Hired for Secrets

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I need to talk to you (18)

Sofie connected to the camera in Philip’s room. Like the other times, the door to his room stayed closed. No wonder. Security’s beating caused cuts and bruises that broke the illusion of him being Prince Charming. It ripped him straight out of their fantasy world and made him human to his clients. It wasn’t a good look and bad for business.

While this deterred his clients, it felt different to Sofie. He took that beating for her. He protected her. For all intents and purposes, he was her Prince Charming. Sofie wasn’t going to share him with anyone, least of all with Ms. Hunt. So knowing that no one else had been with him since their night in the woods gave her a domineering satisfaction.

She was about to log off when Philip stepped into the frame. His injuries had faded. Only a light pink hue on his cheek and nose remained from his daring stunt. Despite this, he didn’t look like someone who enjoyed a week off work. He had dark rings under his eyes and a haunted expression on his face. Something was keeping him up at night. Not surprising, anyone finding out that their employer sent an assassin to terminate them, would look a bit green around the gills.

He leaned his back against the wall and looked into the camera.

“Why are you doing this to me?” he asked quietly.

The bitterness in his voice made Sofie’s blood run cold. He found the last camera and was talking to her. Why are you doing this to me? What could he possibly mean by that? They hadn’t spoken in a week. Whatever it was wasn’t important right now. There was something bigger at stake. If he destroyed this camera just like he did with the first one, he would kill her only link into his world. She would be flying blind for her mission tomorrow. Jennifer gave her the name of the restaurant but she didn’t know what time they would meet. If she missed him, he’d be trapped at Elandra, out of reach and locked in his golden cage forever. She took a deep breath to slow her racing thoughts.

“I know you’ve been watching,” he sighed. It wasn’t an accusation, he simply stated the facts. “You’ve logged into the camera for the last week. You log in, stay for half an hour and then you’re gone.”

He dropped his eyes to the floor, before looking straight at the camera again. His gaze met hers, bridging the digital void between them.

“Why are you watching me, instead of coming here?”

His sadness sent an arrow to her core.

She had wanted to come, rescue him, take him to safety. But Elandra was a formidable foe and underestimating them could have fatal consequences. They were willing and able to kill Philip for simply leaving the compound. She didn’t want to find out what they would do to him if they ever found out that he was running away with her. No, she had to be careful. And that took time, preparation, and most of all: secrecy.

“But since you are here,” he said, shaking his head as if to rid himself of any sentimentalities, “and because it is my last night off. Let’s make the most of it. What do you say?”

He monitored the lamp on the side table, looking for a flicker. That’s how he knew when she was dialled in. The light would flare from the camera’s power surge when switched on and off.

“Good, you are still here,” he concluded and a dangerous smile crept onto his face. “Will you also do me a favour?”

He unbuttoned his shirt, just like he did the first time she watched him. But this time it was for her, and for her alone. Her pulse quickened, watching the silken shirt fall off his muscular chest in one fluid motion.

“You know how much it turns me on... you watching me. Right?”

He spoke to her as if they had a real conversation. Sofie felt his presence right there in her little apartment, surrounding her, touching her and she whispered “yes” in reply to his question.

His triceps tightened as he unzipped his pants and let them drop to the ground.

Sofie watched his every move, mesmerized by his confidence. He was beautiful and he knew it. There was no hesitance or needless show. He was like a Greek statue, classical and understated, yet commanding in every way.

“Won’t you join?”

Sofie’s breath hitched. It was one thing to admire his flawless physique but quite another to admit how much he could excite her, being miles away and merely talking to her. But seeing how he lost himself in the moment was so enticing, it dragged her with him like an avalanche. In the dark of the room her hand found its way into her pants, circling through her wetness.

“Just thinking about how you were riding me... It makes me so hard.”

He stroked himself slowly, savouring how the pleasure was building up. His head fell against the wall and a low rumble came from his chest.

“How you touched me...”

He let his other hand glide over his abdomen and the muscles twitch under his touch. Sofie drank in the memory of how his skin felt under her palm, its texture, how it moved over his powerful core below. She wanted to touch him again. Feel his heat. His contagious lust for pleasure.

“It felt different than with other clients. With you it was… truer. I enjoyed being with you.”

Hearing him say that he loved being with her made her heart race. Her body was yearning for him. Needing his arms around her. Inhaling his scent. Sofie bit back a moan as she let a finger slide inside her.

His breathing had quickened and he picked up speed.

“I want your body to move against mine… Your breasts bounce… Your hips thrust...”

Sofie let the rhythm of his words guide her hands until she couldn’t hold back any longer. With a couple of harder strikes she tumbled over the edge and waves of satisfaction made her legs tremble.

She only vaguely heard him say, “Sofie, I want you so badly,” before he too found his release.

Sofie’s wild heart slowly returned to normal when Philip approached the camera.

“Please, come tomorrow. Lunchtime. It’s the last chance to see you before I’m… before things change.”

He pressed his lips together as if there was more to say and he had to stop himself. With a frustrated groan he got up to leave. Sofie breathed a sigh of relief. He wasn’t going to destroy the camera, after all. Everything was back on schedule. Just one more day. He was already halfway out the frame when he paused.

