Flipping the coin
“On the road again?” Torren walked into my room that morning, just as I was throwing some clothes into a suitcase.
“Yeah,” I sifted through some drawers for socks and boxers. “It’s Maya’s birthday on Friday and I’m expected to be there a day before-not that I’m complaining. I still need to pick up my parents before we fly to Rome.”
“Can’t you squeeze me into that bag?” He laughed as he crossed the room and sat on the ottoman in front of me. “I heard an invitation to that party is like getting a black diamond.”
“If you’d agreed to sign up with Kyle you would have had one,” I told him.
“As you know, I have a lot going on,” he sighed and drew his knees up against his chest. “Basketball, family drama-I might have a baby on the way…I don’t have time to be in the studio, man.”
“Why are you packing when you have someone that gets paid to do that for you?”
“Habit, I guess,” I shrugged.
“How long are you going to be gone?”
“Just the weekend,” I replied and snapped the full suitcase shut. “I’ll be back on Sunday night.”
“Which means I have the whole place to myself,” he winked.
“I’ll get that,” I said when the buzzer on the intercom went off. “That should be the driver.” I grabbed my iPhone off the table and walked over to press the buzzer. “I’ll be right down,” I informed who I thought was the chauffeur.
“I’d prefer it if I came up.”
“What do you want Deacon?”
“Let me in little pig, then you will find out.”
“I’m not letting you into my house.”
“Maybe this will change your mind…” There was a slight pause and then I could hear a scuffle in the background.
“Corbyn? Is that you?”
“Is my mom there?” he inquired. “I was at school and Deacon and gran came to get me. I don’t know what happened to gran though-”
“Going once…” Deacon was on again.
“If you hurt him-”
“I want a one million dollars,” he whispered. “Hard cash. Right now.”
“I don’t have that kind of money on me-”
“But you have access to it,” he countered. “You have exactly twenty-four hours,” he stated his ridiculous terms. “No police. No funny business. I’ll be in touch.”
Even as I dashed downstairs, I knew he would be long gone. It was worth a try, all the same.
I was breathless when stepped from the apartment building to the sidewalk lining the busy street. My eyes scanned the periphery as I ran around the block but I couldn’t find them. My knees were weak, but my legs finally obeyed and I turned back toward my apartment building.
I found the driver waiting for me, my bags already packed in the trunk of the SUV. He held the door open and I shot Torren a text that I was leaving before I jumped in.
When I neared the car, when Sam and Zara burst out the lobby, without any warning, and by the looks of it, they were in the heat of a catfight. It couldn’t have been about me. At least I hoped it wasn’t.
I had made my feelings clear to both of them. I was in love with Blue and they both knew it. Samantha and I had grown close during the past months because of the work I was doing with a well-known clothing designer. We were both brand ambassadors and had spent a lot of time together, doing photoshoots and the like. She was a hot supermodel and most guys would have given just about anything to be with her. And she wasn’t the stereotypical model, she wasn’t a featherbrained model but she was smart, funny and had become a really good friend. On the day Blue and I had the huge blowout, she came over to my place and I just ranted and raved, while she listened and sympathized, then one thing led to another… Let’s just say that thing never happened again. We decided we were better off as friends.
She caught me at a moment of weakness and I was vulnerable, I wouldn’t have kissed her otherwise. I stopped it when things were getting heated and about to go too far. Somehow, I felt like I was cheating on Blue. It’s stupid, I know.
The battle was intense when I told one of my bodyguards to pry them off each other, as they exchanged very unladylike obscenities. A crowd had gathered and some people began to film the show.
“I don’t have time for this!” I yelled at Zara and Sam and hopped into my ride. Leaving them both gaping. When I glanced back I saw Sam throw a shoe at the moving vehicle. It would have been funny under different circumstances.
I had more important things to do.
I called my bank manager and asked him to arrange for the funds but he told me he needed at least a week to organize it. For once I refused to compromise. “Make it happen in the next hour or risk losing me as a client.”
“Of course, Mr Coleman,” he immediately changed his tune. “Right away, sir.”
I bounced my knee and contemplated whether I should tell Blue or not. Her son was in danger, didn’t she have a right to know? a hefty ransom on his head. And why didn’t Deacon go to Blue with his demands instead of me? Had he called her? Was she even aware of what was going on?
I shouldn’t worry her with this. I should handle it and just give Deacon what he wanted. If all else fails, I would tell her.
When I arrived at the bank, a secretary escorted us to my manager’s office and we followed the corridor as it curved to the left. The bank manager rose and motioned for me to take a seat in a plush leather chair.
