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“Did you find anything with her name on it?” He asked his assistant once again. Unfortunately, her identification was nowhere to be found. The woman sleeping in his guest bedroom had been in his home for two days now. Her eyes opened when he found her early Friday morning, but that was the last time she gave away any sign that she might be ok.

Ryder was forced to call his assistant Esmeralda for help. It was important for him to figure out what steps to take next. At first, he was fine with the idea of rescuing a woman who was absolutely in distress, but with each passing hour, a level of anxiety that made him uncomfortable with the whole situation grew to alarming nature.

They finally settled on calling a doctor to make sure she wasn’t in danger of perishing. Ryder would never risk being involved in a scandal with a dead black woman in his home... or any woman for that matter. The moment Dr. Hubert arrived at his home, he planned to have her packed up and loaded into an ambulance to be sent to a nearby hospital.

No sooner than the doctor’s name crossed his mind, he was greeted with a comforting sound as the old man clamored down the hall.

“Ryder my boy, what have you been up to these days?” The doctor greeted him with a warm smile and a bear hug. Dr. Hubert was well-known and highly praised in his field. As the family’s physician, he had known Ryder well-before he was born.

“Working hard as usual. You know money doesn’t make itself.” The two men laughed as they walked further in the direction of the bedroom.

“I know you’re a very busy man, but all the money in the world means nothing if you aren’t here to enjoy it. I want to see you in my office within the next two weeks.” Dr. Hubert insisted.

“I will definitely be there.” The young man seriously replied.

“And rest assured, I will place a call to your grandmother if I don’t see you.” He was sure the doctor wasn’t pulling his leg by the way he adjusted his glasses to look over the frames. Ryder feared no man, but there were two women he knew of who were capable of leveling buildings with a word. They were the ones whom he preferred to stay in their good graces at all times.

His mother and grandmother were two of the shrewdest people he had ever met. They were emotionless and extremely droll. The ladies lacked the capacity to be kind or understanding. The only time he contacted them was when everything in his life was one hundred percent in order. If anything was out of place, they usually knew about it before he did.

“Doc, that won’t be necessary. I promise you I will be in your office next week. Scout’s honor.” He assured the older man. With a potential call to his grandmother riding on his compliance, Ryder knew Dr. Hubert and his grandmother to be close friends. He wouldn’t dare incur her wrath by not showing up to that appointment.

“Alright. I’m going to hold you to your word. Now, what’s so important that you called me out here this early in the morning?” Ryder looked at his phone and realized it was fifteen minutes to five. The time of day never crossed his mind when he instructed his assistant to place the call. Since the situation had gotten beyond his comfort level, he was ready to get the stranger out of his house.

“Well, early Friday morning I was on my way home after one of many long and crazy days. As I crossed the bridge, I saw a lady standing on the guardrail. She was just about to jump before I stopped and grabbed her.” Ryder continued his description of the ordeal.

He shared his suspicion that she might hurt herself if he chose to leave her on the bridge, so he made the decision to take her to his house until he could figure out what to do next. Ryder further explained that her condition seemed to get worse and that she hadn’t opened her eyes since he rescued her.

Explaining to the doctor how he considered calling for the police or an ambulance, Ryder pointed out it was too late to explain his involvement. He had no desire to wait for them to meet him, so he chose to bring her to his home and allow a select few members of his staff to care for her. As the doctor hung onto every word, he continued by stating that he sent one of his men to retrieve her car after he made it home.

As the doctor listened to the whole sordid affair, Ryder finished with how he figured it was time to bring in a professional since she refused to wake-up, drink fluids, or eat any food. He insisted he instructed his assistant to call to avoid any kind of complications. He further explained to the doctor that he was concerned she might be close to death and that why he called for help.

The two men continued discussing the situation as they entered the guest bedroom.


Dr. Hubert was confronted with the worst-case scenario. He knew the unconscious woman. She was indeed someone he knew all too well.

“Dr. Kensington.” He called out to her shaken by what he found. The doctor touched her shoulder only to confirm that she was burning up with fever.

“Lydia. Lydia. Liddie. My dear sweet girl. How in God’s name did this happen to you?" It was apparent that the old man was shaken by what he found. Even though he was distraught, he caught sight of how she struggled to open her eyes. When the one good eye managed the herculean task of opening just long enough to catch a glimpse of him, the patient immediately burst into tears.

