Cruel Punishment

Dirty Secrets

Anna.

She was all he could think about as he drove home from work. He felt terrible and wanted to apologize for the way he had treated her earlier that day. Lee's eyes glanced at vase containing a dozen freshly picked roses. It rested on the passenger seat of the car. He planned to give it to Anna as a peace offering.

Lee sighed as he returned his attention on the darkened road. He thought his behavior was so unlike him. He normally didn't care much about maintaining romantic relationships. Women come and go all the time for the rich entrepreneur. When one leaves, there were plenty others all eager, willing, and practically begging to be the replacement.

Every woman that entered his life was required to play by his rules and more importantly, accept his busy lifestyle. If they couldn't, he would quickly and very politely show them the door. Anna shouldn't be any different, but for some reason, he couldn't envision himself leaving her.

"Do I….love her?" Lee thought as he drove. He carefully pondered the question.

Perhaps he had developed deeper, more meaningful feelings for Anna without realizing it. It did anger him when he thought Anna was being unfaithful. So much so that he had completely lost his composure during their argument. The mere notion of Anna being with someone else had infuriated him beyond words. Are these feelings the first signs of love? Lee thought. He wasn't sure; he had never fell in love before, but believed it was possible.

Lee arrived at his estate and parked his car near the front steps of the mansion. He carefully picked up the vase from the passenger's side and walked up the steps. He stood by the front door for moment. He was nervous. He wasn't sure what he will find on the other side. He wondered if Anna had destroyed his home as she did his office last night. Lee took in a deep breath before unlocking the door and entering. He was instantly surprised that his mansion was clean and untouched. He hoped Anna was home. He wanted to put the argument behind him and start fresh with her however, it was highly possible that she packed up her things and left.

Lee hesitantly climbed the stairs and walked towards his bedroom. He cautiously opened the door. He slowly stepped into the room and attentively looked around. He smiled after seeing Anna lying on the bed.

"It's about time you got home." Anna said seductively.

She slowly climbed out of bed and walked provocatively towards him; swaying her hips gracefully with each step she took. Lee's jaw suddenly dropped upon seeing her risqué outfit. She was wearing sexy lingerie that crudely covered small portions of her body, leaving very little to the imagination. His expression made Anna smile proudly.

"Are those for me?" She said as she pointed at the roses.

Lee's mouth hung agape. He was enraptured by her stunning beauty. "Um… yes. I wanted to apologize." He said softly.

"Oh, darling you shouldn't have." Anna said excitedly. She took the vase from Lee's hand placed it on her vanity table. "They're beautiful." She attentively touched one of the roses.

Anna turned around and gave Lee a sheepish smile. "Well…" She slowly approached him once more. "Do you like my apology?" Anna said temptingly as she seductively passed her hands over the contours of her body.

Lee smiled uneasily. He was confused by her behavior. Anna was absolutely furious at him last night and most of that day for forgetting their anniversary. She had every right to be mad, but somehow it seemed like she had quickly forgiven him. It seemed very sudden and odd to him.

"S-so… you forgive me?" Lee asked; feeling very perplexed.

"Only if you forgive me." Anna said teasingly. She draped her arms around her lover's neck and began to twirl few strands of his hair. "Do you accept my apology?" She drawled suggestively as she eyed at him.

"But I've forgotten our-"

"Let's just put that whole argument behind us." Anna interjected curtly. "I understand... You're a busy man and sometimes you… forget things." She looked up and tenderly smiled.

Lee gazed amorously into her eyes. He didn't know how to feel or what to think, he was just happy that she was there with him.

Anna gently pulled his face close to hers. She gave him a long, languid kiss. Lee embraced her as he returned the gesture. Moments passed before their lips slowly parted from one another.

"Come to bed." Anna murmured. She gently pulled his hand; guiding him towards the bed. Lee silently followed her as if he was enchanted by a spell.

Anna slowly lay on the bed, Lee climbed on top of her. She observed his expression thoughtfully and smiled. She was proud of her accomplishment. The assassin had Lee wrapped around her finger.


Lee was silently driving in the car with Anna. They were on their way to work. It has been a few days since their argument and things seemed to be going well. Anna hadn't made any complaints and has been very compliant and accepting of Lee's busy work regimen. Their relationship appeared to have returned to normal, however, Lee still felt like something was off or not right.

They soon arrived at Violet Systems. Lee drove the car into the underground parking lot. He picked up his briefcase and exited the vehicle. He went to the passenger's side and opened the door for Anna. Anna smiled as she exited the car. Lee silently returned the gesture. They both walked towards the end of the parking lot. Lee pressed the button for the elevator and the doors quickly opened.

