Life wasn’t a game of chance, it was one of chess. One wrong move and one could lose their life and that’s exactly how I felt being in the taxicab from hell.
The driver was paying more attention to the rearview mirror than he was driving. He was oblivious to the movements of the car; how it steered further to the right and over the broken white lines on the road. Luckily, it was nearing midnight. Dark skies hovered above, only the headlights brightened our way back to the mansion on the outskirts of Crescentgate, my hometown. The driver was lucky there were hardly any cars out, if not we would’ve been dead.
“How about you keep your eyes on the road? You know, for everyone’s safety.” I glanced at him from the mirror. His narrowed eyes shifted to mine.
Beside me, my boss, Mr. Vasiliev cleared his throat. A signal he used to keep others quiet, to keep the peace. He’d been quiet for the ride, taking note of the swerves the car made. “As much as I admire your curiosity, Mr. James here is right. You should keep your eyes on the road.”
I glanced over, catching Me. Vasiliev staring up at the mirror. He hardly ever spoke without making eye contact.
“I’m sorry Mr. Vasiliev. It’s just the first time I’ve ever seen a famous person before.”
Mr. Vasiliev wasn’t exactly famous. He was a well known, wealthy businessman from Russia.
“I’m no one special. Just a man who pursued his goals.”
He anticipated moves from others and used it to his advantage to grow his business and take over others.
“And made a lot of money from it.” The driver stopped the car just as we reached the front entrance.
“Yes, but money isn’t all that wonderful. It’s just green paper.” He smiled handing the driver a stack of cash. “Family and sharing your days with them are far more important.”
One would think the man was a hypocrite. He spent less time with his family than most did. Mr. Vasiliev was always on the go. His wife, off in Thailand on “vacation”. At least that’s what he told others when asked. His children, well the youngest was at boarding school five hours away from Valentine Shores, where Club Gravity and my brother Daniel resided. As for the other Vasiliev, she was old enough to do what she wanted.
And apparently, that was being a lingerie model for Risque Dreams.
I shrugged at the thought, letting it slide off my mind. There were more important matters to think about, like keeping Mr. Vasiliev safe while also trying to keep out of view from my family.
Mr. Vasiliev smiled, his attention shifted in my direction. With a nod, he silently told me he was ready.
I pulled on the handle and pushed the door open. Stepping out, I glanced around making sure the area was safe before I turned back to the car.
Mr. Vasiliev slid out, closing the door behind him. “To think, I hadn’t planned on having a building here when I first started out, but I’m glad I did.”
Matching each other’s pace, we walked side by side down the concrete path towards the mansion. “Because it’s your second home? Quiet and away from your usual place.”
“This is also the town where you applied to be a security guard at my hotel and instead became my right hand.”
Right hand? No, I was more than certain I was still a guard of different sorts. Being a security guard would have been a bit easier, less trouble, and I’d be with my family. But, I moved forward, like the pawns on a chessboard, working for extra money and better opportunities.
“You grew up here, yes?”
There were reasons as to why he would ask such a thing, but the one that came to mind was that I still had yet to take time off. A day once every few months didn’t count, but it was the most I could do. One wrong move and I put my family in danger. I couldn’t do that, I wouldn’t and so I refused to actually take a vacation.
I nodded. “Here and Valentine Shoes.”
“Good, then it’s settled.”
I raised an eyebrow at him.
He reached into his pocket and pulled out his phone, showing me a recent photo of his daughter. Her bright smile reaching the speck of happiness in her eyes. Her brown flowed down over a simple black t-shirt. She was fully clothed, nothing like the pictures I’ve seen thanks to the other people working at Vasiliev co.
“Do you remember my daughter, Karina?”
Of course, I remembered her. First times weren’t easily forgotten. It may have been three years, but what person in their right mind would ever forget the only time they gave themselves blue balls?
How could I forget the way she cuddled up to me in her bed, the way her lips found mine in the dark, or the way her bare skin felt on the pads of my finger? I couldn’t and that was probably the worst thing my brain could have ever done.
I focused back on the road, ahead catching the light on his phone from the corner of my eye disappearing into his pocket. “My daughter is flying in. She’ll be here by morning.”
Flying in but, “Why?”
“She has her reasons.”
I wasn’t going to ask any further.
An iron gate blocked our path. I reached over to the left and pressed my finger to the button the speaker box that was planted into the cemented column. “Vasiliev and James. Secured.”
As I took my finger off, the gate creaked and opened. We stepped inside, the lighted path turned on, leading our way up the steps to the two-story home.
“Karina will be staying for as long as she needs and I’d like for you to take care of her.” Mr. Vasiliev spoke calmly.
I nearly choked. “You want me to watch your daughter?”
“With the recent threats here, I think it would be best.”
“Has anyone threatened her?”
“None that either of us is aware of, though I am certain she has her own as well.”
A pretty girl like her, I wouldn’t be surprised. Still, I was sure Mr. Vasiliev was losing his mind. Special tasks were not my thing. I liked staying by Mr. Vasiliev’s side. It gave me a sense of pride to know that his life was still safe, thanks to me.
“With all due respect, isn’t your daughter old enough to not need a babysitter?”
“My daughter is a Vasiliev in need of protection.”
He just had to remind me of my duties. “Of course. I will take care of her.”
“I trust you will be professional,” he spoke as the front door opened.
Professional, with a lingerie model. Was that even possible? No.
Granted, that still didn’t stop me from thinking this was a big mistake. Karina Vasiliev was going to be the death of me. I could easily protect those around, make sure my boss's clients and partners didn’t get out of hand, and keep my boss level headed. But him trusting me, Nathan James with his daughter was the worst assignment he ever had me do.
In the eight years, I worked for him, I’ve tossed countless bodyguards out before I ever met Karina all because they couldn’t handle the task. I should have been glad, but I just as weak. The first night we met, I had trouble keeping my hands to myself. And the only reason why I still had my job and Mr. Vasiliev trusted me was because I actually told him that she was drunk and we kissed, nothing more happened other than my fingers traveling up her legs, but I stopped and left it at that. Even after she turned away in a fit. I wasn’t going to let my sexual desires and attraction to a beautiful woman keep me from doing my job.
I followed behind Mr. Vasiliev as he entered.
“You have my word.” Because if not, you’d have my head. “But I still don’t understand why you’re trusting her in my hands when you know what happened the last time.”
We walked down the hallway to his office. He flipped the lights on and walked over behind his desk, taking a seat. I did the same, talking my usual spot, across from him. He shrugged his shoulders. Placing his elbows on the table, he interlocked his fingers and rested his chin upon them.
“I trust you to do what is right. You’ve proven to me that you do not mix personal life with business.”
I had to. It was either give my full name, visit my family every weekend, and lead people who wanted nothing more than to hurt me, to my family. There was no way in hell I’d let that happen. “I could.”
“But you wouldn’t.”
“You do know we’re around the same age, it’s not like the other guards who were much older.”
“I understand and maybe that’s what my daughter needs. A companion.”
He made it sound like he wanted me to fuck her or that I was a dog. Either way, I could be both, for her.
“A friend to rely on.”
Yeah, he was definitely recruiting me as a pet.
“I think it’d be good for both of you. Karina could use a trustworthy friend and you would benefit from getting the same.”
Being friends with my boss’s daughter... yeah no that sounded like more trouble than I needed. Karina was a Vasiliev, meaning she had a target on her back. Us being friends would make that target bigger because the people who hated me and not the Vasiliev’s would go after her thinking there was more than just friendship.
“I guess I’ll pick her up in the morning then and show her around.” But, that didn’t mean we were going to be friends.
After all, I was sure she hated me.