My arrival in Soriamora was forty-five minutes later because of the lovely stop and go of morning rush hour. Soriamora was a city with no limits, only to the extent of what the boys in blue couldn’t get their eyes on. I have seen worse than what Soriamora could ever throw at you, but grateful to have found this joyous place. It had given the opportunity to show my skills I could never say I regret gaining.
I parked in the parking deck across from my establishment, Nevenkita Security. The story behind this gift is nothing but short of a thank you to my wonderful husband. Luis had faith in my abilities, without questioning, and fronted the funds to begin this venture. I never expected the magnitude of welcoming business over the years. My goal with Nevenkita was to be unique and not a business with one specialty. I worked long hours attached to lonely nights to seek the best employees. It didn’t matter if they were down on their luck or they were currently employed and looking for more excitement. Nevenkita Security deals with mostly all aspects of safekeeping, which entails personal security, layout and alarm placement, information security, and a simple or complex escort detail. I hired male and female alike. I tolerated no discrimination against sex. Those whom worked for me knew they were equals. I hand-picked my employees with the intention of all of us having something in common with each other. We all shared the bond of having secrets with potential to destroy us. No secret was alike. We were outcasts with masks that hid our genuine faces. We were a family without verdict, and that is how I kept it.
They greeted me in the usual respectable manner that a boss should be treated with, only by way of repaying respect back. My confidant, friend, and partner Takuya Takahasi followed me into my office with a stack full of impending jobs and clients.
“By the tautness in your eyes, the start of this day was not of good intention,” said Takuya as he put the papers on my desk and took comfort on the lounger. I threw my briefcase down on my chair and took a single cigarette out of a hidden space in my desk. The first puff of the Newport was a delight and a mere instance of relief. I placed myself next to Takuya and took a deep breath.
“It’s fucking grand. I finally find my place and have a family. Then this little rat chews a hole through my semi-perfect piece of rope. Then this rope slowly crumbles and now I have to decide if I need to open a box hidden for so long.” I said, irritation and anger seeped in my tone.
I paced back and forth with so many mixed emotions which have never invaded my state of mind before. My movement jerked to an interrupted stop as Takuya has me halted by my shoulders.
“Naomi, I have never known you to be beneath your strength. You are like a rambling energizer bunny. You knew without doubt what needed to be done when you found out life was growing within you. You knew what was to be done when the decision was made to start a fresh life with love you never thought you had to give. The family I have worked hard for knows only what needs to be known. I have not left them in the dark of what my life had involved, but I do not leave them wondering if they should question my truth. We only trap ourselves by keeping loved ones at a distance. Talk to Luis, but be clever in your admission.”
Takuya and I share a history of betrayals and heartaches. We have seen the lowest of the lowest point one could plummet into. We were the true meaning of enemies becoming your most reliable allies. There is not one life in this world formed without the consequence of another, and our meeting was not one without complication. Takuya and I have met in the days never to be spoken of with the pleasure of words and the days only a deep look into one’s soul could reveal.
We were teens with no guidance, no love, and no shelter. We were the unwanted or the one’s labeled with “trouble” on their backs regardless if we had never broken a rule or a law. We were the “unlucky” ones. We knew of each other’s presence and heard each other’s names, but we were never on the same team. Just how there are various crews throughout the cities in the world, the same was for our city we considered home. We latched on to what we could call acceptance. Wrong as it may have been, we felt as if the ones we chose to be surrounded with were our family. It is funny how one day you open your eyes to see what appears around you. Takuya and I were pawns in a game we would never have won. On that day we were puppets on a string facing a test of strength and wants. As it smacked us in the face of awful realizations, we came to the understanding of not differing from each other. We made a promise to watch each other’s backs, as we broke free from the grip of immoral doings. Neither of us were proud of what hung over our heads. Deep down inside, we knew walking away only put a target on our backs. The day will soon come to face our sins.
I let out a deep sigh. “Anushka is more understanding and adaptable to unknown territory. For crying out loud, you found her in the middle of a shit hole. Luis was born with a silver spoon in his mouth and he has always been sheltered by his perfect bubble. I do not think you and I are standing on the same line.”
I released myself from Takuya’s grip and sat down at my desk. Takuya stood there as if he had absorbed my frustration.
“You of all should know not to underestimate a person by their upbringing. Lord knows we have misjudged too many times. I know you, Naomi. You will let nothing out of your control and you always find a way of keeping things together.”
“Yeah…well…you forgot that I fuck things up. I tell you this much, I know what I am good at and that is working. Maybe we should end the counseling session and get back to what we get paid for.”
Dreading the schedule my day was consisting of, I pulled myself together and shoved these uncontrollable feelings to the side. It was meeting after meeting and presentation after presentation. Conference calls, appointment bookings, and paperwork were in the mix of it all. By the end of the day, I was looking forward to nothing but hearing my baby girl play her heart out. We had one last wrap up and then we could close shop. In my tradition, I thank everyone each night for the hard work they put in. Without them, my business would not be as it is.
