The wind whistled through the just turned autumn leaves swiftly and sent them tumbling down gloriously, only to be crunched below the boots of exhilarated children that chased one another buoyantly around the park. The sun was set low as day reached its peak and mothers called out for their boys to head home. They made their way back reluctantly and the park was left hauntingly still.
He sat on a park bench, waiting for his informant. Olive Lake was a beautiful place. The tranquil atmosphere placed him at ease and for once he felt relaxed. He wondered at the choice of location but soon realized it was desolate and safe. His field of work required he keep a low profile.
He hadn't slept in forty-eight hours and was exhausted. The little patience he had left was wearing thin. People drifted pass, curiously staring at him .He was visibly out of place; formally clad in a suit and overcoat. The humor evaded him and he continued to wait imperiously before an old man finally perched himself down beside him.
"Nice weather we're having" muttered the old man, his eyes fixed pensively to the iridescent lake.
"Should be a storm coming in later" He replied almost mechanically
"Why the location?" He wondered out loud, still gazing straight ahead. The old man assessed his watch and then muttered "Eight o'clock "He gazed to his left curiously and then there she was; A beautiful young women of no more than twenty-five, he presumed. She was of medium height, her skin a gleaming caramel which blended quite magnificently with her amber eyes. The sun radiantly shone across her face , creating flecks of green and orange in big eyes which beamed with life and wonder as her lips twisted into a half smile, not quite reaching her eyes .She was enchanting . She made her way to a vacant bench, fixated by the swans that circled the lake so brilliantly. She looked so in her element and He found himself mystified. It was unlike him to express an interest in his assignments but he felt a bizarre urgency to know,
"What's the connection to Hamilton?"
His informant now eyed him curiously, chiding. "Just do the damn job and if things get messy clean it up and leave no traces!" He warned severely, inconspicuously sliding a file towards him and then was gone.
He lifted the synthetic file brusquely, disgruntled by the impertinent tone of the old man. Assessing his assignment, who sat oblique on the bench, a ravishing vision of ignorance, he thought .Her short raven hair blew about in a tangled mass of curls and he found himself beguiled. The joy that just moments ago had penetrated her eyes had now been replaced by something else, something dark. She looked wounded. Her eyes fixed to the lake still, all else evading her. He wondered at her thoughts… He'd been doing this for nine years, successfully abstaining from any emotional involvement ,scarcely giving the objects of his assignments a second thought but all too abruptly he felt unnerved by this one, though he would not quite yet admit it to himself.
"Leave no traces' the old man's words trailed off in his head. He couldn't help but wonder how she had become involved with Hamilton .Richard Hamilton, who was renowned for the illegal activities he dappled in .A powerful and shrewd business man but also the kind one didn't want to get involved with.
He sat in the cozy confines of his study, shrouded in darkness, the only light emanating from the cigarette he smoked. His face resting heavily into his left palm, his eyes dark, clouded by profound emotion.
'Where are you?' he agonized into the night. Longing for her presence and a sign of reassurance that she was safe, wherever she was .She hadn't called and in the past three days since she'd vanished and there had been no word from her. Searching for her could entail endangering her life, no one could be trusted. So he had to refrain from it and wait patiently for her to contact him.
The rain came down with a vengeance, thunder roaring erratically. Moonlight streaming in, so that the dark circles around his eyes were visible like the rough stubble that lined his chin. For the first time in his life Michael Hemsworth looked neglected and dejected. His desire for life appeared to have vanished with Bryony. He wondered if he'd ever see her again.
Putting out the cigarette, he made his way to the vast window of his study. He looked out into the sapphire night that hung heavy now with clouds. Wishing that the storm inside his own heart would subside as the rain had. He remembered how angry she was, how she had recoiled from him when she'd found out the truth and for the first time, in those lovely amber eyes , he saw only contempt. That was his last vision of her. When he'd returned to the apartment, she was gone and so were all traces of her.
Bryony sat deeply immersed in the blissful serenity attempting to forget but she simply couldn't. She strode along the promenade in an attempt to clear her mind and now found herself here, enthralled by the beautiful tranquility of the park and the vast lake, of which she had come often as a child. Jake would have loved it here, she thought, wistfully .The thought was depressing and made her heart break a little more. She sighed heavily now. Her heart was in turmoil and so was her life.
'Hold it together' she rebuked herself .Internally chanting this mantra , but unfailingly and for the millionth time this week she broke down, surrendering to her pain, guilt and the immense betrayal she felt. The depths of her despair ran deeper but she was at that moment too proud to admit this to herself and rejected all thoughts that irreverently nagged at her conscious and streamed in despairingly. Thoughts of Him, thoughts of both of them .
She remembered now those deep brown eyes, how they bore into hers on that very first day, that fateful day that would change her life forever. And for just a moment she forgot the immense antipathy she felt for him and went back in time.
It was bad day for her. She had just rushed Jake to school. They were late once again and Miss David's was none too pleased. It was almost noon now and she had been caught in heavy traffic for almost two hours. It was mayhem in Cape Town at now and she felt frantic, certain that at this rate she'd surely be too late for the interview. Panicking now she tried the number of Rebecca, who had schedule the interview but it just rang. Her interview was scheduled for 12.30 and it was already twenty past.
She rushed through the doors, almost tripping over her own feet and in her haste passing the reception area, where she was meant to sign in. Screaming to a ridiculously tall man who had just stepped into the elevator to hold the doors for her, which he did amiably.
