First Person POV (Kaira)
The night started out calm. Eliot and I were reading at the bar, winding down. Nate was around the corner of the bar, looking through some information. We had closed the bar down for the night. Just then, two guys in suits came in.
"Nate Ford." One of them said.
Eliot and I both perked up and looked at Nate. He gave us the signal. I turned my focus to the farthest guy as Eliot got ready to deal with the guy closest to him. Eliot threw his book at the far guy, and I threw my book at the guy closest to him. I burst out of my seat, kneeing the guy in the stomach, getting him down. I heard a gun cock, but Eliot grabbed his arm and kneed him, disarming him, so I grabbed the gun and disarmed it, but then the guy I had gone after pulled a gun out on Eliot, who had his guy in a chokehold. I want to disarm the guy, but Nate gives me the signal to stand down.
"You know, you could have-" Nate said.
Just then, an older man came in.
"Called first? Yes, Mr. Ford. I could have called first. Chaz... put it away." The man ordered.
Chaz, who was the guy I had taken care of, put his gun away, and I nodded at Eliot to let his guy go, giving him a shove as they both ran out the door. Eliot and I go by Nate.
"My name is Walt-" Walt went to introduce himself.
"Whitman Wellesly IV. Well funded, on the board of several corporations, foundations. I know who you are." Nate said.
Eliot and I are both confused.
"Good. Then you know exactly what's at risk if you refuse to help me." Walt said, pacing towards us.
Eliot went to move, but Nate stopped him.
"Let me be very clear about something. I help people who have nowhere else to go. I help them against people like you. Thanks for coming." Nate said.
Walt went to grab Nate, causing Eliot to react by grabbing Walt's arm. Walt's whole demeanor changed.
"But you must... help me." Walt's voice was breaking.
He then started crying, and I realize this wasn't what I thought it was. This was a man in pain. Walt collapsed onto the bar, sobbing.
"Hey, babe, can you go get Soph? Thanks." I tell Eliot, who was a bit uncomfortable.
"Yeah." Eliot left.
I go to the other side of Walt, and I reluctantly start rubbing his back, hoping to calm him down. Not long after, Sophie came down, and we sat at a table in the bar.
"My wife has been kidnapped - missing for four days now." Walt explained his predicament.
"And you haven't been contacted about ransom?" I asked.
"Not a word. She's just... gone." Walt said.
"You poor man." Sophie said, sympathetic.
"She's been missing for four days, and there's no evidence of foul play. The FBI has given up on the case. That's why you're here. She left you, Wellesley." Nate said, harshly.
I kick him under the table, giving him a look to be nicer.
"Nate, that's a bit harsh." Sophie scolded Nate.
"What?" Nate quietly said.
"No, it isn't. Lacey would never deliberately... I know exactly what this looks like. Rich man marries a woman half his age, gets just what he deserves, but-" Walt explained.
"She was special." Nate said.
"Is. I was married for 37 years. My sons are grown - grandkids, too. When Dot died - my first wife - I was bereft. For two years, I just... went through the motions. I was just waiting till I... stopped." Walt said, clearly missing his wife.
"And then you met Lacey and fell in love." Sophie said.
I started feeling the emotions rising.
"She changed me... restored me." Walt said.
"If you say so." Nate said, harsh.
I kick him again. I get up and leave. I head upstairs and I go into Eliot and I's apartment. I close the bathroom door, and the tears all.
Something about how obvious it was that Walt loved Lacey, and how he said she changed him, brought me back to when Eliot and I first met. Before I met Eliot, I had been numb. I had to be because it was the only way to survive. Especially being a woman in the army, and so young. I met Eliot, and slowly, he changed me. Helped me to tear down those walls, though somedays I wonder if I did the same to Eliot. And maybe the age difference helped with the similarities. There was also irony in the situation. Usually, people like Walt are the guys I hate and take down. But here I was, seeing my own marriage in Walt's marriage. I managed to calm myself down enough to stop crying. I realize I don't blame Walt for trying to send guys after Nate to force him to do the job. If Eliot ever went missing, you'd bet your ass I'd be sending guys to try and find him.
I stand up and walk to the sink. I wet a towel and wash my face, the cold water calming me down. I then hear a knock on the door.
"Sweetheart?" I hear it's Eliot.
I open the door. I just hug him.
"Hey, Kaira, what's going on?" Eliot asked me.
I let go of Eliot and look at him.
"Just hearing Walt's story, some memories came up." I explain.
"What memories?" Eliot asked me.
He leads me over to our bed and we sit down.
"The day we met. You, tearing down the walls I built after Kasey and my parents died." I said, trying not to cry again.
"I remember that night. And you helped me tear down walls too." Eliot said.
That brings me some comfort.
"Would making you some food make you feel better?" Eliot asked, giving me a soft smile that I love. I smile back at him.
"Yeah." I said, quiet.
He leads me to the kitchen, where he cuts up some fruit and gets a cup of dip he had made. That turns into a lesson, where Eliot gave me knife cutting technique lessons, cutting the fruit into stars and other shapes, which while it may sound childish to get excited over shaped fruit, it made me smile, which I know was the point. I made us a couple of drinks as we ate, and then we headed to bed.
In the morning, after Hardison did his research, we all walked in. And Nate and Sophie were arguing because Nate thinks Walt doesn't actually love Lacey, and Sophie accused Nate of not having a romantic bone in his body. Eliot and I started chuckling and smiling.
"Oh." Sophie commented.
"Oh, really?" Nate questioned us as we went in between them.
"And you're one to laugh. You didn't even bother to learn their names before her. They were just waitress, nurse, stewardess." Sophie commented at Eliot.
"First of all, it's flight attendant. They don't like being called stewardess. And second, I knew their names. And third, it hasn't happened since her." Eliot said.
"Wait, why am I third?" I can't help but tease Eliot slightly, and he, at least I think he does, get that I'm messing with him.
"Don't do that." Eliot quietly growls at me and I pat his face, and I get the Eliot Spencer bitch face.
"You're cute when you're mad." I tease, again.
"Really, Sweetheart?" Eliot looks at me.
I just shrug my shoulders and try not to laugh.
"You're paying for that one." Eliot said.
"That a threat, Cowboy?" I tease, giving Eliot a wink, which causes a smile on Eliot as Parker bursts in.
