A Deal To Be Made

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VII

March 19th, 1918 Birmingham, England



It had been a rough few days for Blythe Davies. Healing from her own physical injuries was a difficult enough task on it's own, let alone healing from the emotional injuries done to her heart after her father's incident. She still hadn't made a full recovery but had been released from the hospital on the 13th.Blythe was still suffering from excruciating aches every time she would grab an item to hang it upon a hanger for the show room, or stretch to reach something off of the higher shelves. As it was, Addington had no sympathy or care per usual. He demanded her to be at work at 8 AM promptly the following morning, belting over the ringer that hospitalization was no excuse for missing work. What an arrogant pig. But Blythe knew she needed this job now more than ever if she was to repay the debt she presently owed the hospital. For both her and her father.

He had been healing well, now able to get up and move around. The staff had transferred him from the intensive care unit to a normal patient bed where he continued to improve every day. They put him in physical and occupational therapy to measure and track his progress which seemed to be going off without a hitch. This was all remarkable, however, this allowed Blythe to focus on the next massive issue at hand. What were they going to do about the bills?

The afternoon had quickly approached meaning lunchtime was upon the shop. Instead of her usual trip down to the market to spend a few shillings and provide herself with a meager meal to get her through the day, she instead chose to hang back around the shop. She needed to use this time to figure out how the hell her and her father were going to survive the onslaught of invoices they would surely receive from Birmingham Hospital.

Blythe grabbed a pen off of the front desk and began to scribble frantically on the side of the Union Daily newspaper. She began to quickly configure exactly how much she made from the shop, what it cost to keep herself alive, her father and their horses alive, as well as what little income her father brought in from boarding horses when they passed through. With a frustrated sigh, Blythe let her head fall onto the desk with a giant thump. What were they going to do? Figuring out how they were going to financially survive was one thing, but once they made it through that, if they made it through that, they had another problem. What was she going to do with her father after he was released? She would be damned if she was about to let him live on his own after his little fiasco.

There was no plausible way she could move out to the country to live with him and be able to support the both of them in addition to the stables with no job. She most definitely couldn't afford to hire anyone to live out there and care for him while she stayed behind and paid for her flat as well. There would be absolutely no way that the both of them would fit into her tiny flat and live comfortably. But Blythe wouldn't be able to do anything to help her father without the income at the tailor shop. While Blythe was eternally grateful for her fathers increasing health there was much more on the table than what she could have ever imagined.

The small ding on the entrance door to the shop echoed throughout the quiet room. Addington had left promptly at the beginning of their lunch break without so much as a glance behind him. She knew he wouldn't be back so soon. She assumed it was another customer that blatantly ignored the 'closed' sign posted on the glass door.

"I'm sorry, we are closed for the lunch hour. You will have to return later." Blythe mumbled just loud enough for the persons to hear. She chose to not even look up from her current debacle.

A deep rumble sounded from across the shop resembling that of a man clearing his throat. The baritone of the man shook Blythe out of her reverie. "I have an appointment for my fitting. I suppose I am a bit early, however, I was hoping someone could make time whilst I was in the area." The man spoke in a low, somewhat curt tone.



***



The woman snapped her head up. Her light, sage green eyes directly meeting those of a hard, cold, steel grey. Those eyes were indifferent, showing no hint of emotion. The authoritative sound of his voice had left her cemented to her spot. "Name please?" She questioned without removing her eyes from his.

Mackenzie raised his brow. There weren't many women or men alike that did not recognize him. Regardless of the reason, women fawning for attention or men grasping at his influence to snag a deal, there was never any peace when out and about hence why he chose to seldom made an appearance.

He stared at the woman. Disheveled wasn't a strong enough word to describe her. Where she had tried to tie her long, mahogany hair back he could see that she had ran her fingers through several times creating tufts of hair to stick up. The hairs in all directions gleamed in the sunlight leaking through the glass windows of the shop showing the natural highlights in her hair. Her soft, round features began to take on a subtle pink hue around her cheeks and across the bridge of her nose. Her wide green eyes only grew wider the longer she gawked at him. There it was, the recognition.

