Prosperina (Pancakes + Power)

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#1

Name: Shea Luther
Age: 28
God: Hades
That nose ring comes out for meetings n shit, and he'd rather be with his dogs [URL]https://i.pinimg.com/736x/ef/de/ee/efdeee43d9e4f96b1af6bc429100bea3--grey-pitbull-blue-eyes-white-pitbull-puppies.jpg[/URL] , [URL]https://www.yourpurebredpuppy.com/dogbreeds/photos-AB/americanpitbullterriersf9.jpg[/URL] and [URL]http://3.bp.blogspot.com/_dy3hcnWJUho/TSOYnchTdOI/AAAAAAAAFdM/SDn8eNSkKJw/s1600/Max%2540+7+Months_4_resize.JPG[/URL]

Shea dusted off some practically non-existent particles off of his shoulder, tugging at his velvet sport coat to make sure it covered what it needed to. He huffed; even as intricately tailored as it was, the burgundy colored nightmare didn’t suit him at all, and he would have much been wearing something a little more… not obnoxious. He also thought the black turtleneck with it looked stupid but at least it was black. Yes he promised he would make a difference and try to look more “festive”, and it wasn’t as bad as it could have been. “Good morale for the office they said, Arachne’s the best they said,” he thought, rolling his eyes.

To be fair, the coat itself really was well done - he just didn’t like it. But Shea did promise his supervisor he’d at least look somewhat more friendly and approachable. And his father agreed, much to his chagrin. Honestly if the old man weren’t there … well honestly, he wasn’t quite sure what he would do. He could have bought the company in a heartbeat and put whoever he wanted in there. But unlike his brothers or the others he grew up around for the most part, he had manners, and mostly didn’t want to become a glory hound. Hell, he was the only one out of them with more pictures of his dogs on his Instagram than selfies.

Sure Shea went for promotions, like the position he had against just one other person in the office. But other than that, he was fine with playing nice. Which unfortunately in this case, meant the damn coat. However, no one said anything about it if the coat just happened to get dirty. He turned, looking at the grey coated bulldog breaking the rules and making herself at home on his bed. Shea smirked. “Violet, here girl.” He said, his voice going up an octave as he anticipated the energetic, drool-covered girl. Shea got on the floor, greeting her and hugging her as much as he could, hoping something would get on him.

“Sir, the goodie bags have been securely delivered and the car is wai-“An older woman came in, glaring at the site unfolding.

“Oh, uhm.. Thank you, Karen.” Shea brushed himself off, kissing Violet’s face even if the disappointment of his suit being somehow spotless, ran over his face.

“That’s just sad.” The woman shook her head, the two of them going down the stairs and into his town car – which wasn’t the one he usually took. “It’s supposed to blizzard tonight,” She explained before Shea could open his mouth. “Don’t worry – Max and Big Mac have been walked, fed and are safely inside.” She answered again, speeding through. Shea clung on – he was glad that she didn’t steer his boats too. “If your highness is that disappointed about it, there’s a navy one in the trunk. I’ll have someone bring it in in middle of the night. Everyone’ll be too drunk to notice by then.” She ordered more than she suggested as he thanked her.

One short but life threatening drive later, Shea was in the building. Immaculate and far too lavish even for an office Christmas party, he saw that at least the party was going and he didn’t really need to make too many greetings to people he didn’t want to as of yet.
 
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FlourPower

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#2

Name: Cora Bishop
Age: 26
Goddess: Persephone
“I knew we were going to be late,” Lydia moaned, as she threw herself into the elevator. Cora followed a few steps behind her, already regretting her choice in footwear. She’d wanted to wear flats. Lydia nearly had a conniption in response.

“We aren’t late Lyds,” Cora soothed, resisting the urge to roll her eyes at her sister. “Showing up a few minutes past the invite time is polite.” Cora pushed the button for the twenty-fifth floor.

“I suppose.” Lydia fiddled with her updo in the elevator mirror and tugged at her white pantsuit. There were tiny golden stars beaded into the collar, which was about as festive as the older Bishop sister got. “I just want to make a good impression. I want this position.”

At 5’8 without heels, sporting hair a shade of golden blonde Cora could only call ‘vicious’, Lydia didn’t look like the sort of woman who should be worried about getting a promotion. She didn’t really look like Cora’s sister either. Cora barely hit 5’6 in heels. The color of her hair was so blonde it was almost white, and she didn’t own anything that could be called a pantsuit.

“And I’m sure you’ll get it,” Cora grinned. “God help anyone who stands in your way.” Lydia rolled her eyes, but smiled in return. However different the Bishop sisters may be, they had the same dimples. “Who's your competition anyway?”

“Shea Luther,” Lydia replied, like it left a bad taste in her mouth. The elevator doors chimed open, letting in the distant sound of chatter. Lydia waved a dismissive hand before Cora could ask more. “Enough work talk. You’re right, this is a party. I’m going to work hard to have some fun.”

Cora snickered to herself, drawing a scowl from her sister. “What?” Lydia asked.

“You don’t need to work to have fun, Lydia. That’s the whole point.” The two stepped out of the elevator. Cora glanced around at the fairy lights someone had strung from the ceiling and smiled. Lydia might just see this as a business opportunity, but Cora loved the holidays. Even if they did get pricey. Cora glanced down at her dress, a marvel of green silk that hugged her in all the right places, and tried to forget the price tag. It was no easy feat.

When they entered the banquet room, Lydia strode off to network, leaving Cora standing alone in the doorway. Cora sighed. Almost every department had their own Christmas party. This happened to be the one for management, which Cora was definitely not. She was only here to support Lydia, who apparently had better places to be.

If Cora was going to be stuck at a party with a bunch of people she didn’t know (her own circle of colleagues worked downstairs in design and marketing), she was going to enjoy it. Humming quietly to the Christmas music playing from the overhead speakers, Cora helped herself to a glass of champagne.
 
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#3
The party continued in full swing: champagne, cocktails and vodka from the giant bottle someone brought flowed; the décor was only tasteful in the festive sense, frosted reds and greens garnishing around, with edible delicacies of all kinds. Other than that, it was still as grand as a charity function, down to the dry ice fogging up the floors and mood lighting changing from a comfortable neutral, to various reds and greens at a time. Also, an oh so tasteful chocolate waterfall of all kinds of chocolate – only from the best of course – adorned in edible gold figurines resembling some kind of Christmas village.

Meanwhile, Shea stayed in a corner, watching the patrons. The management staff seemed happy and lively – no doubt from the free flowing booze, food and whoever brought the pot gummies. Meanwhile, he was starting to point out several of the elite he grew up with. At one point, they were childhood friends, like brothers and sisters even in some respects. They lead their own lives, and yet here they all were, acting like time hadn’t separated them all. Well, more like time hadn’t separated them from him at all. Shea sipped on his champagne. He knew he was busy, and yes, that involved some sacrifices.

But Shea knew he would have much rather been the one who worked all the time, than the one always at the races, or yet another sex or pregnancy scandal with yet another… whoever. It seemed that the only ones who had kept a relatively squeaky clean personal life were himself and Lydia Bishop. The irony of her being his rival in these positions gave him some sort of respect for the woman. They had the same goals in mind – of course they would, or they wouldn’t’ be going for the same position. But he figured Lydia had her own reasons for wanting the promotion.

He himself? Well, frankly, Shea was sick of being the one firing people, and telling bad news as a part of his managerial position. Sure he’d have underlings do it at first, but for some reason, they didn’t believe them. Only when either he or Karen got involved, did things really sink in for them. And he knew the reputation that came with that part of the job. And that wasn’t fair – he should be allowed to have fun with his employees too! Then again, so did Lydia. Just when Shea thought of her, she appeared. And while he didn’t intend to at first, a slight scowl came to his face, a scowl he quickly covered with gulping down the rest of his champagne.

