My eyes were closed tight, as the loud bang of the gun deafen my ears, and tears of unbridled fear burned their way down my cheeks. So many thoughts raced through my mind, so many regrets, all evidence of how fruitless and uninspired I’d crawled my way through life thus far, proving how I had merely existed instead of actually living.
There was a scream of someone in an unbearable pain, yet it wasn’t a cry to escape my own lips, I was still standing too afraid to move, even if that meant collapsing under the weight of the fear I felt coursing throughout my body. I open my eyes to witness Aemous move so swiftly I nearly missed his actions, in one single fluid movement, he grab hold of the gun wielder and bent his arm at an odd angle to where he wound up shooting his partner instead of me.
The man was grasping hold of his left shoulder, as blood pour through his fingers, soaking through his jacket and down his sleeve. He ran, abandoning his partner that Aemous had now flipped around, bringing an elbow down sharply to snap the man’s arm. I covered my ears at the sound of bone splintering, feeling the bile rise in my throat, as I wonder what the hell was going on.
As far as I knew prior Aemous was just your average suit and tie, clinging to the corporate ladder we all strive to climb, some of us even selling our souls to clear a few levels.
At the moment I could see all that didn’t apply to this situation, there was more to the people around me, things I couldn’t fathom or even think to be able to explain. To the callous calculating Karishma and her doting but genius fiance Zachari, to the mysterious Shaw McCreed and the ethereal corporate maven Yurika Ymoja. I couldn’t even trust my own boss, Jynx Ellison, as he was the most dangerous of them all, nor could I really count on those I called my friends.. as Cedric, Pastel, and Grayson were as inconsistent as a strangers potato salad at an annual family picnic. I thought, at the very least, I could trust what I thought I knew about this man but he was just like the rest of them.
“Get the fuck out of here and don’t look back you piece of shit..” Aemous growled lowly in the mugger’s face, as he held the man up by his collar, who was now in tears from the pain of his broken arm.
“Ye.. yeah.. okay man, I swear I’m done, just let me go.. please!” The guy cried, clearly as scared as I was, probably more than I had been only moments before.
Aemous tossed him to the ground, watching as he struggle to crawl to his feet and scurry away, while the sounds of police sirens in the distance echo in the alleway. Someone must have heard the gunfire, subsequent scuffle, and probably even the screams as well, then dialed ‘911’ thinking the worst. I looked to the man I’d been crushing over for the last couple of years and I realized he was as much of an enigma to me as Shaw was, I didn’t know anything about either of them, I had no idea what these men were capable of.
“I should be thankful, and I am, but I don’t know what the say right now.. what the hell was that Aemous?”
“Cydnee I can explain, just trust me..” He pleaded, his voice softening as he registered how afraid I was, and how much of it was due to him.
“No, I just.. umm, I need a moment, I’m gonna go back inside..”
I open the door and walked straight to the closest bar, where the busty Brazilian beauty was serving, she seem to sense my immediate need of a drink, something strong. I slightly shivered as it burn its way down my throat, coating my insides with warmth, slowly numbing away the fear. I felt a hand upon my shoulder and I jumped, turning around swiftly to find the questioning eyes of Cedric, with a curiously nosy Pastel at his side.
“Cyd, what happened? Security is going crazy, they say the police are here.. someone heard gunfire outside.”
“I just almost died Cedric.. I stepped outside for a moment with Famous, and some crackheads tried to mug us at gunpoint.”
“Oh my god, are you okay? How did you and Aemous get away?” Pastel asked, rubbing my shoulder comfortingly, as he signal to the bartender to serve us another round of drinks.
“Umm.. I’m not sure and honestly, I don’t know anything, it was all one big blur.”
“Well you’re safe now best friend, I won’t let anything happen to you, drink this, it’ll calm your nerves.” Cedric said, passing me a glass of some dark Brandy as he rub my back, I tossed it back quickly searching for the numbness, needing it. “I know just the thing to get your mind off of this and get you back to normal, you need to get laid.”
“What?! No.. I just need to go home, please just call me an Uber or a cab.”
“Just relax Cyd, you can’t go home, no one should be alone after an ordeal like that that, just come back to the VIP with us, we’ll take you to the crib in a little while, okay?”
“Umm.. okay, but only for a little bit.”
I let Cedric and Pastel drag me back to the VIP section, where Karishma and Grayson seem to be getting extra cozy with each other, talking so close they might as well just kiss already. I notice Cedric give them a lingering stare but he didn’t seem to be as upset as he usually would have been, I look around for Shaw though he was nowhere to be found. Some of our other co-workers came around, thanking me for being the reason for such a grand celebration, and Pastel shooed them away once he noticed the look on my face, I was clearly in no mood to be bothered and still quite shaken up. After a moment I excused myself to the restroom, hoping I could get a grip, cause I felt like I was falling apart.
I ran into the bathroom, heading straight for the sink and splashing some water on my face, looking in the mirror I could immediately tell I was losing it, as if the shivering tremors I felt were tell tale enough. Feeling faint, I went into one of the stalls and sat down with my face in my hands, doing my best to calm my nerves. After a few short moments, just when I was starting to feel a little better, two men came bursting into the bathroom. I lift my feet up, not sure why I was hiding, possibly because I didn’t want any of my co-workers to think I was puking, or worse, taking a shit. I could tell one of the guys was peeking under to see if any of the stalls were occupied, and when they felt it was safe, I could immediately hear this was a continuation of some kind of argument.
“You want to tell me what the fuck happened out there or do I have to make you tell me?”
“This is New York City, what do you think? We stepped outside for a moment and two idiots tried to mug us at gunpoint.”
