InuYasha Fan Fiction ❯ Purity 9: Subterfuge ❯ The Skin Trade ( Chapter 19 )

[ X - Adult: No readers under 18. Contains Graphic Adult Themes/Extreme violence. ]
~~Chapter Nineteen~~
~The Skin Trade~


-OoOoOoOoOoOoOoOoOoO-

' Wider baby smiling you just made a million ...
'Fuses pumping live heat twisting out on a wire ...
'Take one last glimpse into the night I'm touching close I'm holding bright, holding tight ...
'Give me shudders in a whisper take me up till I'm shooting a star ...'

-'Girls on Film' by Duran Duran.

-Evan-


His head was throbbing, intensified by every single thing around him, or so it seemed.  Too many people in the vicinity, too many eyes watching him, too many emotions that he just wasn't used to hiding . . .

Making quick work of punching in a text message to go with the image of Gin that he'd just taken with his cell phone, Evan fired off a quick note to Cain Zelig and stuffed the device back into his pocket again.

His gaze sought out the blonde haired woman for what had to be the umpteen-millionth time thus far, and when he found her, he couldn't reconcile himself with the surge of anger that roiled up inside him.  He couldn't quite make sense of the bitter wash of disappointment, either.  He understood that, on some level, he'd really wanted her to love his mother just as much as he did, and while he was hard pressed to comprehend the why of it, the truth was that it bothered him terribly.  Hard enough to deal with the unkind things she'd said—hell, she hadn't even been that abrasive when she talked about him, had she?  Somehow, the outrage that anyone, especially Valerie, would say such things about Gin Izayoi Zelig . . . Well, it just didn't sit right with him; not at all . . .

It didn't make sense, damn it.  No one could dislike his mother, and he knew it.  Gin was very likely the sweetest woman alive, just like Kagome, Gin's mother—Evan's grandmother.  All it took was a simple glance at her to see it.  He knew that, but . . .

"They're all hoping that she falls out of that damned dress—or bends over . . . So what is she?  A stripper?  Some groupie that gave you a good fuck after a show?  Playboy Bunny of the Month?"

"Stop it."

"Women like her are a dime a dozen, aren't they?  So what's so special about that one?"

He gritted his teeth, unable to deal with the blackest rage that frothed just below the surface.  Anger wasn't going to help him, but he couldn't control it, either.  Valerie . . . God, he'd thought that she was different, hadn't he?  Or maybe he'd just wanted her to be . . . The kind of woman who didn't put all of her worth in how she looked but who still gave a damn about her appearance, too, using her beauty to enhance what she was, overall, instead of relying upon it to get her places . . . The kind of woman who pulled no punches, who understood who she was and accepted herself for it.  The kind of woman who could see through him if she really wanted to . . .

So why . . .?

Erupting in a low growl that he didn't quite realize that he was making, he narrowed his eyes as that tiny little shit she called 'Marvin' scurried over to her side.  He was talking rather animatedly—waving his arms around and looking entirely like an overinflated balloon, ready to pop.

'I'd like to pop him . . .'

'Easy, Zelig.  Do that, and your mother would be mortified,' his youkai pointed out though not in a pleasant tone of voice.

'Keh!'

"Hi . . . I'm Ramona . . . Ramona Consuela."

Evan blinked away the debilitating thoughts and turned to meet the darkened gaze of the woman addressing him.  He almost smiled.  She was an international supermodel, and she was introducing herself to him?  'Interesting . . .'

He sighed.  Not nearly as interesting as he might have liked it to be . . . Oh, she was pretty enough—damned gorgeous, really.  Too bad she had that rather predatory look in her eyes: the one that told him louder than words that she wasn't looking at him, she was looking through him at whatever else it was that she thought he could give her.  "Evan Zelig," he said, pasting on a rather tolerant little smile.

"Oh, I know who you are," she said with a flutter of her hand and a husky laugh meant to be sexy as she batted her smoky eyelashes at him and shot him an entirely rehearsed and very coy glance.  "Care to dance with a lady?"

Mindful of his surroundings, he knew his part entirely too well, didn't he?  The son of the great and powerful Cain Zelig?  He knew the role—the one that he always rehearsed for these public appearances.  It wasn't as though he cared whether or not he embarrassed his father, no, but he'd never do a thing to embarrass his darling mother, and for her, he'd learned the absolutely perfect manners; everything that was expected of him, and while he tended to misbehave at family functions, out here, in the public, when his mother was under the scrutiny of the world at large, he would damn well remember who he was and what it meant.

And with that in mind, he slipped his hand onto the small of her back and escorted her to the dance floor, reminding himself not for the first time that he really, really was better off to stop thinking about Valerie Denning . . . and her damned Marvin . . .

"I hear you're a songwriter," Ramona commented as Evan pulled her into his arms and slowly swayed to the classical waltz—The Blue Danube, composed by the younger Johann Strauss.

