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Chapter 66: The Seduction Continues

"This is extraordinary," Jeannie said as the maitre d' led them to a table.  "What an amazing view."

The view truly was spectacular, Victor thought.  The restaurant was on the top floor of a riverfront high-rise and looked out over the Salem River.  He waited for the maitre d' to pull out Jeannie's chair before sitting down himself.

"I guess the economy's hitting Salem hard," Jeannie said, as she took in the empty restaurant.

"It is, but not at this restaurant," Victor said.  "Usually it's full by this hour, but from time to time I've seen Abe Carver in here.  He's Salem's mayor and a close friend of your uncles Roman and Bo.  Therefore, I decided to make sure there would be no chance of running into anyone who might recognize you.  We will be the only diners tonight."

He could see Jeannie's eyes widen a bit, but she regained her composure quickly.  Interesting, he thought.  The maitre d' set menus before them.

"Two glasses of your best champagne," Victor said.

Victor studied the young woman across the table.  Jeannie had inherited her mother's looks -- the blond hair, the green eyes, and the delicate features.  Just looking at her, Victor thought, you might think she was an all-American girl from some small rural town, a place where the pretty girls were cheerleaders, married the star football players, and had little ambition beyond raising families.

But Victor also knew that Jeannie Donovan had inherited a lot from her father.  Both her parents were quite intelligent, but Shane had a very keen analytical mind that could shut out emotions and focus on a single problem and its solution.  Underestimating Shane had very nearly destroyed Victor.  He had avoided a long span in jail only due to happenstance -- the fortunate event that George Nickerson destroyed the book containing the details of Victor's operation before killing himself.   

Nothing in the discussion so far showed that Jeannie had her father's single-mindedness, but Victor suspected she did.  After they ordered, they engaged in a polite discussion about art, school, and her experiences in Europe.  That is when Victor decided to shake things up.  Time to test Jeannie and find out what she really revealed.

"You remind me so much of your parents," he said.

Jeannie blushed a little.  "People always say that I look like my mom."

"True, but I also see a great deal of your father in you."  She frowned.  Quite an interesting expression, Victor thought.  "Did I say something wrong?  I thought you would be quite proud to be compared to your father.  A great many people in Salem owe their lives to him."

Jeannie seemed to struggle to respond.   Obviously this subject had put her off balance.  "I'm sorry," she said.  "I . . . Let's just say that my relationship with my father is a bit . . . strained.  It's not something I like to discuss."

"Of course," Victor said.  "I did not mean to pry.  But I do understand.  My relationship with Shane could also be described as 'strained.'"

That seemed to pique her interest.  "Can I ask why?"

Victor could hardly tell the truth, of course.  Not about his past with Shane, let alone about their current 'relationship.'  "Let's just say that your father has always thought the worst of me and could never accept that he was wrong.  From time to time, that has caused me some . . . difficulties."

"Sounds familiar," Jeannie said bitterly.  Then her tone lightened and he could not tell if she was being serious or joking as she said, "I hope you don't hold him against me."

Victor chuckled, choosing to treat it like a joke.  There seemed to be even more strain between Jeannie and Shane than he had anticipated.  That could be very useful.  He probed further.  "Speaking of your father, if you don't mind, I've not heard about what he is doing these days.  I know Shane retired from the ISA."

Jeannie paused as if debating whether to respond.  Finally, she said, "I don't know, Mr. Kiriakis.  We haven't seen or heard from him for over a year.  Honestly, I suspect he's dead and they just haven't found his body."  The last statement was said very matter-of-factly, revealing no emotion.  Yes, the girl was a lot like Shane.

"I'm sorry to hear that," Victor said.

"You don't have to be."  Jeannie looked at him, her eyes cold and her expression impossible to read.  "It sounds like my father wronged you.  I wouldn't expect you to be sympathetic."

"Still, it is your loss, isn't it?"

"Yes," she said.  "I guess it is."  In a low voice, barely above a mumble, he heard her add, "Not that it makes much difference."

"I'm sorry," he repeated, but he was by no means sorry.  "I should not have pushed the subject."

"No, it's okay."  Jeannie looked at him.  "I just wasn't prepared to discuss this.  It took me a little by surprise."  That was something else that made her like Shane.  Victor could tell that Jeannie liked to be in control.  "I hope you understand that I don't mean to sound callous," she said.  "It's just that this past year has been quite difficult and I've had to come to terms with some things."

"Of course."

"I do hope this won't affect the job."  Jeannie sounded a touch nervous.  "I really do need it to pay for school."

Now that was very intriguing to Victor.  "Do you really?  I would have thought your parents would have covered your expenses."

Jeannie sighed audibly.  "It's a little complicated."

"That's okay."  Victor urged her on.  "I like complicated." 

"I have a trust fund that would cover my costs," she explained.  "But I've decided not to take any more money from it."

"Because it's from your father?" Victor asked.  Jeannie nodded.  "I appreciate that," he said.  "I hate hypocrisy and your decision not to use Shane's money proves you aren't a hypocrite."

She obviously appreciated his response.  "Thank you.  I'm glad you understand."

"I am curious about one thing," Victor continued.  "Do you intend to do anything with that money?"

"I think so, yes.  My roommate is having trouble paying her expenses; her parents don't have any money and I thought I could help."

"That's quite magnanimous of you," Victor said, suddenly realizing this gave him another opportunity to cement his hold on the girl.  "Tell me . . . this roommate of yours.  Is she someone I'd like to have working for Titan?"

"Shivaughn?"  Jeannie seemed to blanch a little.

Victor suspected that the girl was hesitant because she wanted to be the only one at her school with a job like this.  Ambition was another trait she shared with her father.  Victor had not been surprised that Shane rose to the top of the ISA; Shane had always wanted to be the best.  Victor suspected the same of his daughter.

"I guess so," Jeannie finally said.  "I'm sure she would be grateful for the opportunity."

"Then consider it done," Victor said.  "If she wants the job, it's hers."

Jeannie looked surprised again.  "But don't you want to interview her?"

"No, I trust your judgment, Ms. Donovan.  If you think she'd be an asset to Titan, I'll take you at your word.  When you return to New Haven, tell her she has a place with Titan for the summer and she should contact my office to accept." 

Jeannie smiled for the first time since they had arrived.  It was a brilliant smile that reached her eyes; a smile that Victor had seen before in her mother.  Ahh, if he were only 20 years younger, he might have romantic intentions toward this Brady woman, but he was far too old for this girl.  For now, however, he just needed to gain her trust and he was already a long way toward accomplishing that goal.