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Gavin's brow scrunched and he halted in the middle of the doorway. [b "Wait, what?"]
She'd been so intent on this plan. After Gwen getting the upper hand and nearly beating her to death, he'd been convinced that Serena would jump at the chance for any amount of retaliation. Still, she looked bothered.
[b "What's changed?"] he closed the door, stepping back into the room.
Luna appeared to sense something off in her owner, and brushed against Serena's legs to comfort her. Gavin followed the girls to the kitchen, Linus barely keeping up behind them. If her intuition was telling her they needed to back off, he wasn't about to question it. She'd not been wrong before. [b "Okay, so we just change tactics a bit. Focus more on the company. I think you're right, and I need to make an appearance at the office. Who knows what Byrnes has told everyone about where I've gone."]
He set out to help her gather food to cook. [b "If you're good at bugging phones, we can get into the department heads' cells to keep track of their conversations. Any information they give us is better than nothing. Maybe one of them knows Byrnes' end game plan when he finally has all the cash and alliances he needs."]
They'd have to fly back soon. Julienne would no doubt tell Byrnes that they'd contacted her, and he was bound to step up his pace. A red-eye flight out of there within the next few days would be ideal.
Serena isn’t liking how things are turning out. Something in the pit of her stomach is screaming don’t go. Not tonight. With what happened to her and her parents having. Not to mention a few alarms went off in one day. [#af18ae “We should stay... I’m getting a bad feeling about this. It could be a setup. We’ll have another shot... if she does try to leave someone would take her out. I’ll be sad it wasn’t me but i can’t shake this bad feeling I’m having...”] she tells him.
The girl sure isn’t happy about this. She has so much planned for that traitor. Even though she told Gavin to make something, she ended up going to the kitchen to make something to eat. Something simple. Burritos came to mind. Her mind wouldn’t stop racing. One thought after another. She was trying to make sense of recent activities. Nothing seems to be clicking.
[#Af18ae “Alright so our first order of business went to shit. What are we going to do next? Are we even going to fly go back so you can settle things with your family and the business or at least speak to your lawyer?”] she asks finishing making and setting up the burritos.
He wasn't about to deny her any form of affection. Wrapping her in his arms, he pressed a kiss to her head. [b "Yeah, they didn't look exactly happy to see me. If your dad could kill through a computer, I'm fairly sure I'd be long dead by now. I tend to have that affect on fathers."]
At the mention of food, he rolled his eyes. [b "On it,"] he acknowledge the order, moving to the kitchen.
He was pulling ingredients for a stir fry out when the alarm sounded. Rejoining her in the living room, he spotted the footage of Gwen's home. [b "Looks like food will have to wait. Get whatever you need and we'll leave in five minutes."]
He changed into jeans and a plain t-shirt, knowing that basketball shorts wouldn't exactly be functional for what they were about to do. His hair trimmers were placed in his backpack, along with a few extra rounds of ammo. And, because he's paranoid, the first aid kit soon joined the pack.
[b "Got the clippers to shave her head. May as well do her eyebrows while we're at it, don't you think?'] he asked, grabbing his keys and one of the burner phones just in case.
With one last pat for Linus, he gestured to the door. [b "Shall we?"]
[#Af18ae “A lot of money where you don’t have any...”] Serena tells him honestly. They wanted everything. The business, money, and power. Come to think of it her parents would’ve done the same thing like Byrnes. However, they wouldn’t have gotten caught. The girl has to give it to him though for having sex on someone else’s desk. It’s fun. Hences, them having sex in at the boat party and then they had to escape because they were rudely interrupted.
They need to relive that moment one day... is she remembers. [#Af18ae “If it’s important documents on paper it won’t be in the office. He may carry it with him or have it at home... I can see if I can get another, but a smart person would carry it with them or put it somewhere safer than an office and a home.”] she sends her parents Byrnes the home address according to what’s on file. It would be an easy task to sneak in and get things. Maybe she can either sneak inside or disguise herself. [#Af18ae So are we going to do this?] she asks him turning to give him her full undivided attention. [#Af18ae This is going to sound so lame but i was abused as a child and seeing my parents brings back horrible memories. I need a hug...] the girl says pouting. Her arms raises requesting for a hug. [#Af18ae “Okay, all seriousness that was really awkward. I bet you anything my dad is complaining in four different languages. And I’m hungry again. It’s your turn to cook now.”] she says blowing him a kiss.
