I couldn’t say what was louder, the click clacking of my heels echoing in the emptiness of the corridor or the thumping of my racing heart reverberating in my ears, the sounds were deafening. My lungs burned as I pushed myself to go faster, I had to, I was running for my life.. again.
The building was new, nowhere near fully constructed and already it towered into the skyline, at a soaring forty seven stories high. But even with all that, I was running out of floors, and they were right on my tail. I was so afraid, but then again I always seem to be afraid these days..
It was because I knew the truth, and that was dangerous, the proof was all too evident by the bounty that had been placed on my head for the little bit of truth I was possession of, a little bit a proof that could fix everything.
“Fuck..” I whispered to myself, finding myself on the last level, I went over to the edge and looked down at the dizzying heights, the wind up here was brisk to my skin.
Tears stream down my face, causing my eye make up to streak down my cheek, I just wanted to escape this horror story that had become my life. Just when I had everything I needed, I had the truth, I had my family back, I had found love.. now it could all be over.
I caught site of a crane hooked to a pile of steel beams, it wasn’t too far down, I could walk over this unfinished portion, then jump to that level and climb down. No, it wouldn’t be that easy, there was a good chance I’d fall.
Behind me I could hear them getting closer, they had orders to shoot on site, which left me with no choice. I removed my shoes, so I could have better balance crossing the narrow steel beam in the floor in front of me, on this level the room wasn’t fully completed. One slip would send me over the edge, down to my death, and dammit, I refuse to die in my favorite Versace dress.
Inching my way across, doing my best attempt to impersonate a trapeze artist crossing a tightrope, whispering a small prayer that I would make it across. There was a burly gust of wind, that sent me teetering over, I thrashed my arms as my hands grasp wildly for something to hold onto. My fingertips clasp to the edge of the steel beam, as I dangle over what surely appear to be imminent death. Over by the door, I could see the flashlights of those chasing me, as they climb the last flight of stairs, at which point they would most certainly see me.
Someone once told me when I was just a little girl, that there were many faces to death, it was only now that I fully understood what that meant.
My name is Yurika Ymoja.. and this is only the beginning.
《 2 months ago 》
I had never seen him like this, unruly and matted hair, red sleepless eyes, distressed demeanor, none of us were getting any sleep and probably wouldn’t for a long time. I ignored the tears as they trailed down my face, hugging the man that had come to feel like family to me, a brother, maybe even a son.
I had taken care of him for most of his life, it was hard to think back to how we met so long ago, how time and destiny had bond us together. As we pulled away from each other, I tried in vain to smooth out his hair but it would not be tamed.
“I promise I’ll return on the first of February, and getting you out of here as soon as possible is my top priority. We picked a lead in Washington from a new source, I will find out who this son of a bitch with a grudge really is, they won’t get away with this Jynx, I promise.”
He sat there looking so defeated, but I knew he still had fight in him, it was imperative he hang on till I have what I need to free him. I felt personally responsible for some of this, I should have never trusted Father Ellison, it kept me off my game. I had other strategies and tactics that could have won us the case, but I found myself uncharacteristically unprepared.
Leaving the jail, I ponder what could have been said between father and son, the two of them had never been known to have an easy rapport with each other. I could only imagine the harsh and venomous words exchanged, words that could never be taken back, cementing a divide that was a long time coming. Father Ellison treated Jynx like a piece on a chess board, he treated us all that way, his betrayal of his own blood son only prove he considered every single piece in his schemes as expendable.
The only way to change things would be to crown a new King in the family, I just needed Jynx to be strong long enough for me to free him to his birthright, though, the stark reality was we both knew he was on borrowed time.
“Ms. Ymoja, I’m so glad you made it, I’m aware of how busy and hectic your schedule is.”
“Don’t worry Doctor Asai, this fifty five minutes and thirty three seconds was penciled in weeks in advance, if we can get through this sooner, may it be done.”
“You rescheduled your last three appointments, thats a bad habit you’re forming.. how have you been responding to the new estrogen treatment? I know this is different, because it lasts the entire year, but that is why it’s essential we monitor you closely.”
“I’ve been feeling perfectly fine, sure life has its stresses and meltdowns, but I’ve been focused on what’s important.”
“Yurika, your health is important too, it doesn’t matter that you’re in your twenties. You transitioned at a young age, I’ve never asked you the circumstances for your own privacy, but the unmonitored time you were using hormonal treatments may have caused some issues.”
“Did something show up in my last tests?”
“No, you’re preliminary tests were absolutely fine, other than your dormant trait for sickle cell, we didn’t come across any abnormalities. The tests I’m speaking of will be a more expansive look into your body and how it’s taken to transition, giving me a true picture of your health, plus I believe you are due for a pap smear.“
“With all do respect Dr Asai, I don’t have time for that, I’m sure you watch the news. You know who my family is, and you’re aware of who I work for, my time is precious.”
