Chapter One:


"So, you're here to do odd jobs as well as assist Mrs. Giddion?" Fossil said as the new help sat across the desk from him. The young woman nodded as she watched his eyes trace out her form. A shiver crept up her spine in disgust as she politely smiled back at him.

His eyes traveled around her petite frame taking mental notes about the woman sitting before him. She was wearing dark washed skinny jeans, with a vertically striped halter top of neon green and black. The top showing the silken ivory skin of the valley of her well endowed breasts.

His eyes traveled up a bit more to notice her swan like neck and smooth sholders. Then her face, a rounded shape, button nose, full bow shaped lips and high cheek bones. A dark spot under her left eye drew his attention closer to her almond shaped eyes. Her eyes were a light jade green color with swirls of white, and two rings around her pupils one being a light brown, the other being yellow, which all faded out into a darkened blue rim near the whites of her eyes, lined with black, thick lashes with very little make up on.

He had to say that she was quite easy on the eyes, her form wasn't twig thin nor was it too chubby, she was right in the middle. Her hair was parted on the right, creating a fringe that caressed her face just above her eye brows, a longer piece of hair hung in front of her double pierced ears on both sides of her face, framing it like fine art. The rest of her hair was pulled back into a bun at the back of her head with the ends sticking out in a spiked halo. It looked like soft red satin, he had wanted to touch it, but restrained himself.

" I think you will be a great asset to the zoo, you start today, Ms. Sterling." He said smiling at her. She smiled showing her straight white teeth.

"Thank you Mr. Fossil, I promise you won't regret it." She said happily. She stood up and turned to leave.

"Please, call me Bob." He said as he watched her heart shaped bottom as she walked towards the door in her neon green ballet flats. She turned the knob and left the office.

She walked out onto the paved path and started her way to the reptile house where her new co-worker awaited her.

"Mrs. Giddion?" She said softly, trying to locate the other woman.

"Over here." Mrs. Giddion called to her from her right. The younger woman turned and greeted her with a soft smile.

"You must be Ms. Sterling. I've heard you're quite the animal expert." Mrs. Giddion said smiling back at her.

"Well, I wouldn't say expert, and please call me Salem." She said with a smile, extending her hand in greeting. Mrs. Giddion shook her hand and smiled as the younger womans attention turned to one of the pythons in its habbitat.

"She's beautiful." Salem said, examining the large snake through the glass.

"That she is." Mrs. Giddion said smiling at the girls enthusiasm.

" But we can't doddle right now. First you need a tour of the zoo." Mrs. Giddion said. They began the tour of the zoo and what jobs would need to be done as well as doing a few things that needed immidiate attention.

"That should cover your job here, Salem." Mrs. Giddion said, concluding the tour and run down of the job. Salem smiled and looked around at all the animals around her and walked with Mrs. Giddion back into the reptile house.

Howard watched as Mrs. Giddion walked about the zoo with what appeared to be a new employee. Although he was helplessly in love with Mrs. Giddion, he couldn't help himself but to let his eyes wonder over the new employee's figure. At that moment, Vince just happened to walk up to him and saw him checking out the younger woman.

"So, spying on Giddion again or have you already fallen for the new girl?" Vince teased, startling Howard out of his wondering eyed stupor. Shaking his head, Howard turned to Vince.

"I'm not falling for the new girl, I've told you I love Mrs. Giddion, I want an equal intellectual woman. Some one who can stimulate my mind. Some one ..." Howard began rambling, while Vince began to check out the new girl.

His heart started thumping harder than ususal as she turned to one of the small monkeys in an exhibit and began having a conversation with it. A soft smile crossed her face as the monkey said something he couldn't catch from the distance he was standing. Mrs. Giddion smiled at him and nodded as the younger girls conversation ended and they continued on the rest of the tour.

"Are you even listening anymore?" Howards voice broke through the trance he was in. Vince shook his head.

"Not one bit." He said chuckling slightly and walked away, leaving Howard to stare after him.

Salem was talking to the snakes when Howard approached Mrs. Giddion. She tried to mind her own business when something about a Killeroo was brought up. Mrs. Giddion had been very strong on where she stood on the animal fighting that happened in the underground. Salem didn't like the idea of animals fighting for humam pleasure and gain either. She thought it was barbaric.

