Chapter 1 - Parker/James
Did you ever get the feeling you weren’t good enough? I think at some point in life, it’s a sensation we have all witnessed within ourselves. For me, it started before I was born - I wasn’t a boy; how disappointing. To my Father, that is, Mum has always had a warm place in her heart for me; I just wish I saw more of her.
You see, I was the product of two people who married for money and status-not love. But that doesn’t happen in this day and age, I hear you say, if only.
My Father is a multi-millionaire. He owns businesses all over London, all around the world, in fact. He also comes from ‘old money.’ Mum is the daughter of a late Viscount; I never knew my maternal grandparents.
Long story short, Father was unfaithful several times throughout their marriage. Mum filed for divorce, my Father took her to court and gained everything- including me. He didn’t want me, of course, but he knew it would hurt Mum more than anything else ever could.
I loathed growing up with my Father. He has always been a cold and heartless man. His heart is in his business and his fortune, and even then, I’m sure it’s made of stone—even hearts made of ice thaw when warmed, but not his. I was never in his company for long, the odd function here and there, Christmas lunch for maybe an hour.
My childhood was spent with whatever nanny he’d hired. Having scared the others away with his cold attitude and leering advances.
I wander around the cold, stark, two-storey flat. All the communal areas, including our bedroom, scream, ‘I’m a bachelor.’ They were all designed by Matthew and haven’t changed since I moved in with him.
There is only one room that feels ‘lived in’ to me, my office. I say office, but it’s more like a sitting room, or as I affectionately refer to it, my sanctuary. I’d never tell Matthew I call it that. He’d only laugh at me and tell me what a silly idea it is. When I live such a luxurious life, why should I need a sanctuary; he’s right, of course.
Snuggling down on the plush, grey couch, I appreciate my space. It’s funny, the colour palette of the room is, for the most part, the same as the rest of the flat, greys in varying hues, but the splashes of teal, the warm oak furniture, the artwork on the walls, and the potted plants add an extra depth and sense of home to the room, unlike the others.
I am often found by various staff members curled up with a good book or watching yet another 80’s movie. My eyes drift over to my shelving unit, covered in my many trophies and achievements from my ballet days. A wistful smile curls onto my face. Those were the days. Not anymore, of course. A lady engaged to be married shouldn’t fill her life with a career, or profession, even an overly exerting hobby is a no-go.
Being the good daughter and wife to be that I am, I hung up my ballet slippers for the last time last year. Sure, I miss it, but as my Father and Matthew explained, Ballet was the dream I had as a child, and I am not a child anymore. I should focus my attention on other passions; I just wish I knew what passions they were.
The sound of the front door being opened confuses me, being the middle of the day, I’m not expecting anyone. Matthew never leaves work early, in fact, it’s quite the regular occurrence for him to stay late into the night. He’s also been known to go out for dinner with colleagues or attend one of the many clubs he owns.
It can’t be the Elena, the cleaner. She arrived early this morning and left around ten, what she finds to clean each day is beyond me, the place is spotless. Mostly because it’s just me here, all day every day, I don’t make much mess, and I tidy and clean as I go. I’ve suggested to Matthew on several occasions, that we let her go; he’s never been keen on the idea. Maybe it’s because having a cleaner ‘gives him status,’ or perhaps it’s because Elena happens to be one of the prettiest girls I’ve ever seen; most likely both.
As I stroll down the stairs to the door, I’m surprised by the voice I hear, “Darling, I’m home.” Ah, Darling, a nickname I am only ever called when we have company. I wonder who it is, I hope to God it isn’t one of his more handsy friends or associates.
When I reach the door, I greet Matthew with a kiss on the cheek, “What are you doing home so early?” He pulls away ending the kiss early, he isn’t a fan of public displays of affection, even though in public is one of the few times he will show affection of any kind.
“Darling, I’d like you to meet James Young. James, this is my fiancée, Parker Smith.” James holds out his hand to shake mine, I look at Matthew, and he gives me a sharp nod. Taking James’s hand in a gentle hold, I give him a small shake and an even smaller smile. As I’m about to retreat, he squeezes my hand a little tighter, I look up at him. What is he playing at? Is this some kind of show of dominance? His eyes catch mine, and I get a little lost in the gunmetal blue of them; it takes Matthew clearing his throat to bring me back.
After giving me a look, Matthew proceeds to show James around, I take a chance to appraise James as he wanders our home. He is wearing a suit, his eyes are always looking all around him; it’s like he’s scoping the place out. His build is athletic, and I’m curious to know if this James is one of Matthew’s security team. He rarely brings his friends or colleagues here, so he must be security.
His face is serious with a strong jaw, he’s well-kempt and obviously looks after himself, he has a little well-groomed stubble on his chin. The longer I watch him, the more I can appreciate what a good looking guy he is. Matthew is a handsome man, but he doesn’t have anything on James. Can I say that about the man I’m supposed to marry?
I suppose that’s just it, had I chosen Matthew for myself I might feel differently towards him, I might treasure his appearance and personality more. But my Father set us up as a good match. I think it’s foolish, look how it turned out for him and Mum. However, I daren’t voice my opinions; I know better than that.
As the men continue the tour upstairs, I make myself scarce and find something to do.
I’m busying myself in the kitchen, in my own little world, they emerge from the upper landing, making their way down the stairs. They are mid-conversation, I wouldn’t usually care or listen, but it piques my interest when I hear my name. Matthew tells James the spare bedroom will be his to decorate how he pleases, the gym is two floors down, he has full use and access to it.
“Sorry to interrupt, Darling.” My voice is meek.
Matthew rolls his eyes at James, before giving an apologetic look, he then looks at me with daggers in his eyes, “Yes, Dear?” His voice drags.