Lydia Bishop was in another pantsuit. Oh so he had to dress up while Lydia Bishop could come in a pantsuit and no one bats an eye. Shea frowned, “Damn it.” He wanted to be in something comfortable too. He quickly grabbed two more glasses of champagne. It would have been rude not to at least say hello. And if that weren’t enough, he could already hear Karen in the back of his head, even when she was watching some idiot make a fool of himself on the dance floor. None the less, this was a place to be civil. Who was going to start a riot during a Christmas party of all places?

Shea checked for whatever invisible thing could have possibly been in his teeth before slowly approaching the woman. Even with a very Lydia-ish pantsuit, and her hair up, she was still a pretty woman. “Lydia,” Shea nodded, “Good to see you again.” He greeted, offering her the extra flute of champagne he had. “Lovely party. You didn’t happen to come alone, did you?” he asked, hoping it didn’t sound too much like a come-on.
 

FlourPower

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#4
Lydia was doing what she did best: making the rounds. Shaking hands, asking about spouses and vacation plans. If there were babies to kiss, she would have done it. Lydia was in the middle of a very boring conversation with the executive research director when she saw Shea Luther headed her way from the corner of her eye.

In another world, Lydia and Shea might have gotten along. He certainly didn't hurt to look at. But this wasn't another world, and Lydia couldn't see Shea as anything but competition. Lydia caught the scowl halfway to her face and schooled her features into a polite smile. She begged off from current company and went to meet him.

"Shea, lovely to see you as well," Lydia greeted. This was a waltz she'd danced a million times, and one she was quite good at. A dance Lydia even enjoyed, sometimes. Just not right now. "They always do go so overboard with these things." Lydia gestured around at the opulently decorated room, spotting her sister hiding near the refreshments in the process. Lydia's shoulders relaxed a little. Right, she'd promised Cora that she would have fun.

"Actually, I'm here with my sister." Perhaps Cora could be her usual charming self and distract Shea so Lydia could get back to networking. Cheered by the thought, Lydia signaled for Cora to come over.

Cora was happily indulging in her third red velvet truffle of the night when Lydia caught her eye across the room. Lydia's face never held the warmest of expressions, but she looked positively irate at that moment. Her jaw was so tight, Cora wondered if her sister was grinding her teeth. Cora glanced at the man she was speaking to, but could only see a red velvet jacket and the back of a head of dark hair.

Just when she was pondering if her sister needed a rescue party, Cora found herself being summoned by a tilt of Lydia's elegantly coifed head. Clutching her second (possibly third?) champagne glass of the night, Cora made her way over to her sister. "Ah, Cora," Lydia smiled. "Meet Shea Luther. Shea, meet my sister, Cora Bishop."

Two things occurred to Cora simultaneously. The first was that she now knew why Lydia was so tense. Shea Luthor was the man angling for the same position as Lydia was. The second was the Shea was possibly one of the most handsome men she'd ever seen. Classically handsome features beneath the fullest hair Cora had ever seen on a man over 20. Tall, too. So tall that Cora was actually glad to be wearing these infernal heels for the first time that night.

'Stop it', Cora scolded herself. 'An enemy of Lydia is an enemy of mine.' Cora extended her hand. "Nice to meet you, Mr. Luther."
 
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#5
Shea continued sipping at his champagne, keeping one side of him on the wall. Clearly Lydia didn’t want to talk to him, but it seemed like the both of them knew what avoiding each other would have cost in front of their supervisor. And Lydia was smart enough to bring enough networking cards. He had his, but they were confiscated by Karen. He was supposed to have ‘fun’ after all. He nodded, hearing Lydia point out the décor. “I have to agree there, but you know Zach.” He shrugged, looking over at their bearded childhood friend, yet another new girl on his arm. “Call me crazy but I think his turnover rate’s gotten higher.” He noticed.

The last time Shea remembered, he and Juno were on again. Also, he could have sworn that was last week. Then again, it seemed like Zach liked the attention, and would get it from anyone who he could. Something that he would take to the grave, would be that one time, he got plenty of …attention from a very drunk Shea. But it ended there. It wasn’t the penis that turned Shea off, but definitely the body attached to it. He turned his attention back to Lydia, seeing that she also seemed less than impressed by Zach’s decoration efforts as well. She seemed more relaxed though, when bringing up the fact she came with her sister. “Is she here?” Shea asked, “It’ll be nice to finally get in a formal hello.” Since the two of them started together, he knew about Cora Bishop. He’d heard one or two things about her too, like how she worked downstairs in design or marketing, or what kind of underwear she had on – that one from Zach unfortunately.

However, Shea, no matter how many times he’d been down there, had never seemed to have run into the girl. Even when he had to go to their family home, seemed like she and Lydia were always busy with something. And at this party, Shea figured he didn’t notice her now because well, he was sulking, and only really wanted to pay attention to his champagne and maybe Karen, or some of the underlings that were less annoying. So he was slightly surprised when Lydia called her over so quickly. Maybe she wanted to get over it, or get away from him but none the less, they would be able to skip the small talk an-

Oh. Oh wow. Shea froze, and it almost seemed like the room did too. He felt his face get hot, his vision blur, and then solely focus on the woman in front of him. This… This couldn’t be right. Standing in front of him was the most beautiful girl he’d ever seen in his whole life. That flowy, angelic platinum blonde hair, the playful expression across her lips. And when was the last time he’d seen eyes that blue and innocent looking at him as nicely as they did. And it didn’t stop there. Even if the color of the dress did absolutely nothing for her, good god everything else about it did. It was hard not to stare at the sheer perfection that was this beauty in front of him.

It took Shea lots in his power to keep from going completely slack-jaw in front of the woman. No. This wasn’t a mere woman. No, in front of him was nothing short of a goddess. He was speechless for as long as he could before she stuck out her hand, saying how nice it was too meet him. Shea cleared his throat, trying to bring his focus back on just making a good impression as he shook her hand, “Miss Bishop,” he smiled, his turtleneck suddenly burning up his neck, “And please, you can call me Shea.” He insisted, slowly letting go. He felt his hand, wondering if Cora could feel how clammy it’d become just being around her. “I haven’t seen you at any of these functions before, are you having a good time?” he asked, taking another flute of champagne and holding onto it for dear life.

It took him a second to remember just now that Lydia was with them. Right. This was Lydia’s little sister. Of all the little sisters she could have been, she had to be the sister of the woman who right now hated his guts. Gods he was being punished now for sure. He wondered if it would’ve been too much to give up the race for the position if it meant a chance with her. He took another look at Cora, wondering how his eyes weren’t burning just from being exposed to her light.
 

FlourPower

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#6
Lydia glanced over at Zach and rolled her eyes. "I don't know where he keeps finding them. If he's not careful, he'll run out of women to date that he hasn't already slept with." Perhaps she was a tad bitter, having had a short fling with Zach herself once. That was ancient history, of course. Lydia wasn't interested in being someone's conquest, even less so when it seemed that someone wasn't all that picky.

Besides, ever since Zach and Juno began their on and off again relationship, Lydia knew better than to get involved. Juno was a good friend, and almost as much of a sister to Lydia as Cora was. Even if they fought constantly while they were together, and broke up just as frequently, Lydia knew Juno cared deeply for Zach. She played at having lovers to annoy him, but confided to Lydia that no one else could hold her interest. If only Zach would show her the same courtesy.

