Writing Prompt #10: Opportunities

[Disclaimer: The story that is about to unfold is completely fictional – any resemblance to actual or existing fictional people, places and/or events is purely coincidental.]

Writing Prompt #10: Opportunities

Phillip Carrington heaved a sigh as he sank into his plush armchair after a long day of tense and tedious negotiation. While circumstances forced him to concede on many of the salient points of his proposal, the end result proved agreeable for all concerned. He felt a tinge of guilt as his valet entered the study with a decanter of whisky and a bowl of pitted cherries. He shook the feeling as he filled his glass and quickly drained its contents. Everything depended upon the execution of his side of the deal, regardless of the moral implications. No turning back now, he thought, not that I could even if I wanted to – it will be all worth it in the end, restoring the family’s good name, even though…

“Quite the palace you have here, Carrington,” a deep baritone voice emanated from the far corner of the dimly lit room. “I do wonder: how many lives were ruined to attain this level of prestige?”

“Things did not go as well as expected.” Phillip sat up, wary of his nocturnal visitor.

A soft chuckle filled the silence. “Naturally – you have become too accustomed to getting your own way.”

“Compromises had to be made.” His hand slowly moved toward the desk drawer, where he kept his father’s Army-issued pistol, oiled and loaded.

“Of course, as anticipated.” Measured steps echoed upon the marble floor as Nigel Hardcastle sauntered across the room. “No need to arm yourself – I am not here to cause any trouble.”

Phillip withdrew his arm and poured himself another measure of whisky into his glass, downing it in one gulp. This was an unexpected turn of events, adding insult to injury. “I did the best I could, considering the circumstances.”

Nigel approached the desk, eyeing the half empty whisky bottle and bowl brimming with pitted cherries. “It would have been a surprise if things went smoothly. Remember with whom you brokered this arrangement.”

“Why are you here?” The whisky slurred his words slightly, yet emboldened him despite his better judgment. “How did you even gain entry?”

“No locked door in the world can keep me from entering wherever I choose,” Nigel smiled as he plucked a pitted cherry from the bowl and squeezed it between his gloved fingers. “As for the reason for my presence, I have a proposition of my own, independent from the Guild’s misguided scheme.” Scarlet rivulets trailed down the palm of his white gloves.

Phillip froze, debating whether to rise to the bait. The situation was already precarious – even a minute change could tip the scales out of his favor; then again, that minute change could lead to a better opportunity to even the odds for the better. “Tell me.”

Nigel smiled. The fear, mixed with a tinge of hope, in those two words confirmed his suspicions and prompted him to seize this unique opportunity to ruin the Carrington family once and for all.

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