Alright-y then! Here's chapter 2 of Eccentricity: Hope you enjoy!

Terribly sorry for the wait, made a trip in to the grandparents' just in time to have the electricity knocked out, and as soon as I actually had it written up, the computer ran out of batteries and I had to start from scratch again. Ugh!

Again, the rating is only for a few of my characters (original characters, of course) who have slightly dirty mouths, and a few of the models... being models. Haha! Also, I was wondering if the chapter lengths are okay? This one's a little longer than the last one, but then I haven't really gotten to the story yet... Anyway.

Again, Enjoy!

-Heartbeats

II.

I was dangerously close to having to physically peel open my eyelids the morning my plane was scheduled to leave. I had packed up my two suitcases and carryon the night before, thank God, but for some reason that wasn't the thought that crossed my mind when I rolled out of bed and slammed my forehead into the nightstand beside me. As soon as I had muttered a few choice words on my way to the bathroom, I had to spin back around and check my phone, which had just started buzzing.

"Torres" flashed up on my screen and I clicked the text open.

"You up yet? Your plane leaves in two hours."

I rolled my eyes. Of all of my discoveries in travelling around the world, one of the least expected surprises was how much of a motherhen Ria could really be.

"Yes ma'am, I'm up."

I answered. I almost asked why she was, but one of my problems with traveling around so much was that I couldn't keep track of the time differences in all of the different places. "Good. Oh, hold on, Lightman's calling. Sorry. Have a good flight, see you when you get back." She was picking me up from the airport when I got back to the city. I hoped Lightman wouldn't pull her away when the plane finally landed, but thought that for once, maybe I could give Lightman the benefit of the doubt. It was Thanksgiving, after all.

The spirits weren't quite as high around thanksgiving, but I figure, if the Indians could eat a dinner with white people who had just invaded their land... Why couldn't I let Lightman off the hook for a week?

When I pulled my rental back into the lot and swung myself up into one of the buses, it was 6:00. It had only taken me ten minutes back in my hotel room, to make myself presentable enough for a plane ride and gather the rest of my stuff up. Then another five to get to the dealer, so I had more than an hour and a half to get there. Wasn't too bad, I don't think. I got through the security as smoothly as was to be expected, and then grabbed myself a bit of overpriced food to munch on before I loaded the plane. I people watched for a while, a beached whale in a sea of... clam shells? No, let me try again. Bleached jeans in a world of slacks. No. A baby elephant seal in the midst of Emperor Penguins. Emperor penguins who were sliding on their stomachs. Yeah, that's it.

So I was bored. I fiddled with my carryon, the only thing with me after I had dropped off the rest of my luggage with the carriers. I had already finished up my breakfast burrito, and the people watching wasn't going too well because there were so many people (surprising, I thought), and all the faces I could normally read pretty well were blending together and disappearing in the churning waves. Like sliding Emperor penguins. After a while, however, I jumped up with a sigh of relief as I heard they were beginning to board passengers on my flight, and ran to get in line first. I may or may not have bumped a few people on the way over, but come on. Riding first class would absolutely never get old.

I got settled in the adjustable seat (being the first person in line also gave me the privilege of first choice) by the window, tugging out my laptop and a notepad and pen so that I could brainstorm on some new article ideas on my travels in Brazil. I didn't have much, but after I grabbed my headphones and blocked out the sounds of the man beside me swallowing heavily against the sick feelings he was obviously unable to control, I jammed out to some techno and got to work.

By the end of the first flight, I had completed my article (it took half of my flight time... I may or may not have been working on some -personal- stuff along with it), and managed a few hours of sleep in. I slammed the computer closed and slid it back into the my travel case. I jumped into the hallway between a few of the other passengers who were getting off, and was on my way to finding a place to eat. I checked my phone heading down as well.

That had to have been the largest amount of texts I had gotten in the span of ten hours. Ever.

I sighed and opened the first text message I had received. Unsurprisingly, it was from Ria.

"Loker! You get to the plane alright? – T"

I rolled my eyes and clicked through the next few.

"Loker. Get my message? – T"

"Now I know you got those messages. The hell? You ignoring me? –T"

"You're so going to get your butt kicked, white kid. –T"

"You think I'm kidding? Try me. –T"

"You're going to hurt tomorrow. You know that, right? –T"

I may or may not have been slightly intimidated by her. Quickly, I texted her back.

"Ria! I was on the plane when you texted me in the first place. I'm fine. Don't kill me! –Eli"

Finally, I clicked open the only text left.

"Lover! Heard you were coming back in town. Can't wait to see you! And you have to come: I need some more of those nude pics :D You know I've always wanted to get in your pants – or get you out of them? Anyway. I have a surprise for you when you come home! Hurry back! –Amy"

As much as I loved the girl, whom I had met in college when I was a lowly photographer and her a rising model, she was... a great friend, obviously, but when she admitted to 'surprises', it was cause enough for alarm and extreme amounts of caution. The only things I remember from her last 'surprise' for me (on my twenty first birthday... of course) were a number a strobe lights, nasty strong liquor, and a lap dancer in feathers. I decided to leave that particular text message unanswered.

Eventually, after a quick chili cheese dog, I boarded my next plane and settled down for a more reasonable flight. I slept most of the way, because I felt that after smiling kindly at the old woman beside me, I could ignore her and her enthralling mystery book.

