1st July 2016
Jordan struggled against the two large men who had grabbed him off the street on his lunch break and forced him toward a waiting car. He yelled loudly, “No, don’t let them take me, they’re terrorists!” He continued to struggle, kicking out at his assailants as the crowd turned to watch. Let them shoot him in broad daylight, but he wasn’t going anywhere with these two thugs, he thought. He yelled loudly about terrorism and continued to fight against the powerful men until four young guys had tried to intervene and his assailants held up guns.
A woman in the crowd lifted her phone and yelled. “Pull the trigger, bozo, it’s all on camera!”
‘Shit, scenes like this only happened in the movies,’ Jordan thought, and wrenched himself free of the arms restraining him and jogged into the crowd surrounding the car. The car, he noted, couldn’t move due to the crowd and, still in shock at the whole scene, Jordan barely acknowledged the sirens coming closer as he went to walk away.
“Shit!” he hissed under his breath, realising he would have to stay and talk to them. He quickly called Carrie, leaving her a quick message and warning her not to go home when she didn’t answer. It wasn’t unusual for her not to have her phone at work, but he couldn’t shake the bad feeling he had about these goons trying to pick him up the way they had. Jordan re-emerged from the crowd just as the police arrived and identified himself as the complainant, along with his would-be rescuers.
An hour later he was sitting in the police station with still no word from Carrie and was unable to shake the bad feeling he had about almost being kidnapped. He had asked the police to pick her up, telling them a story about a crazy art dealer who was robbed a couple of months ago, that had been stalking the museum employees who had been at his house when he had been robbed. He didn’t know how accurate this story was until the men who tried to grab him were identified as being from Miles Rackham’s personal security team.
The police had gone to pick her up at the museum, but had found both she and her boss were missing and had no scheduled appointments in their diaries. With Carrie unofficially missing, Jordan could think of only one other place she might be and decided to call Sinclair Mansvelt before he panicked entirely and alerted every friend they had left in the underworld about her disappearance.
“Sinclair, this is Jordan Ward,” he said, relieved that someone was answering their phone today.
“Hello, Jordan. Did Carrington ask you to call me?” he asked hesitantly.
“She’s not with you?” Jordan asked, feeling a heavy weight press in on his chest again. He wasn’t sure what to say now, if he said anything at all.
“No. Is she missing?” Sinclair was guarded in his response, which confused Jordan, but he also knew that, if his instincts were right, this man was probably one of the only people who could help him find Carrie. The combined thoughts caused the dam to break, and he blurted out the real reason he had called Sinclair.
“I’m at the police station, two of Rackham’s goons just tried to grab me off the street. I thought they were terrorists until the police told me who they work for, I dunno, they might be terrorists as well. I don’t understand any of this, and I can’t find Carrie. She’s not at the museum or answering her phone. Do you have any idea where she would be?” Jordan asked point blank, the anxiety in his voice clear.
“No, sorry, Jordan,” he said in the same guarded voice, “If I see her I’ll give you a call.” Sinclair hung up abruptly.
Jordan stared at his phone wondering what to do next. He couldn’t shake the feeling that Carrie was in real trouble now, and he needed to find her. He was still trying to work out what his next best move should be when a young woman appeared, taking the seat beside him.
“Hey there, chickadee. You’re Jordan, right?” she said in a cheerful, friendly voice, as if they should know each other. “I was on the street when those guys jumped you, and you dropped this,” she looked him in the eye and nodded meaningfully as he opened his mouth to protest. “Your friends have been trying to call you on it. I guess they saw the video online. Someone uploaded it to Facebook almost immediately.”
“They have?” he asked, looking down at the phone, trying to keep the confusion from his voice and expression.
“Just give it a minute, they’ll call back,” she said reassuringly. “I’m Debbie, by the way,” she smiled and whispered. “He’ll find her. It’s what he does; he’s a fixer.”
Jordan was about to ask who would fix what, thinking this woman was crazy, when the phone came to life, and the name of Mansfield Sin came up on the phone’s display.
Sinclair was rushing through the traffic, feeling a sense of dread. “Fucking Rackham,” he swore. He wasn’t going to get anything back by threatening Carrington and her brother. “I was handling it; fucking bastard, he just couldn’t bahis firmaları let me handle the only lead we’d had in a decade!” Sinclair yelled at the car interior. He punched the display on his dash and listened to the phone ring, furious that this was happening.
