Cal effortlessly navigated the sea of guests filtering into the lobby of the opulent hotel. For nearly an hour, he worked the room with practiced ease, greeting each arrival with a winning smile and a firm handshake, kissing cheeks and laughing on cue. Names, faces, and connections flashed through his mind in a whirlwind of social calculus, his network of contacts a vital asset in his line of work.

Yet, beneath the cordiality, Cal felt a simmering resentment bubbling just beneath the surface. These wealthy elites, born into lives of privilege and abundance, could never understand the tribulations he had faced on his journey to the top. While they lounged in luxury from the moment they left their mothers' wombs, he had clawed his way up from nothing, building his empire through sheet determination and grit. And now, surrounded by the trappings of their wealth, he found it increasingly difficult to relate to their shallow conversations and superficial concerns.

As he made small talk, his gaze surreptitiously scanned the room for potential companionship for the evening following the gala's end, his eyes flickering over the array of glamorous women in attendance. Though he had never left an event like this alone, he couldn't shake the feeling of ennui that settled over him. The endless parade of one-night stands had lost its allure, leaving him yearning for something a bit more substantial. He'd grown tired of humoring air-headed conversation, if it could even be called that. Truly, he'd love to pursue a woman romantically -- to proffer his heart and spoil her with everything she could ever dream of. What was life on the top, if it was spent alone?

In his search of a woman of substance, one who could maybe one day appreciate the complexities of his dual existence, his double life, Cal's gaze fell upon a figure who stood out amidst the sea of superficiality. Clad in a golden dress that shimmered like molten sunlight, she seemed out of place amidst the vapid glamour of the event. Fair skin, piercing blue eyes, nearly elven features.

Just as Cal had set out to approach her, Marcus's voice broke through his reverie, tapping him on the shoulder. "Vanderbuilt's phone is secured downstairs, operation is underway." With a nod of acknowledgement, Cal thanked his friend and excused himself from the line of guests, his mind shifting gears. As Marcus ushered the guests into the banquet hall, Cal cast one last glance at the woman in the golden dress, a flicker of intrigue igniting within him. He would find her later, he promised himself. For now, duty called. With purposeful strides, he made his way from the lobby to the banquet hall, ready to get on with the next phase of the night.
Hidden 18 days ago Post by Arista
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Arista Le Insomniac

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"Alright, Ms. Hale. Can you hear me?" The voice in her ear wasn't unexpected exactly, she'd been warned that she wouldn't be alone once she was inside. Judging by the tone and the title, whoever had spoken must be someone young. Shifting her gaze around the room, Ellie shifted her body to begin walking.

So far she'd avoided really talking to anyone, except for an older woman who had greeted her with a smile that seemed genuine, her small talk hadn't been neither too direct or aloof. Her training had taught her how to read someone's body language until it was like second nature, and the woman had been as genuine as one could be. No manipulation in her words, or sly glances or grins that would have immediately set off her inner alarms. "Yes." She replies lowly as she moves towards one of the tables holding food, pausing to wave over a waiter to accept a glass from the tray he held.

"Good, my name is Ashton and I'll be guiding you to where you need to be." His tone wavers slightly in what might be nerves, she can hear fingers flying across a computers keyboard. Pretending to sip at her drink, she moves forward and does a circle around the guests gathered. "Alright Ms-"

"Call me Ellie, Ashton. We're working together and helping one another." She says it gently with a little laugh hidden under the words, a way to help him relax if only the slightest bit. He's not in any real risk during this situation, she'd feel more at ease if he calmed.

"O-of course Ms-" He clears his throat just as Ellie had opened her mouth, eyes still scanning the room despite the way she's moving around people. "Sorry, Ellie. Alright, now if you go to your right you'll be heading towards a side hallway that leads to a stairwell..." His tone has settled and it has a small smile curling her lips, body moving to do as he instructs with as much grace as one can.

She's not sure if she imagined it, but she'd felt eyes on her. A gaze that had felt piercing and yet curious if that were possible.
Hidden 18 days ago 18 days ago Post by LetsFly
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As the lights dimmed and the chatter in the ballroom subsided, Cal made his way behind the stage that had been set up in the back of the ballroom. His heart pounded a bit, with a mixture of nerves and anticipation. With a quick glance at his phone, he checked for any updates on the Vanderbuilt operation, his impatience growing with each passing moment. The success of tonight's endeavor hinged on the swift and seamless execution of their plan, and Cal could feel the weight of responsibility pressing down upon him. By the time Charles Vanderbuilt got his food and sat down, he would surely search for his phone and notice it was gone.

Just as his anxiety threatened to overwhelm him, Marcus appeared through the back door. Their eyes met across the room, and with a simple nod, Marcus made his way toward Vanderbuilt's seat, slipping the phone discreetly to the table, where Charles was sure to believe he had left it all along. Cal breathed a sigh of relief, a small smile playing on the corners of his lips. The worst was over -- now all that remained was to re-wire the transaction, and ensure their tracks were covered.

