Chapter 3

3344 Words
One week had passed since Thea had tailed her brother to the soon-to-be club. Seven days since she'd uncovered his big secret. Despite her best efforts to the contrary, the seventeen-year-old couldn't quite shake it. Questions lingered in her brain, eating away at her attention span; after all, there were questions that the internet, with its expansive knowledge-base, couldn't answer for her. Why was Miguel involved in this lifestyle? What were his personal rewards from this type of activity? Those questions were nothing she was ashamed of; they were scientific and observational. It was the questions of a less objective nature that really concerned her. Which term of entitlement does Miguel prefer? Is he a strict dominant or more relaxed in his control? Has he found the right woman yet or is he still searching? She tried to stop those wandering trains of thought, but it was an impossible task. Then there were the dreams. They were the worst part of it all because she couldn't lie to herself in her dreams and she'd have to wake every time and face the cold hard facts. She wasn't just a curious, unattached observer. She didn't just have a scientific curiosity about this darker side of life. She was no longer just a concerned sister about her older brother. No, those damned dreams forced a very clear and sharp reality upon her: she was personally intrigued. There was no denial to be applied when she woke with her body on fire and desperate for a touch she would never have. Nothing could be shied away from when her panties were dampened with desire and a whimper died in her throat. She wanted to explore the world in which her brother now lived, but how? Miguel was her only link to the hidden lifestyle and it wasn't as if she could ask him. Just the thought of it was so awkward that Thea wanted to hide under a bridge. 'Hi, Ollie, I followed you and now I know what you're hiding, but don't worry, I'm not freaked out, I'm actually kind of interested. Hey, do you know where I could meet any guys who might be willing to help me explore? What's the rush? Oh, I keep having these dreams that star you and that's so weird, I know, so I'm hoping to meet someone to replace you in my dreams before I lose my mind.' That is so not a conversation that I could ever have. But then, she figured, Miguel had to have connections in the community she was interested in. How else would he have met that woman she'd seen him with? She doubted very much that her brother could use the internet to that degree. So, in order to get the information that she wanted without the awkward conversation, Thea decided she needed to get close to her brother. She would find what she needed and, as a bonus, she would get to spend time with him. After coming to that conclusion, something occurred to her as to how she could get what she wanted. She brought her idea up to the family at breakfast the next morning. It was a typical breakfast in the Queen household. Moira and Walter sat at the far end of the table, talking amongst themselves as if no one else existed. At the opposite end from the whispering duo, Miguel and Thea sat. Miguel ate his breakfast without a single word to his younger sister who was sitting on his left. "So, I was thinking," All three of them looked up at her suddenly, "since graduation is in a few months, I should probably work somewhere, so I have something to put my name to." Moira paused, spoon halfway to her mouth, "That's a wonderful idea, sweetheart." "That's very industrious of you, Thea," Walter remarked, his voice booming and heavily accented compared to that of his wife. "Do you have any idea where you might want to work? A place can always be made for you at Queen Consolidated if you would like." Thea smiled at her stepfather very softly, before she finished laying out her plan. "Actually, I was thinking I could work with Ollie at his club. It's a unique opportunity to see something grow from the ground up." The sound of Miguel choking on his coffee drew everyone's attention to him, "No." That was it, just no. The swift rejection stung Thea. Is the idea of spending time with me so abhorrent to him? Before she could really think any more on it, their mother spoke up in her defense. "It's a good idea, Miguel," said the family matriarch, "Thea will gain real world experience, you'll have an extra set of hands and a new perspective that will help you draw in a younger crowd." "It's a twenty-one and over club," Miguel insisted, "Thea's 'crowd' isn't old enough to get through the door." Moira wasn't deterred from her path. She fixed her only son with her best 'I-am-your-mother-and-you-will-do-as-I-tell-you' look, "It will be a good chance for you two to get reacquainted." For several tense moments, Thea