He slid his hands into his charcoal trousers. "Thomas. Mackenzie." He murmured quietly enough that she was straining to hear him, which only piqued his interest more. Relentlessly, he never broke eye contact from the young woman.

The woman looked down after shaking her head softly as if to bring herself back to the present moment. "Ah, yes!" She exclaimed. Mackenzie braced himself for the torrent of attention. "Right here. You are a bit early and Mr. Addington is out on lunch. However, I would be available to assist you, if that would suit you?" Her words trailed upwards into a higher tone, indicating a question.

The corners of Mackenzie's lips twitched upwards slightly in a smirk. He had been led astray, there was absolutely no trace of recognizing him on her features. A sliver of a deep chuckle escaped his mouth, bringing surprise to not only himself but his entourage as well. Behind him Byron and Remington stood with their mouths slightly ajar.

"Yes. I think that would suit me just fine." Mackenzie hummed, letting his eyes travel over the stunned assistant.



***



Mackenzie stood upon a podium near the back of the shop surrounded by 3 angled mirrors. He stared at his attire from his shoes, to his trousers, finally landed on his black dress shirt. His hand came up to thoughtfully stroke his bearded chin. His thoughts still circling around the tailor's assistant. He would give it, the assistant was much easier on the eyes than Addington. But he had no time for such games with trivial people such as a shop wench.

The door to the back room swung open with a clod as it bounced against the opposing wall. The assistant came bustling towards them, arms full with measuring tapes, a few pins, and the items of clothing in question in tow. It seems she had taken a few minutes to put herself back together. The tuffs on the crown of her head had been smoothed and her garments seemed stretched taut again with minimal wrinkles suggesting the disaster that was occurring before he had so suddenly interrupted.

"Here we are, Mr. Thomas-" the woman began before Mackenzie intervened.

"Mackenzie." He insisted shortly. Oddly enough however, because he didn't let anyone call him Mackenzie save for his niece Delilah who never took no for an answer and the two hooligans behind him.

The woman stood still, pausing in her actions. She slowly brought herself up to stare directly into those steel eyes of his. "As I was saying, Mr. Thomas," She continued. "Here is your suit. We will begin with the waistcoat. If you will put it on, I will begin making the appropriate measurements and take notes on what needs to be... tightened." She said, clearing her throat at the end but not without letting her eyes roam up and down him once quite quickly.

Mackenzie stood stationary. It was exceptionally clear to him that this woman most definitely did not know who he was. But he wasn't about to disclose that... yet. He made no effort to tear his eyes away from hers as he reached out and clutched the waist coat, but not without purposefully gripping onto her hand as well.

Immediately freezing in place, the woman looked around the room, at the gentlemen behind him, and at the mirrors before slowly letting her eyes come to a rest back on the sharp grey of his.

"What's your name?" He demanded in a low murmur.

Pulling her hand back slowly she made a significant effort in trying not to scrunch up her face in confusion and annoyance at his authoritative tone. "Blythe." She quipped before taking a step back to give him room to adorn the waistcoat. "Davies." Adding her last name in a whisper, she interlocked her fingers in front of her.

"Blythe..." Mackenzie let her name roll off his tongue and slide between his lips like honey. Engulfed in thought, he brought the waistcoat up, slipping in one arm before the other.

Blythe tried not to let her eyes wonder. However, it was incredibly difficult not to when with every shift of his arm his shoulder blades contracted with sinewy, strong movements. Mackenzie wasn't necessarily a large man. She could admire though with his tall stature and lean, toned physique that the man was no stranger to hard labor. His broad shoulders tapered down into a lean waist accompanied by thick arms currently buttoning up the waist coat. She blinked a few times, trying to pull herself out of her daydream before her eyes could meander any further.

Mackenzie pulled in his cheeks, sucking on them for a few moments. It was all he could do to keep himself from releasing a full smirk while he could currently feel her eyes raking up and down his back. The pop his mouth made when he released his cheeks startled Blythe, bringing her eyes immediately back up to meet his.

"I think we are ready to begin, Ms. Davies." He said letting the small grin that he was trying so intently to keep at bay slide across his lips.
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