He smiled rather stiffly.  "I guess you could say that," he replied.

"If you can write songs, why don't you perform them, yourself?"

He shrugged offhandedly.  "I can't sing," he lied.

"Hmm," she drawled, leaning in a little closer, letting her body brush against his despite the rigidity of the dance.  "Tell me why I've never met you before," she prodded.

He chuckled politely.  Out of the corner of his eye, he could see Valerie trade an empty champagne flute with the waiter for a fresh one.  Another surge of anger hit him, and he gritted his teeth.  "Oh, I don't know," he said.  "I guess I tend to stay close to home."

She giggled prettily, tilting her head just so.  Evan had seen it all before: giving herself the best angle, or so she thought, making certain that he only saw the parts of her that she wanted him to see.  "You seem like the kind of guy I could spend some time, getting to know," she remarked.

He shrugged.  "You think so?"

"Absolutely."

He didn't respond to that, one way or another.  What was it worth, anyway?

She was dancing with that little pipsqueak she called a fiancé, damn it.  Restraining the urge to growl in abject frustration, Evan couldn't stand the upsurge of absolute rage.  "Excuse me," he said abruptly, stepping back and bowing curtly as he started to offer excuses.  "Perhaps we can finish this later."

The quick flash of irritation crossed her pretty features, but she managed to cover it up just about as quickly as it surfaced.  Evan didn't miss it, though.  "You'd better," she purred.

Evan held the perfunctory smile until he'd turned his back and started to walk away.  He sighed.  Somehow, it felt as though the night was dragging on longer and longer and longer.  He just needed a moment away, didn't he?  Just a moment to reclaim himself . . .

Striding through the stifling crowd, he headed for the doorway that led to the balcony that overlooked Central Park.  Drawing a deep breath as the brisk night air ruffled his hair, he stepped over to the railing and tilted his head back to try to find the moon . . .

Nothing had been right from the moment that he'd realized that she had come.  From the very moment he'd smelled her, sensed her, he'd realized that it was just no good.  She wasn't there for him; she wasn't there with him.  She was there with a little mole of a man who looked about as wrong for her as Zel Roka was . . .

"Women like her are a dime a dozen, aren't they . . .?"

Jaw clenching as he dug his claws deep into the polished teak railing, he shook his head.  Damn it, it pissed him off . . .

'Damned if you do; damned if you don't,' his youkai remarked glumly.

Evan let out a deep breath and slowly shook his head.  'Sounds 'bout right . . .'

'And if you think she was bitchy now, just wait till she finds out about the fucking auction.'

He grimaced.  Yeah, he'd somehow managed to forget about that, hadn't he?  'Well, suck my nuts . . .'

"What are you doing out here, young one?"

Evan didn't turn to face the owner of that particular voice.  He didn't really have to, but he did offer a little shrug.  "Nothing much, Uncle," he lied.  Damned if he hadn't been doing that a lot tonight, too . . . "Just getting some air."

"Your mother looks exceptionally lovely this evening," Sesshoumaru Inutaisho remarked as he stepped up beside Evan.

"'Course she does," Evan rejoined.  He could feel the Inu no Taisho's signature bored stare, and he knew well enough that Sesshoumaru didn't believe his excuses.  Still, stubbornness reigned, and he sighed.  "Mama always looks exceptionally lovely."

"I never said that she did not," he replied.  "Kagura tells me that you are to be . . . sold at auction?"

The overall disdain in Sesshoumaru's tone was more than enough to make Evan grin.  "Well, you know," he drawled.  "I told Mama that she ought to try to talk you into it, but she was afraid that you wouldn't draw enough money.  Something about that patented 'I sucked a lemon' look of yours . . ."

Sesshoumaru didn't respond right away.  "This Sesshoumaru would not deign to demean himself to the selling of his person . . . though I assure you, I could bring more money than the lot of you if I were of a mind to do so."

Evan chuckled.  "Of course.  So how 'bout it?  Gonna let oba-san bid on some young stud?  I hear Eligible Bachelor Number Four is hotter than hell . . ."

Sesshoumaru managed to blank his expression even more.  "I think not," he replied tersely.

They didn't speak for awhile, and that was just fine with Evan.  He was doing an admirable job of not looking back inside to find Valerie, though he had to admit, at least to himself, that it was taking every last ounce of his willpower not to do so.

"And how are things progressing with the charges that were levied against you?" Sesshoumaru finally asked.

Evan figured that was the real reason that Sesshoumaru had followed him outside, anyway.  "Just fine," he assured him.

Sesshoumaru didn't look like he believed that, either.  "I have an acquaintance here in the city that tells me he would be happy to speak with you regarding your case."

