When Persephone Met Randolph

Author’s Note: Included as a bonus with The Consultant and the Cat is the short story When Randolph Met Katya. It goes into more detail about events that Randolph summarizes in the larger story.

When I wanted to write something short, I said maybe I’d do an alternate point of view of a scene from one of my other stories, and someone did suggest that, but things in my real life intervened, so I didn’t get to it, and the ones I was thinking of doing first (something with Luna, actually,) I rejected.

I finished a larger project today, and while I would do another “prompt me” celebration, this is overdue, so here it is, finally. An alternate view of the moment when Randolph meets Persephone in The Consultant and the Cat.

When Persephone Met Randolph

Though it galled her to admit she was in over her head, Persephone Reynolds knew that she was. She couldn’t deny it, no matter how many times she’d tried to do it over the past few days. She was weak. She knew she was. No one else would have agreed to call in some freelance consultant, not when they were going to have to pay for his help out of their own pocket.

She didn’t know how she’d afford that, but she was desperate.

“Dr. Randolph?” She asked as he made it past the security at the door. She knew it was him. She didn’t need a photo or a file to be sure. They didn’t get a lot of visitors around here, but even if they did and she’d missed the id he’d flashed at the door, his suit screamed fed. He was too clean cut for this department, and the accent made him even more out of place.

“Has anyone ever told you you look almost exactly like the white witch of Narnia?”

He wasn’t exactly inventive, was he? She’d heard that a few dozen times before, and it wasn’t that impressive the first time around. “Most men wait until they know me before they insult me. And once they know me, no one insults me.”

“You are merely confirming my observation, Detective,” he said. She gave him a frosty smile. “I’ve spoken to Mayor Thompson. If your superior asks, he asked for my help, not you. Assuming that you still want my help?”

“Angie says you’re the best,” Persephone said with a shrug. Her friend had better be right, though. If she wasn’t, Persephone had a feeling they wouldn’t be friends anymore. “I suppose we’ll have to see about that.”

“I’ve actually never met Angelina. Er, wait. She was at Marcie’s wedding. I guess I met her, but I don’t know her. She doesn’t know me,” Randolph corrected. “I’ll take a look at the files if you don’t mind. And I need to see the crime scenes.”

Angie hadn’t even met him. Persephone didn’t believe this. She needed a moment, or she was going to lose her temper. She started to walk away from him. “The crime scenes we’ll do after lunch. You can look over the files while you’re here.”

“That actually isn’t a good idea. I was hoping to borrow them for a while.”

He didn’t get to make demands. She was angry enough without him making things worse. She was not accommodating him in any way. She never would have agreed to this if Angie had told her the truth. “Not going to happen.”

Randolph looked back at the door. What was he, skittish? Was he some kind of fake? She did not need this. She was going to kill Angie. She didn’t care if her cousin was in love with her.

“You don’t understand. I have a leopard.”

“A what?”

“A leopard. Pathera pardus. She’s melanistic, actually, so… black, but still a leopard. I worked with the FBI for several years. I was on a simple, seemingly straight-forward murder that turned out to be a part of a series of murders committed by a carnival worker—her trainer, to be specific. The bust went down at the circus; I had to stop him from whipping her to death. I saved her, that apparently bonded us, and now she won’t leave me alone. She’s become a sort of bodyguard. I tried to set her free. She couldn’t adapt. I gave her to a wildlife preserve for animals that had been domesticated. She was home before I was,” Randolph’s explanation ended with a sigh. He recovered a bit and shrugged. “She is my leopard, for better or worse.”

“So… I have a profiler with a leopard?” Persephone asked, trying to accept what she’d heard and seen. She half expected the jerks she worked with to pop out with a camera and start laughing at any moment. This had to be a dream—a nightmare. “Does the mayor know about this?”

“Yes. I have a special dispensation for her. And I accepted responsibility for her actions. Oh, and my words to the press are supposed to be ‘no comment.’”

“I’m sure. Well—” Persephone broke off as a leopard walked up to them, pushing her head against Randolph’s hand. She had thought it was a prank until now, and she’d been waiting for him to end it, but this was going too far. Damn. It just might be real. “How did she get in here?”