"Cora's on her way as we speak," Lydia said, watching her sister weave through the crowd. "I can't believe the two of you have never met." Now that Lydia thought of it, there had been many occasions where they should have run into one another. Of course, Cora had gone to college out of state, surprising no one. Even as a child, Cora spent as little time as possible at home. Lydia couldn't blame her.

A moment later, the woman herself joined them, reaching out to shake Shea's hand. Was it Lydia's imagination, or did he look dumbfounded? Lydia eyed him critically. The handshake between he and Cora lingered. Neither Lydia nor her sister were strangers to male attention, but the possibility that Shea might be attracted to her sister had never occurred to Lydia. Clearly she was off her game.

Lydia glanced at Cora. Her sister's eyes were wide, a hint of pink at her cheeks, but her features were schooled. As if she could feel Lydia's eyes on her, Cora gave her sister a quick smile. Lydia exhaled. So Cora knew better than to fraternize with the enemy. That was one disaster avoided. At least she knew Cora would serve as a sufficient distraction. Lydia would have to thank Cora later for letting herself be used in a such a way. No doubt Cora knew exactly what Lydia was up to. The sisters were far too used to one another's schemes.

"... call you Shea, then I insist you call me Cora," Cora was saying. "I'm not surprised you haven't seen me. I work in the design department, so I don't often get invited to these things. I'm Lydia's plus one." Cora lifted her glass of champagne and grinned. "And there's free drinks and Christmas music, so what's not to like? Are you having a good time?"

"It's just occurred to me," Lydia interjected, "that I haven't spoken to Zach yet. It feels rude, enjoying the spoils of his hard work without thanking him first." Lydia pretended not to see Cora's eyes widen in panic at the realization that Lydia was leaving her alone with a practical stranger. Lydia definitely owed her a thank you after this. "I think I'd better go speak to him."

Before anyone could argue, Lydia placed a kiss on her sister's cheek and sent a warning look towards Shea. The implication was clear. Don't even think about it. "Nice to see you as always, Shea," and just like that, Lydia was gone, leaving the two of them alone.
 
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#7
Everything before Cora was a bit of a blur to Shea. He did remember some things, like scoffing at the idea of Zach running out of women in the office – it was more like Zach would run out of people to have sex with period. He also swore he saw Karen trying to strike a business deal with Lethe, another one of his workers. Shea could have sworn he spoke to her sometime this week but some reason, he kept forgetting. Even if he weren’t overwhelmed with everything related to Cora, he wouldn’t have remembered for the life of him. But right now, he was focused on everything related to the perfection in front of him, and it was all-consuming, intoxicating even. She even smelled amazing. How did he go his entire life without seeing her?

“Cora it is then.” Shea said, wondering if the dim lighting that swept over was enough to hide the embarrassing redness creeping in his face. The dimmer light made him more comfortable, reminding him of the darker colors in his own estate. But he was still distracted as hell because of Cora, and he wanted to focus on her. However, it took far more concentration than he wanted to even focus on what she was saying, but he tried to keep up. The last thing he wanted to do was make her impression of him even worse. “We would be nowhere without our design department, that’s for sure.” Shea said, trying to keep his answer appropriate.

Shea already knew Cora must have had some impression of him based off of Lydia. For all he knew, she probably hated him and had no interest in talking to him whatsoever. Lydia certainly did. So why would she at least be trying to be social and cordial in a so un-like Lydia fashion? Maybe that was a part of who she was, or maybe she didn’t hate him just yet. So when she asked him if she was enjoying himself, there were so many ways to answer. He couldn’t pick one. He wanted to be honest, and say no. He wanted to flirt, and say something Zach like. Actually, maybe not that road because that would probably get him arrested.

Shea also wanted to lie and say he was having a great time even though he just wanted to go home to his dogs. Or just be in his tub. His large, jetted, gorgeous black tiled tub, where he could just sink in and pretend that it was just him in the world. Him and whoever he wanted to bring hom- No. he wasn’t going to go there tonight, and not with Cora right in front of him! He cleared his throat as he found something diplomatic to say. “It’s nice to take a break from the work routine and see everybody have fun”, Shea said with a small smile, leaving out how dumb he thought the décor was, and aforementioned things he’d much rather be doing.

It wasn’t long before he saw others noticing Cora’s assets, and trying to find a way to cut in. It took a glare for them to back up: something about messing with the guy who does all the firing would do that for you. “You seem to be having a good time too,” Shea said, remembering the warning glare Lydia gave him. “You’re dressed perfectly for the occasion,” He said, biting hard on his lip once he said it and drinking more champagne to distract himself. Did he really say that? Of course she’d be dressed in some color. It’s a Christmas party for fuck’s sake! She looked gorgeous and he looked like an angry cranberry! A rumble loudly projected from his stomach.

“Fuck!” Shea cursed himself, the grip on his champagne flute tightening. As this weren’t awkward enough! “I know they have some stations or passed h'orderves somewhere.” He pointed out, looking back at her. Maybe he could make something out of this. “If you’re hungry, I’d be more than happy to look for them with you.” He’d offered.
 

FlourPower

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#8
Cora adored her older sister. No matter how many times she and Lydia fought, or how controlling Lydia got, Cora still loved her sister dearly. But in times like these, Cora needed to remind herself of that fact. Otherwise, she just might strangle Lydia.

Cora cast once last glance at her sister's rapidly departing back before turning to face Shea. So she'd being thrown to the wolves, or wolf, in this case. It seemed Lydia was pawning Cora off on Shea so that she didn't have to deal with the man herself. No doubt Lydia would be making the rounds again, attempting to ingratiate herself with those around her. It seemed Lydia's pledge to 'have fun' was dying hard and fast.

Sucker that she was, Cora felt at least somewhat obligated to play along with her sister's schemes. She wasn't going to just walk away from Shea, but she and Lydia would be having words later. Especially since Lydia was Cora's ride home, so Lydia couldn't just twist her way out of that conversation.

Still, the whole playing along thing would be easier if Shea wasn't so damn attractive.

Cora had pictured him as older, balding, even. Possibly with devil horns, from the way Lydia talked about him. Then there was the way he was looking at her... those dark eyes intent on her every movement. Cora drained the rest of her champagne glass in one nervous swallow. She almost thought she saw Shea blushing, but dismissed it as the warmth of the room. Given the icy conditions outside, someone had overcompensated with the building's heating. Even Cora felt flushed, and she wasn't wearing a heavy suit jacket.

Cora waived away Shea's praise for her department with a flick of her hand. "Oh, I don't know. We do out best." In truth, Cora was pleased to hear the words. She took pride in her work, but was used to she and her team being overlooked. Finding the conversation lulling, Cora searched for something witty to say and came up dry. She had no idea how she was meant to act around Shea. Lydia disliked him, or had convinced herself of that fact, so flirting was out of the question. Not that Cora would consider flirting with a coworker anyway. Not normally, at least. Shea was quickly proving to be an exception.

Being outright hostile didn't seem appropriate either. Shea had been nothing but courteous so far. He even complimented her dress. Sort of. "Thank you. I love the holidays, so I decided to splurge on something new." Polite. That's what Cora would be. So polite, she'd almost be clinical. Which meant hiding her smile at Shea's stomach rumbling, and his seeming embarrassment. Now Cora could add cute to his list of adjectives alongside 'gorgeous' and 'so, so off limits'.

"Lucky for you, I've spent half the night there. C'mon, I'll show you." Cora nodded her head for Shea to follow her, headed towards the table of food set a bit away from the rest of the festivities on the opposite of the room. They passed by a long wall of windows as they walked, and Cora caught sight of the endless streams of snow outside. So Channel 9 wasn't wrong about the oncoming blizzard. Luckily, she'd be home before the worst of it set in later tonight."So, Shea, I assume you work in management? What drew you to business?" 'Besides just looking good in a suit,' Cora added silently.
 