When I was ushered off the plane again, I saw that Ria was already there. I smiled at her, and she smiled back at me, but it didn't seem the same, what with her feet widespread and her hands on her hips... My smile turned a little pathetic and I think my shoulders hunched, but hopefully Ria took it as an apologetic shrug instead of a sheepish way to protect myself. She didn't actually say anything to me while she followed me to retrieve my luggage, and continued to follow me out to the long-term parking lot. Apparently, she had taken a taxi, and was now sitting in my passenger seat because she expected me to be the chauffer. I didn't argue. "So... Do you need me to drop you off anywhere? I mean, I'm just headed to my hotel room..." I said. "Keep going to the hotel, then. I'm fine with it. Just someplace... quiet." I looked over at her, alarmed, but she continued smiling out the window. It was especially creepy.

I pulled in, handed the car and my luggage off to the actual chauffer and a bellboy (a guy dressed in khaki shorts and and a hawaiian shirt), and checked myself in at the desk. Ria followed me up the stares. My shoulders had started aching by then, I had them tensed so tightly.

While I tossed my suitcases into the tiny closet, being careful of the ironing board hanging on the side after I smacked my head against it the first time, Ria made herself comfortable on the bed.

"So, what? Get me alone so you can kill me in secret? You know Lightman would never let you get away with it... yeah?"

She laughed. "Oh, Eli. I don't have to get back at you: Lightman will do that for me." I turned around and narrowed my eyes at her. "What's that supposed to mean?" I demanded. "He's going to hire you." She answered me simply. "We have a new case, but our clients refuse to pay the full price they promised until we put you on the case. We'll pay you full price, so you can get yourself back on the pay check at the Lightman Group! Happy fourth, Eli."

I sputtered for a minute. "Lightman's hiring me for a case?" Ria laughed. "Oh, Loker. Lightman's putting you on the case. He's just paying you for it. So no, I guess you can't refuse."

"Ugh... Okay. Just give me a couple of days to think about it, yeah?"

Ria smiled at me, knowing how futile it was to try and keep away from a job that Cal Lightman wanted me on. If I refused, he would con me into it somehow. "Great! See you then." She hopped up and was out the door. I chased after her, hanging off of the door frame, and called after her, "Wait! Aren't you going to stay so we can... I don't know, go to dinner or something?" She laughed. "Of course not! I mean, don't you need to see your parents?" I rolled my eyes. "Yeah, yeah. Well, see you in the office later, I guess. That's something I never expected to hear myself say again..." She laughed as I pulled myself back inside my room and shut the door. Time to visit, I guess.

I called Amy later and after a strange conversation involving her attempting to get me to do that nude shoot with her and then trying to drag me to a club and then something about needing confetti, I managed to get her to agree to a dinner out and then coffee that evening.

I showed up at the restaraunt first, which came as no surprise. I had thrown on a nice pair of slacks and a sports coat, because I knew she would yell at me for dressing so casually. I had been seated at the table and was playing with the edge of the spotless table cloth when she walked up. I couldn't help but roll my eyes as I smiled and stood up hug her.

Amy's tall, taller than me. She wears her hair long, down her back in a bright, curly orange. Tonight, she had pearls strung through it. She wears pearl colored skinny jeans and a pair of high heeled shoes, and a deep red tank top. As per usual, she wears no jewelry and a loosely knitted white sweater that trailed lightly on the ground behind her. When she got close enough, she pulled me into a hug and planted an openmouthed kiss on my cheek.

"Lover!" She exclaimed, earning a few glances. "It's been way to long! Now. Sit, and let me order our appetizer. Their stuffed breadsticks are to die for." I laughed jokingly. "Carbs, Amy! They'll go right to your thighs!" She smacked my arm, but giggled as she sipped the glass of water the waiter had placed at her seta. "You know I've never been able to deny myself a few carbs, honey. Plus, being the fitness maniac hat I am, who cares?"

The dinner was enjoyable (the stuffed breadsticks were actually very good), company unconventional, and the conversations mostly reminescing, talking in sly innuendos, and laughing at terrible jokes. Our relationship was... dysfunctional, but definitely worked. We had a chemistry in our friendship not easy to find.

I paid for dinner, as she had conveniently 'forgotten' her wallet, and we headed to a coffee shop as I was in desperate need of some caffeine in order to keep up with her, and she was in need of some little sugary treat. As we walked down the stained sidewalks, Amy bumped her shoulder against mine. "So. Here is my surprise." She stated. I jumped, having forgotten she mentioned it. "Yeah?" I returned.

"Yup." She said, popping her 'p'. "We want to hire you."

I stopped walking.

"Pardon?"

"You hear me, darling! And while we would all love if you came back and did some shoots with us, that's not what I mean. Now, it wasn't originally my idea, but so many things have been stolen from the agency and the police haven't gotten any leads and much of the stuff that has been stolen had to have been gotten with a key, so one of us is the culprit! And – did you know that Drake never knew what you did after you quit working for him? Typical! I told him about the PI... whatnot that you do, and he jumped on the chance! Everyone has been talking about you for the past week. Do you KNOW how insane that is? Anyway. What do you say?"

I paused, then realized how ridiculous it was to even be considering it. "You didn't happen to go to the Lightman Group first, fif you?" Amy rolled her eyes.

"Don't make me laugh, darling. You know how Drake is about outsiders and the business and all of that! He wouldn't let anyone in if he couldn't help it."

I nodded, understanding. "Of course... Well, I'll have to talk to him, and the police first, but I think from where I am now... I'll probably take it."

Amy squealed and jumped up to kiss me. Full on the mouth. Of course, this was a very... Amy thing to do.

I couldn't help but wonder what I was getting myself into. First Lightman, now this? All I knew for certain was I definitely needed that coffee by then.