As I was working on finishing up my last client appointment for the day, I felt my phone buzz yet again. “Who keeps calling me?!” I snarled aloud while I waited outside the small four-bedroom family home. Waiting for the cash payment, I took my phone out of my jeans pocket to glance over the call log. Fully expecting it to be her who was calling me, I was taken aback to see I had six missed calls from both Matilda and an unknown number. “Matilda?” I wondered before my attention was hastily reverted to the family whose file I was finishing up with the last objective on the ‘new’ life protocol.
“Here’s the money, Mr. Gale.” The Patriarch happily exclaimed. “I can’t tell you how happy I am.”
“No, you guys deserve to be happy. I’m sorry it took so long to get around to you guys, but some things came up.” I returned, graciously accepting the money. It was a small amount, but it was all they could afford considering the situation and I didn’t charge too much considering I was making bigger profits elsewhere. Folding the money into a ball, I put it into the opposing pocket that once held my cellphone.
“No, don’t worry, that’s the life I guess we all live in. Don’t get a moment’s break.” The man chuckled as he held his surviving children close.
“Now you guys go enjoy your new house and your new life.” I sighed, approving the family’s dismissal. Waiting for them to safely enter the white bungalow house I had paid to have upgraded with the finest security measures around, I once more looked down at my phone. Putting in my lock code, I coincided with opening my voicemail to listen to the messages left behind by the two numbers. My heart chose the message left behind Matilda, while my mind wondered about the voicemail left behind by an unknown number. Deciding to listen to Matty’s message, I glanced up before clicking the play button. Seeing that the entire family had entered the house, I finally strolled towards my white four-door Dodge Ram. Sliding into the driver’s seat, I put the keys in the engine before pressing the play button.
“Hey, Augustus.” It began and I could immediately tell by the way her voice was that it was urgent. Persisting to listen, she went on to say, “Uhm, I don’t mean to call you, but they’re here. A couple of members from the Draconic Syndicate are here and are planning on taking Cinder today. I’m not sure what to do.”
Once it ended, I theorized, “They moved up the date, why?” Deeply wondering to myself what was Cinder’s reaction. “How did she act? I know that she wouldn’t so idly let them take her, especially with her history.” Scrolling through the list, I found another voicemail from the young teenager. A second message was left after the fourth call. “This has to be how it went?” I told myself, trying to calm my rising worries.
“Hey, I’m just calling to let you know, that they managed to take her. Cinder fought a little, but no one was hurt. I think she was looking for you, for you to tell her what to do…” Matilda spoke through the phone, her voice still sounding shaken, however much calmer this time. The voicemail ended with Matty reporting, “Shaun said that he was going to call you with the location of where they were going to take Cinder, but in case you don’t get their message, they also left behind a bunch of paperwork as well.”
“Of course, they did.” I exhaled, recalling their process. Saylene had a strict protocol to follow for everyone coming and going from the Syndicate. It was how she was able to hide the place from Human eyes for so long. Scrolling through to find the unknown number and their lost voicemails, I eventually found a single voicemail that was left after the second call. “Alright, let us hear what you have to say, Shaun.”
Clicking play, I listened, “Mr. Gale, the girl you had called to set up this appointment gave me your number to contact you proceeding the exchange. The transfer went well. We are currently making our way back to Atlanta before we take a flight to Orlando. The Hellhound you had in your custody is safely sedated and will be unconscious until we arrive back at the Syndicate. The address is on the paperwork we left behind with young Ms. Englishmen. I suggest that you also bring along some clothes for your friend, as Lady Saylene does not have extras available at this point in time. Until we speak again.” The message ended a second later.
Taking a breath of relief, I put the truck in drive and speedily took off for the Englishmen’s mansion. Wondering to myself along the hour-long drive, “What was their version of safe, and by what did they mean by taking a flight. I assume it would be a private jet for the secrecy, but with how these Leaders think I can’t eliminate a commercial airline either. And I hope that they brought a drug indeed strong enough or else she may wake up too soon and things would get ugly fast. God, this was not how I was thinking it was going to go. Of course, like always, it never went according to the fucking plan.” I groaned, coming to a stop at the light. Changing the music on the radio to one of the modern rock stations I had learned Cinder preferred recently, I continued to reflect, “She is going to be so fucking mad at me when I see her again.” as one of her favorite songs came on.
Finally arriving at the Mansion, I hastily put the vehicle in park and ran inside the Englishmen’s southern Savannah home. Greeted by Mr. Englishmen, I hastily ordered, “Where is that paperwork?”
“It’s on the kitchen counter by the patio door.” He answered. Everything in his voice telling me I was overstepping my boundaries, completely forgetting this was his house. However, as of right now, I truly didn't give a fuck. “Augustus, please calm down.” He attempted to advise while pursuing me into the kitchen.
Grabbing the orange envelope containing all the paperwork I needed, I answered without staring back at the older man who had just gotten a mess of news in these last couple of months. “Unfortunately, I am as calm as I can be given the situation, sir.”
“Augustus-“ I heard Matty’s voice speak ahead of her Father’s, the tone sounding standoffish.
“Matty,” I announced, spinning myself around to lock eyes with the teenage girl who had built quite the powerful bond with the Hellhound in the short time we had spent here.
“I’m so sorry.”
“It’s not your fault. Nothing bad happened.” I answered, dropping the envelope and paperwork on the island counter to comfort the child. “If anything, this is all my fault. Everything including even being here.” Staring down into her darkened eyes, I broke away from the hug and resumed to comfort the child, “Cinder will blame me, not you.”
“But I stopped her!”
“What do you mean?” I pondered.
“She tried to outrun them in a panic, but I closed the cage door before she could escape. I just closed it, I didn’t lock it, so she could’ve still gotten out.”
“But you stood in the way and she didn’t’ want to hurt you.” I interpreted. “It’s okay. It’s a good thing she stopped, because if not, she could have seriously hurt you, even killed you.”
“But I still stopped her.”
“Matilda, I will let you know this. Cinder has a hard time making friends and whenever she has made any, she has somehow always hurt them, even nearly killed them. She stopped because she didn’t want to hurt you. She didn’t fight them because she didn’t want to hurt you.” I told the child while walking back to pick up the mess of papers. Trying to read the information packet and simultaneously look for an address of where they were going to be holding Cinder, I further expressed, “Cinder saw you as a friend, she may never say it, but she did.”
“You make it sound like your distracting yourself.” The child weakly spoke, trying to abruptly change subjects.
Chuckling aloud, I answered, “I guess I am, but it’s because I am only worried about the time limit between when she wakes up and when I arrive.”
“Well don’t keep her waiting.” The teenager sarcastically jabbed.
“I don’t plan on it.” I returned, running back towards the guest room where I had moved my belongings. Collecting all the clothes and sedative cocktails I had brought with me, I rushed out with suitcase in hand. “I hate to leave like this on you guys, but-.”
“No, we understand.” Mr. Englishmen said, putting his hands up in that manner of condolence. “You owe her everything-.” He officially stated. “Just don’t forget you owe me for the boarding.”
“Right. I will wire you the money once I get back to Miami.”
“I will hold you to it.”
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