Unbreakable Hearts, page 2part #2 of CEP Series
“Christ! Motherfucker can fuckin’ run,” John “Oz” Osby grumbled as he chased after the bail skipper he was trying to bring in.
Oz worked for Citadel Executive Protection, or CEP, a security company out of New York City, which specialized in bodyguards, surveillance and private investigations. His boss, Hank Murphy, who owned the company, had added bounty hunting to the list of services his company offered when he’d hired Oz. Oz was good at what he did, but he’d been chasing this latest guy who was a particularly slimy sucker for the past two days. So there he was in Bumfuck, New York, after midnight trying to apprehend the idiot before he got smart and crossed into Canada, effectually ending any and all pursuit.
And Oz was pissed.
About twenty minutes earlier, he’d found his mark in the local pool hall, but by some stroke of luck the guy had made him and taken off. And now the chase was on.
“I should just let the Morettis have you, you little prick!” Oz yelled after him. Jesus. Dumbass had to know he’d be better off with anyone but them, but, noooooo, douche bag had to keep running.
Three blocks, five backyards and one goddamned wrought-iron spiked fence later, Oz cut down an alleyway, climbed over a locked chain link gate, ran across a junkyard, leaping the fence and coming out on the other side just in time to head the skip off. He slammed his six-foot-four, two-hundred-plus-pounds of muscled self into the guy knocking him flat on his ass into the slush-covered street and it was all he could do to keep from ramming his fist into the guy’s face. Cops wouldn’t take him if he were banged up, though. Too bad.
“Stay the fuck still!” Oz hissed as he flipped the runner over, pushing his elbow into the back of the guy’s head, making him eat the driven slush and a tad bit of asphalt as a little payback for giving chase before cuffing him.
“Man, I didn’t do nothing!” the guy complained.
“Tell it to someone who gives a shit, Parker.” Oz hauled the guy up by a belt loop and the back of his jacket collar then marched him back through the streets of the one-horse town that didn’t even have a stoplight. In the quiet around them as the light snow fell soundlessly, the buildings appeared to sag in resignation as if tired of their mundane existence in the tiny little metropolis, knowing they’d seen their allotment of excitement that night and now had to wait another ten years for any to come through.
Oz headed them back to the bar, and once inside, propped Parker up on a barstool.
“Hey, man, you can’t leave me cuffed like this!” Parker complained.
“Can and damn well will,” Oz muttered, rubbing his aching right shoulder. God, he was twenty-seven years old but sometimes he felt as if he were ninety. “Bud,” he ordered with a nod of his head when the bartender approached him. He moved his arm around trying to relieve the pain then moved to sit two stools down from his detainee and ran his hands over his face. Jesus, it was at least five hours back to New York City, and God knew he could use one for the road.
“What about me?” Parker whined.
“What about you?” Oz asked, not even looking at him, and already dreading the ride with the idiot.
“Don’t I get anything to drink?”
Oz now looked at him, narrowing his eyes. When the bartender set his beer in front of him, Oz looked at him jerking his head toward Parker. “Ice water with a straw for my guest.”
When the bartender nodded and went to fill the order, Oz had to chuckle that no one so much as gave him a sideways look at the fact that he’d dragged a handcuffed man into the place and sat him on a stool. Guess they were used to fugitives on the run around here.
“Seriously? Water? Man, you are one coldhearted son of a bitch,” Parker murmured.
“If you only knew,” Oz said on a sigh, rubbing a hand over his face again then up through his military short brown hair thinking he didn’t want to deal with listening to this asshole all the way back to the city. As he took a long pull on his beer, he wondered if he still had that roll of duct tape in the glovebox.
“Hey, sugar. Haven’t seen you around here before.”
Oz looked over to see a pretty little brunette standing beside him. He smirked. “No, that you haven’t, sweetheart.”
She placed a hand on his jean-clad thigh, rubbing it up and down suggestively, getting awfully close to his goods on the up slide. “Thought you might be up for some fun,” she said with a wicked gleam in her eye.
Damn. He could so blow off some steam with her, but when he saw fucking Parker leaning to the side of her into his field of vision and waggling his eyebrows at him, he came to his senses. “Sorry, honey, but I’ll have to pass,” Oz told her. “Maybe next time I’m in town.”
She gave him a pouty face before moving on to her next target. He watched the woman’s ass swaying from side to side, her jean skirt barely covering her essentials as she sidled away, and wondered how she made it through the snow in the damned high-heeled hooker boots she wore. He let out a curse before chugging the rest of his beer. “Let’s go.” He stood then grabbed Parker by the arm, pulling him off the barstool and with him out the door.
“Hey, what about my car?” Parker asked looking up the street.
Oz followed his look seeing the LTD station wagon that’d seen wayyyyy better days. “That beater? Why don’t you let it die in peace?”
“Dude, it’s my friend’s.”
Oz sighed. “I’ll call and have it impounded then your friend can pick it up later.”
That seemed to appease Parker for about two seconds as they started walking. “Man, do I really need to be cuffed?”
The night air was crisp and cold and burned in Oz’s nose as he breathed deep, a plume of white appearing as he let out his breath. He led Parker to his old pickup truck that he’d parked a block down in front of the hardware store.