“She’s a very intelligent cat. Circus trained. She can roll down my car windows, and the outer door has a handicap access button.” Randolph looked down at the leopard and shook his head. “I told you I’d be fine, Katya. See?”

Persephone wanted to shoot him. Or herself. At this point, she almost didn’t care. Someone had to put her out of her misery. “Are you certain that you are a psychologist and not in need of one?”

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The Cat Picks a New Case

Author’s Note: So I said I was celebrating the release of The Consultant and the Cat. I am. This is one possible sequel to that story. I’ve got another alternate one; we’ll see if either makes it to a full novel’s worth of story or not.

This one also features some characters that visitors to the site might recognize, though Fi’s a bit out of character, though I think that’s understandable under the circumstances that led her to Randolph’s office. For more of Fi’s story, start with The Loss of Eight Years.

The Cat Picks a New Case

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“I think you have the wrong impression about the kind of consulting I do. In fact, I think you may even have an incorrect idea of the kind of degree I possess,” Randolph said, shaking his head as he shifted in his chair, trying to keep his side from aching as much as possible. If he admitted it was troubling him, he knew far too many people who would be willing to usher him right back into bed—if the migraine he was certain to have after he got done with this interview didn’t put him there first. “I am not someone who can counsel you about giving up your child for adoption. I am not someone who can prescribe medicine nor can I—”

“I knew I should have had someone come with me,” the woman across from him said, putting a hand to her head. She leaned back in her chair, taking a few breaths to calm herself. “If the only person who seemed to understand even part of it wasn’t out of the country, I would have dragged him back here, made him do the talking… I’m sure I sound hysterical.”

Randolph reached for his pen, about to write down the number of a counselor who could do a far better job of this than he would. “I would not call it that. Hysteria is a term that has a few negative connotations, especially, I believe, for someone of your gender, and it has fallen out of favor in the medical community. What we call hysteria—Forgive me. I almost started on one of my infamous tangents.”

The woman managed a short laugh. “It… that actually made me feel better for some reason.”

“I’ll blame my accent. Some people think the Oxford in it is very soothing.”

“Perhaps a little.”

He smiled, getting ready to tear the paper off the pad for her. “As I was saying, I’m not the sort you need for any kind of consultation in that respect. My skills are… They’re more suited to a different purpose. I am not sure I’m the one you want to help you deal with the loss of your baby—”

“She’s not my baby,” the woman said, and Randolph frowned. He didn’t think he understood any of this. How had he missed the part about this not being her child? She’d sounded very much like the mother a moment ago. “The truth is, I have no legal claim to her whatsoever. That’s part of my problem—not the only one, but one of the bigger ones—but it’s not… Oh, I wish I’d been able to have Darren explain this. He’s got the emotional detachment… He called it like it was from the beginning.”

“He’s the one that’s out of the country?”

“Yeah. I didn’t want to wait because I know these things can’t wait, but every time I try to explain it to someone, they assume the hysterical part and ignore the rest of what I need to say. Even my brother did, but then again, my brother tends to assume I’m incapable of handling anything on my own,” she said, rubbing her forehead. “Sorry. I guess I should have had my translator. I’m still not getting to the point. It’s not like we have time to wait for him to get back.”

“I’m sure a few hours delay would—”

“He’s terrified of flying. He’d have to sail back.”

Randolph grimaced, but before he could summon a response to that one, the door opened, pushed by a large black head, and Katya slinked her way into his office, each of her paws padding against the floor as she crossed to his side. She gave him a look, and he frowned, but she ignored him as she walked over to the other chair.

The woman took one look at the leopard, blinked, and shook her head. “Just when I thought I had a handle on things—if you commit me, will you please make sure that Darren gets notified? I did kind of promise to tell him what happened, so…”

“I assure you, the leopard is real, though I was hoping to keep her out of the office while we talked. This is Katya.”

“Katya.” The leopard purred at the sound of her name, putting her head in the woman’s lap. “You’re a bit too adorable for your own good, too, aren’t you? Damn it.”