“Jordan,” he said abruptly, as Jordan answered the phone he had sent with Debbie for him to use. “The woman beside you is my assistant, you can trust her. She’ll take you to some place safe until I find your sister. If Rackham has her, I’ll find her.”
“What’s going on?” Jordan asked in utter confusion.
“Rackham believes that your sister is the Fool who robbed him, and he wants his pistol back!” Sinclair said tersely.
“The who?” Jordon frowned as he spoke.
“Just stay with Debbie, she’ll look after you!” Sinclair barked and hung up. Even though he was almost positive that Carrie was the Fool, and her brother aided her in her thefts, he had no real proof, as yet, and their continued denial and absolute confusion at the accusations made him wonder if he was missing something important.
He knew Miles was at home, and the traffic only managed to inflame his anger, so by the time he reached the Rackham mansion he was furious. He stormed into the house, ignoring the private security stationed in and around the mansion.
“Miles, you fucking moron!” he called out, making his way upstairs to the private study.
“I’m down here,” Miles said in a loud voice without yelling as Sinclair spun to glare at him.
“What the hell were you thinking? It’s all over the internet!” Sinclair raged at him.
“A simple misunderstanding. My men were just a little over enthusiastic about extending an invitation to come and have lunch with us. Won’t you join us?” Miles invited pleasantly.
“Us?” Sinclair asked, finally regaining control of his emotions.
“Chen and his assistant are here from the museum,” Miles said easily.
Sinclair narrowed his eyes and followed Miles into the dining room. Carrie seemed surprised to see him there.
“Sinclair?” she asked, startled, knowing very well who he was. “That was you yelling?” again she asked the obvious.
“Chen,” Sinclair shook hands with the museum curator before turning to address Carrie. “Carrington.” He said shortly. “You wanted Jordan to join you for lunch today?” he asked, testing out Miles story.
“Miles had some engineering questions about a new exhibition we are creating that I thought Jordan could help with,” she said frowning.
“A simple misunderstanding,” Miles cut in again. “No harm was done.” Carrie tilted her head inquiringly.
“Perhaps you should have warned Jordan that two large men were going to arrive to pick him up. He thought he was being abducted by the way they insisted he accompany them,” Sinclair said conversationally.
“Oh, I sent him a text, I didn’t think he would be concerned,” she said wide-eyed. Realising he hadn’t gotten her text and trying to remember if she had made sure it had been sent before she put the phone back into her bag so as not to interrupt the lunch. “He called you thinking I was with you?” She pulled out her phone and turned it on. “I should call him,” she said, standing from the table.
“Of course,” Miles stood, showing his impeccable manners as she went to leave the table. “There’s a bit of a blackspot in the network here, you may have to step outside to get a good signal. Please give him my sincere apologies for the misunderstanding.” He turned as he sat back down and watched Sinclair’s eyes follow her from the room.
The whole incident had been very enlightening for Miles. Not only did Jordan’s very real fear of being abducted point to his guilt, but the fact that Sinclair had rushed over here like a maniac thinking he held Carrie against her will showed him that the man had lost his objectivity in the investigation into these two suspects.
Sinclair sat brooding. It had been a long time since he had unknowingly been baited the way he had this time, and all too late he realised his mistake. He would have to consider how he played this now, twisting it back around onto Miles. It wouldn’t be hard to do; Miles was an arrogant ass, and had possibly, now that Sinclair’s mind had cleared, played this perfectly into his hands. His mind worked quickly as he determinedly ignored the fact that he had fallen for this sloppy trap because he had begun to develop feelings for Carrie.
The tension between the two men rose, but Chen seemed unaffected and continued eating his lunch. When Carrie came back in she was smiling and seemed genuinely unconcerned about the incident with Jordan.
“Oh, that was too funny,” she laughed as she retook her seat. “The company Jordan works for has some military contracts, and he thought your men were terrorists. I didn’t realise your house was a black spot when I tried to text him earlier,” she laughed again. “Poor guy, he was shaken for a while there; he’s gone home with a friend from work to be pampered. kaçak iddaa I’ll pick him up later.” She continued to laugh.