Stepping up to the podium, Cal cleared his throat and addressed the assembled guests, his voice ringing out with practiced gravitas. "Ladies and gentleman, thank you for joining us this evening," he began, his eyes scanning the room, "I am honored to welcome you to our annual fundraiser in support of..." he paused, checking his notes to ensure he had the details correct, before continuing, "The Los Angeles Humane Society. The work that the Humane Society does is truly commendable, and it is a cause that is near and dear to my heart. Every contribution you make tonight will go toward providing shelter, care, and love to animals in need." He added a note that each of their tables were adorned with a gallery of adoptable animals, as well as adoption forms.

As he spoke, Cal couldn't help but feel a twinge of cynicism at the sight of the wealthy patrons before him. Not a single one of these purebred assholes would be seen dead with a mixed-breed dog or some orange cat that had been found in a dumpster. But he pushed aside his reservations, focusing instead on the task at hand -- extracting as much money from their deep pockets as possible.

Finishing his speech, Cal stepped down from the podium, allowing the next speaker to take over. As the auction of art pieces from his personal collection began -- all of the proceeds would be donated -- he discreetly made his way through the crowd, politely waving when he was addressed, his thoughts consumed by the woman he'd seen earlier. He hadn't seen her amidst the crowd, but with the lights low, it was difficult to make out faces. Despite his usual collected confidence, he was feeling a bit overwhelmed. It had only been an hour, and yet he had exhausted himself with all of the pleasantries and fake niceties that these people seemed to require. He needed some air, and was excusing himself out of a side door, turning to make his way up the stairs to the roof, when he suddenly collided with someone. A handbag dropped between them He was already apologizing. "I'm terribly sorry," he started, turning toward whomever he'd assaulted.

The woman in the gold dress.

A surge of excitement welled in his chest, and he stooped to pick up the bag. "Can't have you bending over in a dress like that," he purred, "Wouldn't want to rip anything." He tightened his grip on the bag a bit as he handed it to her, ensuring she felt the split second of resistance before he released it. "I don't believe we've met before," he said coolly, his eyes lingering on her. "I'm Calvin." He extended a hand, just as his phone erupted a shrill ring from his pocket. He grimaced, holding a finger up apologetically, and pulled it out quickly to see his tech team downstairs was calling him. Damn it. "I'm so sorry to be rude, but I have to run off," he said, quickly pulling a business card from his jacket pocket and scribbling something on the back of it, handing it to her. "I'd love it if we could run into each other again, later. Meet me for a drink?"

On the card was, simply, "6th floor". According to any building plans for this hotel, no such thing existed -- it was a 5 floor hotel, not including the basement. There was no button for it on the elevator. But Cal figured that if this girl were worth the time and effort he so desperately wanted to put into her, among other things, she would figure it out. He brought her hand, the one he'd passed the card into, to his lips briefly, before striding off in the direction of the stairs. "I will see you again," he promised, looking back briefly, a bit of pain welling in his chest. God, he hoped he would.
Hidden 18 days ago Post by Arista
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Arista Le Insomniac

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With Ashton's help she managed to find the room she was meant to leave the bug, with careful steps and an added set of eyes on a screen from an untraceable computer. Now his voice was silent in her ear, no doubt breathing a sigh of relief that she'd accomplished it or telling Director D'Angelo himself. The respite from the Gala had helped her composure settle into her usual calm self, this was in essence her first time at a proper social event since her cousins wedding two years ago.

The stairs she took would lead her back to the hallway she'd slipped through before, or so Ashton pipped up as she descended them with a light grimace on her face. Her feet were beginning to ache from the heels she had on, no doubt a warm bath was in order after this. Her senses snapped into focus when she was nearly sent falling onto her rear, muscles tensing as her right foot slipped back to instinctively distribute her weight so that she didn't fall. Head snapping up her eyes widen slightly with who she's met with, Ashton's voice filters distantly though her ear.

His words hold a purr to them which has her fighting the urge to wrinkle her nose distastefully at him, hand reaching for her dropped bag. She felt the resistance for only a brief moment before she was pulling it up, expression carefully settled into a small smile despite how his eyes on her felt like he was mentally undressing her where she stood. "My name is Ana." She replies with a Russian accent coloring her tone, lashes fluttering at him in a practiced move she hasn't had to use in awhile. When he holds up a finger after his phone rings, she can feel herself breathe easily for the first time since she ran into Mr. Crawford -Calvin-. Then he's handing her a business card after hastily writing something on it, his words drawing a playful grin from her lips that she doesn't feel at all. She wants to go home and curl up with a blanket and Delta, unwind with trash reality TV. Not this. "I'd be happy to." She answers smoothly, while accepting the card.