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#9
Shea gladly followed Cora into the other room. He took a quick scan of the room, seeing that Lydia was busy trying to network and seemed like she hadn’t given the two of them a second thought before he realized he was falling behind, and caught up with Cora. Sure enough, smells of things that were actually edible without giving him a stomach ache, wafted through the air. He didn’t know why he hadn’t eaten earlier, but if this was the result, he wouldn’t mind his rumbling stomach. It actually smelled rather good, much better than whatever caterer Zach got last year. He was probably screwing her. Maybe.

Now that they were away from the obnoxious antics of others, and from some of the more ostentatious ornaments, Shea was able to see a little better. Of course, that meant being able to see Cora even more clearly, looking even more beautiful than she had at that first knockout. Not to mention, with the windows, it seemed like the room was cooler compared to earlier. He wondered if Cora was cold now, and if that this cranberry nightmare would’ve clashed with her pretty green dress if he offered it. Would she even accept it? Then again, he did have the navy one in the limo he could’ve offered her too.

Now wasn’t the time to doubt that though, and when the opportunity arose, he would seize it. Right now, it looked like Cora was focused on the outside snow, even worried about it. Shea took a second to look at the weather as well. Karen really wasn’t kidding, and he was glad she took care of the necessities before they left. But strangely enough, instead of the worry that looked like it was going to come on Cora’s face, a sense of peace came over him instead.“I love this time of the year,” he admitted, adjusting a button on his sleeve for no particular reason. “Hell to drive in but, worth seeing the world look so calm, but weirdly alive, even for a night.” He asked, only to wonder if he was even making any sense. “Or have I completely lost you?” he asked before the smells got stronger.

Shea waited for Cora to get something before he would get some too. In the meantime, he thought about Cora’s question, finding the irony of it in an office Christmas party. “I do, and honestly?” Shea sighed, “I was the oldest, so I kind of followed my father into doing what he did.” Shea admitted. “My father was a very traditional man that way, even though my sister had more of an interest in following his ventures than I did. And well, our brother wasn’t born until a lot later.” He explained. Shea looked back out the window, his reflection against the pure white scenery. “When this battle for the promotion ends, I would love to look more into ethical resource mining projects. I’ve already got a partner involved in the idea.” Shea explained, smiling softly at the thought of his potential business partner.

“He’s not here, but I think you’d like him. Smith’s a good man. Lyd-“ he cleared his throat, not wanting to bring up her sister while they were alone like this. “Anyone, actually can tell you about the kind of guy he is. His daughter Thalia’s about to start school too.” He said, bringing out a picture of the cute teenager with her father, his face scarred but still proudly smiling. Shea respected the man. He was a good associate, and father. And he’d probably given more to the charities and NPOs than anyone in the office. He was actually disappointed that he hadn’t seen his colleague. But Shea knew that he wasn’t necessarily one for parties either.

Shea coughed, turning his attention back to Cora after he got his phone back. He was lucky he still had his remaining champagne flute, or else he would have been parched. “I’m sure you have a much more interesting story as to what brought you into design and marketing,” he wondered, feeling a little chill from the window. “You’re not too cold by the way, are you?” he asked as he picked up two mini stuffed pastry pouches, offering her one.
 

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#10
Cora glanced out the window again as Shea waxed poetic about the winter weather. It was oddly charming, and Cora found her polite smile shifting into a genuine one. She really didn't understand what Lydia's problem with Shea was. It must be the promotion alone, because he'd been nothing but charming since he and Cora met. Unfortunately, anyone standing between Lydia and the things she wanted was automatically a threat, and there was little to be done about it.

"Well, I like the holidays," Cora replied. "Seasonal movies, eggnog, those cheesy Christmas songs everyone hates but can't help but sing along to." She went to see the lights in the park every year, and owned more reindeer sweaters than was probably healthy. "My family never did much for the holidays, so I like to make up for it by going all out." Even if Cora's apartment-- no matter how decked in tinsel-- sometimes got lonely, and her obligatory Christmas dinner with her parents made her want to gouge her eyes out, Cora was determined to hold on to the holiday spirit.

"The weather... I could take or leave." Cora laughed, helping herself to a piece of white chocolate from an ornately gilted tray. Thinking of the snow made her rub her arms reflexively, only to find that she actually had goosebumps. Compared to the warmth of the other room, this space was a bit chilly. Probably so that food would keep longer.

"I prefer the spring, myself. The snow is nice and all, but I miss color. Nothing can grow in weather like this. Well, snow drops and winter aconite can, though those aren't very common here and they're late winter bloomers. It's too early in the season to--" Cora stopped abruptly, ears burning in embarrassment. She sincerely doubted Shea Luther cared about flower zoning. "Sorry, I get a little carried away sometimes. Is winter your favorite season?"

When the topic shifted to Shea's career choice, Cora nodded along to his word. She could understand the pressure to follow in your parents' footsteps. Luckily, she'd been able to find her niche here doing something she cared about. Of course, Lydia fit into this corporate world like it was second nature. Cora doubted her sister ever thought about doing anything else.

"Ethical resource mining," Cora echoed. "I'm sure you'll be great at it." She thought for a moment. "I don't think I've met Smith." Olympus International had so many employees that it was impossible to know them all. Cora scanned the photo Shea showed her. She'd definitely never met Smith, but he looked like a kind man. The love he had for his daughter was clear, even in a photograph.

"My journey here is not really that interesting of a story," Cora said. "I was sort of a directionless teenager." That was putting it mildly. "I was never sure what I wanted to do. I thought about being an artist for a while, but there's no job security there. You have to be the best of the best, and even then you have to get lucky." Cora took the offered pastry with a quiet thank you and popped it into her mouth.

"Lydia and Zach have known one another forever, so when she graduated college, it just seemed natural that she would apply here." Cora gestured around the room, as if to indicate the organization at large. "She and I have always been close, so when I was getting my degree she'd ask me for help with projects-- I'm a design major. I liked the work, and having Lydia so close is nice, so I decided to apply here after university. The rest is history." Afraid that he might jump to the wrong conclusion, Cora quickly waved her hands in nervous circles. "She didn't pull any strings for me, or anything." Cora made her promise not to under threat of violence at the time.

Realizing she'd completely missed his question, Cora smiled apologetically. "Oh, sorry. Yes, it is a bit cold in here, isn't it?"
 
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#11
Shea wanted to pretend that he didn’t see at least a small smile from Cora. However, he couldn’t help but smile a little back when he saw it. Working through the various business ventures in Olympus international, Shea had seen all different kinds of smiles: the pursed, tight lip smiles that Lydia seemed to only have for him nowadays, the crooked grins Zach gave his future conquests, proud smiles Smith gave when fondly looking at pictures of his children. Shea had seen all kinds of smiles, and he thought he was getting good at telling which ones were real or fake. And right now? It seemed that Cora’s was real.

It not only made him smile back, but got his face flushed again. Shea thought he had bored the hell out of the girl with his oddly poetic view on winter. It wasn’t his fault he loved winter! Well actually, it was, but did he have to be so weird about it? But maybe it wasn’t that weird if Cora wasn’t rolling her eyes or giving him a fake smile. And Shea did the favor, not giving a fake smile even when Cora was talking about the holidays. They were something that Shea himself wasn’t too big on celebrating when he was at his own mansion. Sure when he was with his brother and sister, that was different.

But what was the point of celebrating it with no one except his fur-babies? Shea loved them but he didn’t think they were young enough to exactly believe in Santa or the Christmas Spirit. So Shea stuck to basic Christmas décor and traditions at home: have a nice gingerbread house set up, a small Christmas party, and watching How the Grinch Stole Christmas with his babies – they were in it for Max more than anything. Those were things he didn’t relay to Cora, instead nodding at her views on the season, and the winter weather itself.

