A Deal To Be Made

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IX

March 21st, Birmingham Hospital



Rounding the corner in the Birmingham Hospital Mackenzie fiddled with his cuff links trying to get them to appropriately latch. Upon hearing some hushed arguing he slowed his pace. Without trying to bring too much attention to himself Mackenzie attempted nonchalance by sticking his hands in the pockets of his trousers, a awful habit of his. His brow peaked in interest as he tried to get a better look at the ladies in question.

"This can't be right!" The woman exclaimed, shifting her eyes from side to side ensuring that no one was around to hear the tat. "There's no way that we can afford that!"

"The nurse held her hands up in a peaceful approach gesture. "I'm sorry, Ma'am. I don't have any control over the billing. I can lead you upstairs to our accounting center to.." The nurse trailed off slowly as she watched Blythe shake her head.

"The only way I'm going up there is if someone is able to cut this bill in half." Blythe's voice nearly cracked at the end. She would have to sell her soul to pay off this amount in her lifetime.

Both of Mackenzie's eyebrows shot up in surprise. Well, well, well. If it wasn't the little minx from the tailor shop, he though to himself. It appears as if she had gotten herself into quiet the situation. Many folks were in debt around here. However, the hospital was not one to trifle around with. He had heard many troubling stories of constables had taken everything from those who had left an outstanding bill with the hospital. He paused in the middle of the hallway attempting to fish for any more information.

"I'll have to sell the flat, our ranch, every last item we own.." She hummed to herself, raking lithe fingers through her thick, chocolate locks in frustration. "Even then it wouldn't be enough to cover half of this balance." A defeated tear slipped it's way down her cheek.

Not knowing what else to say, the nurse began to slowly turn around and trek her way down the hallway heading towards Mackenzie. With ease, he slipped around the corner anticipating the nurse's direction. Once the nurse had rounded the same corner, he gently put his hand out to catch her by the forearm.

"Excuse me, Miss. I couldn't help but overhear. Could you tell me what that woman's balance is with the hospital?"



***



All weekend. All weekend Blythe had stressed, worried, and completely debilitated herself over the impending doom the hospitals provided her. She had come up with a plan, albeit it was a terrible plan. The only thing Blythe could think of to do was to pack her father up and travel across the continent. Perhaps they could settle down in a nice remote area in Ireland. No one would know them there and they surely could fly below the radar from the UK coppers. Right?

She huffed as she pulled her peacoat closer to herself. It was a chilly Monday morning here in Birmingham. The dreary morning had reflected Blythe's mood directly. She had made up her mind to talk to Addington this morning. There was one more thing she could try. Blythe was going to ask Mr. Addington for a significant raise in her income. Though she knew deep down that there was no way he was every going to give in there was no harm in trying. What's the worst he could do? Scream in her face and fire her for being a greedy, filthy, impoverished gutter-scum? Yes. That sounds about right.

"I can do this." She whispered to herself as she flung the front glass door open.

Blythe stopped dead in her tracks as she found herself staring at the broad shoulders of none other than Mackenzie Thomas. He and Mr. Addington had been engaged in an intense conversation. She imagined he was here to pick up his suit. A nagging dread began in the back of her mind. She was never going to get the chance to ask her boss for that raise. What if Mr. Thomas was here to degrade her service towards him? She had never seen Mr. Addington so uptight towards a customer as he was towards Mackenzie. He obviously meant something much more than any of the other nobles they had serviced. Surely she had done something wrong that angered Mackenzie Thomas so much that he had sought out the owner of the shop and intended to have her job.

"Ah, there she is. The little devil that we speak of!" Addington bellowed affectionately. There was mort definitely something going on. Garrick Addington had never spoken well on Blythe's behave.

"Hello Sir.." She acknowledged quietly, nodding her head in their direction. "Is there something I could help you two with?"

"Actually, there is!" Addington began making his way over to Blythe with his arms held wide out. She couldn't help but notice Mackenzie remaining where the two were originally talking with his hands stuffed in his pockets and a mild smirk playing on the corners of his lips.

"Excuse me, Sir?" She crinkled her face in confusion. Blythe couldn't help but notice the smirk in the background grow a little stronger.

"I never knew you were into the horse racing world! That is remarkable!" Addington finished, landing his large, meaty hands upon her shoulders. Cringing, but trying not to appear rude Blythe stood stock still.

"Mr. Thomas here has told me all about how you've impressed him so much with your thorough knowledge of the equine world that he has decided to steal you away with an occupation offer you just couldn't refuse!" Addington beamed down at Blythe but his eyes did not match his enthusiasm. In fact, you could almost feel the seething rage leaking from the corners of his pudgy eyes.

"I..Err.. What?.." Blythe could not for the life of her comprehend what was going on here. Was this some sort of sick nightmare that she had landed in? The last time she had spoken to Mr. Thomas was when he was here for his most recent fitting appointment a few days ago.

"I came by the shop this morning to inform Mr. Addington of your new employment." Mackenzie's low baritone infiltrated Blythe's thoughts. "Seeing as though how you told me it was going to be incredibly difficult breaking the news to your much beloved boss." The corners of his lips turned up in a nearly comical grin.

"Indeed he has!" Addington fervently nodded his head, clasping his hands together. "I'll just run to the back and get you that last check you requested." He muttered as he began his way into the service office attached to the back of the shop.

"What is this all about, Mr. Thomas?" Blythe whispered furiously. She had no idea what scheme he had roped her into but she wanted absolutely no part of it. She was going to tell this rich bloke where he could shove it until she noticed his long legs taking but a few slow strides to reach her. Blythe began to backup attempting to put some distance between the two of them. Until her back hit the glass door.

Mackenzie leisurely approached Blythe stopping but a hairs breath away from her. Pulling his hand from his pocket he placed it on the door directly next to her head. She could smell the minty breath wafting from between his lips as he leaned in excruciating close.

"It appears, Ms. Davies," He whispered locking his gaze onto her green orbs. "That you no longer work for Addington & Co. You work for me now." He watched her carefully as she started to shake her head madly, but before she could get a word out he inched even closer. Mackenzie had to lean down his tall stature to be able to place his face so painfully close to hers that their lips and noses were nearly touching.

"I've paid off your outstanding debt to Birmingham Hospital. I've also begun the process of moving your father into an assisted guest house on one of my properties where he will continue to receive the care he requires free from any expense." Mackenzie watched her eyes continue to grow in panic and confusion. "In return," he murmured while the Blythe watched the slow, controlled breathes fall from his lips, "You are officially mine."
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