She silently accepted the kiss he placed on her hand, all the while mentally cringing and trying not to let her expression shift. His parting words echoed in the air as he strode away, it left a funny taste in her mouth that she wanted to chase away with a shot it vodka. When she was sure that he was far enough away, she discreetly wiped her hand on the side of her dress, fingers curling around the card unconsciously before relaxing. She's not sure what the hell just happened but she's had enough of today. Huffing she moved back to the main lobby, dancing around guests until she was near the front doors. A waiter paused beside her and she pulled out a phony checkbook, quickly filled it out and handed it to her. "Please add this to the donations." She instructed with a slight narrowing of her eyes, before turning and striding out into the night.

She breathed a discrete sigh at relief when she saw the limo pull up immediately. Freedom.
Hidden 18 days ago 18 days ago Post by LetsFly
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Cal navigated the familiar corridors of the basement, his mind still consumed by thoughts of Ana. Her name danced on his lips, tinged with her accent -- had it been Russian? He wasn't sure he'd heard it correctly. Lost in thought, he nearly collided with someone once again, a young man hurrying in the opposite direction, but managed to stop himself just in time.

It was the tech lead. "Danny," Cal addressed him, pulling himself back to the present. "You called me?"

Danny, a nerdy type in his early twenties, nodded eagerly. "Yes sir," he replied, a hint of excitement in his voice. "I just wanted to let you know that the Vanderbuilt operation went off without a hitch. We used advanced encryption techniques to ensure there's no way to trace it back to you or Circus Corp."

A wave of relief washed over Cal at the news, tempered by a twinge of frustration. This was the news that was worth interupting his meeting with Ana? He took a deep breath, keeping his cool. "Thanks, Danny. You've done good work. Make sure you and the crew get some food and enjoy yourselves."

With that, Cal made his way past Danny and into the room where the rest of the tech team were wrapping up their work, packing away computers and modems. He exchanged polite nods with them before heading over to Marcus, who was waiting on the other side of the room with a puzzled expression.

"Hey Boss," Marcus greeted him with a smile, "I gotta say, I'm surprised to see you down here. I thought you'd be out chasing tail by now."

Cal wasn't amused by the assumption. He was about to tell Marcus all about the woman, Ana, but he hesitated. He was used to telling Marcus all about his little games when it came to women, and he wasn't sure why this one would be any different, but something felt wrong about it. Perhaps because he had nothing to brag about yet. Instead, he adopted an air of mystery. "I've got my eye on one," he replied cryptically. "Bringing her to the rooftop. Don't wait up."

With a wink to Marcus, Cal made his exit, ascending the stairs back to the main floor of the hotel. Glancing back into the ballroom, he saw that the auction was in full swing, the guests enjoying themselves, his presence no longer a necessity. Satisfied that his absence would go unnoticed, he hurried to the front desk, leaning in to whisper a request to the concierge. She smiled knowingly, and he slipped her a fifty-dollar bill.

Later, on the rooftop, Cal paced anxiously, his impatience growing with each passing moment. Where was Ana? He had set the scene for a romantic evening, complete with champagne and roses, but she was nowhere to be seen. Maybe she just took a while to find the rooftop access stairway. Finally, the door creaked open behind him, and he turned expectantly, only to be met with disappointment.

It wasn't Ana who stepped out, but another woman -- Claire, as he recalled. A gorgeous blonde, her presence commanding attention as she approached him with a knowing smile.

"I thought I might find you up here," she purred, running a finger up his lapel. "I think it's time we had a little reunion, don't you?"

Cal grimaced. Despite the temptation, he surprised even himself when he declined. "Not tonight, Claire," he replied, his tone firm but polite. He couldn't deny the pull of familiarity, the memories of their previous encounter a few months ago, but tonight was different. Tonight, he longed for something more.

With a sigh, he bid Claire farewell, leaving her to enjoy the cheesecake and champagne as he made his way back inside. Tonight, he would return to his suite alone, his thoughts consumed by the mysterious woman in the gold dress.
Hidden 18 days ago 18 days ago Post by Arista
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The written out words before her eyes had her baffled, each passing streetlight illustrating them until they were imprinted in her brain. She'd even double checked by turning on the little overhead lamp, brows furrowed at what should be simple text and nothing more.

There wasn't a sixth floor to that hotel, Ashton and Director D'Angelo had both assured her after looking at the building schematics that it only went to five before she'd left. A heavy head settled on her croased knees at the next red light, tired eyes blinking twice before slipping the card into her purse. Hand settling into soft, warm black fur Ellie let out a soft sigh.

The remainder of the drive was quiet except for the hum of the engine and the occasional car horn. She awoke when a door closing rocked the car sometime later, eyes squinting at the harsh lights of a parking garage she vaguely remembered they kept their rented cars in. Slipping out with Delta not far behind, she's met with a familiar looking dark-gray SUV with its back door behind held open.