Serena double checked on how much is in the bag. She had to double check it’s the right amount. Another silent alarm goes off. Gwen is packing. Someone sent a picture to the other goonies [#Af18ae “Gwen is packing. It has to be tonight. Let’s shave her head. It’ll be like Brittany Spears that one year...”] Serena is going to ruin her life and eventually kill her later. She’s not going to know what happened to her. It may scare Gavin when he sees what’s going to happen to her.
His attention was drawn to the laptop where, sure enough, Byrnes and Julienne were going at it like rabbits on his desk. He nearly threw up. [b "Alright, I'm burning that desk the second I get back. Secondly, the image of that man's saggy ass is now burned into my memory forever."]
Gavin shuddered and scrunched his face. [b "These fucking people don't have any boundaries,"] he grumbled while pouring himself a glass of scotch.
He heard her video chat start up, but he attempted to stay out of it. He was ninety percent sure her family wasn't going to be fond of him, and judging by the tone in her parents' voices, there was little he was going to be able to do to change that. So, he let it go. That is, until Serena aimed the camera towards him to get him in the frame.
[b "Hey guys,"] he gave a tight-lipped smile while raising the glass.
He drained a second one as the conversation ended, thanking whatever god there was that he'd stocked up the liquor cabinet. [b "How much can I pay them to make sure they stay on our side?"] he sat back down beside her, this time nursing his drink. [b "We're going to have to pull whatever files we can from Byrnes' office. Which means, I'll distract him while you get access because you're faster, more efficient, and know what the hell you're doing. He's got massive filing cabinets in his office to keep track of everything."]
One bonus of Byrnes being from an older generation was that he wasn't entirely tech savvy. The man preferred hardcopies as opposed to digital files. [b "We need to pull any documents that shouldn't be there. Suspicious transactions, files from my office, anything like that. The cabinets are always locked, but I'm sure we can break them open."]
It’s interesting watching Gavin talk as if he knows what he’s doing. It would’ve been a turn on, but truth be told he’ll probably die five minutes into whatever plan they make. [#af18ae “No because we need to keep a low profile and I’m pretty sure they added a metal detector after seeing your office full of bullet holes.”] she tells him honestly. They probably even fixed his office which would give anyone the opportunity to put hidden camera or mics. Maybe even a weapon. Who knows? Wait... they do. They can check the recording from that day and see when the fixed his office and who was in it... Yup, she is a plan. Since they’re both using the laptops she got on the regular computer. She entered a few things and boom. Past recording popped up. She enters the date and a random time. Her fighting popped up. She fast forwards to the office being fixed which was a week later after the police had finished using it. Brynes is there putting in a few things. Then a girl walks in. They talk for a few minutes before things got sexual. [#Af18ae “Is that your ex lover? They’re having sex on your desk...”] serenes minimizes the tab and opens up the chat with her parents to send them a picture of Brynes. They requested to video chat with her. Sighing she accepts. They haven’t seen each other in a few years.
[#Af18ae Mom. Dad.]
“Has he tried hurting you? How did you get this picture?”
[#Af18ae “With one of the secret cameras I installed in Gavin’s family company. What you describes fits everything he has told me”] her father began to speak in another language about how disappointed he is in her. How could she fall for a target. Now her life is in danger. Serena conoces the webcam so they can see Gavin.
“Oh... hey Gavin. Nothing personal...” her mother says waving high. It did shut the dad up though. Serena ended the video chat. She looks at him.
[#Af18ae They escapes jail. Whatever his name is went to them asking about me. They’re on our side for now. So we need to make a plan and fast.”]
[b "You're not wrong there. She talked about him like he was a god,"] he grumbled. [b "Then again, she always had a thing for men with authority. If he tried waving his power around, it would have caught her attention. Age difference is kinda gross though,"] he shuddered at the twenty year age gap between Julienne and Todd.