"You having a three-way?" Parker asked us, clearly upset.
"What?" Nate and I both question her.
"What?" Sophie questioned.
"Three-way fight? Hmm?" Parker goes on the other side of Eliot.
"That's not what that means, Parker." I pointed out, not in the mood to explain that to Parker.
Then Hardison walked in from behind the screens.
"All right, guys. Walt Whitman Wellesley IV. Now, he does look like every other soulless CEO we've taken down before, but to be honest, this guy gave away more dollars last year than Bill and Melinda Gates. He comes from old money. I'm talking like "his ancestors invested in IBM while coming over on the Mayflower" old." Hardison explained, looking at the screens.
"Okay. Now, what about the lovely wife, Lacey?" Nate asked, getting a look from Sophie.
"Lovely? She ain't lovely. Lacey Beaumont - she met her future husband at a charity function in the Hamptons. But get this - she bought old boy at one of those bachelor auctions. They get married less than a month later." Hardison said, showing off a picture of Walt and a very good looking young woman and a huge ring.
"See? Love at first sight." Sophie said.
"Yeah, or she wanted to get hitched before the background check went through." Eliot pointed out, and he had a fair point.
"Yeah, thank you. Okay. So she's been missing for four days. What can you tell me about that time period?" Nate asked.
"Well, there's no activity on the credit cards or the bank accounts, but going back to..." Hardison said, showing us the withdraws.
"Got a lot of cash withdrawals, over 2 million-plus. All transferred to the same account. Find me that bank." Nate said.
"Bank's in the Hamptons, but..." Hardison said, pulling up an account that had been closed since July 8th.
"Oh, that account was emptied and closed four days ago." Nate said, looking at Sophie.
Part of me was confused. Why would Lacey empty this account in particular? Why $2 million?
"All right, all right, all right. She's a grifter. But it doesn't mean that Wellesley's feelings aren't genuine." Sophie told Nate.
"Oh, come on." Nate said.
Hardison was leaning against the table.
"Look, guys, sweetheart scams like this usually take what, six months, right, to pull off? This is a land speed record. Here's a list of other wealthy men who married within a month of meeting their spouses." Hardison said, pulling up a long list, and articles of millionaires dying.
"That's a lot of mysterious accidents." Eliot said.
"And they each seem to have met at one of these functions." Hardison said, pulling up the location of the auctions, which formed a close enough circle.
"Well, that's a pattern." I pointed out.
"Yeah, well, it look like Lacey might be a black widow. I'm just saying." Nate said.
"Yeah, she may not have killed Wellesley, but she's not there, spinning her web." Sophie said.
"Well, she will end up killing Wellesley from a broken heart if we don't find her." I pointed out.
"What? That's not a thing." Eliot turned to me.
"It's totally a thing." I said.
"Woman, you're saying "dying from a broken heart" is real?" Hardison looked at me.
"People who lose someone they love, sometimes the stress causes the heart to stop. It happens." I said.
Nate gave us a look, telling us to move on.
"Now, there's another charity function tomorrow in the Hamptons. Same deal - live and silent auctions. Real high-end vendors. And when you compare it to your others..." Hardison put the location of the latest auction, which was right smack dab in the center of the circle.
"Everybody, pack your bags. We're going to a party." Nate said.
We all drummed on the table and went to leave.
"Let's go steal a sweetheart." Parker said.
Something was off about it. Parker turned to me and Eliot.
"No? A widow." Parker suggested.
Eliot and I both shook our heads no.
"No? Spider?" Parker questioned.
Eliot and I smiled at Parker.
"Spider." Parker repeated.
We walked back and got some bags packed and Hardison got us a hotel closer to the Hamptons.
And the next day, we were in the Hamptons, dressed in our best, infiltrating the party. Sophie and I were gonna be walking around the party, looking for Lacey. Nate was acting as a vendor for the party. Parker was also gonna be walking around the party. Hardison and Eliot were bachelors being auctioned off. That was weird for me because, as I honestly do not mind Eliot having to flirt for a job, but this was a bit much. If this was a real charity, it's one thing. But these auctions weren't for charity. So I wasn't a huge fan of the idea of my husband and best friend being auctioned to random women. Nate was at his booth. Sophie, Parker, and I were walking around. I was by Sophie. Eliot and Hardison were with the other bachelors.
"Lacey will have changed her name and appearance - different hair, colored contacts." Nate said. Sophie was waving a fan.
"More than that - if she's as good as we think she is, then she can change her skin type with makeup, her body shape with clothing, create a whole new person." Sophie pointed out.
"Also, she can change her voice, adding an accent. Hell, even using tape to change her facial features. We're all gonna have to be our best for this one." I added.
"Parker, any luck?" Sophie asked.
Parker took a photo of a woman, which she had been doing since we got here.
"No matches on Hardison's software yet. Ooh. Sparkly." Parker said, and I see an older woman walk by her, wearing an expensive necklace that Parker took a picture of.
"Parker, no burgling." Nate warned.
"But these jewels - they're just asking to be taken." Parker argued, sighing.
"No, Parker. We can't risk it." I explain.
I hear another sigh from Parker. After some time, a guy walked on the catwalk to the end of it and started talking to get everyone's attention.
"Ladies and gentlemen, our annual bachelor auction is about to begin!" The guy said.
The crowd applauded.
"I know, I know. You're excited. Now let's dig deep into those unallocated funds. Remember, it's for charity." The guy said.
I can see Eliot turn to face Hardison, and cause of comms, I can hear them.
"Steak dinner to whoever gets the highest bid?" Eliot said.
"I'm in." Hardison said.
They did their handshake. I think Eliot saw the look I had, which may have been a "seriously" look, cause he looked at me and raised his eyes. A few of the other bachelors had gone.
"All right, ladies! Are we ready for our next bachelor?" The guy asked, and the women cheered, including me.
"Lacey should be among the high bidders." Nate said over comms.
"Parker, Kaira, and I will drive the bids higher by countering. Eliot, pick a bidder and maintain eye contact. Paying attention to one will cement the bid. And put the others off." Sophie said.
"Yeah, I got it." Eliot said, kinda snippy.
"Hell no." I whisper to Sophie.
"Kaira, come on. Now's not the time to be petty." Sophie said.
I groan. "Fine. I'll play along, but I'm getting the highest bid, dammit. I'm not letting another bitch buy my husband." I growl a bit.