Evan's gaze dropped to the flickering lights of the city below.  "I've got an attorney," he said in a quiet voice, unsure why, even now, even knowing exactly how angry he really was, that he simply couldn't let go of her, either.

"The reports I've heard have not been overly complimentary as to her skills, Evan," he pointed out.  "Surely you understand the seriousness of the charges?"

"The reports were wrong," he bit out quietly, carefully.  "She's a damn good lawyer, Uncle.  Thank you for your concern, but I don't think it's necessary."

Sesshoumaru narrowed his eyes and slowly shook his head.  "Recall who you are, if you will—not the son of the North American tai-youkai, and not my great nephew . . . not even the grandson of my baka half-brother.  If you recall nothing else, you remember your mother.  It would break her heart should you continue to demean yourself as you have been."

Evan winced inwardly.  Sesshoumaru was entirely too good at figuring out exactly how to make his point, wasn't he?  "I know that," he muttered.

"I do not presume to tell you anything that you do not already know," he went on.

"Did Cain put you up to this?"

Sesshoumaru stared at him for a long moment without blinking.  "No, he did not."

"Then who did?"

An enigmatic little glimmer surfaced behind his calm façade, but it was gone before Evan could interpret it.  "Your brother."

"Is that a fact?" he mumbled, shaking his head since that was the last answer that Evan had really expected.

"That's a fact," Sesshoumaru replied as he turned to go.  "I trust you'll consider what I've told you?"

Evan nodded, slipping his hands into his pockets, listening to the sound of his uncle, retreating inside to rejoin the festivities.

"Hey, Zel . . . You're outta beer . . ."

"Am I?  Shi-i-i-it . . ."

"Check the rack in the kitchen.  He's got some wine in there."

"Tch!  Wine's for pussies."

"Keh!  Come to think of it, a pussy would make an awesome wine goblet . . . C'mere, Maddikins . . ."

Evan frowned as the memory faded, shaking his head and letting out a deep breath.  Thinking about it wasn't going to change a damn thing, and even if it could, what did it really matter?

'Bubby . . . Hell, he's just worried about how it makes him look, ain't he?  He doesn't give a great goddamn if they lock me up forever and throw away the fucking keys . . .'

'Wishful thinking, Evan.  No matter what you want to believe, he really isn't that much of an ass.'

He snorted and frowned but didn't argue as he rubbed his forehead.

"They're all hoping that she falls out of that damned dress—or bends over . . . So what is she?  A stripper?  Some groupie that gave you a good fuck after a show?  Playboy Bunny of the Month?"

Why couldn't he just brush off her words?  When she'd made her scathing assessments of him, he'd let them roll right off his back, hadn't he?  So why couldn't he do it now?

'Because what she says about you is true . . . those things she said about your mother . . . They're not . . .'

He considered that then nodded.  He supposed that there was some truth there.  The thing was, he had earned the reputation that she disparaged, and he'd done it his entire life . . .

It hadn't taken long for him to figure out that girls dug him.  The thing was, none of them ever actually thought that he was the kind of guy to be taken seriously, either.  Good enough to fuck, but that was about it, and Evan . . . that had been all right with him, too, hadn't it?

The memory of his first glimpse of her, standing there in that gorgeous red dress with her cascade of honey blonde hair . . . the vulnerability in her eyes . . . was enough to heighten his confusion.  To be honest, he hadn't expected the overwhelming overload to his system that she'd presented.  All he'd wanted to do in that one moment was to slip his arms around her; to shelter her from those emotions he'd felt in her aura, and he might have; he really might have . . .

Until she'd opened that pretty little mouth of hers, that was . . .

Those things she'd said—hateful, ugly, judgmental things . . .

Maybe he had deserved them.  Gin certainly had not.

His jaw tightened as a steely glow ignited behind his gaze.  Valerie had stepped over the line; damned if she hadn't . . .

"Evan?  Your mother's looking for you."

Pivoting slowly, he nodded once and moved to follow Kagura.  "Sorry," he said, offering his elbow to escort her back inside.

She smiled demurely and slid her hand under his arm.  "I heard that you suggested I trade Sesshoumaru for Eligible Bachelor Number Four," she said.

Evan smiled and patted her hand.  "Well, hell yes . . . Oji-san's not quite as young as he used to be," he teased.

"Hmm, he wasn't my type," she replied, casting Evan a sidelong glance.  "Now move it.  I think your poor mother is running out of stall tactics."

He stepped back with a small bow before turning on his heel and navigating his way through the crowd.

Gin spotted him and smiled, looking quite relieved.  "And now, I'm happy to introduce you to our final bachelor for the evening!  He's very, very special, as I'm sure you ladies will agree!  He's a composer who has written songs like, 'The Deeper End of Love', performed by Thane Farland; 'Bits of Me', performed by Kennedy Bissette; and 'A Man', performed by Will Prescott—a song that also was won the Grammy for Song of the Year!  Those are just a few examples of work, but the very best part is that he's not only my date for the evening, he's also my baby boy!  Eligible Bachelor Number Ten, Evan Zelig!"

