Chasing Alex Ch. 02
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Alex sipped at a large glass of red Sangria and soaked up the warmth of the sun from the comfort of a sun lounger. It was a 30 degree day, though the lack of breeze made it feel about 40, and her bronzed legs sizzled gloriously in the heat. Festive music rang out from a nearby speaker, dulling the loud chatter of the people who surrounded her. It was a small, but decadent outdoor bar that was just one featured section of a prestigious club frequented by those wealthy enough to secure a membership. She tapped her freshly pedicured toes in time with the beat, her relaxed vacationer facade well into play.
“Another drink, ma’am?” A pretty waitress with a thick Spanish accent smiled down at her pleasantly. All of the cocktail waitresses were dressed in costume-like black vest dresses with white blouses underneath; giving them all a smart but playful look that tied in well with the feel of the establishment.
“No, thank you.” Alex returned her smile and motioned to her glass. “I’m still going with this one.”
The waitress nodded and continued on to the next guest who might need her attention.
Alex kept her head low, and her body almost fully covered with a lightweight sarong, eager to blend in with the crowd without drawing unwanted attention to herself. There was a thin line between looking too common to be at a place like this and looking so glamorous that other guests wanted to meet with you. She mostly seemed to find the middle ground, but if not, the well-placed towel on the lounger to her left would hopefully do the trick.
Her eyes assessed three American men from behind the shield of her designer sunglasses. They were seated in a couched area beneath the protection of a large marquee umbrella, conversing quietly over late-afternoon drinks. It was only day two of the job, too soon to have their names, so internally she’d been referring to them as Huey, Dewey, and Louie, but by the end of the day she’d have their real names. A large infinity pool lay between her and them, filled with half-dressed, modelesque women, who swam and laughed giddily while lapping up every free cocktail that was handed to them. Dewey seemed more interested in the pool activities than what Huey and Louie were talking about, his eyes fixated on the women as his head bobbed distractedly at whatever his friends were saying.
Her chin lifted slightly as a newcomer joined the party. Unlike the others whose chests were bare and their bottom halves covered in varying swim shorts, this man was in chinos and a dress shirt, indicating he wasn’t here to play. His blonde hair glimmered in the sunlight, and she heard his deep southern drawl float across the water as he greeted each of his friends.
Her lips curled as she took another delicate sip from her glass. “He’s here.” She murmured, the glass still close to her mouth, cloaking the movement of her lips.
A crackling resounded in her ear, before a hesitant voice whispered back. “Okay. What do you want me to do?”
Alex collected the half-open book lying beside her and brought it up to her face, pretending to read. “Nothing. Hold your position. We’re here to study his movements, that’s all.”
A groan filled her ear. “Why is it that you always get to go to the glamorous parties and drink the expensive cocktails, while I’m stuck here taking notes?”
She smirked. “You know why, Leila.”
Leila exhaled heavily, “Oh, come on, that was over a year ago! How was I to know the guy was a cop? You didn’t even know!”
“And what do we do when we find ourselves in an unexpected situation?”
She didn’t have to see the girl to know she was rolling her eyes. “We remain calm and use our heads to think of a subtle but effective way to get out of the situation,” she said monotonously.
“I’d say my fist to his face was pretty effective,” she muttered bitterly.
Effective in the moment, but not long term. Alex didn’t need to say it out loud; she knew Leila still felt bad about that botched job. After her assault on the police officer, they couldn’t exactly continue with the robbery; there was too much risk involved.
She lowered her book and continued watching the blonde man across from her as he spoke business with Huey, Dewey, and Louie. What were they up to?
She felt a soft breeze against her side as someone flicked a towel across the sun lounger to her right and she groaned internally. There were at least eight other lounge chairs in the vicinity, and they had to choose the one right beside her?
The blonde man shook hands with Louie, a deal taking place. She bit her lip pensively; could he be selling one of his antiques to this man?
When she heard the scraping of metal against brick, she realised the idiot next to her was dragging his chair closer to hers. She sat upright and turned to tell him she was by no means interested in his advances, when she met a pair of very familiar dark brown eyes, and her stomach somersaulted.
“Fuck,” she breathed, before otele gelen escort quickly composing herself, and putting her inner walls back up. How the hell had he found her?
“What is it?” Leila’s concern hit her right ear.
She subtly glanced to her left so he wouldn’t see her mouth move. “Pack your things and get out,” she whispered. “If I’m taken, you know what to do.”
“What? A, are you serious?”
She ignored the string of questions in her ear and plastered a nonchalant expression onto her face as she turned to the man beside her. He’d more than breached her personal space, sliding right up next to her, the warmth of his masculine body penetrating her skin.
“Hello, Olivia.” His deep voice warmed her to the core. “Or is it Alexandra?” The hard press of metal dug into her side, concealed from view beneath his towel. A clear warning not to run.
She allowed a smile to lift the corners of her lips. “Mr Bradbury, what a surprise. Tell me, is that a gun at my hip, or are you just eager to pick up where we left off?”
“Shit!” She heard Leila’s panicked exclamation as the penny dropped, and she prayed the girl had started packing their things. If Chase had been able to find her, he likely knew where they were staying.
Chase smiled, a menacing lift of his lips that promised a world of trouble. “You know I’ve spent the past three months tracking you down. You’re a difficult woman to catch. I travelled to London, Italy, France… but I was always just one step behind you.” His lip twitched. “Until now.”
