Chapter 18: The Meeting (Part 1)

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I had been searching for the address for about an hour, riding through the forest with no luck. I was about to give up my search and accept that the Penguin had betrayed me once again, when suddenly a large structure became visible through the dense trees. As I got closer, I realized that the Riddler lived in a dark green mansion in the middle of the forest. Damn, no wonder my husband wanted advice on how to steal money from this guy. He sure had a lot of it. The house was practically invisible, and I suppose it made sense for a criminal to take all precautions necessary to avoid discovery. The large house was guarded by a tall gate surrounding it on all sides. There was a large entrance gate with a golden question mark, and I knew I would have to come up with a plan as I was an unexpected guest. I threw my bag over the gate first, then I used the vines covering the fences and carefully made my way over. On the other side there were more trees but they were placed strategically, hedges forming what looked like a checker board in the front lawn. It was accompanied by a garden and fountain. I grabbed my bag and checked my phone, seeing that it was almost 6. The Joker would be here soon. I hadn't quite worked out how I was going to approach him or how I planned on getting him to let me join him. Suddenly lights flashed through the darkness, and I hid behind a tree to keep myself from getting discovered. The front gates suddenly opened up, and a purple Lamborghini pulled in. I held my breath as he stepped out of the car, he was clad in a dark purple suit, his green hair slicked back. Damn did he look good... Focus! I reminded myself as I crept towards the entrance. The Joker walked inside with a large man I assumed had to be his bodyguard, while his chauffeur parked the car. I scoured the windows until I found one that was cracked open. I smiled to myself as I pulled myself up the side of the house using pipes and ledges. I was much stronger than I had been before, a perk of living with Ivy and Selena. I reached the window on the second floor and opened it as quietly as possible, sliding my body inside the small opening I made for myself. I then returned it to the position it had been in before I cautiously walked down a narrow hallway. I looked inside the various rooms I passed to the ensure there was no one on this level. I followed the muffled sound of voices which seemed to be coming from the floor, telling that the meeting was downstairs. I turned the corner to the hallway that lead to the staircase and then I saw that there were guards at his front door. I would easily be spotted if I attempted to go down, but I had no other choice. I moved to start my decent when someone grabbed my arm and within an instant I was slammed against the wall of the hall leading to the stairs. My head ached from the impact, my glasses almost falling off from the blow. I could feel fingers around my throat, holding me firmly in place. My dizzy mind focused on my attacker and I realized it was the Joker. His eyes had fire in them, his red mouth twisted in a frown. "What the hell are you doing here?" He whispered angrily. I tried to speak but his hand on my throat prevented me. He loosened his grip. "I didn't stay in Arkham, everyone thinks I'm dead or kidnapped. I wasn't interested in returning to my old life. Not when I have you." I told him, my eyes falling to his tightly drawn mouth. I know I shouldn't find him so attractive when he's angry, but the suit really wasn't helping the situation. He just laughed darkly to himself, as if I had told some cruel joke. "You never fucking listen..." He shook his head, backing away from me momentarily before pressing me back into the wall, his left hand on my shoulder as he pressed his index finger into my collarbone. "You're going to leave exactly how you came in. I will make sure  the guards don't see you." He ordered me and I shook my head before I pushed him off of me. "Haven't you been listening, J? You can't get rid of me that easily... I know you think you have some duty to protect me from all of this, but what if I want it?" I inquired and he looked me with a mixture of amazement and confusion in his eyes. I could see that he was conflicted, his heart battling with his mind, before one seemed to win and his demeanor became cold. "I don't want you here. Leave." He suddenly said bluntly, letting go of me completely. It was as if he completely changed tactics. His words stung even though I knew he was just saying them to make me listen. I just stared him down, refusing to give in to his harsh words. "You don't belong here, or with me. You are the last person I'd want to share my life with." He jabbed and, okay, that one hurt. I glanced down at the ring still on my finger and I felt my eyes sting with the threat of tears. "Fuck you." I spat at him in response and I saw him visibly relax a little. It was working. He narrowed his eyes at me as he stepped closer, his tall form looming over me. "Go. Away." He ordered and I couldn't look at him anymore. I bit my lip in attempt to control my emotions as I looked to my right. He grabbed my chin rather roughly and forced me to look at him. "Now do as I say and leave the way you came." He demanded with venom in his voice and I found myself nodding, just wanting space from him for a moment. He let go of me, and took a step back. "Good." He responded simply, and I started walking down the hallway again as he went down the stairs. As I made my way to the window, I remembered my decision to stop letting him determine my choices. I stopped dead in my tracks, the hurt turning into anger as I marched back down the hallway. I hadn't quite thought of what I was going to do when I faced the criminals downstairs but I just knew I wasn't giving up without a fight. The guards were gone, courtesy of the Joker and I made my way down the stairs free from fear of discovery by the wrong person. From the voices I could tell that everyone was in the dining room on my left. I made my way down the stairs, and then I saw him. My husband sitting across a narrow table, the Riddler on the opposite side of him. I suddenly understood the theme of green as the Riddler was dressed in a green suit and top hat. I stood in the entryway to the room and I met the Jokers pale green eyes.

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