tagNovels and NovellasThe Job Pt. 02

The Job Pt. 02

byDreamCloud©

Author's Note: This story was edited by Tim413413. His work was embarrassingly difficult. I actually think he spent more time on this than I did. Thank you sir!

*****

Sandra woke to the wonderful smell of coffee. She moved slowly before she realized she was alone in bed. The memories from last night flooded back and, judging by the brightness of the Sun breaking around the curtains, she had slept late. She donned the robe from last night and followed the smell of the coffee to the kitchen. The condo felt empty as she moved down the hallway.

Jayden was gone. There was a note on the counter next to the cash she hadn't touched. The coffee maker gave a friendly hiss as Sandra picked up the note.

I had to leave on business.

I don't know when I'll return.

Enjoy the coffee. There are fresh towels in the bathroom.

I'll call for a rematch when I'm back in town.

-J

Sandra smiled. She couldn't believe the trust he had placed in her. She poured a cup of coffee and counted the wad of money for the first time. There was $2,500 in the stack. 'What a wonderfully strange man,' she said to herself. Sandra had never met anyone like Jayden. She was good at reading people and she knew she had only seen the surface. She wondered briefly what he did for a living. Her instincts kicked in and she decided she would rather not know. She remembered his confidence and how he carried himself. Jayden wasn't to be played with.

Sandra took a sip of the coffee and looked at the pot. The coffee had an incredibly good, woodsy flavor. She looked around the kitchen and spotted a glass jar filled with coffee beans. She lifted the lid and a wonderful smell hit her nose. There were obviously several types of beans in the jar. The beans didn't match the decor. The coffee reeked of hominess, but the rest of the condo smelled of hotel. She took the coffee into the great room and relaxed. 'I will enjoy the coffee,' she thought as she took another sip, 'and I will be back when you call.'

*****

Evansville was over a twenty hour drive. Jayden was debating whether to do it in one shot or stop in Chattanooga or Nashville on the way north. He knew if he stopped he would be a bit more functional the next day. It was always good to be at the top of your game. A lot fewer mistakes were made that way. On the other hand, with $500K at stake, time could be of the essence. When the numbers got this high, multiple contractors were the norm.

Jayden's usual fee was $100K a hit. The two targets indicated in the text must have really pissed off the powers that be to warrant $250K each. 'Fools,' he thought to himself. 'Why would anyone ever get involved with the syndicate and then try to screw them? They had to know the end results of their actions. They might as well paint targets on their backs.' Jayden had no sympathy for idiots who dug their own graves. He was good at what he did. Even criminal organizations had rules and Jayden enforced them.

It was a well-thought-out arrangement. Jayden always remained separated from the people who hired him. Their mistakes, or his, wouldn't spill over into the other's world. He knew better than to think he was totally separate. One traitorous move and he would find himself as an "X" on someone else's phone.

Jayden was also a coffee expert. As far as the IRS was concerned, he was a high-paid coffee consultant. He had seen other's greed put them in jail and was adamant he wouldn't follow them. All of his paydays were funneled through Caravan Coffee as a fee for consulting services. Sure, he had to pay the US government over 30%, but, by doing so, they never looked deeper. All his money was accounted for as far as the IRS was concerned. Caravan Coffee had been a legitimate front for the syndicate for years. It was so clean the feds had never made the connection. How could it not be? It had thousands of outlets all over the country.

It was a good life. A couple of jobs a year was all it took to be financially secure. There weren't many professions where you could work a few weeks a year and vacation the rest. It did have the drawback of no family life. He could never mix innocents with his profession. They would always be at risk. A bargaining chip for those who meant to control him. No, he would have to be satisfied with hookers and skip the girlfriends.

His memory went back to last night. Sandra provided the best time he had had in years. Jayden was a little concerned she figured him out so quickly, but the results couldn't be denied. His favorite part was the loving kiss goodnight. What he wouldn't give for that to be real. No, he made his choice long ago. He could never risk taking a wife. Sandra now knew what he liked and he had to be happy with that. She seemed a little out of sorts at first, but after that brief start, the fantasy took hold and she steered it wonderfully. He wondered how he got so lucky with her Cribbage knowledge. Things just came his way sometimes.

