Her One Indiscretion

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Sorry this took so long. Life threw me a couple curve balls, which was then compounded by the fact that drafting this took more than a couple of tries. Nevertheless, here it be. I started wondering about RJ’s exploits before meeting Lauren (because I have drafts of Alice’s story simmering on the back burner, and RJ features in that one, as well), and threads of this plot started coming together. Given the types of characters herein, I am compelled to state explicitly that any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, or actual events is purely coincidental. I hope you enjoy it. Your comments/emails are always appreciated!

Caveat Emptor: This story is similar to others in my canon: slow build, romance over sex, and a will they/won’t they arc. You have been warned!

My thanks to Ripley for gamely reading multiple drafts of this story, and for setting me on the right path (mistakes were made; enough said).

Prologue (The Long Ago Past, New York City)

Frederick Edevane heard the door to his study open. “You’re early,” he muttered, not looking up from his work.

“I’m actually bang on time,” Gideon Wright corrected, “If you had a clock in here, you wouldn’t have to keep guessing…”

Frederick waved his hand dismissively, “They’re distracting. I don’t think well with one in the room.”

Gideon settled into the only other chair in the sparse room, “You know, most people would be surprised to see that your study resembles a seventeenth century classroom. Blank walls, one table, one bench… this chair…”

Frederick looked back down at his ‘desk’, a long table with multiple stacks of paper and books, neatly placed. He slid along the bench from one end to another in a practiced glide and came to a stop, “This works for me. If it ain’t broke…”

“No, you mad genius, I wasn’t talking about the utility of your ridiculously simple planks of wood,” Gideon chuckled at his best friend, “I was saying that people probably assume you do your work in something akin to the size and grandeur of the Library of Congress.”

Gideon sighed at Frederick’s blank look, before explaining, “… because you and your family’s made more money than pretty much anyone else on earth…”

The blank look morphed into a more uncomfortable one.

“… Sorry, bud, I call ’em like I see ’em…” Gideon shrugged.

The fortunes and influence of the Edevane family conglomerate were broad and deep. Frederick, for whom the ‘genius’ label was not far from the truth, further added to the family’s wealth with his prodigious portfolio of patents and licenses. Gideon was Frederick’s first (and only) college roommate; the two of them had hit it off immediately, and a lifelong friendship was forged. Gideon went on to carve a hard-earned path to success as the chair and senior litigator at Halprin Uxley & Beckett, one of the largest and most prestigious law firms in the world. The two men stayed loyally involved in each other’s lives, and in close proximity as they each married and had children. They had daughters the same age – coincidentally born minutes apart – who grew up more like sisters than friends.

The two families lived within a five-block radius of each other on the Lower East Side of New York, each eschewing the more lavish residences of the City’s Upper East Side. Granted, the Edevanes lived in a well-appointed – but anonymous-looking – four-story carriage house on Eldridge Street, so it was still a gem of a property. The Wrights lived in a three-bedroom apartment nearby on Broome Street.

Life spun along smoothly until Gideon suddenly found himself a widower and a single dad. His daughter Marlo was about to turn thirteen when their world flipped upside down. Gideon quit his job, took Marlo out of school, and the two of them went on a one-year sabbatical to travel the world, stopping in as many cities and waypoints as they could. The sabbatical served many purposes: It gave both of them some distance to process the loss of Marian Wright, and also provided them the necessary time and experience of being a two-person family versus a three-person family.

When father and daughter returned to the States, two things became clear: First, the Edevanes embraced them both as part of their family; second, Gideon had no interest in returning to the life of an in-demand corporate lawyer. Frederick Edevane wasted no time in poaching his best friend’s legal experience and intellectual horsepower. Frederick had long ago ceded the running of the conglomerate to his wife Jacinta, herself a seasoned veteran of Wall Street; further, he realized he lacked the wherewithal to control, deploy, and monetize his growing repository of innovations. Gideon was the perfect General Counsel the Edevane Group had been waiting for.

Freed from corporate governance responsibilities, Frederick happily spent his days in his Spartan study, dreaming up new ideas. More often than not, Gideon and Jacinta had to coax Frederick out of his intellectual uşak escort cocoon. His preference for keeping a low profile often hurt him in the world of content-overload: his silence was assumed to be pompous, his lack of outreach a sign of arrogance. A recent BNL article was the perfect case study.

“You know,” Gideon continued, “If you’d just allow for a little more PR, people might actually see you for the deeply philanthropic nerd that you are, instead of the evil fat cat hoarding money in your mansion.”

