Justin crossed his arms over his chest as he stared at his old friend. He was certain the confusion he felt was written all over his face but if not…
“Let me see if I have this right. You want me to protect a pop princess?” he asked, his words dripped with sarcasm. “A bodyguard?”
Talbert raised his hand and held up a finger. “Now wait, Jian,” he said as he leaned forward then rested his elbows on his desk. “Think of it as a much-needed break while you help out a very petrified young lady.”
Justin shook his head in disbelief. “Why not offer this ‘job’ to Ferdinand. He owes you and he likes this kind of work.”
Sighing, Talbot stood. “Ferdinand will embarrass me. You won’t,” he said as he walked around his desk. “Just meet with them. That’s all I’m asking.”
Talbot, a special forces veteran, was now a businessman. Everything was a deal to him and Justin knew this situation was no different. Talbot must have some kind of deal with this woman as incentive to pimp him out. What kind of deal was the question. But, Justin wasn’t sure he cared.
Justin glanced at his watch then watched as his friend stood and walk away from the desk. He had a few minutes to spare for a friend but Talbot was wasting his time. There was no way he was taking on a babysitting job.
Talbot opened his office door and called out a man’s name. A few seconds later, a man walked through the open door and greeted Talbot. He was dressed well, held his head high, and looked Justin straight in the eyes as he approached.
“Mr. Jian,” the man held out his hand, “I’m Malcolm St. James.”
Justin shook Mr. St. James’ hand while committed the man’s name to memory, just in case. Mr. St. James’ hand was rough with callouses but his nails were well cared for and his suit was custom, very expensive. Overall, Mr. St. James looked wealthy but seemed the type who didn’t shy away from hard work.
“I understand you are a busy man so I don’t want to waste your time. My daughter needs a competent, experienced, disciplined person to protect her. Money is no object.”
Justin liked that the way the man got straight to it but…
“Nice to meet you, Mr. St. James. I understand how important your daughter’s safety is to you and I thank you for your consideration, but I was explaining to Talbot that I have a prior engagement.” Justin felt the pressure of Mt. St. James’ grip tighten before the man release his hold. He watched as Mr. St. James looked at Talbot while opening his mouth in an O shape. “I am sorry that I can’t help you.”
Not interested in hearing the two men hash out details for an alternative bodyguard, Justin excused himself with a slight bow to both men then he exited the office, closing the door behind him.
“Mr. Jian,” the receptionist said, “should I have your vehicle brought around.”
“Thank you, Mrs. Billows.”
Justin didn’t break his stride as he exited the reception area and stepped into the hallway. He was halfway down the length of the hall, heading toward the elevators, when he dodged out of the way of a woman who was exiting the restroom.
The woman yelped as she jumped back, losing her footing. Justin reached out, grabbed her by her upper arm and steadied her. What took him by surprise was the fear he saw burning in her wide glossy eyes as she stared up at him. He actually felt the shudder that ran through her slight frame so he immediately let his hands fall away from her.
“I’m sorry,” she sniffed as she lowered her head and rushed toward Talbot’s office.
Is that her, the petrified young woman?
Justin stood there, following the young woman with his eyes. He was still standing there long after the door to Talbot’s reception area closed behind her.
The Incident 1991
Demi closed his eyes and hissed a curse under his breath when he heard the front doorknob rattle. He had an idea who was coming through the door before he saw the front door slowly being pushed open. Aside from Mrs. Johnson who sat on the sofa crying, no one made a sound as UGod’s henchman pulled Giselle inside the house and slammed the door shut.
Giselle gasped as she stumbled forward. Her gaze met Demi’s and her eyes widened as if she was shocked that he was inside her home.
Demi fisted his hand as he forced himself to stay still but relaxed them at his sides when she righted herself and didn’t fall on her face. He watched as Giselle looked around her living room. Her questioning gaze fell on her parents but when they said nothing, she looked to Demi again. He noticed she didn’t look scared at all. She should be terrified because everyone in this city UGod was a stone-cold killer.
No one but Giselle and his two-man crew seemed to acknowledge his presence so Demi felt comfortable openly watching Giselle from across the room. Her long thick dark hair was pulled into a single side ponytail. The uniform she wore was crisp and clean, her longs socks were pulled up over her knees, and the vest over her white shirt was still buttoned up. After a long day at school, she was still put together as if her day was just starting.
Giselle was a looker but her innocence was apparent to Demi as soon as he laid eyes on her on his first day at Laure Prep. She seemed like a nice girl. One whose father was apparently a thief.
“Go to your room, Giselle.” Mr. Johnson finally spoke up.
Demi knew it was too late for that.
“Stay where you are, sweetheart,” UGod said to Giselle then he looked at Mr. Johnson. “You know what I think, Jack? I think your beautiful daughter will do so much better than your wife.”
“Please, don’t do this,” Mrs. Maria, Giselle’s mom begged.
Demi looked over at the woman from where he stood. He met the Johnson’s a few times being as Mr. Johnson was his father’s accountant. Demi sat in on meetings between the two men occasionally. Demi had seen Mrs. Johnson and their daughter whenever UGod threw a party.
The fucked-up part about this situation was the Johnsons wouldn’t even be in this mess today if UGod didn’t ask Demi to go over the numbers a few days ago. Demi found some discrepancies. He checked the numbers three times and they just weren’t adding up.
“Mr. Carrion, I’m sorry. I just… I had something come up. I didn’t think you would miss the money before I had time to put it back. I can have the money for you tomorrow. I promise. Please.”
What a fucking idiot, Demi thought as he stared at Mr. Johnson. Why didn’t UGod just kill the sleaze outside the man’s office and be done with it?
But Demi knew what UGod would say to that. “If I kill everyone who owes me money,” Demi thought, using UGod’s tone, “then how will I ever get paid?”
“You knew who I was when you blooded the contract,” UGod said, as he casually walked toward Giselle and held out his hand. “Giselle , sweetheart? Do you know who I am?”
Demi hated that tone his father just used above all the others. This particular one usually signaled that there would be no compromising.