“Can I get you anything, Mr. Coleman?”
“It’s Corbyn and no-I just need the money for now.”
“I’ll be right back,” he said and left me alone.
I looked around, nervous and uncomfortable, like I was doing something wrong. Except I wasn’t. I was trying to do the right thing, right? AJ’s life was on the line and I had to do something. Even if it meant giving in to the unreasonable demands of a psychopath.
I heard the door open again and Ryan stepped in. “Corbyn,” he said, sinking into the chair beside me. “What’s going on?”
“Did he call you?!” I turned on Ryan, my frown fierce.
“He was concerned, and so am I.”
“Am I not allowed to use my money? When and how I want to?” I found myself on the defensive.
“Do you mind if I ask what you need a million dollars for? Urgently?”
“It’s not your concern,” was my clipped response.
“Are you in trouble?” he looked solemnly at me over his spectacles and continued. “I can help if only you would-”
“Can you just stay out of this?” I sat back and sighed heavily. “I’d like you to leave. Now, please.”
“Would you like me to call you parents?”
“No!” I exclaimed sharply. “No one can know about this. Understand?!”
“Then let me help you, Corbyn?” he persisted in a gentle, coaxing voice.
“You can’t,” I clenched the arms of my chair hard enough for my knuckles to turn white. “Can you go? Please?”
“Promise me you will call me if you need me?” he insisted as he unfolded his long frame from the seat.
“Promise,” I answered, my voice trembling slightly.
“I’m always here if you need me,” Ryan said then squeezed my shoulder and stepped out of the office.
Deacon requested a meeting at a park early on a Saturday morning. Or demanded rather. He had the misconception that he held all the power and called the shots.
Somehow, I knew that what he had done to me and Maddie was just a warning. He was causing unspeakable chaos in my life. First, it was the blackmail, the threat to Corbyn’s life and then now Maddie had tried to seduce him and...we all know how that ended. Deacon even went as far as enrolling at my college and taking the exact same classes. Then the other day, I found him sitting in my mother’s house playing video games with my son. I kicked him out and he just laughed as he sauntered out. He had proven his point in more ways than one.
My efforts to talk Maddie out of helping me were fruitless. She always threatened me with this line: “It’s either I help you take him down or I tell Kyle and Maya. You choose.”
She was trying to beat him at his own game and she wasn’t going to win. She was only going to get hurt and I would never forgive myself if anything happened to her.
My attention was on some children playing on the merry-go-round, so I didn’t immediately see him. He stopped a few feet away from me, nodded then motioned me away from the lake, towards the trees. I trod down the grassy trail, scanning the woods ahead as I neared. We walked to a lush green open space just beyond; where there was a thicket of slender branches clothed with tiny, dark-green leaves along the river bank. Half the area was in shadow, the other half brightly lit by the sun.
He stopped and pulled on a cigarette as he leaned on a tree. Smoke swirled around him, forming a fog around his face. “Look at you,” his eyes raked over my body from head to foot, his eyes drinking in every inch of me. “Looking as gorgeous as ever.”
I hadn’t put any effort into my appearance today-neither had he. He was dressed in full black as usual and the way he was looking at me, made me feel naked, giving me chills. I stood, cramming my hands into the pockets of my Sissy Boy jeans as I frowned down at him. “What do you want Deacon?”
“Is that Coleman’s sweater?” he inquired, staring at my top, his lips twisting in displeasure.
“I’m sure you didn’t drag me here to discuss my wardrobe. What do you want?”
He laughed as he stomped on the cigarette butt. “You really want to know?”
“That’s why I’m here.”
“I’d love to take you against this tree until your screams of ecstasy will have even the squirrels feeling frisky.”
“We both know that’s not going to happen,” my response was edgy and terse.
“It almost did. If Coleman hadn’t butted in-”
“What do you want?!”
“I want more money,” he retaliated. “One mil.”
“You heard me.”
“No,” I said. “I can’t do this anymore. It ends now.”
“Careful…” he let out a low growl and narrowed his eyes.
“I’m not with Corbyn any more. I don’t care what happens to him,” I bluffed and hoped he bought it.
“I say that’s a load of bull!’
“Think what you want. I don’t care.” I told him and started to walk away.
“Walk away and you know what’s going to happen.”
“Do it!” I shouted and hurried away.
A loud scream had me stopping dead in my tracks.
This had gone on long enough. I wasn’t going to give him another cent. I was way in over my head, it was time to get help.