Monday, April 29, 2013

Chapter 2.13- By His Side

          The couples seemed to have so much more to talk about with each other and Layla was soon left on her own to sift through her thoughts on the sidelines.

          Behind her, Cyrus’ girls played quietly and contentedly. It was still difficult to think of her brother and sister as being parents. That was such a huge step, one she wasn’t entirely sure she ever would make. The only baby she’d ever held had been on Ouroboros. And Ayala hadn’t been a baby, but was a toddler. How old would she be now? Was she still a child? It all felt so far away.

          Phedra was full of surprises, and it was beginning to be a little uncomfortable to be around her. A mother. A wife. A woman dealing with feelings she couldn’t express for fear of ridicule. It was as if she had no idea who her sister was any longer.

          And so Layla stayed on one side, overly bright smile frozen in place, while she tried to sort through her own thoughts without giving away Phedra’s.

          However, Layla wondered if Cyrus guessed some of what was going on. He seemed to be keeping just as close of a watch on their sister as she was. They made a strange contrasting pair. Layla with her bent on disclosing her true thoughts with a smile, and Cyrus who refused to mask his concern.

          Cyrus and Layla still had their eyes on Phedra as Olivia walked behind them to answer a knock at the door. Whoever the visitor was distracted Cyrus, followed by George who claimed Phedra’s attention leaving Layla to slip into her lonely reverie once more.

          “-He’s asked me to see if one of you could come and assist until things quiet down again today.”

          Jerking back to the present Layla’s nostrils flared. Why was he here?

          “Sure, I’ll go in in just a minute. But why did he choose to pull such a stunt on a Sunday? He’s already got the majority of the vote in the latest polls.”

          “I wish I could tell you. I, myself, think it was a foolish move. With any luck it will help us a little.”

          A sob from beside the sliding door broke into the conversation. Even Phedra stumbled in her conversation with George.

          “Hmmm. Your wife still grieves for her mother. Maybe I should go get someone else in. I can make your excuses to Ned.”

          “No!” Cyrus nearly shouted, drawing everyone’s attention.  “No, I’ll get her calmer and then I’ll be in.”

          Layla, however, saw only that Olivia was distressed and heard Cyrus’ emphatic negative to Ignacio. Thinking something worse was going on she marched behind him, tapping his shoulder insistently.

          “What are you doing here?” She demanded. Her harsh tones grabbing her sister’s attention in the process.

          “I am here on business. And I can assure you I had no more idea that you were here than I do next week’s weather. Excuse me-” He had been about to turn from her when Phedra interrupted.

          “You gonna introduce your friend, Laydee?”

          “-Ignacio is not my friend.”

          “-Miss Sixkiller does not consider me a friend.” They said at the same time, neither looking away from the other.

          “Phedra, this is Ignacio,” Cyrus ignored the menacing look on Layla’s face. He didn’t seem to have been unable to untangle the jumbled words the two spoke at the same time. “Ignacio is how I managed to get my job working on Mr.Hale’s campaign. He’s been a great help to us, too. He’s how I was able to find this house, and he helped me convince Ned to take on Olivia as well. Not to mention all the fishing spots he’s told me about.”

          “Nice to meet you,” Phedra beamed, glancing Layla’s way.

          “Yes,” Layla added. “Nice to meet you.”

          “Miss Sixkiller and I had a misunderstanding when we first met,” Ignacio added. “She is yet to allow for an understanding to arise.”

          “Well, I’m sure that can be arranged,” Cyrus said. “Layla is reasonable and knows when things are misunderstood. Right, Laydee?”


          “And I know that she doesn’t want to do anything that might jeopardize my job, seeing as Ignacio is my boss.”

          “Nice to meet you Mr.Guerra!” Layla’s false smile was a solid 100 watts. But Ignacio only laughed at her briefly before turning his attention to Phedra allowing Layla to escape to the other side of the room again.

          The group remaining chatted easily. Ignacio’s silken voice mingling with the tones of her family, all punctuated by the occasional laugh.

          What did Cyrus mean when he said he owed his job to Ignacio? She thought Ned had hired Olivia and Cyrus. At least that was what he indicated the one time she visited his campaign headquarters. It left her confused. She’d hate for anyone in her family to be in his debt.

          Finally, Ignacio had looked around. Did she just imagine that she saw him frown when he didn’t see her among those chatting? Maybe not, as he came to stand next to her as she leaned her head against the cool wall.