"Let's meet Austin, Texas native Jackson Cooper!" The auctioneer announced.
I move in Eliot's eye line so he can see me and I maintain eye contact with him.
"Austin, Texas? Did you write that?" Eliot questioned Hardison as he walked to the auctioneer.
"Now, not only is Jackson the Founder of Baron Oil, he also led the underwater team that capped the well in the gulf." The guy said.
I hear the crowd murmur. I see a blond woman eyeing my husband up and down, and I may have given her threatening eyes, which didn't work.
"Oh, yes." The guy said.
Eliot looked back at Hardison, probably not happy with the cover Hardison made.
"So, we are gonna start this auction off at $1,000. Do I hear $1,000?" The auctioneer started.
Before I could raise my card, the blond raised hers. I raised mine, giving her a look to back off again. Someone in the back goes, then I go, and Parker goes, and I go again, and blond bitch and I get into a bit of a contest, with Sophie adding to the pot some. We get to $8,500, but blond bitch raised it to $10,000, so I raised up and went $10,500 and won my husband. I give Eliot a wink as he comes down the steps.
"Thank you, sweetheart." Eliot whispered to me.
"Don't mention it, babe." I smile at him.
Just then blond bitch (A/N WHY AM I BEING SO AGGRESSIVE WITH THIS?! DAMN!) tried to come over to Eliot, which Parker took her picture, since she had been interested all auction in Eliot. She faked tripped, which Eliot caught her on instinct, and she gave him eyes I recognized. I may have muttered, "klutzy bitch" under my breath. She looked at me, and was defensive.
"What did you call me?" She asked, quietly.
"None of your business, bitch." I whisper.
She gives me a shove, and I see red.
"I was betting on him." She said, kinda loud.
I gave her a shove back.
"Well, I got the higher bid, so back the hell off." I threatened.
"Woah, okay, settle down, mama." Eliot whispered the warning, grabbing my arm to take me to the back of the room.
"Oh, come on." I quietly growled as I kind of cool down some.
"And Eliot, telling a woman to calm down never works." I quietly growled.
"We're having a serious talk when you get back to the hotel." Eliot whispered to me, warning me.
I try to calm myself down.
"Parker, any luck?" Nate said.
"I got photos of every girl Lacey's age. Still no match." Parker said.
She took a picture of a bracelet on a woman passing.
A few more bachelors went, and now it was Hardison's turn. His cover was Mr. Steven Melching, a Silicon Valley man. Parker hyped him up. When the bidding started, Parker and a woman in the front got into a bidding match. Parker then got distracted by a watch and did end up bidding. The bidding match continued, with the woman bidding $15,000. I may have gasped a bit, and felt kind of bad for Eliot. I mean, I tried to help him. But I wasn't fooled by the shaking of his head at Hardison, I know my baby likes to cook. Since I was kind of on timeout at the moment, I was at the side with Eliot.
I saw a middle aged, but still good looking woman walk up to Sophie, holding a camera. "Remember when women had dignity?" She asked Sophie.
"Ah, yes. Mystery and allure, too - things of the past I'm afraid." Sophie said.
I walked up to Sophie.
"Oh, some of us still have some dignity left." I said, using a bit of a British accent.
"I'm Meredith." She introduced herself.
"Ah. Lady Charlotte Prentice." Sophie introduced herself.
I know what Sophie's up to.
"Lady Marie Prentice." I introduce myself.
"Oh, Duchess, may I, for the society page?" Meredith asked Sophie.
Sophie allowed it, but when Meredith took the photo, Sophie coughed, blocking her face with her hand, and I acted like I got distracted by the coughing. She left, saying she should get a photo with the highest bidder with her prize. I then saw Meredith walk up to Hardison and his date, and she did the exact same thing blond bitch tried.
"Oh. They're all klutzes." Parker pointed out.
Hardison helped his date stand up, but then she started flirting with Hardison, patting his chest, which rang all the alarms in my head.
"Oh, Hell no." I muttered to myself.
I was away from Eliot, which was a mistake because blond bitch tried flirting with Eliot, commenting on his eyes. I could see Eliot trying not to react, but I knew what blond bitch was doing. Then I saw Meredith do something similar with Nate, flirting. Then the auctioneer walked up to Sophie to start flirting. The auctioneer introduced himself as Oscar San Guillermo, who organized the functions for local charities. I then hear Hardison's date compliment his eyes. Sophie and I excused ourselves.
"Everyone, listen up. This technique, the staring - it's called soul-gazing. Just two minutes of it can create real feelings of love." Sophie came on comms.
No one said anything.
"Nate! The tripping, the soul-gazing, complimenting the eyes, it's every grifter seduction trick in the book." I look around to see all the dates acting the same to their marks.
And I may have quietly growled at blond bitch caressing my husbands face.
"Oh, hell no." I muttered again.
Then something hits me.
"Wait a damn second. They're all grifters." I pointed out.
"We came here looking for one Lacey. We stumbled across an entire ring of Lacey's. No wonder the meet-to-marry time is so quick. Anyone would be susceptible to this." Sophie said.
"It's like an assembly line of grift." Parker added.
"Sophie, okay, I can't talk right now. You got to take point, okay, try to get us some information." Nate said quietly over comms.
"Parker?" Sophie said.
"Are you up to doing some lifts?" Sophie asked.
I know Parker was happy. "Oh, goody." Parker said.
"Parker, cell phones, please. Not jewelry. We're gonna clone the phones." I told Parker.
"Fine." Parker said.
"I'll meet you in the lobby in five minutes. Guys, distract the women. Get close to them. Create some heat." Sophie said.
I started walking around, cloning phones. When I walked up to Eliot, he looked at me, signaling that someone what blond bitch was doing wasn't working, which was a bit of a relief. Okay, a lot. Parker left to meet with Sophie, and I stayed on the floor to watch.
"Nate, no names, no addresses, nothing to lead us to Lacey, and all the calls are from today." Sophie said.
"Yeah, not even GPS. They're burners." Parker said.
"It's a ring, all right." I added.
"Let's think about this. Every ring has a leader, someone calling the shots. And to grift on this scale, that leader's gonna be here to supervise. I know I would." Sophie said.
"You know, these women sometimes kill their marks." Parker pointed out.
