Ever After

by 
Eden French

Prologue

Elijah Stevens stepped off the helicopter and peered past the armed guards to the limousine waiting a hundred yards away. Lincoln sedan, dark tinted windows, a uniformed driver standing at the back door. Obviously, someone powerful had summoned him. But who?

     Elijah glanced around the deserted airport, ultra- alert. One, two, three, four... He quickly made five guards posted up against the surrounding buildings. The muscles in his shoulders tensed. Why had he been pulled from his assignment? How? Who could possibly have authorization? His unit didn’t exist. No one knew about them. No one.

     Be cool. Be ready.

     He squinted as the sun bounced off the impenetrable windows of the limo with an eerie orange glare. Lowering his sunglasses, he jogged out from under the chopper’s blades toward the long black vehicle. Whoever had the clearance to pull him out of the jungle was sitting in that limo. Who the fuck was this guy?
     He walked past the motionless guards in their crisp black suits and reached across his torso, pulling his bag over his shoulder, and deliberately flashed the holster hidden underneath his jacket. Yeah. He was a badass too, motherfuckers.

     As he approached the car, the window rolled down. No point going on the offensive now. If they’d wanted him dead, there had been plenty of time to do so. Best to keep cool. Still, he planned out his next seven moves, if things went down. One could never be too careful.

     When the window was opened, an older gentleman with silver hair appeared. He eyed Elijah up and down before speaking.

     “I appreciate you joining me tonight,” the man said.

     Elijah recognized the smug, uppity tenor. Typical aristocratic blowhard. And yet, there was something about this man’s eyes. Ruthless. Uncompromising. Hard. If there was one thing his special ops training had taught him, it was to always trust your instincts. And instinct told him this man was as dangerous as the drug lords he hunted in the jungle.

     “And who exactly do I have the pleasure of joining tonight?” he casually asked. That’s right. Just here for a little friendly conversation. Yeah, right. Inside, every nerve sent SOS signals to stand guard. This man was a threat.

     “My dear boy, we’ll get to that. Now, if you wouldn’t mind joining me for a ride. We have much to discuss.”

     The driver opened the door for him. Elijah narrowed his eyes at the older man inside. What choice did he have? Five against one were odds he could probably handle, but morbid curiosity got the better of him. Whoever the man

in the limo was, he had the capability of plucking him out of the Ecuadorian Amazon and escorted directly stateside to...California? The low setting sun seemed to think so. This guy was a big player. Still, Elijah wasn’t the sort of man accustomed to doing everything asked of him without some assurance.

     He smiled at the gentleman. “Perhaps you can understand my hesitancy in engaging in conversation when I have no idea why I’ve been called here or by whom.”

     A guard approached him from behind and tried to remove his bag. Elijah grabbed the man’s hand and twisted it backward. Spinning at lightning speed, he knocked the guard off his feet, but not before disarming him. His heartbeat barely rose as he aimed the Glock at the man’s head. Pathetic. Those five to one odds just landed more firmly in his favor. The helpless guard lay stunned on the ground as he stared into the barrel of his own weapon.

     The older man eyed Elijah in approval. “There it is... that defiant streak. I can see just a quick glimpse of it now. Never mind that, though. Your reflexes are just as quick as they say, and you come highly recommended by General Wilmington.”

     Elijah glanced up at the mention of the general’s name. Wilmington knew this guy? He should have guessed. He disassembled the gun and tossed the pieces on the ground next to the guard. Better luck next time, bro.

     He turned to face the older man. “What am I doing here?”

     The man smiled. “I have a job for you. A special assignment, if you will. One that I’m sure you’ll find more than worth your while.”

     Elijah raised an eyebrow.
     The old man huffed. “I need you to protect my son.”

     “Protect him? From whom?”
     The stranger’s lips twisted. “From himself.”

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©2020 by Eden French.