          “You are refusing to leave, but you are miserable.”

          “I’m just fine, thank you.”

          “Hmmmm. You could have fooled me. Though you do seem to be fooling everyone else in the room, so congrats on that.”

          Olivia had been having minor breakdowns all day mourning her mother. Another one stopped conversation and brought all eyes on her sorrow. Cyrus tried to comfort her as best he could while her sympathizers tried not to make a big deal over it.

          “Your brother takes good care of Mrs.Imaga,” Ignacio said quietly.

          “Why did you hire him?” She asked in a hushed voice. It wouldn’t do for anyone else in the room to hear her.

          “Ah, there is the question you’ve been dying to ask.”

          “Why did you hire him?” Layla repeated herself.

          “First- I did not know he was your brother when I hired him. So do not imagine that it was done to flatter you,” Ignacio prefaced his answer. “And I persuaded Mr.Ned to hire him because seeing a desperate man makes me ill.”

          Layla allowed a tiny frown to show in a crease between her eyes.


          “Yes,” Ignacio’s sober whisper made her shiver. “Ned was not going to hire him. Your brother has no education, no work background that he could give legitimately, and no experience in the political arena. It was a risky move in the best of circumstances. Your brother could have been a liability to Ned’s campaign even. And he’s too proud to beg with his words, but you could see it in his eyes so I talked to Mr.Ned. I told him the story of a family needing food, a place to sleep and prayed that it was true. Unfortunately it was. Ned decided to bring on Mrs.’Livia when it was proven to be just like that.”

          “The house?” Layla whispered back. “He said he owes you for the house.”

          “Oh, you’re not going to grudge them the roof over their heads are you?”

          “You don’t own it do you?” she asked him.

          “No,” he said. “No, Ned owns it. But Ned has no idea of exactly what properties he owns in town. I manage all of that for him. And most people in town don’t want this house. It’s dark and old fashioned and rather small. But your brother wept with joy when I gave him a tour and again when I gave him the keys.”

          Layla turned to look at Ignacio, her mouth agape. Cyrus had cried? But Ignacio met her eye briefly only. It was just long enough for Layla to become aware how closely together they were standing. A small jolt tightened her stomach along with the realization.

        “He said they have never had such a spacious home, and they have never had their own yard for their children to play in.”

          “But back to you,” Ignacio smoothly continued. “In front of me I see your sister and your brother having a warm reunion and conversation. When I first entered it was the same. And yet you stand over here taking your comfort from the cold plaster of a wall. And I happen to know the whorls of that plaster has some sharp spots. Why are you over here torturing yourself?”

          “I’m not torturing myself.”


          “I’m-” Layla stopped herself. What could she say? “It’s just not quite real to me yet that Phedra is here. And stuff.”

          “Yes, ‘And stuff’ can be pretty torturous. And I am guessing you haven’t run off to your favorite spot in the hills because you are afraid you might miss something.”

          Determined not to satisfy him Layla stayed silent. She was starting to be a little too aware of his nearness. Her left arm was actually warmed by his body heat.

          “Miss Sixkiller, I have avoided you on purpose since our last meeting when you let me know just how reprehensible you found me by your manner. I have proven that I will keep your secrets. And you still hold so much against me.”

          “Look in front of you,” Ignacio wasn’t going to let up. “That is a lot of family happiness. And it makes you happy to see this no matter anything else. Right?”

          Despite herself, she smiled watching the other four interact. Her eyes closely watching her sister and brother. It did make her smile. It made her happy. Maybe she’d been focusing too much on everything else.

          “Ah, that’s better. There is your smile. You have more happiness in this moment than you thought.”

          “It is good to have Cyrus and Phedra here at the same time,” she finally admitted.

          “There, see? I’m not such a bad guy am I? I got you to remember what you should be focused on. Forget your troubles for a moment. I can listen. And I can talk. And my advice is not too bad either when I give it.”

          Layla blushed a little at the allusion to their first meeting and she turned hoping to glare at him. But when their eyes met, she found she couldn’t do it.

          Instead, she found herself wishing he might brush her arm with his. That maybe he’d comfort her with a hand on her shoulder or betray more interest than his habitual smirk allowed, and her face burned. Damn him.

          But Ignacio spared her, averting his gaze first. Then she remembered why he was here.