Salem was looking at a beautiful bright green viper, when the snake struck up a conversation.

"My name is Stella." It hissed at her. Salem smiles and hissed back her name.

" You seem disgusted by the other human's conversation, care to translate it to me?" Stella hissed, with that request Salem began explaining what Howard and Giddion had been discussing. Stella shook her head.

"Most humans are cruel by nature." Stella stated all Salem did was nod in agreement.

"But I have a feeling, Stella, that he was forced into it somehow." Salem stated, glancing at the small eyed, nervous man. Stella nodded her head in agreement.

Vince walked around the zoo doing his various odd jobs. His thoughts wandering off to many places as he fed the animals and cleaned the cages. His thoughts became focused more when the thought of Howard potentially getting killed came to mind. He knew he had to find a way to help his friend, but how? He had already signed Howard up for boxing lessons, but they didn't look promising with the results.

With a shrug, he let his mind wander some more. A flash of red interupted his thoughts as he turned his head towards the red head standing to his left, cooing at a lemur. He smiled and started debating with himself on how to start a conversation. He normally wasn't shy when it came to women, but this new girl had him sweating and nervous without so much as looking at him.

As Salem continued to talk with the lemur, whose name she found to be Tallee, her eyes caught a glimpse of a strange almost feminin man. Tallee noticed this and gave a slight chuckle.

"That's Vince Noir. He works doing odd jobs around here too." Tallee said, grabbing himself some of the banana slices Salem had been holding out for him during their conversation.

"That's lovely to know Tallee." She said, turning her attention to the lemur gorging himself on the sweet treats she had brought. He gave a chuckle.

"He talks to all of us animals too. He's a bit of an odd one though." Tallee said beginning to chomp on some more fruit. Salem nodded, glancing over at the feminine male. She shrugged her sholders and continued on her way to treat some more of the animals.

Vince walked up to Tallee with a curious look about his face. Tallee traced the young mans line of sight to the red head and gave a small chuckle.

"You fancy the new girl, yes?" Tallee said, startling Vince in the process.

"No, of course not, just a bit curious about her is all." Vince defended. Tallee rolled his eyes at the young man already smelling the pharamones that he was letting off.

"Her name is Salem. She's a nice girl to us animals." Tallee said, watching as Vince nodded and followed the red heads figure. Tallee sighed and climbed away from the infatuated boy.

Fossil approached Salem slowly, doing some sort of weird strut. Salem restained herself from laughing at the ridiculous sight infront of her. Fossil eyed her figure up and down. She internally grimaced at his wondering eyes.

"So, Ms. Sterling, got any plans for tonight?" He said, trying to be smooth. Salem held back the gag she felt coming on from where she knew this conversation would lead.

"I planned to go home and read a good book tonight, Mr. Fossil." She said, trying to be polite and let him down easily. Fossil shook his head and scoffed.

"Please, reading is so boring. Why don't you come with me tonight?" He said, pushing the subject on her. She tried to form a plan to escape him, but he trapped her against a near by wall with his arms.

"Mr. Fossil, please, I-" She began.

"I won't take 'No' for an answer Ms. Sterling. I'll pick you up tonight." He said and let her go. She shivered with disgust and began her way to the zoos boarding houses.

Fossil had picked her up as promised, though she had tried to refuse again, he insisted and in turn forced her to go. The journey there had been awkward, with Fossils pick up lines and constant flirting. Salem had kept her distance from the man as he led her to an underground arena. She felt her stomach churn at the thought of what this place was.

"Mr. Fossil, what is all this?" She asked nervously.

"Why it's a fighting arena for the jumping furry man with the pouch." Fossil said with a smirk on his face. Salem grimaced and started looking for an exit, but people kept pouring in behind them, blocking all exits. Fossil grabbed her wrist and began to drag her along behind him.

"Mr. Fossil, this is too much. I don't approve of this sort of thing! Please, just let me leave." She begged, trying to free herself from his grasp as he drug her to the ring side and made her sit.