“Ryder, I don’t think it would be a good idea to move her. Do you know her or how she came to be in this state?” Dr. Hubert questioned him as if he was suspicious of the young man’s involvement in whatever foul play may have contributed to the woman’s condition.

No, I just found her like this.” Ryder threw up his hands to signal he had nothing to do with the damage inflicted on his guest.

“Lydia Kensington is a doctor. She trained under me for a few years during medical school and after she graduated. As a matter of fact, I’m pretty sure I recently received an invitation to her upcoming wedding. Her fiancé is some hotshot real estate broker. His name is kind of strange like a girl’s name. I think it was Kee... K... Kim or something like that.” The doctor mumbled as he continuously fretted over the young woman.

Ryder’s blood turned to steam in his veins as he listened to the doctor go on and on. He hoped the elderly man wasn’t referring to the same jackass who had caused his family nothing but misery.

In his mind, he acknowledged there was no man he hated more than Kemi Eustace. He was the evil bastard who swindled Ryder’s aunt Willow Thornton out of a piece of prime family-owned real estate. Kemi was the one and only person he made a vow to utterly and completely destroy.

As the thoughts of his resentment filtered into his soul, he glanced over to the woman lying on his bed. Even though he had no definitive proof, he knew in his heart that it was the same sinister crook who did such a devilish work on his incapacitated guest. As sunshine brightened up the room, he began to fully register just how badly beaten she really was.

Previously, it was his intention to get her patched up and ship her off somewhere else. As the rays of the sun lightened the ambiance in the room, an epiphany filled Ryder’s consciousness. If he accepted the care for her, he was sure she would become a true blessing sent by God as a gift from heaven.

If Ryder could prove Kemi was the cause of Lydia’s suffering, he knew without a doubt he’d have everything he needed to send that bastard straight to hell where he belonged.

The more he considered the change of events, his mind was able to clearly identify the steps he must take to leverage the battle between himself and his nemesis by moving everything in a direction that would guarantee the success he had been desperately been fighting to gain for three years.

It was finalized in his mind. She wasn’t going anywhere. Even the two battle axes wouldn’t change his mind concerning this matter. If he kept her in his home, no one would ever learn of her whereabouts. Not to mention, if he confirmed that she was that monster’s fiancée... or after her attempt on her own life... his ex-fiancée, he had everything he needed to exact on Kemi the worst case of revenge anyone had ever received.

“Is his name Kemi... Kemi Eustace?” Ryder asked the question with an even tone. He had no desire to give away the depts of the ill will he felt for the man.

“Yes. That’s his name. It’s Kemi. I never much cared for him. He’s the cocky sort who loves to brag about himself nonstop.” The doctor continued his ranting as he always did.

At that moment, Ryder understood why his grandmother always accused the man of having diarrhea of the mouth. No matter what the situation was, the elderly man talked without ceasing.

“Are you sure she is that hack’s fiancée?” Ryder had to have his facts in place before he moved forward.

“Oh, I’m one hundred percent sure. Believe me when I tell you... it’s hard to forget someone like him. I know she isn’t my daughter, but I would’ve never approved of their relationship. Lydia was one of my best students. You’ll be hard-pressed to meet a more respectful and sweet individual. She was the best student I’ve had in a number of years.” Of course, as usual, he was ill-equipped to turn off his lips once they started flapping. Ryder listened as Dr. Hubert continued to sing her praises.

“Over the years, she has become like the daughter I never had. I’ve always been so proud of her and her accomplishments.” The doctor’s eyes bounced over to confirm that the younger man was paying attention. His eyes went back and forward between Ryder and Lydia.

Ryder was Kemi’s foe whom he knew all too well. There was no way that scam-artist would be willing to marry any woman unless she was someone of great importance. That bum valued no one more than himself. He hunted women who had at least one of two things. Kemi Eustace was known for hooking up with women of power or those who were massively wealthy.

He wasn’t an individual to do anything unless he could lie, cheat, and steal from someone to accomplish his goals. Those who had any business with realtors and construction knew him all too well for his nickname of “Caveat Emptor” or “Buyer Beware”.

For all of the hard work Ryder had done to right the wrongs Kemi had injected into the lives of the Thornton family, God placed her a mere ten minutes away from his home on an icy Friday morning and he was eternally grateful for such a blessing.

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