Sandy Point - The Rusty Pelican
Slim watched the two of them, Gemma sitting at the table with her slender legs crossed, her body language enigmatic. She idly toyed with the long strands of her jet black hair while Coop sat at the opposite side of the table glaring at her. He steadily tapped the toe of his heavy boot against the chair leg, aggravated and on edge.
Focusing on her, Slim got into it. "I'm going to cut to the chase. We aren't giving you a blank check. Name your terms. What's the price for you to keep your mouth shut?""
Gemma turned her eyes on Cooper. She let him hang under that gaze for a few moments before responding in a cool, controlled voice. "You raped me."
Cooper laughed, a long mirthless denial. "That's bullshit! You were right there with me!"
"You walked into my house uninvited, ripped my clothes, carried me to my bedroom and threw me down. Are you going to tell me it happened some other way? You were brutal. That's rape."
"That's a lie! You removed your own clothes before I even got my shirt off. You've got to be kidding...I didn't hear one word of complaint from you. You were right there with me the first time, the second..."
She shot right back at him. "I'm not surprised there are holes in your memory - you staggered around like a drunk - but you heard me ask you to stop!"
"That's enough!" Slim shifted his eyes back on her after throwing a look of warning at Cooper. "You're here so tell me what you want?"
"I want a contract for Brew...for Jimmy. Long term."
Rising from the table, Coop snorted derisively and walked away. "What the hell? That's what this is about? A contract for Jimmy Breaux? No way you're forcing me into a fucking corner over Jimmy Breaux!"
"Coop, sit down." Trying to bring things back to business Slim played his hand. "You know Jimmy's a risk. If..." pausing for dramatic effect, "...if we consider it there will be stipulations in the contract. And this will not be an open ticket. One contract with Hitman. That's all it will take for you to market your...talent."
"I have as much to lose here as Cooper does. There will always be doubts about how I got a contract as a green agent. I want it long term...and I want him to admit he raped me so there is no question in this room what went down. And I want to see it...the contract."
Slim leaned in resting his large hands on the table in front of her and growled, "I don't give a damn what you want or what you have to lose. Shut up, sit there and listen to me. Nobody's admitting anything. We draw up a contract for Jimmy Breaux, but it's our terms. He blows it, that's it. You get whatever the hell you think you're getting out of this, and you shut the hell up and go away."
He looked at Cooper who met his gaze straight on. "Coop doesn't want you near his kids. You leave them alone. You don't say a thing about what went down between the two of you, you stay away from his wife, you stay away from the media. And lady, if you think you're coming back and asking for more, you don't know me. I'll ruin your ass. You know I can do it. Now get out of here."
Gemma finally stood. "Threaten me all you want. He forced himself on me, you know he did; I can see it in your face that you're wondering. As for his kids...Wyatt is Julia's son. If he wants to see me I am not going to discourage it and you will not stop me." Turning, head held arrogantly in the air, she left them.
After a long moment Slim drew a deep breath and exhaled. "Coop...man this is bad. The woman is going after your ass and she's serious. You know the way this thing works. You're going to be lucky if she limits it to Jimmy Breaux. What the hell were you doing out there? What happened? Anything to her claim that you raped her?"
Sandy Point, 10 Big Tree Road: 4 PM
"A year." Jimmy read slowly, working his way through the 20 pages of small type, scared and determined to read the whole damned thing and knowing Rennie was biting her lip because he was slow with it. He started to use his finger to keep his place while he read and then quit that. Glancing up across the table at Cooper, he asked him, "How many clauses you throwing at me? Am I gonna need to get a hall pass to hit the john?"
It was kinda supposed to lighten the mood.
Cooper sat there under that rainy afternoon window and his face was cold. "Show up and do your job. You get one chance. One."
They had less than an hour from the time they took that call until he showed up with a contract. Nothing more than that and he didn't explain why.
Without asking him Rayne pulled the contract across the table and started flipping through it and looking up at her father at the same time. Jimmy knew she was going to do this, they'd had enough time to cover that much even if she hadn't told him what she was looking for. "Gemma Wilson gets an unusually generous percentage. Why is that?"
He was sitting in the chair with the short leg, stupid choice of a chair but he couldn't get up now so he did what he could with it, trying not to rock it, leaning forward, smoking too much.
Cooper shoved his hair back like a man who didn't know what to do with his hands, an angry man. "He signed the contract, ask him. I assume he can read."
She was clenching her hands on the bottom of the chair, a thing she did sometimes when she wasn't getting her way. "What if he fires her? Would you resubmit the offer?"
The room was full of the steady drip drip sound of water leaking through the hole in the gutter outside the window. Cooper shot him a narrow eyed look over the table. "Take it or leave it and do it now. I'm not resubmitting anything."
Rayne got up, pushed the chair out of her way, pushing it hard she was banging it against the table, announcing, "Excuse me, I need some air. It stinks in here."
Jimmy let her go. Screen door slapping shut, she was standing out there in the rain, leaving him to sit here with Cooper. Cooper watched her go out there but he didn't get up or say a damned thing. He didn't want to lose this chance, insult the man, make a wrong move. What was worse? Losing the contract or losing his girl? He stood up, dropped the butt in the ashtray, hands shaking, refusing to make that choice, he said, "Gimme a minute."
Cooper nodded, something Jimmy was sure he wouldn't have done if it wasn't his own daughter out there, nothing to do with Jimmy himself.
Standing on the far side of the front porch, staring out at wet trees and wet boats, Rayne didn't move when Jimmy came up, planted himself between Rayne and the kitchen window, and asked quietly, "You gonna tell me what's wrong?"
She kicked the wet rail and leaned on it harder and didn't look at him. "You're her present. He can't stand you. There's only one reason he'd do this, and it's for her. Don't do it, Toad. Don't start out like this."
The kitchen window was open. Whatever they said, Cooper could hear it. Jimmy leaned over the porch rail next to her and whispered, "Rennie, sweetheart, that's the way it works. Me, I don't give a damn if I'm hanging on a chain around her neck, his present, it's still a contract. You don't get Cooper Stanfield driving up and giving you a contract, nobody gets that. If I got to use his girl on the side to get us a start, I'm doing it. You gonna work with me?"
Rayne, all wet and angry, looked past him through the kitchen window at her father, and pushed him aside and stood stuck between him and his arm across the steps down since he didn't want her to go what the fuck was this about? Making him give it up for some piece of ass Cooper took down? You get one shot, one big chance, you can't don't choke on it. Didn't make sense, no sense at all, he tried to think of something to say when she hit him again.
"Work with you to use my father's whore to get what you want? You may as well fuck her yourself. I grew up with this, I know all about how it works. You want it, take it, but it's going to come back at you, Toad, and it pisses me off. I have to go, I can't be here right now, I need to get out of here."
He heard the back door squeak open. Rayne hurried down the steps toward her car. Through that open window, he saw that contract fluttering on the table. He went in, walked past it, walked past his Fender, walked out the back where Cooper was leaning against a porch column that might fall any damned minute now. The whole place was falling down. Never was gonna be another chance like this, not like this. Cooper didn't say a thing. "I'll sign it," Jimmy told him. "Gimme a pen and I'll sign it."
NEXT CHAPTER: Chameleon Chapter 9