"Oh my, I have forgotten my purse in the car." Anna quickly said as Lee entered the elevator. "You go on ahead, I'll catch up." She said playfully and winked.

The elevator doors began to close. Lee quickly stretched his arm out to stop it. "Wait! Don't you want me to come with you?" Lee said curiously.

"No, it's alright. I don't want to delay my busy man from his work." She giggled.

Lee sighed as he hesitantly lowered his arm; allowing the doors to close. Anna smiled and kept her eyes on him as the doors shut.

Lee felt troubled. Something was not right and he needed to find out what it was and why.


To help, protect and care for the innocent...

Anna's words rolled about Bryan's mind as he waited for an elevator to arrive. The conversation he had with her several days ago left him thinking about his own self. He wondered how much has he really changed and questioned how different was he from the Bryan that existed years ago. He would like to believe that he has gotten stronger both physically and mentally. That he was no longer naïve, simple-minded, and gullible as when he was a cop. He understood how the world works now, and that understanding has made him tougher and more resilient. That is what he wanted to believe.

Another thing that puzzled him was Anna's sudden interest in her sister, Nina. Bryan figured it was the main reason why Anna wanted him to pick her up that day. She seemed mostly interested in learning about Nina's personality and questioned how much she had really changed. The way Anna spoke during their conversation, it sounded as though she missed her estranged sister.

Bryan thought it was unusual. As far as he knew, the sisters hated each other. He remembered Nina telling him that their hatred was based on simple rivalry. Her reasoning never made sense to him. To want to kill your own sibling just to prove you're better than them seemed crazy, even to him. Bryan wondered if there were other reasons why the sisters have such a dysfunctional relationship. Perhaps one that Nina failed to mention when they were in Brazil.

The doors opened. Lee was a little surprised when he saw Bryan entered the elevator. It looked as though Bryan was completely oblivious to his presence; as if he was lost in thought. Lee was somewhat happy to see him. He wanted to ask him some questions.

"Well, good morning Bryan."

Bryan was jarred back to reality. He turned and saw Lee standing beside him with one of his fake smiles plastered on his face.

"Oh, it's you." Bryan grumbled. "I would have taken the next one if I knew you were here." Bryan looked straight ahead angrily. He wanted to ignore the man for the rest of the trip.

Not knowing how to respond to his comment, Lee simply gave an awkward laugh. "How is your morning so far?" He asked, trying desperately to start a conversation with the scarred man, but he said nothing. They stood next to one another in silence.

Lee sighed. Bryan was always a man of few words when talking to him. Lee understood why Bryan was so angry and terse with him. Lee didn't respect him and regarded him as nothing more than a tool or an object for him to use rather than a person. Worst of all, he had betrayed his trust. Lee knew what he was doing to him was wrong, he had nothing against the man, it was just… business. He needed to keep Bryan under his control. He was the key to advancing his company and perfecting his robotics. And right now, as guilty as he feels, he needed Bryan's help and he needed his trust.

"Bry-"

"What is it Lee." Bryan interjected coolly as he continued to look straight ahead. He knew whenever Lee spoke to him it was always for a reason. "Stop with the fucking 'chit chat' and get to the point already." He muttered low enough for him to hear.

The elevator doors opened on Bryan's floor. Lee remained silent for a moment before speaking.

"I want you to report to my office after you're finished in the lab." Lee said calmly.

Bryan grumbled under his breath as he exited the elevator. "Very well, Lee." He said irritably before the doors closed.

Bryan angrily walked down the hallway and turned a corner. He was mad that he had to see Lee at the end of the day. He pondered and tried to guess what Lee was going to ask of him this time. Suddenly, all of Bryan's thoughts were quickly dashed away. He saw Anna standing by the windows at the end of the hallway. She saw him and smiled.

Bryan thought that it was weird. "Why isn't she with Lee?" He thought to himself as he approached the red-headed woman. He suddenly remembered overhearing few doctors saying that they have spotted her venturing around the building alone. Her behavior has been strange and entirely unexplained.

Even though Anna and Lee's relationship was still intact, Bryan wasn't completely convinced that Anna has totally forgiven him. Not that he cared, but he thought their reconciliation came a bit too quickly. Her outburst and the way she acted and cried that night showed how deeply hurt she was by Lee's selfish and negligent attitude. She basically had a nervous breakdown. Bryan believed Lee should have worked a lot harder to gain her forgiveness.