I say bye to Takuya and make my way back to suburbia. I had made it in time to watch Alexandria perform. The seat meant for Luis was empty and created a bitterness inside of me. His actions weren’t fair to Alexandria’s passion. I sat myself next to Daniel and Alexandria’s godparents, Jade and Sam. My face disguised the anger I felt, and the beautiful music made everything better. At the moment, nothing would interfere with watching my baby girl play her heart out. Alexandria was so beautiful, and every emotion went into every note played.
When the end of the performance was declared, the talented students received a standing ovation. As we all waited for Alexandria to say her goodbyes and respond to the many kind compliments, I stood outside engaged in conversation.
“Where is Luis tonight?” asked Jade.
“Luis works late tonight. You know how it can be,” I responded. Although Jade could be considered in the normal sense a very dear friend, I refrained from burdening her with my marital issues.
“Oh…he is overworking himself. It is a shame he missed the performance. I am sure Alexandria will be very heartbroken.”
“What is a shame?” said Sam as he walked up with Daniel by his side.
“You know. Yet another unattended event by my lovely Luis. Work just keeps him so busy.” I replied as I picked up my handsome little man, Daniel.
Years ago, I would never have imagined Sam and Jade in my life. Sam Shallowton is a very intellectual human being. Sam and Luis knew each other long before I appeared in Luis’s life. It took me a while to fit this role in order to disguise my true self from others, and Sam was very curious of this new lady in his friend’s life. I couldn’t say that I blamed him.
Jade is the definition of kind and the meaning of giver, which stemmed from the person in a very troubled time. Jade, like so many confused and helpless souls, has felt the rush of poison in her veins. She has felt the high of liquid courage and the taste of fast money. By some miracle, Sam and Jade had crossed paths. He saw deep within her and opened her eyes to a better future. He stood by her side through the withdrawals and the mood swings and stayed a hundred percent faithful when she went away to rehab. Even when Jade had received the news of never being able to bare children, Sam never felt the need to leave. Now that is what you call a guardian angel. A dutiful man he is, but a brilliant mind can lead you into unwanted territory.
“You know it would be so great if you two took time off and went on a trip together to get away. You two are always so busy and we love being around the kids. Does that not sound like a marvelous idea, honey?” Jade addressed to both Sam and I.
I gave a smile and was thankful Alexandria appeared at the right moment. Saved by the kid.
“So, Mom, how did I do?” asked Alexandria with a sparkle in her eye.
“Like totally awesome!” I responded, knowing how it would irritate her teenage nerves.
“OMG Mom. Embarrass much?!” responded Alexandria with a burst of red on her face. She stormed to the car, and I couldn’t help laughing.
“Jade, sweetie, would you mind taking Daniel to the car and make sure both kids are ready for Naomi to take home? I just need to speak to her for a moment,” said Sam with a hint of dominance in his voice.
“Of course. Are we still on for Saturday?” Jade said as we exchanged a friendly hug.
“It’s a date. Going to be a fun night.”
I waited for Jade to make a distance and then turned back to face Sam. I already had a feeling a little birdie chirped in his ear.
“What do you want?” I asked.
“I just want to let you know… I know. I will be watching you extra close,” said Sam with a firing squad behind his eyes.
“That is cute. Are we going to play the Great Detective that solves the mystery at the end of the tunnel? You’re a smart guy, Sam. I don’t have to tell you where you should cross and where you shouldn’t.”
“Yeah, I’m smart, but I don’t like to be fucked with either. You’re breaking him. I have never seen Luis this lovesick with anyone. I’m warning you, you do right by him.”
“Sam, I have never hurt Luis before, and I don’t plan on him withering away into a hole of no return. You can make your assumptions and judgments about me, but be careful of who you make your threats too. You’re a very important part in our lives and if you wish to remain that way, I would watch the line you are about to cross.”
It was a moment of battle between our eyes. I think we both made ourselves understood and only the two of us would know of these words exchanged. We will be cordial, but cautious of each other. I am not afraid of the fire drawn by the determination of friendship.
An interruption caused our eye battle to wave a white flag. My phone insisted on nagging with its ring until it forced me to answer.
“Hello Ma’am. This is Billy from Doc’s Tavern. There is a gentleman here claiming to be your husband and is highly intoxicated. He is very belligerent and says his name is Luis Borders. We don’t want to resort to police action if we can solve the problem in house. Do you know who this man is?”
I glanced over my shoulder towards Sam and hoped he bought my straight face.
“Yes. I will take care of it right away.”
It was hard to simmer the fury which ran through my blood, but I put my professional hat on and continued on.
“Is there a problem?” asked Sam. He fished with his eyes for a sign to validate his suspicions.
“There is a work emergency I need to settle. Do you mind taking the kids for the night?”
I sensed Sam overworking the wheels in his mind.
“We would love to. Naomi, I don’t know how you do it all. You sure you’re not wearing a cape under there?” interrupted Jade. A gentle giggle followed her words.
“Ah, if I told you it wouldn’t be a secret anymore.” I committed to a playful wink after my less than impressive words. “I don’t know what Luis and I would do without you two.”
Masks. It’s all about which one you wear at the moment. I waved goodbye to my children as Sam and Jade drove them away. I knew damage control would be my next task for the night. I only hoped this wasn’t the calm before a dreadful storm.