“What were you thinking, what did you have to say to him that was so important?”
“I don’t believe that’s any of your business McCreed..”
“If it’s dealing with Cydnee, more specifically YOU putting him in danger, then it’s most certainly my business. I don’t care who you have wrapped around your fucking finger at this company or the next, I will take you out personally if it happens again.”
“We both know very well that I can handle you, and I can definitely handle Cyd, trust and believe he’s in safe hands.”
“You don’t want to make me an enemy Famous, it’s the last thing you want..”
“Is that a threat? No.. knowing you it’s a promise, how else would your reputation precede you so well. I knew as soon as you walked in the door that Jynx Ellison was casting light on his tumultuous relations with the government, this funding of the ReGen project is just a Trojan Horse. There’s no way they’d send in the best of the best from Department Nine, unless they were intent on bringing Arkham to heel. How would you feel if your little secret started making its rounds through the company gossip mill?”
“If that’s the case, I might have to start revealing your connections to Astor Corp as I have good Intel telling me you’re right under the thumb of Madeleine Astor herself, all part of her attempts to thwart the rise of next great monopolistic dynasty. Mr Ellison would LOVE to see shit I got on you..”
“Try me, I fucking dare you.”
There was sound of what seem like a scuffle, then one of them was thrown up against the door to the stall I was in. Covering my mouth in shock, I couldn’t believe what I was hearing, as the two of them fought over.. I’m not even sure what.
The company, me, both? Who knows.. the only thing certain was the two of them each had their own agenda.
Neither scenario was a good one, an espionage attempt from Astor Corp was nothing to take lightly, as the top two corporate Titans, Astor Corporation and Arkham were inherent rivals in the marketplace. Nor was infiltration from a government agency any better, because the truce was barely in place and breach of trust was sure to cause a calamity, a full out war between a corporate entity and a government agency was bad for everyone’s business.
I wonder if I should intervene, as the fight between the two of them sounded as if it was escalating further, and one of them was bound to get hurt. Just when I was going to exit my stall someone else walked in, it sounded like Pastel, who had somehow found a way to break it up. Aemous said a few final words to Shawn I couldn’t really hear, then he stormed out with Pastel right on his tail, no doubt trying to get the story while the gettin was good, he couldn’t resist gossip hot off the presses.
I figured now was as good a time as any to make my presence known, I exit the stall and made my way to the sink, avoiding looking up at those mysterious dark eyes I knew were watching me.
“How much of that did you hear?”
“Enough, maybe even too much..” I replied, my gaze rising to meet his in the mirror, and I could only sigh and shake my head.
“I can explain.”
“I’m sure you can but I don’t want to hear it, I’m done for the night.. I don’t want any parts of what you two have going on.”
“What if you’re the most important part of it?”
“Look Shaw, this shit between you two has nothing to do with me, both of you need to leave me out of your Spy vs Spy bullshit.”
“Cydnee.. at least let me take you home, my ride is still outside.”
I grab a towel and dry my hands as I exit, leaving him behind me, knowing deep down that wasn’t the end of that conversation. Fully intent on going home for the night, I headed for the huge double door at the entrance to leave, wondering how hard it would be to hail a cab, that was when someone grabbed me from behind.
“Where do you think you’re going? The party ain’t over till I say it’s over..” Cedric insisted as he pulled me back to the VIP area, where Grayson and Karishma were still sitting. “I refuse to let you leave before the final toast of the night.”
“Seriously Ceddie, I just want to go home and get in my bed, I have to be in the office early tomorrow and it’s already after one.”
“I promise this is the last one, then you can get on home Cydnerella.”
I mumbled a ‘fine’ as I sat down opposite the other two, noticing how out of it Grayson seemed, he was clearly on his last leg though Karishma kept on urging more drink into him. Cedric passed four glasses around, making sure we each had one, before raising his own as if to signal ‘Cheers’.
I brought my drink to my lips, and the last thought that I can remember crossing my mind, was how I should have just let Shaw take me home.
I shook my head before the rest of that rachet ‘Kia’ song could finish reverberating through my mind, it didn’t matter how fitting the lyric to her most notable chorus was to my current situation, I was hurting all over from head to toe. Waking up with a long groan and a painful stretch of my limbs, I was cursing myself for drinking so much, feeling the after effects of my hangover, knowing it would burden my day.
I looked to the end table next to me where an alarm clock read that it was eight thirty in the morning, and I nearly gasp, because I had less than an hour to be in the office. I went to crawl out of bed when I realized this wasn’t my own and I was naked.. I never ever slept in the nude, and looking around through groggy squinting eyes, I could see this wasn’t my room, it didn’t even smell right.. it smelled like Tom Ford cologne.
When a muscled arm snaked its way around my waist, pulling me back down into the bulky covers, a shudder went through me. Lips kiss the back of my neck softly as whomever the man was, groan into the crook of my neck, squeezing me tight, and grinding his sizable morning wood into the crack of my ass.
“Morning babe, you gonna make breakfast or should I? After last night, I’m fiending for some bacon.”
*That voice, oh God, no.. this can’t be!*
The timber of that deep baritone was unmistakable, so velvety and sure of itself, it could only belong to one person. Tears immediately trailed down my face as I recognized the terrible sin I’d committed, one that went against everything I believed in, and it would surely come with repercussions of the worst kind.
“Mmm, babe.. what’s wrong?”
“Open your eyes fool, all of this wrong, it’s just all wrong!”
“Cydnee? What the hell?!”
“My sentiments exactly Grayson, what the hell is going on here? What have we done?!” I exclaimed, thinking to myself how just hours before, the grace of God was with me.
Or so I thought..