Randolph wanted to send the cat for Persephone, hoping another woman’s presence might help, but he didn’t think he’d get the leopard to listen, not now. She thought she belonged right where she was, and he’d never change her mind about that. “You said—”

“I think my husband’s baby was stolen.”

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“Ah, Reynolds, love, thank goodness,” Randolph said, rising from his desk and coming to Persephone’s side, pulling her into the room. She had only meant to find out where the leopard had gotten to—she knew they could not afford another incident with her mother’s neighbors, so Katya needed to be supervised—not get involved in his case, whatever it was. “We have had some trouble getting this matter sorted out.”

“Which is his polite way of saying I’ve been a near incoherent mess,” the woman in the chair said, glancing at the leopard. “I’d stand and shake your hand, but I can’t right now. I’m Fidelity Purcell. You can call me Fi if you want. Just… not Mrs. Burns.”

Persephone frowned. “I thought your name was Purcell.”

“It is. My husband’s was Burns,” the other woman explained. “I am making a huge mess of this… Okay, in short, simple terms—my husband had an affair. He got that girl pregnant. Both he and the mother ended up dying, and I had the baby at the time. Long, long story there. Social services said they’d find one of her relatives to take in the baby, and supposedly they did.”

“I don’t think we’re going to like this supposedly, are we?” Persephone asked, and Randolph nodded, reaching for his chair. He sat back down with a wince.

“Someone impersonated Chloe’s aunt and took the baby. Chloe’s aunt told me she never wanted anything to do with the child, but she doesn’t care what happened to it. The local police don’t seem all that concerned. No one does.”

“No one except you.”

Fidelity looked to Randolph, sighing. “I… I kind of bonded with the baby against my will. I had good reasons for giving her up when I did, and I still mostly believe that was the right decision, but she… I was told I could at least know what her progress was, only when I spoke to the aunt, I found out she never took the baby. I don’t know who has her or why they want her, but I can’t imagine that it was for any kind of… good reason. I’ve seen stuff on television about people selling babies—Richard told me he’d buy me one once as a joke, the bastard—and I suppose she could have gone to a good home, but I don’t know that. All I know is that someone lied and stole her.”

Persephone crossed over to Randolph’s side, knowing they needed to discuss this in private. “What was the name of the officer you spoke to? Do you have a case number with the department? I’m a detective, and I didn’t hear anything about this missing baby.”

Fidelity took in the badge clipped to Persephone’s belt and shook her head, trying to get up from the leopard. “I shouldn’t have come. I… It’s not like I have a legal claim to the child. I don’t. She’s not my blood, I never adopted her, and I was separated from my husband when he died. Not that any of that matters. They all took one look at me and decided I was hysterical. You agree with your colleagues, don’t you?”

“I just look like an ice queen,” Persephone said, feeling defensive, the same way she always did when she felt like she was being judged by her looks. Death warmed over, the white witch, all assumptions that added up to her being cold and unfeeling. “I’m not heartless.”

“You can save your pity. I don’t want that, either.”

“Persephone was not talking about pity. While her department may have officially declined to pursue an investigation or to keep you informed of their efforts in this regard, I am not bound by their restrictions. I make my own decisions about the cases I take—well, when the leopard allows me to, that is. She has her own mind about these things.” Randolph took hold of Persephone’s hand and gave it a squeeze. “You and I shall discuss this ice queen nonsense again later.”

“Randolph, I swear, if you try to—”

“I do enjoy making you melt,” he said, and she knew she’d gone red again. She shook her head, pulling her hand from his. He shrugged, turning back to his client. “My apologies. She is very sensitive to the discussion of her looks, and I rather insist on challenging the myth every chance I get.”

Fidelity shook her head. “I didn’t even… I guess I was too distracted. I take it that’s… natural?”

Persephone nodded. “Recessive genes.”

“Oh. Cat, please, let me up already. I—It wasn’t about the way you look. I didn’t even notice. I just… I don’t want to waste any more time. If you don’t or can’t help me, that’s all I really need to know.”