held her breath as she waited to see whose will was stronger. Eventually, Miguel relented, "Fine, Thea, if you really want to work in the club-" "I do." He pushed his chair back from the table and stood up. She followed suit. His blue eyes swept over her and, though she knew he was merely checking her wardrobe choice for appropriateness, she still had to fight against the instinctive urge to shiver. It was too similar to the Ollie of her dreams. "That'll do." He said decisively and she smiled under the positive praise. She chosen this old, worn outfit to emphasize her eagerness to join in on his endeavor. "Don't expect me to go easy on you just because you're my sister." "I won't." Out of the corner of her eye, Thea could see both their mother and stepfather pretending not to be paying attention. They are horrible actors, she thought. Better not quit their day jobs. "And I don't want to hear any complaints later. You asked to do this, Speedy." Thea huffed in indignation. I am not a child! But Miguel wasn't quite done with his list of conditions. "And you will do what I tell you when I tell you, do you understand?" That statement was too tempting for her to resist the chance to tease Miguel. It's almost too easy. Thea smiled softly as she moved past him to collect her stuff and said under her breath, "Yes, master." The look of momentary utter shock on his face was so hilarious that she almost forgot what she was doing. Two weekends came and went and surprisingly, Thea quite enjoyed working at the soon-to-be Verdant. It was oddly invigorating to be hands on with the project and watch the nightclub take shape. The construction crew took a little while to warm up to her, but with both Tommy and Miguel behind her participation, they couldn't shut her out forever. It was after a long Saturday morning of hard work that both Thea and Tommy were perched upon the catwalk, looking down at the carnage below them. The unionized workforce was gone to a nearby restaurant for their hour-long lunchbreak. The only Merlyn child and the youngest Queen were just discussing happy moments from their childhood over the sandwiches she'd packed for the three of them; Miguel, however, claimed to be too busy to eat and so his sandwich sat uneaten beside her. "No, you totally believed me!" Tommy exclaimed, laughter shaking his body and moving the iron below them slightly. Thea shook her head a little in denial, "I was six! Of course I believed you. I believed pretty much anything at that age." "Oh, I know," the elder man agreed, "it provided us with great amusement." She huffed in mock annoyance, "I'm glad someone got enjoyment out of my stupidity." "Not stupidity, just naivety." He countered, taking a bite out of his sandwich, "You would have thought it was funny too if you hadn't been the one being made to run up and down the stairs." Thea wanted to object on principle, but she knew he was right. It would have been funny if it had happened to someone else. "That's not the point." She grumbled under her breath, pouting, and Tommy pushed her shoulder playfully. He's such a good guy, what's he doing with Laurel? She couldn't help, but frown a little at the thought. Laurel was okay on paper, but personally, Thea had took issue with her. First, she used Tommy as revenge against Miguel after he disappeared with Sara and now, she was playing both of them like a cat played with a mouse before attacking. Thea was pretty sure that Tommy and Laurel were more than strictly revenge hookup these days, but still its beginnings were enough to make Thea unhappy with the older woman. Granted, she would never give voice to those thoughts because doing so would open a whole can of worms that just wasn't worth it. "You two can head home." Thea jumped, startled by the sudden sound of her brother's voice directly behind them. If it hadn't been for Tommy's tightening grip on her shoulder, she might have fallen from the unfinished catwalk. She hadn't even heard the door to the room behind them open or his approach. How is it even possible to walk quietly up here? She angled her body slightly towards her lunch companion so she could see Miguel with a small tilt of her head. His face bore no expression, but that in and of itself was telling. He only kept his emotions from his face when something was really upsetting him. "Why? What's wrong?" Thea asked, climbing to her feet. They certainly were not done for the day and she had plans to have a discussion with an individual from waterworks about the possibility of putting in a second sink behind the bar. She had already discussed adding an additional speedwell to the bar, to increase productivity and decrease stress on busy nights, with Miguel, Tommy and the contractor. Now she just needed to know if