My first novella, The Caregiver: Book 1, is out!
Written by me (@artistikem) and edited by Diana Campo (@dianadhevi).
And here is chapter 2. Enjoy!
My first evening in Sayer’s mansion passed quietly and without much trouble. Helga came back with his meds, repeated what seemed like a hundred times that his physician, Dr. Hart, had ordered to keep him in bed at all times, and showed me how he liked his tea made, for whenever George wasn’t available. Of course, Mr. Sayer didn’t comply with staying bed-ridden, so I let him be and went to sleep early.
On my second day, I met George, or should I say, I saw George’s frown float around the house without proffering more than a “Top of the morning” and an about-face. The man, with long arms and skinny fingers, wouldn’t talk or even look at me. At one point I tried to step in his way so he would have to at least stop one second and acknowledge my presence. However, it didn’t work. Nothing did. By nightfall, I had given up for the day, and when Helga came by and asked me if I had met him, I told her we had gotten acquainted quite well. If he didn’t want anything to do with me, I wouldn’t push him.
Late on the third day, Helga brought a list of errands for me, which Mr. Sayer dismissed the moment she was out the door. Finding myself without work in my new workplace, I retired to my room and went through my clothes, uniforms and the few things I had brought… for the hundredth time. This was going to be harder than I thought.
It was around ten in the evening, as I wandered around the house, when I saw that the lights in the office were lit. I walked towards it, drawn like a moth, and found Mr. Sayer sitting behind his desk, talking on the phone. As soon as he saw me, I tried to make my escape.
He saw me. I froze, but then decided that, since he had called my name, I couldn’t ignore him, so I turned around. He hung up the phone and beckoned me into the room.
“You shouldn’t be walking around the house this late, Mr. Sayer.”
“What other lies did my sister tell you? What else did she instruct you to prohibit me?”
“Pretty much everything that isn’t staying in bed the whole day.”
He chuckled, finding it amusing somehow, while I stood behind an elegant leather chair, my hands clutching the seams.
He walked around the desk. “As much as I love my sister, I can’t let her do this to me. She’s always been very possessive, but this has gone too far,” he leaned back on the edge of the desk, his arms crossed over his chest. “That’s why I asked her to find someone other than George that could take care of me. So I could get her off my back.”
“Whose instructions should I follow, then?”
“When Helga is around, act as if you’re following hers. But really, all I need is someone to be around so she stops harassing me about being ill and sleeping all day. You can do whatever you want, really. I have things to do and I must get back to them as soon as possible.”
“Good to know that you do. Now, would you be nice enough to bring me some tea? I know I shouldn’t be asking you this, but George is out and won’t be back until early morning.”
“Yes, sir. I’ll be right back.”
I ran quickly down the stairs to the first floor and made the tea as Helga had instructed me. I took a lot of care on how I placed everything on the tray so it would all stay put through the flights of stairs back to Sayer’s office.
He waved for me to come in the moment I reached the door, all the while keeping an animated conversation with someone on the other side of the phone.
“Call me if you make arrangements for next Thursday, Max. See you then.”
“No wonder your sister is so worried about you. Making plans already?” I commented as soon as he hung up.
“You brought only one cup.”
“The tea is for you, Mr. Sayer.”
“Don’t you like tea? It’s very soothing. Helps me sleep when I’m stressed.”
“As a matter of fact, I do like tea.”
“Then,” he rummaged inside one of his desk’s drawers and took out another cup, “have it with me. It may be the first of many. How do you like this place so far?”
“It’s a beautiful house. I like it very much,” I felt so at ease as he poured tea into both cups and slid one towards me, that I was starting to talk to him like I would to a friend. I straightened my back in an effort to straighten my demeanor.
“Are you keeping the job? You know you can walk out whenever you want if you don’t like it.”
“I’ve been here for only three days. So far so good.”
“I do hope you stay. This house feels so empty sometimes it makes me want to get out running like a mad man. Sit down. You don’t want to drink your tea standing up.”
“Yes, Mr. Sayer.”
A noise came from the floor below, startling us both.
“It’s too early for George to be back.” Another noise and Mr. Sayer left his seat and went to the window. “Drunk kids in the street.”
He walked away from the window and back to the desk when another noise, this time louder and closer, was heard. We left the office together – I tiptoed while he tried to step very slowly so his shoes wouldn’t make a sound – and searched for the source.
We kept looking down from the third floor to the second but saw nothing, then I went into one of the bedrooms and saw a shadow by the window. Mr. Sayer tried to pull me back but I didn’t yield. I pulled a 22 mm gun from my pocket and quietly sidestepped close to the wall towards the window.
The silhouette of a man came to view and I pointed my gun at it, ready to confront whoever was outside the window and crawling around the walls of the house. I could feel my own heavy breathing, as if the whole room was beating along with my heart, as if it knew that my finger was tightening its grip on the trigger, little by little.
“Don’t shoot the glass, it’s bulletproof,” Sayer whispered to my ear.
