"I find it fascinating that you have the balls to speak to me like that, sorry I misspoke, I meant foolish, I find it foolish that you have the balls to speak to me that way."
He grinned showing me his smoke-stained teeth. Hmm, such a shame when a man so young throws his life away on such a filthy habit.
"Look sweetheart, I came here to deal with Sam Claymore. You may not know who I am so let me enlighten you. My name is Edison Ritch, you might have heard of me?" He added with an arrogant tone.
Oh, on the contrary, I knew exactly who he was, but he didn't know who I was. And that was his first mistake.
He continued to speak. "I am here to talk to Sam Claymore, the head of the Claymore family, I don't have time to deal with some glorified secretary in a tight skirt." Calling me a glorified secretary was his second mistake.
He started to light a cigarette. "This is a non-smoking area Mr. Ritch." I stated calmly.
He smirks as he continues his action. After taking a puff he leaned in close and exhaled the smoke in my face. I keep my cold icy composure as I successfully fight my urgent gag at the smell invading my senses. And that's his third mistake.
"That is a very filthy habit you have, smoking kills a lot of people."
He starts to laugh again putting his teeth on display. Normally I'd have taken care of this pest by now but I was having a good morning so I decided to be generous today. Not knowing who I am and calling me a secretary are basically the same thing. So let's just call this mistake number two. I took a deep breath and exhaled finding my calm.
"Mr. Ritch, if you wish to deal with the Claymore family then you are indeed in the right place, as you can see by the name on the building and the fact that you are sitting in this office on the top floor of said building. If there is something we can do for you than I am your contact inside the company, I can assure you that I am more than qualified to take care of all your needs."
"Really is that so." He places his hand on my thigh and squeezed.
I look down at his hand. "And that's your third strike, Mr. Ritch."
He raised his eyebrow and grins. "Look, sweetheart, I am here for serious businesses. If you really want to deal with me I'm sure we can work something out." With his hand still on my leg.
I take his hand and remove it from my body as I get off my seat. "Tell me, Mr. Ritch, what do you know about Sam Claymore and the rest of the Claymore family."
He scoots in his seat and smiles like this is a fun trivia game to him. I walk to the wall that is basically fully made of glass to take in the New York skyline, the only sound being heard in the room was the clicking of my high heels.
Behind me, he begins to speak. "The Claymore family is the most powerful family on the east coast. They own several international companies that have dominated their respective fields for years. It's safe to say that the Claymores have their fingers in every pot."
"And what is the second place their wealth comes from?" I turn to face him again and start to walk around him slowly. I knew who he was and I knew why he was here so I indulged him in this little game.
"Their dealings in the underworld of course. It's not public knowledge but they are also the largest crime family in the city. Dealing with drug trafficking, illegal gambling, black market auctions, you name it." He has a cocky grin on his face again like he was so proud of the information he revealed to me like he gave me some new knowledge. There is nothing I find more irritating than a man who thinks he has something to teach me when in reality all he can do is waste my time. Why not play with him a bit I thought to myself. I turn around and start to circle him slowly again.
"And what is it you know about Sam Claymore Mr. Ritch?"
"I know the guy is brilliant. He almost tripled the family’s assets and overall company value in the five years since he’s taken over from his father. Nobody knows exactly how he did it. Some say he is trying to make the entire company and all side endeavors go legitimate. And others say he is an unstable killer who gets a hard-on every time he takes a life. That he thrives on invoking fear and bending everyone to his will. That he doesn't hesitate to kill someone who has wronged him or his people."
"And which of these do you believe Mr. Ritch?"
"I believe he's the ruthless killer everyone says he is, but it doesn't matter, either way, he's going to make me a lot of money."
"Yes either the money is clean or it's dirty, but it's still money."
"Why can't it be both Edison?" He raised his eyebrow.