"I know, but first things first - we need to find out who that leader is. Nate, we need a disruption, give us a chance to see how they interact." Sophie said.
I may have smiled a little, having an idea of a disruption.
"I mean, it could give us a clue. Kaira, you pick a fight with Eliot's date." Nate said.
"Oh, hell yeah." I smiled.
I walked up to blonde bitch, who had been nearby.
"Oh, hell no." I hear Eliot groan.
I gave blonde bitch a slap.
"That's for trying to take my date." I hissed at her.
Before I could say anything else, Eliot grabbed my arm and started walking me out of the room. I heard Nate on comms tell Parker to pick a fight with Hardison's date.
I tried to escape, and that eventually lead to Eliot putting me over his shoulder as we got outside. We both took our comms out.
"Kaira, what the hell?" Eliot asked me.
"What, am I supposed to just stand by as some blonde bitch tries to steal you?" I yell at Eliot.
"What - Kaira. Come on, you know that wouldn't happen." Eliot said.
"Oh, come on, Eliot, she's a grifter! That's what they do!" I exclaimed.
Eliot just looked at me.
"Wait, Kaira, what is this about?" Eliot asked me.
I exhaled. "What are you talking about?" I asked Eliot.
"Really, Kaira? Ever since this job started, you've been a bit aggressive. The blonde in here, that hotel clerk that tried flirting with me. I thought that you were okay with people flirting because I went home to you at the end of the day. So I'm asking again; what's going on?" Eliot said.
For some reason, something inside me came out.
"Because blond bitch is a grifter! Okay, her job is to make you fall in love with her. It's what a grifter does. It's what I do." I said.
I went to leave, but Eliot stopped me.
"Kaira, what's that got to do with anything?" Eliot asked me.
"Because I am a grifter. I'm supposed to make the mark like me to do get in to do the job. I'm supposed to make people fall in love with me." I said.
I exhaled again and Eliot grabbed my arms.
"Hey. I fell in love with you long before you started grifting. And once I got to know you, I loved you more and more." Eliot assured me.
I stopped the tears from forming.
"Did you?" I asked.
I put my comm back in and I went into the car to calm down.
After some time, I got filled in on what was happening. So, Meredith was the grifter leader, which was revealed thanks to mine and Parker's fights. Nate introduced himself to her as another grifter ring leader, and Meredith said she would partner with him if he could win Sophie over. Eliot was gonna track Sophie, and Hardison was gonna follow Meredith.
Nate, Parker, and I ended up at the hotel again. Nate was on the laptop, Parker with an ice pack on her cheek I was currently holding for her.
"All right, Lacey's in the system because she was reported missing, but the others are not. So I think if..." Nate said before he started mumbling.
Parker gave Nate the stink eye, causing me to chuckle a bit. Nate looked at Parker.
"Uh... All right, all right. Listen, next time, I promise, I'll use the word argument instead of fight. Promise." Nate said.
Parker smiled as she grabbed the pack, sat it down, and left, saying hi to Hardison on her way out. Hardison sat where Parker had been.
"So..." Hardison pulled up what he got, grabbing the laptop.
"I-I lost Meredith's town car, but I hacked the GPS. Assuming that she keeps files, they're probably at her home or her office, if she uses one. We find those records, we could take down Meredith, Lacey, and the whole ring. Now based on recurrence of location and calculating duration of stay, according to time codes, I have for you two addresses." Hardison said, pulling up the addresses.
"Okay, Parker, listen. Tomorrow, while I'm running the Hohe Minnescam, I want you and Kaira to check out these addresses." Nate said.
I saw Parker putting up the pictures she took today on a mirror.
"What's a hohe minne?" Parker asked.
"Ooh! I know this one!" I got a bit excited. "It's German, it means high courtly love. In the middle ages, knights would undergo challenges to prove himself worthy of a noblewoman's love." I explained.
"Sure seems like a lot of work. I'm just saying." Hardison said, quickly looking at Parker before pulling up the comms channel, seeing Sophie's was muted.
"Hey, man, why do you have Sophie's comm muted? Don't you want to hear how she's doing?" Hardison said.
I tried to stop him, but he unmuted the comm, which Sophie was laughing. Nate muted the comm.
"Uh, not really." Nate said.
He cleared his throat and got up to leave.
"What?" Hardison questioned.
"Sophie's real laugh." Parker said.
Hardison still didn't get it.
"Oh, I get it. She's not the noblewoman. She's the challenge." Parker realized.
"Yep." I said.
I got up and went to my hotel room.
All this talk of grifting and love, it kind of made me question myself. Eliot was still tracking Sophie, so I just laid in bed, trying to relax and forget about what had happened. But, I couldn't.
I then heard a knock at my door. I got up to answer it. I opened the door to see Nate standing there.
"Hey, kiddo." Nate said.
"Hey, Nathan. Come in." I said.
I sat down at the little table that was in the room.
"What's going on?" I asked him.
Nate sat down. "Is everything okay with you?" Nate asked me.
"Yeah. Just was trying to sell my character." I said, trying to brush it off.
"Kiddo, you know I don't believe that. Try again." Nate said.
I exhaled. "Alright. I'm not okay. Something about this job, grifters and love, it's messing with me, Nate." I explain.
"And have you talked to Eliot about this?" Nate asked.
I gave Nate a look telling him no.
"Why not?" Nate asked me.
"Because I'm scared, okay! I'm scared that Eliot thinks that I somehow grifted him into falling for me! And I can't lose Eliot, Nate." I explain, getting emotional.
Nate put his hand on my shoulder.
"Kiddo, we've worked together for three years, now. I see how you and Eliot look at each other. And I know for certain that you love him. And god help him, he sure loves you." Nate said.
I gave a hint of a smile. "Yeah." I mumbled a bit.
"So you have nothing to worry about." Nate assured me.
I smile and chuckle a bit. "Thank you, Nate." I said, giving him a hug.
"You're welcome, kiddo." Nate said.
I sat back on my bed and waited for night.
Eliot had come back and we met back into the hotel room. I'm not gonna lie, I was scared. I didn't know how Eliot was gonna react. We hadn't spoken since the argument at the auction. Eliot walked into the bathroom and changed, and I thought of what I was gonna tell him. He came out and sat at the table.
"You ready to tell me what's going on?" Eliot asked me.
