“M-miss, please don’t make me do something illegal,” Lucy stuttered, taking a step back.
I held up my hands to calm her down. “Relax! Relax, jeez,” I said and ran a hand through my hair, sighing at her dramatics. “I‘m doing them a favour really.”
She still looked incredibly uncomfortable. “Do you trust me, Lucy?” I asked. She was silent, hesitating over how to reply back. Probably trying to figure out how to not offend me.
“Okay, okay, don’t answer that,” I laughed. “Do you want to get paid while saving a young girl‘s life?”
She took a few seconds to consider before nodding. “See? It’s not that bad. I promise nothing will go wrong. Just please ensure this gets to Alpha Raymond as soon as possible.”
She shakily took the letter from my hands. “Just don’t think of it as blackmailing…,” I said, trying to reassure her. “Just look at it more as…. exploiting a situation for the benefit of both parties… and then maybe some blackmail later.
And it really was the truth. Everything I‘d told Lucy was correct, but I tried not to tell her too much to protect her from becoming liable should anything go wrong. Alpha Raymond was indeed the leader of an incredibly wealthy pack to the east. However, he didn’t have many dealings on our side of the country so not many knew about him here.
But I knew about him. In fact, in my past life, I‘d had dealings with Raymond personally. He was an incredibly miserable old man who didn‘t even put up a fight when it came time to have him pledge allegiance to the Winter Mist. It was like he had no fight left in him as he offered up the tax payment without any issue whatsoever.
I’d found it a little unnerving how the whole takeover had been so easy and so I’d sent some of the Winter Mist spies out to enter their pack.
My hope was to uncover if it was all just an elaborate trap. I was surprised when they came back to tell me that the old man really didn‘t care and was tormented by a tragic event that had happened several years earlier.
An event where his only daughter had been kidnapped and was eventually killed. I was told they didn‘t find her body until a year later when someone discovered the old abandoned house they had holed her up in.
The spies had also included a graphic condition report but I decided to leave that be, not wanting to hear the exact details of what had happened to the poor girl.
The most tragic part about the entire thing was that it had been a ransom situation… but the demand letter had never reached its destination to Raymond. I could picture the girl tied up and alone, waiting for her father to complete the payoff and save her, only to end up being killed.
Had her final moments been of wondering whether her father valued his wealth more than her? Evidently, the kidnappers had believed that to be the case as they cut off all their loose ends very quickly and made a run for it.
But things didn’t need to turn out that way this time. My letter was asking for double the original ransom price in exchange for not only his daughter, but also her exact location where they could catch the culprits responsible.
This would give them the advantage to hopefully take the kidnappers completely by surprise. And sure, it wasn’t the most altruistic thing I’d ever done… but it by far wasn’t the worse thing either.
Having been given Raymond’s financial statements in my previous life, I knew that double the ransom would still not even come close to making a dent in his wealth, and it would allow me to have a nice hefty sum to begin my personal investments.
And if he didn’t believe me or didn’t want to pay up… well, I knew a few of his dirty secrets, including some of the less legal means of how he was amassing money. I was hoping to keep this to just a case of exploitation, but I really would blackmail him for real if need be.
The next couple of months went by incredibly quickly after that.
My monetary ploy with Alpha Raymond Sullivan had resulted in a huge success. In fact, it only took two weeks from the time I’d sent the letter. As an added bonus, I also found out from Lucy that his daughter had been rescued safely and was completely unharmed.
Hopefully, the old man wouldn’t be so miserable now in the future, and I now had a very sizeable nest egg for my future endeavors.
Lucy also met with the private investigator on my behalf. I gave her a letter that included all the details I knew about Thea Woods which, admittedly, really wasn‘t all that much at all. It did feel a little odd to not know anything about her, but I chalked it up to avidly trying to avoid her all the time in the past.
I knew at the very least she didn’t originate from the Winter Mist since that would entail her being enrolled at my school, which she was not. I was assured that, if she was out there, that the PI would be able to find her
However, several months then passed and, during that time, I was yet to hear an encouraging update even once. But, despite his failures, I remained hopeful he would find her. He had to.
As for Cai, we had well and truly started training and the progress already was obvious, even in just the short amount of time we’d worked together. I quickly saw how the errors I’d made during my solo attempt were very stupid in comparison.
And Cai actually ended up being a really great teacher. During our one-on-one combat practice, he was careful to teach me the correct technique whilst avoiding my blows skillfully. Though every now and then I would manage to land a hit and I‘d immediately become incredibly conceited, overjoyed at the fact I had managed to do some damage.