Quite honestly, the whole ordeal has slightly changed Bryan's perception of the woman. He always viewed her as being a slutty, spoiled bitch that thought too highly of herself. But witnessing her actions over the past few days changed that… only a little.

The trip to the mall, and the conversation they had in the car showed a different side of Anna... She was lonely. Bryan wasn't sure if his assumption was correct, but he believed it to be true. All the evidence pointed to loneliness, most particularly the night when he dropped her home. So desperate for companionship she asked him of all people to keep her company. Anna ordered him to stay by her beside and he had to sit and listen to her cry herself to sleep. Bryan hated to admit it, but somewhere deep inside actually pities the woman.

"Why, hello Bryan." Anna said seductively.

Bryan stopped in front of her and eyed her curiously. "What are you doing here?"

"I just came by to have a little chat with you."

"What about?" Bryan smirked. "You're interested in having another one of those philosophical conversations?"

"No, no, nothing like that." Anna giggled and shook her head. "Although I am surprised to learn that your IQ is above 2." She said coyly.

Bryan chuckled. "And I'm surprised that you can even count to two." Bryan said sarcastically.

Anna frowned and perked an eyebrow at his last comment which did nothing but elicit laughter from the scarred man. Anna was always terrible at coming up with witty comments.

"Anyway!" Anna said sharp enough to cut through Bryan's laughter. "There is something I wanted to ask you."

"I would like to answer it sweetheart but as you can see…" Bryan pointed at a couple of nosey doctors standing by the entrance of the lab. "I have a date with a couple of basement dwellers." He smirked.

Anna turned her attention at the two doctors. "Excuse me gentlemen, do you mind if I had word with him in private?" She asked politely and smiled.

The two doctors looked at each other for a moment before finally closing the door. The mood between them quickly changed into something more serious.

Anna returned her attention to Bryan. "Well, now that that has been taken care of, I wanted to ask you something."

"What is it?" Bryan asked curiously.

Anna was hesitant for a moment. "Do you have Nina's cellphone number?"

"Huh… Why?" Bryan said incredulously.

"Please give me her number, I know you have it." Anna said calmly.

Bryan was perplexed. What the hell does she want with her phone number!? Bryan thought. He did indeed have Nina's number, but it was disconnected soon after the Brazilian mission had ended. However, Bryan was adamant in his decision to not give Anna the number, regardless whether it worked or not.

"Come on, tell me." She pleaded.

"I'm afraid I cannot do that Anna..." Bryan said calmly as he crossed his arms. "…Unless you tell me why."

"That's none of your business!" Anna snipped.

"Well then I refuse to tell you." Bryan said simply.

"I don't understand… why don't you want to tell me?" Anna said feeling a bit puzzled.

"I have my reasons." He said bluntly.

Reasons? Anna thought to herself. She quietly wondered what they might be.

"Wait a minute…. Are you… protecting her!?" Anna said feeling astonished. "You think I'm going to do something to hurt her?"

Bryan did not respond to her question but it was in fact true. He didn't know what Anna was up to so he didn't want to risk putting Nina in danger by giving her phone number away. She could have the number traced or obtain any other personal information from it and Bryan didn't want that.

"My, my…" Anna smirked. Bryan's silence proved that her assumption was correct. "It's as they say… old habits die hard."

Bryan silently glared at her.

"You're still playing your role as the 'noble cop?' Still protecting the innocent?" Anna said snobbishly as she looked at Bryan. "By your logic, I guess that must mean that you are still weak." She said mockingly and laughed.

Bryan grunted angrily. He couldn't believe he actually pitied this woman. "I see the bitchy Anna has returned." He muttered feeling a bit disappointed. "I still won't give you her number."

Anna looked away and sighed and solemnly. She wished Bryan was more compliant. His defiant behavior had forced her to use her final tactic. She honestly didn't want to resort to it, but Bryan left her no choice. She felt a little sad; a part of her was actually beginning to like him.

Anna turned to face Bryan once more. "If you hadn't noticed, Lee is very willing to do anything to make his woman happy... a woman who he has deeply hurt." She gave him a menacing smile. "Now I wonder what he'll do if I tell him that you've offended me?" Anna sneered.

Bryan grunted angrily at her threat. He felt furious that their little standoff wasn't going in his favor, but there was nothing more he could do about it.

"Give me your phone." Anna demanded coolly.

Bryan angrily glared at the woman before giving in to her demand. He took the phone from his pocket and handed it over to the red-headed woman.

"Good boy." Anna said condescendingly and smiled.

