Claimed for the Master's Pleasure(2)By: Jan Bowles
Lia shook her head. As always her mind drifted to her family. In the last twelve months she’d lost her father, and her wonderful fiancé, Joe. It had been a tough year. One that she wished not to dwell on. She moved the bouquet into the sitting area, placing it next to the photograph of her dead parents. She picked up the framed photo of her fiancé, Joe, and gently kissed his image through the glass.
“No one could ever replace you. Sweet dreams, honey. I’m going back to bed.”
Last night had been great. It was time to start living again. Whoever Jake Benetti was, she didn’t like him, and she wouldn’t be accepting his invitation any time soon.
* * * *
Three days later
Every morning before breakfast, Lia always took an early morning jog. Since the devastating news of Joe’s death, and then some eleven months later her father, she found it therapeutic to haul herself out of bed and pound the streets in search of some normality. The exercise released the endorphins in her brain and helped her make sense of the crazy world she currently inhabited. The cool morning air and the solitude as she ran around the block set her up for the long day ahead at the fitness center where she worked as an aerobics instructor. It had been her goal to start her own business as a personal trainer. Her father had left her the money to achieve this in his will when he’d died, and she’d already taken on three new clients. Fred Constantine had been a wonderful man. He’d been marvelous when Joe had been killed in that terrible car crash all those months ago. She took a deep breath, reliving the awful incident. She’d been in the passenger seat, but had just barely survived. Her father had taken care of everything. He’d even paid for a top psychiatrist out of his own pocket when she’d been unable to cope with life anymore. The loss of the man she loved so dearly had hit her hard. She hugged her arms around herself, still feeling his warm, gentle presence. She still couldn’t believe he was dead.
Lia quickly glanced at her watch as she jogged past the school gates. Right on schedule. In twenty minutes she’d be home, showered, and ready to start the day. All she had to do was cross the road and run up the drive to her home. A home she had once shared with her parents. Her father had wanted her to move back in with him when her fiancé had died. Little had she known that she would eventually be left on her own.
When she heard a car approaching from behind, she moved to one side, beckoning with her arm for it to pass. She was surprised when the black sedan pulled up alongside her, and a darkened window slowly started to lower.
A craggy-looking man in his forties peered over the glass. “Lia Constantine?”
“I don’t know you. Go away.”
“I’ve told you. Go away, creep.”
“Mr. Benetti wants to see you, and he won’t be happy until he does.”
Benetti? That name sounds so familiar. Where have I heard it before? Yeah, the guy who sent the flowers.
“I don’t care. Leave me alone, or I’ll call the cops.”
Keep jogging, Lia. Keep moving. Don’t let these creeps see you’re scared.
The black sedan suddenly screeched to a halt. A door slammed, and then another. Lia watched the two men stride up to her. One of them spoke. “Lia Constantine, you’re coming with us.”
Lia looked around for support. It was six in the morning, and there was no one but her and these two very menacing-looking guys. Dressed in black suits, they were huge, the size of pro football players.
The taller of the two guys continued speaking as he stared intently at her. “Hey, Juno, for a minute I thought…” He laughed. “The boss is gonna do a double take.”
The other guy with a receding hairline let out a long, slow whistle. “Fuck, Moose. It’s like she’s come back from the dead.”