In hindsight, it was always a very short-lived victory as it was constantly followed up by being thrown flat on my ass again before even five seconds had passed. But my progress in training was definitely evident. I looked healthier, stronger, and I was far more agile on my feet than before.
In fact, that was the only advantage I ever managed to hold over Cai; he was a lot stronger with amazing skill, but my speed and agility were far better.
We had set up a clear schedule where I’d train with him Monday, Wednesday and Friday, and then on Tuesday and Thursday I was expected to work alone to build muscle and recover from whatever injuries I’d last sustained. It worked extremely well… even though Cai would show up ten to fifteen minutes late most days. I attributed this to the other commitments he had that required his attention.
Sure, it irritated me how he wasn’t punctual, but I tried my best to let it go knowing that he was doing me a favour at the end of the day.
During the four months that had passed, I was feeling content with how everything in my life was tracking ..Things were finally going smoothly.
Today, I was sitting in the school library with Myra during lunch and assisting with her homework. Her questions were always ridiculously easy but I enjoyed seeing her face light up with excitement as soon as she understood the topic.
I always felt this weird warm feeling whenever I looked at her. Maybe because I’d saved her life? Did that equate to one less name I would need to atone for killing in my past life? “Um… Aria?” Myra asked hesitantly.
I had been lost in my thoughts whilst eating the shopping mode apple that I hadn’t even realised she’d stopped to look at me.
“What’s up? Are you stuck?”
I looked down at her homework but saw she had finished the question already.
“No! No… I was just wondering… if maybe you’d like to hang out on the weekend? …With me?” Hang out? Like… go to a clothes shop or something? With someone else? It seemed like such a foreign concept to me.
Wasn’t that something young girls usually did with their friends? “Hang… out?” I repeated slowly. “I‘m sorry if it seems like a dumb idea! You can just forget I said anything.” She quickly turned her head back to her book.
I didn’t really have time on the weekends… but I felt a pang of guilt seeing her look so disappointed. Suddenly, Cai entered the library before I could reply, a sight shocking in itself. I had assumed he spent most of his lunches playing sports with the other guys at school.
“Hello, lovely ladies,” he suavely greeted us, throwing a wink in our direction.
I rolled my eyes at his cheesy attempt of charm. He really was incessant “What are you doing here, Cai?” I asked, mildly irritated that he was bothering our study session.
“Just checking up on my two favourite gals,” he replied and walked over to us. I watched in horror as he then grabbed the shoppingmode apple from out of my hand and took a massive bite out of it.
“What the hell, Cai? Are you really that bored?” I snatched my shopping mode apple back and eyed the bite he’d taken with distaste. “Don’t you have someone else you can annoy?”
Not wanting to waste my only snack, I decided to continue to eat my apple despite his unsavoury action.
“So cruel to me, Aria,” he joked, placing a hand over his heart in mock pain. I turned to Myra to see if she was finding his crap just as annoying as me, but instead saw her staring at my shopping mode apple with burning red cheeks. When she noticed I‘d caught her looking she instantly blushed and turned her face away.
If I didn’t know any better, I’d say that look was almost as bad as if she’d just caught us making out on the table. I wondered what she would think if she saw how close we got during combat fighting, seeing that she was getting this worked up over just a shared shopping mode apple.
“Alright, leave us alone, you’re making Myra uncomfortable.” I shoved his shoulder to try and get him to leave. “I’ll see you at training this afternoon. Please try and not be late this time.”
However, it definitely turned out to be a case of famous last words.
Because that afternoon, I stood in the gym waiting for him… but he never arrived.
In fact, he didn’t arrive even after an hour had passed. I had sat by the door with nothing to do the entire time… and had just waited. Had my life really resulted in being forgotten so easily?
Frustrated, I grabbed my bag and walked out of the gym, not wanting to spend another minute waiting for that jerk. If he did end up showing up then I hoped he felt bad when he noticed I’d left already.
But as I walked through a few of the halls, I suddenly thought I could hear his voice. Had he really been here the whole time and didn’t even give me the courtesy of cancelling?
I was so angry I felt my blood suddenly rush through my veins. Ten or fifteen minutes late was excusable, but over an entire hour? And to not even let me know when he was just down a few halls? I was livid.
I stormed up to the classroom and threw the door open. “Cai, you absolute asshole. How could you do that—.” But I never got to finish my sentence.
I never got to finish my sentence because I was completely taken off guard by the half-naked Cai who was clearly having his way with one of the female senior grade students.