"You've done well, Agent Hale." Came D'Angelo's voice with pride echoing clearly in his tone, he appears around the SUV with a grin on his lips. He's followed by another male with a beanie covering his hair and a laptop case slung over his shoulder, he's dressed in a white button-down shirt and brown pants. "I'm pleased with how both you and Agent Goldstein handled tonight's event, your first time out in the field." The praise settles something in her chest, her lips lift into a small tired smile as the young man beside D'Angelo straightens and lifts a hand to rub along the back of his neck.

"It was all Ellie, sir. I just watched through the cameras." His voice was soft and it clicked together like a missing puzzle piece, she recognized that voice and now she knew the face and person it belonged to.

"I'm glad we worked well together." She replies with a thumb hooked over a shoulder, moving towards the car with her eyes never once leaving Ashton's lanky form. "Thanks again, Ash. Sir, I'll see you in forty-eight hours." She added with a half wave of her hand, slipping into the back seat with a grimace as her feet shifted within her heels.

She heard a squeak before it was drowned out by booming laugher, then it was silence as she pulled the door closed. Her apartment was a welcome sight as the car parked before the main doors, Delta hoping out with a jingle of her tags the second the door was opened. The lobby was quiet as they entered, the ding of the elevator as it arrived nearly deafening. Delta wiggled as they ascended to their floor, no doubt ready for dinner and some down time. A glance at her own phone which had been handed to her the moment she'd stepped into the limo, held notifications she had no energy to even open.

The sound of her front door clicking shut behind her was a blessing, her head thunking agaisnt the wood in relief. Her mind flashed back to Cal for whatever reason, his innuendos not hard to miss despite how focused she'd been on her task at hand. Hanging up the purse she used the door to aid her as she removed the blasted heels, then the dress as she moved towards her room. Maybe she'd run into him again, a carefully crafted story would need to be prepared if that did happen. But in a city as large as LA she highly doubted that would happen, not to mention her work kept her busy enough as it was.

Clad now in soft pajamas with her hair loose and free around her shoulders, she filled Delta's bowl with food, washed her hands and sat on the counter while she reheated some Chinese food her sister had brought her two nights ago. Once they were both full, they settled on her couch with a large blanket spread out, control in hand she let her thumb press down to change the channel. Body all but melting into the cushions, the control slipped from her hand and landed on the floor with a soft sound. Bleary eyes blinked as Chopped stared at her, Delta curled up atop her folded legs. Not a horrible way to end the night, not at all she supposed.
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As Cal's consciousness slowly emerged from the depths of sleep, he found himself grappling with the remnants of a dream -- fleeting images of a beautiful Russian woman in a gold dress. The dress on the floor. Shared laughter, clinking wine glasses. But like sand through his fingers, the details slipped from his grasp, leaving longing in their wake. With a sigh, Cal silenced the blaring alarm, resigning himself to the reality of another day.

It was a Saturday, a day of leisure for most, but for Cal, it was just another day of work. He pushed himself away from the bed of his suite, rubbing tiredness from his eyes and tugging at his beard as if trying to shake off the remnants of sleep. Quickly donning fitness attire, he stuck a toothbrush in his mouth and swiped through his text messages, ignoring most of them as he grabbed his gym bag and headed to the hotel's fitness room.

Along the way, he exchanged pleasantries with the hotel staff and any guests who recognized him, his charismatic charm never faltering even in the early hours of the morning. In the fitness room, he threw himself into a vigorous run on the treadmill, the rhythmic pounding of his feet serving as a counterpoint to the whirlwind of thoughts swirling in his mind.

During a break between sprints, he glanced up at the TV mounted on the wall, and saw a headline flashing in bold red letters: "Billionaire Dead in Arms-Deal Gone Wrong." A sense of satisfaction washed over him as he realized that everything had unfolded exactly as planned. Charles Vanderbuilt was no more, and Cal's carefully orchestrated plan had come to fruition.

After showering and grabbing a quick breakfast, Cal dressed in more casual attire -- a fitted t-shirt and dark jeans -- before he would make his way into the city. At the front desk, he gathered the collections from the charity gala the night before, intent on personally delivering the proceeds to the Los Angeles Humane Society.

Normally, such tasks would be delegated to an assistant, but this year's record contributions warranted Cal's personal touch. He anticipated the presence of the press at the humane society, eager to spin a humanitarian angle on the story, and he intended to be front and center in the resulting coverage.

Slipping into his sleek BMW i8, Cal let the GPS guide him to his destination. As he pulled up outside the humane society building, his assumption was confirmed -- several news vans were parked outside, their satellite dishes pointed skyward in anticipation of the day's events. With a sense of satisfaction, Cal stepped out of the car, ready to bask in the spotlight once more.
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She awoke to bright light and a heavy weight on her chest, remnants of a dream or her childhood home fading before her eyes. Delta is sprawled across her chest in a way that she hasn't done for awhile, flanks rising and falling slowly with even breathes. Inhaling as best as she can, she stretches slowly until her spine pops satisfyingly.