“Yes, I’m all too aware of the stresses you are under, but I implore you to reconsider, I’ve done this for years and I pride myself on being completely thorough with all my post SRS patients, I’ve seen nearly every complication possible.”
“Okay, I’ll make an appointment for when I return from D.C., but I promise you, I couldn’t feel better.”
“That’s what my brother said when we were twenty seven, about three months later he developed ALS, and I lost him by the time we would have been thirty. Yes, you have the benefit of being young but youth isn’t invincibility.” The old man smiled warmly, reminding of why I chose him, his wisdom came from a compassionate place. “I wish you well on your trip, I hear Washington is a mess right now, my sister lives out there and couldn’t tell me what was worse, the political gridlock or the traffic.”
“I’m sure I be alright, I have an excellent driver, you enjoy your weekend.”
As I left the doctor’s apartment, I couldn’t help but be a little annoyed at having Dr Asai be so prying, but I knew his intentions were well. He values my privacy and meets me at his home, on the upper east side, it’s not too far from ‘The Bastille’. I walked through the lobby, passing a older posh woman in her eighties, carrying her pug that was dressed in a matching harlequin tweed Chanel suit. She gave an appraisal, one that went in a usual fashion with these types, she was older money.
First, she would have her nose turned so high and mighty, I could still see up her nostrils with her head turn down, as she would start her assessment of me feet first. When she caught sight of my limited edition Giuseppi Zanotti poison Ivy heels, her tune would slightly change, no magic would happen till she got a good look at the signature stitching on my vintage cream Oscar Dela Renta dress. Then comes the shocker when she finally looks at my face, she’s taken aback at how beautiful I am, it provokes confusion, admiration, desire, and most of all, jealousy.
The doorman opened the door for me, and I returned his smile, ignoring the stares I was getting from everyone. Curbside, a silver chrome stretch limousine pulled up, Ti’Hatcha exited the front passenger side in a tan trench coat and navy Bespoke suit, looking sharp as usual. He had insisted on accompanying me to D.C., a request I had to relent to, because the source reached out to him first.
“We have forty five minutes to catch our flight, but we should make it on time, did everything go okay inside?”
“It’s just girl stuff, you know, lady business. You don’t want to hear about it, trust me.. I’m okay though, let’s get going before we fall behind time.”
He opened the door for me and I entered the vehicle, the smell of his cologne and natural scent waif in my direction, making me blush at the impure thoughts that quickly race my mind, I’d blame it on the hormones but I knew better.
Ti’Hatcha was just as tall, dark, and handsome as you could come. With such regal and distinct Samoan features, and a full broad athletic frame, he gave off the aura of power and fortitude. He was a protector, the safety and security of Jynx was his main priority, maybe that was why he felt like he had failed him too, guilt our common denominator.
As I sat down, I was in for a surprise.. it was Mother.
“Skipping town, I see.”
“For a good reason, I’ll be following up on a lead in Washington.. and with all do respect, I will be doing everything to free your son, even if it means taking down your husband in the process.”
“I wouldn’t expect anything less of you, it just shows I raised you right, you have everything you need to succeed. Just remember, while you’re playing your part, I’ll be playing mine. The endgame is what’s important..”
“Is there anyway you can get me a contact for the accountant that testified at the hearing? This Jerry Goldstein guy is hard to get a hold of.”
“Jerry is as slippery as they come, you won’t find him unless you give him a reason to find you, the man survives off of perks and pleasures, giving him that is as good as gold.” She replied, taking my pen and pad to scribble down an address, it was for a hotel. “You’re certain you’ve taken all precautions, do you need my Black Card? You know what, here, just take it.”
“But you will, and spare no expense, the only thing I can’t afford is any fuck ups, so do what you need to do Yuri.”
There it was again, the pressure, I had gotten so used to it upon my shoulders, the only time I felt it was times like these, where bulk is added. As we pulled up to the entrance of the airport, she kissed my cheek and pulled me into a hug, the body contact only accenting the severity of her concerns. Vandella Ellison rarely did body contact, I could count on one hand, the number times I’d seen her hug her own child. I sighed, thinking over the task before me, indecisive as to where to start first.
Who knew what I was dealing with?
Was all this just politics?
Was it business?
Was it revenge?
Those were the obvious answers, ones that almost satisfied me, but Father Ellison had so much lined up for his golden son, so much of his legacy at stake. He wouldn’t just feed him to the wolves, not without finding out how he himself would eat first, that was why I couldn’t shake the feeling there is more to this, and even more to what’s in store. The only thing I could be certain of, this all begins with a story, Jynx’s story.