I give him a wink as I press the button on my desk. "Addy, can you move my 2 PM meeting off-site, possibly for drinks? Oh, and call the cleaning crew." I smile at the man sitting across from me who seems to get more and more excited. "Tell them my office is going to be a mess in just a few minutes." I release the button and walk over to my desk drawer swaying my hips extra for the show.
"Sure thing Sam, anything else," Addy replies over the intercom.
I see his face turn pale at the mention of my name. "No that's it thank you."
"Let’s make this quick." I pull out the gun I keep in my top drawer and take a seat behind my desk. "Why are you really here Mr. Ritch?"
I can see him visibly swallow. "I have a proposal for a new shipment route." His voice is soft and I could hear the tremble in it.
"Wrong," I said, my voice causing him to jump but I kept a neutral tone. Maybe I was a bit loud but it got my point across. In this world, women are called emotional and therefore unfit to lead. So I never raise my voice, never show any emotion of any kind. I don’t even smile unless I've already decided that someone is going to die. I continue keeping my voice neutral. "You are here to give us false data that will eventually lead to the arrest of many of our people. See unlike you Mr. Ritch I did my research on who I'm meeting. I know almost everything about you and what you hope to achieve, the one thing I don't know is why. Knowing all you do about me and this family, why is it that you try to go against me?"
He stayed quiet and I knew he wasn't going to give me anything more. I dealt with his type before, those who were so dedicated to their cause it didn't matter to them how it would end. "Fine,..... any last words?" I say trying to hide my exhaustion.
"YEAH, GO TO HE...-"
I shut him up with the loud bang and the bullet that I smooth between his eyes.
As his body drops to the floor I let out an exhausted sigh. "How close are the cleaners?" I asked over the intercom.
"About 20 minutes."
I check my watch. It was 12:15. "I think I'll take an early lunch." I grab my purse and check all my essentials. Phone, keys, wallet, gun. Then I make my way out the door. Passing by Addy's desk she gives me a smile. She is one of the few people who has seen my actual emotions. She's been with me since I took over the family business and before that she's been by my side since we were kids.
I'm still a bit dry towards her, towards everyone actually but I still give her a soft smiled and continue towards my private elevator when she calls out to me. I turn to see her get off her chair exposing her four-month pregnancy belly. She waddles over to me with a napkin. She then dabs it on her tongue wetting it before she starts wiping my cheek, pulling back I see the bloodstains. "Thank God you always wear black." She giggled as she waddles back behind her desk.
"Thanks," I said as I started to turn back to the elevator. "Hey, Addy?" She looks up from her desk. "Do you think this skirt is too tight?"
She laughs. "Since when do you care?"
I shrug. "It's a perfect fit for you, but you might want to button those up since you have a meeting with him after lunch." She used her pencil to point at my breast. I gave her half a smile as I fixed my shirt. I called the elevator and within seconds I was downstairs in the lobby.
I put my sunglasses on as I walk out of the building. Most people down here don't know who I am. I've done my best to keep my identity a secret. Not that I'm going to extreme lengths to do so. I just avoid public appearance, and professionally I go by Sam Claymore, not Samantha Claymore.
I've noticed when looking at my credentials people always assume I'm a man and I get a small kick out of it. Especially regarding my not so legal dealings it really helps when people don't know I am a woman. For some reason, they think I can't shoot their dicks off because I don't have one. But I gladly prove them wrong.
I decide to take a stroll through the park. I wasn't feeling particularly hungry at the moment. So the sight of a dead body kills my appetite, I can’t really help that. It was early September and the weather was perfect. The summer would soon end and everything would slowly start to cool down. A few more weeks and the constant raining would start. And I had no choice but to stay inside. I enjoyed living in this city. Especially during winter it reminded me of London.
How it was always busy and nothing ever seemed to be closed. I'm a night owl and if I had the choice I would be nocturnal. Unfortunately, I have a billion-dollar company to run and there isn't enough money in the world to convince everyone to adapt to my preference. I walk around for about an hour before checking my watch and making my way over to my appointment.
