Chapter Six

Something's Up

Rusty had lied to Lily, and he was feeling a little guilty about it. Using New York as his way of getting her to accept Fantasy Island was a sore tactic, one which he shouldn't have used to urge her to do what he wanted. Not with his wife. He told her he'd have enough money to move there to be with her after the job. Truth was, he was planning the move anyway. He'd have enough money to move there if he sold the hotel, which had seriously been thinking about doing for a long time now.

California. If just wasn't his home anymore. At one point, yes. When he was alone. When he was with Isabel. But Lily… she was his home now, and he was starting to feel homesick.

Rusty cringed at the cheesy thought. He was never that guy before. Now, though, he felt… whole. Well, almost whole. Like he was ninety-nine percent done with a jigsaw puzzle and only had one piece left to fit together, and that last piece was New York.

His thoughts stayed with her as he entered into the lobby of his hotel to go about doing his business. He missed his wife and wished she was there with him, so why wasn't she? Why had she suggested they go their separate ways from Reuben's before the job? Why had she wanted to get back to New York so badly only days after their reunion? He thought he had calmed her down. So why had she rushed out, claiming she needed time and distance to think about the job?

He made his way towards the front doors, ignoring the greetings he was receiving from his morning staff as he exited. Outside, it was another sunny and cloudless day in California. From the front porch of the hotel, he could see the beach – gulls flying overhead as scantily clad sunbathers glistened with tanning oil from the blankets on the sand and children played in the rolling waves of the surf. Through his Ray Bans, Rusty glanced over to his side – his left side – where his wife should have been, holding his hand and taking in the sights. Even though Lily loved the atmosphere of the beach – the sights, the sounds, and the smells – it didn't phase him too much anymore. He had lived in New York once for a short time – back when he first was introduced to Danny – and he had decided that he had wanted something more. Just more. But now that he had it, he just wasn't too sure. He felt a pang in his heart, a longing for the east coast. The Atlantic. Home. Her.

Without her, he felt like his "something more" was just an empty thought. He had worked so hard to build up his hotel and his life, but without her, he was feeling empty handed.

As he reached his car, his cell phone started vibrating in his pocket. "Speak of the devil," he answered after checking the caller ID, smiling. "I was just thinking about you."

"Bad things, I hope," Lily laughed on the other end.

Her laugh seemed to permeate through him, filling his soul and fueling his smile even wider. His heart panged again, this time for her. He hadn't realized until that moment that he had been frowning the entire time, frowning so deeply that his mouth was hurting.

"Baby, are you alright?" Lily asked.

Rusty clicked his jaw, moving the thoughts from his head. "Yeah, sorry, just a particularly sexy image of you popped into my head is all."

Her laugh was back, and sighed. He felt lighter somehow at the moment, like all he needed was someone to ask him if he was okay.

"So how's Cali?"

He answered with the first word that popped into his head. "Lonely." In that moment, he wanted her to tell him that it would be alright, ask him what was on his mind and why he was feeling that way. He wanted her to ask all the questions that he couldn't necessarily answer. Hearing her laugh had filled him for a second, but that moment was gone and all that was left of it was the memory. He missed her more and more the more he heard her voice.

And he found those thoughts to be pathetic.

"How's the city?"

"Oh," Lily paused. "You know, the usual. Spending my day running the shop, my nights thinking about all the horrible things my father puts me through, and missing you all the time. Although, this time there seems to be more thinking than usual."

"Uh huh… Serious thinking, I hope," he replied, but something felt off. Her vocal pause had triggered something for him, something he didn't trust. Something that made him feel not so guilty about lying to her, and even more pathetic for missing her so much. "I'd really like to come to New York, Lil. As soon as possible. I miss you."

"Oh, I know Rusty. I miss you, too. I love you, but let's not rush this. Okay? It's best not to when Katherine is involved."

Rusty took a moment, trying to decide whether or not he could hear something in her voice. Something that could tell him what was going on.

"I know you said you needed time to think things through on your own, but I thought I'd come visit just for a few days. I mean, I just felt like our time at Reuben's wasn't enough."

He could have sworn he heard her gasp, but he doubted himself. He also started to doubt her, suspicion taking away from the missing. "No, Rusty, I don't think that's a good idea. I really do need to deicide this for myself and I don't want you influencing me. It's not about the job, or my dad, or my position, or anything like that. It's about me, and I need to do what's best for me."

Rusty realized then that he hadn't been hearing any noise in the background. No city noises. No cars, no sirens. Nothing. "Lily, where are you?"

"My place. Why?"

"No reason, just wondering I guess. Imagining myself there with you." At least his pathetic self was going to some use, he thought.