Finally in the elevator she assessing her appearance in the surrounding mirrors, she noticed how puffy and red her eyes were, he hair making her look like she had just come from a quickly and her mascara had smudged so severely it looked like she had been crying .She looked at herself and felt the bile rising to her throat, appalled at her appearance. She hadn't noticed the tall man staring at her or that, the elevator doors had not yet shut. Looking at him now she noticed that his lips were moving.
'WHAT?' she asked belligerently, her voice too loud and horse. She immediately felt sorry. She did not cope well under pressure and seeing as she'd lost her job, she was absolutely desperate for this interview to be a success and as a result hadn't slept a wink the night before.
'What floor Miss?' He looked at her as if she had lost her mind. She looked at him incredulously, realizing she didn't know. Of course, she hadn't signed in, she remembered now, frustrated and made her way back to the reception area frenetically. It was already so late, she thought, but she went anyway.
The supercilious receptionist eyed her up and down .Her thoughts etched clearly on her face.
'Excuse me. I'm late for an interview, could you please -'
'You're an hour late!' She snapped and Bryony found herself mirroring the receptionists' rude facial expression.
'Yes and I'm getting later by the second. So please could you alert Mr. -'
'I'm afraid not, as we speak Mr. Hamilton is engaged in another meeting." She smiled now, though it didn't quite reach her eyes. A very attractive man now strode down the lobby and caught her attention.
'Mr. Hemsworth!' she called the joviality evident in her voice. She obviously knew him well, thought Bryony who now turned to evaluate the man, who she noticed was remarkably good looking.
'He looked at the pretty receptionist and winked and then noticed Bryony as he made his way to the reception area and smiled at her politely. He was very tall, she thought. His eyes deep brown, shaded by long dark lashes which matched his dark hair. He had to be in his mid- thirties. She'd never before thought of a man as beautiful before now and felt quite insignificant standing there herself. The pretty little receptionist had completely forgotten about Bryony and flirted shamelessly with him.
'Is Hamilton in?' he asked now, his voice a smooth flowing tempo, serenading them both.
'Yes' she smiled brightly 'I'll let him know you're here' and off he went. Bryony protested
'Are you forgetting I had an appointment with the man?' She asked impertinently, but the receptionist just shrugged her shoulders and said she should try to reschedule if the position wasn't already filled by then. But she wasn't having it, so she impishly took her leave when another distraction arose, and went in search of Mr. Hamilton's office. Once she had eventually located it she wasn't quite sure what to do and became painfully aware that she was trespassing. Turning on her heels, she decided to give up, when the door suddenly opened and she once more found herself confronted by the very Handsome Michael Hemsowrth.He smiled now courteously.
'I'D LIKETO HEAR SOME MORE OF THAT INQUISITION' Screamed an inside voice.
She was a ball of nerves and wasn't at all sure what to say. She settled for a smile and an 'excuse me'. He moved out of her way and she entered the vast opulent sanctuary that was Richard Hamilton's' office.
He smiled into the office at Richard as he ushered her in, in a curious 'who is she?' kind of way. Richard's eyes expanded as he set them on her, which clearly indicated that he didn't know but was sure to find out.
Though Richard was married with two kids, he still had a wondering eye and admired beautiful women, when he saw one. He was and never has been a man to deprive himself of the guilty pleasures of life and was known to indulge in the occasional infidelity. He was a generous but unfeeling man and had the sadistic desire to own anything and everything he took a fancy to, including women, which he objectified, as he would a classic car or a good vintage wine. This was the life of Richard Hamilton and how he was known amongst those closest to him, including his frequent business partner, who for all incentive reasons could be considered a friend . Though the two never discussed parameters beyond business and women.
Richard now gestured to Bryony to have a seat as Michael shut the door behind himself.
'How can I help you? 'He smiled quaintly. She shook his hand and then seated herself.
'I'm Bryony O' Riley. I have, or shall I say had an interview scheduled but unfortunately couldn't quite get out of morning traffic.' She smiled apologetically, a shy smile. She found herself quite in awe of the illustrious, Richard Hamilton and couldn't quite meet his penetrating gaze. She bit her lower lip, unconsciously and prayed for this to be over soon. All traces of humor now vanished from him instantaneously with her words. Richard Hamilton did not take kindly to tardiness and enforced a strict work ethic where his employees were concerned. He gazed at her now, cantankerously.
'Miss O'Riley, here at Hamilton Enterprises a good first impression means everything. I do not appreciate my time wasted. Leave your number with reception and I'll get back to you.' He announced brusquely and took no more notice of her.
Disappointed and discouraged, Bryony did as she was told; leaving her contact details at reception, but nonetheless held her head high and did not make her chagrin evident. Outside she made her way to the java café just across the street and allowed herself some self pity.
From his office he watched her run across the street to the java café. His lips twisting into a half smile as his eyes carnally swallowed her in. He had plans to see her again. There was something about her; an innocence and vulnerability that called out to t him in .He scurried into his pocket for his phone and put a call through.
''Erick, get me everything you can on Bryony O'Riley-''
''Yes, make sure I have it all before noon tomorrow'' and then abruptly cut the call.
Bryony was suddenly shaken by a cold shiver. In her reverie, she had completely lost track of time and twilight was seeping in. The park was hauntingly still. She looked around and saw no one. Suddenly feeling fear surge through her and decided to leave while there was still a hint of light.
He watched her from the shadows, completely alone and vulnerable but he waited, waited for just the right moment and when she was close, he plunged out into the open and grabbed her, immediately hushing her with his hand to her mouth. It was dark, she couldn't see his face. He was just a dark faceless shadow and she feared for her life.