I keep my head held high as I walk into 'Ciao' the five-star restaurant owned by one of my cousins. Not registering myself by the usher I walk past the podium and march my way past the line of waiting customers. Everyone stopped to look at me. Some of the women looked agitated as most of the men gawked at me shamelessly as I walked by. I was used to this by now, ever since my late teens, this has been happening.
I walk through the crowded restaurant. When passing the bar my eyes landed on Christof the bartender. I raise two fingers signaling my drink order. Without slowing down I continue to the back of the building to a private room. When I reach one of the waiters opens the door for me with a smile. Avoiding his gaze I keep my face straight and enter.
Inside the private dining room sits an older man in his late fifties. He was a very tall intimidating man. With his black eyes who gave nothing away, his sharp jawline thick dark eyebrows and the huge scar that started just under his left ear and made it halfway down his jaw. He was wearing an Armani suit that was perfectly tailored, and a dark glare that came on his face naturally.
When I hear the door close behind me I finally let my face relax. "Hi, dad." I smiled as I kissed his cheek.
He hasn't heard me come in while he was reading his menu but once he saw me his eyes went soft. "Hello, my little pumpkin." He gave me a smile.
I roll my eyes. I always hated it when he called me that. For the big scary gangster, he was back in the day, he is such a softy when it comes to me.
My father has always had one weakness. Her name was Antonia Clark. She was a middle school teacher who walked into a bar at the wrong time. She was there to meet some friends but got caught in a shootout. When my father laid eyes on her small frame, her Raven black hair, and her piercing blue eyes he fell in love on the spot. Protecting her that night was how he got that scar. It took him a long time to win her over. What pure soul could give herself to a madman like him? But soon he won the battle and I came along. Then he had two weaknesses.
I however don't remember my mother. When I was four years old she was murdered by one of my father's rivals over a territory dispute. He retaliated by destroying the entire family and claiming their territory. It was seen as a powerful move in his world. Something that made everyone fear him, he was conciderd a God. But he was broken, lost and forever changed.
He couldn't look at me anymore. The nanny who raised me till I was 12 told me it was because I looked so much like my mother. Though I was much taller, I had her hair, pale skin and most importantly I had her eyes. The eyes he could no longer look into. He tried his best to be there for me but he was so beaten that it was easier to send me away. When I turned 12 I was sent to boarding school in England. From that moment on I received the best education money could buy. I had everything anyone could ever ask for, materially that is. I was Samantha Claymore, the only heiress to the Claymore fortune. But I was lonely, I wanted to be home, I missed my father, I missed my family.
So I started training. I knew deep down he also sent me away for my protection. He was scared that I would come to the same fate as her. So I decided to become the killer that nobody dared to touch. I had a mission in life, I became cold and unfeeling. I became an efficient machine. All I did was study, train and fight. By the time I turned 20 I had mastered every fighting form I could find, and I had gotten my MBA from Oxford University. But my father didn't know this. I wanted to prove myself to him, prove that I was not fragile like she was, prove that I could survive by his side.
After I turned 20 I moved back to New York and started at a low-level position in his gang. By this point I have been gone so long that nobody knew who I was, nobody even remembered that the great Jack Claymore had a child. It took me less than a month to get noticed by my superiors. After that, it only took me nine to claw my way up in the ranks of my father's organization. Everyone saw me as a bloodthirsty animal that could distract her prey with her beauty, and then finish the job swiftly.
It wasn't until a gala one night when one of his generals introduced me to him, that he had found out I was back in the city. He had heard of a young rising star in his organizations but I went by Sam Clark at that point. I took my mother's maiden name for this. I was surprised he didn't put it together sooner. That night we spoke and I had explained everything to him. Unfortunately, that was the same night his enemies decided to make an attempt on his life. I was the one who saved him. But as he watched me mercilessly slit a man's throat something inside him changed. He didn't want this life for me, he never did.
