Lance Sheppard stood outside the sprawling mansion, on this cool middle of May morning, waiting patiently for the two teenage kids he was assigned to protect. He tapped his silver watch nervously in rhythm with his pulse, as if to make time slow down. Worry lined his cleanly shaved irritated face. If they didn’t leave soon, he was going to get the kids to school late, which would set off a chain reaction of anger from their mother. She’d read him the riot act several times about punctuality, placing the blame squarely on his shoulders, though it was rarely his fault.
When hired the thirty-four-year-old head of security didn’t comprehend what was involved organizing protection for two teenagers. Out of his element in dealing with a soon to be eighteen-year-old female high school senior and a fifteen-year-old male who was a freshman, a decision he often regretted these past weeks. Each of the teenagers had their own agenda, neither of which lined up with each other’s or Lance’s, which was to get them to their destination on time and in one piece. Even with a loaded Glock on his hip, hidden by his favorite black leather jacket, they had no fear of repercussions, and harsh words couldn’t convince them to move any faster. For Lance this meant that once the teenagers decided to present themselves his team would have to race to the school, opening the possibility of mistakes being made. Leading to danger he might not be able to prevent, even with the two other skilled members of his team as back-up.
The son was the first to show up. Dressed in brown shorts, high-top sneakers, a defiant t-shirt his parents probably hated, carrying a bright blue backpack that was overstuffed to the point it was tearing in spots. Deion’s long straightened black hair with crimson streaks, was swept back and held in place by a substance that came out of a spray can, making it look shiny and a bit oily. In contrast to his brown skin, his right ear sparkled from an earring that may have been a diamond, a statement of his family’s wealth. Though his genealogy said he’d be over six foot someday, the teenager’s growth spurt had thus far alluded him. Instead he stood around 5’4” and was a lean one-hundred-twenty pounds. He strolled outside without saying a word, his nose buried in his over-sized iPhone as he about ran into Lance, before climbing through the waiting open door into the backseat of the limousine. A normal part of the daily routine, that left Lance feeling more like an annoyance than a man trying to protect them.
Checking his watch again, knowing their first class would be starting soon, Lance began heading into the house, his aggravation growing, when he saw all 5’11” of Olivia coming his way. She was wearing a long black skirt, matching boots with a lot of heel, and a red blouse with open shouldered sleeves covering her slender frame. Her straight shoulder length ebony hair, with jade highlights flowed as she walked, covering her ears and hiding the wireless earbuds that were blasting the music she listened to every morning. She slung a shiny black purse over one shoulder and gray backpack over the other, her left hand cradling her iPhone lovingly. She strutted like a movie star in her black leather boots, smiling as she passed Lance, and joined her brother in the backseat.
Lance took a couple of relaxing breaths, trying to find calm. The two teenagers testing him, showing little respect for the job he was doing. He didn’t expect to be best buds with them, for they had little in common. Still it would have been nice if a time or two they would show him a little courtesy. Thankfully, the pay was top of the line, a fact he reminded himself each vexing morning.
The three members of the security team took their places, one behind the wheel, the other in the front seat, while Lance sat in the back with the two kids. Reggie the driver drove the limo out and down the winding driveaway from the Colorado Springs foothills-based home, leaving the one-percent tax bracket neighborhood for the public school their mother and father insisted they attend.
“Can we stop the music for a minute to cover things?” inquired Lance, waving to get the kids attention.
Deion looked up from his iPhone, a frown on his face. Olivia seemed to ignore him completely, her head slightly bobbing while lip-syncing to the song saturating her eardrums. Perturbed Lance reached over and swept back her hair, removing one of the cordless headphones.
“Hey,” she bellowed in anger, waving as if swatting a fly bothering her. “The song was getting to my favorite part.”
“Pause the music and listen,” Lance stated firmly, his expression serious. “You know we have to go over what to do in case of trouble.”
Olivia reached down and tapped the pause button. “Why do we have to do this every day?”
Lance handed her the white earpiece. “Because you need to be prepared in case of danger.”
“It has been several weeks since the last incident. I keep telling Mom it was just some muggers.”
Lance shook his head, unconvinced by her logic. “Highly unlikely.”
“And how would you know,” Olivia quipped back angrily.
“They showed up and tried to drag you out of the car. When your boyfriend attempted to stop them, they beat the crap out of him.”
“He wasn’t my boyfriend,” answered Olivia defiantly with a shrug.
“No. He was just some guy with his hand up her blouse,” uttered Deion with a snotty smirk.
Olivia turned her head. “How would you know?”
“Word gets out around school,” replied Deion, his nose still buried in his iPhone. “Who knows what else you’d have let him do if you hadn’t been interrupted. I hear the football players won’t go out with you a second time unless they get a BJ on the first date.”
Olivia punched him in the arm in a fit of rage. Deion tried to retaliate, but Lance grabbed his wrist, stopping him. It was enough they didn’t respect Lance, but it was another that they didn’t respect each other, which pissed him off.
“Enough!” he yelled. “You two need to be there for each other. Do you understand?”
Olivia crossed her arms, pouting while mumbling under her breath, it was a reaction Lance had seen many times and wasn’t affected. Even though she was a week from turning eighteen, Olivia still had a lot of growing up to do. His job wasn’t to babysit spoilt children, but to protect them. Though he often wondered if he wasn’t a highly paid nanny.
“You both need to be clear on what to do when danger arises,” stressed Lance, his finger pointing at them. “If you make the wrong move and panic, you’re dead. Is that clear enough?”
He was being a little dramatic for effect, but he needed them to get the seriousness of their situation. They would likely be taken and not killed, at least not immediately. The threat to them appeared to be real, though for what reason was still a mystery. His job right now was to make sure they remained safe until the police had a better idea of what was going on. Though nothing to date had brought the investigators to any concrete conclusions.
Now that he had their attention, Lance started going over what to do in case of trouble. The limo was built with steel reinforcement on the chassis making it bulletproof. The glass was also resistant to gunfire but could be penetrated with a powerful enough weapon. It was an impressive vehicle but still, anyone making an aggressive attempt could get to the children. Fortunately, it was a short drive to Cheyenne Mountain High School, down Cresta Road—a hilly, winding street that led to the main driveway of the school. Because they were running late, there would be a lot of traffic dropping off students. Normally you’d run into a backup of cars coming and going, making for congestion he wanted to avoid, but once again couldn’t thanks to the tardiness of his clients.
Lance noticed Deion had a frown on his face, looking at his iPhone screen in disgust.
“My streaming music stopped playing,” he stated out loud, tapping on the screen. “My phone says, ‘No Service’ for some reason.”
Olivia looked at her phone, confirming what her brother had said, shaking it as if that would help.
Lance had never experienced a dead zone at this location previously, which concerned him. Pulling out his phone from his inner jacket pocket, he unlocked the screen seeing “No Service” just as they turned onto Cresta Road from Constellation Drive. He moved the phone up and down, hoping for a connection, which never came. They had only travelled a block, when they were rammed by a heavy, moving object, halting the limo’s motion as it slid sideways off the street and onto a grass shoulder that dipped downward slightly.
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