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Watch the Wreckage, Book 3 - From the Edge

Watch the Wreckage, Book 3 - From the Edge

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"I can't believe I've become the villain in this story. I never meant for things to go this far, but I've come too far to turn back now. I need those coordinates to New Earth, and I'm willing to do whatever it takes to get them.

Steve is the only one who stands in my way. He is willing to sacrifice everything to stop me, even his own life. But I know there's another way. So, I offerer him a deal. If he gives me the coordinates, I'll spare his friends..."

Sample: From the Edge

Fingernail chewing wasn’t common to Jeremy Randolph, but considering the current situation, he quickly picked up the habit. As he paced back and forth through the empty conference room—which housed a long wooden table with a thick glossy finish, and twenty-four fancy high-back chairs around it—what remained of his fingernail stubs nibbled away between his teeth. 

None went right. Nothing went as he’d planned. A successful attorney with a long glittering career is what he’d worked for. Not this. He looked down at his wrist. Most definitely, none of his plans would come to fruition while wearing Anabelle Shrewt’s death bracelet. If he were to believe her, she might kill him the moment she deemed him useless. Most of his cases usually had someone else’s life or career hinging on their lives, not his. This time, his own life was on the line. If he failed here, it would be curtains for him.

He needed to gain access to Robert Kevin’s computer, but there was no way to request access without drawing suspicion. So he went an entirely different route. The Company, wouldn’t release just the computer, but they might release all of Steve’s property at once. He had to play it carefully, as if he wasn’t interested in the computer at all…just everything together as a whole, without drawing suspicion. Yeah, that’s it...chew, chew. Swaying the Company’s legal representative was the challenge. He just needed a fix on which team member they sent in. He’d met most of them so far. Jenkins wouldn’t be that hard but, Tessa…that was a different story. He would just leave and give up if it was her. Forget-about-it… He rolled his eyes. Nibble, nibble…

Pacing, he played several scenes in his head, coming up with rebuttals for anything thrown at him. After a while, he glanced at the white ring around his wrist again and his thoughts shifted to visualizing himself, wide dull glazed eyes and drooling on the concrete after Anabelle came through on her promise to kill him. He shuddered a little at the thought.

Randolph glanced at the time on his other wrist. Thirty minutes passed since they’d asked him to wait in the conference room for their legal rep. Besides panic, he also felt irritation—he hated waiting. Most people in his line of work did. If this would not work, he might as well leave now and try another route. “That’s it…” He pulled the tip of his finger out of his mouth and headed to the door, but then it swung open. 

A tall woman in a light gray suit over a white shirt in high heels strolled in with her hands full. She tied her dark brown hair back in a bun and wore thick-framed black glasses that rested on the end of her small nose. She cleared her throat. “Can you get the door, please?”

“I’m sorry?” Randolph frowned at her.

“I take it you’re here to discuss the case with some sensitivity, no?” she looked above her frames. “I mean, the reception and a full waiting room are right there. It’d be unwise to talk of legal matters in the open. Wouldn’t you agree, solicitor?”

“Why don’t you get the door?” Randolph said…and his face turned red.

Her eyebrows bunched together for a second. “My hands are full, but all right.” She sat the box of files on the table while shaking her head. “Mr. Randy,” she began as put the stuff down and turned.

“Randolph,” he corrected and quick stepped to shut the door himself.

She blew out a frustrated breath. “Randolph, then. My apologies. Please have a seat.” She opened her hand to the empty seat beside her at the edge of the table. 

Randolph nodded and brushed a hand through his hair and then sat down.

She held out her hand for the customary shake. “I’m Agatha Harris. They briefed me, you’re here to make several demands pertaining to the organization’s acquisition of Steve Glenning’s work. I’m sure you know, considering you are his attorney, he signed everything over to us?”

“Yes, I’m awa—,”

“Then surely you must know your visitation here at this hour of the night is both an inconvenience and a waste of my time.” Agatha leaned back in the oversized leather chair, put one hand on the armrest and brushed lint off her skirt with the other. 

Randolph leaned forward in his seat and gaped. 

When he said nothing, she said, “You understand the legally binding nature of the contract Glenning signed. Do you not? You were the originator of the contract.”

“I d—.”

“And you recall the exclusivity of this legally binding contract?”

Again, no answer.

“The name itself implies exclusive access to all of Steve Glenning’s work and intellectual property. You recall the wording you authored?”

Randolph cleared his throat. “You keep cutting me off? That’s doesn’t seem very professional, does it?”

“Do you know what time it is, Mr. Randolph?”

“Yes, I do.”

“Does that seem professional?”