I released the trigger but kept my aim on the window. There was silence for a moment and no sign of the shadow or whatever it was that made the noises. When I turned around, Sayer was right behind me, his whole body stiff, his hands in tight fists.
“The drunken kids, I believe,” I commented sarcastically as I lowered my gun.
“Where did you get that gun?”
Then came a bang on one of the back doors, and I rushed into my room, pulled my luggage from under the bed and took out another gun, my handy 9 mm. When I came out of the room, Sayer was emerging from the library with a 40 mm and was shocked to see me holding a different gun to my side.
The noise rang out again, and all shock was left behind as I hastened down the stairs. He stayed behind. Not that I cared. I had to check on whatever was happening before he did.
I strode across the hall into the kitchen and saw another silhouette through the glass on the back door. It froze, as if it was looking at me, before turning to run away. I shot once and the bullet bounced right off it, hitting a wall, a lamp.
“Fuck!” I ducked until it stopped. The whole house was bulletproof.
I opened the door and sped through the grass into the backyard while the silhouette fled in zigzags, dodging my bullets. Then a second silhouette appeared out of nowhere and I could see the shiny metal gun glinting under the lampposts’ light. Before I could shoot, he was dead on the floor. I instinctively looked up and saw Sayer shutting a window on the second floor. This was my cue to go after the other one, the one that had stopped to see the fall of his companion.
I ran towards him and managed to close the distance between us before he realized I was on him. With his eyes still on the corpse, he pointed another shiny gun at me and squeezed the trigger once, missing me by inches. Not that he cared, because he was still standing in the same spot when I got dangerously near.
“Who are you? What are you doing here?” He didn’t answer, so I pressed my gun to his temple. “Answer me!”
He dropped the gun and took off the black mask that covered his face. His white skin stood out against the black of his suit. He was a young man, probably in his twenties. His nose tip was red, and tears were rolling down his cheeks.
“I’m new to this.”
“Who sent you?”
“I can’t tell.”
“For fuck’s sake, just answer the fucking question!”
“I can’t! They’ll kill my family.”
I chuckled. “They must be dead by now, and you’ll also be dead if you don’t answer me.”
We both heard the limping steps of Sayer as he slowly approached us.
“Scarlett, go back inside!”
“I’ve got it Mr. Sayer,” I turned to face him, “don’t worry,” but was startled as he shot the guy before I could. The kid had picked up his gun and was about to shoot me without my notice.
“Get in!” Sayer roared, grabbing me by the arm and pulling me back into the house.
His face was flushed, his brows were furrowed, and his eyes didn’t meet mine until we were in a study on the first floor. He pushed me into a chair, took my gun, placed it with his own on the table, and pulled out his mobile.
“George, we have two dead squirrels in the backyard,” he said before hanging up and turning back to me. “Who are you?”
His enraged eyes were gazing into mine and I could feel the trembling creeping up from my feet, through my legs and my body, down my arms and hands.
He took his gun back from the table, cocked it and pointed it to my head.
“My name is Scarlett Lang.”
“Who sent you?”
“I was recommended by Rafael Cisneros when your sister went to him searching for a caregiver.” I gulped before proceeding. “My grandfather owns the shooting range Cisneros uses to train his men.”
“Cisneros? You know Cisneros?”
“Yes. Adrian Lang is his name. My grandfather’s, I mean.”
The barrel of his gun cut through the thickness of the air between us, dispersing and redistributing it around the room, as he pulled it away from me.
“Helga,” he said to himself. “She means good, but in her effort she has exposed me. There is no doubt someone sent those kids because she’s being followed.”
My mouth felt dry and my heart was racing so fast I thought it would drill its way out of my chest.
“She knows that you handle guns, doesn’t she?”
“It was one of the requirements for hiring me, so that I could help protect you. After the attack on you and your family, she’s worried you’ll suffer another one.”
“That’s why I stayed here, to make sure it doesn’t happen again. Now tell me, are you even a real nurse?”
“Yes, sir, I am.”
“Well,” his face relaxed, and my trembling vanished. “Those two were young and inexperienced. It won’t help much to see what the security cameras recorded. We stopped them on time,” he said as he looked round, then turned to me, “and our tea must’ve gone cold. If you ask me,” he gave me my gun back, “it’s time for bed,” and limped out of the room.
“You can keep the job, Scarlett,” his voice floated back through the hallway. “Couldn’t have found a better match for this myself.”
Scarlett Lang always dreamt of becoming an Interpol agent. When her hard work pays off and she’s given the chance to work as an undercover agent with London’s biggest drug lord, Armand Sayer, she can’t help being ecstatic about it.
She’s employed by Armand’s sister (to aid in his recovery from a gun attack) as both caregiver and bodyguard. Her resourcefulness in both areas helps her win much more than Armand’s trust, to the dismay of both his right-hand man and her ex-boyfriend / colleague.
As she makes her way into the business she swore to help tear down, she’s faced with the dilemma of choosing between being loyal to her profession or her heart. And we all know it can’t be both.
The book is already available for purchase on: