Deceit and Deception

Carly poked her head around the corner, knocking on the door before entering the office. "Hi…Good trip?"

Eliana stifled a yawn and poured herself a cup of coffee. "I got a lot done, yes." She made an offer of a cup to Carly, who accepted. Carly sat down the folder of papers on Eliana's desk, and grinned while Eliana poured her a second cup. "Is it time for the morning meeting yet?"

Carly glanced at her watch. "We've got a few minutes." She said as she settled herself down in a chair. "So, why so tired? Did you come in on a late flight." Her eyes sparkled mischievously at the other woman. "Or is there some other reason…"

"You try flying back and forth from PC to NYC three times in two weeks and see how you feel. I got back in to PC around eleven last night…Jason picked me up from the airport, of course and I don't think we got to sleep until around three or four…" her voice trailed off and a blush came up in her cheeks. Eliana took a long drink from her cup as she felt her face flame.

"Oh …enough said. I understand perfectly. Like I said, some other reason…" Carly said and laughed. "I know Sonny will be sorry that he missed you." In answer to Eliana's questioning look, she continued. "He had to go out of town on…business. He'll be gone a few days, but he told me that it's nothing to worry about and I believe him." She put a smile on her face. Everything was fine, she thought to herself. It had to be.

Eliana nodded. If Carly needed reassuring, she'd give it to her, in spite of what had happened between her and Sonny the last time they'd been together. "These things happen. And it's just…just things that need to be addressed. I bet that it's mostly about that he's been convicted and sentenced. Restructuring and…." She let her voice trail off, not wanting to say much else. "Just things."

"Of course. Everything is fine, and everything is going to stay that way." Carly said, meaning every word of it. She glanced at her watch again. "We'd better head out to the conference room. Wouldn't do for the partner and the head of the department to be late."

They finished their coffee and headed upstairs.


Laura chatted easily to Liz as they waited for the meeting to start. Liz listened with half an ear, a talent she'd learned from having to have to listen to Lucky go on and on about their plan for the future. Like mother, like son, she couldn't help but think to herself, as she smiled politely and nodded at all the right times. Still she had to agree with Laura on one thing, this job was turning out to be better than anything she'd hoped for. She enjoyed being around other creatives.
It didn't change her feelings about Eliana though. Of course, she'd be careful around Laura; she was the senior partner, after all. And if she wasn't careful around the boss, she could get fired. Maybe she could use her own friendship with Laura to eventually get rid of her. If she played her cards right, maybe she could step into Eliana's position. It should have been her spot from the beginning. Was it fair that the entire department hadn't existed when she'd first come to Deception?
Liz allowed herself to enjoy the daydream of watching Eliana get fired, one that kept her in a pleasurable reverie until the sight of Carly and Eliana came through the door.

The meeting got underway swiftly after that. Liz watched with growing jealousy as Carly took the floor. She actually sounded like she knew what she was talking about, as she called up chart projections and graphs on the magnified computer screen at the front of the room. From the looks of the staff around her, it certainly appeared that she had them all believing it, Liz thought sourly. And of course, there Eliana was, backing up her projections at every turn. The two of them thought they were so smart. They even had Laura smiling and nodding in agreement.

When it was over, Laura took a moment to make some notes and put some files together. Seeing Liz present, she smiled at her encouragingly. It was good to see Elizabeth take such an interest in the company. Maybe she's speak to Eliana about promoting her to a position with more responsibility. She beckoned Elizabeth over to her and handed her a bundle of packages. "Could you make sure that these go out by express mail this morning. Elton's out sick today, so I want to make sure I turn these over to someone I can trust."

After that, she, Carly and Eliana headed for the studio photography department. Liz joined the small know of people following them. She didn't have to, but she had determined to keep an eye on Eliana whenever possible. AJ himself had agreed that it would be a good idea; she might pick up some information that would help the both of them. Liz knew she was more interested in helping herself, but if AJ could help her get Jason back, then she'd use him. It had been easy enough to bring him around to her way of thinking already. He'd be easy to manipulate.

Liz brought her attention back to the group. Carly was being dramatic, as usual.

"I thought I had those sketches you sent me," she was saying to Eliana as she searched through the folders she was carrying, "Oh, man!"

"Two guesses on where they are?" Eliana said with a little laugh. Carly looked at her, then hung her head. Elizabeth rolled her eyes. How could the stupid woman ever be trusted to run a company when she couldn't keep track of the simplest thing?

"I know," Eliana said. "Why don't you just make my office your filing cabinet. Half your stuff is down there now."

"Yeah, right." Carly pushed at her playfully.

"That's all right." Laura put in. "If it weren't for Elton, I couldn't find half of my paperwork."

"Maybe I need to have him overhaul my filing system." Carly admitted. "Oh well, let me buzz down to the design department, and have someone bring it up."

Stupid Carly. Liz said to herself as she plastered a smile on her face. "I'll get it." She volunteered. The three woman turned to look at her, surprised. "I have to see to these letters for you, Laura, I can do all of this at one time. If there's no rush." She even managed a smile at Eliana and Carly.

"I guess not; look for the dark blue folder." Carly said slowly. What was Little Miss Muffin Face up to? Sucking up to Laura, no doubt. Whatever, she thought to herself. "As long as it doesn't take too long." She turned back to the drafting table and began looking over the sketches there. Eliana followed her. Laura thanked her and joined them.

Liz hurried from the room and once on the elevator, allowed her false smile to drop. Her mind seethed. What she wouldn't have given to be able to Carly the same slap she'd given Eliana at the diner. The both of them deserved worse. And one day they'd both get it. But for now, Eliana would have to do.

Getting off at the design floor, Elizabeth hurried to Eliana's office, waving at the girl at the reception desk. She'd made a point of getting friendly with the others on this floor, all the better to pick up any bits and pieces of what was going on. So no one questioned her as she made her way to Eliana's office. It was easy enough to find the folder Carly had been looking for, which gave her all the more time to do what she had really come here for.

Since she'd started talking to AJ, this had been the first chance she'd had of putting one of their plans into effect. Moving swiftly, Liz went through the drawers in Eliana's desk. In the second one, she found something. Eliana's gallery client and ledger books.

As she leafed through the entries, she could hear AJ's voice in her head.

The last time they'd talked, AJ had suggested that she might pick up some information that might be valuable to her - to them both, perhaps -- down the road. "After all," he'd told her. "She's bound to slip up and make a mistake; she's a friend of Carly's after all. What else can you expect?" the two of them had grinned at each other conspiratorially after that. "But just hang around and see what you pick up. You and I, over dinner, can go over what you find out and see if it will help you with Jason."
She'd been suspicious at first, but AJ was quick to relieve her worries. "There's no love lost between my brother and I, but even so, the last thing I want to see him is hurt by Carly again. If it helps you as well…" he'd laid his hand over hers and given her a look that showed the truth in his eyes. "You'd be much better for my brother than this Eliana person could ever be. One day, he might even thank me for it. While we're dancing at your wedding, maybe." That vision had gotten her to agree to it. Anything was worth it, if in the end she and Jason were together.

Elizabeth made copies of everything that she could before returning them to their place. She walked out of Eliana's office, closing the door behind her, with a satisfied smile on her face.