“What the fuck are you doing here?” he demands, pinning me against the wall. He grips my chin with such force, it almost gives me a fright.
I’m not supposed to be here, if that wasn’t obvious enough.
He made that perfectly clear this morning with his hand around my throat, ensured there would be consequences if I were to go against his word. I only agreed so he could shut up but he should have known that I would have disobeyed, that I am my own woman and I do not do as I am told.
I had watched him earlier this evening. He was working to close a business deal in the VIP section. He was dressed for the occasion; a smooth fitted tux with dress shoes, almost concealing the black ink tatted underneath. He lit and smoked a cigar with a bald businessman, spoke in hushed tones with a sly little smile, aware of the armed men standing at both ends of the sofa. Women were clutched by the waists of many fellow associates, and this businessman, with several gold rings and one gold tooth, never shied away from checking out a woman, snuck a not-so-subtle slap on a cheek when they passed. Of course, my man, as coherent as he is, wouldn’t conform to such sickness. He only tangled in the business, never in the pleasure of the trade. He’s too grown for that, a true boss at play.
It wasn’t until his bodyguard and associate, Mr. Turner, whispered in his ear to announce my quite disturbing presence. I watched his facial features adjust, most notably in annoyance, in a state of irritability. It was no secret to the rest of the world he was livid, sparking utter displeasure in his countenance. He looked up then and spotted me without waver, an immediate reaction to an unexpected guest who loves to challenge the game. My breath hitched when his eyes met mine. He certainly drew away my soul; it quickly left my body.
I saw him excuse himself from the area, and I left at that very moment, heading up the stairs to a more private hallway. I walked with ease across the red carpet with gold trim, not wanting to disturb anyone in their rooms. One could assume these were reserved for much more private scandals and affairs, and I’ve concluded this once I heard moans coming from the one I just passed. A threesome, I hear. How…charming.
The bathrooms were somewhere close, and I knew I had to get to them before he could find me. He has a way of occasionally making me a fool for being reckless and irresponsible, two of my favorite things to be. But it was too late. He gripped my wrist, pulled me towards him and had me pinned against the wall.
“I asked you a question,” his nostrils flared, jaw tense.
I give him a look of distaste, and he lets go of my chin.
I smooth my satin dress after his dramatic approach, needing not to appear disheveled by guests who could come out of their rooms. I attempt to move away from the wall and not answer, wanting to continue my innocent journey to the ladies room. Of course, that was the wrong move. He takes hold of my chin again and lightly slams my back against the wall, this time with his whole body, forcing me to look at him.
“You think you can disobey me? That you can come and go as you please?” He tilts my chin up. “And who told you to wear a dress like this, huh? What do you think you are doing? You are supposed to be discreet.”
Okay. Now, you see, I was feeling myself. I wore a red, draped satin dress with a very revealing slit. Strappy heels were the only pumps that could compliment this dress and a bold red lip is just a formality.
I don’t answer because frankly, I have nothing to say.
“What? Suddenly, cat got your tongue?” He lets go of my chin.
I sigh, “I was actually trying to go to the bathroom so, if you’ll excuse me, sir–”
He puts his hand on the wall beside my head, and I press my back further into the bricks as if somehow I might sink into them, “You really want to play that game tonight?” It was a threat. I didn’t have to answer. “You really do, don’t you? You wanted to get caught. You were trying to tempt me.” He grazes his fingers along the length of my throat, admiring my smooth skin, the curves of my delicate neck. He wraps his fingers around it, choking me slightly; mesmerized, compelled. “You know, your rebellion is becoming quite a problem.”
“So what are you going to do?” I raise a devious eyebrow. “Punish me?”
He bites his bottom lip at my teasing remark, glancing at my full lips that part for air. I’m beginning to become aroused by the pressure of his grasp, by the lingering tension in our bodies. My eyes may speak with defiance, but his remains lustful, starved.
He then hovers his mouth over mine, and I can’t resist looking at it, admiring, craving to suck that little dip on his thick bottom lip. “It’s quite tempting, to say the least,” he smirks. “I am trying to protect you here. They can’t know who you are. But you make it so fuckin’ hard. You know I don’t mix business with pleasure for a reason.”
I press my body into his, and I gasp at the strain bulge in his trousers. If he asked me to, I would kneel before him. I wouldn’t even stop the indiscretion if someone was near.