Frederick sighed, “That’s not a narrative that PR would solve. Did you see the Business News Ledger article today about my lack of philanthropy? Now that’s saying something – the BNL, the most pro-business, pro-capitalist paper – writing a biting critique about my charitable giving.”

“They put in a nice picture though,” Gideon noted with a healthy dollop of sarcasm.

Frederick snorted, “They superimposed a crown that says “King Edevane” on it. Like I’m some Marie Antoinette equivalent. They can think what they want – but we probably should do even more.”

“I know the editor at the BNL, I can talk to him. Off the record. They don’t know what they don’t know, Frederick. You’re an easy target: You hate publicity, all your philanthropy is strictly anonymous, and you don’t ever set the record straight… you just come to me and say, ‘we need to do more.'”

“There’s always more to do,” Frederick insisted, “… and… don’t talk to the editor of the BNL…”

“Shocker,” Gideon shrugged, “I promise I won’t. No, no, no, don’t go back to your work. We need to go through some college stuff for the kids. Please sign these things first… you’ve been sitting on these for weeks.”

Gideon nodded sagely at Frederick’s look of surprise, “Yep, it’s here, old man, your eldest is off to college. And no complaining from you – at least Fiona’s only going to be an hour’s drive away. Marlo flies off to Los Angeles next week. I might just beg Halprin to take me back and let me work out of their LA office.”

“You won’t need to beg. You can bring me in as their biggest account,” Frederick’s logic often stomped over other people’s attempt at humor. He signed the stack of college forms for Fiona: health care proxy, HIPAA waiver, and some other ones with his wife’s signature already on them.

Gideon laughed, “I was just kidding. I’m not going back to tracking my life every six minutes. And I’ll make liberal use of your jet to see Marlo. She’s been moping around, I think it’s only hitting her now that she’s going to be on the other side of the country to the rest of us.”

“Fiona will miss her; I was wondering why they two of them have been practically stuck together the past couple of days,” Frederick shifted off the bench, “Come on, we should go to lunch, what time is it?”

Gideon looked at his watch, “Lunch time. We’re only ten minutes late.”

Frederick blanched, “Jacinta’s going to kill me. Come on, let’s go.”

The two men made their way out of the study, through the library, and downstairs to the dining room. Frederick’s eyebrows knitted with displeasure when he saw a crudely made crown sitting on his place setting at the dining room table. The crown was annoyingly similar to the one in the BNL article.

“Too soon?” giggled Fiona, “Marlo made me one, too!” She reached under her chair and placed a ridiculously ornate plastic crown on her head. Marlo managed to write “Princess Fiona” in permanent marker, substituting one of the fake jewels for an “o”.

Frederick twirled the crown around his index finger, somewhat placated by his daughter’s good humor, “They had a point, you know, we need to do more, do better.”

“They don’t know everything that you already do,” Fiona retorted, “It wasn’t a fair article.”

Frederick shook his head, “It’s not about being fair. Because you can never sit in a house like this and get an education like the one you’re about to get and speak with any credibility about fairness.”

The table fell silent.

“Not to pile on the guilt, my goodness,” Jacinta tutted. She gave her husband a reproachful look, “Darling, maybe next time try for the approach of a hundred one-minute nuggets of wisdom versus a hundred-ton guilt trip in sixty seconds? Please tuck in, everyone, the food’s getting cold.”

“Don’t worry Frederick,” Marlo piped up, “I’m more than happy to call her ‘Princess Fiona’ from now on to keep her honest!”

Fiona’s younger sister Sophie choked on her water, “Marlo for the win!” she spluttered.

Fiona stuck her tongue out at Sophie and gave Marlo a firm elbow in the ribs. She tilted the crown on her head, “Well, Marlo, this clearly means I’m wearing the pants in this relationship!”

Marlo blushed; Fiona’s use of the word ‘relationship’ was casual and facetious, but it struck a chord deep in Marlo’s heart, rousing her secret hope and yearning. Marlo recovered quickly though, “Er, actually, I’m wearing the pants right van escort now Fiona. You’re wearing a dress…”

Everyone laughed.

“Whatever, Marlo, you know what I meant,” Fiona started eating, “Hey mom, did I get any mail from Avington?”

“Not today, but you got something yesterday,” Jacinta said casually. She held up two large college orientation envelopes with the Avington logo on them.

Fiona’s eyes flashed, “You kept those from me? Give ’em here!”

