A Deal To Be Made

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XI

March 21st, 1918 Birmingham, England



The next several hours were spent by Mackenzie showing Blythe around the den. To say she was in awe would be a complete understatement. She had heard about these types of things plenty of times, sure. However, she never imagined she would be involved in such an illegal ring in the heart of Birmingham. The building seemed to go on for miles with never ending desks filled with people answering phones and filling money. Others would scramble around furiously writing nonsense on the chalkboards that she was assuming was keeping track of the leading winners of the races.

When they had finally made it all the way to the back of the monstrous room they had entered an office that had "Mr. Mackenzie Thomas" scrawled neatly in white across the top.

Shutting the door behind him Mackenzie gestured towards a plush leather chair that sat directly in front of a large oak desk. Letting out a large gust of breath, Blythe lowered herself in the chair as gracefully as she could. Mackenzie made no effort to disguise his gaze as his eyes raked up and down her body, watching her elegant movements. For someone who came from nothing, she sure looked like she had taken years of eloquence lessons.

He took the seat in front of her behind his desk and leaned forward latching his hands together. Piercing her with his hard stare he waited for her to speak first, letting her soak it all in.

After moments of silence and watching her open and close her plush lips she finally spoke. "Who, exactly, are you Mackenzie?" Blythe could have sworn she watched something unrecognizable flash through his eyes the moment his name rolled off her tongue. But if there was in fact something there he didn't act upon it.

"First and foremost," He began, leaning forward to pour himself and Blythe a small glass of rum that he had siting in a decanter set on the far side of his desk, "I am one of the leading attorneys for the southern UK."

Mackenzie paused for a moment, watching Blythe's eyes widen in surprise. He knew this one would take a second to process. "Secondly, I am the second largest leader in the breeding game. I have bred and sold horses to some of the most renown jokey's in the country. Judging from your background I assume you keep up with the latest. The winner last year? Came from our stables."

"You've got to be kidding me.." Blythe whispered under her breath. What had she gotten herself into?

"And lastly," Mackenzie rumbled while a smile played on his lips, "I own and operate the largest underground equine gambling den this side of the United Kingdom."

"So, let me get this straight." Blythe said, scooting forward in her chair to place her palms flat on his desk. She slowly brought her eyes up to stare him square in the face. "You're an attorney who puts away criminals for engaging in crimes similar to those that you are committing yourself?" She questioned, lifting one perfectly shaped brow in his direction.

"Precisely." He agreed nodding his head once. He brought his glass to his lips slowly before taking a small sip. Mackenzie watched several different emotions play across her face but the final emotion he couldn't put a finger on. Until she broke out in laughter.

Blythe let out an outrageous guffaw, holding her stomach with both hands. This was the kind of laughter that occurred when someone told an embarrassing family story over holiday dinner. Not when one finds out they are working for one of the most illegal business on this side of the Atlantic Ocean. She reached up and wiped a tear that had escaped from her left eye.

"That is absolutely rich." She breathed as her laughter finally died down. Out of all of the reactions Mackenzie was expecting, this was certainly not one of them.

"That is absolutely what makes us rich, Blythe." Mackenzie murmured as he leaned forward to take another sip from his glass.

"Us?" Blythe asked baffled.

"Yes. Us, Blythe. You and I. The rest of those mongrels out there. The patrons that pay me to defend them and act against others. The jokey's that buy our animals. You are now apart of this just as much as I am. They pay your bills as much as they pay mine. Which brings me to my next point." Mackenzie went on, completely ignoring the bewildered look on Blythe's face.

"You will be my personal assistant. Although, you will be primarily working here, in the den."

"Here?" She twirled her finger around incredulously as if suggesting he take a second look at where they were. "You want me to work here? I'll get abducted or thrown in the cells!" Blythe squealed shrugging her shoulders dramatically.

"Blythe, you would be absolutely out of your mind if you thought I would let anything happen to you. You will be working along side me and I will be escorting you to and from work everyday. That will be considerably easier bearing in mind that you will now be staying with your father in the guest house that I mentioned earlier. It is an extension of my estate so you will be well taken care of." Mackenzie fiddled with the rum swishing in his glass, peering at Blythe through the crystal.

"I.. How dare..Who do you..I mean I..Err.." Blythe babbled standing up abruptly throwing the chair backwards. She paced back and forth, pulling her hair loose from it's bun and running her fingers through her tresses. Mackenzie made no move to comfort her, instead, remaining in his seat and admiring the show in front of him. He would never get tired of how sporadic her actions were.

She eventually slowed her pace before stopping in front of his desk once more. One hand at a time she stretched her hands across his desk to plant them directly in front of him, palms down once more. Blythe was stretched nearly all the way across his desk, hovering over him. As much as he tried, he couldn't help but glance at the flowing blouse she chose to wear this morning giving him a peek of the smooth, ivory skin along her chest.

"Okay, Mackenzie." Blythe dragged out the syllables to his name while staring at him in, what she had hoped, was a stern look. His eyes flashed in that unrecognizable emotion again as they snapped back up to her face. "I'll play your little game. After all, I am incredibly grateful for what you have done for my father." She paused, chewing on her bottom lip. "But on one request."

Mackenzie raised his brow, signaling her to continue. "How did you know my father had been hospitalized?"
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