If it wasn't for the weapons, he could have flown to Evansville. It was risky acquiring clean weapons and Jayden always limited his risks. It was much better having licensed equipment in the trunk and a carefree attitude in the front. Show your firearms license and a hunting permit and the cops wanted to talk about deer. There was no risk in hunting and no electronic trail the airlines created. Driving was the best method of travel in the US. It was also the most boring.

Jayden had tried audio books. He had tried spanning the radio frequencies. The only thing that really kept him alert was uninterrupted music. His tastes leaned toward the 60s and 70s, but newer sounds were always finding their way into his phone. A few tricks of modern networking had the sounds shuffling across his car stereo. Jayden was bouncing to "Panama Red" as he passed Gainesville on Interstate 75. It was a goofy song that made him feel good. When he felt good, time passed more quickly and that was important on a long drive.

Getting through the Macon/Atlanta connector was hell, as always. By the time Jayden neared Chattanooga, he knew it would be useless to continue. He had the stamina, but his mind would be less than one hundred percent if he continued to Evansville tonight. It was better to sleep it off and get an early start the next morning. Jayden only needed a bed and shower. There was no need to break the bank on comforts for a six-hour stay. A sign for a Days Inn promised what he was looking for so he pulled off the interstate.

Check-in was quick and painless. They were used to late-night travelers and knew not to lengthen the process with too many pleasantries. He got the first floor room he wanted and parked near the entrance closest to his room. He was a little miffed when a beat up blue Mustang pulled in the slot next to him when the parking lot was basically empty. It was a pain getting out of the car when the door could only be opened half way.

A tall man, scruffy with tattoos running down one arm, exited the Mustang and slammed the car door. He turned to Jayden and gave him a dirty look, daring him to question his parking etiquette.

Jayden smiled and walked back to his trunk. He had no desire to get in a fight over parking spaces. He retrieved his overnight bag and headed to the door. Scruffy was there fumbling with his wallet, obviously looking for a key card. Jayden snickered at the twenty-something idiot. The tough act would have to wait now that he needed a favor.

"Ah, I left my card in the room with my girl. Mind letting me in?" Scruffy asked. He was about six inches taller than Jayden and about fifty pounds heavier. Jayden smiled at the apologetic look on the young man's face. It looked as phony as he sounded. It was nice to see Scruffy eat crow, though.

"Sure," Jayden said as he swiped his card. The idiot grabbed the handle and walked in. A polite man would have held the door for the arms-loaded favor-giver. Jayden smiled again, inwardly noting that Scruffy would never amount to much in life. Useless aggression only worked in sports and never in real life. He imagined Scruffy in his sixties, living in a rundown trailer and waiting impatiently for his next Social Security check. There was no need to waste energy on people like that.

Jayden got to room 129 and swiped his card. He noted that Scruffy was lightly knocking on 131. 'Damn my luck,' he thought, 'I hope this asshole isn't a night-owl.' Jayden entered his room and shut the door. He could hear the continued knocking and Scruffy begging for his other half to open the door. Jayden could only image what kind of hideous creature would be attracted to a jerk like that.

Jayden pulled his toiletries out of the bag and transferred them to the bathroom. The knocking continued. He applied toothpaste to his toothbrush as the knocking became louder. A scowl began to form on his face. Of all the rooms the hotel had to offer, he got placed next to Scruffy. He began to brush. The knocking turned to pounding that rattled the mirror.

"Bitch! I know you're in there!" Scruffy shouted while he pounded on the door. "No one leaves me. Fucking open this door right now!"

"Fuck," Jayden chastised himself. The asshole didn't have a room. He was chasing after a girl. Maybe he should have wasted some time on Scruffy. He hated feeling guilty.

"Go away, Kyle!" The woman's shout came from inside the adjoining room. She sounded scared. Really scared. "We're leaving and you have to let us go." Jayden heard a loud crash and the sound of wood splintering. A child's scream echoed through the walls. Jayden entered combat mode. He moved quickly, opening the door and flipping the swinging bar guard out to hold the door open. A woman's cry permeated the hallway as Jayden closed the distance between the two doors. As he entered room 131, he assessed the situation and acted simultaneously.

Kyle was holding a crying, petite woman by the hair. Two small boys cowered behind a bed that contained a crying baby wrapped in cloth. There were enough suitcases lined up against the wall to indicate a permanent trip had been planned. Kyle's free arm was pulled back and his hand was balled into a fist. He was going to strike and Jayden wasn't going to let him.