It wasn’t necessarily boring when she brought up spring – people brought up the same reasons all the time for liking it. However, Shea definitely had more of her attention when she started talking about flowers he’d never even heard of. He wasn’t smiling anymore but he was definitely interested. Plus the face she made when she was talking about something she actually liked was worth listening to hours of conversation of flowers he knew nothing about. Was this her passion? “Nonono you were just fine,” he insisted. “Much better than the conversation I was making”, he thought before Cora asked him about winter.

“Only by association,” Shea explained. “My siblings and I all have winter birthdays, so growing up, you naturally associate winter with cake. Sometimes it got to the point of eating snow and thinking it was frosting.” He chuckled nervously before gulping down the rest of his champagne. Oh how he wish he didn’t do that. His throat was still dry from that stupid comment. At least he made sure to leave out the part where he was the only child to be dumb enough to think snow was frosting. Luckily, it seemed like Cora was changing the subject to a bit more appropriate and – Shea’s heart skipped. Did she really think he’d be good at it?

“T-thank you,” Shea coughed out, wishing he hadn’t gulped all the champagne down. “Just so many diamond and jewelry mines have so many unethical practices, humanity really has no idea what it puts itself through sometimes.” He quickly explained before Cora told the story of her way to Olympus International. He wouldn’t have taken her for directionless, but then again, the two of them did just meet. If he learned anything from experience, it was that the past couldn’t necessarily do the best job in defining who people could become. Though he wondered about what kind of art she did, and what inspired her.

Shea believed it when Cora said Lydia didn’t pull strings just to bring her in. If that were the case, Zach would have pu- wait that was a bad example. Zach did interviews but his friends, including Shea himself, seemed to find the best positions. He liked hearing her speak, and it was nice getting away from so many of the personalities at the office. In a fucked up sense, she was the breath of life he needed, and it made him spring into action almost immediately when she expressed feeling a little bit cold. Fuck the thermostat, this needed action right now! He immediately took off his coat, not caring who saw.

“Here.” Shea offered, handing it over to Cora. He looked to the side, finding it incredibly hard to look her in the eye for some reason. The reflection in the window showed off the blush in his face, as well as the greens in his eyes. Maybe it was the idea of her in his clothes, no matter how much he hated that damn jacket - the idea was certainly appealing. “You can have this. You need it more than I do.” He said, feeling a new relief now that the jacket wasn’t making him too hot. Well, it would have, if he still wasn’t feeling incredibly embarrassed and nervous about offering his jacket to the younger Bishop.

“Besides, I have another one in the limo.” Shea explained in case Cora wanted to fight off the advance, or refused to take the jacket for that reason.
 

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#12
Now that they were in the brighter lighting, and away from the warmth of the heaters, Cora was absolutely certain that Shea was blushing. He seemed as embarrassed by his love of winter. as she was about her mini-lecture on botany. Cora opened her mouth to tell Shea how cute that was, then nearly bit her own tongue off to keep the words from escaping her lips. Firstly, it was so not appropriate in a work setting, especially since they'd just met. Secondly, Cora was supposed to be politely detached from Shea. Somehow she doubted Lydia would take kindly to her flirting with him instead.

The story about eating snow and thinking it was frosting brought another genuine smile to Cora's face. "If it makes you feel better, I thought the moon was made out of cheese until I was seven years old and watched a documentary about space." It was years before Lydia let her hear the end of that false assumption. "How many siblings do you have?"

The red velvet truffles were once again calling Cora's name, but the memory of how many she'd already eaten was enough to resist the temptation. Instead, Cora helped herself to another glass of alcohol. She was starting to lose track of how many glasses she'd drank. It was bad form to get drunk at Christmas party, but if she was expected to remain impartial when Shea kept gazing at her like that, then Cora couldn't do it sober.

Shea was talking about the unethicality of diamond mines. It was an issue Cora instantly felt guilty for never considering. Like buying cheap clothes online, then realizing they were most likely made in sweatshops. "Sometimes the prettiest things have the ugliest histories," Cora offered. She wasn't sure what that was even supposed to mean, but it sounded intelligent. Her earlier champagne flutes were finally making themselves known.

Cora blinked in surprise when Shea extended his jacket to her. "Oh, I didn't mean you had to-- there's no need to--" Cora realized he was blushing again, and took the jacket without another word. It would be rude not to accept it, right? Polite and detached. Polite and detached. Cora wrapped the jacket around herself, trying not to inhale the smell of his cologne that lingered on it. Instantly, she felt warmer. "You're sweet."
 
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#13
Shea kept looking at Cora, definitely not an arduous task. He had gotten over just how blinding she was, and now focused on the little things that seemed to make her more beautiful, kind of like a masterpiece painting or diamond. His focus came back though, when Cora asked about his siblings. “Two. I’m the oldest” He explained, thinking about his sister Mattea, and his baby brother Isadore. Granted they were his half-siblings, all sharing one rather busy dad, but when did that stop him from ever counting the two of them in the first place? They all understood that, even at a young age.

None the less, he was the oldest by a considerable margin, at least for Izzy. What was he, nine or ten when he was born? At least there was only four years between himself and Mattea. And the reality was that at least, they would have a 30 minute drive between them? Their moms didn’t necessarily have any other connection and therefore no real reason to contact each other, so Shea had to be the one arranging the visits with his sister at the time, and later for the two of them and Izzy. He wondered if Cora and Lydia had any trouble like that, or if their family was nice and nuclear growing up. “My sister’s going to school for accounting, or analyzing weather stocks. I don’t know if she changed it again,” Shea admitted before he realized that the two of them didn’t eat.

It wouldn’t have mattered so much if it wasn’t the reason that the two of them even secluded themselves in the first place. “Histories can do only so much now,” Shea said as he found the nearest plate of miniature food. On the tray were mini crostinis with bone marrow and chimichurri sauce. Okay they weren’t Shea’s favorite things, and definitely not the best for first impressions but they were good enough for him. However, he’d only have to tell by Cora’s reaction if it was good for her too. “It’s what we do with the history that can make the biggest change.” He added, handing her a napkin supported crostini after she was draped in his jacket.

Shea was all things considered rather lucky that Cora accepted the jacket in the first place. Strangely, the color that he thought looked so bad on him, looked even better on her than her lovely green silk did. He was tempted to let her keep it, seeing how much better she looked in it. After all, he did have another one in the limo – which he would have to make sure to get in a minute. “That’s really kind of you. Thank you…” He said, slowly bringing his words out. The only problem was that he put in on slightly crooked. “Oh. Let me straighten this lapel out.” He offered.

Soon Shea stepped forward without waiting, leaning in and adjusting some of the details on the jacket. It took him a second to realize how close he put himself towards Cora. God she looked so good in his jacket, and he felt so much better with that thing off, even if the jacket was there to balance out his proportions and not make him look freakishly tall as he probably looked now. “There.” Shea said slowly, his hands still on the lapels, softly holding them. He wanted to back away and let her eat. But he wanted to kiss her even more. Especially when no one was watching them, where Lydia couldn’t see them that well.

Shea paused, tempering back and forth on the idea of leaning in and kissing her. It was only the sound of someone clearing their throat rather loudly that Shea pulled away rather quickly, turning around. “Yes, Karen?” he asked, the dueling disappointment and relief dancing on his face for only his assistant to see.

“You’ve been requested for a proposal hearing from Mr. Hyde down in finance. Zach’s with him.” Karen announced, eyeing Cora. “And you, have been requested by Ms. Bishop. Her exact words were ‘If that overgrown weed put a finger on my sister, I’ll shove his ass into next week.” She said with a sly smile.

