Chapter 51 – Warehouse 13

 

Elmer slept fitfully.  He was awakened rather often by either a light flashing in his eyes or a bump in the road.  Rita, however, was far more fortunate; she slept like a log.  She had gotten used to sleeping in much worse conditions and compared to the crowded conditions in the house, the almost-empty back seat of the limo was practically a luxury.  While she had ridden in this car many times previously, this was the first time she was doing so as truly a passenger and not on her knees or on her back for some portion of the trip.  From the way Elmer looked at her from time to time, it was plainly obvious that he would have liked to put her in one or both of those positions, but he had not ordered her to yield to him.  They both knew he could have, and that she would have complied with whatever he desired, but they also both knew that Craig would hear of it and he wasn’t sure he wanted to risk jeopardizing his relationship with her owner over a piece of ass no matter how good-looking she was.

Joe was an excellent driver and since it was the middle of the night, the roads were close to empty.  He had his radar-warning device plugged in so he didn’t need to pay too much attention to the speed limits.  He loved driving like this, but since the need to drive had come with no advance warning he wasn’t as rested as he would have liked to have been for an overnight drive.  He knew he would get his rest after they got there so he was anxious to get there.  Despite his speed, he was careful.  When he approached anything resembling any amount of traffic, he slowed enough to not startle the other drivers when he went by them.  For individual cars, he pretty much flew past them.

He was getting to the point that he would have pulled over for a rest anyway, or at least a cup of coffee, when he turned into the empty street in front of the warehouse and slowed quietly to a stop.  It was still dark, just a little past five thirty in the morning.  Nobody had said anything to him about arriving too early, so he assumed sooner was better, and accordingly he had done what he thought was best.  He turned to wake Elmer, only to see the other man was already rubbing his eyes and stretching.  Elmer shook Rita, then without waiting for her he got out of the car and walked to the door of the warehouse.

When she got there she noted with amusement that someone had neatly hand lettered the number 13 on the door despite the existence of other, more official, numerals mounted on the door clearly indicating the address.  That made her think of the television show with the name “Warehouse 13”.  Sasha liked the show and Rita thought it was only okay, preferring other shows offered by that channel.  Elmer produced a set of keys from his pocket to let them in.  He turned on the lights, then Rita followed him in seconds later.  Joe drove himself to the hotel where he already had a room booked to get some sleep.

Rita entered the warehouse with a well thought out game plan that began to dissipate in the first thirty seconds.  Her plan was to use Elmer’s floor plan marked with the locations of things she specifically wanted to see, going directly to those pieces for a quick first look.  On her way to the selected pieces she planned that she would also scan the surroundings, looking at the other contents as she went by, but with the intention to not stop at them.  She figured that would be the most efficient way to see what she needed to see.  She no sooner had begun to execute her plan when two items that were not on her list riveted her attention.  She wanted to stop and scrutinize them before going any further.  After a momentary hesitation she revised her plan of attack.  Her hesitation was grounded in the thought that in doing it the way she planned she might reach one decision about one of her chosen pieces but might reach another decision if she had seen another, not a chosen piece, first.  The only solution then was to see everything before reaching any, even tentative, decisions.

Her new plan called for her to simply walk through the entire warehouse, making notes on the floor plan to indicate where there were other items she wanted to return to for more careful appraisal.  She informed Elmer about her change of mind, then began to slowly make her way down the aisles, giving each item more than the cursory glance she had originally planned.  She soon realized that this trip was likely going to take more than the few hours or a day that she had initially estimated.  So be it.  Craig hadn’t given her a time limit and Elmer couldn’t.

With nothing specific to do, and with no better idea presenting itself, Elmer tagged along after Rita, watching and studying her, while all but ignoring the furniture.  He had already seen everything, made his own list of choices, and was now a bystander more than anything else.  The deal he had concluded with Craig gave him… and that meant Rita… first pick of everything.  He maintained a calm appearance even when she seemed very interested in pieces he had identified as ones he wanted.  He would do nothing to influence her choices regardless of what they were.

Somewhere in the middle of the warehouse she came across a fireplace mantel and surround.  When she first saw it, it was at the far end of the aisle she was walking down.  Intrigued, she gave up any pretense of looking at the other items before she got to it.  When she reached it, she stood with her attention fully absorbed by it.  It was rather large, beautifully carved and would easily reach to the ceiling of his bedroom.  The more she looked at it the more convinced she was that it would be perfect for that room.  Except for one niggling point.  There was no fireplace planned for that room.  As she looked at it, her mind’s eye created and discarded a variety of designs for its inclusion.  Her thoughts kept returning to one design, which happened to include a few other pieces she had seen earlier in her foray, but had eliminated as unnecessary.  Now she wanted to go back to look at them more closely.