additional plumbing was going to be a problem. A quick sideways glance at Tommy confirmed that he too was confused by Miguel's random declaration. "I've already called and dismissed the work crew for today and I'll handle the meeting with the plumber in half an hour," Miguel said without answering either question asked of him. "Enjoy the day." "Okay, thanks, man." Tommy said, climbing to his feet too. She shot him a quick disbelieving look. Does he really not get that something's happening here? How can he be so willing to overlook the obvious? Thea wasn't as willing to accept the day off as Tommy was. Something was going on and she tired of Miguel's cagey behavior, "I came in with you; I can't leave before you." Her brother wasn't deterred, "I'm sure Tommy wouldn't mind taking you home." He turned to look at his best friend, "Right, Tommy?" "Yeah, no problem." The seventeen-year-old glared at him, really? Have some situational awareness, will you? As if sensing the refusal that was coming, Miguel turned to look at her. "Leave, Thea." "No." "Go home." His blue eyes burned coldly as he glared at her. "No." As Thea watched, a muscle ticked in his face. He's really furious now. "I won't tell you again." For a few seconds, both siblings froze in angry tableau. Neither willing to back down. "Um, Thea," Tommy said, tugging her half a step towards himself, "let's just go, okay? Miguel's clearly got things he needs to do, yeah? Let's just go." Thea blinked confused by his mere presence. She was freaked out that, even momentarily, she'd forgotten Tommy was there. That can't be good… "Fine." She said, tossing one last glare over her shoulder at Miguel. She picked up the scraps from their shared lunch and together, Tommy and Thea, left the warehouse. "Okay," Tommy said as he pulled out the keys from his pocket and clicked the button on the remote to unlock the doors, "what was that?" He opened the driver's door as she walked around the front of the car to the passenger's side. "Why did you argue with him? It's just a day off." She sighed as she pulled on the handle to open her door and climbed in. "It's weird is all." She said, clicking her seatbelt into place. "Don't you think something's…off with him? Just kicking us out like that?" "Well, yeah," Tommy agreed reluctantly, starting the car, "but maybe he's just got something to do that he didn't want to explain, you know?" "Like what?" But as soon as the question left her mouth, Thea knew what Miguel could be so desperate to keep them from knowing. Is Ollie really the type of guy to halt work on his club just to get laid? Tommy shot her a look and it made it worse somehow that he had come to the same conclusion. She frowned, feeling suddenly put out by the whole day. "So," Tommy said, clearing his throat awkwardly as he pulled away from the curb, "do you want to do something? I mean, now that we have the day off, why not?" He smiled slightly, "It feels like forever since we hung out, just you and me." The idea of spending time with one of her best friends brightened her outlook quite considerably. "Yeah, that'd be great." Later that night, Thea waved goodbye to Tommy and unlocked the door before stepping inside. "Hello?" She called tentatively heading towards the long staircase. "Mom? Walter? Ollie?" "Hey, Speedy." She jumped, turning away from the staircase towards the doorway to their living room where Miguel stood. "Did you have a nice day off?" Thea looked at him closely for a few moments. He seemed perfectly content, not a hint of the surprising anger that had shocked her into an argument with him earlier. It was so confusing. How can he be so normal now and have been so weird this afternoon? I know girls who have less dramatic mood swings. "Yeah, Tommy and I went to see that movie with all the hubbub? Life of PI?" She told him with an awkward smile, "I don't really get what everyone's so thrilled with. I found it confusing and boring myself. Tommy didn't like it either." She shrugged absently, "Then we agreed we weren't super hungry, but we grabbed a light dinner and dessert." "Ah," Miguel said, nodding rather stiffly, "That's nice." Feeling like she was missing something rather obvious, Thea asked, "What about you? Did the plumber ever show up?" "Yes, he said he could rework our setup so we could have a second speedwell behind the bar." "Good. I just think it'll come in handy for-" He chuckled, "Thea, you've already made your pitch." A blush tinted her cheeks slightly, "Right. Sorry." With that discussed, the two siblings lapsed into silence. Thea didn't know what to say. Asking him about the past five years was clearly off the table, if that first night's dinner was any indication, and obviously she couldn't tell him that she knew about his secret