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    Chapter 13 – The Funhouse

     

    “Not to mention she bats for your team” Aaron added with a stupid smirk.

     

    Eric chuckled along, pointing a finger at him and sloshing the contents of his glass onto the back of his hand. He sneered as his icy blue eyes met hers, the ice clinking softly as he raised his glass to lick the back of his hand.

     

    “Jesus” she said, as she was forced to look away. She pushed her hair back roughly, “This is…so fucking inappropriate.”

     

    “Please, Tina” Aaron said, shaking his head in disapproval, “I never took you for a fucking prude.”

     

    Tina clenched her fist. She was getting angry, and even angrier knowing that James had a front row seat to this dressing down. “Do you have anything else to talk to me about, Eric? Aaron said you weren’t happy with the shots for the press kit”

     

    “I’m not. But, you guys can handle that. Make it sexier. Christ, we are paying top dollar for some of the best bodies in the business. More loin cloths and fig leaves, less robes” he said casually.

     

    “Is that all?” she asked incredulously.

     

    “Yes and no” he paused. “Look Tina, I think you should make yourself available to Helena. Let her see what you can do. Learn from her let her learn from you. And for God’s sake wear something that says you’re fuckable when you meet with her. Maybe she’ll like some of your ideas. And if not…You know, hey, there’s nothing wrong with being the prettiest girl in the room. It’s an asset. And you’ve still got a good few years of marketability left. You should work it. Give her a little taste if you know what I mean.”

     

    “Un-fucking-believable” she squeaked out.

     

    “He’s joking, Tina. God, take a joke” said Aaron. But she could see the evidence of his excitement and it was revolting. His legs were tightly crossed now, both hands squeezed between his thighs. His eyes flicked from hers to Eric’s and back again.

     

    She closed her eyes and shook her head, a small sound coming from the back of her throat, the bitter taste of bile rising. For a moment she thought to restrain herself, that this wasn’t the right moment, that the circumstances of the day made it unsafe for her to speak up. But then the reality of it hit her. That she had never felt safe in this environment. For too long she had felt the weight of the decisions she made on how to present herself each day. How to be sexy but not too sexy to invite unwanted attention. How to play dumb when the attention came anyway. How to swallow past the pit in her stomach and laugh off the blatant advances. She shut herself down, downplaying her femininity, her vulnerability, her softness, even her wit. All to stay well within what was expected of her, to show her fealty to the boys club. And all of it, all of it had chiseled away at her creativity, making her unsure of herself and her value, dulling her work.

    Comments

    1. What a pleasant Friday night surprise for all of fanfiction. Welcome home! So much to unpack here. First of all Jason Bourne has nothing on your Bette Porter. Or James!!! For fans of action packed adventure this was non stop and top notch! I lost count of all of the toppled bad guys. But the big one got away! That’s bad news for our gang but great news for your readers. That means another confrontation with that drugged out, sleaze bag, sex trafficking Eric. On the bad side Tina still can’t follow directions. On the good side Tina still can’t follow directions. Bette held her breath an amazingly long time….. until she….didn’t…. and Tina saved her life. Thank goodness for her CPR training. All so she could say I love you!!! That’s getting it out there the hard way. But there you have it. They are officially in love. Yes!

      So raise your hand if you think Helena is up to this is her pretty eyeballs? Not sure about Aaron. He could just be a slime ball. After the way he talked to Tina he needs to go. But Tina showed that she can hold her own. Loved this passage: “She stood up fast, knocking her chair over from the force of it. Her nails dug into the flesh of her palms and her voice shook. “Helena Peabody may own it, you two assholes may think you run it, but this is my studio, my crew, my writers, my vision that lines your pockets, that keeps you balls deep in hookers and blow. And you will show me some god damn respect! Or else I will tear this place down brick by brick before I leave it. It’s your fucking choice.” Way to go Tina! Probably not a good idea for Bette to buy the studio. But Bette and H are headed for a confrontation to be sure.

      Gotta add that I felt really sorry for Shane. She saw the putrid horrible room which conjured memories of her younger days. And she watched helplessly as a lifeless Bette was slipping away, unable to help save her. And Carmen walked out. No Carmen! And as Tina said… she was all alone….after everything that went down. Shane needs a hug. No doubt about it. What a day! I think it’s pretty cool that Bette meditates on the roof. With her line of work I can see why!