Randolph let out a breath, looking at the leopard. They both knew what the cat’s actions meant. He didn’t have a choice. He was taking this case. “I’m going to need more information from you.”

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One Popular Kitty

Author’s Note: So most of the time, when I think of popular, I think of it in a negative light. The popular kids picking on the social outcast, the quote about what is right not being popular and what is popular not being right, all of that.

So I was going to skip Sunday Scribblings because I couldn’t be nice about it, but then for some reason, this came to me. This is just a simple moment with characters from The Consultant and the Cat, a book I am planning on releasing soon.

One Popular Kitty

“You’ve become popular all of a sudden,” Persephone said, frowning at the stacks of mail that cluttered the office. The room wasn’t big enough in the first place, but the more of Randolph’s papers and case notes that appeared, the less this felt like a business and more like a dumping place for all of his junk.

“Not me. The leopard.”

Persephone blinked, not certain if he was joking or not. Sometimes with Randolph, it was difficult to talk. She’d blame that on the accent, but everyone knew he was not as foreign as his speech patterns might suggest. “The leopard?”

“Mmmhmm,” he murmured, pointing to the first stack of mail. “Those are the ones who want to sue me for damages incurred via leopard. These are probably not legitimate offers of consulting jobs since they are addressed to her. Those there are the ones that want Katya to appear as a spokesperson or celebrity or trained monkey.”

“Trained leopard.”

Randolph nodded, an absent yet deferent movement. His shoulders slumped, and she stepped close to him. She hoped he didn’t have another one of his migraines, though she’d bet he was close to one. “How bad is it, honestly?”

He shrugged. “Oh, taking one or two of the endorsement deals would likely cover any damages, should the suits be won.”

She whistled. Based on what she thought people would expect to get out of any lawsuit against the leopard, those had to be very lucrative endorsement deals. “That much?”

“She is an infamous leopard.”

Katya growled from behind them, bumping Randolph’s leg. He reached down to pat her head, a vague half-smile on his face. “Yes, love, your reputation is well-earned. I know. You are a most deserving leopard.”

“You’re going to give her a big head.”

Randolph laughed, moving his fingers back to scratch the cat’s ears. “You do realize she already has one, don’t you?”

“In comparison to other cats or in attitude?”

“I think her head is proportional to her body, and it is not fair to compare Katya to some pet store kitten. She has never been anything less than… extraordinary.”

Katya yawned, pretending to be bored. Persephone knew she wasn’t. The leopard loved to hear them talk about her. Randolph might even do it out of self-preservation. “You know that she is quite capable of being smug. She is far too proud of her role as a matchmaker.”

“Marcie never complains.”

“About his wife, no, but I worked with the man a lot longer than you did. Marciano can be very vocal about his opinions.”

“I’m sure.”

Randolph grunted. She knew he knew he was being baited, but he still went for it. “He considers himself my babysitter.”

“I don’t think he needs to do that anymore. After all, you are protected by a notorious crime-solving leopard. A heroic one who saves lives.”

Randolph looked down at the purring leopard. “Now who is giving her a big head?”

When Worlds and Cats Collide

Author’s Note: So… I realize this doesn’t entirely stand on its own.

I picked this part because it’s the least spoilery (for both stories) so far.

I know it’s crazy. It’s sort of a sequel, sort of a crossover. It’s insanely fun to write. It’s all Reynolds’ fault. I can’t remember which story I started first, which Reynolds was the first one, Ben or Persephone, but since they shared the same last name, somehow they ended up related and created this complication. The Consultant and the Cat meets the Machine… Yeah. Um. I should probably be embarrassed, but I’m having too much fun.

When Worlds (and Cats) Collide

“It’s getting creepy.”

“What, the leopard?”

Reynolds looked over at the cat in the middle of the room. “That, too.”

Perry leaned back in his chair, tempted to kick the other man’s seat. He didn’t want to think too much about the way Carrington had arranged part of his new home—his new shared home—into a replica of their office. Oh, it lacked the counters in the conference room, and Perry hadn’t seen a coffee pot yet, but the boards he used were there and the table, and it looked like Carrington had been planning on having a team here all along.