"Now you just sit here and wait, I'll be right back." Fossil said. She cringed and squirmed in the seat, looking around to find a way out. That's when her eyes landed on Vince and Howard. Howard looked pale and nervous. She could tell he didn't want to do this, and that's when she watched as Fossil approached them.

It clicked in her mind that Fossil had been orchastrating the whole ordeal she was being forced to witness. Rage filled her body, making her stomach churn worse than ever.

The match started. Salem watched in horror as Howard started getting beaten, and flinched a couple of times. It made her sick to watch, Howard eventually won by grabbing the Killeroos balls and escaped with his life and the Killeroo pretty much unharmed, which she was thankful for both, she stood up.

"Where do you think you're going?" Fossil said grabbing her arm once again. She tore away from him and began walking, only to be grabbed again. She blew some of her fringe out of her eyes and looked at the sickening man. She turned around.

"I'm going home, Mr. Fossil." She said, trying in vain to get her arm released from his grip. Fossil stared at her with a pervish smile. Salem realized what he was thinking and quickly grabbed her pepper spray and shot it in his eyes. He backed away in pain, but his grip remained. She pulled back her fist and punched him in the nose with all her might. Finally her arm was released and she ran out of the building and back to her apartment.

Vince and Howard watched as the girl kept trying to escape the man. The crowd preventing them from helping, keeping them spectators to the scene before them. Both enraged by Fossil's behavior. They watched her run, and tried to catch up to her to check and make sure she was alright.

They saw her run into the boarding houses in the zoo and knocked on her door. Salem turned at the knocking sound.

"Good bye, Mr. Fossil!" She yelled through the door.

"It's not Mr. Fossil, It's Howard and Vince." Howard said through the door. Salem slowly approached the door and cracked it open. She examined the two men in front of her.

"What are you doing here?" She asked in a timid tone, trying not to offend the gentlemen at her door.

"We saw what Fossil was trying to pull with you and wanted to make sure-" Howard started.

"-That you were alright." Vince finished in a slightly out of breath voice. Salem smiled and opened the door more.

"I'm alright. Would you like some tea, gentlemen?" She smile, gesturing for them to come in and sit a while. They nodded and entered the bright apartment.

"I believe an introduction is in order here. I am Salem Sterling. It's a pleasure to meet you." Salem said formally, remembering her propper manners.

"Howard Moon." Howard introduced shaking her hand.

"Vince Noir." Vince said, copying Howards actions.

"It was kind of you to check in on me, gentlemen." Salem stated, gesturing for them to have a seat on the couch and handing them some tea. She sat across from them in an over-stuffed chair.

"Well, when we couldn't get to you when Fossil was pushing his advances on you..." Vince trailed off. Howard cleared his throat.

"We had to make sure you were alright. How's your hand?" Howard asked, keeping the conversation going.

"It's fine, it's not everyday you punch a concrete block though." Salem said with a small giggle. The men smiled and let out a laugh as well.

Salems cell phone began to ring, the 8 bit tone of "Mamma Mia" by Abba began to play.

"Excuse me, gentlemen. Please make yourselves at home." She said, getting up and leaving the room to answer the call.

The men nodded and watched as she left. Howard looked around and noticed a wall filled with shelves full of books. Vince noted the light color of the walls and the art supplies scattered about in a corner of the room. The men looked at extensive collection of music and instruments along the farthes wall of the room and stood to go take a look. A collection of everything from jazz, to rock, to electronic and dance. It appeared she loved all kinds of music.

Salem walked back into the room and smiled at the men staring at the music.

"It's quite the big collection, isn't it?" She asked in a dreamy voice, staring at her own collection. They nodded as they combed through the mixture of CD's, cassette tapes and vinyl records. With a sigh each, the men looked towards the woman.

"Well, It's getting a bit late. We best be on our way. We are glad you're alright." Howard said.

"Yes and thank you." Salem said, looking over at the Neon purple clock on the wall.

"We will see you tomorrow." Vince said, though it sounded like more of a question. Salem smiled and nodded as she escorted them to the door.

"Good night." The men said.

"Good night, gentlemen." She stated and closed the door.

The next morning Salem went to work as usual. Fossil had passed by her and quickly hid his face in embarrassment. She giggled and continued her day.