I took a breath to steady myself.
"Yeah. This particular job, it's messing with me. The whole grifters and falling in love. I kept telling myself that I wasn't sure if what you felt for me was real. I didn't know if I had grifted you. Whether I knew it or not." I explained.
"Kaira, you didn't grift me. I was attracted to you when we first met. But over time, I found myself falling in love with you. You were the reason I wanted to change." Eliot said, his hand on my cheek, rubbing his thumb to calm me down.
"And you were my reason to change. And I was attracted to you when we first met, too." I admit.
Eliot leaned in, and we kissed. I feel relieved that Eliot wasn't mad, and this was another case of me overreacting.
We went to bed, and the next day we met up with Nate. He was out on the hotel balcony, putting whiskey in his morning coffee. Eliot sat down in the lawn chair next to his, then I sat on Eliot's lap, wrapping my arms around his neck. Nate was in his suit for the day, and Eliot was in black jeans, a grey hoodie, a ball cap with his hair up, and his combat boots. Look, I love any man with a suit on, but something about just being casual is attractive too. And, well, I was wearing a t-shirt and sweatpants. I know, classy. Eliot had out his phone, and I felt his hand on my waist.
"All right, this MC guy's name's Oscar San Guillermo. No priors. He picked Sophie up at 7:20, and they went to a, uh... swank bar on third. He had two mojitos. She had a 2008 Poully-Fuissé. What?" Eliot said, realizing we were both giving him looks.
"I don't think he needed to know all that, babe." I whispered to Eliot.
"Did you get the name of the restaurant?" Nate asked, defensively.
"I just said it was Swank." Eliot pointed out.
"Why do you have to editorialize?" Nate asked Eliot.
"They left Swank at 8:15. They went to a place called La Dolce Vita. They got seated immediately, which is pretty outstanding, considering it's a two week wait just to get in there. At 11:30, they left. They scheduled a brunch, and he brought her straight home. That's the end. Reservations today are at La Chateau Lyon." Eliot said.
"Oh, geez. It's La Châtillon." Nate said.
"Châtillon." Eliot corrected.
I looked at Eliot's phone.
"Ooh, three star Michelin rating. Got a solid 29 zagat. Good taste." I said.
"That a hint, sweetheart?" Eliot asked, teasing me slightly.
"Oh, you know I prefer staying at home with some good food and some decent wine, baby. Especially, when it's your cooking." I teased slightly, smirking a bit.
"I mean, this San Gui, he's got - he's got good taste, man." Eliot told Nate.
"San Gui?" Nate questioned.
"Yeah, short for San Guillermo." Eliot said.
I then see Sophie come in, only wearing a white bathrobe, coffee in hand. She sat on the arm of the chair.
"He prefers it to Oscar." Sophie said.
Eliot and I took that as our cue to leave. We walked back inside, and Hardison was at the table, getting our covers.
"Sometimes it's fun to kick a man when he's down. We set?" Eliot said.
Eliot sat in a chair, and I sat next to him.
"Oh, sure, right. Speaking of which, did you ever find that steak place?" Hardison asked Eliot.
I chuckled a bit.
"The bet's off." Eliot said.
"What do you mean the bet's off?" Hardison asked Eliot.
"The second that we found out they were grifters, the bet's off." Eliot said.
"That doesn't count. You didn't set-" Hardison said as Eliot interrupted.
"Page 189, rule number 7 in the bro handbook." Eliot said.
"What? There wasn't no rules. You didn't set any rules." Hardison pointed out.
"The bet is off in a situation where-" Eliot tried explaining.
"I'll be damned if it's off." Hardison said.
"All right, then! I'll make you some prime rib when this is over." Eliot gave in.
I chuckled again.
"Bone in, well done?" Hardison questioned.
"Well done, bone in." Eliot said.
"All right." Hardison said.
"You better save some for me, babe." I warned.
"Alright." Eliot gave in.
"Man, I love it when restaurants get all corporate on me. Hacking into La Châtillon's reservation and employee schedule list was a morceau of gâteau." Hardison said.
Eliot and I side-eyed him a bit.
"We are in. All right, man, works starts in an hour. You are the sous chef. I am the sommelier visiting for the South African winery." Hardison said, practicing a South African accent.
"Sommelier?" Eliot questioned Hardison.
"Sommelier." Hardison said.
"Again?" I added.
"Yes." Hardison said.
"Do you want me to teach you about the wines again?" Eliot asked Hardison.
"That's just hurtful. Just-just making assumptions and presumptions that I don't know what I'm - yes, I need you to teach me about the wines again, yes." Hardison said.
"Well, I'm gonna meet Parker so we can check out those addresses. Good luck." I said, hitting Eliot in the thigh as I got up.
When I walked past Eliot, he smacked my ass lightly. I quickly turned around.
"Hey, rule number 7, Eliot." I teased/warned. (A/N If you don't get that reference...)
I started walking when I heard Eliot chuckle.
"You're a pain in the ass, Eliot Spencer." I teased him.
"I'm your pain in the ass, Kaira Spencer." I heard Eliot yell to me.
Third Person POV
Eliot was chuckling as he watched Kaira leave. Hardison just looked at Eliot.
"Rule number 7? Seriously?" Hardison questioned Eliot.
"Hey, man." Eliot warned.
"Do I even want to know what that is?" Hardison asked.
"No, probably not." Eliot said.
Hardison looked back at his laptop, then back to Eliot.
"Hey, man, what's going on with Kaira?" Hardison asked Eliot.
"She told me this job just made her question things, but I'm not sure she's telling me everything." Eliot said.
Hardison thought a second.
"You know what this is reminding me of?" Hardison asked Eliot.
Eliot chuckled a bit.
"Yep." Eliot said.
"Yeah. Man, I was questioning things with Parker, and you know what happened." Hardison said.
"I remember. But Kaira isn't hanging out with another guy." Eliot said.
"Right. But to her, you were hanging out with another girl." Hardison said.
"Nothing was gonna happen, okay?" Eliot said, kinda defensive.
"And I believe you, and I'm sure Kaira believes you too. Look, I know Kaira. I've seen you two together. I saw it the first time we met. Kaira's never had a problem with you having to charm a woman for a con, because she was never worried the woman would succeed. These women at the auction, especially the blonde flirting with you, they're grifters. Kaira sees that as a threat." Hardison said.