          “I thought you were supposed to be fetching an aide to help smooth over some campaign wrinkle.”

          “This is more important, and there is no smoothing out the wrinkles anymore. I will get someone else over to the office in a few moments and explain the delay to Ned when it’s time.”

          “There isn’t any more smoothing out of the wrinkles?” Layla misquoted, baffled.

          “We are so far behind in the polls it would take a miracle to catch up. Mayor Martingale has been in office for so long and the town trusts him implicitly. They do not know Ned, and most of them have decided he is a wealthy snob. The Mayor can do anything right now and get away with it. There is nothing we can do to stop him.”

          “Why is Ned running then?”

          “I tried to talk him out of it. But he is wanting to impress you and he is convinced that he can do it without any previous experience. He will be humiliated. And the only thing left to do is stand by his side.”

          “Wow, you’re cheerful,” she said sarcastically, catching his eye again.

          “I am realistic. And you need to know, ‘cause he is going to need to lean on you, too, when it is over.”

          Unfortunately, Layla wasn’t thinking about how she could help Ned. She was thinking that it was a shame that having a civilized conversation with him had come too late to completely salvage her opinion of him. Why did he have to start things off with her so badly?

          Ignacio still hadn’t broken away from her gaze and Layla couldn’t bring herself to do it either. And so they stood, oblivious to everything else around them.

-- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- --

          This was kind of Ignacio’s way of saying ‘I’m sorry’ without using those actual words. However, he is right when he says that he hasn’t betrayed Layla. He never intended to. Still, threats aren’t cool.

Also, he has not done an about-face this chapter. This has been how his character really has been since the beginning. Layla just finally let down her guard enough that he didn’t feel he had to try extra hard to break through, though she still isn't entirely sure he's telling the truth and will go to some trouble to verify his story. He also wanted to make sure that she knew just how much Ned was going to need her since he is rather devoted to Ned. 


  1. What stunt did Ned pull on a Sunday? Oh wait, maybe he meant the mayor, since Ignacio said "maybe it will help us" and later told Layla that the mayor was sure to win?

    Yay! Ignacio of the silken voice is finally able to have a decent conversation with Layla! I like that he's getting under her skin in so many ways. I sense an explosion in the near future.

    Heh. Nope, Ayala's not a little toddler anymore!

    1. Sorry! That was really just in there as an excuse to get Ignacio to come over and crash Layla's day. But I guessing Mayor Angelo (I think it's Angelo. Angus? Maybe? Doesn't matter) Martingale did something to make Ned look bad and now they're trying to spin in. Yeah. That's it!

      He's really living rent free in her head right now isn't he? She got nothing he was trying to tell her except where Cyrus was concerned. His telling her to be nice to Ned was a total wash. She didn't even hear it.

      I had to stick that in there. Layla would really appreciate her a lot more now that Ayala is a teen!

    2. Rent free indeed! I figured all that about Ned went completely over her head because she was so focused on what he said he did for Cyrus, and of course his nearness. Which was also funny, because 'by his side' was something Ignacio said about Ned, yet he was by Layla's side in many of those shots. I loved the sideways looks.

    3. The title was absolutely about Ignacio. lol. It had such a wonderful double meaning that it worked very well.

      I loved the sideways looks too. =D

  2. 5th picture from bottom: I thought you were gunna switch to Fay and Cy. Lol, looks like they're looking at Ig and Lay and going 'awww look, they *like* each other' LOL!

    Ok, so, there is *clearly* chemistry between Layla and Ignacio. Layla is way too proud to admit that she was wrong about him, and is in a sort-of relationship with a guy who is about to lose a mayoral campaign, so she's not gunna make a move. Ignacio is too much of a dark horse at the moment to tell what he'll do, but he's clearly a lot nicer than we first thought.

    I can imagine this day has been hard for Layla. Both her siblings are married and have kids: they have that in common, and all she has is a steamy couple of days on an island, which you don't really talk about with siblings. She doesn't really have much to say, as I assume they're talking about married life and parenthood more than anything else, and Layla can't relate. I know how she feels, so hugs for Layla!

    Out of interest, does Layla realise this was Ignacios apology? It wasn't very obvious.

    1. Those two. lol. I have one in particular where they really were looking at Ignacio and Layla and smiling. That's the not as direct one. Ha!