Continuing his forward momentum, Jayden grabbed Kyle's wrist in the iron grip of his left hand. Coming over the top, the full force of Jayden's right fist drove into the side of Kyle's neck, just under the jaw. There was an audible gasp from Kyle as he released his hold of the woman's hair. Jayden leaned his weight into the back of Kyle's right knee and Kyle dropped to a more manageable height. Jayden drove his knee into the right side of Kyle's diaphragm and heard a rib snap. Kyle was gasping and no longer a threat to anyone. Jayden grabbed him by his scruffy hair.

"You don't mind if I have a chat with Kyle?" he asked as he smiled at the frightened woman. She looked fairly young. The boys looked too old to be hers. She nodded her head and ran back to the children. Not wanting to do this in front of the kids, Jayden half-dragged Kyle back to room 129. Kyle was still trying to find his breath as Jayden leaned him over the bed and twisted the asshole's wrist the wrong way behind his back. Jayden knew what was needed. Pain wasn't enough. He reached into his overnight bag and withdrew his Colt and placed the barrel between Kyle's eyes.

Jayden asked Kyle, "Do you understand the type of man you're now dealing with?" Kyle's eyes were tearing. He was still having trouble breathing so he nodded his head. "If I ever see you again, you're dead," Jayden snarled as he pushed the barrel hard into Kyle's forehead. "If you ever go near that woman again, you're dead. I will not hesitate the next time." Jayden released Kyle and tossed his Colt back into the bag and took a step back.

Kyle stood slowly. His side felt like it got hit by a train. He looked through foggy eyes at the man, now unarmed, who took him down so easily. The man's eyes dared him to try something. Kyle knew he was outmatched. He coughed up a bit of blood and decided it was time to leave.

"Who needs the bitch?" Kyle sputtered as he backed out of the room and limped for the exit. Jayden knew Kyle wasn't coming back tonight. He would most likely look for easier targets to soothe his wounded ego. Jayden took a deep breath to slow the adrenaline pumping through his veins. He needed to look calm when he went back into the woman's room. The kids would be scared and need some reassurance that Kyle wouldn't return. How could anyone do that to kids? Jayden knew it happened all the time, but it was the first time he had seen it up close. Kids were precious to him and they should never experience that type of aggression. Once calmed, he headed back to the woman's room.

The woman and children were right where he had left them. The woman was in front of the boys, holding the baby. Her shoulder-length brown hair, with blond-tinted strands, was still askew from Kyle's hand. Her expression was one of fear as she stood guard in front of the children. She was visibility shaking. The oldest child, maybe five, poked his head around the woman and gave Jayden a weak smile.

"Kyle decided to go home," Jayden said calmly. "He had a change of heart and thought it best to let you all go." He tried to sound reassuring. He didn't enter past the broken door frame so they wouldn't think him a threat.

"He'll be back ," the woman said with a weak voice. Jayden saw tears on her cheeks. He also noticed one of her teeth was chipped and she had a silver stud below her lower lip. She was a walking billboard for making wrong choices.

"Maybe, but not tonight he won't." Jayden smiled. His confidence radiated for the woman. She collapsed onto the bed with the baby and started crying. The boys stayed standing, staring at Jayden, not knowing what to do about the whole situation. Jayden sighed; sleep wasn't going to be much of an option tonight. He moved forward slowly and sat on the first of the two beds.

"My name is Jayden." He tried to sound friendly. He wasn't used to talking with kids. He wished he was, but life wasn't going to let him. "What are your names?" Jayden asked, gesturing at the two boys while trying to keep a happy face.

"I'm Sebastian and this is Tristan," the older boy answered while indicating his standing younger brother, "and Mommy's holding Xavier." Sebastian seemed anxious to talk with Jayden. Jayden was trying to put the pieces together. Sebastian looked a bit old to be the woman's son.

"And how old are you, Sebastian?" Jayden asked as Sebastian took a step forward. He didn't have the fear Jayden would have expected.

I'm five. I started school." Sebastian seemed proud of his accomplishment. Jayden smiled at the boy's pride.

"And what's Mommy's name?" Jayden asked, directing the question at the woman who had stopped sobbing. She sat back up and wiped her eyes. Sebastian moved closer to her, as an almost protective gesture.