      So I wonder what Eric’s neighbors thought? Exciting night. But I would not want to be the one who had to handle all of the paper work from that caper. And Tasha is now in for more. “You can’t just dump a hundred or more bullets into the scene of a federal search warrant and walk away. Not even if you’re invited and definitely not even if you save the special agent in charge’s life.” I think I feel sorry for her. Rest up. I hope they managed to get the “rental” house back in order. What a glorious tale. So much more to mention. So many twists and turns. I may add more later. For now, well done! So very well done!!

      • Thank you, Billy! I had so much fun with this chapter. You pulled out Tina’s most powerful line, aside from the I Love You, because I think that was pretty powerful too. But with all of that clarity and empowerment, Tina went back to Bette’s and let it wash right down the drain (literally) when she picked a silly fight with Bette in the shower. She was embarrassed that Bette saw Aaron and Eric ganging up on her and how she had to defend herself, and she hurt Bette’s feelings. It was a low blow to tell Bette that she couldn’t understand how hard she had worked for what she had. As if everything came easy to Bette. Well, as we’re starting to see, things don’t always come easy for Bette.
        A shame that Eric got away, but not unscathed. And yes, we’ll surely see him again.
        I love how you said Bette held her breath for a really long time….until she didn’t. I had thought and thought about that scene for the last year. At one point, I had thought to take out the part where Bette drowns. But, in the end, I kept it. I wanted Tina to save her and I wanted to show what lengths Bette would go to in order to not lose. But, I think it overshadowed the whole scene. I wanted to right a wrong in the original series, at least in a small way. I wanted Bette and Tina and Shane to save Jenny from that pool, as they hadn’t before. Anyway, I’m still happy with how the chapter came together overall.
        I’m with you on feeling really sad for Shane. But, this thing with Carmen has been coming. And I wanted to clear the way for Shane to develop a friendship with Jenny. I always loved their friendship before it got weird and possessive with questionable writing in Season 6. I always loved how they were two lost souls that could rely on each other in a way and had that kind of symbiosis and that common sense of longing for something that they couldn’t quite put their finger on. Don’t worry though, Carmen may not be gone forever.
        As for Eric’s neighbors, oh well! They’re just lucky I didn’t burn down their whole neighborhood with a wildfire haha.
        And don’t worry about Tasha, Alice will take good care of her and she’ll be out of the hospital soon. Yes, that paperwork is going to suck, but thanks to Barbara Grisham she has found herself with a lot more flexibility and can work with Bette’s team without much oversight. It’s good to have friends or ex-lovers in high places. And Bette is good at curating those type of friends.
        Now it’s off to Paris to follow the heart. All hearts, really. Bette’s, Tina’s, Aphrodite’s.
        Thanks for your amazing comments as always, my friend. I’m sorry it took me over a week to respond. Running two restaurants has been kicking my butt!

        Risky

    2. Now that was some drama…. shoot ’em up at Eric’s house…. wow… had me on the edge of my seat all night… too bad Eric got away. But he is wounded – cuts from the glass from the ceiling.

      So Tasha ended up with a puncture lung. Usually that puts people in intensive care for a few days. It is a rather serious wound. And the first two agents with Tasha, their wounds would be life threating too. They were very lucky to have James around. And Bette was very lucky that Tina was around to help rescue Jenny and to give Bette CPR until she recovered. I would think they would have insisted that Bette spend a night in the hospital for observation after such a trauma. She ceased breathing for several minutes. And its possible that her heart stopped for a couple of minutes as well. Fortunately, Tina did what she needed to do.

      After reading this story, I too need a good night’s sleep… All this excitement of this chapter has me exhausted.

      I have missed this story and I do appreciate you giving us such a long chapter and telling us more about this mystery. Now, I cannot wait until we have more to read…. still more questions to be answered. Why was Dana killed? Why are the thief’s after the Venus statue? Do they know about the inscription inside the sculpture? Do they know about the ruby and its myths? And who is behind it all? My guess is that it’s Helena. Helena Peabody and Aaron Cornbluth are the only two characters who have not been tied down as to what role they play in Eric’ life.

      Oh, and that was a nice touch bringing in Senator Barbara Grisham as a former lover and friend of Bette’s. And making Bette a Special Agent of the FBI…. that is a surprise as well. Sounds like the government has an interest in solving this crime as well.

      Thank you for this story and for this long awaited chapter… please write more when you can….

