A Deal To Be Made

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XVIII

June 2nd, 1918 Birmingham, England

Blythe sat at the breakfast bar in the main house. She had decided to chat with Mackenzie early since they had funeral arrangements to discuss. It had been a few months since the day she realized her father had begun to decline.
That evening she had frantically called for Mackenzie after her chat with her father. They both immediately rushed her father to Birmingham Hospital. After agonizing hours of waiting for tests to be ran the doctors had finally returned bearing the news that her father’s brain had slowly began to shut down starting with the area that held his short term memory. After that night it was a quick slope downwards to his passing. If she were being honest Blythe couldn’t remember much of his last months. She was fortunate to be working for Mackenzie. He had only requested she work roughly 2-3 days per week so that she could spend the rest of her time with her father. Blythe had spent more time in the hospital than she ever wished she had to.
If there was anyone she owed her sanity to it was Mackenzie, especially within the last week without her father. He had been diligent about taking her to the hospital and picking her up every day that she had visited. For someone who had a name for being one of the most pretentious men in the southern UK, he had the softest heart when it came to her. She would have suggested the softest heart in general but the amount of times that he had spent screaming at doctors, nurses, and practically everyone else in general protested otherwise.
“Good morning.” Mackenzie grumbled as he shuffled into the kitchen.
Blythe turned around to greet him before choking on the hot sip of her caffeinated beverage. He had sauntered in dressed in only his night pants leaving his upper half completely bare. Her eyes trailed over every toned curve that decorated his torso. A small patch of dark, curly hair sat upon the middle of his chest.
“Good morning, Mackenzie.” She managed to say, blinking away the thoughts that entered her mind. The amount of time the two had been spending together for the last little while had been remarkable in creating a healthy friendship between them and making Blythe ultimately comfortable around his presence. However, that did not pause the crude thoughts that no lady should ever have about someone that crossed her mind when it came to Mackenzie.
Her eyes followed his movements as he made his way to the pot full of coffee. He poured himself a mug of the thick, black liquid before bringing it to his lips sans the sugar or cream. His eyes closed and he hummed in appreciation. Mackenzie made his way to the stool that sat next to Blythe, squeezing her shoulder in affection before sitting down.
“What brings you in so early on your day off?” He questioned then took another sip from his mug. He angled his naked torso towards her to give her his full attention.
Pursing her lips, it took Blythe a few moments to pull clear thoughts from her head. Talking to Mackenzie would be much easier if he had some proper clothes on. “I thought we could discuss my fathers funeral arrangements. If you have time, that is.”
“Blythe, I always have time for you. I’ve told you that. What have you in mind?” He chided, clicking his tongue in irritation. Mackenzie wasn’t wrong. He had made it a priority to prove to Blythe that she always had his attention and anything she needed he would strive to provide for her.
“My family has a small plot of land just outside the city. It’s where my mother was buried along with generations of other family members. I was thinking it’s only proper to bury him next to her.” She murmured quietly as she took a small sip of her own coffee. Peering at him from over the rim of her mug, she gauged his reaction. Ultimately, she knew he wouldn’t say no. It wasn’t as if this was an incredibly outrageous request.
He nodded slowly. “Of course. I only knew Arthur a short little while but he talked of nothing but amazing things of your mother. He would want to spend eternity laid next to her.” He whispered, looking down into the black liquid.
Blythe stood from her stool beginning to make her way to the sink to deposit her empty mug. Before crossing the kitchen she planted a gentle kiss to his temple. “Thank you.” In the beginning she thought it was odd how many times he would place a kiss on either her forehead or cheek. Sure it was customary around these parts as a greeting but Mackenzie definitely did it more than what was usual. However, the longer they had known each other the more casual the action had become and it slowly grew to be normal to them.
As Blythe began to walk away Mackenzie reached out to grab her hand. He pulled her to a stop and she turned around to glance questioning at him.
“I was going to drop by down at the docks today and was hoping you would join me. I’ve invested in some product lately and need to verify the items before they are shipped. Perhaps we could stop at a quaint little restaurant that an associate owns as well afterwards?” Mackenzie asked, peering up into her green orbs. He was going out on a limb here. They had enjoyed many breakfasts and suppers here at the estate together but regarding the last time he had invited her out on a leisure trip it made him slightly nervous to ask her.
She furrowed her brow and for a split second he was convinced she would decline. “I’d be happy to join you. What time will we be heading out?” She asked him.
His eyes shot open wide with the acceptance. “We will leave here around 3:00.” He gestured towards the clock hanging on the wall. She had a few hours to ready herself for the trip.
A slight smile lifted the corners of Blythe’s lips. She enjoyed the continuous game of surprising Mackenzie. Shock was a good look on him. A faint blush crossed her cheekbones as Mackenzie brought the back of her hand up to his lips.
“I’ll see you in a few hours then. Wear the black dress.” He whispered against her hand before pecking it. Mackenzie returned her hand, chugged the rest of his coffee, and left the kitchen without another word. There was no way this was a ‘quaint little restaurant’ if he wanted her to wear that outrageous get-up.

***

Mackenzie and Blythe arrived at the docks shortly after 4:30. Blythe had done as Mackenzie requested and worn the long lace dress. She felt incredibly too dressed up to be in such a grungy place such as the docks but he ensured her that they wouldn’t be there too long before they headed to supper at the restaurant.
Despite trying to break her bad habits, Blythe wiped her sweaty palms on the front of her dress as discreetly as she could. She wasn’t sure what kind of business Mackenzie had decided to dabble in this time but she knew he was a proactive business man, always seeking out new investment opportunities. She looked around skeptically as she noticed several men leaning against the charcoaled brick walls of the docks with their bowlers hats pulled down low over their brows. Mackenzie placed his hand on the small of Blythe’s back leading her closer to the canals that connected the system. Next to the edge of the asphalt stood a man in a dingy white shirt with a dusty brown waistcoat and matching trousers. His face was completely clean shaven with low set blonde eyebrows that convinced Blythe he constantly had a frown upon his face. He definitely didn’t look like the other businessmen that Mackenzie consulted with.
Stepping in front of Blythe, Mackenzie took a couple of strides towards the man and offered his hand. The blonde took his hand and gave it a hearty shake. The two of them spoke in hushed tone for several minutes before the man gestured for Mackenzie to take a peak under the tarps covering the boat in the canal. Leaning over the edge, Mackenzie gently lifted the cover just enough to see the cargo underneath. Blythe craned her neck to get a glimpse at what it was but much to her dismay he covered it before she could differentiate what kind of product he was buying.
Mackenzie nodded in approval before stepping back. The man hooked his head to the left, insinuating that Mackenzie follow him the few steps over to another pile of cargo. Blythe stood there utterly awkward as she watched the men go about their business. The two men stood facing each other as they discussed the product. She could tell by the tick in Mackenzie’s jaw and the hand gestures from the other man that the conversation was quickly turning into an argument. Just as she was about to step forward to intervene the argument she heard it:

Bang. Bang.

Two gunshots echoed through the docks.
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