Traded(8)By: Rebecca Brooke
Leaning my arms on the chair, I regarded him, waiting for him to begin. He didn’t speak, just crossed his arms over his chest.
That’s the way it was going to be. Fine.
“Do you want to explain to me why, when you owe me one hundred and fifteen thousand dollars, you come here empty handed?”
He shrugged. “Why should I pay you back it’s not like you’re going to do anything about it?” He nodded towards Brock. “You need him to deal with your problems, and I’m pretty sure the two of us could work out a deal.”
From the corner of my eye, I saw Elena stiffen in her chair. Brock moved, but I shook my head and he stopped.
“See what I mean. You need muscle to take care of shit for you.” He called over his shoulder. “What do you say man, I give you half of what I owe in cash to let me walk away.”
In a flash I was out of my seat, my fist connecting with Reynolds’ face. He went down. I grabbed his wrist, rolling him over, wrenching his arm up around his back.
“Make no mistake, you piece of shit, I don’t need anyone to deal with my problems. I can handle them all on my own. Brock is for when I don’t want to handle them. But tonight, for you, I’ll make a special exception.”
His free hand sat flat on the floor, where he attempted to get enough purchase to throw me off. Taking advantage, I picked my foot up and slammed the heel of my shoe into the back of his hand. Bones crunched and the fucker shouted, only to have Brock shove a handkerchief in his mouth.
A gasp sounded behind me, but I ignored it.
I bent down to where he was lying. “Listen very closely. You are going to get out of my sight and work on getting me my money. You be back here in a week with one hundred and thirty thousand dollars, or a broken hand will be the least of your worries. Do I make myself clear?”
“Now Brock will escort you out and explain a few more things.”
Standing, I turned to see Elena, eyes wide, her shaking hand covering her mouth. I thought about comforting her, but the reality was this was her life for the next three months. Not that I’d bring her with me again.
Silence descended once again when she turned back to the game. Leaning back in the chair, I continued to watch her and as the end of the game grew closer, I saw signs of nervousness. At first, her knee bounced slightly, swiftly followed by her clenching the stem of her wine glass, her knuckles turning white with the force. I leaned across, gently taking the glass away so she wouldn’t accidentally cut herself.
When the final out was made, Elena’s eyes darted around the room like she was looking for an escape. When Brock spoke, she jumped in her chair.
“Mr. Hawes, I’ve already had the car brought around for you.”
“Thank you, Brock. We’re ready to go.”
Elena reached for her bag, which obviously didn’t have enough clothes for a week, much less three months, but Brock beat her to it.
“Let me, Mrs. Tolley.”
She looked surprised that he knew her name.
I interjected. “I’ve dealt with your husband for many years. This just happens to be the first time he couldn’t pay me back.”
She sighed and it was a somber, resigned sound. “I guess that’s why he always wanted my tip money.”
I escorted her from the room and down the hall, toward the elevators. “Tip money?”
“Yeah, I’m a waitress in a diner downtown.” She stopped dead in her tracks. “How am I going to get to work tomorrow?”
“You let me worry about that.”
If anyone needed a break from working, it was Elena and for as long as she was in my care, I’d make sure she got it.
“But how can I help Dominic pay off the debt if I don’t work?”
I turned her to face me. “Remember one thing, Elena. While it would give me great pleasure to send Brock over to your house right now to have a little chat with Dominic, I won’t, for your sake. This is Dominic’s debt, and it is his to pay off. You are already doing your part by staying with me.”
“Um . . . o—okay.” Defeat colored her tone and it was clear she thought that she should do more.
Forget letting Brock beat his ass; I wanted him for myself. Then again, any man who treated a woman as badly as Tolley obviously treated Elena, deserved worse than that. I’d have to call Dad tomorrow and explain the whole mess, but I had no doubt he’d understand my decision. Placing my hand on the small of her back, I guided her toward the door where my car, a 2014 Bentley Flying Spur, was waiting for us at the curb.
Brock opened the rear door, gesturing for Elena to enter the car first. I followed, taking the seat next her. Brock placed her bag into the trunk and took the front passenger seat. The car pulled away, but Elena refused to look at me the entire ride to my house. The reason became all too evident after Lewis dropped us off.