Randolph sighed and shook his head a little. “Tell me, Ms. Harris, have you reviewed the contract carefully?”

“Of course.”

“Then you’re aware, Glenning, I, and the Company signed the contract.”

She nodded.

“Then you’re also aware of the clause stating the deal is only viable when your organization provides Glenning with everything he’s requires operating the drones.”

She drew her hand away from the armrest and pushed the frames of her glasses up the bridge of her nose, while sitting up straighter in her seat.

“Yes, I’m aware of the clause. You are also similarly aware that your client, Steve Glenning, is in a holding cell awaiting the trial for the murder of three hundred people. Correct? And surely, you see how a circumstance like that all but voids the clause you inserted into the contract?”

Randolph leaned back in his comfy leather seat and smiled. “Steve Glenning hasn’t yet faced a jury. Nor has he met the judge. He is currently being held illegally, as I’m sure you’re aware. And unless he’s declared guilty by a jury, he remains innocent and the clause in the contract remains valid. And seeing as my client can’t operate his drones from the inside of a prison cell, it becomes your organization’s responsibility to get him out of that cell. Failure to adhere to a clause of a legally binding contract voids the contract. Now let’s be honest, you’ve failed to support the contract’s clause. So, I’m afraid you’re required to relinquish his property into my custody until you’re prepared to follow through with the demands of the contract.”

She made a pouting sound that Randolph tried not to find adorable.

“We can’t do that. It’s in no one’s best inter—.”

“Best interests?” Randolph scoffed and leaned his elbows on the armrests and bridged his hands together. “Steve Glenning is the only one who can operate the drones. I’m sure your organization knows this by now. If Steve Glenning dies in custody, his drones become useless to you. They’re dead weight. And trust me, Ms. Harris. If you don’t get Steve Glenning out of prison, he will die.”

“How can you know that?” Agatha said.

Randolph pulled his fingers apart and glanced at the white bracelet just below the cuff of his sleeve. There was no telling if Anabelle was listening to his conversation. He was sure of his imminent death if there was anything said she didn’t approve of. “Let’s just say I believe he’s not in a safe place, considering the attacks he’s endured already. And Steve’s diabetic, which was disclosed in the contract proposal years ago. Prison isn’t exactly accommodating his medical needs. If your organization truly values the contractual relationship with my client, then you’ll do everything within your power to get him freed on bail. In the meantime, I’m taking possession of his intellectual property until you can fulfill the contracts' agreed upon expectations.” 

Randolph made little circles with a jagged fingernail on the conference room table. “Or…I take the steps to negate the contract and void the exclusivity deal that you’ve worked for over a decade. In which case, your organization hands over Steve Glenning’s property into my custody. It’s your call, Ms. Harris. But either way, I’m taking possession of my client’s property today…no matter the hour. So tell me, how do you want to do this, because I don’t know about you…but I’m done for the day. I’d rather not pull an all-nighter.”

Agatha drew in a long breath and leaned back in her seat. She folded her arms, eyeing Randolph. A few seconds of silence went by. Then her face relaxed, and she forced a smile. “I’ll make some necessary calls. Glenning should be out of prison by tomorrow afternoon.”

Jeremy said, “And, in the meantime?”

“I’ll make an addendum and get you the property release agreement, ensuring we retake possession upon Glenning’s release.”

“Not his release, but when he’s provided with what he needs to complete his contractual agreements.”

“Of course. Give me a few minutes to get the form drawn. You can take possession upon your departure here tonight.”

Randolph nodded and smiled. He’d noticed she cut her eyes at him on that last word. She was sarcastic. He liked sarcasm.

She worked away on a tablet she pulled from the box on the table and talked while her fingers flew silently across the keys. “As you’re aware, we’ve kept everything in storage. But you alone will have the code to get inside. If that works for you. If not, we can have everything moved to a facility of your choosing. But I doubt that will happen tonight.” She glanced up at him again and proffered the tablet to him to sign and put in a security code of his choosing.

Randolph nodded and took the tablet…typing in the information.

“When you free my client, I’ll be in touch.” Randolph handed back the tablet and then his phone buzzed with the incoming contract addendum. He forced a smile. Then he extended a hand to Agatha.

She shook his hand and flashed him a warm smile. “I must admit, you’re impressive. I’ve only heard stories about you in court, but I’ve never had the pleasure.” She busied herself with gathering her files again. “You’ll notice I’ve included my contact information. Reach out whenever.”

“Wait, by whenever, you mean—”

“If it’s any help, I like lattes,” Agatha said, walking past him.

He hurried ahead of her and opened the door.

Randolph winked at her before leaving. 

She rolled her eyes…but smiled before strolling down the corridor.

Trying to tear himself away, he watched for a moment. 

