Mark Caten ended his phone call and brought up his e-mail program. He clicked on New Message.
“Hmm.” A smile spread across his face. “I should really check on my rotten little cupcake. See what she’s up to.” He didn’t give it another thought.
He accessed the cameras in her room and raised his eyebrows in surprise.
She wasn’t there.
“Well. Well well well. My little cupcake is awake. Let’s see where she’s hiding.”
He accessed the camera in her shower. “Nope. Not there.”
The hallways. “Not there.”
All around the outside of the building. “Not there either.”
He slouched back in his leather chair and steepled his fingers.
Where else would she be this time of day?
“It doesn’t matter. She will invariably come marching in here and demand that I release her. She can be so predictable, the tacky little gumdrop. But she isn’t here right now.” His smile widened. “Lucky me! I know how to fix that.”
Mark Caten picked up his phone and called his downstairs people. “Hello, this is god, you ugly, lowly minion. Consider yourself fortunate and blessed that I am talking to you.”
He scowled. “There’s no need to have that kind of attitude towards your betters. Anyway, I need you to do me a favor. My dear Preyuna has decided to play hide and seek with me. That’s all fine and charming, but I don’t feel like playing. I intend to cheat. I want you to find her and put a tracker on her. That way, she can’t disappear on me again. I’ll be able to find her whenever I want. What? No, I don’t know where she is, you inbred degenerate. That is why I’m calling you. Yes, yes. I’m sure you do, but not really. What I want will always take precedence over what anyone else wants. Common knowledge. Yes, I’m sure you’ll find her. Bye.”
He ended the call and shut down the camera feed on his computer. “Ah, time to get back to work.”
Preyuna swam from one end of the pool to the other end. All of her fears and irritations and thoughts melted away with each strong stroke. A deep sense of peace settled in her.
She tucked herself in half and headed to the bottom of the pool. The chlorine stung her eyes and the water muffled her ears, but she pushed herself to keep going.
She reached the bottom of the pool, tapped it, and swam to the surface. She broke through, exhilarated and gasping for breath.
“Hello, Your Majesty.” A man standing at the 6 foot marker waved at her. He had shoulder-length hair that covered his ears.
She swam in deliberately slow strokes to the pool’s steps.
He came over to the steps. “Mark Caten was wondering where you were.”
“How nice for him.”
“Um.” The man scratched his head. He apparently didn’t know what to make of that answer.
She leisurely stepped out of the pool and shook out her hair, lashing him in the face. “You can tell Mark that I am taking the day off. I am not going to run errands for him. I am not going to kneel and grovel for him. I am going to enjoy today for once.”
“If he doesn’t like that, well. Too bad for him.”
She sauntered over to the bench along the far right wall and grabbed her terry cloth robe.
“But. You don’t seem to understand.”
She tossed a cold glare at him. “You are the one who does not understand.” She put her robe on and returned to him. “And you know what? I am not going to explain.”
“If you’ll excuse me, I have better things to do with my time.”
“But. Mark Caten—-”
“Mark Caten can hang himself with his own intestines.” She smiled.
The man shuddered.
“Be sure to tell him that for me.” She turned and left the room.