“No they weren’t.” Shea correctly guessed before giving Lydia a slightly dejected smile. “Maybe we can catch up in a little bit?” he asked before being shooed away and eventually pulled to the other side of the room by Zach.

Meanwhile, Karen saw the lack of jacket on Shea. “It’s a nice color on you.” She said before she called a number with a slight eye-roll. “Yes, please bring Mr. Luthor’s spare jacket to the 16th floor, east. Thank you.” She said, taking Cora’s hand. “Your sister’s waiting.” She said, leading her in Lydia’s direction before waiting by the elevator door for about 30 seconds. The spare jacket, a Navy blue velvet coat, came soon after with an exhausted lobby boy. However, while the lobby boy tried to tell Karen something about the locks malfunctioning, she seemed too much like she couldn’t be bothered to listen.
 

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#14
"They sound nice," Cora responded after Shea finished talking about his siblings. His tone sounded fond, or at least familiar. Cora's own relationship with her sister was somewhat complicated. She and Lydia had always been close. In fact, Lydia had raised Cora in some ways. The story she told Shea about wanting to work close to Lydia was true, but didn't include the fact that Cora sometimes questioned her decision.

Both she and Lydia were products of their upbringing. In Lydia's case, that meant a desire to control and direct everything around her. Which included Cora. Although Cora loved her sister and knew that Cora's actions were born out of protectiveness, being constantly shielded and mothered for her own good could get a little tiring. Which is why Cora found it so surprising that Lydia left she and Shea alone together. This promotion must be really important to her.

Cora took the offered crostini, biting into it. The alcohol buzzed warmly in her stomach, and she clumsily brushed breadcrumbs from her chin. It was a good thing Lydia hired a limo, because she Cora was nowhere close to being sober enough to drive. Shea said something about the lapel being crooked. Cora looked down at the jacket in surprise. Running a hand across the soft fabric.

Suddenly, Shea was close. Cora drew in a surprised breath as he stepped towards her. He reached out, straightening some minute detail of his jacket. Cora watched frozen, staring down at his hands where they gently grasped her lapels. Instead of stepping back, Shea stood there, staring at her. Cora swallowed, gazing back almost daringly.

It was probably the alcohol making her lose her ambitions, but Cora was overcome by the urge to kiss him. The snow outside the window behind Shea surrounded him like a halo. What was the harm in one little kiss? Lydia wouldn't see, and she'd never know. After tonight, Cora could go back to her job in the design department and Shea could stay up here in management, and they might never see one another again. The idea was disappointing, but necessary if it kept Cora from hurting her sister.

As Cora was leaning in, a cleared throat behind them made both she and Shea pull back. Cora's heart froze in her throat until she realized that it was not in fact Lydia, but some woman Cora didn't know. Shea did, however. He greeted her as Karen. Karen mentioned Lydia saying something quite crass, which Shea disputed. "Doesn't sound like Lydia," Cora confirmed, "not in so many words, anyway." Then, Shea was walking away from her. Cora was both relieved and deeply disappointed. "See you later," she echoed.

The woman, Karen, led her back into the main room where Lydia was waiting. To Cora's relief, Karen said nothing about the moment she'd walked in on, just took her leave. Lydia scowled when she saw Cora, eliciting some panic in her younger sister. Did Lydia know somehow? "Why are you wearing Shea's jacket?"

Cora let out a quiet huff of relief. She didn't know, and she never would. "I was a bit cold, Sh-Mr. Luther gave it to me. I forgot to give it back to him." Cora glanced around the room but didn't see him anywhere.

"He already left," Lydia sighed. "Her, give it to me and I'll put it in his office."

"No!" Cora said, then cleared her throat. "I'm still a bit cold. I'll give it back to him later." Lydia watched her with narrowed eyes for a moment, then nodded.

"If you insist. Thank you, by the way, for distracting him. I just don't have the energy tonight." Lydia smiled. "You're the best, Cora." Cora nodded, feeling guilty. "I shouldn't be much longer. Say, forty -five minutes, then we can leave." Cora suddenly couldn't wait to go home, but she pretended to smile and spent that next hour getting even drunker than she already was.

Eventually, Cora could no longer wait in that room of people she didn't know, deciding whether she dreaded or anticipated Shea's return. Lydia was nowhere in sight, so Cora decided to wait in the car for her. How hard could it be to find? Stumbling down the hallway, Cora got in an elevator and hit the button for the parking garage. She walked through the empty cavern, the sound of her heels echoing around her. Sure enough, there was a black limo waiting only a few spaces away.

Cora climbed in the back, glad it was unlocked, and decided to close her eyes for just a moment. Just one quick momet. Like that, she was asleep.
 
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#15
Shea was going to kill Karen. He was going to first thank her for stopping him from making such a big mistake, then he was going to kill her. And then he was going to kill Zach for requesting him in the first place. He tried looking back at Cora as he was led to the other side of the room, but she ended up back with her sister. Shea was fuming on the elevator and kept a solid glare on Karen, who by now was more than used to this kind of anger when he didn’t get what he wanted. It was rare that he didn’t get what he wanted, but in this case, he didn’t even have the chance to try!

“Don’t blame me for your poor timing,” Karen simply put as the doors open. In a way, Shea knew she was right, but on the other hand, when exactly would have the timing been better? Especially because Cora hadn’t gotten nervous, or tried to escape. Hell, she was leaning in! She wanted him to kiss her, she wanted to kiss him back! All from the adjustment of a jacket – Shea wondered if he should’ve done even more to expedite the process. Maybe if he had held her face, or tucked some hair behind her ear. He kept his musings in the back of his head though, as he met with Zach and the potential investor.

Even though it was an hour, Shea felt the time go much more slowly as they spoke and listened to each other’s propositions. It was a conversation that he should’ve been invested in. But he knew why he wasn’t on his game. Cora consumed his thoughts, making him thankful he knew his proposition inside and out. By the time it ended, the three of them settled on an agreement, and Zach, with flutes of champagne in each hand, thought that it was the time for celebration. “I should kill you”, Shea said with a smile that was genial enough in nature, but eyes full of slight rage. They only softened when he thought he caught glimpses of Cora.

“What the fuck, you’re lucky I got that guy to even talk to you.” Zach warned, only to shift his eyes to Shea’s vision. A sneaky smile came onto his face, a bit more perceptive to matters of the heart and well, loins. “Oh ho ho. The phlegmatic Shea Luthor finally has something on his mind other than work.” Zach continued to grin, trying to egg his childhood friend on. “So who’s the lucky lady who’s got my friend thinking with his dick for once?” Zach asked, getting a rather evil glare from Shea. “Fine, heart, whatever. Same shit.” Zach waved off, instantly making the connection from Shea’s missed opportunities and glances.

“Oh shit, Lydia’s sister?” Zach asked. “You sure know how to shove your foot up your ass,” Zach nodded, getting a much better look at the beauty. “Damn. I don’t blame you though she’s fine as fuck.” Zach said, seeing how dumbstruck expression in his eyes. “Shit.” He said, not knowing just what she did to bring his stoic friend, his coworker, into this stupor. “What’re you fucking waiting here for, go after her.” He said.

“What’s the point? It’s not like I’m ever going to see be in a situation like that again,” Shea said, breaking his focus for the first time. “Who knows what Lydia’s told her by now?” He was trying to stay practical about the situation, but the reality was he was feeling slightly defeated. Actually? Very defeated. That was his first taste of any kind connection in so long. It reminded him of just how lonely he could get when he just focused on his work. Shea longed for her right now, and scanning the room? She was very much gone. The fact that Cora was gone and Lydia was still here puzzled him, and when he asked around, Cora apparently went back to their limo to sleep off the booze.