That night he decided to go legit. Now the real battle began. He started turning his business around but the real fight was with me. When I returned after all those years I wasn't myself anymore. I was this cold murderous unfeeling thing. It took years of therapy to finally let my guard down. I still am not completely okay but I am alive. Soon I joined my father's company and when I turned twenty three he handed the reins over to me. He respected and recognized my ability and intelligence. And he believed that placing a new person at the head of the company was the clean slate we needed. So far, I did not disappoint. I have my father and a hand full of people who I let myself feel safe around. And to the rest, I am now the 28-year-old Sam Claymore, head of the slowly legitimizing Claymore family and CEO of the billion-dollar Claymore group.
My train of thought was interrupted by Christof walking in, back was my icy exterior. He places the drink down in front of me and I acknowledge him with a nod. He gave a small bow as he left. He was one of the few people who knew who I was. He was one of the people who knew me as Sam Clark the killer.
I stir the ice in my drink as I look over at my father reading his menu. He looks at my hand. "Samantha isn't it a bit early to be drinking?" He had a bit of a grin on his face when he pointed at my whiskey on the rocks.
"Let’s just say I had a rough morning."
"So I've heard." I raise my eyebrow, maybe Addy gave him a call? Those two are always trying to run my life behind my back together. "I wondered why our meeting was moved out of the office but then I saw the request you put in at the cleaners.”
I shrug my shoulders and take a sip. As I feel the slow burn go down my throat he looks back down at his menu. "I think I'll have the steake."
He raised his hand and a waiter came running through the door. After he placed his order the waiter looked at me. I was about to send him away when I looked at the drink in my hand. I still had some work to do today and drinking on an empty stomach doesn't help. "Bring a breadbasket for the table." He nodded and was gone as fast as he came
"So who was it?"
"And what did he do to deserve this fate?"
"What didn't he do?" I sigh before I continue. "He called me a secretary, then he blew his cigarette smoke in my face. After that, he tried to shag me."
"And that's why you had to kill him?"
"No, that's why I wanted to kill him. I had to kill him because he tried selling us this."
I take the files out of my purse that I had removed from the body in my office before leaving.
He scans the papers for a bit before his face hardens. "This would have gotten a lot of our people killed or captured."
I nod. "It looks like he was trying to make a statement. We are becoming weaker in the underworld. But it seems he wasn't allowing us to make a gracious exit."
He closed the file. "Edison has brothers, they'll be coming for you."
"I know, let them, I'm ready."
"If you need my help let me know."
A few seconds later his steake arrived along with the bread. As I watched him cut into the still bloody meat I spoke again. "So why did you want to meet in such a setting. If this was an informal call you would have invited me home."
He places his fork down and takes a sip of water.
"I have been talking to the marketing team, they say that Claymore group has an image problem."
"Well that's absurd, our image has done nothing but improve in the last five years."
"That's what I said. But it's not a matter of what we are doing anymore. The problem stems from the fact that people think we don't have a leader. The company doesn't look strong because it doesn't have a face."
I knew exactly where this was going. "Father," I said in a firm tone but he raised his hand to cut me off.
"Samantha it's time."
"Why can't you do it?"
"Because I'm no longer the CEO. Besides you've hidden yourself away long enough, why not let the world see that all this strength and power is coming from you and not some faceless man. Look pumpkin I know this is difficult for you but I promise it's for the best. For you and the company, you need to interact more with people and this will help. Getting your face out there will help you live more of a life."
I down my drink, I knew his decision had already been made. "When?" I ask as I place my glass down.
"In one week we will have the yearly charity gala. You will accompany me, and when people ask who the beautiful young woman on my arm is I will introduce them as my daughter." He had a proud grin on his face. "After that, there are a few more things I'll need you to do. Public appearance, presentations, social gatherings. It all starts in one week so get your things in order, my dear. I will take care of our people in the underworld, make sure none of them talks. Things are about to change."