The fall of a son, the betrayal of a father, and an Abrahamic sacrifice..
When we touched down in Washington DC, there was a man waiting for us with a sign stating our names, he looked eerily similar to Ti’Hatcha, their resemblance appear to run deeper than ethnic background.
“Umpelo, this is Yurika Ymoja, Yuri, this is my brother.”
“It’s a pleasure to meet you.” I said to him, holding out my hand in greeting.
“And what a pleasure it is..” He replied in a deep sensuous baritone, bring my hand to his lips for a kiss, staring into my eyes intensely.
“Yurika, please excuse my crass and neanderthal of a brother, fortunately his son is ten times more capable, and I have him looking over Jynx in Mythos Peak. As a Correctional Guard he can’t do much, but it’s something.”
“That’s excellent news but it means nothing if we don’t handle things on our end, what time is the rendezvous with our new contact?”
“I’m supposed to meet him in an hour, will you be coming with me?”
“No, I won’t be able to go, if I have any chance to catch Goldstein, it’ll be now. With the info I received from Mother, some cold calling, supple breasts, and a dash of Angela Lansbury, I was able to acquire an address.”
“Well I spy a private eye, that makes you even hotter, I didn’t think that was even a possibility.” Umpelo remarked, grinning despite the admonishing look his brother gave him.
“I hate to say this but I think I need to send Umpelo with you, just for back up, who knows what could happen?”
“No, I’m certain I can deal with him on my own, your source on the other hand, is a complete enigma to us.”
“Umpelo, can you excuse us a moment..” Ti’Hatcha asked of his brother, I could tell from the look in his eye, this conversation was taking a turn.
It was easy to know what his next words would be, as it wouldn’t be the first time he had said them in some iteration or other. Ti’Hatcha was a man of few words, giving every series of sentences that escape his lips, all that much more importance to me. I had gotten to know him over many years of short conversations, many of them unfinished, and so much more left unsaid.
This often left me uncertain of where I stood with him, and confused about how I feel, but all that seem to change when he would touch me. He spoke volumes through skin to skin contact, a hug, a caress, and a kiss could feel as epic as a hundred Arabian nights or any sort of Trojan tale. Therein lay the problem, it was all a distraction from my priorities, I had no time for the complications that would come with a ‘thing’ between us.
“Hatch, before you start..”
“Let me just say what I have to say and that will be the end of it.” He interrupted, throwing his hands up and closing his eyes in frustration, he reached into his coat and pulled out a gun. “If you insist on going it alone, I insist you go armed.”
“And if I refuse? You know I detest firearms.”
“This isn’t debatable, choose your battles.”
I sighed and grabbed the pistol from him, making sure the safety was on before putting it into my Birkin bag, side eyeing him when he handed me an extra clip.
“You would think I heading off to war or about to mug him..”
“Just take care of yourself.” He replied, before pulling me into an embrace, one that seem to pause time in an instance.
But that fast and swift, he was gone, and I stood there once again.. uncertain.
“Are you certain this is the correct address?”
The cab driver couldn’t speak a whisper of English, but I had to trust he knew where he was going. I look at the building and could see, sure enough, this was the place Mother had informed me of, it was an office building located just outside the federal district. Walking into the lobby, I was greeted by a stern raven haired receptionist, who was intent on giving me the run around.
“Hello, Kristen is it? Yes, I’m looking for Jerry Goldstein, we were supposed to be meeting for a late lunch, he said he’d pencil me in.”
“Sorry, we don’t employ a Jerry Goldstein, you must be mistaken.”
“Are you sure? I’ll just call him on my cell, confirm I’m in the right place, I’ll be sure to mention how helpful you were.” I replied as I pulled out my cell, typed in the number for my local Pizza Hut, but just before I hit dial she stopped me.
“He is already out to lunch with a client, ma’am.”
“First, it was ‘We don’t employ‘, now it’s ‘He’s not here’.. which is it?”
“I’m sorry, I thought you were applying for the new secretary position, I didn’t want you to replace me. Please, I need this job, I have student loans.”
“I’ll keep this just between us girls, as long as you tell me where I can find him.”
“He should be here for his three thirty appointment with.. look, there he is now.”
She pointed behind me, speaking loud enough that he looked up from his phone just as I turned around, our eyes connected as he stopped in his tracks. He looked just as I remembered him, dark and clean cut, bright blue eyes behind black frame spectacles, on the crown of his head he wore his yamaka giving him the appearance of a kosher Clark Kent. He looked nervous, a light sweat upon his full brows, eyes darting back and forth, I had to say something.
