10 - IRON MAIDENS
As soon as Lydia said yes, he was prepared to whisk her away and make her a full-fledged Thornton with all the power and protection that came with his family’s name.
Ryder had no intention of imposing himself on her in any way. His main objective was to keep his family members from intervening. He was a thousand percent sure if they got a whiff of what he was about to do, they would make sure fire and brimstone would rain down on the couple to prevent the coming nuptials regardless of what the family stood to gain from the marriage.
He was up against women who were far more successful at executing covert operations than he, and Ryder’s skills were nothing to sneeze at. It wasn’t due to a lack of intelligence or the lack of foresight required to outmaneuver the ladies. His problem lay in the fact that his mother and grandmother maintained spies in every place imaginable as well as some unimaginable spaces.
Amelia Elizabeth Thornton-Walker and Lady Konstantin Seraphin Walker came from a time when women had to learn how to outthink the men in their lives along with anyone who had the gall to attempt to make a connection with their families.
If it wasn’t some unscrupulous businessman or homewrecking pretty face, the women in the Thornton family were required to have knowledge of everything in and around their orbit.
Lady Konstantin faced the dubious efforts of a friend of her late husband. First, the man attempted to convince Mr. Walker to invest in several business ventures. When each idea became less advantageous than the next, she was forced to hire a private investigator to determine the truth behind her husband’s friend.
She wasn’t at all surprised to find that the money he was swindling from her husband was actually lining the embezzler’s pockets. To her husband’s chagrin, he was forced to have a longtime friend jailed for misappropriation of funds and fraud.
Amelia Thornton-Walker experienced her own trials as the wife of a man who was weak in many ways. She was the heiress to a fortune when she met her husband and assisted him to grow his construction and real estate empire. Amelia grew up wealthy. She saw how money made life difficult because there were always those striving to separate the effluent from their funds.
Altus Jacoby Thornton was a beautiful giant of a man.
On their first encounter, her father was discussing business with the young man about a building he had a mind to construct. From the moment she beheld his carefree smile she was sure the center of her being was shaken by the rolling laughter that shook the room. Her father was a terrible jokester who enjoyed hanging out with manly men such as himself... or at least the man he was in his younger days.
Her eyes locked on him and she never let him out of her sight from that moment onward. Amelia was twenty-three and her parents insisted she would become an old maid if she didn’t hurry up and get married. Since her twenty-year-old sister was already married with two young children, she was in no hurry to get married and leave home.
It wasn’t until the face of an angel graced her presence that she fell head over heels in love with him. Never in her life had she looked at a blue-collar worker the way she obsessed over that him.
As he completed the project slated to be a crowning accomplishment for Thornton Contractors Corporation, Altus and Amelia began a secret affair. She had no idea the thirty-five-year-old man was actually a playboy. Altus had girlfriends in every city where he did business. Though he was smart enough to ensure none of them turned him into a father before he was ready, Amelia was the one lady he held no reservations about impregnating.
Altus Thornton knew that should he accomplish such a feat, he would be linked to a family known as transportation royalty. The golden blond-haired, baby blue-eyed womanizer managed to knock-up Amelia Walker, the heiress. By doing so, their marriage was required. The Walker family balked at the idea of such scandalous affairs being tied to their name.
Though they lost their first little girl due to a miscarriage, Altus and Amelia created a life together as man and wife. His vows to his wife did nothing to stop him from enjoying a little bit of sugar on the side.
After twenty long-suffering years of marriage enduring her husband’s philandering, Amelia Thornton-Walker gave birth to her son at the age of forty-four. He was everything she wanted and more. The same day Ryder was born, Amelia gave her husband an ultimatum.
“Either you stop caring on all of these different affairs, or I will turn over all of the evidence I have compiled on you eleven different long-term sweethearts and I will sue them and you into the ground.” She threatened him will a face that appeared to be made of iron.
From that moment, he called her an “Iron Maiden” who would see him dead.
“If you continue this foolishness you have enjoyed for the twenty years we have been together, I will kill you with my bare hands and get away with it after all you have put me through.” Mrs. Thornton-Walker wasn’t laughing or joking when she made the threat. It was a promise, and she was determined to keep it.
When she found out about her son’s betrayal, she recalled all that she and her mother suffered through to give him a good life.
Amelia Elizabeth Thornton-Walker promised to rip the little shrew to shreds for hooking her son into getting married without consoling with the two leading ladies in his life.