“Um, Mr. Randolph, can I schedule your next appointment?” the receptionist said.

“Uh…” he lifted his arm and noticed the white bracelet of death gripped around his wrist, reminding him of Anabelle’s presence even then. He slipped his hand into his trouser pocket and said, “It’s Taylor, right?”

“Yes, you remembered. You’re here every few weeks for something. I should know your coffee order by now.”

Randolph chuckled.

“How’d it go with Ms. Harris? She’s a tough one, I hear,” Taylor said.

“Oh, please, charisma like mine. There was only one way it could go.”

“So, it went well?” Taylor looked surprised. “That’s odd. She’s a touch negotiator, especially at this hour of the night. I thought for sure you’d be stew when you left.”

Randolph forced a laugh, then cleared his throat. “Uh, it was nice seeing you again, Taylor, but I’ve got to hurry off. I’m afraid Harris isn’t the only person I’m negotiating with tonight.”

Taylor smiled. “Of course. Don’t let me keep you.”

Randolph tapped the surface of the reception desk and nodded, before making his way out of the building and hurrying to his vehicle. Once inside, he placed both hands on the dashboard and took deep breaths. With his eyes shut, he tried to calm himself, which was difficult considering he had a lethal device on his wrist. He cracked open one eye and stared at the bracelet—if she’d heard his conversation with Agatha, then Anabelle would call him by now. She liked to act quick. That much he knew about her by now. A frown crept over his face, and he brought his wrist closer to his face. “Anabelle?” 

There was silence. Not that he’d expected her to answer him from the bracelet. But his phone didn’t ring or buzz. No messages or emails came in. Nothing. No demands. “Was it a trick?”

“Anabelle, can you hear me?” he said again. Still nothing. “Anabelle, it’s Jeremy Randolph. I did what you asked. You’ll have the computer in a day or two. I have the storage code.” 

He eyed the bracelet as he spoke and reached for the utility compartment. There were a lot of things he threw in there carelessly because he knew he’d need them at some point. As he rummaged to the bottom, his hand clasped around something long and metal. He’d found a flathead screwdriver and immediately wedged the tip into the crevice of the hinged end of the bracelet. As he dug away, his forehead began to sweat, so he wiped away the moisture with the edge of his sleeve. “I know you probably wanted…the computer tonight, but I doubt that’s going to happen…” he said as he worked. “I can’t guess why you’re not answering. Maybe you’re preoccupied with torturing someone else now. So many people to manipulate…I can imagine that leaves little you time.” Creating a pit inn the metal clasp, Randolph kept working. “But something tells me you’re not listening at all. Or perhaps we all got lucky, and you were in come kind of severe accident. Yeah, that’s it. You’re lying in some desert with your neck broken and permanently paralyzed. That would be justice...” And that’s when it happened. The bracelet popped off and landed in his lap. He picked it up and inspected the mechanism. Then he rolled down the window and tossed the bracelet as far as he could in case it exploded and sped away. Then his phone rang.

His heart leapt into his throat. He took a deep breath and checked the number. It wasn’t Anabelle. He tapped a key. 

“Randolph, have you heard from Steve? Or his cellmate? Benjamin?” Wynn Adams said.

“Uh no. I’ve not heard from him. Listen, I’m leaving Company headquarters now. Anabelle paid me a visit. Or technically, I didn’t know it was Anabelle. Long story.”

“What did she do, Jeremy?”

“She persuaded me to get the Company to hand over Steve’s equipment, including Kevin’s computer. The one he used at the hideout. That’s what she really wants. Then she attached a bracelet to my wrist to either track me, kill me, or both. But I got the damn thing off without it going boom, so I’m guessing she’s currently distracted. Small miracles.”

“Jeremy, Steve told me he was getting out of prison tonight. That’s what he said when we were there. Also, that she would get to Kevin and me, once he did. And that we were to go to the hideout. But, Jeremy, I think something’s wrong. It went bad. They might have trapped him there.”

“No,” Randolph said and shook his head. He put the vehicle on autopilot. “Listen. I reached an agreement with the Company’s legal team. Paperwork is being processed for Steve’s release by tomorrow afternoon. Regardless of his prison break status, he’s getting out. That’s guaranteed.”

“And you don’t think a prison break attempt might jeopardize this agreement?”

Randolph snorted. “Nah, I don’t think so. I put in a convincing argument with Ms. Agatha Harris. She knows that Steve’s freedom is in the Company’s best interests.”

“Oh. Okay then,” Wynn said. “But what do we do now? About Anabelle?”

“Now we figure out a way to end this,” Randolph said. “The next person who gets hurt is Anabelle.”

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