Elmer was intrigued by her interest in the mantel but he didn’t interrupt her to ask where she was thinking it might go.  He had no idea where this piece would fit despite having thought about it during the time she had been studying it.  She eventually resolved his quandary when she turned to him to ask if he could install it in the master bedroom.  He instantly responded with a yes.  The speed of his response and the unqualified answer surprised her.  She clarified her inquiry by stipulating that it be a working, wood burning fireplace.  That gave him pause.  After a moment’s thought he asked which wall she had in mind.  She answered, “The one on the left, as you walk in.”  He remained silent.  After a brief pause she continued by explaining her overall vision, including where on that wall it would go, and the addition of the other items she had in mind.  He knew which ones she was referring to, and began visualizing the room as she was describing it.  He was impressed.

After a while, he answered hesitantly with the standard contractor response.  “Sure, anything can be done.”  She understood what she had just been told, then followed up by asking, “Is it really that much of a problem?”  He laughed.  “No, not really,” he conceded, “but it isn’t in the plans which means it isn’t the budget.  Although, I agree the room would be magnificent the way you’re describing it.  In fact, if it was my house I would do it without question, but it isn’t my house, which means he has to approve the additional expense.  He’s already worried about cost overruns, and this wouldn’t be an incidental one.”

She nodded, knowing the inevitability of budget limitations.  She shrugged her shoulders then added, “All I can do is propose my ideas.  If he says no, that ends it.  I understand that his bank account isn’t the size of the national debt and I have to respect his limitations despite how much I like an idea such as this one.  Lets move on, I still have a lot of ground to cover and I don’t think he’ll be happy if we’re here for a week even though I’m beginning to think I could use that much time.”

The day went by quickly.  Neither Rita nor Elmer really noticed the time despite the fact that both were becoming tired and hungry.  Rita was too fascinated and enthralled by what she was seeing and envisioning, and he was enthralled by envisioning her in ropes and on his bed.

Suddenly there was a pounding noise coming from the front of the warehouse.  They looked at each other somewhat surprised by the noise, then they went to investigate.  The noise happened again as they got to the front.  Someone was banging on the front door.  Elmer opened it to find Joe standing outside the door.  Before either one had a chance to question him, Joe explained that it was getting late and if they weren’t close to leaving they might want to consider going to have dinner.  Elmer looked at his watch and was surprised to see it was after seven.  He looked at Rita then said, “Based on the progress so far we’re going to be here tomorrow, maybe even part of the day after.  We can’t finish tonight so we might as well get something to eat, but we’re here for you, you’re the key player so I’ll leave it up to you to decide.”  She thought for a few seconds then said, “You’re right, there’s no way we can finish tonight so we might as well get something to eat.  But why don’t you two go and I’ll keep working, I’ll just ask you to bring something back for me.”

Grinning broadly, Joe held up a paper bag he was carrying, offering it to Rita.  She reached for it with a quizzical look, prompting Joe to say, “This will be our little secret.”  She looked in the bag and frowned, not sure what she was looking at.  She took it out, shook it to unroll it and saw a very attractive dress.  She immediately noted that it even went well with her shoes.  She looked at Joe, not sure what to say.  With some embarrassment he said he thought she might feel that way about going to dinner and he admitted that he found it disconcerting to eat dinner with a naked woman sitting next to him.  He grinned shyly and added, “Especially a beautiful naked woman.”

She leaned toward him, kissed him on his cheek and said, “You’re a gem.  No wonder he likes you so much.  And yes, this can be our little secret.”  With that she pulled the dress over her head, tightened the belt, smoothed the dress over herself, then smiled brightly.  “I’m ready gentlemen, if you are.”

Joe led the way, commenting over his shoulder, “I asked at the hotel before coming over here.  They told me about a great restaurant that’s a bit of a drive, but they said it’s well worth it.  They have a separate area in which they feed slaves but as long as we don’t say anything….” He shrugged his shoulders, leaving the statement unfinished.  Rita wondered if he honestly felt uncomfortable about eating with a naked woman, but she decided to not ask.