“Don’t be silly; you can go after lunch. Can’t she, Chen?” Miles said magnanimously.
Having studied her closely over the last month since their first weekend together, Sinclair caught the small lilt to her voice that told of her lie. This couldn’t be going better, Sinclair thought, he was now the hero who had come to the rescue in her and her brother’s time of need. ‘Thank you very much,’ Miles,’ he thought, and chuckled with the other men as she finished her story. He looked forward to telling Miles what a moron he was after this lunch.
The lunch ended fairly quickly after that, and Sinclair made a show of kissing Carrie goodbye, surprising, not only Miles and Chen, but Carrie herself. Once they had driven off, he turned on Miles.
“You fucking moron, what did you think you were doing?” He snarled. “We’ll be lucky if they don’t move back to Australia now.”
“The kid panicked and bolted, proving his guilt,” Miles said smugly. “You racing in here like a maniac only proves that you’ve gotten too close to the girl to be objective.”
“Me racing in here yelling and carrying on was damage control, you arrogant piece of shit. All you did was tip our hand. Now they know you’re messing with them instead of just having to deal with me and my professional curiosity. They’re young, but they’re not dumb, Miles. Lucky for you the kid called me, and I got to rush in and be all heroic trying to help them!” Sinclair ran his hand through his hair in exasperation. He was one of the younger members of their association, but his reputation and the respect his father held afforded him a lot of leeway with the older members like Miles.
“Bullshit, they’ll go to ground and try to move the pistol, and we’ll get them!” Miles glowered at him.
“I’ll bet you the Heart Of The Heartless that your pistol isn’t even in the country anymore!” Sinclair spat. “You really are a moron.” He shook his head and walked away. He would lose the Heart one way or another by this time next year, so he could afford to be flippant with the family treasure. If Carrie were the Fool, he’d give it to her in exchange for the reason she had targeted the association and the promise that the thefts were done with once she had the Heart. He’d steal it back eventually, though, but that was beside the point. If she wasn’t the Fool, he wasn’t sure he could stop the real thief from taking it.
“After eight years, the only lead we have ever found led us to Carrie and, by proxy, Jordan. So, either she wanted us to know, or someone is setting her up. In both scenarios, the Fool is sitting back right now and laughing at your show of force because you just played straight into their hands,” Sinclair shook his head.
Miles stared at him suspiciously. He highly doubted that Sinclair’s interest in the pretty young Carrie Ward was purely professional, or an innocent relationship for that matter. He considered, not for the first time, if Sinclair could have been behind all of the thefts himself and that he was framing the girl and her brother.
“Alright, we’ll play it your way,” Miles said grudgingly. “I want my pistol back, Sinclair, and there aren’t too many people I wouldn’t step over to get it. I think we could say the same of all of our associates.”
“Yeah, well, I’m next, so I’m not exactly thrilled about the Fool remaining free either,” Sinclair joked, trying to diffuse the situation. Miles may be a moron, but he was a deadly moron.
“The question is, was that truly a dumb attempt to rattle us, or was it all a ploy to get us to trust Sinclair?” Jordan asked as they sat in a small café later that afternoon.
“It could have been an attempt to rattle Sinclair. If I were Miles, I would be just as focused on him as anyone else. Knowledge about the association is limited, let alone the names of all its members. A list of prized family heirlooms would be even rarer,” Carrie suggested. “The way he came running into Miles place yelling like a madman, if I were a normal girl I would believe that he genuinely cared about me. It wouldn’t be beyond the realms of possibility that Miles is playing his own game with Sinclair rather than us.” She seemed to consider the idea for a moment longer.
“You know better, though, don’t you? I mean, you’re not falling for Sinclair’s heroics back there, rushing in to save the damsel in distress? He’s known for his charm and chivalry, saving damsels is his thing,” Jordan sought reassurance that Carrie was still the ice princess he knew her to be.
“Why couldn’t he care about me?” she said in a voice full of indignation. “I’m fucking adorable!”