Ryder was well aware of the dangerous game he played by trying to elude his family, but this was one time when he was prepared to pay the consequences for his actions no matter what they may be. Lydia was the key to making Kemi suffer for an eternity. There was no way in hell he would allow a golden opportunity such as this to vanish before his eyes.
“I will kill him with my own two hands. I don’t care if the police have to haul me off and hide me in a tin box out in the middle of the desert heat. When I see that boy, I will end his life instantly.” Amelia Elizabeth Thornton-Walker or as her son affectionately called her “Mother Thornton” made her way through the mansion door.
She wrangled one of his cronies and squeezed the information out of the young man. It was her job to keep an eye on everyone working for their family. She knew that the young bodyguard was from a less fortunate family. His father worked as a construction foreman for one of their many locations. She threatened to make sure his family lost everything if he continued to stonewall her questions about Ryder’s whereabouts.
“Mrs. Thornton-Walker, if I say a word, I’m finished.” The man pled with her for leniency.
“Son, you will cease to breathe if you don’t answer me truthfully. Ryder already knows I will find out. He is simply trying to bide his time until I do. You might as well tell me now and save yourself from my wrath.” Ryder’s mother was colder than any man. She had no qualms about destroying anyone who got in her way.
Those who knew the family knew all too well that she never issued idle threats. If she said she would kill someone, most people feared she would actually take a person’s life and walk free as if she had done nothing wrong.
“He went to Las Vegas to get married.” David Pilcher was far more afraid of Ryder’s mother than anyone else. He had worked as part of the private detail for eight months. Even though he appreciated the opportunity to make good money and work for a pretty cool boss, he wasn’t willing to sacrifice his father’s livelihood or his own life to keep his boss’s secret.
”HE WENT WHERE...TO DO WHAT!?” The calm even voice transformed into that of a screaming banshee. David was terrified as the rather tall slender woman grabbed his shirt collar as if she was about to strike him. He threw up his hands as if he was preparing to be slapped or punched, but she dropped her hands to her sides and turned on a dime.
The young man let out a breath of air as if he had just avoided some major catastrophe. Before he had time to enjoy his perceived freedom, two mountains walked in and snatched him up off his feet. They walked him out to a 2020 black GM Yukon Denali and threw him inside. One beast sat on one side and another pinned him in the middle from the other side. Ryder’s mother sat in the front passenger seat without breathing a word.
Even though no words were exchanged as they drove the short distance to her private jet, David was afraid the devil himself would have nothing at all to do with the woman who clearly held life or death in the palm of her hands.
Within a few hours, the entourage from Arkansas landed at McCarran International. It was as if someone flew the exact same SUV to the airport since its twin was waiting on them the moment they exited the jet.
David shared that Ryder and Lydia had a three-day head start. The information only served to infuriate his boss’s mother to the point of mania as they drove around the circle drive and stopped in front of the couple’s honeymoon hideaway. Before the vehicle came to a full stop, Mrs. Thornton-Walker snapped her fingers and her henchman pulled David from the vehicle as if he were a rag doll. They drug him inside the residence and dropped him on the floor in the foyer.
“Michael, where is Ryder?” She proceeded through the door without a knock or a pause.
“Mrs. Thornton-Walker, he is uhmmm... indisposed at the moment. If you would give me a few minutes, I will be more than happy to retrieve him for you.” The head of her son’s security seemed a little flushed as he attempted to stall the unwelcome guests. Of course, she proceeded past him as if no words left his mouth.
“Point me in the direction of my son. I don’t need an introduction. I simply need to know where he is.” She stated as she crossed the black and white marble floor. Michael pointed up the stairs.
“He is in the master bedroom down the hall to the left, but I wouldn’t recommend you go in there. I would be more than happy to call him down.” He insisted. The rather formidable men in the employ of Ryder’s mother stepped as if to signal the conversation was over. Michael threw up his hands in surrender and backed away from her enforcers.
Amelia Elizabeth Thornton-Walker ascended the steps as if she was in one of her numerous properties. Her long legs brought her to the grand cherrywood door of the master bedroom in no time. As she turned the knob to enter the room, she heard something that sent her over the edge.
“Ryder, oh my sweet lor... I can’t take it anymore.” The sultry smooth voice rippled on a river of the creamiest sweet cream. The moaning and groaning that followed the young woman’s words left Ryder’s mother paralyzed. She had yet to let go of the doorknob.
The shock of what she heard left her motionless and speechless.