"You, Missy need a groom. Look at all this fur." She mutters with a shake of her head, spotting the black-brown fur decorating her blanket. Regular grooming sessions keep her apartment clean and her colleges from complaining, but they also mean visits to the human society that had visited them with a box of six puppies barely a week old.

Brown eyes blink at her slowly, before a tongue lulls out and licks along her nose. Snorting softly Ellie shifts and Delta jumps off, stretching before shaking herself once. "Let me schedule with Julie and then I'm going to clean everything until it all sparkles." She mutters as she sits up, a hand running through her hair. Then she's up and moving towards her bathroom, Delta following behind with a toy in her mouth.

The director of the humane society had pled with them that the pups needed a place or they'd be put down, which is how she'd ended up with her furchild three years into her career. Her siblings were trained like Delta had been, and placed within jobs not only in the FBI but LAPD as well so they had playmates often. Now as she brushes her teeth and wills sleep to fade, she mentally reminds herself to do just that.

Julie's text is a flood of emojis and a time when to drop by, which motivates her to begin deep-cleaning her entire apartment. Sure she could hire someone to do it, but she found it only soothing to work within her own space and know it was her own hands that had left it clean.

When her alarm blares just as she finishes wiping down her stove, Ellie exhales a pleased huff as she scans her gleaming kitchen. Showering quickly and changing into black jeans and a white sleeveless shirt, she braids her hair before moving towards the door. White tennis shoes complete her look, a white backpack holds her wallet, phone and a few necessities for walks. Grabbing Delta's leash but not putting it on, she opens the door and locks it behind her, then she heads down the hall with a wiggling pup not far behind.
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Cal stepped out of the i8, the sun glinting off his impeccably polished oxfords. Today, he was the picture of philanthropy, his casual every-guy clothing hugging his strong physique just right, and he knew just how to make his entrance at the humane society an event in and of itself. The crowd of news vans and cameras turned their lenses toward him, eager to capture the moment. He flashed them his most charming smile, the picture of ease and confidence.

"Mr. Crawford! Can you tell us about the gala last night?" a reporter called out, microphone extended.

Cal turned toward the voice, his demeanor calm and collected. "Last night was a phenomenal success. We've managed to gather record contributions, all for a cause close to my heart." He brought a hand to his heart for effect, his voice smooth and assured. "It's not just about the money; it's about making a tangible difference. These donations will go a long way in supporting the incredible work done here."

Another journalist pushed through the throng, eager to get her question in. "What inspires you to support animal welfare, specifically? Do you have a rescue dog at home?"

That, he didn't. Though the idea wasn't terrible. "There's something undeniably pure about helping those who can't ask for it themselves," Cal responded, his gaze sweeping over the assembled press. "Animals give us unconditional love and companionship. It's our responsibility to return that favor, isn't it?"

As the interview wrapped up, Cal made his way inside the building, the clamor or reporters fading behind him. The interior was quiet compared to the spectacle outside, with posters of adoptable animals adorning the walls and young volunteers moving through the space with a sense of purpose. He could sense their exhaustion, yet admired their dedication.

Approaching the front desk, he met the manager, a woman in her 50s with a weary smile. As he handed over the donations, his charm surfaced effortlessly. "Your dedication is what makes all of this possible," he said, his voice warm, "Without people like you, where would these animals be?"

The manager blushed at the flattery, clearly taken aback by the attention. "Thank you, Mr. Crawford. It's not often we get support of this magnitude."

As they spoke, Cal's thoughts drifted, once more, to Ana. The memory of her smile seemed to haunt him in a way nothing else could -- not all of the great and terrible things he'd seen in his short life. But he was unlikely to be seeing her again any time soon, and the thought of long-term companionship had given way to a new idea. "Could I take a moment to see the dogs? All this has made me consider adding to my family."

Delighted, the manager led him through the facility, past a deserted grooming area and into the heart of the kennels. The sight of the creatures, each with their own story of abandonment and loss, tugged at Cal's heartstrings. He had always loved animals, he'd simply never had time for them in his busy life. But nowadays, his role at work -- in both of his major endeavors -- was a bit more hands-off, with tasks delegated and everything working like a well-oiled machine. Perhaps he didn't have to spend his bachelor days alone after all.

He made his way through the line slowly, pausing at one kennel when he saw her -- a blue-grey pitbull, with wide-set eyes that resembled a small hippo. She wasn't as despondent as the others; their was a playful tilt to her head, and she wagged her tail happily when she saw him. Cal knew in that instant that she was the one.

A bell chimed, signaling a new arrival at the front door, and the manager excused herself after letting Cal into the kennel with the dog. Cal stepped in, kneeling beside her and allowing her to sniff his hand before she rubbed against it while he scratched behind her ears. "What do you say, old girl? Want to come home with me?" he asked softly, his voice a gentle rumble.