Anna searched Bryan's phone for Nina's number. She scrolled through his contact list which was surprisingly full of numbers belonging women. She momentarily gave Bryan a scrutinizing look before continuing her search.

Her expression made Bryan grin. "What can I say… I'm a busy man." Bryan drawled as he eyed the woman.

Anna sighed dismissively; ignoring the man's crude comment. She continued to search the phone until she finally found the number. Anna's face suddenly lit up upon its discovery. She took out her cellphone and quickly added it.

"See, that wasn't so hard now was it?" She said as she gave Bryan his phone back.

Bryan silently pocketed his phone. "You know, sooner or later your luck will run out Anna…" Bryan said calmly. "…and Lee won't be able help you." Bryan chuckled as he turned and headed towards the lab where the two doctors were impatiently waiting.

Anna didn't know why but Bryan's words frightened her somehow. She chose to brush the feelings aside for the moment. She had something more important to worry about. She needed to go to Lee's office before he starts to question her absence.


It was the end of the day and Lee was in his office finishing up the last of his paperwork. Oddly enough, Anna had left a little early claiming that she wasn't feeling well. Lee was undoubtedly suspicious about the woman's behavior and wanted some answers.

Suddenly, Bryan entered his office. By the look of his face, Lee could tell that he was in a bad mood. Bryan took a seat a few feet away from his desk and stared at the man angrily.

Lee sighed. He felt guilty and undeserving of Bryan's help, but quite honestly, he was the only person he could confide in. Lee had no close friends or family. Friendship was hard to come by for the rich and successful entrepreneur. He had a hard time trusting people since most of them will say and do anything just to get closer to his wallet.

He felt like he could trust Bryan. He was the only person he could consider a friend even though he knew Bryan does not feel the same way. Bryan was honest. He didn't hide his feelings or emotions and he always speak his mind, no matter how blunt, harsh or hurtful his words might be.

"Hello Bryan." Lee said calmly.

"What do you want Lee?" Bryan muttered.

"I won't delay you with small talk, I know how that bothers you. So I'll just get to the point." Lee said resignedly. "Do you think Anna is acting odd?"

Bryan was a little surprised by his question. "Wow Lee. You don't trust your woman anymore? I thought you forgiven her?" Bryan said mockingly.

"She's acting strange…" Lee said as he blankly stared at his desk as if he was lost in thought. "She left early today…. about a half hour ago. She said she wasn't feeling well."

Lee's troubled expression made Bryan smile.

"What do you think?" Lee's eyes darted up to look at the scarred man. "Have you noticed any strange behavior?"

Bryan examined the man's face for a moment. He looked serious and somewhat distraught. As if Anna's suspicious behavior is really affecting the selfish, rich man.

Bryan gave a short laugh. "I'd say that you're the one who's acting strange."

Lee looked at him perplexingly.

"I'm quite surprise you took her back." Bryan said amusingly. "Normally a guy like you would've dumped her and moved on to the next one."

"…. You're right…." Lee said quietly as he thought over what he said. " But…. but I think I have feelings for her."

Bryan was a little surprised by his confession and it made him squirm uneasily in his chair. He didn't like where this conversation was headed.

"What do you think I should do Bryan? Should I keep her or let her go?" Lee said desperately.

Bryan threw his head back and groaned. He couldn't believe what Lee was asking him. "I'm not a fucking marriage counselor." Bryan said despairingly.

"I know…" Lee said resignedly. "I just needed to get an opinion."

Bryan sighed irritably. "First Anna asks me for fashion tips and now you're asking me for relationship advice… I think you both are fucking weird." He muttered.

"Fashion tips?" Lee asked curiously.

"Forget about it." Bryan said dismissively. "As for Anna, I do agree that she's been acting different."

"Oh really? So I'm not the only one." Lee said feeling relieved.

"She's been asking me about her sister." Bryan said simply.

"Her sister? When was that?" Lee looked at him eagerly.

"When I had to pick her up a few days ago… We were stuck in traffic and she started questioning me about her." Bryan explained.

Lee looked astonished. "That… is what really happened!?" He asked disbelievingly. "She was telling the truth the whole time." Lee muttered to himself. It made him cheerful.

Bryan felt confused. "What did you think happened?"

"Oh nothing…" Lee said dismissively. "What you said has cleared up some of my suspicion, but I still think that Anna is behaving differently. Has she asked or said anything else to you?" Lee questioned happily.

"No, she hasn't." Bryan lied.

Well, then!" Lee said as he clapped his hands together. "I would like you to keep an eye on her. Let me know if she does or say anything else that is out of character."

"Will do." Bryan said irritably.

