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Authors: Capri Montgomery

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BOOK: Red Noon
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“Nothing sexual,” he warned him. “That’s for the boss.”

“Not my type,” he shook his head. His green eyes looked honest enough but that didn’t stop Dick from giving him a stern look. “She’s not dark enough for me.”

Dick nodded. His brother did like them Asian or dark, which is probably why he didn’t want to leave Florida. The women, he had said, were hotter than a supernova. What did Tiger know about supernovas other than those science fiction movies he loved to watch?

They looked a lot alike by way of the face. They both had the cleft chin, the squared angular jaw, the dirty blond hair and thin lips, but Dick’s eyes were blue like their mother’s while Tiger’s had been green like their fathers.

He shook the thoughts from his head. “Save some of your anger little brother. When the boss is done and I get the money I’ll let you beat her into the ground.”

Tiger’s lips turned upward.

Dick winked at him. “I thought you might like that. We are going to have to get rid of her since she saw your face.”

“You’re looking out for me?”

“I’m looking out for you. I may have to give up some of the money since I’ll need permission to do the kill, but we’ll be okay.”

“For a kill I just might not want the money anyway. That whore broke my nose.”

It wasn’t broken, just bloody and a hell of a lot of ugly but he wouldn’t derail Tiger’s train. “Just remember, keep her somewhat pretty okay? Not too much on the face and nothing broken.”

“For now…but when she’s mine to payback for what she did to my nose I’m going to break a lot of bones.”

“I’ll sit back and watch with pride, little brother.”

Those words put the biggest smile on his brother’s face. Maybe they were a lot more alike than he wanted to admit. Tiger was excited by the thrill of the kill and Dick would admit, the thrill of the kill had excited him too. Unfortunately once wasn’t enough. Killing was like sex; once could never be enough. His lips quirked to one side. When the demons came sometimes they came in triplicate, he thought. While he wouldn’t invite Tiger into his and Ike’s tight bond, he would say they had way more in common than they didn’t on this train.

“Garbage runs tomorrow so stay away from the windows and keep the blinds closed.” He took the head nod as affirmation before he left to handle the rest of his tasks. “Oh, this is going to be good,” he whistled as he drove down to the main road. He hadn’t had this big of a rush since Singapore.

Chapter Two

…Two Weeks Earlier…

S
heila Brackett sat at the desk discussing the new magazine layout in detail. She wasn’t part of the layout team when she was hired. She wasn’t part of anything other than being his assistant who sat outside her manager’s office at a stylish oak wood desk with high products setup for a heavy workload. She liked it even though off to the right of her were cubicles of annoying women and entitled little boys claiming to be men.

For a magazine that was so high class and upscale one would have expected marble halls and French doors, but the duo partners on this blazing magazine were style meets common sense when it came to décor. It wasn’t that the building was downtrodden. It most definitely was stylish in its own way, but it was not really the style that the magazine had. Oak wood desks were nice, but Sheila would have done a mahogany or cherry wood desk with silver hardware or even crystal hardware to style it up. She would have gone for a higher grade tile than just the almost standard office tile floors. Of course had she been the designer the office would have probably costs more than the magazine made because she definitely would have gone for crystal chandeliers, knocked out a wall, expanded the floor space and put all these people in their own office.

She had actually told Justin Bellisario, boss number one with the dark hair, dark eyes, and very sexy Spaniard accent, and boss number two, Eddie Ottoman, with the olive skin, dark hair, dark eyes and very Israeli-American mindset, that when they asked her during her three month and you might be out review. She had also told them when they asked why she didn’t socialize with the others that they hired her to do a job. Either they wanted to pay her to socialize or work but they didn’t get both so which one was it. She wasn’t afraid to get fired, not that she wanted to lose her job or anything, but she would not work for yet another company that demanded her to socialize with everybody just to make them feel all important and special and loved. She didn’t know these people and if they knew the conversations that happened in the lunch room they wouldn’t ask her to hang out with half of them.

She wouldn’t throw anybody under the bus but her first day in the lunch room had been her last for a reason. Either it was gossip, racists insults masked as, “oh I didn’t mean it,” type crap or man versus woman stuff she just didn’t have the energy to raise her war flag in.

Fortunately bosses number one and two loved her more for that, upped her hours at work, upped her pay, gave her the small office between their offices, and even moved her from assistant to assistant with style input—on the magazine that was. They weren’t planning on redoing the office anytime soon.