        • Thank you so much, Sharon. I saw your comment on my last chapter just before I posted this one. It made me a little sad to know you thought I wasn’t going to finish this story. I’m sorry for making you wait so long. I will never give up on this story. I just wish I could write as often as I want to. So glad that you haven’t given up on it either.
          xo
          Risky

      • Hi Martha,
        Thank you so much for your wonderful comments. Yes, that was a fun chapter to write, even though sometimes it was a struggle and felt a little over the top. But I had been imagining it for so long, it was good to finally see it come together. Yes, a lot of drama for our girls. Eric is still on the loose, even though Bette got a little blood out of him. Trust me, she wanted more. Tasha was hurt with cracked ribs for sure, but James could be wrong about thinking she had a punctured lung. We’ll have to see. As for Bette, she was way too stubborn to be treated at the scene. Not sure if anybody outside of her small circle will know just how close she came. Other than with Tina, I think she’s unlikely to ever discuss that with anyone. Maybe not even with Shane. She’s invincible after all.
        There’s much more coming as it concerns the actually mystery of the Venus, Dana’s murder and the race to the diamond. The next chapter will bring that into focus.
        As for Senator Grisham, I had to put her in. I think that was one huge missed opportunity in the original series. I thought Bette deserved that moment. But, all she wanted was for Tina to care. But hey, that’s why we love them together. Because there’s no other love like theirs. Unfortunately, I don’t think I made the senator’s involvement very clear yet. Bette has not been made an agent, but since Senator Grisham is on the FBI oversight committee and a high profile D.C. politician, she’s got quite a bit of influence. Bette’s basically been given Tasha as her own personal get out of jail free card. At least in the US…. Internationally, she’s certainly got to be more careful. Unless of course she’s got more friends in high places. You never know!
        I’m glad you’re still enjoying this story. These characters have become a part of me. I try my hardest to find more time to write, but it’s much harder now than it was during quarantine. Can’t wait for your to read the next chapter,

        Risky

    3. I was about to dub you Risky Missing Kitty but then your story appears and all is right in the world again. So nice to have you back, so wonderful to read an action packed, explosive, heart stopping, white knuckling chapter. Billy is right, James Bourne has nothing on Bette Porter. I would add James Bond, Batman, and even Villanelle from Killing Eve could learn a thing or two from Bette and her crew. You know I love TLW James in a disguise and I love that he is so protective of Tina as Shane is with Bette.
      I think behind the scenes of all this will be the great puppet master Helena. Standing in front of a shark filled tank, petting an exotic cat like some classic villain in a 1980 movie, she will emerge as the real brains behind the operation where Eric is nothing but muscle. How lucky was he to get away. Hope he runs straight to Helena to lick his wounds like the lapdog he is and Bette follows the trail to end it. And somewhere in all of this is the mystery of the Venus statue and why someone had to die. All in good hands with your RK, please post soon. But not too soon, I need my heart to resume it’s normal beat after this chapter. Have a good weekend

      • Thanks BK,
        You know I’m your biggest fan and your stories are my greatest inspiration. I still haven’t started your third story yet, but I can’t wait to. It’s like saving a box of thin mints in the freezer way after Girl Scout cookie season is over. It’ll be waiting for me like a prize.
        I’m so happy you liked this chapter. Writing it was like riding the thin line between pleasure and pain. And finishing it was like sweet relief.
        Don’t worry about me posting the next chapter too soon before your pulse resumes it’s normal rate. I think it’s safe to say that you’re in no danger there. But I appreciated the chuckle I got from reading that. Running two restaurants is not conducive to how much I want to write. Sometimes I’m so tired I catch myself working on the same paragraph for more than an hour, and long after my feeble brain has given up. That’s when I know it’s time to drag myself to bed….Like now!

        Thank you, my friend.
        Risky (sleepy) Kitty

    4. It made my day to see a post from you, RiskyKitty! I LOVE THIS STORY.

      I love the way you write. An amazing, action-filled chapter. I felt like I was watching an action movie, I felt like I was there. Awesome. Even more than gripping action, you let us really see into the characters. Shane, and the horrors of her childhood. Bette and her family issues, even Papi. I felt terrible for Jenny – I wonder if she and Shane will become friends, will be there for each other.

