Story:A New Surprise
A New Surprise
Written by Shataivian
Since speaking with her father Lisa had taken some time to slow down and observe her surroundings. And though she had not forgiven him for his hand in causing her grief, she had started getting comfortable around him again. It may not have been the kind of comfort she had with him before, but it was the kind of comfort that allowed him to stay close to her and speak with her as though things were fine between the two.
Now that David was teaching her how to stand up against the world the way he does, this meant Lisa had to keep him close by. It wasn’t ideal, but David’s knowledge soon proved useful, even against him. She would use what she had learned to keep ahead of him. She did this by calling home every now and then to talk about nothing in particular, allowing her to set the pace of their becoming closer; a comforting, normal feeling that felt more controllable to her than in the past. And with this new sense of control came the side effect of confidence. It helped her earn two back-to-back Player of the Game awards immediately after their talk. From there her confidence quickly swelled, spilling into social media as well, taking pride of where she sat on the team and even toying with other players on Tweeter. But something needed to keep her confidence in check.
It was an off day on the schedule and on top of that it was the first snowfall of the season. Feeling particularly merry, Lisa decided she’d go out on the town, do some light shopping here and there, maybe even get a gift for her father for Christmas since she was planning to stay with him again this year. And as the day wound down, that warm fuzzy feeling still hugging her, Lisa decided to close it off with her favorite blend of peppermint mocha from the Steerbucks near the stadium. It was about closing time, so she felt she could slip in relatively unnoticed and grab a quick cup. But it seemed she was not the only one with this plan.
Standing at a bar table to situate herself after picking up her order, Lisa received an abrupt surprise as the table violently tipped, sending her cup flying to the ground.
“Lisa, darling,” a voice shouted. All Lisa could do was flinch as she tried to take in what was going on. “It’s been a while!” When Lisa finally focused on who was speaking, she was shocked to see the small mouse, Valencia, whom she had met in Hawaii last season.
“Y-you?!” Lisa stuttered. By now her latte had crashed, spilling its contents over the freshly mopped floor.
“Oh, I’m sorry about that, love. Here, let me get you another drink.”
“No,” Lisa tried to say, but Valencia was at the counter in a second, ordering two of “whatever she was having.” The cashier, ready to end her shift and close up, informed her that she would have to wait for the machines to finish their cleaning cycle and that it might be better to go elsewhere. But when Valencia held up a five-hundred-dollar bill, the young girl smiled and said, “coming right up!”
“Thank you, dear. And do take your time. We don’t mind the wait.”
Lisa was on the floor, trying to use the napkins she had with her cup to clean up the mess.
“Oh, Darling. People are paid to clean that,” Valencia told Lisa as she helped her back to her feet.
“What are you doing here?” Lisa finally asked with an unamused sigh.
Valencia laughed. “What am I doing here at a Steerbucks? Well, certainly not shopping for shoes if that was what you were wondering.” This wasn’t a coincidence. Lisa met this woman in Hawaii and now she was here in Baltimore. Sure, it COULD be a coincidence, but this didn’t seem like the woman to randomly show up without a plan. What did she want? As Lisa pondered the different possibilities for this woman being here, Valencia took two stools and brought them over to the bar table. “Sit, dear.”
In the past, Lisa would have asked more questions before finally succumbing to her request. It was easy for her to get flustered over such a bizarre moment. But instead, Lisa took her seat immediately and sat poised, ready for whatever would come next.
“I’m assuming you want something from me,” Lisa began.
“Straight to the point. I like that,” Valencia smiled. “I heard Davey spoke with you not too long ago. I’m glad.” Who was she? How did she know this? Was she really seeing her father?
“’And?’ That would explain this ‘I don’t trust you’ tone you’re giving me.” Valencia reached over the tabled and grabbed both of Lisa’s hands. “Relax, darling. It’s just us girls. No need to keep your guard up with me.”
Lisa slowly snatched her hands back and calmly placed them in her lap. “You clearly want me for something so, forgive me for being suspicious.”
Valencia poised her hand under her chin and gave a smirk that rivaled David’s. Maybe they WERE seeing each other. “Suspicious, huh? Well, why don’t I ease your mind a bit and get rid of the suspicion?” Lisa crossed her arms and leaned back in her chair waiting for whatever nonsense Valencia might present to her. “Don’t believe me? Do you think I’m trying to use you? Get close so I can take your money?" She held up both her arms, presenting herself to Lisa. "You’ve caught me!” Was this a confession? “That’s right. It’s that simple. I want those millions you’ve got. Well, at least a sum of it. Can’t be too greedy, right?”
Valencia spoke with warmth in her voice and a gentle smile the entire time. There Lisa was trying to read this woman for her true intentions, and she just blurts out the obvious right then and there? As prepared for anything Lisa was, this was nowhere on her list. “Am I supposed to take that as a joke?”
