Confessions of an Heiress: Part Four
Part Four- “Foolproof”
Bridgette’s tone was carefully constructed and obviously put on. The woman was creepy, no doubt about it. Just being around her gave you that same feeling of morbid curiosity that one often experiences the split second before they pull the Lever of Doom. Being no exception, Kiran chose her next words carefully. “If you help us with a tiny little favor, I can personally guarantee you a ticket into next year’s VillainCon, in addition to two million neopoints.”
Again, the flash of greed; but in an instant it was gone. “Oh, but the illegality of it all...”
“I have several reliable sources that tell me you were personally involved in the Stock Market Scandal of Y5 and the Neopian Bank Database Crash of Y6,” Asha interrupted. “I don’t think legality is an issue.”
Bridgette’s smile, which had previously been plastered on her face, instantly dropped into a grim line. “Just go ahead and tell me already- what do you need me to do?”
Kiran batted her eyes innocently. “It’s simple, Ms. Newberry. We just need you to convince your sister to get rid of Tiffany and convince her to adopt River.”
Despite Kiran’s unflinching glare, Asha was still sobbing. “We didn’t mean for you to get involved! It was foolproof! It was supposed to be Tiffany!” The orange Kougra buried her head in her paws.
“Asha, enough!” Kiran snapped. “You’re acting like we did something wrong!” Her voice softened as she turned to Taite. “But we didn’t. It was a freak accident. That’s all. Bridgette attempted to stick to her end of the bargain, but she was nervous about being caught. She didn’t push Belinda enough, so Belinda ended up turning on you instead of Tiffany.
“But we didn’t find that out until later, and Tiffany was still gloating about her family’s rare species and colors. I guess it was maybe a few days before you were pounded; we grabbed the common paint brushes we had bought-- desert, white, brown, and faerie, no one would be too impressed with those colours—and left it on Belinda’s doorstep with a note saying how much we knew her pets wanted to be painted. I think I called it ‘a present to my nieces’ and signed it from Bridgette; I’m pretty decent when it comes to forgery, but apparently not good enough...”
“Tiffany, you can’t prove anything.” River kept her voice calm, but it was an unnecessary precaution. She was shaking so badly anyone could have figured out that she was terrified. The 400 was her life; this could not be happening.
“I can’t prove anything, huh? I have this note, supposedly signed by my aunt, and this old letter from Kiran. The signature on the note does rather resemble my aunt’s, but look at the body of both letters. The exact same handwriting. No doubt about it. It’s forgery! And this on the day when we find out that my sister’s getting pounded and you’re going to take her place? And right after we find this out, I see that Kiran’s been upped from number eleven to number nine. I don’t think the other powers that be will see these all as coincidences. I can take it to them, if you like. We’re always encouraged to bring them anything we think might not be aboveboard, and this-” the Aisha gestured to the two notes in her hand- “is definitely not legal in the 400! You know, I do think I’ll take this to the Powers that Be.”
“Tiffany, wait! What do I need to do for you not to show that to anyone else?” River could hear the pleading in her voice.
A smile flashed across her face. “Tell me everything; and maybe, just maybe, when I go to talk to the other top five, I’ll leave your name out of it.”
“And River sold out,” Kiran concluded. “She told her all about our deal. And so that wonderful sister of yours came after me.”
“Kiran, I will give you one chance to save your butt. One chance. You have till the end of the month to get Taite out of the pound. If she’s not out by then, I’m going to the top five and giving them everything they need to kick you out of the 400 for good.”
Kiran let out a shaky breath, then glanced to the door behind her. They were all in there- all five people that could decide to throw her out of the organization. “Where do you want her to go?” she whispered.
“Well, since your lovely plan worked after all, and now Belinda wants River to live with us... it doesn’t matter where she goes; just make sure she’s happy. You know what’ll happen if she isn’t.” Tiffany’s eyes burned as she added one last statement. “You messed up her life. Now you get to fix it.”
That said, the desert Aisha turned on her heel and sauntered out of the room.
“I couldn’t risk my ranking, Taite. Not after everything I’d done, all the years it had taken. If the Powers found out that I had cheated the system, the best case scenario would be that I was bumped down to a number in the three-hundreds. The three hundreds! So I sought out Asha’s help. We went to our parents and asked to volunteer at the pound. They were so shocked by the fact that we wanted to ‘give back to the community’ that they had to let us go! River said she knew one 400 member that had been volunteering there a lot, which is how we came into contact with Cardea. Cardea owed River a favor from a while back and we were it.
“Oh Cardea... She was so honest and sweet; she didn’t really like us at first, but we grow on people, you know? She didn’t approve of half the stuff we did, but she knows so little about society... But she was a big help. She would do anything to help you, before she even met you...” Kiran sat quietly for a minute, apparently caught up in the past.
Asha, however, seemed to have gathered herself again, and filled in the gap with a quick statement. “And the three of us found you fairly quickly.”
Snapped back to reality, Kiran snorted. “Way to state the obvious; but yeah, we were working with a time restraint, so we ushered you out to the first owner we could find. That happened to be Desdemona McTavish, who has owned many a top ten pet. At that point, you were a topic of hushed gossip among the 400- a whispered rumor that no one wanted to believe. But gossip in our circle is almost always true, and when Tiffany found out where you were... Well, let’s just say she was furious. I mean, Asha and I thought it was a good match for you; Desdemona always treated society pets with the best care and attention. But Tiffany knew that she wouldn’t consider you a part of society. And so, our rescue mission began.”
Thoughts of Desdemona and Monday instantly took shape in Taite’s mind. She clearly remembered the cold, harsh woman and her whiny, spoiled daughter. The Usul inadvertently look down at the floor, where the head of an Usuki stared up at her. As she picked up the piece of the doll, she heard the high-pitched wail of a little girl from a year ago- “Mommy, Flight Attendant Usuki’s head is missing!”- and suddenly it all made sense...
The sound of Tiffany’s voice was beginning to give Kiran chills. She was sick and tired of the bratty little witch ordering her around like a servant. So why was she sitting here waiting for the fuming mad Aisha to begin her rant? The 400 was already abuzz with whispered gossip about a manipulation that landed a pet in the pound. The Powers that Be were sure to hear soon, if they hadn’t already. River was probably doing all she could to keep them naïve about the whole thing, but poor River couldn’t hold out forever.
“Heh-hem.” Tiffany cleared her throat. “Kiran,” she began slowly, “I am terribly disappointed in you. I’m sure you cannot even begin to understand how angry I am. The end of the month is about ten days away. My sister is stuck with a cruel woman and her insane daughter. What are you going to do about it?”
“Listen, Tiff-” the Acara started angrily.
“No, no. I’m not finished yet. Because you don’t have a choice about what you are going to do. You are going to make sure Taite finds a new owner- a real owner. And see to it that it actually gets done right this time! ...Or else I guess I’ll just have to pay a visit to our Powers.”
Asha shook her head. “We were as discreet as possible about everything; but somehow, the ‘The Powers That Be’ found out that there was- how did they phrase it? - ‘suspicious activity involving the 400’ and you. They notified everyone, promising great rewards to anyone who had information about you or how much you knew about our organization. And suddenly, four hundred pets were in an all out rage, scanning the globe for an innocent Usul.”
To be continued...