Chapter 11–The 13th Man


Driver attends to me opening the door of black limo parked in front of the condo.


“Mr. Sanchez is waiting for you at the hotel,” He politely reasons for his absence. His defenses makes him uneasy stealing an admiring glimpse of tight cream beaded knit covering. The half length dress exposes toned legs overworked from contortions. Silhouette becomes more daring with its surprising low v cut back. Just enough dose to get close to the subject. Tonight, something is pulling me towards unspoken force.. I am confusingly warm and cold inside.


We quickly glide through city lights beaming still at every corner competing with those dancing and blinking among buildings. An army of obligated bodies are walking around for temporary relief. The thought makes me hate mankind, unworthy of being saved. A forty-minute drive brought us to a three-story mansion house in Antipolo city’s Beverly Hills. Driveway is far wider than his secret residence in North Forbes Park. Well kept garden is radiating in green and varied blossoms. They have considerable lighting to parade such beauty. I feel naked as soon as I walk in the entrance hall. Their looks are inspecting more than bewildered. Sanchez, who’s exchanging talks with three men in classic black and gray business suits, turns to meet me before anyone steps up.


“Azezi, nice to see you,” Tilting my head quick as his lips land on the cheek.


“I miss you dear.” Hand slips at the back, gently leading me to here and there associates.


“Senator Sanchez!” Voice comes from behind, louder than crowd musings. Oh hello Vasquez. We finally meet. “So this is your biggest secret. I can understand why you’ve kept her. A rare diamond indeed.” He gives a mild kiss on the hand while his wife rolls an envious stare.


“Mr. Vasquez this is Kristova. She lives in Russia doing modeling. But her family owns an oil company in Dubai.” He smiles proudly of his trophy.


“Nice to meet you. Thank you.” My consonants are rougher than usual.


“So when is the date? I will definitely adjust my schedule for that occasion.”


Sanchez followed quickly like he has a grandeur proposal ready. “We will come to that once her schedule is straightened out.” I blankly stare as if confused at how the conversation is going.


“You have to meet my godson getting married next month. He must have great tips on getting that proposal worked out for you,” He grins then tours his head around. “Hugo!” A man in elegant Boss coat covering a sultry chest in plain white shirt graciously smiles back in our direction.


Tell me I am fuckin’ dreaming.. This is definitely the best moment to self harm—a waking good smack from wild incantation. It’s not him. It’s not him. It’s not him.. Hoping hypnotism could rearrange the situation or by miracle, change it. He looks suspended in air flapping his wings around smokey ground. Next face to him gives me an evil look, brows frowning up nowhere. I gotta stop taking too much caffeine..or drugs.


“Hi,” I’ve shaken hands for the nth time but this one leaves a mark. I am more than pleased to give my hand. Dammit! Stop with eye contact..


Sanchez breaks the sudden silence, “Ijo, this is Senator Sanchez and his girlfriend Kristova. This fine lady here is Victoria, soon-to-be Mrs. Zobel.” Woman holds firmly to his arm like a fiery amazon. “Hugo’s family owns one of the biggest financial and risk management firms in the country.” Men do a firm handshake weighing each other’s stature. I excuse myself to the washroom which is inside a museum-like hall, an extension of mini pond bridge and six sided gazebo.

Mirror is talking to me again while tapping a mild powder on the face. Stop with your crazy childish babbling before you fail this mission. Remember what Elena said.. Start huffing all hysterical feelings inside. Breathe in, breathe out..


Just as I dash out, my face knocks into a human wall. I’m slowly fainting from smashing force and recognizable heavenly scent.


“Sorry, I think you have just used men’s washroom. I hope you are not what I think you are,” I awkwardly stretch my head a bit to check the door sign. Why do I get dumber ten-fold every time we bump into each other?


“Oh, I so sorry. Mesh arfa,” There are two options for escape here. I could just use the ready anesthetic pocket gas and fade out, or squeeze my body out into small space between. I tried the second one but he keeps that option blocked.


“Wait. Do I know you? Have we met before?” Keep your eyes down Mikolai.


“” My force shows off a little, pushing him as I found my way out. The safest position at this point would be to stay right beside Sanchez, far from Hugo’s baffled look. My initial purpose to socially know the subject is arrayed by out of focus.


“I go now Azezi. My head not good.” Request went well, negotiated by “quality time” this weekend. Hugo is out of sight before I left. Same guy waiting at the limo drives me back to the condo. My heart races as distance takes me away from unsettling experience. Who are you? How are you connected to them? I don’t want to find out but I have to…


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Abby Mabb

Snarly female. Occasional book reviewer.

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