The dog nuzzled his hand, her tail wagging in a display of affection. A name pricked at the corner of his mind instantaneously, and he said it aloud to see how it felt. "Pearl," he said, and the dog tilted its head with a curious expression. "Luna?" he asked, and the dog didn't respond, remaining indifferent before him. "Maggie. Bella. Lola." Still nothing. Hmm, she was a tough one. "Stella?" At that, the pitbull let out a playful bark, raising to her feet expectantly. Cal laughed. "Alright. Stella it is."
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The moment they stepped through the door, Ellie felt her shoulders relax. She hadn't expected camera crews to be crowding the front, Delta hadn't been too pleased either but had kept quiet. Now her tail was wagging with so much force it made a breeze, lips pulling up into a smile at the sight.

"Well! Aren't you two a sight for sore eyes!" A voice chirped seconds before she was tackled into a hug, a grunt leaving her at the added weight. Her nose was filled with floral perfume before she was let go, and Delta became the subject of her attention. Julie's hair was violet and tied high in a bun, last time it had been pink if she remembered correctly.

"I wasn't expecting the cameras." Ellie muttered dryly, Russian accent peeking through and coloring her words a bit more weary. Julie waved a hand while her free hand pet through Delta's thick coat, loose hair lifting into the air.

"Some big shot businessman came by to drop off a donation or something. Right, Mrs. Roberson?" The name had Ellie glancing up to meet the managers gaze, Delta wiggled happily on the floor with her paws batting at the air. Offering her a wave a grin, she was offered a smile in return and a nod.

"Hmmm, interesting." Ellie replied disinterestedly, not one to really mingle with those if money unless it was family or close friends. Julie jumped up and led them down the hall and to the empty grooming room, chattering happily as she gathered what she'd need. "I forgot to ask, have you seen any of Delta's siblings?" She's seated on a couch Julie has set up so new adopters can watch how to properly groom their pet, a throw pillow held in her lap. Though they have bi-weekly playmates when their schedules line up, she doesn't keep track of the others with how busy she is.

"I have! The other day Magness stopped by and my goodness has he grown! And then I saw Jax and Iris at once and they were so big they nearly drowned me with affection. Now here comes Delta while Alphonse and Luca are scheduled in the next two days." A tab of her fingers agaisnt the metallic tub has Delta obediently jumping in, Julie pets her head before sliding the door closed.

"We'll be meeting them all next week, let them all tire each other out." Her accent curls around the words, a habit she's never been able to break when she's with people she knows. She's trained herself out of her accent not because she hates it, but it pops up easily when she's in a familiar atmosphere.
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Cal was seated on the concrete floor of the kennel, Stella's head resting comfortably in his lap. He stroked her velvety ears, admiring the sheen of her coarse silver fur. It was clear what needed to be done. Pulling out his phone, he dispatched a quick message to Marcus, instructing him to clear his schedule for the day. Work could wait; there were essentials to be bought: dog food, toys, a water dispenser, treats, and everything else Stella could possibly want or need. He was putty in her paws.

The manager's return broke their quiet communion. "Well, that didn't take long!" she observed with a fond smile, "Should I draw up the adoption papers?"

Standing, Cal's response was immediate. "Absolutely. I'm not leaving until I can take her with me." The manager's smile broadened, pleased by the swift decision. She motioned for him to follow her to the front for the necessary paperwork, and to provide a leash for Stella.

As he turned to leave, a soft whine echoed in the kennel. Cal paused, turning back to offer one more reassuring scratch under Stella's chin. "I'm sorry, old girl," he said warmly, "I'll be right back. And then no one will be walking out on you, ever again."

With that, he made his way with the manager back through the kennels. "We have a customer in the grooming station," she warned him, "So you may end up getting sprayed with some water, watch out." Cal didn't mind at all. Pristine as his attire may appear, he'd never been opposed to getting his hands dirty. There were far worse things than a bit of water. How many bloodstains had he scrubbed from white dress-shirts over the years?

Passing through the grooming station, his attention was captured by a soap-covered, sable-coated German shepherd, receiving a thorough grooming. "Well, hello," he gushed, momentarily distracted by the beauty of the animal. Perhaps he'd already found a friend for Stella. He turned toward the nearby couch, where the owner sat. It was a young woman, with light hair and--

Oh, my God.

"Ana," he blurted, the name falling from his lips before he could catch it. The groomer made a confused face. The room was still with awkward tension. He cleared his throat, regaining his composure with a soft chuckle, his eyes moving between the dog and the woman. "German shepherd, Russian woman. Let me guess, you drive an Italian car?" He grinned at his own joke, his usual charisma restored. "How about a French lunch? There's a lovely little bistro nearby that's dog-friendly. We could make a playdate of it." He restrained the urge to allow his gaze to rake over Ana, who was somehow even more gorgeous in casual attire. His eyes held her gaze firmly, his expression earnest -- if not a bit pleading. This may be his only chance. Two chance encounters in a row, there wasn't a way in hell he could count on a third. "My treat, of course," he added, not trying to hide the tinge of desperation in his voice.