either. So, what could they talk about? "Well, I'm glad you and Tommy had fun on your date." The way he said it, along with what it was that he said, had Thea laughing in a way that she hadn't in months. He appeared so honestly confused that she could tell it wasn't meant as a joke as she originally assumed. It took a few seconds for her enjoyment to fade enough for her respond to his erroneous assumption. "It wasn't a date!" She shook her head in disbelief, "I'm not interested in Tommy like that." "You…aren't?" "No, why would you think that?" Miguel's eyes flicked around briefly as if he was searching their surroundings for the answer to her question. "I thought that's why you wanted to work at Verdant; to spend more time with Tommy. I sent you all home so you two could have some time together outside the club." Really? Instantly, Thea felt guilty that he'd thought she'd used him to get closer to Tommy when that couldn't have been any further from the truth. She bridged the distance between them and rested a hand on his arm to make sure that she had his attention. "I wanted to spend more time with you, Ollie," she informed him simply. "I mean, yeah, I like Tommy, of course I do. He's a great guy, but that's it. Even if I did like him in that way, which again I don't, he's totally in love with Laurel and no one else matters when Laurel's got someone's attention." Under her breath she mumbled, "I only needed to learn that lesson once." "What does that mean?" "Nothing," she said quickly, "never mind." Shit. Shit. She hadn't meant to say that aloud. "Let's do something, yeah?" Miguel, however, was not budging. Damn him and his Queen stubbornness. "No. What does that mean?" "Ollie, please-" "Thea." His tone was serious and brooked no argument. "Fine," Thea said, biting off the word, "but don't forget I tried to not tell this story." He nodded, "I've been warned." "You probably don't remember this. I mean, why would you? It wasn't a big deal to you, but it was a big deal to me." He frowned, but didn't dare interrupt her. "I was so excited. It was my first real riding competition and I'd been training so hard for it. Mom and Dad couldn't come because…well, they just couldn't, but I didn't care because you were going to be there." She fiddled with a loose strand of denim on her shorts, "I kept peering around for you up until it was my group's turn and then I mounted my horse and prepared for my turn." "How did it go?" There was a hesitation after the first word that was a clear indicator to her that he, in fact, didn't remember. She'd expected that. "Fine…until I got to my second jump. I was so distracted, wondering where you were, that I didn't have the proper stance when my horse leapt over the poles and I was tossed off. Because I didn't finish the obstacle course, I was disqualified…and I broke my arm." "That I remember." His voice held a note of regret. "Do you remember why you weren't there that day? 'Cause I do." She tugged on the string wrapped around her finger. It broke off. "You were so wrapped up in Laurel, you forgot that you were supposed to come to my competition. You showed up when I was admitted to the hospital, but it was too late." Her green eyes dropped to that piece of string now loosely encircling her finger, "No one is more important than Laurel Lance." "I'm s-" "No." Thea interrupted abruptly, "don't apologize." "Why not?" She sighed, running her left hand through her hair, "Because there's nothing to apologize for. I know that you and Laurel must have been doing something really important to not come to my competition, even then I understood that, and in the long run, it didn't matter, you know?" She shot him a weak smile, "And if you were considering apologizing for the fact Laurel always wins out…you shouldn't. It's just the way it is. Girls like Laurel always steal the show and girls like me just end up shadowed." "Thea-" "Ollie," She said with a sigh, "It's really fine. I just told you to explain why even if I wanted to be with Tommy I wouldn't try for him." "Thea!" The forcefulness of his voice stopped her on the second step and caused her to turn around. He climbed up the two stairs and wrapped his arms around her, pulling her into an unexpected hug. "You could never be overshadowed." He pressed a kiss to the top of her head, "You put the sun to shame, Speedy." With a bright grin on her lips, Thea buried her face into his shoulder and breathed deep. Home. It was in that moment on their staircase that the youngest Queen realized why, despite having the time and a couple of chances to do so, she'd never retrieved the information that was originally sought. She didn't want just any man, just any dominant; she wanted Miguel. Fuck.
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