Serena did have a point; it wouldn't be a terrible idea to make an appearance. It would quiet down rumors of his disappearance, and ensure that his authority is still recognized. Plus, it would be nice to see Byrnes' face as they called his bluff. [b "I can arrange a hotel room. I don't entirely trust staying at my place. Who knows what kind of surveillance Byrnes has placed on the property. There could be cameras watching our every move."]
Gavin crossed the room to slump on the couch. [b "Only myself, my brother, and my sister have unlimited access to every inch of the office. Whatever Todd is trying to use the department heads for, he won't get everything he needs. I'll need to take a look around and see what he's tried accessing while I've been gone. I know there's still employees that have loyalty to my father. They'll talk if I ask questions."]
It was good that she was confident about their success chances, because he was still nervous about the whole thing. He was still making mistakes in training, despite starting to put on a bit of muscle. Strength was nothing without skill. [b "I don't suppose this plan includes going into the company with firearm protection?"]
Poor Gavin. He’s gonna deal with her fake attitude about him sleeping with someone. Hopefully she remembers to tell him later that she doesn’t care. While he’s on the phone with his ex friend with benefits, she looks create an encrypted chat to talk to her dad.
Serena is coming to find out that things are getting hairy. That they threatened to kill Serena if they didn’t give them her whereabouts. The guy called himself Lynch. Which is a fake name used by high powerful military guys. She’s not going to tell Gavin until she gets more information
[#Af18ae “Sounds like she’s probably in love with him. You’ll believe whatever the person you love tells you.”] she tells him. Looking away from the laptop to look at him. The things with her parents aren’t exactly effecting him so he doesn’t have to know, but it does bother her a little keeping things from him.
[#Af18ae “Maybe we should go back for a day or two. Show the company you’re still there. We can pay someone big money to put you in the system and say you’re in rehab or something. Properly take your absence of leave. We have more people on our side...I can’t ruff her up for information. What do you say?”]
It was more unnerving that she was nonchalant about the whole thing than he'd been expecting. She'd never really been the jealous type, but with their history, Gavin wanted to be prepared for anything. [b "I'll get right on her,"] he saluted. [b "It! Get right on it."]
Their burner phones would buy him a little time. He used the second laptop to pull up the security cameras Serena had hacked into. Her office was empty for nearly twenty minutes before Julienne came striding into view. [b "You can do this,"] he breathed to himself. [b "Don't fuck it up."]
Gavin still had his employee's numbers memorized. He watched as she glanced at the ringing phone with a moment's hesitation before answering. [i "Julienne Lyles,"] her tone was formal.
He forgot to speak. [i Fuck!] What was he supposed to say? [i "Hello?"] she grew impatient quickly.
[b "It's me. It's Gavin,"] he blurted out.
Julienne paused both on the phone and the camera. [i "Hello, boss,"] she answered.
Boss. He hadn't been that for long enough that it sounded suspicious. [b "I know it came suddenly, but I had to take a leave of absence. Health reasons. I'm calling to check in on things."]
She narrowed her eyes at the number on screen. [i "Where is it that you're calling from? It's not an area code that I recognize."]
Thank you, encryption. [b "It's a rehab facility. Off the grid. I'm actually not supposed to even be speaking to outsiders until the three month mark, but I realized I hadn't left anyone in charge of my workload."]
He noticed her shift in her seat. [b "I'm placing Edward in charge until further notice. He wasn't at his desk when I called, but since you're on my staff, I figured that you would be able to go ahead and confirm these arrangements with everyone. I want things running as though I'm still there."]
[i "Actually sir, we've taken the liberty of assigning someone more qualified to oversee things while you've been gone,"] she was forcing confidence. [i "You'd left so suddenly, and we didn't know what had happened. We thought it best to appoint someone with seniority to act in your place."]
Gavin tilted his head, though she couldn't see him. [b "But why would a high ranking official such as Todd Byrnes want to oversee local business deals?"] he asked with an air of innocence.
She froze and her back stiffened. [i "I didn't say it was Todd Byrnes."]