"They weren't a threat, they weren't doing anything that was working." Eliot said.
"That's not the point, Eliot. Man, Kaira grifts. She knows how easy it is for a grifter to wrap someone around their finger. So, in her mind, it didn't matter whether you wouldn't let anything happen, that blond might not've given you a choice." Hardison explained.
\And everything clicked for Eliot.
"And Kaira didn't want to risk losing me." Eliot said.
"Yeah, man. I may not be the best at relationships, but I do know Kaira, and what would really help her is letting her know she won't lose you." Hardison explained.
Eliot smiled a tad. "Never thought you'd be the one giving me relationship advice." Eliot chuckled.
"Hey, man, I just listen." Hardison chuckled.
The next hour was spent with Eliot teaching Hardison about wines, and getting set up at the restaurant.
Kaira met with Parker, and they started heading to the first address Hardison had.
Sophie and Oscar started their date. Nate sat across from them to hear what was happening. He got an envelope with an earbud. He put it in his ear.
"I assume this little gift is from you, Meredith." Nate said.
"That's a two-way transmitter. I can hear everything you say and everything she says, so no cheating. Now impress me." Meredith said over comms.
Nate got some glasses for wine, and tried asking for a crossword. Hardison walked over, acting as a sommelier. Eliot, who was off to the side listening, guided Hardison through the interaction, giving him words to use, and sent back some food to get sea salt.
Parker and Kaira were in a taxi, Kaira in the driver's seat. They looked out at a marina.
"Guys, the first address - it's a marina. Kaira and I can't search every boat for Meredith's files." Parker reported.
"We're on our way to the second address." Kaira reported.
Kaira put the car in drive.
"Parker, Kaira, we're counting on you. The whole date side of this con can go either way." Eliot said.
Hardison spilt wine on Oscars white jacket, causing him to leave. Eliot then knocked him out. Nate played the white knight, schmoozing Sophie. They left to go to an Italian ice place by the water.
At the park where the Italian ice place was, Eliot arrived ahead of schedule, giving $20 dollars to a man playing the guitar to play something romantic (A/N Seriously, I need an Eliot in my life. Can I get an Eliot please? I'll settle for a Hardison and/or Parker as well.). On cue, Nate and Sophie arrived and went tog get a seat, impressing Meredith.
First Person POV (Kaira)
Parker and I walked into the second address, which was a warehouse.
"All right, Parker, Kaira, you got that second address yet?" Eliot came over comms.
"Yeah, we're in." I reported.
Parker and I looked around an office, which didn't have anything we could use.
"There's not much here. No wall safe. I'll check the computer and the hard-copy files." Parker said, walking towards the laptop.
Parker and I looked through everything, but couldn't find anything.
"Eliot, there's nothing here. It's just a front. There's not even a computer to hook up to the monitor." Parker said.
I then notice some pictures on the wall in front of us.
"Hang on, babe. There's portraits. One of them's Lacey." I said.
Parker and I walk up to them as she takes a picture of Lacey's portrait.
"It's signed "thanks for everything. Heart Julie". But the facial recognition app confirms it's Lacey." I reported.
"Eliot, that is our first solid lead. Look, if Lacey signed that photo, she's touched it." Hardison came over comms from the park.
"That's my thinking, too. Parker, grab the photo. We might be able to tell something from it. We're close to being done here." Eliot said.
"Yeah, I got it. It still only says, "Thanks for everything. Heart Julie"." Parker said.
She took the picture off and we left.
We waited in a taxi cab and I heard Nate talking about his dad with Sophie. After a minute, he finally spoke.
"Okay. Meredith is off comms. Parker? Kaira?" Nate finally came on comms.
"We're here. Is Sophie ready?" Parker asked.
"Eliot, Hardison, we need to analyze that portrait. Meet me at the car. Time to get a move on." Nate said.
After a minute, Nate and Sophie arrived. Nate got the door for Sophie and she got in. Nate shut the door. Parker drove off.
We met with Eliot and Hardison a bit later, a bit farther from the main street. We had another problem of Nate not being on comms. Eliot, Parker, and I had gloves on to find a print, Hardison was standing to the side on his laptop.
"Looks like Maredith's town car is headed to the Marina. I can track the GPS, but Nate's still off comms." Hardison reported.
"I don't like it. This woman's left a lot of bodies in the road." Eliot pointed out as he started dusting the portrait.
"Yeah, but Nate's not a mark. No, it's perfect. He gets close to Meredith, gets access to her files, while we all-" Sophie said.
"Get all CSI on the picture." Parker said.
Eliot got a couple of prints.
"Try that one." Eliot said.
I grabbed the phone and took a picture of the print. It wasn't a match.
"Nope." I said.
"Try that one." Eliot said.
I took the picture, and sure enough, Lacey's I.D showed up.
"It's Lacey." I said.
I handed the phone to Hardison.
"Okay, it matches a Christine Valada." Hardison said.
Hardison got back on his laptop.
"Now, look, it says Lacey/Christine's address is just a few minutes from here." Hardison said.
Eliot took his gloves off.
"It's Sunday. I bet she's home." Eliot said as he took off his white coat.
"Yeah. Let's pay Christine Valada a visit, shall we?" Sophie said.
We loaded up our stuff and piled into the taxi. Parker may have done a slight burnout as she got going.
Sophie, Eliot, and I arrived at the address, while Parker and Hardison waited out by the car. It was a surprisingly simple house for a grifter, and Christine/Lacey was gardening.
"This is not what I expected." Eliot said.
"Yeah. Simple, quaint." I added.
"Me neither." Sophie said.
We walked to the backyard.
"Hello? Hello?" Sophie tried to get her attention.
"Hi, there." Sophie said.
Christine was a young woman, medium length brown straight hair.
"Hi." She said, standing up to look at us.
"Hi. Christine Valada?" Eliot said.
"Yes, that's me. What can I do for you?" Christine asked.
"Aka Lacey Beaumont Wellesley?" I said, maybe a bit threatening.
Christine rotated her pointy gardening took, and the pointy end was facing us.
"No. I didn't - please! I didn't contact him, I swear." Christine said, genuinely scared.
We all looked at each other, confused.
"Oh, please. Please tell me you haven't hurt Walt." Christine all but begged us.
I held my hands up.