She would say that what got her the job was her own style. She made all of her clothing with her own design, her own flare, and from scratch. Everything fit her like it was born from her body. She worked with the best in fabrics that she bought when she traveled. Once a year she went out of the country to someplace where she wanted to explore more, and once a year she did a road trip across the U.S.A. hitting up fabric stores and spending her year’s worth of spending money on what would be a significant amount of work to do when she got home. Her mother had told her once, when she was living in her previous location, that she was going to run out of room in that walk-in closet in her single story home but Sheila, Shell to her friends, had told her she could always knock out a wall and build a bigger closet. She had laughed at that because she was in need of a bigger closet. She was already occupying every closet in the house—the guest bedroom which was a second master bedroom, the hall coat closet, and of course her closet was full. She was kind of addicted but she couldn’t pass up beautiful fabric. Maybe fashion and style was in her blood. She made sure her second home had loads of closet space—or at least enough not to have to knock out any walls—yet.

When Eddie burst into Justin’s office with a clanking of his door bouncing against the wall and then swinging back with a bang of a shut she felt her eyes widen.

“Should I go?” She looked at both men. Justin looked as shocked as she was. She would bet if she looked out the glass windows into the main office a lot of the workers probably had their eyes peaking to see what was going on. She refrained from looking, which was fine since Eddie went and shut the vertical blinds completely.

“This,” he said as he marched back to the desk. “Somebody, a friend that shall not be named for her own safety, sent me this.”

“I should go,” Shell said.

“Stay,” Justin looked puzzled and then angered. It wasn’t until he slammed the lid on the laptop so hard that she thought it might break that he took a deep breath and spoke again.

“This involves you.”

Her first thoughts were, ‘oh crap what did I do now,’ type thing but she knew she hadn’t done anything.

“It would appear somebody, and I’m sure it’s from within these walls, has sent a picture of you leaving the office to a…well…anti interracial dating site. They’ve said some nasty things about you, and it has apparently gone viral. Even on YouTube they are flashing your picture and loads of hate speech per this article.”

He opened the lid and turned the computer so she could see it. The title alone would have turned her off. Since when was she dating anybody? Last she checked she was happily single and loving her life, traveling, designing, working the best job ever, and just being alive happily not coupled.

“Well it’s not true. The only guys I’m really talking to are you and Eddie. We are all business but sometimes we talk about you and your kids or Eddie and his new baby, but clearly we’re not dating.”

“We know that part. You’re very private and guarded but you have opened up to both of us. It doesn’t matter anyway so long as you’re not dating somebody who is a threat to you. Eddie and I both think of you like a daughter.”

Her eyes widened and her mouth dropped open. “You guys do realize I’m not a twenty-something woman right?”

They both laughed. “Well I’m old enough to be your father; my oldest daughter is only six years under your thirty-five. Eddie…well, he’s coming up on forty so he’s not, but we both see you as young, with so much ahead of you and you’re like family to both of us.”

She smiled. Those words warmed her heart considerably. She lost both her parents in a plane crash when she was thirty-two. She was on the flight with them coming back from Milan, Venice and Rome, Italy. It was their trip as a family and the exact spot where she and her mother had joked about her insane amount of fabric buying. Her father had even gotten her into one of the fashion houses on a tour, and that was a major accomplishment because they didn’t do tours.

The plane had crashed on landing. Out of the two hundred seventy-four passengers on board only twenty survived. Her parents weren’t among the survivors but she was. For a while she had wished she had died with them, but then she realized that wasn’t what they would want for her. She did sell the house and skip state. There was no way in the world she could stay in South Dakota without them. Every street, every city, every ranch she passed was a memory of them and she just couldn’t handle facing that memory without them. A move, a new job and a focus outside of her pain had helped her to move forward after the devastation.

“You guys are awesome, but don’t let this rattle your cage. I don’t even spend time online so what do I care?”

Eddie nearly growled. “I care. And I’m calling the damn lawyer to get somebody on this.”

“Um,” she said in a little girl type moan. “I think you meant dam of the three letter persuasion and not the four letter kind right.” Her wide eyes bucked to astronomical levels at least made his lips crack a smile.

“I love this kid,” Justin said.

“Me too. And we are going to fix this.”

She shrugged. “Okay. I shall let you do what you all do. But since I’m like family to you all you can’t go stressing yourself into a heart attack over this. Let’s just let lawyers do what they do and forget about the people who think I’m some uppity white-girl wanna be too stuck up for some imaginative black man they have conjured up to love and support and respect me if I would just open my arms to him.”