"Aw, that's sweet, babe. But listen, I have to go. Something's come up and I have to take care of it."

"Yeah, same here. Something's come up."

"I'm not sure when we can talk next. You know, with my serious thinking and all. But we'll see each other soon?"

Rusty hesitated, concerned over what she doing. Or not doing. "A week today is the job on the island. Are you hinting at something?"

"No, I, uh…" she fumbled, "I have to go. I love you."

He heard her hang up before he could respond. He pocketed his cellphone and sighed. "I love you, too, Lil. But something's up. Definitely."

Tess had walked into the room behind Lily, listened and watched her as she talked to Rusty on her cell phone. The girl was hurting, she thought to herself. Badly. Lily was conflicted between protecting herself mentally or protecting her family physically, and those two clashing notions were pulling her apart. Rusty, with his headstrong determination and confidence in himself, was not helping. Tess was sure that if Rusty had just agreed not to go, him and Lily would be back in New York right now while Danny and Tess were on the island. Even though it was causing Lily so much trouble, Tess was sort of glad that Danny and Rusty were so alike. If she had to go head to head with Katherine, at least she had an ally like Lily by her side.

Lily turned, seeing Tess standing in the doorway. "How long have you been there?"

"Just got here," Tess fibbed. "So that was Rusty?"

"I give him two days before he gets here," Lily sighed, shaking her head. "He's going to be so mad."

"Here? On the island?"

Lily gestured to the kitchen of the cabana her mother had put both of them up in for the time being. "I mean like right here, in front of me. Yelling, probably."

Just from hearing Lily's side of the conversation, Tess believed it. Their early arrival on the island was definitely putting a few kinks in the plan, but Tess and Lily had both deemed that a necessary evil.

"You think he knows?"

"No, I think he knows something's up," Lily answered, her eyes falling to the floor. "I shouldn't have called him. And now he's going to call Reuben to figure out what's going on with me, and when Reuben doesn't tell him – because I've sworn him to secrecy – he's going to call Dad even though I'm not talking to him."

Tess frowned. "Danny thinks I'm with you in New York."

"And I'm pretty sure Rusty knows I'm not in New York," Lily nodded, finishing Tess's thought. "I shouldn't have called. I just needed to hear his voice, reaffirm why I'm here with… her."

Tess crossed the kitchen, kissed the side of Lily's head while she wrapped an arm around her shoulders and pulled her in for a hug. "Maybe it's better that you did."

"How? Now we need to bump everything up. We have dinner with Katherine tonight, which means we won't have that much time to scout her out afterwards if Rusty and Dad jump on the first plane here."

"So we'll do both. Dinner with Katherine, and then I'll hold her attention while you snoop around for a bit."

Lily shook her head. "No offense, Tess, but I don't think the woman would be interested in you. She'd more likely be more willing to talk to me."

"But you're better at recon than I am, and I think I could hold my temper a little more even when it comes to Katherine."

Tess had her there. Lily did have more experience in reconnaissance and 'snooping' due to all her years of thievery, and the wounds Katherine left on her psyche were still too fresh from continuously being ripped open time and time again.

"Okay, so you find a way to distract her then. But – and here's the important part – we're going to have to stay in character. We may be having dinner in the privacy of Katherine's cabana, but there's still some risks of getting made. Her new boy toy or her help, for example, need to see us like they're going to see us in a few days. The personas Rusty set in place for us need to be in tact for when the rest of the guys show up."

"So who am I again?"

Lily rolled her eyes, a little frustrated. Maybe this whole thing was too much for Tess to handle. Maybe she should have come alone.

Lily quickly knocked those thoughts from her head. Tess was married to Daniel Ocean for crying out loud. She had been part of plans before… not a big part, and those plans hadn't gone very well, but still. She had some experience, and that was all Lily could ask for. Plus, without Tess, Lily would probably go insane if she had to deal with Katherine on her own.

"Okay, we'll go over it again. You're name is Margaret David. You're married to Dad, whose playing textile importer Edward David. You're also Evelyn's mother, that's me, whose the heiress to Edward's fortune and engaged to Ross Blackwell, a successful professional poker player played by Rusty. This trip is our engagement present, and the rest of the guys are set up as new hires here and are going to be our 'employees' for the remainder of our stay on the island."

"And why are two genteel women such as ourselves out without their men?"

"Who says we're without our men? No one knows that we're here already. Similarly, no one knows that the boys aren't here. Not even Katherine."

Tess smiled. "Katherine doesn't know Danny's not here? I think I've found my distraction."

Lily smirked, finding the deviance in Tess's tone highly amusing. "I'll make a thief out of you yet, Tess."

Tess broke into laughter. "I don't like to brag, but I'm already a bit of a master thief."