"Excellent!" Lee said ecstatically. "Well I won't keep you any longer; you are dismissed for the day."


Bryan grumbled as he exited Lee's office. Somehow the conversation ended with Lee in a better mood. He met him miserable and left him happy. Bryan was beginning to think that he had a knack for unintentionally cheering people up. He wasn't sure if it was a gift or a curse but he knew Lee was the last person he wanted to help.

Bryan searched his pockets for his box of cigarettes. He cursed under his breath when he realized they were missing. He figured he must have left it in the lab.

Bryan decided to go the lab to retrieve his cigarettes. He noticed something strange as he approached the lab. The door to the lab was wide open. Bryan thought it was odd. For security reasons, all the doors in the building were kept closed and locked. A key card was required in order to gain access to any of them.

Bryan slowly entered the lab. It was very dark. All of the lights and equipment were turned off. Bryan cautiously looked around the lab. He used his enhanced vision to see more clearly in the dark.

He slowly and quietly walked around the lab until he spotted something interesting. He saw someone sitting by a computer. The person's back was facing him. Bryan thought that it could have been a doctor or scientist but he needed to be sure. He silently approached the person until he was close enough to make out who it was. He was very surprised by his discovery.

Bryan reached out and grabbed the person's hand from off the keyboard and yanked them out of their seat. He looked down at the person and grinned evilly.

"Well, well… I didn't expect to find you here… Anna."

Anna was shocked and looked at him fearfully. "Let me go!" Anna yelp as she struggle to free herself from his grip. "I command you to let me go, you dog!"

Bryan chuckled. "I don't think that's gonna work this time girlie." Bryan said slyly. He leaned in close to whisper into the frightened woman's ear. "I wonder what Lee will do when he finds out his bitch is a spy." He said lustfully.

His words made Anna struggle more desperately. Bryan chuckled as he began to drag the woman out of the lab.

Bryan suddenly stopped when he heard something coming from down the hall. He shushed Anna who was still feebly struggling against his grip. Both of them stood silent as they listened to the voices that were quickly approaching them.

"Lee!" Anna whispered loudly. Bryan looked in the direction the voices were coming from. He wanted to see if Anna's assumption was correct. Anna noticed that Bryan was distracted. She took the opportunity to swiftly yank her hand free and quickly hid under a nearby desk.

Bryan didn't pay her any mind; he continued to focus his attention on the hallway. Seconds later Bryan saw Lee and one of the scientists enter the lab. The scientist turned on the lights and they were both surprise to see Bryan in the lab. Bryan slowly backed in to the desk where Anna was hiding.

"Bryan?" Lee said astonished as he approached him. "What are you doing here? I thought you left already."

"I lost my cigarettes. Figured I must've left them in the lab." Bryan said coolly.

Lee looked at him skeptically. "I thought you didn't smoke?"

"Old habits die hard I guess." Bryan reasoned.

Anna nervously hid under the desk. She curled herself up like a frightened kitten; trying to make herself as small as possible so she couldn't be seen. She was surprised that Bryan didn't say anything to Lee yet. She wondered why. Surely Bryan would have wanted to get revenge after the way she treated him, she thought. But somehow it seemed as though he was protecting her. He hadn't said a word and he stood against the desk as if to block Lee's view of her.

"I think I've found it." The scientist called out as he walked towards Lee and Bryan.

The scientist gave Bryan his cigarettes. Bryan thanked him and placed it in his jacket pocket.

"Well mister Lee, I'm very excited to show you my findings." The scientist said gleefully and dashed off to the other side of the lab.

Lee began to follow the doctor but suddenly he remembered something. "Oh, Bryan I forgot to tell you something."

Bryan looked at him curiously as he approached him once more. "I have to attend an important dinner party tomorrow night and I need you to come with me as my bodyguard."

Bryan groaned loudly. "Are you serious Lee?" he said disbelievingly.

"I apologize" Lee said and smiled. "It's a 'suit-and-tie' event so make sure you dress well." Lee said before quickly walking away to catch up with the scientist.

Bryan sighed resignedly. Anna watched attentively as he took a few steps away from the desk. She wondered what he was doing. All she could see was his boots. He was just standing there silently.

Moments later Anna saw something hit the floor and slide besides her. She noticed it was a folded piece of paper. Bryan began to walk again. Anna nervously watched him as he exited the lab.

She unfolded the piece of paper. There was phone number written on it. Anna assumed it was Bryan's. There was a message written below it. Anna read it and it made Anna upset.

"Heh! It looks like the tables have turned. You better call me… or else!" –Bryan.


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