Evan smiled as he walked up the steps onto the stage, sparing a moment to take Gin's hand and kiss the back of it.  There was a loud murmuring in the crowd as he took his place beside her.

Gin giggled.  "All right, Mr. Zelig.  Tell me: where will you be taking your special date?"

Evan laughed.  "Oh, well, Mama, you know . . . I think . . . I think that it should be the lady's choice."

The ladies seemed to appreciate that answer, if the favorable ripple that surged through the crowd meant anything.

"Okay, ladies!  We'll start the bidding at ten thousand dollars!  Can any—?   Ooh!  Yay!  I see a lot of bid paddles!  And let me take this moment to remind everyone that since this is a charity auction, all bids will be binding!"

"I like paddles," Evan quipped.

Gin giggled and waved a hand to fan her pinkened cheeks.

"Fifteen!"

"Twenty!" a man's voice called out.

Evan nearly frowned.  That voice . . . It had sounded like Valerie's fiancé, hadn't it?  Just what the fuck was he doing?  Spending more of her money?

"Sorry," he said with a shrug.  "I am not really into guys . . ."

"No, it's for her," he called back from the hazy darkness.

The amassed crowd laughed.  Evan forced a chuckle, sure now that it really had been Marvin, after all.  What the hell was he thinking?  Damned fool . . .

"Thirty!" someone else called out amid the laughter still lingering from the men's verbal exchange.

"Seventy-five!"

"Oh, I heard seventy-five thousand!" Gin exclaimed.  "Do I hear one hundred thousand?"

"Yes!" a woman in the back called.

"One twenty-five!"

"Two hundred thousand!"

Gin laughed.  "You know, I'd pay much more for my Evvie," she remarked then leaned forward, cupping her hand near her mouth.  "He can cook, ladies!"

Evan chuckled, stuffing his hands into his pockets as he ambled the length of the stage and back, shaking his head as the bid climbed higher and higher.

"Six hundred thousand!  Anyone else?" Gin called out.  "Anyone?"

No one raised their paddles despite the marked murmurs of approval that he could discern.

Gin skittered over to him.  "Oh, I know!  Take off your jacket, sweetie!"

Evan shot her a quizzical glance and chuckled.  "My jacket, Mama?"

She nodded enthusiastically.

"Now, Mama, I don't think that these fine, upstanding ladies can be swayed by something as base as an impromptu strip show," he drawled.

"Sure, we could, honey!" someone called.  Twitters of laughter broke out, and Evan smiled.

Slowly shaking his head, he relented, unbuttoning his jacket and shrugging it off.

"Seven hundred thousand!" someone hollered.

Gin giggled again.  "I wonder how much you'd get if you took off your shirt . . .?"

Evan laughed and blinked at the abbreviated wolf-whistled that broke out.  Not nearly as raucous as his shows, certainly, but rather impressive, considering the crowd.  He quirked an eyebrow but reached up to tug his tie loose.

The women clapped their hands and waited as the murmuring in the crowd escalated.  With a melodramatic sigh, he worked the mother-of-pearl buttons and slowly discarded the shirt.

The audience grew quiet for a moment before it roared to life again, apparently surprised and maybe a little fascinated by his tattoos.

"Eight hundred thousand!"

"Nine hundred!"

"One million dollars!"

Evan blinked and chuckled, shaking his head at the commotion.  Wandering over to Gin, he reached for the microphone and slipped an arm around her.  "I tell you what, Mama.  Since people are being so generous tonight, I'll match the winning bid with a matching donation, too."

Her eyes grew wide and round just before a delighted squeal slipped from her.  "Really?  Yay!  Such a sweetie!"

"One million, two hundred fifty thousand!"

Gin smiled brightly and shot Evan an affectionate smile.  "Okay, I heard one million, two hundred and fifty thousand!  Anyone else . . .?  No?  Okay, going once . . . Going twice . . . sold to Arabella Gascony for a grand total of one million, two hundred and fifty thousand dollars, all to benefit the Zelig foundation, along with a matching donation from my son, Evan!  Why don't we give him a round of applause . . .?"


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A/N:
'Girls< /b> on Film' first recorded by Duran Duran and appeared on the 1981 release, Duran Duran.  Song written by and copyrighted to Duran Duran.
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Final
Thought from Evan:
In your face, Bubby
==========
Blanket disclaimer for this fanfic (will apply to this and all other chapters in Subterfuge):  I do not claim any rights to InuYasha or the characters associated with the anime/manga.  Those rights belong to Rumiko Takahashi, et al.  I do offer my thanks to her for creating such vivid characters for me to terrorize.
~Sue~
Chapter 18
Chapter 20
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