WINTER'S WARM EMBRACE

Chapter 4-

"If you ask me, they're both being incredibly stubborn," Murray told Edison and Theora a week later.

Bryce had not budged in his insistence that he be allowed to return to the Fringes. Nor had Cheviot eased up on his travel restrictions.

"Let Paula stay here if you won't release me," Bryce said, that very evening as the old man was getting ready to go home.

"You're insane, Mr. Lynch! I don't want that sneak-thief anywhere near my network."

To the shock of everyone there, Bryce slapped Cheviot. "Never call Paula that again!"

"Two weeks pay and you can say goodbye to that parrot of yours," Cheviot told him.

"Only because you know that firing me would allow me to return to Paula," Bryce snarled, storming off to his studio.

Cheviot glared, then finished putting on his coat and headed home.

Bryce watched on his computer until the indicator for Cheviot's car was out of range. Then, he got dressed and headed downstairs. He got as far as the door when he was stopped by the security guard, Stanley.

"Sorry, kid," the middle-aged man told him. "Cheviot's orders."

"Aw, come on, Stan," Bryce whimpered. "Haven't you ever been in love?"

"Nothing I can do about it. Sorry. Back upstairs with you. Cheviot told me to call security and have them drag you back up if you don't voluntarily return to your studio. And to monitor you until you're back in place."

"Tell Cheviot I hate him. And I quit."

"Until he returns in the morning and releases you, you're still a Network 23 employee. Now, get back upstairs."

Bryce defeatedly returned to his studio.

"Has Bryce reported in?" Cheviot asked the next morning after the board meeting was over.

"No, sir," Lauren told him. "Other than the necessities he hasn't done anything. He's just lying in bed staring at the wall. If you ask me, he's pining for that girl Paula. Why don't you just let him go to her?"

"He's acting like a spoiled brat and I'm not going to let him have his own way. He's an employee of this network and he's going to act like one."

"He's tried to quit twice already," Lauren pointed out.

"I don't care, he's too naive to survive out there. Even with a seasoned Fringer. He doesn't realize the danger he'd be putting himself in."

"Then let her stay here."

"I am not letting a thief stay in this network."

"Unless she's in the habit of stealing other women's husbands." Lauren reminded him.

"Ms. Formby no longer works here, and has nothing to do with this." Cheviot told her.

"You're right. I'm sorry," Lauren admitted. "But Bryce needs Paula."

"We don't always get what we need," Cheviot said, returning to his office.

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