“Eh, eh, eh!” Jacinta admonished, “Finish lunch first, please.”

Lunch was very quickly ingested by the soon-to-be freshman as Fiona ripped open the envelope, “Where is it?” She muttered as she picked through the stack of papers and pamphlets, “Aha! Roommate assignments!”

Fiona ran her eye quickly down the assignment, “Not the worst! I’ll be rooming with Mona Winchester from Brooklyn. She went to Windcroft High School… was the Valedictorian… Basketball team… Chair of Windcroft’s LGBT-Allies group…”

Only Jacinta noticed Marlo’s eyes take on a slightly apprehensive look.

Fiona breathed out a sigh of relief, “Sounds like a regular run-of-the-mill high school over-achiever. What about you, Marlo?”

Marlo blew a raspberry, “Got my orientation packet in my email inbox this morning. I need to get off-campus housing. It’s okay – they warned us that this was a possibility. Dad and I already scoped some stuff out.”

It turned out that everyone had an opinion about where Marlo should live, which didn’t much help Marlo’s growing apprehension about living in a new city all by herself. She’d chosen to attend college in LA to get away. Now, as her flight to the West Coast loomed, the distance felt like overkill. Marlo had come out at the beginning of her senior year… to exactly zero fanfare from her father and from the Edevanes. She hadn’t come out with the whole truth though; her growing attraction to Fiona felt verboten in so many ways. New York City’s gossip columnists had been momentarily titillated by the news of Marlo’s sexual orientation, and that was already beyond what Marlo wanted the Edevanes (by association) to have to bear. The world might be moving forward in terms of acceptance of the LGBT community, but there were deep pockets of conservatism not worth provoking (the Edevanes really could not have cared less, but they weren’t privy to Marlo’s cogitations on this particular topic). Most importantly, Fiona seemed destined for a particular Camelot-type future, with adoring paparazzi trailing in her wake. Marlo didn’t see any reason to upset that trajectory, not least because Fiona’s current boyfriend was evidence enough of where her romances would take her.

Later that afternoon, Marlo laid on her bed, mulling over her predicament. Her ambivalence about college was exacerbated by the knowledge that Fiona was going to have a gay roommate. Marlo felt immediately jealous of Mona, even though there was no reason to be. Marlo wanted to be far away and close by all at once. “This is so stupid!” She said out loud.

“What’s stupid?” Marlo’s dad stepped into her room, holding her cell phone in his hand, “You left this downstairs and it’s been buzzing incessantly.”

“Thanks,” Marlo opened her hands to signal her dad to toss the phone, which he did. She quickly checked her messages, “Oh, Fiona’s been texting me. No biggie.”

“Mmmm. You okay?” Gideon knew his daughter was in a mood, “I thought you were going to hang out with Fiona all week?”

“Nah,” Marlo muttered, “Probably better to start figuring out LA logistics…”

“… which you’re doing by lying in bed and staring at the ceiling…?” Gideon decided to press, just a little, “I’ve been told by my daughter that I’m a pretty good listener…”

That got a slight smile out of Marlo, “I’m fine, dad… there’s a lot to think about, that’s all”

“Fair enough,” Gideon nodded, “I’m going to do a little work. Trattoria Nuova for dinner?”

“Sounds good!” Marlo nodded as her dad left the room. She picked up her phone and scrolled through the messages from Fiona.

{FE} Hey – why did you leave so soon?

{FE} Did I piss you off or something?

{FE} Seriously. Are you there?

{FE} What got into you today? Can you pls respond?

Marlo decided to use a generically believable answer, {MW} Summer’s ending too soon. Feeling blah.

{FE} Same. Are you coming back over tonight?

Marlo grinned, a mischievous instinct was taking over. {MW} Does Princess Fiona require the company of this humble servant?

{FE} You’re never going to let that die, are you?

{MW} No, your highness, I most certainly will not. Marlo was smiling wider now, enjoying the momentum of her teasing.

{FE} You = horrible.

{MW} Something vexes you, my liege?

Before Marlo could type her next word, her phone rang. It was Fiona.

“Yes, your majesty?” Marlo chuckled.

“Marlo, stop it.” Fiona sounded more amused than anything.

“I erzincan escort can’t help myself. This is way too much fun.”

“Yeah, until someone gets a hold of our texts and gets the wrong idea…”

“Fine. I’ll keep it offline…” Marlo was well aware of the intense interest from the tabloid press on all things Edevane, and of Fiona’s almost obsessive determination to stay under the radar.

