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A New Puzzle
Emily had to return to Chicago and unfortunately couldn't meet up with Ayden beforehand. Emily called Ayden and said that business had called her back to Chicago and apologized. Ayden hopefully understood, but Emily couldn't get the thought of the expansion out of her head.

The meeting had been held the day she returned. She had phoned Andrew ahead of time and he set up the meeting. There was very little to discuss. Most of the board wanted this to happen and Emily agreed - a move to the CCD could only increase their client base and lower costs in the long run. In essence not much would change - they would just have a second headquarters.

Emily returned home directly after the meeting, feeling tired and jet lagged. She spoke to her sisters regarding the move and to her surprise, both of them wanted to join her. There were too many ghosts in the Shale Mansion for them. Rachel would transfer to the University of Moscow and Mara was ready to see the world. Emily gave them both a hug and smiled at them both. She was glad.

When the press were notified of the expansion, Emily would send Ayden a message that she would be returning permanently. For that Emily was glad. Emily felt the same as her sisters - there were too many ghosts in Chicago.

Tired, but unable to sleep, Emily went to her office to check on some things and found the mail she had missed while she was gone. Mostly it was the same old stuff - bills, junk mail, ect. - but one envelope caught her eye. It was addressed in neat block letters to the Shale family and postmarked from Moscow. There was no return address. The only person she could think of from Moscow that would send her something was Ayden, but the lack of return address puzzled her.

Emily took a letter opener and opened the envelope. Her eyes widened in surprise at the contents. She emptied the contents - two hundred CCD dollars and a small note. It read in the same neat block letters "Sorry for your loss."

There was only one loss that it could refer to, and Emily leaned back in her chair and contemplated. First she wondered who would send her money. It was appreciated that this person had sent something to help with the issue, but she didn't need the money. Secondly, she wondered why this person was being so secretive. Everyone she knew in the CCD had given her their condolences, and none of them would have been this secretive. Clearly the person who sent it didn't want the recipients to know of them. The old wounds partially opened and Emily resisted. She was just beginning to move on, and didn't need to feel this pain again.

Emily decided she had to find out who this person was. The plane crash that killed her parents was still under mysterious circumstances. Perhaps this individual knew more about it. Maybe Emily could have complete closure.

Emily did a quick internet search and found what she was looking for. She dialed the number and when the male voice answered, she responded. "Hello, I'd like to hire you..."
Tommy knocked on the door to the Shale Mansion. He had been surprised to hear her call. She didn't seem the type to hire a PI, but that really didn't matter. Miss Shale wanted to hire him to find someone and she could definitely pay. That's all that mattered at this point.

An older gentleman opened the door and escorted Tommy to an office where Miss Shale sat at a desk. Upon entering, she rose and took his outstretched hand. He noticed a moment where her eyes changed into fear, but it was only a moment.

They both sat and Miss Shale handed him an envelope. "I'd like you to figure out who sent that and find him."

Tommy took the envelope and examined it. "Moscow postmark, no return address. May I examine the contents?" Although it was implied that he could, he made no assumptions. She nodded to him and Tommy emptied the contents onto the desk - two hundred CCD dollars and a note that read "Sorry for your loss." "Figuring out who sent it should be easy enough. If the sender licked the envelope to seal it, I can get a DNA sample. I could do a handwriting analysis too, but if this person trying to hide his handwriting it could be inconclusive. After that is finding - that could be difficult with a population such as Moscow, but not by any means impossible. It will just take time.

Tommy thought about it. The reason she was interested was obvious. This guy might know more about her parents death. He wondered what Miss Shale hoped to gain from this. "After I find him, what would you like me to do."

"I want enough information to be able to arrange a meeting with him."

Her voice was even and calm. Her eyes didn't flicker with maliciousness. As far as Tommy could tell, she only wanted to find and talk with this person. He didn't think that this sender was dangerous, but if that thought changed, he would inform Miss Shale. The job seemed easy enough. He pulled a contract out of his briefcase.

"Those are my rates - that plus expenses. I'm in and I'll get to work right away."

Miss Shale examined the contract and signed. Tommy gave her a copy and placed another in his briefcase. She handed him a business card with her personal number on it and an airline ticket. "Please keep me informed."

"Of course."

They bid their farewells and Tommy headed to his lab to get a DNA sample. His flight would leave O'Hare for Moscow the next day and he'd find whoever this mystery sender was.

[Image: Thomas_zps57abb111.jpg]Edited by Emily Shale, Jan 31 2015, 02:14 PM.
The time after Thomas had left, Emily had spent planning for the expansion, but she had been working on personal growth as well. Andrew had seen it and commented on it. He said she was beginning to "harden." The term made Emily nervous, but when Andrew explained that it just meant that she was just beginning to use her brain to make her decisions more than her emotions, she relaxed.