[b "No. You didn't. But you didn't have to,"] he interrupted. [b "I might not be there, but I'm still very much aware of what's going on. So why don't you bypass all the unnecessary lying and backtracking and tell me what an FBI agent is doing with several department heads that he has no business with, and why Rollo Industries is getting caught in illegal trafficking of goods and services?"]
Julienne's jaw clenched visibly on camera and her tone changed to one of defiance. [i "I'm starting to get the impression you're not in a rehabilitation center."]
[b "You always were a smart girl. I'm still waiting on an answer."]
[i "I think you gave up your right to answers when you abandoned your father's company. Whatever Byrnes has decided with you is none of your concern. He is still a leading shareholder and therefore has power in this company. It's out of your control. Gavin, you always hated this company. Todd sees the potential. He's just willing to fight for it."]
[b "Todd sees the potential in making himself rich while dragging my father's work through the mud. Not to mention, hiring someone to eliminate me? When my life is threatened, I kind of take it personally. And I'm about ready to bite back. So why don't you tell Todd fucking Byrnes that he has no idea what's coming for him. And sweetheart? I'd take a minute to think about whose side you really want to be on when shit hits the fan."]
She slammed the phone down on screen, leaving the dial tone in his ear. He shut the burner phone and dropped it on the table. [b "We just confirmed that Byrnes is laundering money and at the very least trafficking company goods. Stocks, property, you name it. She wasn't cooperating. Practically sounds brainwashed, if you ask me. It's like Byrnes has them buying into a cult, promising them riches beyond their wildest dreams."]
Serena gives Gavin a look. It may be a scary one, but he doesn’t know that she doesn’t care. She slept around too. Nothing serious. But she won’t tell him that unless it’s a life and death situation. It was cute how he tried to change the subject. [#af18ae “Oh, well call that bitch up. See what she’s up to these days.] she finishes packing and tosses it over her shoulder. [#Af18ae “I think I can do this on my own. Go do your thing. Control your [i hoe].] she says kissing his cheek. She went to go say bye to the pets.
As if on que, another alert goes off. This one was more secretive. But she knew what it was. She exit it out. [#Af18ae “I’ll check later. It’s alssword protected so don’t try to open it. I’ll know and the computer will shut down.”] she stares at the screen chewing her lips. What is her parents up too? She sets the bag down and grabs the laptop. She connects it to a black box. The girl had her back against the wall as she does her thing and he does his. She looks for the headset to connect to the laptop just in case she gets a call. [#Af18ae “Anything on your end?”] she asks chewing on her fingers, staring at her screen. Her parents are safe and they need to talk to her. That’s what makes her nervous.
Gavin was in the middle of forcing himself through sit-ups when the alert came through. His face scrunched as he ransacked his brain for who those people were. [b "Tyrone and Jesse are private security for Luke. Melissa is the department head of international accounts. The others I'm not too sure of."]
Then he flushed red.
He knew Julienne. She'd weaseled her way close to his circle of friends after Serena had vanished. She'd been a drinking buddy for a while. And then a temporary friends with benefits situation. He'd called it off after a few months, but they'd remained amicable. [b "Julienne was part of my staff. She is a mediator for our local business partners, and oversees contract negotiations."]
He probably shouldn't have, but he blurted out, [b "We were a thing, temporarily. After you...you know. It ended quickly. Was barely a thing. More of a momentary lapse in judgement,"] he cleared his throat.
If she hadn't already put him through boot camp, she was definitely going to kick his ass now. He was more than happy to jump onto a topic change. [b "I agree! It's time to strike. Are we still going with the maiming idea? I thought you had a great idea with messing her appearance up. You said she was vain, and that would be a great way to get her,"] he was speaking rapidly, starting to pace the room.
It's have been over a week since she last heard from her father. Her mother escaped the other night. Surprisingly, it isn't on the news. Maybe something went wrong? If Serena wasn't working out and training Gavin she would be on the computer. One of Gavin's alert went on. [#af18ae "Babe, He accessed a file from your computer. A Tyrone Sherman, Cary Edwards, Julienne Lyles, Charles Miller, Melissa Rivera, and Jesse Sanders. But Ms Julienne Lyles sounds like a familiar name... Would you like to do the honors or should I?"] She asks him.