But I have to show him that I am not one to be ordered and controlled. His lack of perception is becoming a problem.
“I can protect myself. You of all people should know. I am also not a fuckin’ dog. I’m a woman with a mind of her own. So yes, I will do whatever I please,” I say.
He tightens his grip around my neck, just exactly how I like it. I gasp, the pleasure radiating through my blood. “I know,” he says. “And God, I love it. But I hate it. I hate it.”
His lips get closer to mine, his scruff tickling my skin. “No, you love it,” I whisper. He loosens his grip, “And you know you love it. You can’t help yourself around me. But I’m here. I’m right here. So, what are you waiting for, my king? Do it. I dare you.” I bite my lip, “Take me.”
“Sir,” someone says far away.
It was Mr. Turner.
To the left of us, we see his dark figure hang in the balance. His voice wasn’t close, but it was close enough.
I sigh. Of course, he would cock block me. I must have a word with Mr. Turner. He takes his job too seriously, and despite what the boss proclaims, I can’t have him be a constant disruption when it comes to my needs.
He continues to gaze at me, never straying from the tension I built, and through seething teeth, answers in a sharp tone, “What?“
“I’m sorry for the…disturbance, sir,” Mr. Turner clears his throat, awkwardly. “But Mr. Cain is looking for you. I’m afraid he is on his way up. He insisted he finds you himself.”
Sadly, he lets go of my throat, sucks in his bottom lip, “Well, how much time do we have?”
“Well, well, well,” the bald businessman says, his gold tooth shining through crusted teeth. “There you are, Javier. I’ve been looking for you.”
He emerges from the shadows, away from where Mr. Turner stands, and appears in the light closest to us. Three buff men with leather jackets walk in behind him. It’s clear they are all armed.
We move away from the wall and create distance, Javier positioning himself in front of me. I know he’s being protective, possessive even, but at this time, it was displeasing, to say the least. I deserve to stand beside him, as an equal, and not be sidelined by my femininity or appearance. Yet, at the same time, yes, I know my place, or I should know my place. I should.
“My apologies,” Javier says without intent. He steps forward in the light, “I had matters to attend to. But it’s been taken care of. We should continue on with business.”
He was about to send me on my way, to wherever that may be which would inevitably be straight home, but then the businessman, Mr. Cain, strains his head to look behind Javier, to look directly at me. He crookedly smiles, “Well, well. Who is this sexy young thing behind you? Care to introduce us?”
We must tread lightly. Mr. Cain is already suspicious, I can tell. He doesn’t seem too keen that Javier left him without an explanation. With the armed men on his tail, fingers lingering on their holsters, we must do what we are told. The tension has been announced, and my bones have gone rigid.
Javier reaches for my hand behind him, and I take it with grace. He squeezes it to confirm he’s got me — or to warn me to behave — and brings me beside him.
Mr. Cain gawks, stunned by my appearance and mesmerized by my beauty, “My God! She is just…stunning! No wonder why you left! What is her name?”
Speaking like I’m nonexistent, as if I am not standing before him?! Spoken like a true old white man, I see.
“Lina,” I blurted, lied.
Javier looks at me dead in the eye, murderously.
Mr. Cain raises his eyebrows, “She speaks!” He begins to laugh, “A whore with a voice of her own…that’s quite dangerous these days. But I like it. As a matter of fact, I love it! Care to share?”
“She was just leaving. I’m finished with her, she’s been taken care of,” Javier says.
Mr. Cain laughs. The men behind him laugh. They considered that to be a sexual innuendo, so whether Javier meant it to be one or not, he plays along; smiles, chuckles, keeps it subtle for the unwise to see. I know he is doing his best to keep his composure, for me, for them. But I’m not sure if I can handle the idiocy.
“Well, if you’re finished with her, I’ll have her. I can take her off your hands.”
“That won’t be necessary,” Javier says affirmatively, a tone the others did not take too kindly.
The businessman puts his hands up and chuckles, “Whoa! Protective much? I don’t mind sloppy seconds.”
“Well I do,” I say aloud. It was meant to be spoken in my head, silently, but I couldn’t resist. Only Javier is aware of my defensive, erratic state. But I’m not supposed to be speaking out of turn, or speaking at all. I must behave. I must stay calm. I must do what I’m told and stick to the script. But I am a woman; not a piece of meat you toy with on your empty plate. “Now if you’ll excuse me gentlemen, I–”
And the minute I take a step forward from my initial position, Mr. Cain’s men draw out their guns within seconds, quickly removing the safety. This was never a joking matter, and never going to end with a compromise. They know who I am.