      He's not an asshole to everyone at least. lol. He's just got his own agenda and way of doing things. Ned clearly relies heavily on Ned, Cyrus is just steps from hero worshiping him. So there's definitely something else under the surface.

      Yup. She's just not got anything to contribute to her siblings. Even Galen has married. (Not in Appaloosa Plains. I shouldn't have Portered him over. No romance in AP for Galen.) But I'd far prefer her to figure out what it is she really wants before she gets to a point where she's in too deep.

      No. Remember, she only hears what she wants to hear. So didn't pay any attention to the “There, see? I’m not such a bad guy am I? I got you to remember what you should be focused on. Forget your troubles for a moment. I can listen. And I can talk. And my advice is not too bad either when I give it.” line. She was too busy watching Phedra and Cyrus and thinking 'happy thoughts' to have got that.

  3. I thought the same about the picture Gem mentioned.
    I'm sad for Ned that he decided to run for office to impress Layla. Because I don't think she even notices.
    Ignacio seems to enjoy having the upper hand, and he's a bit passive aggressive, like the way he told Cyrus about the 'misunderstanding' between him and Layla, which made Cyrus talk down to her like that.

    1. Lol. I actually had one where they really were looking in that direction smiling. I didn't want it those two to be too obvious though.

      She doesn't notice. She sees and hears only what she wants to. However, if Ned paid true attention to her instead of panicking any time she's near he'd know that's not the way to get her attention. And I put up in there that she had only been to his headquarters only once. That's pretty shabby treatment when a friend has such a huge undertaking at hand.

      Oh he's very passive aggressive. And I'm pretty sure he knows it. He's still very much an asshole just cause he wants to be. Telling her half that about Ned was an indirect order for what she needs to do in his opinion. It was a veiled 'He's doing it for you so you'd better make up your mind fast with what you want to do with him.'

  4. What a juicy web you're weaving here... I like Ignacio. I've liked him since the beginning, even if he can be a jackass. But I think he's got just the sort of spark Layla needs to tame her recklessness a bit.

    1. Thank you! I like to think it is too! lol

      I love Ignacio in my own way. He's a lot of fun to use to keep Layla somewhat in check. And yeah, it's going to take someone with a lot of strength to keep her in line isn't it?

  5. I'm kind of glad that Ignacio has shown a nicer side in this chapter (though he only has himself to blame for Layla not liking him given his threats). I'm still not sold on him though.

    1. It was time for him to finally let her know he's not all thorns all the time. But he absolutely only has himself to blame for her animosity. And I don't blame you! ;)

  6. Awww, poor Ned. :( At some point he's going to realize that his feelings are not returned. I hope he isn't crushed too badly when that happens.

    And Layla...that girl really needs to focus a little less on herself, and a little more on others, lol

    It'll be interesting to see what happens next in the Layla, Ned, Ignacio triangle! =)

    1. Oh, Ned. Ned is in for a world of hurt isn't he? Poor thing.

      Yes, yes she does. She's very naturally selfish. Even helping Phedra out when she was little had a somewhat selfish motive behind it. What she did to Anthony was incredibly selfish. And everything she's done since then has been with blinders on. But I think I've got someone lined up to help her in that department rather soon. So it's coming. Really. We'll get her head deflated a little.

      Oh, yes it will be. Teehee! Sorry, I pounded out the rough draft of that one this morning so it's still all fresh.

  7. I wondered about Ned's campaign after he said that most people in the town didn't know him well. What will happen with Cyrus when Ned loses?
    I'm glad Ignacio is showing a bit of his better side to Layla. Everyone's gotta like him for a reason.

    1. That's next chapter. ;) So you're close! Almost there.

      Yup. =D Though he had his reasons for that cockiness and his threats. That much later though. Haha

  8. Is it bad that I'm still not warming up to Ignacio? Sure, he did a lot of nice things for good reasons, but it feels like he had no right to tell Layla about how he helped Cyrus out. One shouldn't brag about being charitable. If anything, Cyrus should have told Layla...

    Anyway, I do have a feeling that much like Layla, I will end up feeling differently towards Ignacio as well :D

    1. Nah. It's okay to not like him yet. He's still being an ass. Oh for sure! It wasn't in his place. But he's getting kind of desperate for her to ease up. That and he'll never be cured of his cockiness. lol

      We'll see! lol