The manager, momentarily forgotten, watched the exchange with a mix of curiosity and confusion, a silent observer.

Cal's thoughts drifted to Stella, waiting for him, but this small detour was worth the delay. Juggling the attention between two pretty girls was nothing new to him, despite how urgently he wanted to get Stella out of this place.

Cal Crawford was not a man to let an opportunity pass him by.
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Julie had asked for a story, while her hands worked through Delta's fur until she was completely coveted in suds. So Ellie settled in to tell her about the time she and her siblings decided they wanted to skate on a frozen pond not too far from hone. And how they'd left the house without a word, wore non-appropriate clothes for an outing in Russia and made the trek down a rather large hill.

To say they'd all gotten terribly sick despite having grown up in Russian before moving to LA, was an understatement. The lecture they'd received by both their parents had been overshadowed by the one their grandparents had given them once they'd recovered.

Julie was doubled over in laughter, hands and face covered in suds until it had Ellie's lips lifting into a smile. Discreetly taking a picture and then another of Delta who looked unimpressed, she was just debating on if she should post them on her Instagram or to the group chat she shared with Delta's siblings owners when a new face appeared.

A voice almost cooed at Delta, her ears dropping and face the epitone of a dog not at all enjoying the groomer. Half-focused on her phone she didn't pay much attention, legs stretched out before her as she waited for Julie to finish.

The name being blurted out into the air had her head snapping up, muscles coiling tight as she came face to face with someone who she never thought she'd see again. Before she could think of a reply, not that she was sure what exactly that would be Calvin Crawford was speaking once more. "Italian? Not on your life." She replied with a twist of her mouth, hand discreetly slipping her phone between her thighs to keep it hidden. His next words mentioned lunch and it being dog-friendly which had Delta barking in agreement.

"You had me at bistro and dog." She replied with a smile lifting her lips that felt half strained, a hand lifting to point at the overhead clock just above the bathing station. "Julie will be in done in about...twenty minutes? If you'd like to go ahead I can meet you there when she's finished." Julie was giving her a very confused look, Delta remained quiet but her ears were pricked in attention.

She needed time to collect herself, to get her bearings and tell these two as much as she could without spilling it all so that Director D'Angelo didn't rip her a new one. She had to tred carefully, act just right until this encounter was over.

God she needed a drink.

"I-I know the place you're talking about! You also just adopted a dog, right? Let me get this beauty finished and then your new friend and then you can get some delicious food." Julie was wide-eyed as she spoke, emotions so clearly written across her face it was almost painful to see.
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Ana's suggestion that she would meet him at the bistro set a flutter in Cal's chest that he hadn't felt in a long time. He felt like a schoolboy with a crush, painfully vulnerable, filled with anticipation and nerves, yet the stakes felt even higher. His usual smooth demeanor faltered a bit as he struggled to maintain his composure. "Sure," he managed to reply, his voice a mask of cool detachment, "I've got some paperwork to fill out. I'll be seeing you very soon." He chided himself internally for how anxious he felt, a sensation both alien and slightly vexing given his track record with women.

With a final glance cast to Ana, as if cementing her image in his mind for the final time before she vanished into thin air, he finally followed the manager to a table near the front desk, watching her disappear briefly into an office before emerging with the necessary paperwork. Cal filled out the forms with a haste that betrayed his eagerness, his normally neat penmanship turning sloppy. When prompted for his address, he hesitated. His life, divided among various locales, hardly lent itself to the simplicity of a primary residence -- his time was divided between his private hotel suite, an apartment uptown, a cabin in the mountains, and a house outside the city, in Orange County. Ultimately, he opted for the apartment, scribbling it down along with the rest of his information.

Handing the completed forms back to the manager, she beamed. "Just another moment and I'll go retrieve your new family member. Congratulations, Mr. Crawford!"

When Stella was brought to him, newly adorned with a little bow that was both adorable and slightly impractical, Cal's heart swelled. He made a mental note to remove the bow later when they were out of sight, to spare Stella any discomfort. She made a beeline for him, greeting him with enthusiastic licks to the face, her whole body wiggling with each wag of her tail. He paid the adoption fee and stepped outside with his new companion.

"We've got quite the day ahead of us, Stella," he spoke to her, smiling as he watched her sniff around a patch of grass in search of a suitable place to go to the bathroom. "You're my good luck charm; you led me right back to Ana. You're already making my life better, and I haven't even gotten you home yet." Stella's happy grunting noises in response lifted Cal's spirits further.