In all honesty, she would want to stay on the computer. She needs to hear from her parents. What if they randomly pop up? There's no telling what they would do. They don't have a plan for dealing with her parents because he wasn't a worry. Now it is. She doesn't even want to tell him. Serena left the computer to get the other half of the cash from her earlier plan for using thug to watch her ex-bestie. [#af18ae "We need to strike within the next three nights before the bitch leaves. Even take the money she got for [i killing me]. My entail tells me she's leaving this week.] Serena stops to stretch her sore arms. [#af18ae "We need to start planning thing. Maybe even move. It's been too quiet for my liking."]
Gavin managed to pull on a pair of shorts, but not much else. She seemed distracted, but he knew better than to butt in to her business when she's put all of her focus on something. He'd manage on his own for the day. [b "Don't forget to take water breaks,"] he pressed a kiss to her head on his way to the backyard with Linus.
From the little he remembered of his fitness training back home, he knew it was important to stretch before his limbs locked up with stiff muscles tomorrow. He found a nice shady spot by the hammock and eased himself into some of the more basic yoga poses that he was confident he wouldn't get stuck in.
Linus was as unhelpful as always. Fifteen seconds into the downward dog, the hairy beast attempted to wiggle under Gavin's balanced form, causing him to collapse like a bridge on top of the poor dog. [b "You idiot,"] he tried to scold, but Linus was too damn cute to even pretend to be mad. [b "You're gonna have to step it up around here,"] he warned him. [b "Guard dog training starts now."]
He tried to playfully grab him in a headlock, but Linus wiggled free and bulldozed Gavin right over. Problem was, it was only to pepper his face in slobbery kisses rather than take down an enemy. [b "Dumb dog!"]
[#af18ae "Trust me when i saw the nudist life isn't that great... There's not a lot of electronics. You'll get banned for stupid reasons and not to mention you'll get lots of fans of all ages and gender. Well minus the babies but they do tend to go for nipples because they don't know better."] she says chucking. Serena isn't proud of it but one of her targets was a nudist and it took three long months to get the job done. It was horrible. Mosquito and ant bites everywhere. People having sex out in the public. It was intense.
It took a while to find something comfortable. Serena heads to the bathroom to shower. [#af18ae "Are you sure? I won't go easy. I'll have you tapping withing thirty seconds. How about you watch some self defense videos first? Practice with your imaginary friend and when you think you got let me know so I can attack. Then we'll see if it works."] she tells him before hopping in the shower. Her shower was quick. She wants to go surf the dark web. Something big has to be going down if he finally decided to escape now when he only has two more years to serve. He practically owns the courtyard. [#af18ae "Hey, so you're gonna have to heat something up for dinner later. I'm going be online all day."] she told walking out naked, slowly getting dressed as she heads towards the computer.
[b "I'd rather not have major shrinkage, thank you very much,"] he put his energy into pulling himself out of the tub before she could make it colder.
Gavin heard her talking to someone, but he couldn't pinpoint who. She was talking just low enough that it was little more than a murmur. [b "Linus, she tried to kill me,"] he whined to the dog, wrapping a towel around his waist and wandering into the bedroom to collapse on the bed.
He looked up from the blanket as she entered the room. [b "Be alert at all times. Got it."]
He couldn't even be bothered to make a comment about how unfair it was that she was fine after such a rigorous workout. Then again, he got to watch her change into new clothes, so that shut him up to begin with. [b "Are you sure you want to get dressed? We could be nudists for a day,"] he tried wiggling his eyebrows.
The air conditioning chilled him as he air-dried. [b "I'm fairly sure I have blood blisters on the bottoms of my feet, but everything hurts too much to check,"] he attempted to roll over, feeling his core muscles screaming in protest.
Gavin kicked his feet, which Linus took as an invitation to lick his toes. [b "No! Not what I meant! Bad dog!"] he pulled at the bed, trying to get away.
He succeeded in pulling himself completely over the other side and onto the floor. Grumbling, he stood up and walked with shaky legs to grab a pair of boxers. [b "Maybe we can practice hand to hand combat next time. Way less painful to get my ass kicked by you than to run that again."]
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