"Come on, now. Open up!" Bryant said, holding the spoon of medicine close to the girl's mouth.
"Hmph," she replied, turning her head the other way.
Bryant sighed and backed away. Then he turned to me.
"Maybe she'll take it later." He said, standing up from my bed.
I walked up to them and held out my hand.
"Give me that spoon," I said.
Bryant raised an eyebrow but handed me the spoon. I turned to the girl.
"Open your mouth." I said, bending down close to her.
"Hmph," she repeated, raising her nose in the air.
"Open it!" I hissed at her in my most dangerous voice.
All at once, she started trembling. She opened her mouth and I pushed the spoon inside, nearly choking her. When I pulled the spoon out, she started coughing.
"There," I said, proudly standing up "That was easy."
Bryant shrugged and then patted the girl on her back.
"You scared her." He said, walking out of the room.
"Good. She needed it." I replied, following him "I'm just patient enough because we're about to get a big reward for this."
"We?" Bryant asked, suspiciously.
"Sure," I said, locking the room "You can have half of the money for your clinic."
"No, thanks, Evan," he said, waving his hand "I'm….I'm very well the way I am."
I shrugged and sat down by the fire. Bryant sat down beside me.
"Is she fine now?" I asked Bryant.
"Who?" he said, watching the flame carefully.
"Oh, she's fine now. She'll be just fine."
"So I think it's time she finally sees my real self."
"Oh come on, Bryant. That thing slept on my bed
last night! I'll need to get the sheets dry-cleaned before I even
touch them again. It's time she starts sleeping in the
"But she's clean now."
"How do you know?"
"I gave her a bath this morning in your bathroom."
I stared at Bryant with wide eyes.
"You…let…her….use…my bathroom?" I roared.
"I thought you wanted her clean, didn't you?" he replied, coolly.
"That girl is a hostage, my hostage, so you'd better stop pampering her."
"Oh, but she's sweet too. Just yesterday, we had a long talk."
"You talked to her?"
"Why, yes, I did. Her name is Ash, by the way, Ash Fanassa. She begged me to help her escape."
"And what did you say?"
"I told her that if she'll get caught escaping, not only will you kill her but you will also kill me." Bryant said, grinning widely.
"Did you contact her father yet?" Bryant asked me.
"No, not yet. Maybe after dinner."
"What will you say?"
"I don't know. I haven't decided."
"Ash told me Klear doesn't love her."
"Hmmm, she said that."
"No, no, no, no. That's simply preposterous. She's lying to get your attention."
Bryant shrugged in reply.
"Shouldn't you be calling the spy right now?" he said, narrowing his eyes.
"Fine, already," I snapped, standing up "I'll call right now. Make sure the girl-"
"Her name is Ash."
"Whatever. Make sure she doesn't escape."
"Do you really expect that teenager to be smart enough to escape?"
"It's not funny, Bryant. I'm serious. I am trying to take power here and all you can do is laugh!"
"Ooooh, I'm scared." Bryant replied, sarcastically.
Shaking my head, I pressed a button on the remote that sat on the glass table in front of the couch.
At once, a servant came running to the living room.
"You called, sir?" he spluttered.
"Hmmm. Go call Klear. I need to talk to him. I'm coming in five minutes." I told her.
"Yes, sir. Very well, sir." He said shakily and ran off.
"I left the message, sir." The servant replied, entering my room.
I nodded in reply and then nodded for him to leave. He left the room.
"What?" Bryant said, raising his head "Message? I thought you said you'd call him."
"I don't want to." I replied, simply. "He'll get the message."
I turned to look at the girl. She was sitting beside Bryant and he was stroking her head.
"How far do you think your dad will go to save you?" I teased her.
She stared at me for a moment and then turned her face the other way.
"You know," I said, reaching out and grabbing her arm "I think daddy just might, for once, do as I say. He has to! Otherwise….."
I squeezed her arm and pulled her closer to me.
"You should behave," I whispered, threateningly "you don't what I do to kids who don't behave."
The girl glared at me and pulled hard to free herself.
"So…um…what message did you give to her father?" Bryant said, breaking the tension between us.
"Huh? Wha? Oh, I told him that I want control over the country's nuclear power plant within two months or else I'll kill his daughter." I told him, smiling.
Bryant shook his head and sighed.
"Some vacation this is," he murmured "I came over to meet my old friend and instead I have to watch him trying to take control over a plant and I also have to protect Ash."
"Who told you to protect her?" I snapped at him.
"Just don't hurt her, Evan." Bryant whispered, lowering his head. I could sense sadness in his voice. He sighed again and placed a hand on the girl's head.
"Do you know?" he whispered to her "I had a daughter too. She was a lot like you. She was really brave too."
The girl nodded in reply.
"She was really brave….a little too brave actually. I always told her 'Stop acting like a man and live your life like a woman' but she never listened. She lived strong. But when things started going too far, I got tired of it. You see, I wanted her to be a doctor too. So I forcefully sent her to a school away from home….."
Bryant gulped loudly, probably trying to hold back tears.
"We didn't speak for many months. She refused to talk to me because I had sent her away from home and I refused to talk to her because she didn't understand what I was trying to do. After four months, she finally called me. We both apologized and I asked her to come home for a few days. She was really excited to meet me and I was excited to meet her again. But….on her way back….the bus crashed. My daughter did come home….just not…alive anymore."
Bryant coughed and tears started streaming down his face. He hiccupped and raised his head to the ceiling.
The girl watched him with sad eyes. Hesitating, she reached out a hand and patted him on the back.
I sighed. I had never really been a fan of families. I stood up and helped Bryant up too.
"Why did you have to say that?" I said, leading him towards the door "Enjoy your vacation! Have fun. How about you just forget about your girl and I'll forget about my girl and let's have a drink, shall we?"
Bryant nodded his face still tearstained. As we were about to leave the room, he turned and waved at the girl.
I rolled my eyes and turned to look at her, expecting her to stare at her with her sad eyes.
Instead, she waved back at Bryant and gave him a sad smile. Then she lay down on my bed and closed her eyes.
I closed the door and turned to Bryant.
"How did you…?" I cried, pointing towards the door.
"I didn't do anything. She's a child. She'll trust anyone who is kind to her." He replied, grimly.
"But…she…" I didn't even know what to say.
"She likes me. And I like her. I hope her father does something about it. I don't want you to hurt her."
I stared at him blankly.
"Now," Bryant said, drying his tears and clapping his hands "How about that drink?"