"It's okay, we're not here to hurt you. Wellesley hired us to find you." I said, keeping my voice soft to show I didn't mean any harm.
Christine started sobbing, collapsing on the ground. Sophie and I looked at each other and we knelt down in front of Christine. I lightly grabbed the tool from her and sat it down. I carefully reached for Christine's shoulder, but she just grabbed onto me, hugging me hard. I let it slide and try my best to calm her down.
Once I got Christine calmed down, we sat at the picnic table she had out back, where Christine explained what happened.
"So, you told Meredith you were done. You wanted out." Sophie said.
"Once I'd sent her $2 million, I-I figured she'd allow me to go my own way." Christine explained.
Around her eyes were still wet from the tears.
"You underestimated her greed." Eliot said.
"I underestimated her fear. My falling in love with a mark meant she could no longer trust me." Christine said.
"Oh. She thought you were gonna tell your husband everything." Sophie said.
"If I so much as contacted Walt, he'd meet with some terrible accident... just like her late husbands did." Christine said.
Sophie and I looked at each other, knowing this wasn't good. Though, I couldn't get a read on Eliot.
"She was right. I would have told him the truth. I just hadn't gotten up the courage yet." Christine explained.
I felt bad for her. I mean, she fell in love, and Meredith took that from her.
"Do you let them hate the real you or love the fake you?" Sophie posed the question.
I knew what she meant. I looked at Eliot before he got back on track.
"You're saying you didn't know anything about her killin' these guys goin' in." Eliot questioned.
"No. I didn't put it all together until they threatened me with Walt. I'd never have joined her crew if I'd known." Christine explained.
Hardison then came on comms.
"Guys, we have a mayday situation. Nate's comm just went online and off again. His GPS is dead too." Hardison reported.
We said goodbye to Christine and we got in the taxi and left.
"His last-known coordinates were the marina." Eliot pointed out.
"Yeah, and I still never solved the waterproofing problem. Look, the comms still go out when they're submerged in water." Hardison said.
Parker punched the gas.
We arrived at the marina. We all got out.
"Parker, Kaira, you're with me." Eliot said.
We started jogging to the boat as I signaled Hardison and Sophie to stay put. While Eliot and Parker went to deal with some business, Sophie and I confronted Meredith.
"Hello, Meredith. Remember us?" I gave a smirk as Meredith recognized us from the party.
"Oh, you're both good." Meredith complimented us.
"So I've been told." Sophie said.
"I mean, I was taught by the best." I smiled at Sophie.
"I never suspected you at all, not for a moment." Meredith said, surprised.
"Of course not. As good as you are, you're not nearly as good as you think you are." Sophie quoted.
"I destroyed his earbud before I said that. How did you..." Meredith said.
I smiled and nodded behind her, where Nate was walking towards us. Meredith turned around and saw Nate walking.
"I heard you go over." Meredith said.
Nate just cocked his head.
"If not you, then wh-" Meredith questioned.
See, Nate headbutted Oscar at the boat, where the gunshot went off. Then Eliot had come down and finished him off, tossing him over the pier, offended by Oscar's use of fisticuffs.
"Helps to have a husband with some anger issues." I smiled a bit.
Meredith turned to Nate.
"What do you want, 50/50? 60/40?" Meredith questioned us.
"I wasn't lying when I said I was after your records." Nate said.
"I'll never give them up." Meredith said.
"Ah." Nate grabbed a cell phone from his jacket pocket.
"But you already have." Nate said.
I smirked a bit.
See, when Meredith was distracted by talking with Nate, Parker switched out the sd card on the camera. She then went to Hardison at the taxi, who plugged it into his laptop and sent it to Nate.
"Right now, all your details are being sent to every rich and powerful mark you have on file. Oh, and your fingerprints-" Sophie said as Nate walked beside us.
"They've already been sent to the authorities, just in case they want to reopen the files on the deaths of all those husbands." I added.
Nate got close to Meredith.
"If I were you, I'd start running." Nate warned Meredith.
"Now." Sophie said.
Meredith started leaving.
I walked to meet with Eliot and Parker as Nate and Sophie locked arms. I chuckled a bit.
We later met back at the bar, where we reunited Christine and Walt, who shared a kiss as they hugged. They thanked us as they left. We sat at the bar. Parker and Hardison on one side, Nate, Sophie around the corner, then Eliot and me, drinks in front of us all.
"True love does exist." Sophie said.
"May it always prevail." Eliot toasted.
I smiled a bit. "Amen to that, babe." I toasted.
"Here, here." Hardison said.
"Slainte." Parker added.
We all clinked glasses. Just then, a delivery man came up to us, holding two boxes.
"Looking for a Miss Devereaux." The guy said.
Sophie raised her hand.
"Mm. That's me." Sophie said, heading to the delivery guy.
"And a Parker." The guy said.
Parker grabbed her box. They thanked the guy as he left. Sophie wrapped her arm around Nate.
"I take it all back." Sophie gave Nate a kiss on the temple.
"Every word. You are romantic." Sophie said.
Parker opened her box, and It was a venus fly trap. Sophie got white roses. Eliot was looking at them, and I realized very quickly he had set that up. Parker was reading the card.
"It eats flies. Huh. A plant that does something." Parker said.
Hardison and Nate looked at each other, then to Eliot. I caught Eliot winking at them, and I chuckled. It was nice seeing the girls happy, and their men happy that they were happy. Eliot then leaned into me, seeing my smile.
"You didn't think I'd forget about my Princess, did you?" Eliot smirked at me as he got up.
I followed him up to our apartment. We stood outside. I went to open the door before Eliot stopped me.
"When you walk in, I want you to head to our bedroom. Get changed into something nice, and don't leave until I tell you." Eliot told me, smiling.
"Babe, what are you planning?" I asked him, a nervous smile on my face.
"It wouldn't be a surprise if I told you. Now, would it, sweetheart? Just trust me." Eliot said.
"All right." I smiled.
I walked in and did as Eliot said. I walked into our bedroom, and I saw a nice outfit already laid out on the bed. It was a very nice red t-shirt and black dress pants. I chuckled as I got changed. Since I didn't hear Eliot call for me yet, I walked into the bathroom and put on a little make up, just to change it up a bit.