      Bette & Tina – what would either of them do if something happened to the other? Maybe not the smarted thing she ever did, but loved how Tina ran to tell Bette she loved her. “Running to something, and not away”

      To me save the girl had so many meanings. The prior mission Bette and Shane were on, saving Jenny – and Tina saving Bette, in more ways than saving her from drowning. Maybe Bette & Tina loving each other saved each of them. Looking forward to reading more!

      • Hi Westy,
        I absolutely love your comments. You really pulled out the things that I wanted to convey most of all in this chapter. Thank you for that. It’s an incredible feeling when someone really gets it. It completely validates the emotional investment I have in writing this story. The action was fun and necessary, but developing these characters a little bit more and showing more of why they are the way they are was by far the most important thing I wanted to come through.
        And yes, ‘save the girl’ meant everything you thought it did. I can’t wait for you to read the next chapter. A lot more will be revealed and there will be some definite highs and lows, but much more emotionally than physically. Thank you again for the wonderful comments.

        Risky

    5. What can I say? ME TOO, ME TOO!! I also really loved this story, and how it is progressing. I also feel sad for Shane, but believe that happier times are in her destiny. Like Westy 20, as I read, a thoroughly engrossing action movie was playing in my mind’s eye! This story had it all; villains and heroes, unconscionable evil and heartwarming romance, heart-stopping action and moments of silent reflection, even bliss. I’m already unreservedly in love with our Tibette; however, I must now admit a profound affection for Shane and, especially, James. How incredibly brave and loyal are those two! Great, good stuff my dear RK! Most happily anticipating your continuation of this terrific tale!

      • Thanks Dr. A,
        I’m so glad you’re still along for the ride. Don’t worry about Shane. I needed her to have a break from Carmen in order to form a bond with Jenny. I always loved the way their friendship bloomed, and I think my Carmen is just a little too jealous to let that happen. But Shane needs someone right now who understands where she’s at emotionally. And Bette is completely wrapped up in Tina. Not that it’s a bad thing, but Shane needs to take care of someone, and Tina is doing that for Bette at the moment, so that part of their relationship will grow and change. Carmen is not gone forever, but I think she needs to get over trying to change Shane and let the change happen organically. Eventually, she may see what she’s letting go. So happy you loved all the action and romance. The next chapter will be a bit of an adventure for our two. Thanks for your awesome comments!

        Risky

    6. WOW!
      I reread the whole story before this wonderful Epic Chapter and loved it.
      I repeat all Martha’s questions and say Ditto to the great Billy and BK.
      what a story and what fantastic writing. Please, please post more soon I am so invested in this Bette and Tina.
      Thank you, thank you

      • Thanks SG,
        I, too, went back and read it from the beginning, which I hadn’t done in a little while and it helped me refocus on where I was going with this tale. I’m so thrilled that you’re still enjoying it, because I love writing it. Writing for the characters of Bette and Tina is like an honor. I love their love affair so much. And I still get so unbelievably happy that other people actually like the story I’m telling with these two amazing women. Thank you for your sweet comments. Can’t wait for you to read the next chapter!

        Risky

    7. God woman, I need a drink !

      Shane and James are right, Tina is a real badass despite her wounds to the soul.

      Your story is truly in the Bourne lineage, it certainly wouldn’t denote.

      The only negative is Carmen, I can understand her reaction as this dangerous situation day in and day out must be tiring for the partner but given the difficulties Shane went through we can only feel sorry for her. Kit ‘s reaction was different thank God …

      I guess you’ll need a little rest after such a long chapter (thanks a lot for that) but don’t forget about it please !

    8. Thanks Izzie,
      Tina is a badass! So glad we all agree on that. Haha. But I’m sorry to have made you wait so long for this chapter, I promise I won’t forget about it. It’s just harder and harder to carve out the time. I’m always working on it, though. Yes, Carmen’s reaction was disappointing, but there’s a reason for everything. And yes, I think Kit realized that this was not the time to freak out on Bette. She was just relieved that her sister was ok more so than anything else. Kit’s no fool. She picks her battles with Bette. I think at the end of the day she knows how important Tina is to Bette and she finally believes Bette when she tells her that this is not just about chasing another art piece, but about helping Tina find Dana’s killers. I think she also knows that Bette has the training and the means to make a difference and save lives so she’s not going to stop her. Off to more adventures in the next chapter. Hopefully it doesn’t take me so long to write it. Thanks so much for your comments and for reading this little story.

      Risky

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