Both men laughed again. “You are so much like my daughter—laid back and go with the flow.”

She shrugged again. “I wasn’t always so laid back. The plane crash changed me. After mourning the loss of my family I had to realize life is just too short to live with stress, fear, and regrets. I won’t let anybody steal my joy from me.”

Both men smiled at her with sympathy and compassion in their eyes. Eddie patted her shoulder while Justin reached across the small space where her hand was on the desk to pat her hand.

“Now, you go deal with lawyers and Justin and I have to deal with the errant dangling D,” she said as she tapped the printout of the article in discussion before the storm about her blew in. This article had to go in June’s magazine and that meant it was going to print in less than forty-eight hours. It would have to get final approval, but it would still need to be mailed out early enough for everybody to get it so this was pretty much their final approval process. There was no way they were going to trash over forty-eight hundred early deliveries just because somebody dropped the ball. It wasn’t her company but even she knew that would be financially stupid.

Shelia had worked the full day but she hit the gym that night with a fury. She was a little angry. Her picture was online. She didn’t have any pictures there because there wasn’t a need for them to be there. She didn’t even advertise her fashionable skills either. She was a private person and always had been and some idiot had decided to take a picture of her and post it online with lies. Jeeze, a person couldn’t even walk from door to car without somebody being an inconsiderate rat jerk.

She did agree with both men that it had to come from within. Nobody really knew her. She didn’t socialize much in the state at all and it had been a while since she had really spent time in South Dakota for anything. Friends emailed her to see how she was doing, but she never wanted to go back to visit so it wasn’t as if they would know much about her life and drive all the way here to take a picture and slander her and then go for broke on libel and put the lies in writing. They weren’t those kind of people. Plus most of her friends there thought she should marry a Lakota anyway.

By the time she finished beating the red and white bag like it stole something from her she was hot, sweating like what her mother would call a six shooter, and exhausted. She had driven to the gym, which was good because had she ran there she wouldn’t be getting home without a nap on the ground beneath her.

Maybe she should take a trip back to reservation this year. She had missed a lot of the festivities she normally went to. She had missed some of her friends, but at the same time it would make her think a lot of her father. He always took her to see the tribal grounds, learn about her heritage and the goodness that was within her. She would sit on his lap and watch the dances. She had even learned some of the language that even some of the younger generation wasn’t sitting quietly to learn.

She wanted to stay away, but she knew she had to go back. Being away from there was like throwing away the history he had left for her. She decided after getting back and taking a hot shower that she was going to readjust her summer trip from August in the Keys to going back home, seeing some friends and losing herself in the memory of her father’s people.

Shelia crawled into bed and thought about the weird feeling she got while leaving the gym. It was like somebody was watching her or something. She had checked her surroundings but she didn’t see anything unordinary so she shrugged it off. “Maybe you’re getting paranoid somebody else is going to snap a picture of you and post it online,” she said as she closed her eyes. “Life is too short for paranoia, Shell,” she chuckled as she drifted off to sleep.

 

Present Day

Shelia’s eyes fluttered open. She was sore. Her wrists were hurting from the bindings. Her head lulled back to look up and she saw silver steal chains linked with what felt like a wiry rope anchored to her wrists. Seeing as though it felt as if they were cutting into her she figured that meant they were shackled so tight to keep her from being able to get loose and to make sure the wiry fibers sliced up her wrists if she tried.

She stood completely on her feet. Being unconscious had her slouched as far as the bindings would allow, but being awake meant she could take some of the pressure off her arms and wrists by letting her legs support her.

She remembered going back to her car. She was going to pull the car into the garage because while she had thought of going back out to restock some of her fruit in the refrigerator she wasn’t in the mood after all. She wasn’t all that hungry either so she figured pulling the car in would be best. Apparently some kids had gone around putting Crazy Glue on the windows and doors of cars that were parked in the driveway one night. She never left hers in the driveway, but when she got home her remote wasn’t working. She figured she would call to get it fixed the next day, but she wasn’t going to leave the car out there.

Of course cleaning up the mail she had picked up from the Post Office and sorting through voicemail messages from friends of her father whose children had brought their attention to the fiasco all those lies had brought on had warped her brain. She had gone out like she was going to go to the store for something. With purse in hand, keys, and a garage door still down she still would have had to go back in the house, put up the door and then take the car inside. She was not going to go shopping so locking up and putting on the alarm was absentminded to say the least.

BOOK: Red Noon
3.87Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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