After some time, Eliot said I could come out. So I walked out and went to the dining table. I chuckled as I saw Eliot in a black short sleeve button up, black jeans, and his boots. The table had my favorite pasta dish on the plate, bread was in a basket on the table, and the centerpiece was some red tulips. The lights we down, and candles were lit, and the blinds were closed. I was grinning like crazy when I saw Eliot.
"What do you think, mama?" Eliot smiled at me as he walked up to me.
"You sly son of a bitch." I smile as I wrap my arms around his neck.
We lean in for a quick peck.
"I thought you would love it." Eliot said.
He pecks my lips again. I walked up and felt the flowers. I notice something off.
"Babe, why is there no water in the vase." I asked him.
"Because the flowers aren't real." Eliot said. I was confused.
"I chose red tulips because they're symbols of love. Pure love. And since the flowers aren't real, they'll last forever. Just like my love for you. Pure, and forever lasting." Eliot said.
I can't help but smile.
"Come here." I whispered as I wrapped my arms around him.
I leaned in and softly kissed Eliot.
"You know, babe, under that gruff, cowboy exterior that I love, you're a softie." I teased Eliot.
"Oh, only for you, sweetheart. Why don't we eat?" Eliot said.
I kissed him again and went to sit down. But before I could, Eliot pulled out the chair, causing us both to smile.
"Ever a gentlemen." I teased Eliot.
"Always." Eliot teased back.
I sat down. Eliot then grabbed a bottle of red wine from the fridge. I chuckled.
"Classy." I teased as Eliot poured the wine.
"Only for you." Eliot said, smiling.
He sat the bottle on the table and sat down. We started eating, and I loved the food! And the wine was a nice bonus. I complimented Eliot on the food. After we were done eating. Eliot grabbed the plates and put them in the sink. He then grabbed his wine glass.
"I have a surprise on the roof, come on." Eliot said, smiling.
He grabbed my hand and I grabbed my glass and he lead me to the roof. When we got up to the roof, I put my glass down on the table. I noticed the sunset on the Boston skyline. Eliot did too. I then noticed the radio on the table.
"You know, Princess, I haven't taken you dancing in a while." Eliot said.
He grabbed a cassette tape from his jeans pocket and put it in the radio. He then walked up to me and extended his hand to me. I smiled as I grabbed his hand. Eliot spun me to him, and back out, causing me to chuckle. He then pressed play on the radio. He played a familiar song, as we grabbed each others hands and I got close to him.
When Eliot had hit play, I had no idea it was his voice that I was gonna hear. Or that it was gonna be our song. I was tearing up. But I was happy. I looked at Eliot's blue eyes, and I was home.
"Dammit, you're making me fall more in love with you." I whispered, smiling.
"Like that's a bad thing." Eliot whispered back.
We kissed again. Eliot then led me to the lawn chair. He sat down, and I sat down next to him, and cuddled in, grabbing my wine glass. It was nice, just sitting there, seeing the sun go down. Eliot kissed the side of my head.
"Is everything okay with you, Kaira?" Eliot asked me.
I pursed my lips, realizing Eliot knew me too well.
"Damn you." I took a breath.
"Before this job started, I got a phone call. A call from my Zio Leo." I said.
"About what?" Eliot asked.
"He said that he had a meeting with Brian and some of his guys, trying to track me down." I said.
Eliot got upset.
"What? Kaira, why didn't you tell me this sooner?" Eliot asked me.
"Because Zio Leo also told me he didn't give anything up. And Hardison was already covering our tracks. And Brian's family doesn't have the resources like he used to in order to track us down. I didn't tell you because there was nothing worried about." I explained, calming Eliot down.
"What does Brian want with you?" Eliot asked me.
"Brain wants to try and combine our families resources. At least, that's what Zio Leo told me Brian said. Though we both suspect he's gonna try to get me back in the business." I explain.
"I thought you made it pretty clear last time that you weren't interested." Eliot said.
"I thought so too, babe." I told him.
"I guess was thinking about the time Brian and I were together. He was such an asshole. I guess I thought I deserved what he did. I had it in my head that he was the only one who could love me. Then you came along. You're rattlesnake smile and that cowboy roughness taught me that I deserved love. But there's still a part of me that thinks that I don't deserve you. These grifters, they use their tricks to steal their marks money, and the marks end up dead. I'm not a good person, Eliot. Sure, I don't do the things I used to do anymore. And that is because of you. Just like Lacey with Walt." I explain, trying to stop the tears.
"And I thought I had gotten over those thoughts. Then someone who could steal you without a second thought tried, and it scared me. Not because you would allow it to happen, but because she wouldn't have given you a choice. That's why I got aggressive." I revealed.
Eliot pulled me closer to him.
"Kaira, look at me." Eliot said soft.
I looked at him.
"I know I'm not... traditional when it comes to us. And I probably don't tell you enough, or show it enough, but I love you. I love the hell out of you, Kaira Spencer." Eliot held my face.
"I don't know why Heaven above, blessed me with your sweet love." Eliot started singing, causing us both to smile and chuckle.
"All I know is I'll never tell you what you're worth." I started singing.
"Cause you're more than I deserve." We both sang together.
We were both smiling.
"That was the song you made to propose." I chuckled, trying not to cry.
"And it's true. I'm not going anywhere, Kaira." Eliot assured me.
I can't help but smile.
"I'm not going anywhere either." I put my hand on Eliot's face.
"I love the hell out of you too, Cowboy." I smiled.
I leaned in and kissed Eliot.
I realized the sun at gone down and it was dark out. It was also getting cold, so I shivered, though it felt nice to be beside Eliot.
"You cold, mama?" Eliot asked me.
I chuckled a bit.
"Yeah. A bit." I said.
He kissed my forehead.
"Let's get you inside so I can warm you up." Eliot said.
I smiled and got up. We walked hand and hand back to our apartment, where I finished my wine and put the glass in the sink. We got changed and laid in bed. I was cuddling next to Eliot, laying on his shoulder, Eliot's arm wrapped around me. My eyes were closed, as I was relaxed.
"Did I do okay?" Eliot asked me. I smiled.
"Yes. You did good, babe." I said.
I felt Eliot kiss my cheek.
"I love you. Get some rest, Princess." Eliot said.
"You too, Cowboy." I all but whispered.
It's nice when you love someone. When you can be vulnerable or mess up, and it's okay. God, I am so lucky that I have Eliot.