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Day Four: Daddy’s Little Firecracker

Elli sat outside her father’s office, feeling thirty years younger than she was. She almost expected to be able to kick her feet under the chair like she did when she was a child, something that never failed to earn reproach from either her father or from Aswell, her father’s secretary.

“It’s been a long time since you were here, Eleanor,” Aswell said from behind his vast oak desk. The man’s voice was a croak, the sound of something that should have died years ago. Despite the natural fastidiousness of his position, he had always looked a mess – ill-fitting clothes and an ever-expanding frizz of hair that threatened to fly off his head. Elli’s father had bought him a tailored wardrobe and the best stylist money could buy, but they didn’t last. His return to form was as inevitable as the tides, as gravity.

Aswell adjusted his glasses, the tiny lenses glinting in the setting sunlight through the window. “Your father misses you.”

“Really?” Elli snorted. “I’m surprised he remembers who I am. This is the first I’ve heard from him since My Divorce.” She took special pains with the words, knowing what they meant to her father.

“Which one?”

Her mouth twitched. “Touché.”

“He does think of you, Elli. He’s just -”

“A very busy man, yes. You gave that speech after I dropped out of Vassar.”

“It’s still true,” he said. “And like it or not-”

“Not.”

“He’s still your father,” Aswell finished. “You owe him a great deal.”

Elli ground her teeth and tried very hard not to clutch her bag to her chest. “Yes I do,” she growled. Her hands itched to open the bag, to grab the gun and to just finish it all now. She could do it. She was pretty sure she could. Aswell, her father, anyone else in her way. And it had to be done. He had lied to her for the last time. He had interfered in her life for the last time. He had –

“Elli.”

She looked up. Aswell was standing in front of her, one hand outstretched. She hadn’t heard him move. He was lit from behind by the last rays of the sun, and his hair made a halo around his head. “Give me the gun, Elli, or I’ll have my men take it from you.” She glanced aside and saw the anonymous man-mountains who always seemed to be on guard. When did he call them? His fingers wiggled. “The gun, Elli. These are not nice men.”

Elli blinked. “What gun?”

Aswell pursed his lips and then snapped his fingers. One of the cyclopean men glided over and snatched her bag with a fist the size of her head. The man gave it to Aswell, who deftly undid the straps. He looked in and one of his eyebrows twitched. He showed the inside of the bag to the guard, who made a noise like a continent shifting. “A Desert Eagle?” Aswell asked. “Fifty caliber?” He pulled the gun out of the bag, and it looked entirely wrong in his delicate hands. “My dear, the recoil alone would break your wrists. Why on earth would you buy a gun like this?”

“It doesn’t matter as much where I hit,” she said, forcing herself to lean back and be casual. “It seemed like a good idea.”

Aswell handed the gun to the guard. In that man’s hands, the gun looked almost normal. “Well, it wasn’t.” Aswell wiped his hands on his trousers and went around to his desk. The guards didn’t move. “You’ll just have to come up with some other ridiculously impractical and unnecessary show of defiance.” A buzzer sounded, and the great mahogany doors swung open. “Your father wants to see you.”

Elli stood. She wanted to smooth out her skirt, to run her fingers through her hair, to crack her knuckles. She wanted to jump on the giant holding her gun and somehow wrestle it from his grip. She wanted to rain blows on his head and  make him mad. She wanted to scream, to cry, to fall on the floor and sob.

She took a deep breath. She smiled. She walked into her father’s office.

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