"Marissa," the woman answered, wiping her nose and looking at Jayden. She was slender and didn't seem to have an ounce of fat on her. Jayden wondered how three kids came out of that body. He wanted to ask a slew of questions, but thought it would be a bit inappropriate with the kids around.

"Those are some pretty nice names for your boys," Jayden commented. He was sure talking about the kids would be a neutral topic. "You can be pretty sure they will be unique when they hit school," Jayden continued.

Marissa smiled. "That's why I picked them." Marissa started to animate a bit. "I wanted them to be the only ones in their classes with those names," she added. Jayden could tell she had put a lot of thought into the names. She clearly loved her boys and that was all Jayden needed to know.

"Shall we call the front desk and get you a room with a working lock?" Jayden asked. He wanted to move her out of the damaged room and try to salvage some sleep.

"You're leaving us?" Marissa asked as she scooped up the baby protectively. There was panic in her voice and eyes as she looked a Jayden.

"Kyle's not coming back, Marissa." Jayden emphasized the "not" so she would understand he had already taken care of Kyle.

"Okay," Marissa stuttered while visibly shaking again. She didn't believe a word he had said about Kyle. Both of the older boys were looking at their mother with blank expressions. Jayden sighed again.

"You can stay in my room tonight, but I only .." Marissa didn't let Jayden finish.

"Thank you, Jayden," she said and he saw relief wash across her face. Kyle really had her scared. Jayden wondered how she got that chipped tooth.

"I only have two beds," Jayden finished. He wasn't sure how they would all fit. Marissa was already putting Xavier in his stroller. She had no intention of letting Jayden back out of the offer.

"Xavier will sleep in the stroller," Marissa said as she started wheeling it toward the door. "The boys and I will share a bed." She smiled at Jayden and asked, "What's the room number?" Jayden smiled back pointing in the direction of room 129.

"Right next door," Jayden said. He was going to have a family for a night. Not quite the family his fantasies pictured, but a family all the same. He laughed at himself for not driving straight through to Evansville.

It took Marissa ten minutes to move her entire life into Jayden's room. Another fifteen minutes to get the kids tucked away before she sat down on the end of the bed and buried her head in her hands.

"It can't be all that bad," Jayden whispered. It sounded useless as soon as he said it. He looked at the kids and knew any problem she had was multiplied by three.

"My cousin was supposed to pick us up," Marissa said with red eyes. "That was two days ago and now he isn't answering his phone. I'm running out of options." She waved her hands toward her children. "I fucked up my life and now I'm about to fuck up theirs. I have got enough money to stay two more days and that's if they don't charge me for that door."

"Look, I can loan you some cash to get yourself out of here," Jayden said. He was still feeling guilty for letting Kyle into the building. "You can get somewhere safe and divorce the bastard."

Marissa laughed more to herself than to Jayden. "He isn't my husband and certainly not any of the boys' father." She shrugged her shoulders. "He's just the latest in my long list of bad decisions. I met him outside Atlanta and spent a year trying to get away. My life is just one dirty snowball rolling downhill. If it weren't them," she glanced over at her children, "I'd be dead on some street corner by now. Had Sebastian when I was sixteen; another fine choice in boyfriends, that one."

"Look, I can't stay here and neither can you," Jayden said. He needed to move on, but he didn't want to leave this family high and dry.

"I've got to stay here in case my cousin comes." Marissa buried her head in her hands again. "If not, I have to go back to Kyle so my kids can eat. Kyle will calm down after a while." Kyle would beat her nearly to death and Jayden knew it. He went too far with his threats and Kyle would take it out on her. There was no way Jayden would let her end up back there.

"Look, I'm going north. I can drop you off in Nashville or somewhere else and I'll loan you enough money to give you time to think," Jayden said. He couldn't stay in contact for long, but he could give her a few months to think up new options. He already knew Kyle was a bad option. Marissa rose from the bed and took Jayden's hand in hers. She led him to the bathroom and closed the door.

Marissa looked Jayden in the eye and said, "If you help me take care of my boys you can have me every night, any way you want." He was flabbergasted. Jayden had never seen such desperation. No wonder she ended up with slimeballs.

"Marissa, I would be your worst decision." Jayden tried to say it nicely. "You will only find assholes with offers like that." There was no way he would risk those boys' lives by exposing them to his profession. There was also no love here. What was a family without love?

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byDreamCloud© 10 comments/ 53763 views/ 42 favorites

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