Dorian didn’t feel right about Noelle’s plan. “Let me come with you,” he said again, his hand reaching out for her. “No. You’re my ace in the hole. If this goes south, I’m gonna need you.” Her words stirred him, wondering if they were meant for more than just tonight. Before he could speak or move, she was out of the car and walking into the darkness. He huffed and pulled out his cell phone.
The risk was just too great.Kyle wanted everything to be special. It had been nearly a year since Noelle had come to live with him and her first birthday with him. The French patio doors were swung open, a warm breeze drifting in and dancing with the purple balloons that filled the room. “What’s this?” He heard from behind him.
Noelle, now 13 and several inches taller, came around the corner. Her eyes marveled at the balloon filled room and the food spread in front of her. “You caught me,” Kyle beamed. He turned around, holding her birthday cake, a sparkler going wild on top of it. “Is this for me?”
“Well, who else has a birthday today?”
Tears formed in Noelle’s eyes. She hadn’t had a birthday cake since she was a baby; the only memory she had was a photo of her mother holding her in front of it.
Kyle found himself nervous, his words struggling to come from his mouth. “Noelle, I know you’ve had a rough go the last few years but I want to change that. I don’t know how you feel about it but I want to adopt you. For real.”
Noelle had lost the upper hand. She didn’t know how long it took to die from strangulation but it seemed as time had slung as the gargantuan wrung her neck. She’d lost the energy to fight back, her feet dangling just off the floor. Her fingertips clawed at his hands but Yiao was relentless. She could hear her father fighting to get away, fighting desperately to get to her. “You son of a bitch! I’ll kill you!”
She didn’t want to die in front of him. She closed her eyes and went somewhere else. Somewhere warm, a beach, where she could spread out and watch his beautiful smile forever. Dorian.
He’d shot one of the goons holding her father and several others that rushed him before the other men surrounded him. “Detective Shaw! Just in time!” Yiao said, releasing the girl, who crumpled to the ground motionless. He never took his gun off of him, even though 2 automatic weapons were shoved in his face. “Noelle!” He yelled, his heart booming in his chest. She wasn’t moving and he was too far away to see if she was breathing. Yiao looked over his shoulder. “Sorry about your friend there. Our business had concluded. But you…you could be useful.” The men seized him and tossed his gun at Yiao’s feet.
“I’m gonna rip your head off,” Dorian said, a eerie calm washing over him. “Oh, come now. A strapping fella like you can have all the criminal pussy he wants.”
Dorian tried to break free of the men’s grip unsuccessfully. He wished he’d put a bullet in Yiao’s head the instant he saw him.. “Dorian…can I call you Dorian? I need you to do a little something for me.”
Dorian didn’t speak; the blind rage that had formed was like a lump in his throat. He tried not to, but his eyes drifted down to Noelle, still unmoving on the floor. Yiao snapped his fingers in front of the detective’s face. “listen, I really am sorry about your little friend. I liked her too but, like all things, they must come to an end. But that’s a good thing, because it’s a new beginning for us,” Yiao said, placing his arm around Dorian’s neck. “Whatever it is, you can forget it. You might as well kill me.”
“Oh come on, Detective, don’t be so dramatic! This is the real world! You could be on the fast track to governor! No one does anything the ‘moral’ way…” Dorian shot a glance at Yiao that would’ve drawn blood, if it could.
Yiao chuckled and stepped away. “I see…” he said, reading Dorian’s resolve. He reached out and one of the men holding Dorian handed him a pearl handled .45. “I really hate guns. They’re so…messy.” Yiao said, aiming the gun at his captive.
2 shots rang into the air.
Dorian opened his eyes to see Yiao dropping to his knees, 2 bullet holes staining the white shirt under his jacket. With a bloody gurgle, he collapsed onto the floor. Noelle had trained the gun on the men holding Dorian. “Let him go. Now,” she wheezed. They shoved Dorian away and ran out the front door, now free from their own contracts. The man still holding Kyle took his leave through the kitchen door.
“Holy shit,” Dorian said, rushing to Noelle’s side.
“See…my ace in the hole,” she whispered, her throat raw and sore. Kyle buried his face in her hair, overjoyed that she was still alive.
“We have to get out of here,” Kyle said to Dorian.
“What about you?”
The trio could hear the sirens wailing from a distance and all looked at each other. “I’ll handle this. You two can’t risk getting caught. My car is across the street,” Dorian said, handing Kyle the keys. He nodded before he scooped his daughter into his arms and started towards the door, when Noelle grabbed Dorian’s arm. “Thank you,” she mouthed. Dorian ran his hand over her face and kissed her, hoping it told her everything she needed to know.
One month later
“Aren’t you supposed to be on vacation?” Deputy Director Dorson said, leaning on the door frame. Dorian looked up from his computer screen at her and chuckled. “I just have one more thing to submit and I’ll be out of your hair.”
“You’ve been saying that for 2 weeks now.”
“Yeah, but bad guys don’t go on vacation.”
“Any news on the Markov or the woman from the gala?”
“I believe she was just one of Yiao’s people. Nothing in the databases or on the street so far,” Dorian said. He stood from his desk & patted Dorson on the shoulder as he passed her.
The Bugatti Veyron caught the attention of several pedestrians as it purred quietly on the street. Dorian hopped in the passenger seat and chuckled as he looked down at Noelle’s arm, sporting the hefty Markov on her right arm. “I take it you’ve grown accustomed to wearing that thing everyday,” he said, putting on his sunglasses. She smiled at him as she shifted the car into gear. “See, that’s the trouble with diamonds. They go with everything.”