Collateral Damage

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Summary

Henry lives in a nation filled with corruption and deceit. Saying or doing the wrong thing can cost someone their career and is punishable by prison. Henry is a rising star, but he has one big secret, his sexuality. Amongst the long list of rules and forbidden practices, engaging in a relationship with someone of the same gender is one of the limitations. But, so what? Henry will simply continue to hide his truth. He’s done it his whole life up until now, it can’t be that hard. Or at least that’s what he thought. When a controversial new project of his starts to receive backlash Henry’s life takes a dangerous turn and he finds himself intertwined in a series of murders. The people Henry loves most are in danger, and he must make sacrifices to protect them, but the further he goes, the darker it gets. Henry isn’t fighting for love, he’s fighting for his life.

Genre:
Thriller / Romance
Author:
jwtc
Status:
Ongoing
Chapters:
1
Rating:
n/a
Age Rating:
16+

The Heir

The howling wind outside causes the trees to ripple and sway in the night. The sound of small branches scraping lightly against the window is overpowered by the notes ringing in the air. Jamie’s long slender fingers dance across the ivory keys of his grand piano, each press with passion and purpose. Every stroke sends the felt wrapped wooden hammers inside the body of the instrument to pound against the metallic strings, releasing notes that vibrated through the million-dollar estate. Jamie, immersed in the song he is playing, tenses and relaxes succinctly with the waves of the music, his silhouette is illuminated by the crackling fireplace beside him. The music intensifies, Jamie’s fingers are slamming down on the keys, his hands are flying over keyboard blurring the black and white pieces. Slowly tears begin to fall, hitting the keys, drop by drop, rolling down his cheeks. Jamie’s soft crying, is as always, muffled by the mask of his music.

Behind the lavish décor and winding staircases, this mansion is simply an empty home filled with vacant rooms. Jamie DuPont was left the sole resident of this palace-like structure when his parents where both swallowed by a factory fire, in an accident whilst they were checking one of the DuPont family gunpowder manufacturing plants. As the sole heir of the family business, Jamie had no time to grieve the loss of his parents and was forced to take over when he was only eighteen. Other powerful businessmen in the industry pitied Jamie but shrouded in the pity they saw an opportunity. Now, the DuPont business, a multi-billion-dollar empire, was resting in the hands of an inexperienced, incapable, teen. He could trust no one, many who were close family friends tried to take advantage of his innocence and the public wasn’t kind either. Understandably so, it is hard to pity the upper class, and Jamie didn’t ask them to. The DuPont stock plummeted as shareholders abandoned the business in fear of Jamie’s incompetence. But that was where everyone was wrong, Jamie wasn’t someone to be pitied, he was indeed young, but he was also capable, driven, and calculative. He worked closely with factory overseers to improve working conditions, met endlessly with engineers to innovate new technology, and kickstarted charitable foundations. It was through years of hard work that Jamie rebuilt the DuPont empire that had come crumbling down in an instant, regaining the trust of his business partners and consumers.

Now, at twenty-six, Jamie has successfully and completely flipped his image. Jamie thought it was funny really that such different adjectives could describe the same him. His young age was no longer an insult, it is no longer, “he is too young to run the company,” it is, “he is so young, and he has already achieved so much.” Because of the long journey to respect and trust, Jamie knew better than to show anyone his weakness. In the public eye, he was simply an intelligent, emotionless, businessman. It was only behind closed doors, when no one else was around, that he could be vulnerable. It was only in the darkness of the night that Jamie could mourn the loss of his parents. It was only under the sound of the music he played that he could weep.

Jamie’s right ring finger hits the last key, the final note echoing and bounced in the vast open space. As the ringing slowly fades away, the world becomes still again, Jamie can feel his thoughts floating and settling back onto the ground. He takes a deep breath and quickly runs the back of his hand across his cheek and chin, wiping away the wetness from his tears. Slowly, he lifts his head and his gaze rests on the small gold frame resting on the lid of the piano. In the frame rests a photo of Jamie, beaming in the middle, his mother on his left, his father on his right. The flickering flames causing the faces in the photo to come in and out of focus in the darkness. Reaching his hand up shakily Jamie lifts the photo frame, and brings it towards himself, clutching the cool, metal in his grasp.

Jamie lets out a shaky breath, “Mom, Dad, I’m trying my best to continue your legacy, I hope I haven’t let you down,” he smiled somberly in the darkness, “but, it’s really hard sometimes.”

A tear hits the glass covering the photo, “I miss you guys so much…”

The sudden light sound of footsteps causes Jamie to go stiff. His breathing becomes quicker as he focusses his attention on the silence. Amongst the soft white noise of the crackling fire and the whistling wind, Jamie’s heartbeat is like a drum. Squinting into the darkness a chill runs down Jamie’s spine as his eyes land on a figure standing in the corner of the large, open, living room. Jamie jolts to his feet causing the piano bench to teeter behind him, falling with a deafeningly loud crash on the marble floor. The figure lunges forward, revealing a sharp glinting object in their hand. Instinctively, Jamie hurls the photo frame he’s holding at the figure, it hits his chest slowing his advancement and falls to the ground, the glass shattering around them. Jamie leaps away and begins bolting down the hallway, his socked feet slipping slightly over the smooth floor. The figure comes thundering behind him, grabs the collar of his shirt, and yanks him back. Wriggling free Jamie spins around and raises his knee forcefully sending a blow into the attacker’s stomach. As the figure stumbles back Jamie rips a large painting from off the wall and slams it down on the figure's head. The painting rips over the figure and Jamie releases his grasp on the frame, backing away quickly, skidding down the hall again. Swinging around the next corner of the house he grabs a flower-filled vase off a glass stand and chucks the glazed fine porcelain at the attacker. Without glancing twice Jamie runs through the ballroom, and thrusts the large glass back doors open, running into the backyard garden. He spins around to see the figure shoving the doors open and chasing behind him.

Jamie races past carefully trimmed hedges and neatly planted flowers, the different colors whizzing past him as he runs. The garden path widens, and the pool stretches out before him, the rippling water, illuminated only by the moonlight. Jamie is roughly slammed to the ground, the skin on his hands getting ripped raw by the rough ground of the pool deck. He flips over onto his back, facing the attacker, mustering all his strength in an effort to shove the person off. His breath hitches as his eyes lock with a familiar pair.

“You-” Jamie gasps.

But, it’s too late, Jamie can already feel the coolness of the blade pressed on the skin of his neck.

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