“I’m sure he is well on his way to falling in love with you, just like every man you sleep with. I’m just checking that you don’t have feelings for him. You know who and what he is, don’t lose sight of that. You’ve been different over the last few kaçak bahis weeks since you hooked him at Diego’s,” Jordan said, trying to keep his jealousy in check. Her growing relationship with Sinclair bothered him greatly. He’d never seen her with a boyfriend, or someone who was more to her than a way to scratch an itch, but seeing her start to build this relationship with a man, albeit for a purpose, bothered him a lot.
“You worry too much,” Carrie laughed. “One more year and all this is over. I’m not about to throw away everything we have sacrificed to finish this for someone like Sinclair Mansvelt. We’ve both given up having a normal life for Robyn.” She reached across the table and took Jordan’s hand. “Have you thought about what you want to do when it’s all over?” She tried to change the subject away from her growing feelings for Sinclair Mansvelt.
“All the time,” he smiled, holding onto the warmth of her hand. “Until then, however, it’s my job to keep you safe and make sure you get home safely so you can live happily ever after.”
“Happily, ever after,” she sighed. “I’m not even sure that’s possible for me anymore. I’ll just be happy to go home for a little while to put Robyn to rest properly.”
Jordan said nothing. He squeezed her hand, acknowledging Robyn’s dark obsession that had brought both her daughter and adoptive son to this point in their lives. He would make sure Carrie got her happily ever after, and he smiled, thinking of the future they could and would have together once this vendetta was over.
“Well, it’s not over yet, we’ve got a plan, and we knew it would get complicated and infinitely riskier in this final year. We just have to stick with our plan and suck up the bumps like this. We knew Rackham wouldn’t take the loss well,” she smiled. “You did well today, with the public already panicked by the threat of terrorists, your reaction was perfect.”
“Not as perfect as Sinclair’s,” Jordan chuckled.
“Yeah, I’m still not sure that wasn’t an act. Sinclair’s usually so in control, and letting his anger get the better of him that much; I just don’t think I can buy it,” Carrie admitted. She tapped her phone, absently wondering why Sinclair hadn’t called her after she had left Miles house to return to the city and pick up Jordan. “If he was that worried about me, why hasn’t he called?” she asked as if that fact confirmed the point she was making.
“That’s fair, I guess,” Jordan admitted. “Maybe you’re not as adorable as you think,” he teased.
“Fucking adorable,” she corrected. “A side of me you’re not that interested in,” she grinned widely and was about to ask about his latest well-endowed boyfriend when he interrupted her.
“I wouldn’t say that,” he admitted carefully. “If anyone could get me to change teams, it would be you.” He watched her reaction carefully as it went from one of incredulity to consideration of the challenge his words presented. “We were pretty much at that point before I left for University,” he reminded her.
“God that seems like a lifetime ago,” she sighed. She had tried to forget that lonely time in her life when Robyn’s plan had swung into action, and the one person she could truly talk to had been sent away. Jordan was the first person her age that she’d ever been allowed to have a friendship with. Homeschooling had left her surrounded by adults until the ten-year-old Jordan arrived at their house after the tragic death of his parents. He was her first and only friend, her confidante, then, with the onset of hormones, they begun to become intimate in the innocence of youth. She’d been devastated when he was sent away to university, but it was so long ago now, and they were both very different people. The challenge was hard to resist, however, even though she knew they could never work as a couple; he was her brother in every way except blood now.
“Let’s go,” she said, feeling uncomfortable about the way he continued to look at her. She stood and gathered her purse and phone. Jordan stood up beside her, and they walked the two blocks back to the house they called home here in London.
Jordan was silent. He knew he’d stepped over the line there, but her strange behaviour since she started sleeping with Sinclair bothered him far more than he had possibly admitted until tonight. He couldn’t even explain it to himself, on the surface she was still the same as she had always been, but there was something not quite right in the way she spoke about Sinclair and their time together. Turning to Sinclair to find her today had been an automatic response to ensure her safety, but once the reality of the games being played had sunk in he resented the fact that he hadn’t been able to go to the Rackham Estate himself to find her.
As they neared their house, Carrie slowed, and Jordan looked around trying to see what she saw. His training had been very different from Carrie’s. She’d been prepared from birth for the life she led now, he had come to it late, and though he had skills, they were nothing in comparison. This was another reason he resented Sinclair, whose skills, even if only half of what they knew about his exploits were true, were more than a match for Carrie’s.