“Sofie,” he whispered as if her name was torturing him.

He ran both hands through his brown hair, then turned. He was debating something and the options he considered caused a range of emotions to wash over his face. Sofie could watch the exact moment he finally made up his mind, creating a hopeful and determined expression.

“I cannot wait. I need to speak to you right now.”

He grabbed the camera and the connection cut out.

Damit!

He was taking the camera apart, trying to get to the SIM. He was planning to call her on the only number he knew. ‘This service is not available.’ That’s what he’d be hearing. She could only imagine the dismay he must be feeling right now. The helplessness of not being able to reach her. It took everything she had not to call the SIM herself.

Was it cruel? Yes. Cruel to both. But sometimes you have to be cruel to be kind. She simply could not risk Elandra discovering her plan. After what happened in the meadow, Elandra probably had his room under tight surveillance, listening to every word he spoke. If they heard them talk, even briefly, they’d never allow him to leave the compound.

Sofie rubbed the tension from her forehead. They were so close. What difference would one day make? This time tomorrow he’d be with her. Free. Starting a new life. And him being desperate might even work in her favor. He wouldn’t need much persuading to leave Elandra. With that comfort she closed her laptop and went to bed.

The next day, she waited outside the restaurant. A light rain had set in but it could not dampen her spirit. This was the right place, the only unknown was the time, and Sofie was patient.

But when there was no sign of Philip, even two hours into the assumed time, Sofie felt an unnamed panic rise. What if the date Jennifer spoke about wasn’t actually with Philip? Ms Hunt might be seeing her finance guy tonight? ‘Our regular time in two weeks’ could mean anything. This might very well be the wrong day. And if this was the wrong day, then Bamborino was the wrong place just as her research indicated.

Had she been jumping to conclusions? Getting confused by Jennifer? And foolishly put all her eggs in one basket? She should have talked to Philip yesterday. Maybe she still could. Maybe he left the SIM running. Waiting for her call. Sofie pulled out her phone. With clam fingers she dialed the number of the SIM card.

‘This service is not available.’

Black dismay flooded her. This cannot be the end! She could find another client to blackmail, scheming her way back into Elandra. Just like she did with Ms. Gartner. It would take time but it could be done. She was running a mental checklist of how to get in touch with him all over again when an elegant limousine came to a halt in front of Bamborino. Like all the other times before, the paparazzi jumped to attention. Their flashlights rattled as a man in an elegant blaser stepped out of the car.

Philip!

Sofie’s body relaxed. Thank god. She didn’t realize how desperately she needed to see him. Needed to explain why she couldn’t come. Needed him to know how much it took to stay away. But most of all she needed to hear him say ‘I want you’, just like he did to the camera. Only this time, she finally could say ‘I want you, too’.

Philip walked around and opened the door for Ms Hunt. She smiled at the paparazzi, wearing tight leggings and a crop top that revealed her toned midriff. Her body was wrapped in a richly decorated silken sari, making her stand out as the exotic beauty she was. Her black hair was pulled back in a stylish ponytail and her skin reflected the flashlights like velvet topaz. She looked younger; the same age as Philip.

“Ms. Hunt, over here,” one of the paparazzi shouted, “Who are you with, Ms. Hunt?”

“A big player in high-finance and…,“ she paused for dramatic effect, “my future husband.”

She laughed and placed a hand on Philip’s chest to show off her oversized engagement ring. Philip wrapped his arms around her and gave the camera his most radiant smile.

What? How? When? Sofie’s relief evaporated into seething rage. That was Hunt’s big announcement? ‘I want to be seen with you’, she heard Ms. Hunt’s voice croon and Jennifer snicker ‘It was pretty serious between them after all’. Sofie could picture the headline in tomorrow’s papers: “UK’s most eligible Bachelorette off the market” or “Shock-engagement: who’s Ms Hunt’s mystery finance god”. These titles would conveniently replace the ones about the Royal Commission and how the stock value of her company may plummet.

‘It’s just for show,’ a pathetic little voice tried to reassure her as she watched them disappear into the restaurant. Sofie could still see them through the glass tiles when Philip pulled Ms. Hunt into a more private embrace, stealing a kiss from his bride-to-be. There was no doubt. They looked like a freshly engaged couple in love.

Sofie gripped the cold wall of the house entrance to steady herself. Was this the reason Philip wanted to talk to her last night? Tell her he was getting engaged. Maybe wanting her to stop him? Claiming him for herself? She would have done it. But now it was too late. He made his decision about the future and decided that she wouldn’t have any part in it.

It doesn’t change anything for you!

It was hard to see the sense of that through the red rage engulfing her. But she was still a journalist. Still in pursuit of the biggest story of her career. And still in control of her future. That was her identity. No man could ever change that. Not even Philip. So, he might not need saving from Elandra anymore, but she still needed his information.

It is simpler that way.

Yes. It would be less confusing. Because now it was only work. She certainly knew how to handle work.

With a renewed determination she crossed the street, heading straight for the newly-engaged.

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