“Hi, Mr Goldstein, I don’t know if you remember me, but I’m..”
He took off running, bolting out the lobby doors, not giving me enough time to even say my name, but clearly showing he knew exactly who I was. Taking pursuit was dangerous but I didn’t care, I was on a mission and too much was at stake, plus this wouldn’t be my first imitation of Allyson Felix in a pair of red bottom’s, so why not?
He was halfway down the block by the time I had gotten out the door, I hiked my skirt up my thighs and took off after him, the people looking as I sprinted by probably thought I was a high price hooker chasing a runaway john who couldn’t afford the tab. After several blocks, he cut a tight left down a narrow alleyway, when I rounded the corner an empty trash can went sailing past my head. I barely ducked in time, nearly slipping on the wet grimy pavement, as he was nearly escaping, so in desperation.. I reached into my purse.
“Stop running or I’ll shoot, you won’t get a warning shot Jerry!”
He wasn’t slowing down, so I counted to three and pulled the trigger, clipping him his left arm. It was a hit, but a little higher than I intended, possibly piercing something important. Down, he went to the ground, hollering louder than a banshee in heat. Putting the gun away, I ran towards him as he began to pull himself to his feet, still intent on running, clear sign he had the answers I needed.
We were both running on pure adrenaline, and I know he could feel me on his heels, as we approach the intersection up ahead. I went for a literal leap of faith, which thankfully paid off, as I caught hold of his bad arm.
“Ahh.. What the FUCK!?!”
“Jerry stay down, I’m not going to ask you again.” I commanded, as he wrestle in my grip, I tighten my hold near his wound and he relented. “Now as I was saying.. Hi, Mr Goldstein, I don’t know if you remember me, but I’m Yurika Ymoja. I represent…”
“I know who you are and who the fuck you work for!” He interrupted, muttering what sounded like a derogatory ‘C’ word afterward. “You shot me, are you insane?! No wait, stupid question because clearly you’re absolutely clinical! How about you tell me what the fuck it is you want from me?’”
“I’m here to ask you about something you mentioned in your testimony.. I’ve handled Jynx Ellison’s business assets for years, never did I ever come across the documentation you present to the court, I don’t understand how there was ever the possibility of any money laundering. Do you care to fill in the details for me?”
“All the paperwork is stored at my office, it’s all there, everything! I swear!”
“Good thing a taxi just pulled up, let’s go.” I ordered, pulling him with me out of the alleyway to the curb, where the red and grey stripped vehicle had just stopped.
I went to open the door, but there was a man in a charcoal Hugo Boss suit entering the other side, we stopped and looked at each other politely annoyed.
“We were here first..” I started, but he smirked and crossed his arms, not backing down.
“I’m the one that called the cab.”
“Well, it’s an emergency, as you can see my friend has been shot.” He looked over at Jerry, momentarily looking genuinely worried, but one fleeting glance at his watch quickly changed that.
“Look, its my first term as senator and I’ve got to be at the Capitol in thirty five minutes, for a vote to extend coverage for funding to sixteen orphanages, six shelters for battered wives, and a poorly performing charter school that’s the sole learning institution for fifty miles in swing district that could upset my next election. I NEED this cab..”
“Okay, god! Go save the children and battered wives or whatever, you freaking saint. We’ll hail another one, c’mon Jerry, let’s go.” I walked around the back of the car with Jerry right behind me, giving one last look to the man, noticing how handsome he was for the first time. “Good luck senator, hopefully things work out your way with the..”
I was never able to finish that sentence, as I was suddenly knocked from behind, the assault sent me crashing into the street, my head striking the pavement. Spots and dizziness clouded my vision, while I tried to pull myself together as several cars, unable to slow to a stop, zoom pass me dangerously close. There was loud honking and bright lights approaching me fast, too fast, I could see in the driver’s face there was no time to stop.
Just when I thought I was done for, I was pulled out of the way, finding myself in the embrace of two strong arms that rocked and hugged me close. I look up, still shaken, into these sensually warm eyes the hue of cinnamon and honey. Matched with full brows, a slightly broad but regal nose, clean shaved head, succulent lips, and a strong jawline, he made the picture perfect classically handsome politician.
I brought my hand up to his face, as he look down at me in his arms with this palpable intensity, it was like electricity between us. In that moment, I was just a girl, one with no worries.. looking up into eyes of a man.
“I’d say you have my vote, senator.” I said, unable to stop my hand from drawing our faces closer, I pulled him in close enough to kiss, but before our lips could touch, my eyes fluttered erratically.
Things around me started to spin and my head lulled back into unconsciousness, I could hear the man calling out to me, trying to bring me back, but the darkness had already encroached.