“I can cuff you in front so you’ll be more comfortable, but don’t think for a fucking second that I won’t put ‘em in the back again if you so much as make one wrong move.”
“Got it. You have my word that I won’t do anything wrong.”
Oz rolled his eyes at Parker’s promise as he opened the passenger door then glared at him before digging his keys out of his front pocket. He turned Parker so he could unlock the cuffs off one wrist, holding the loose cuff in his hand. “Get in,” he told him. Parker climbed up in the cab then Oz pulled on the cuffs, lacing one through the door handle then locking it around his wrist again.
“Hey! Why’d you do that?” Parker protested as he leaned toward where the cuffs were fastened to the handle, barely moving back in time to avoid being beaned in the head when Oz slammed the door. “Thanks a lot, man,” he grumbled when Oz got in the driver’s side.
Oz started the truck then snorted when Chris Cornell crooned out “Burden in My Hand” from the stereo speakers. Isn’t that the fucking truth, he thought looking over at his prisoner. He started his old truck then took off, hoping the music would drown Parker out or maybe the dumbshit would fall asleep soon. If that didn’t happen, he was sure he could locate that duct tape and put it to good use.
Graham Hightower sat back against the headboard of the bed in the room off of his office, naked and smoking a cigarette, his hand resting on the ass of the pretty intern lying asleep next to him. He’d called his wife earlier to let her know he’d be late to the dinner party they were to attend that night at her parents’ because he’d gotten tied up. More like he’d had some tying up to do, he thought snidely as he glanced over at the twenty-something girl.
Somehow, they always seemed to seek him out, and didn’t he just love it. He liked a little kink in his sex, needed that control to get off decently. And the burn marks on the girl’s wrists and ankles vouched for that entirely, not to mention the handprints that still graced that gorgeous ass of hers, all of which made his cock twitch in satisfaction.
Hell, anything was better compared to what Brynne allowed.
His wife was perfectly vanilla, and she
Graham was forty-eight and had made a killing in the eighties when he’d been hired by one of his father’s friends who was a defense contractor. He’d been in his second year at NYU and following in his father’s footsteps was majoring in corporate finance. He’d lucked into the position when he’d been home one weekend for a cocktail party his parents were hosting. His father’s friend had drunkenly offered him a job, which he, of course, had jumped at. The man had also been a corporate raider at the time, not wanting to miss out on the fun, and he’d shown Graham the ropes, which he’d soaked up like a sponge.
Graham had only been twenty-two at the time and before the decade was over he’d become a multimillionaire.
Since then, he’d had his fingers in many pies: hedge funds, real estate, Internet consulting firms, a few petroleum companies. He’d also played venture capitalist to various and sundry start-up companies, all of which kept the money pouring in. He didn’t count the insider trading that’d also helped keep the cash flow coming, the ties he had with the Russian mob or even that trivial little prostitution ring that he kept under wraps. He did have a reputation to uphold.
In the business world, he was a fierce competitor who thrived on the thrill of it all. He loved the dysphoria he felt when negotiating contracts, the uncertainty of it all ramping him up, and then the euphoric rush he got when knocking out another company with a better bid. He was at the top of his game when the heat was on, when the adrenaline was surging through his veins, when a deal was on the line. And he’d go to any length to get what he wanted.
And because money amounts to celebrity status, over the years Graham had been in and out of the limelight, his most touted honor was his being New York City’s most eligible bachelor for almost ten years running, his dark good looks and piercing gray eyes drawing tons of attention from the press as well as the many socialites who’d come calling.
But he’d given up that celebrity status when five years prior he’d married Brynne Cavendish, of Cavendish Industries, LLC, the “LLC” being a major plus in their union because in no way did he want to be responsible for having to bail out his future father-in-law’s business at some point on top of the task of becoming accustomed to a new bride.
Around age forty, Graham had come to that crossroad when one turned middle aged and he’d begun to feel dissatisfied with his life. He had anything and everything he could ever need, yet there was still that unsettling niggling in the back of his brain that kept him awake at night. It took him a couple months before he finally put a finger on it—he wanted an heir, someone to uphold the family name. So although he greatly prided himself in his bachelorhood, he took it upon himself to marry.
A year later, Brynne Cavendish, a former Miss New York, had caught his eye at a benefit he’d attended one evening, and he’d found that nothing he did to try to forget the blond beauty assuaged his desire to have her. He pursued her relentlessly for a year and a half before she’d agreed to go out with him, her reasoning being their difference in age—she’d been twenty-six at the time compared to his forty-three.
He’d finally charmed her (which might’ve involved spending an impressive amount of money to do so) and eventually put a ring on it, which by doing this, he’d not only gained a gorgeous new trophy wife, but also by proxy secured a not small by any means inheritance that Brynne’s grandfather had bequeathed her. He’d also acquired a shrewd father-in-law who’d threatened to cut his balls off if he hurt his little girl, but then Theo Cavendish had gone on to explain that he realized every man grew restless at some point and needed to let off some steam and he was okay with that. The old man had raised an eyebrow at Graham when he’d added, “No matter what kind of sex he prefers,” which had made Graham just a tad hot under the collar at the implication. And lastly, Theo had followed up with a stern caveat: If Graham even thought of divorcing Brynne, Theo would ruin him in every way he could, as he and his family were staunch members of St. Patrick’s and divorce was strictly forbidden in the Catholic church.