“Thanks,” Fiona sighed.

“You’re welcome, Princess…” Marlo started laughing, “SORRY! It’s too tempting!”

“Asshole.” Fiona was laughing as well.

“Guilty as charged.” Marlo stretched.

“Are you coming back over or what?”

“I’m going to dinner with Dad. And then I think we need to knuckle down and figure out where I’m going to live.”

“Don’t be a stranger, Wright. I’m definitely not happy about you being three thousand miles away when school starts.”

“You can’t have everything, Fiona…” Marlo said this lightly, but her heart was pounding.

There was a beat of silence before Fiona sighed, “I’m going to miss you, that’s all.”

“Me too.”

“Come by tomorrow?” Fiona said, “Please?” She couldn’t have guessed the effect her words had on Marlo.

“Okay,” Marlo agreed. She could never say no to Fiona.


“Promise.” Marlo ended the call and sighed. This is so stupid.

“Life’s not fair,” she reminded herself of Frederick’s words, “Just deal with it, Marlo.”

Chapter One: – A Pleasant Dinner (The More Recent Past – Five Years Ago, New York City)

Fiona’s phone trilled for what felt like the hundredth time that day. Unlike all the other calls though, this one made Fiona smile. She picked up immediately.

“Marlo!” Fiona’s phone screen switched into video call mode, and the image of her best friend materialized out of a million pixels of color and light.

“How’s the Big Apple?” Marlo was somewhere outside. It was bright.

“Fine. Too many meetings. Dad’s starting to feel sick and tired of bankers and consultants.” As always, the mere fact of talking to Marlo was enough to make Fiona feel better about her day.

Marlo grinned, “They don’t do themselves any favors… But you’re almost done!”

“It’s grueling, for sure. But I’m not complaining – we’re sitting on a winning lottery ticket. A little pain with the bankers is worth it!”

If anything, Fiona was understating the reality of what was going on. Many years ago, her father had tinkered with a new construct for semi-conductors. Recently, Frederick dusted off the patent for it and started to develop potential applications for solar panels. Somehow, the Silicon Valley types got wind of the research and the wild bids for the intellectual property came flooding in. Access to Edevane’s technology would make a lot of money for a lot of people.

Marlo frowned, “They’d sell you off piece by piece if they could. Be careful.”

Fiona’s heart warmed with Marlo’s concern, “Dad and I play good-cop-bad-cop pretty well. Nobody’s touching our IP until we say so. Anyway. Never mind them. How’s your reunion going?”

Marlo shrugged, “Saw a couple people last night that I hadn’t seen in years, which was nice. Some rando came up asking me for an autograph this morning.”

Fiona laughed, “Which one was it this time? Did they think you were Tilda Swinton or David Bowie?”

This was a regular occurrence for Marlo, and the cases of mistaken identity ramped up exponentially when Marlo went back to LA.

“Tilda. I just signed it. I was already late, and you know how people get all snippy when I say I’m not who they think I am…”

“Well, I’m sure you made Tilda’s fan very happy today.”

Marlo raked her free hand through her short blonde hair, “Yeah, I guess. What are you up to tonight? You said you might go to your reunion dinner… but if I know you, you’ve already come up with a million excuses not to go… am I right?”

Because Marlo and Fiona graduated the same year, it was inevitable that their reunion years would coincide on a regular five-year cadence. Fiona joined the Edevane Group soon after graduating, but Marlo continued her studies in Los Angeles, going on to earn a PhD in Chemical Engineering. Marlo could have had her choice of labs in which to work, but she chose to take on work as a consultant, conveniently, most often for the Edevane Group’s technology business in San Francisco. Nobody found it necessary to comment, as Marlo was almost a member of the family.

“I’m right, aren’t I?” Marlo wiggled her eyebrows. She knew she was right. Fiona’s reunion invitation sat under a pile of papers on her desk, relegated to collect dust. After a day of meetings, Fiona was not at all motivated to be social.

“I was totally going to go!” Fiona protested, “But I changed my mind when our last meeting of the day dragged into its third hour… I’ve had enough meeting and greeting for a while. I’m going to stay in. Don’t look at me like that. You know you’d say yes to beer and pizza with me if you were here…”

“True,” Marlo nodded, “But I’m not there, so go be social instead of hiding at home.”

Fiona put on an exaggerated pout, “Don’t wanna.”

Marlo couldn’t resist teasing her friend, “Life isn’t fair, your highness, suck it up and deal!”

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