Come to think it, Shea noticed that Cora did have a bit more champagne than he did. He figured Cora was a lightweight as the party continued. More time and events passed, including someone doing magic tricks and taken Athena’s Bra, Athena kicking the magician’s ass, a drunken Shea almost accepting an offer for Zach to suck him off in the utility closet and a conga line. He did his best to forget about missing out with Cora during the party, but when he made it back to his limo, which was surprisingly open, he slung himself into seat, the bag for his coat fallen on the seat. Huh. Why was the bag so high up?

Shea wondered if he was seeing things as Karen began to drive. He was starting to drift off, as the bag started to sway and – wait, what was that sound? Was his coat bag snoring? “Karen,” He groaned, “bags don’t snore…” At first, Karen ignored him, but as the blizzard drive continued, the bag fell and Shea saw red. That was his coat but… wait. Shea started sobering up. Starting to feel very disturbed. “Karen, when did you get my coat back?” He asked.

“What’re you talking about? Miss Bishop still has your coat.” Karen said, the ride starting to get a bit easier. Did they hit his mansion already?

“Then why is it in the back…” Shea asked, shifting until he got to his jacket, and the very much asleep beauty still in his jacket. “WHAT THE FUCK!” Shea almost screamed out, covering his mouth. “Karen…” Shea said, rather panicked as the woman kept driving. “Why the fuck is Cora Bishop in the limo!?” He asked, the hard brake from Karen almost toppling over. Luckily they were already in front of the mansion, and didn’t need to go any further. “Look back here Karen! She’s in my limo, and she’s asleep, and holy shit I thought she left with Lydia! Why is she here?” Shea was panicking again, with Karen looking slightly perturbed for the first time in a long time.

“I don’t know how the hell she got in here without my knowledge. Why didn’t you say anything you drunk mess?!” She asked, “Oh yeah, because you fell asleep while I had to drive this thing in the damn blizzard.” Karen frowned. The panic set in both their minds. The blizzard. Shit. If this were just a normal day, they’d just drive back, and it wasn’t like Shea didn’t know where Lydia’s abode was. She held house engagements after all! But they had just made it past the blizzard. Oh gods. Who knew how long this was going to last. But almost instantaneously, the two of them shared the mind not to freak out in the middle of the blizzard. “Your call.” Karen said, turning the limo off once it was in the private garage.

This wasn't the time to continue freaking out. This was a crisis, and if they were going to get through this, they had to make sure to work quickly and calmly. “Let’s get inside. All of us.” Shea cleared his throat, the limo turned off. “We’ll wake her up, explain what happened and have her call Lydia. She’ll kill me if I were the one to call her.” He figured as Karen already started enacting a part of the plan. “We have clothes, and she can always borrow tops. We have food and whatever she may need. It’s just a matter of weathering the storm.” He said, trying to keep calm as he took off his winter coat. “Now help me get her in.” he said, putting it on Cora like a blanket before he and Karen brought her in and set her in one of the guest rooms.
 

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#16
Closing her eyes for a moment was a bad idea.

It was the first thought that popped into Cora's mind when she woke up in an unknown room, without any idea how she'd gotten there or how much time had passed. The next dozen thoughts all started with 'shit'. Cora took a steadying breath. This was no time to be panicking. She had to be rational and collected, especially since she was still intoxicated.

The last thing Cora remembered was laying in the back of Lydia's limo. She must have dozed off. Then what? This wasn't her apartment, and it wasn't Lydia's house. It wasn't anywhere Cora recognized. The limo door hadn't been locked when Cora climbed in, and she didn't lock it after her. What if she'd been kidnapped?

Before she could start hyperventilating, Cora forced herself to take stock of the room. She was laying on a bed in a well kept, neutrally toned bedroom. Not a seedy motel or some sort of sex dungeon, then. She was still dressed in her outfit from the party. It was still snowing outside, thought it was morning. Someone had settled their coat over her, presumably a gesture of kindness. It would be foolish to assume she wasn't in the clutches of a serial killer, but Cora could at least be quietly optimistic.
 
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#17
It had been a long night for Shea. Despite what they had decided earlier, both he and Karen tried to reach Lydia last night with no avail. There would probably be a couple reasons for that to not work, and much to his knowledge, he would’ve guessed that Lydia would’ve wanted proof and unless Cora was awake to explain anything, she would have expected the worst. So Shea had no choice but to let Cora come to her own and have her explain things. But what he thought would be only like an hour or so was wrong, as the girl was knocked out the whole night essentially.

Shea had taken a nap on the couch before being forced into his own bed last night as well. But he ended up waking up and going back to the couch anyway, much to Karen’s annoyance. She figured that the late reacting Shea was finally letting the alcohol influence him, and she had to answer the various questions about spirituality, such as if all dogs really do go to heaven. Karen… also fell asleep in that room, on a nearby couch. She was the first to wake up, Big Mac somehow getting in her lap in the middle of the night and sleeping on her. Max and Violet were much more protective of Shea though, sleeping either on or around him.

Karen popped in and out, checking the rooms until she saw a now conscious Cora. “Good morning Ms. Bishop,” She quipped in, “Karen Rivers, Shea Luthor’s assistant” She said, leaving her hand out for a shake, and not waiting for Cora to even move before taking it out of the way, “Alright, so you must be incredibly confused as to why you’re here. We were just as confused as to why we didn’t notice you in our limo until we got here but shit happens.” She explained, “We also have security footage both from the venue parking, and car security in case you decide to contest the claim.” She said, writing down Cora’s every move.

“If not, do call your sister.” She said, handing a charger for Cora’s phone in case she needed.
 

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#19
efore attempting to venture farther into whoever's home this was, Cora fumbled for her phone. She'd dropped her clutch on the floor of the limo, and was relieved to see it sitting on the table beside the bed. Her phone was still in it, as was her other things. More good signs that this wasn't a kidnapping. Unfortunately, the phone was dead. No matter how many times Cora pleaded and stabbed at the button, the screen remained dark.

The sound of the door opening behind her made Cora jumped to her feet. She took the comforter with her, wrapping it clumsily around herself like a shield. She felt silly traipsing around in this dress at what must be well before noon. The woman who entered looked familiar, though Cora could not immediately put a name to the face. The woman's introduction brought immediate clarity, however.

"Ms. Rivers, of course," Cora said, relieved. "It's alright, I believe you. Lydia hired a limo to take us home that night. I saw one in the parking garage that was unlocked and I just... climbed in thinking it was ours." It must have belonged to Shea. Saying it out loud, Cora felt like an idiot. She was never getting drunk again. Cora's relief over finding out what happened soon vanished, however, when the rest of Karen's words caught up with Cora's brain. "This is Sh-Mr. Luthor's house?" Now Cora almost wished she'd been kidnapped by some psycho. When Lydia found out Cora bailed on her to go home with Shea, she'd freak, regardless of whether it was Cora's fault or not.

"Lydia." Cora gasped, suddenly remembering her older sister. Lydia must be freaking out right now, since Cora never showed up for a ride last night and hadn't texted her. Cora also wasn't the type of person to vanish without a word. "She'll be worried sick." Cora reached a hand out from her blanket cocoon and took the offered charger with a hurried thank you. She found an outlet in the wall and plugged it in, nervously waiting for her phone to turn back on.

When it did a moment later, Cora let out a quiet curse. She had about a dozen missed calls, and twice as many texts. Most were from Lydia, but a few were from Cora's friends. No doubt Lydia had checked if Cora went home with them instead. Cora was going to have a lot of explaining to do, but first she needed to let Lydia know she was alright.