“Did you say he was moving in?” I ask, confused.
Matthew scoffs at my question, “Of course he is, as your new bodyguard he’ll need to be available around the clock.”
“But why do I need a bodyguard?” I’m so confused, I don’t go anywhere, why on earth would I need protection?
“Because of my status, Darling. Now off you pop, we have things to discuss before I go back to work.” Off I pop, just like that, the conversation is over once more.
I think the interview went well, my new boss is a bit of a dickhead, but men with money in the upper classes always do. My new job is to act as a bodyguard for some spoilt rich bitch. Nothing I haven’t handled before, I’m used to their snotty remarks, their demanding ways. The way they try and flirt their way through any situation.
Mr Pearson, my new boss, has explained that my client is his fiancée. He’s concerned about her safety as a young woman with money, with the family’s status and their faces in the media, he’d feel better knowing that someone was watching over her while he’s busy, fair do’s. Mr Pearson is also concerned about who she spends her time with while he is at work. Sounds like a shitty, overprotective arsehole if you ask me, but they don’t, I’m paid to do my job, and I do it bloody well.
We’re on the way to his home, which as of accepting the job, is also my home. I’m used to having to move around, so I’m not bothered.
As we enter the foyer to the building, I note all cameras and all the staff on the front desk. When I found out about the job, naturally, my first port of call was to order background checks on family, staff and staff within the building, but not connected straight with the family. Like I said, I do my job, and I like it done well.
We take the lift up to the top, ‘the penthouse’ is situated over two floors, not too shabby. As we enter, my eyes are catching everything windows, possible ways in and out, I don’t miss a thing.
Mr Pearson calls out as we enter the flat, a gorgeous woman with strawberry blonde locks walks towards us. It may seem unprofessional to refer to my client as ‘gorgeous,’ but fuck, I’m only human, and I can appreciate an attractive woman when I see one, just as long as I don’t do anything about it.
I watch her walk over, every move seems calculated, but from the description I received in the guy’s office, I was expecting a high-maintenance princess, this chick has half her hair tied back, and her clothes are slouchy and comfortable. Maybe it’s because she’s at home, only time will tell, I guess.
She tiptoes to kiss him on the cheek and asks why he’s home early, she’s shocked and concerned. She eyes me with suspicion but never makes eye contact, I hate that. Eye contact is vital when getting to know someone.
Mr Pearson introduces us, I knew her name. Hell, I’d seen her face, but seeing her in person, she’s something else, I just need to see those eyes. I hold my hand out to shake her hand, people will usually give a little eye-contact during physical contact, worth a try.
Before she takes my hand, I notice the little look she gives her man - is she asking his permission? Fuck. I don’t like that. Not your place Jamo, not your place. When she does take my hand, her grasp is light, her smile is small, is it fear, or can she just not bear touching ‘the help?’ I give her hand a bit of a squeeze to get her to look at me.
Her eyes widen, she looks straight into mine. I want to see more in them, but I don’t; she’s clever at hiding her emotions. Mr Pearson clears his throat, acting like a possessive prick, yet again.
I release her hand, and she backs up. I’m taken off around the flat, I can feel her eyes on me the whole time, I catch her looking at me through my peripherals. What is her deal?
The whole place is cold and clinical, even their bedroom is boring as fuck, it doesn’t seem lived in. It looks like some fancy show home or a hotel room where you daren’t touch anything. As we move through the rest Of the upstairs, I’m shown my room, it’s a blank space all bar the furniture. It’ll be full of my home comforts in no time at all. I may be an ex-Royal Marine, I may like my shit neat and tidy, and I know I move around a lot, but fuck I do like my home comforts, especially when I plan to stay in a particular position long term.
Heading back towards the stairs, I notice a room he hasn’t shown me. “What’s in there?” My voice is confident as I ask him.
He turns to look at me and turns up his nose, letting out what I’m beginning to realise is a signature scoff, “Oh, that’s Parker’s space, I don’t go in there, it’s bloody awful. She has no taste.” He goes to walk off, but I can’t help myself.
I don’t hesitate to give the handle a turn, the room is unlocked, behind the door is like a different place. It’s light and airy. Plants adorn each surface, and artwork hangs on the walls; real art, not just art because the owner thinks it must be unique because it was expensive. She has a plush sofa, covered in cushions and blankets, a TV with stacks of DVD’s, there’s even a small desk tucked in the corner. I’m learning more about this woman every minute.
I shut the door and turn to my new employer, I give him a nod letting him know I’m ready to continue. We descend back downstairs. “So, if you are agreeable, you can take the week to settle anything at your old place, as I said the room is yours to do what you like to it, there is a gym two floors down, you may use it whenever you please. You’ll be required to watch—I mean protect Parker round the clock. Of course, we’ll need to discuss the details of holidays and days off, but right now I need to get back to the office.” I nod my understanding and shake his hand.
The strawberry-blonde bombshell approaches us and clears her throat, “Sorry to interrupt, Darling.”
Matthew rolls his eyes at me before giving an apologetic look, he then looks at her with daggers in his eyes, “Yes, Dear?” His voice drags.
“Did you say he was moving in?” Her voice is meek as she asks him a question, seems like boss-man doesn’t like to be questioned.
Mr Pearson scoffs at her, “Of course he is, as your new bodyguard he’ll need to be available around the clock.”
“But why do I need a bodyguard?” She looks confused—a little hurt.
“Because of my status, Darling. Now off you pop, we have things to discuss before I go back to work.” I raise my eyebrow at his comment. I’m waiting for her to explode at him like most women would, after having received a chauvinistic comment, but she doesn’t. She just retreats upstairs.
Why do I get the feeling this might just be my most interesting job yet?~**~