“You weren’t here the first time those two met. If you think this is a bit odd, it was tense and awkward as hell the first time. Randolph’s a damn good profiler. He pegged those crimes, and he pegged me and the guys I worked with, and he probably had a good read on the Machine. The Machine, of course, he can turn that right back on anyone, and when the two of them got into it, they got into it. The Machine didn’t get mad, but he got pretty quiet. That dangerous quiet that he gets. He said something about Randolph’s father that had Marciano dragging him out of the room before someone got hurt.”

“And the two ice queens?”

Perry glanced toward the women. “Simply put, Ben, we’re all screwed. We are doomed. The men are not going to survive this one.”

Reynolds groaned, putting his head down on the table. Perry patted him on the back, grinning as he saw the leopard crossing toward him. The cat put her head in Reynolds’ lap, and he jumped out of his chair with a bit of a squeal.

The women looked over, both of them laughing, and Carrington and Randolph turned. Randolph’s smile was amused. Carrington frowned. Perry clapped his hands together. “Priceless. I wish I’d been filming that.”

“There is no need for you to share his humiliation on the internet, Perry, though I suppose you would say that your wife should have seen it.”

“Well, Mo and Abby, yeah.”

Reynolds glared at him. “No. Absolutely not. I hate you, Perry. I’ll get you for this. I swear. Where was the warning on that one?”

“Oh, come now, Reynolds—I mean your cousin, Persephone, not you—Katya did not harm anyone. She is very attuned to moods, though, and she was trying to help. I have been told I should register her as a therapy animal. She is good at such things,” Randolph said, and his cat ran over to his side, rubbing against his legs. “Yes, love, I tried to explain. You didn’t intend to hurt anyone.”

“This is insane.”

“And what we did before was sane, Reynolds? We investigated crimes while being stalked by a serial killer. Compared to that, a leopard is quite tame. In more than one sense of the word,” Carrington said, turning back to his board. “Why these three, Randolph? If someone is looking for a pattern, they should be looking for more of a signature.”

“It’s not necessarily about how they died.”

“It’s who died. I see. Someone believes that these people are being targeted for execution?”

“So I am told, though I know that I’ve been lied to, at least in part,” Randolph said, rejoining the other man at the board. “When Reynolds called Persephone asking for a case, I thought this had to be the one since I know there is something wrong. I just haven’t pinpointed it. What about you? You usually do this a lot faster than I do.”

“It has been suggested that this machine needs a reboot,” Carrington said, frowning at the pictures. The leopard bumped his leg, and he glanced down at it. “My mood is fine, thank you. I do not appreciate being interrupted while I’m working.”

Perry laughed, but he stopped and stared as the leopard did something he thought he’d never see. Animals were supposed to sense evil and all, and most didn’t react all that favorably to the Machine. This one, though, she licked his hand and seemed to be… purring.

Leather and Lace

It was kind of interesting today, having a favorite song pop up on Pandora and then realizing that wow, that is so Randolph and Persephone.

I’m not sure if I was thinking back on the lyrics or not, but there’s a part where she flat out asks him, “How fragile do you think I am?”

And the opening verse of the song has this lyric:

You’re saying I’m fragile
I try not to be

But Persephone is also this:

I have my own life
And I am stronger
Than you know

Randolph has a moment when he first sees the Reynolds home, and it’s very much like the verse sung by Don Henley.

You were right
When I walked into your house
I knew I’d never want to leave

Since Randolph comes to the case with lots of baggage from his past, this part fits him very well:

Sometimes I’m a strong man
Sometimes cold and scared
And sometimes I cry

And since it’s a story about them investigating a series of crimes, of course this fits them both:

I search only
For something
I can’t see

Of course, one of my favorite parts of the song is this bit:

Is love so fragile and the heart so hollow, shatter with words impossible to follow?

Kabobbles Sing Along is just what I think when I hear songs. I sometimes see images when I hear lyrics, pictures or movies in my head. Sometimes I relate it to stories. My interpretation of the songs and lyrics are probably nothing like their original intent.