pretty deceptions

copyright 2011/all rights reserved


a novel by



A week later, Sonia strolled into the lavish offices of Akanabi Oil.

“Hey, Jerry.  How’s it going?”  She extended a gloved hand to Jerry who sat behind the security desk.

“Great now.”  Jerry Dixon, Akanabi’s head of security had been hired by Sonia’s father, Bicky Coleman, over thirty years ago, primarily because of Jerry’s former incarnation as a Navy Seal.  Jerry’s rugged good lucks and natty dress didn’t hurt either.  He made an excellent first impression on anyone looking to retain Akanabi’s services.  Now that handsome and hard face bent to kiss Sonia’s hand.  “I miss you coming around.”

“Jerry, I haven’t been coming around for years.”

“That’s how long I’ve missed you.”

Sonia blushed.  In the early years, before Sonia’s relationship with her father completely rutted out, Bicky would bring her into the office on Saturday mornings.  But instead of spending some quality time with his daughter, Bicky would leave Sonia with Jerry to monitor hallways and closed circuit cameras, push phone buttons.  They got on well –  better than Sonia did with Bicky – as if their connection preceded the arrangement, while Bicky felt his paternal duty fulfilled, simply because his daughter was in the same building.  Sonia’s mother, Kitty, had wanted Jerry to be Sonia’s godfather, and Bicky found that in addition to being a sharpshooter, Jerry was an excellent babysitter.

Jerry released Sonia’s hand, reached behind the counter and held his hand behind his back.  Sonia smiled broadly, knowing full well what was coming next.  She closed her eyes and  opened her palm into which Jerry deposited a red lollipop.  Sonia planted a kiss on his cheek.

“You never forget, do you?” she asked.

“Can’t say as I do, my dear.”  He wrapped an avuncular arm around her shoulder and steered her to the elevator.  He looked at her belly and raised his eyebrows.  “That husband of yours better get back PDQ.”

“Talk to my father,” she said, a catch in her voice.

“Aawww, geez, I’m sorry.  We’ll get him back in time, don’t you worry.  Even if I have to fly him back myself.”

“I wish Bicky were more like you,” Sonia said.  “You missed your calling, Jerry.  You really should have had kids.”

Jerry smiled, but it was a sad one, and Sonia thought she’d said something wrong.

He turned a key, calling a special elevator, and waited until it arrived.  He held the door for Sonia as she got in, turned the key in the lock once more.

“I’ll call Phyllis and tell her you’re on your way up,” he said, all traces of melancholy gone.  “Can’t wait to see that little guy,” he added with a huge smile.  Sonia blew him a kiss as the elevator doors glided to a close.


Sonia got off the elevator at the 45th floor, the doors opening with an imperceptible swish into the reception area of Akanabi Oil’s penthouse suite.  As CEO, Bicky Coleman claimed the entire floor for himself.  And what a floor it was, affording spectacular views over all of downtown Houston.  Although Sonia despised her father’s pretensions, she had to admit he had a great eye for stunning details.  Bicky not only participated in the architectural reconstruction of the building, but hand-picked the decor, right down to the ancient Chinese vases displayed prominently in niches and tastefully interspersed among the ceiling to floor French tapestries.  Walking these halls gave Sonia the distinct impression that she was inside a well-endowed museum.

Phyllis was away from her desk so Sonia walked down the hall and let herself into Bicky’s prodigious office.  Beyond the floor to ceiling windows, the city glittered and glistened, all glass and mirrors, in a blaze of afternoon sun.  Houston’s story as an American city began in the early party of the 19th century after the founding fathers wrested control from Mexico.  Although the city predated the discovery of oil, the town flourished during the boom and bust days of early oil when fortunes were made and lost on the turn of a drill bit.  The first inhabitants of old Houston, the ones who built the city, combined the rugged individualism of the west with the genteel manners of the South.  Walking its streets, you could almost feel the pride and bravado mixed with courtesy and goodwill that brought the city to life.  But Sonia thought the newer part of Houston, where Akanabi’s offices were located, lacked the charm and distinction of old Houston with its ethnic diversity, grand architecture and historic flare.

Sonia busied herself with Bicky’s vintage book collection, rare and exquisite gems, many of which had historical significance beyond anything that Bicky Coleman would ever do with his life.  Maybe it was Bicky’s subconscious desire to tame his own demons, but for whatever reason, his taste leaned toward the psychological and philosophical, original printings of Freud, Jung, and Nietzsche.  He didn’t pass up an opportunity when it was offered.  It was the acquisition that drove him, the thrill of the chase.  Once his, he placed the item neatly on the shelf, or under glass, where he could watch without interacting.

Bicky had placed Sonia on a shelf soon after she was born and she’d spent the better part of childhood trying to get down.  By thirteen, she’d given up, and now, at thirty, she was fully resigned:  the man whose offices she perused with more than a hint of disdain was more fake than father.  Their vibrations were at opposite ends of the light spectrum and Sonia felt she had nothing in common with the man other than the X chromosome he’d provided for her DNA to replicate itself.

Sonia sat down behind Bicky’s desk and leaned into the plush leather.  Nine months of pregnancy had taken a toll on her arches.  She stretched her back, cat-like, and yawned as the massive grandfather clock in the corner chimed five o’clock.  Exhaustion snuck up behind her and held a gun to her head so she laid her head on her arms and would have fallen asleep, but for a piece of mail sticking into the soft, fleshy part of her arm.  She dug it out for inspection.

It was a thick brown envelope marked “Urgent and Confidential.  To Be Opened By Addressee Only.”  The seal had already been broken and Sonia helped herself to a peek.  Inside was a report with curled corners, folded pages, and a big coffee stain on the cover, all indicating heavy use.  The title looked simple, and boring, enough: “World Oil Report”.

Sonia skimmed the pages, looking for something of interest before settling on a page with a folded corner.


The world’s oil reserves peaked in the mid-1970’s.  All previously undiscovered oil reserves have been marked and estimated.  At the current rate of usage and barring the discovery of oil reserves on other planets, the earth’s oil reserves will be depleted by the year 2025. 

Sonia put the report down and stared at the cover.  Could this be true?  Her grandfather’s empire, her father’s world, would it soon collapse?  Would they be wiped out?  Her hands shook, her breath grew shallow and she could hear her heart pumping in her ears.

to be continued. . .

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