As they walked the block so she could stretch her legs, Cal kept an eye on the humane society's entrance, determined not to miss Ana's departure. The French bistro he had mentioned was just around the corner and he was adamant that he wouldn't be stood up this time. Today felt like a turning point, with everything aligning in ways he couldn't have anticipated when he'd woken up this morning. With Stella by his side and the possibility of getting to speak more than three words to Ana, Cal couldn't help but feel like perhaps his chaotic life was taking a turn for the better.
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A frustrated groan left her lips as soon as Calvin was out of the room, hands reaching up to press into her cheeks. Mentally berating herself for agreeing to even meet the man for lunch of all things, she exhales a huff of breath and glances up. Julie is working on Delta again but this time to wash away the soap, no doubt ready to move on to the next task at hand. "All I can say isn, work." She says with a wrinkle of her nose, tone irritated and brows furrowing, lifting her phone into her hands she unlocks the screen with a tap.

"I'll let the Manager know. Some warning would've been nice though." Julie adds with a huff, glancing up Ellie witnesses the girls hips wiggle as she stores the hose attachment away. Clicking her tongue once she stands and moves towards the window that overlooks a little garden, leaning against the wall with her ankles crossed. Sending bother photos to the group chat labeled K-9Fam, she locks the screen and returns to collect her bag.

"I'll be out front." Ellie murmurs with a grimace on her face, Julie snorts at her before waving her away. Delta comes running ten minutes later with her tongue hanging out the side of her mouth, fur shiny and smelling of kiwi. Opening the bag she pulls out a collar that her brother, Dimitri had brought a week ago from a trip overseas. Dark green with gold on the inside, it was decorated with flowers that she didn't know the name of. Slipping it on now with Delta waiting patiently, Ellie released another exhale through her lips in the silence of the room.

Rising to her feet she pats the knees of her pants twice, then shakes her head and turns to the front door. She'd be taken by surprise by his sudden appearance, but now she'd had time to collect herself and with it came her usual calm demeanor.

Peeking outside to make sure the vans had gone, she stepped out into the sunlight with a wave towards the Manager. She needed to act perfectly, to see if she could get any information from Calvin that could help the case move forward despite her accomplishment from last night.

Spotting a figure not too far ahead, she lifted a hand and let a practiced grin lift her lips up. "And who's this gorgeous one?" She asks as they draw closer, Delta's tail thumping against her leg at the sight of the other dog.
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As Cal walked Stella, the sudden buzz of his phone against his thigh was an unwelcome distraction. With a grimace, he pulled it out, noting that it was coming from an unknown number. He considered ignoring it, his thumb hesitating over the "answer" button. Work, whether legitimate or not, was supposed to be off the table for the day. Yet, as he was about to answer, movement caught his eye, and he looked up to see Ana approaching, her hand raised in greeting, with a grin on her face.

The sight of her, walking towards him instead of disappearing through a back exit, was met with a mix of surprise and relief.

"And who's this gorgeous one?" Ana asked, addressing Stella.

"This," Cal replied, "is the lovely Stella." He crouched beside the dog, scratching her chest affectionately. "We just met today, but I knew I couldn't leave without her." His heart skipped as he drew a parallel between his immediate connection with Stella, and the magnetic pull he'd felt to Ana the night before.

Turning his attention to Ana's dog, Cal extended a palm gently, allowing the German shepherd to get acquainted with his scent. "And what's this gorgeous girl's name?" he inquired, his gaze lifting to meet Ana's, a flicker of disbelief in his eyes at their serendipitous meeting.

As the moment hung between them, Cal's natural charm found its footing once again. "This must be my lucky day," he crooned, "Stumbling upon two beautiful girls in the same hour. What are the chances?"

Stella was approaching the shepherd with curiosity, going nose-to-nose with the new potential friend, her tail wagging tentatively as they had their own silent conversation.
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Stella looked a bit older then Delta, though no white fur decorated shining silver yet. His words had her crouching down to be eye level, hand offered but not immediately reaching for her. Calvin's words echoed in her ears and she couldn't help but agree with them, even now three years later Delta was her world still.

The hand being offered to Delta had Ellie internally grimacing, though she trusted her partner wouldn't lash out unnecessarily. Instead Ellie had to bite back a laugh when Delta turned her head away, nose held high in a way Ellie had rarely seen before. "Her name is Mishka." Ellie replied with a small pet to Stella's head when she pressed into her hand, a smile on her lips.

The comment had her shaking her head, a finger lifting and wagging in a reproachful manner. "You mean three." She chided before standing, Delta moving forward as Stella mirrored her until they were nose to nose.

She could admit he was gorgeous, if a little forward and too flirtatious for her liking. Hands curling together behind her back, she glanced up at the sky only to blink in confusion at the looming dark clouds above.

"I was promised food." Ellie chirped out with a practiced grin on her lips, facial muscles beginning to strain at the edges. The dog's were circling each other with their ears perked and tails wagging, friends already in such a short time.

Delta barked once and spun in a circle, gently nudging Stella's muzzle before she was focused on them again.
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