Blaire - Part One(3)

By: Anita Gray


“You never mentioned how pretty she is,” Charlie says softly, causing me to straighten out my features. “Nor did you mention that lovely, whispery voice.”

“Ohhh, my friend,” Maksim smiles cunningly at me, his golden eyes crinkling in the corners, “don't take it personally. I wouldn't boast of her to anyone.”

“Why not? She's a nice looking girl.” Charlie’s voice lowers as he says, “I've always wondered about redheads...”

I swallow, hoping I'm not visibly sweating under the presence of these two.

“I wouldn't want you excited to see her,” Maksim says, “for she is mine and mine alone.”

“Hm...”Charlie hums, staring right at me with brazen audacity.I get the feeling he isn't a pawn in Maksim's game. He's too confident.

“She sounds kinda Russian,”he says after a while, still tapping his fingers against the couch. “Where's she from?”

“She's not Russian,” Maksim says, and I see that he shakes his head at Charlie.

Charlie nods once, understanding that head-shake. “How old are you, Blaire?”

I look at Maksim. He nods.

“Eighteen.”

Raising his eyebrows, Charlie seems stunned. I'm not sure why.

“What'd you do, exactly?” he asks. “I've heard various stories.”

Maksim gives me the go ahead, so I say, “I deal in technology.”

“And she's also on my security detail,” Maksim adds.

“This small girl is part of your security?” Charlie stops tapping the back of the couch, his eyes taut with confusion. A crease forms between his eyebrows. It makes him look evil.

“She is.” Maksim smiles up at me again, knowingly proud. “She is a beauty in battle. Trained to defend me on instinct unless I say otherwise.”

I am trained to defend him however I can, though I wouldn't just say I'm trained. I'd say I'm more... conditioned. My brain works to please and protect Maksim without me actually having to think. I used to find it disturbing. Now... I'm used to it.

Charlie doesn't believe Maksim—it's written all over his face—but that's good. This is Maksim's trick with me. I have always been the element of surprise for his enemies.

“And your parents?” Charlie says, still frowning at me.

I don't show my confusion to that question, just look at him.

“Erm, Charlie,” Maksim starts to say but is cut off dead.

“I'm not talking to you, am I?”

My heart drops through me like a boulder.

“Don't you understand me, girl?” Charlie says with austerity. “Where are your parents? I won't repeat myself again.”

I have no idea why he's being like this. It's not like I've done anything wrong.

Thumping the desk with a fisted hand, Maksim says, “Answer him, Blaire.”

I cringe as he uses my name. “I only havecэp Maksim.”

Silence.

Charlie's glancing between us, an air of frustration on his face.

“Where are her parents?” he demands to know, executing his attention on Maksim. “Dead? Did they sell her to you? Where are they?”

My eyes flitter between them, and I'm so confused. I don't get why he's being so ascetic all of a sudden or why he'd want to know if I have parents.

Maksim manages to give Charlie another curt head-shake, which Charlie also understands.

The next questions are sharp and snappy, like the tension that's now in the room.

Charlie states my address in London. “Is that where you live?”

I nod.

“Alone?”

I nod again, keeping it brief.

“Is the apartment yours?” He raises his eyebrows at me, making his blue eyes seem wider.

I nod a third time.

“And you drove here tonight on your own?” he gestures at the office door with a large, steady hand. “You have your own car?”

What kind of a question is that? What's it to him if I live alone or if I own my own car?

“Yes, the car is hers,” Maksim answers for me, though he doesn't gain Charlie's attention. He is still looking at me.

“I have her on the payroll,” Maksim explains. “She's not a prisoner like the rest.”

“Is that right?” Charlie sounds like he's stuck in thought, his eyes flickering all over my deadpan face. “So, you trust her completely?” he breaks eye contact with me to focus on Maksim. “Because if you have any doubts... I can't risk having sloppy workers on the job.”