She was also working on her issue with men. She wanted a family, and that would never come if she was afraid of men. She had promised Ayden she would try and so try she did. It started with her friend Ryan. They had grown up together and were almost like brother and sister. Ryan was one of her best friends and she felt safe around him. She knew he wouldn't try anything because of their history and Ryan wasn't interested in women.

With the Gala in Moscow starting to get planned, Emily had what she needed. She called up Ryan and explained her situation and aid she wanted his help. She figured that dancing lessons and practice would help her prepare for the Gala as well as help her with her fear of being touched by men. Ryan agreed and that night she went to Ryan's house to start.

When she entered, Ryan greeted her and asked, "Are you sure about this?"

Emily nodded and they started right away. Emily tensed as they started to dance. "Relax, you're okay." Ryan tried to comfort her, but it didn't work. The memories were still strong.

Emily didn't stop though. She kept facing the fear and even began crying. After the first song they took a break and Ryan got Emily a glass of water and offered her encouragement. He then asked if she wanted to continue. She nodded.

They did that every day, but soon results began to appear. Emily began to realize she could handle this. Last night she had even had a lot of fun at their lesson. That was when Ryan recommended going to a club. It was one thing to dance with your best friend and another to do so with a stranger. He promised to go with and watch her back.

Emily didn't want to go to a club in Chicago, so they drove to Champaign for the weekend. The club was well populated and Emily smiled. She and Ryan got a drink and just hung out for awhile. They kept their distance though, so that men would come and talk to her and it didn't take long for someone to ask her to dance. So Emily did. The memories came again, but Emily faced them like she had practice and soon enough they were gone. Emily smiled as she danced and was happy to be enjoying herself.

As they finished, Emily felt her wallet buzz. It was Thomas calling. She excused herself and left the club to take the call.


"Miss Shale, I have found Mr. Durante, but the problem is he found me too."

"Excuse me!"
Emily said exasperated. "You mean he knows you're looking for him now. I expected better from you Mr. Romero."

Emily was professional, but her tone suggested deep disappointment. Thomas must not have expected that tone because he remained silent for a few moments. "I underestimated him, Miss Shale. I can fix this though."

"You better. I expect a better report the next time you call."

"Yes, Miss Shale."

She hung up and was interrupted by a voice behind her. "Hi Emily."
Emily closed her eyes and her hands turned into fists from frustration. This had been a pleasant night.

She turned around and saw Bryce standing there. "As I recall I have a restraining order against you. Go away Bryce."

Bryce frowned - the nerve. "Please I just want to talk."

"That time is past. I forgive you for what you did - it's more than you deserve - but I still never want to see you again. Go away before I call the police."

Bryce grabbed her arm and at the same time, Emily noticed Ryan coming out of the club. When Ryan saw what was happening he started to run towards them. The sight of her friend gave her courage.

Emily used the fist that had formed to punch Bryce in the nose. It must have been hard because he let go of her and fell to the ground, clutching at his nose. Emily thought she saw blood. She was angry though. The pain she had felt had turned to anger at seeing him and she released it by kicking him in the side. "Stay the hell away from me!"

Ryan had stopped when she hit him and he was grinning. "That felt good."

He smiled at her. "That was awesome." The pair laughed and reentered the club. They spent the rest of the night just talking and drinking.

Emily was in cheerful spirits again as she pulled out her wallet. She had told Ayden what she was doing and just had to send her a message about tonight.

<dt>Outgoing Message</dt>
<dd> </dd>
To: Ayden Hayes
From: Emily Shale

I ran into my ex at a club tonight. I punched him in the face. It felt good. I think my time of being afraid has passed. [Image: 1.png]

Edited by Emily Shale, Mar 2 2015, 11:04 AM.
After hitting Bryce, Emily felt more free than she had in a long time. She felt like getting out there and meeting new people and just having fun, but she had work to do. She could have entrusted this to her staff, but she enjoyed the work and was very excited for this move.

Her wallet buzzed and again, it was Thomas. "Mr. Romero, I hope you have good news for me this time."

"I do. I think your opportunity is about to present itself. Tell me - do you like skiing, Miss Shale."

Emily blinked and asked him to continue. It appeared that Nox was heading to a ski resort in Siberia. Thomas had already booked her a room there. She had to give him this - he had made up for his little mishap the other day.

"Good - I'll be there ASAP. Meet you there?"

"Sounds good - I'll have your final bill ready."

They hung up and Emily rang for Andrew. "Andrew, I'm going to need you to book a room for the Gala and finalize things for that event. I want a date set. Get the invitations ordered too."

"Has the guest list been finalized."

Emily had thought long and hard about this, and decided that it was only proper that she do so. "Add Ascendancy Brandon to the list. Also - issue a press release announcing the Gala. I'll be gone for a few days. I expect this to be done when I get back."

All that settled, Emily headed home to pack and booked a flight to Siberia. Thankfully there were a few open today. She took a cab to O'Hare and the beginning of the end of her quest had begun.

Edited by Emily Shale, Mar 2 2015, 11:29 AM.

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