Graham had thought on this a couple days before agreeing. He knew Theo could get any and all information on him and could definitely take him down, but, hey, a father-in-law who all but encouraged cheating? That shit was too good to pass up.
Graham smiled now at how seamlessly everything had gone for him after that one tiny speed bump in acquiring Brynne, and if he had his way, she’d be knocked up by the year’s end and he’d have a son to carry on the Hightower pedigree.
The girl beside him sighed and stretched before turning and grabbing a handful of cock as she looked up at him with mischievous eyes and pouty lips, her fingers tightening almost painfully around his length. And what do you know? He was ready for another go round, and she was really going to get it this time, he decided as he stabbed out the cigarette in the tray on the bedside table.
“Darlin’, I don’t think you realize what you’re messing with here,” he mumbled as he looked down at her through narrowed eyes, eyebrow raised. At her replying giggle, his hand shot out to encircle her neck and he pushed her hard into the bed leaving her gasping for breath. As he bent to grab the ropes from the floor, he told her, “Baby, it’s time to play for real this time.”
Tilly contorted her mouth then with a breath blew her bangs up on top of her head as she tried getting the toddler who was her latest client to “sit still and smile” as the child’s mother had requested.
“See the squeakie duckie, Sophie?” Tilly enticed the little girl as she squeezed the rubber toy making it “quack.” Sophie just kept digging through Santa’s bag of toys that Tilly was using as a prop, not paying an ounce of attention to the camera, which was great in Tilly’s eye, though not quite what the mother had in mind, she knew. Regardless, she pulled her camera off its tripod then placing her glasses on top of her head, began clicking off shot after shot from various angles of the child who squealed in delight and whose eyes twinkled with each “gift” that she pulled out of the bag.
Tilly was known for her candids, after all, and the shoot had suddenly turned into her kind of gig. She was totally in her element now. She’d at first tried convincing the mother that she could get some great pictures of the child if she’d let her do what she did best by letting the little girl be herself, but the mother had insisted on stuffy, portrait-style photographs, which Tilly thought were booooring, but whatever. Well, that wasn’t gonna be happening any time too soon with the child’s lack of attention to anything but the bag of goodies, so off Tilly went.
When she’d taken gobs of pictures, she stopped, realizing she’d gotten caught up in it all, and looked over at the child’s mother who was frowning at her, arms crossed over her chest.
“That’s it!” Tilly said cheerfully. She helped Sophie down off the platform she’d been sitting on, letting her keep the baby doll she held tightly in her pudgy, little hands.
“Well, I don’t know what that was…” her client retorted angrily.
Tilly smiled softly. “If you’ll be patient with me for a moment, I can show you exactly what that was.”
The woman got up from where she sat, smoothing her Burberry skirt then picked up her daughter walking over to Tilly’s computer in a huff. But as the pictures began displaying on the screen in a slideshow, the woman sucked in a breath at what she saw. “They’re beautiful,” she whispered.
Tilly smiled bigger, a sense of relief coming over her. She’d known the pictures would be
In the end, her customer bought three disks of the pictures for a tidy sum, one for herself and one for each set of grandparents.
“Thank you. I’d heard you were good. I’m sorry I questioned that,” the woman said sheepishly.
Tilly laughed. “It’s not a problem at all. I’m just glad you liked what I took.” She reached a hand out and curled one of Sophie’s blond locks around her finger playfully. “Besides, it’s easy when you have an awesome subject to work with.” She moved her finger over and dotted Sophie’s nose making the child chortle with glee.
“I’ll be sure to tell all my friends about you,” the woman said as she pulled Sophie’s coat on.
“Please do so,” Tilly said handing the woman several business cards when she’d buttoned her daughter up.
The woman left after thanking Tilly again, and Sophie, a huge grin on her face, waved at her over her mother’s shoulder. After waving back at the beautiful girl and making a silly face at her, which made the child giggle again, Tilly took a deep breath of satisfaction at a job well done.
“Oz!” Hank Murphy yelled from his office.
“Comin’, boss man,” Oz hollered right back from the lobby of CEP where he’d been flirting with the new secretary who wanted nothing to do with him. “Talk to you later, Abby,” he said to her with a wink, making her smile wryly, before he headed to see what job his boss had for him. “Damn, chick’s hard as nails,” he muttered to himself before knocking on the doorframe of Hank’s office.
“Good job on bringing Parker in. Moretti’s pissed, but that’s his own damned fault. I’m just glad you got him back without incident,” Hank told him from where he sat behind his desk, motioning with his head for Oz to come in and have a seat.
“Thanks. But I swear to God, Hank, if I’d had to spend one more minute with him and his yammering, I think I would’ve dropped him off on Moretti’s doorstep, gladly sacrificing the son of a bitch for some peace and fucking quiet,” Oz said as he took a seat.
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