“A joke? Heavens, no. I’m sure you know I’ve lost my company, Viva Valencia, a few years back due to some ‘unfortunate’ scandals.” It wasn’t something Lisa had entirely looked into, but she did recall her brother mentioning that name to her a few months ago. “And you know David isn’t exactly the richest man in the world,” Valencia continued. “He’s a good man, but his money isn’t exactly his, which means it isn’t exactly mine either.”
Lisa covered her mouth with her fingertips and laughed to herself. “This is sounding more and more like a joke. This is a joke.”
“No,” Valencia shook her head. “It’s as I said –“
“Then you can leave,” Lisa interrupted. “Why would I continue talking to you after you straight up told me you want to use me to get my money? Get outta here.” Sliding out of her chair, Lisa knelt down and picked up her bags, ready to leave the shop.
“Forgive me. It does sound dubious when you look at it like that, but aren’t you the slightest bit interested?”
“In being used?” Lisa asked over her shoulder, continuing her way towards the exit.
“In my confidence.” Lisa stopped, but her back stayed facing Valencia. “Think about it. Why do you think that even after telling you to your face I’m using you for your money, that I’m still absolutely sure you’ll let me?” Finally, Lisa turned to face her. “Aren’t you interested in what I could possibly have, what I could possibly know? Why do I know for sure that you would willingly let me use you, in fact, that you’ll beg me to?”
There was some truth to her words. Valencia had sparked some amount of curiosity in Lisa. What could this woman have? Should she ask her? Should she entertain her? She had a point. Whatever she has, whatever she knows, it must be big enough to allow this to happen, right?
“Nice try,” Lisa smirked. “But I’m not interested. Keep all your tricks, your secrets, and whatever leverage you think you have on me. There’s nothing you'd have that I’d allow myself to be used over.”
“Even if it’s a small ask?” Valencia smiled, still sitting poised at the tall table.
“A small ask?” Lisa chuckled.
“Mmmhmm. I just want fifty from you, that’s all.”
Lisa’s smile dropped. Now she was annoyed. “Fifty? Fifty million?” Valencia let her smug smile answer for her. “You’re insane. I’ve got money, but I ain’t even got that kind of money. I don’t make fifty million first of all, and there are my agent fees, my mortgage, not to mention taxes,” she rattled off. “Even your ridiculous ask is ridiculous.”
“Oh, I assure you, you’re good for it. And I’d hate to bring it up, but you do owe me. It wasn’t exactly cheap to keep you from being suspended, or worse.”
“Did you,” Lisa stammered, “pay someone off?”
“Well, not me. But it did add some pressure to David’s declining funds.”
Was she implying her father paid someone off to allow Lisa to keep her career? Why would he do that? Was this what she meant back in Hawaii when she said she “convinced” David not to sue her? It didn’t matter. Whatever happened, happened. It’s done and dealt with, and Lisa owed nothing to anyone.
“Huh. Guess that sucks for you two,” Lisa snarked. She then reached into her purse and pulled out her wallet. It was time to leave and Lisa felt bad for the server who was still waiting for the cleaning cycle to finish on the coffee machines. She deserved that five-hundred-dollar bill, but Lisa didn’t trust that Valencia would let her keep it if she ended up not serving them. So, Lisa pulled out another five-hundred-dollar bill from her wallet and flicked it over to Valencia. “Get out,” she told Valencia. “Keep your cash and let this girl go home. We’re done here.” Lisa then informed the server to cancel their order and go home.
“How ‘bout a free taste?” Valencia asked, unphased.
“No thanks,” Lisa returned, equally unphased.
“David lies to you a lot, doesn’t he?”
“Not a secret,” Lisa called back, her hand on the door handle. “Besides, I think I’ve finally got everything out of him at this point.”
“Oh, really? He told you about Sandrine?” Lisa pushed the door open. “His son?” Lisa walked through the door. “And about your real parents?” Lisa stopped, stopping the door from closing back all the way. “Well, then. I guess you’re right. What was I thinking?” Valencia finally stood to her feet and bundled herself up, ready to leave the shop. “I guess it was a silly plan, but if David has already told you about all of them, then you don’t need me.”
Lisa was still standing in the doorway not moving when Valencia slid passed her out of the shop. She stood much shorter than Lisa causing Lisa to almost miss Valencia raising a hand up to pass her a card.
“But, if you do ever want to talk, feel free to call me any time!” she said with a sing-songy voice. “I’m sure we’ll still have plenty to talk about. Who knows, we may still end up being the best of friends. Ciao tesoro!” As Valencia walked off into the snow the last thing Lisa could see before she turned the corner and disappeared from view was Valencia winking and blowing a kiss. And when she finally looked down at the card she had been given, she could see that a phone number was written on it and the words "let's talk" written neatly in script. Valencia called it a taste. It was just a few little words, but unfortunately some things can't be unheard.