The phone only rang twice before Lydia was shouting in her ear at such frantic speeds that they barely resembled human speech. "No, I'm okay. Yes, I'm sure. I didn't get kidnapped. I'm sorry. I'm really okay. Lydia, slow down. I can barely understand you." Cora heard her sister take a shaky breath on the other side of the phone, and when she spoke next her voice was thick with relief. Guilt rushed through Cora.

"What the hell happened?" Lydia demanded. "I've been worried sick. I called you about a hundred times. I called everyone. I was about to call the police."

"I was a bit tipsy," Cora said. More like very drunk. "I went to wait for you in the parking lot and saw a limo there. I thought it was ours so I climbed inside and fell asleep, I guess. I just woke up a few minutes ago." Immediately, Lydia began lecturing her about how stupid that was and how she expected better from Cora. Cora couldn't even be mad, because she knew it was true.

"Where are you, then? You said you were okay, right?" Lydia demanded.

"I'm fine. The limo turned out to be one of your coworkers. He let me crash at his place." Maybe Lydia wouldn't ask who and Cora could just get a ride home and call it a day.

"Which coworker?"

"Uh, Shea Luthor." The silence was almost more terrifying than the yelling. "I can just take a cab home. I have my credit card. You don't have to pick me up."

"There's no cabs running," Lydia said, sounding frustrated. "This fucking blizzard has shut down half the city."

"Blizzard?" Cora asked. "I thought that was last night?"

"It was," Lydia explained, "and it snowed us sideways. It's still snowing. Didn't you notice?" Cora did notice, but hadn't registered it until this moment. "Cora, I can barely get out the front door. The emergency warning system has been going off all morning, warning people to stay off the roads and shelter in place. I don't think I can ever get my car out of the neighborhood, let alone to Shea's house to pick you up."

"Uhh," Cora intoned. She glanced at Karen. "Maybe Shea will give me a ride?" Perhaps the snow wasn't as bad in this part of town.
 
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#20
Karen watched as Cora took the phone charger without a word. From what she could hear, and see from Cora’s reaction, the older Ms. Bishiop was not taking this well whatsoever. She was all prepared for anything the older sister would have had done to retaliate at Shea or anyone else at the party, and she wouldn’t be afraid to use it either. But so far, it seemed that the younger Cora was taking full responsibilities for her own actions, which made her appeal even more to the secretary. She let the two of them talk as a sly smile came onto her face.

Initially, Karen had been proud of Shea for even going out there and talking to someone. But keeping a watchful eye on the two of them together? She knew there was something there. Hell, a blind man could’ve known there was something there, and she was pretty sure she could find a blind man off the streets to prove it! There was no way that Ms. Cora couldn’t have been at least a little intrigued with being stuck in the mansion of the man whose heart she stole. Even better is that she probably had no idea that she stole it in the first place.

Karen jotted down on her IPad, sending more emails before walking across the hall. She would need the incoming sexual tension to entertain her: the blizzard from last night had grown to the point where only emergency vehicles were allowed on the streets, and clean up would at least take a few days. She was proud of herself for preparing everything, including meals for the next couple of days, groceries and having all the bills paid off. Without it, the lot of them surly would have been out of luck. Hell, even the WiFi was spotty because of the sheer amount of snow invading them.

But Karen knew it was her job to deal with these things as she eventually, and silently, reached Shea’s room. She smiled: he wasn’t alone. Sure enough, the pups had made it from her own room, back to Shea’s and were cuddled all around him. She was there when he tried to have all three of them trained to not sleep on the bed. From the sight in front of her, the hundreds in training and lessons did not work. Of course, they were smarter than they looked, for they always came around when it seemed like Shea would need them the most.

The sight was a sweet juxtaposition to the cool greys and blacks in his room. And something Karen actually didn’t like breaking up but she knew she had to. “Alright guys, up.” Karen said, looking at the dogs. Max and Big Mac at least made the effort to stand up and pretend like they were going to leave and not brush her off. Violet on the other hand, cocked her head and just rested her head back on Shea’s chest. “You pick today to be a feminist.” She rolled her eyes. She needed to get all four of them up – nothing was going to get done if they just stayed in bed all day.

“Up!” she repeated, with only Big Mac really following her command. Karen rolled her eyes again. Was the baby of the bunch really the most well trained? But soon enough, Big Mac got back on the bed when Shea started stirring, the trio taking no time in completely surrounding their dad with kisses and bed hugs. He appreciated the company, giving generous pets and belly rubs to the trio before meeting eyes with Karen. The memories of the night, everything from the impact of seeing the most beautiful woman in the world, to the blizzard updates that he saw half-consciously on his phone. The view from the windows confirmed it.

Here was Cora Bishop, in his mansion, the two of them (plus Karen and the pups) stranded. Shea knew it was his responsibility that kept Cora here and have her call Lydia but he didn’t anticipate the blizzard’s damage. Somehow, in some strangely convoluted coincidence, the angel he thought he would never see again, was now stranded with him. If the blizzard wasn’t going to kill him, the disbelief of the situation would. And if not that, Lydia. Shea had to pinch himself, slap himself, something to remind himself that he wasn’t dreaming. But he couldn’t move out of the room yet. “How is she?” he asked instead, pulling a sweatshirt on and fighting his way out of bed.

“She’s talking to Lydia now.” Karen answered, “Go talk to her.” She more or less ordered – an order Shea wasn’t going to just ignore. As much as this situation must have been scary, even shitty for her, and terrifyingly awkward for him? Shea wanted to see her again. He told the dogs to stay, with only the boys actually listening as he walked along. He didn’t fight Violet’s decision to come: a puppy might make the situation better unless she was afraid of dogs.

Shea made it to the doorway, Violet at his side. He knew he should go in and explain everything. Or at least explain what Karen hadn’t. The least he could do was apologize for this mess and do everything he could to try to make her feel better. Instead, he froze, seeing her again for the first time in almost twelve hours. That night, the low light framed her face beautifully, and made her eyes sparkle with whatever ideas she had, and little things she noticed. It was nothing compared to the morning light outlining her features. The glow around her was nothing short of angelic.

Shea looked at the loose, slept in hair and followed the waves down to her face. Some of her makeup probably faded, but it wasn’t like he could fucking tell. What he could tell, was that she was shorter now. Well he should have known that she wouldn’t be the same height with her heels on but still, the difference was a bit strange to notice. While so beautiful, the look on her face was nothing short of distressed, and Shea was taking out of his hypnosis with Karen clearing her throat rather loudly. He didn’t need to turn around to see the way she was rolling her eyes at him.

Shea knelt down, rubbing behind Violet’s ears. “Let’s go say Hi princess,” he said, letting Violet in the room before him. He watched her sniff Cora out before pausing in front of her, tail wagging. Even his dogs loved her – yes, dogs. Big Mac loved everyone, and Max was food driven, but only Violet played favorites. If she liked someone, the majority of the time, the others did too, with only one or two strange exceptions.

“Meet a new friend Vi?” Shea asked, knocking before coming into the room. He waited for Cora to get off of the phone before looking back at her. “Hello… I.” Damn it this was difficult. He had a feeling he wasn’t going to make her feel much better, but at least some words would be better than none. “I know this situation is incredibly unexpected, even scary.” Well no shit, “And the blizzard emergency warnings have made things even worse. But I’m sure a few days will fly by and we can get you home.” Shea cleared his throat.

He wondered if it would’ve been weird to promise his honor, or that no harm would come to her in his house. “In the meantime, anything you need, either Karen or I will make sure to find it.” Shea promised as Violet carefully approached Cora, her tail still wagging. “Her name’s Violet.” He introduced.