Something familiar then creeps up my neck on alert, a spider maybe, a fiery trail. My senses are on high; my nose flares, my teeth grind.
Shit. It’s happening. It’s coming.
“You know,” he smiles at Javier, “word on the street is you got a special woman on your hands. People want to use her to their advantage, fuck her…actually, do you know she has a price on her head? By her own father! We’ve heard about her…specialty.”
The mention of my father boils the blood in my bones, and I begin to feel it now; the scorched, wretched spikes in my flesh, the building rage in my body. The boulder grows, wakes, bellows, and I feel the fiery snakes slither between the cracks, leaking venom along my spine. If the demons hadn’t screeched and clawed in my chest, I would have left in quite a haste, drawing suspicion to onlookers in their high. But his words struck a chord, a deep, triggering chord, and it’s currently being played with as we speak.
I tell myself to focus on my breath, on inhaling, exhaling, think of numbers and picture colored dots, anything to calm the beast.
My love begins to speak, aware of the shift in my breaths and my frozen stature. But the businessman has an agenda, one that could only lead to despair.
“He wants her head on a stick,” he tempts. “ And if I killed her, technically, the deal would still be on. We could still do business. She’s only a whore, isn’t she?”
I suddenly hear a pounding in my ear, a rasping at the door, a hiss, a roar, a scream. They’re gnawing on the noose, begging to release; starved, hungry, famished.
Javier swiftly takes out his gun from behind him before the other men could blink. Mr. Turner and Javier’s men, who secretly arrived, do the same. “You are not going to touch her.” I feel him glimpse at me, knowing my focus is elsewhere, and then look back at Mr. Cain, “And I would keep your fuckin’ mouth shut if you want to live. Then, we could speak business.”
Mr. Cain laughs again, noticing the stand-off, “Do you know who you are speaking to?! The fuckin’ girl comes with me, or we kill her. It’s your choice.” 35, 36, 37. He laughs to himself this time, an inside joke that no one was aware of, “You know, her daddy might have called her a disgrace for who she is, but I always wanted to do business with him. We could be partners, make fuckin’ millions.” Blue dot, yellow dot, purple dot, “As long as I have my way with her, her daddy could do whatever he wants. He could leave her to rot, or better yet, lock her up until she starves to death.” Tick, tick, tick, tick, tick, “But he’s got some balls, doesn’t he? For–“
“…now! Get Dempsey!”
“Yes, sir,” Mr. Turner hurries.
I slowly open my eyes to the chaos. There are sirens and flashes, men and women screaming, horrified, shuffling through the chaos, running towards exits and hidden escape routes through corridors and foyers. Javier is kneeling down beside me, and I’m lying on the floor, stunned, numb, bewildered. I slowly sit up and notice the edge of my dress has ripped from the seams; the fabric drenched in blood.
“What…what happened?” I ask, placing my hand to my forehead. When I feel moisture on my hands, I look to see why. They were covered in thick blood and fresh flesh, dripping from my fingers to my wrists. I close them to make a fist as I tremble at the sight, and I notice crisp cuts and scrapes from bones, bruises.
I blacked out, I must have blacked out.
“You…, it happened,” he says. He picks up the gun from the floor and puts it behind the hip of his pants, “But we have to go, now.”
I remain shocked, still, unable to move my muscles or bones, to breathe. He sees the panic in my eyes, the horror. He cups my cheek in his hand and looks at me, “I know. I know.” He touches his forehead to mine, “But I got you, my queen. I promise. I got you.”
He helps me up quickly and begins pulling me away from the crime. I regret looking behind me. I see the men, I see it all. Three men lie lifeless on the carpet; mouths agape, eyes open at the ceiling, empty. Their throats have been ripped apart, their limbs detached, dismembered.
But the businessman, the businessman is unrecognizable; disheveled, severed in two. His guts have spilled out of his body, torn from the tissues, his corpse completely demolished. The image…there was nothing left, nothing left to salvage but a gold tooth and shiny rings.
I look at my shaking hands. Reckless, and irresponsible.
Javier was right.
I shouldn’t have come.