She smiled slyly back at him. “Well, they do say men enjoy a little hard-to-get.” Her eyes roamed the outdoor area for the two friends who rarely left his side. “Where are your two lackeys?” She asked casually. “Were they not up for the road trip?” She hoped Leila would get the hint and keep an eye out for the two men who accompanied Chase everywhere.
“If you’re asking if I have back up, then the answer is yes. Though, I’d thought the gun would be enough to deter you from trying to escape.” He reached out to her then, and captured her sunglasses in one hand, pulling them from her face and causing her to squint as sunlight blasted her retinas. He studied her eyes curiously. “Brown today…” he mused. “Blue when you worked for me, green when you seduced me…”
She laughed lightly. “Oh, I hardly seduced you, Mr Bradbury. In fact, I seem to recall you stealing me from my home and then offering my brother’s freedom in exchange for my body.”
“You don’t even have a brother.” He said drily.
She raised an eyebrow. “Does it matter? You still would have used an innocent woman to get your money back.”
His eyes darkened. “If I remember correctly, you seemed to enjoy my attention.” He reached out then, and brushed a lock of her brown hair behind her shoulder. The intimate act caught her by surprise, his gentle touch reminding her of their short time together in his bedroom that night, but she made sure her smile never faltered. “It’s a shame we were cut short.”
“Indeed, a terrible shame,” she took another delicate sip of her Sangria. “If only I hadn’t poured so much sedative into your whiskey, you might have had the few extra minutes you needed to rock my world.”
He laughed loudly then, a genuine belly laugh that she’d only heard sporadically during her time in his household. It was unsettling, given he wasn’t known for his keen sense of humour.
He took the cocktail glass from her hand and placed it on the table beside her, then leaned in closer to her. At this proximity, she could fully take in the contours of his face, the small scar that brushed his left eyebrow, the shadow of stubble along his jawline. She found herself wanting to run her fingertips across it; to feel the rough texture against her delicate skin.
“You know,” he murmured, “I think I enjoy your company even more as Alexandra than I did as Olivia.”
“Funny, I seem to loathe yours even more than I did before,” she lied.
He smirked. “Enough pleasantries. You’re going to tell me where my necklace is, and then you’re going to return the money you stole from me.”
“Is that all, Mr Bradbury?” She asked airily.
“I want the exact location, no games. You won’t be released until I have it in my hands.”
Oh, he made it all sound so easy. She relaxed back into her sun lounger with a contented sigh. “Chase, I spent a month working in your household, and 8 months studying you before that. I know you’re not the kind of man to let me walk away unscathed after I give you what you want. If you really think I’m going to talk, then you’re even more obtuse than I thought.”
A firm hand clasped around her forearm, bringing her focus back to his sombre expression. Those dangerous eyes thrilled her more than they scared her, which was highly problematic. “If you really know what kind of man I am, then you know I’ll find a way to make you talk.”
She didn’t doubt his words for pendik escort a second. She’d heard whispers amongst his staff, rumours of the kind of punishment inflicted on those who crossed him. “Don’t let his graceful exterior fool you,” they’d murmured in the corridors, “He has one hell of a temper.” Nevertheless, giving him the location of the necklace was simply not an option.
“Do your best,” she shrugged.
She expected a fit of rage, but instead his expression softened. She couldn’t tell if his concerned features were a ploy or not. “Alex, you don’t have to make this hard on yourself.”
Interesting. Chase Bradbury was turning out to have a soft side she would never have suspected. Nevertheless, she turned her head away, her decision final. She’d been in worse scenarios before, she would make it out of this one.
He sighed and pressed the gun harder against her side. “Fine. Get up.”
She begrudgingly slipped her feet into her sandals and reached for her sunhat, but he captured her wrist in his palm before she could touch it.
“Hands where I can see them,” he ordered and she lifted her arms innocently.
“Forgive a girl for wanting to be sun smart,” she murmured, having no choice but to stand as he took a firm grip on her arm and led her toward the exit.
“Excuse me, ma’am!” A familiar voice rang out from behind them; a terribly exaggerated Spanish accent that sounded completely ridiculous to Alex, but would perhaps be good enough to convince Chase who was more focused on the woman in his grasp.
She turned and had to hold in a laugh as she realised Leila had somehow got her hands on one of the waitress’ uniforms. Clever girl. It seemed she had been paying attention after all. Her raven black hair was pinned into a neat bun atop her head, her high cheekbones brushed with a subtle blush, and her lips a sultry red. A tall girl for her 18 years, she stood at least a foot higher than Alex, and the uniform she’d stolen appeared to be a size too small for her, with her long legs on display right up to mid-thigh. She was lucky that this was the kind of establishment where one could get away with a less conservative look.
“Ma’am, your bill,” she held out a small black book to Alex, biting her lip nervously. While Alex knew her nerves were entirely due to the situation at hand, to Chase and any others Leila would simply be a girl who was new to the job and jittery.
“Oh, how silly of me,” Alex admonished, tugging her arm from Chase’s hold. He hesitated a moment, before releasing her so she could reach for her purse.
While she searched for her credit card, Leila glanced at Chase and tilted her head with uncertainty. “I’m sorry, Señor, I don’t recall you checking in at the front desk. Might I see your membership card?”
Chase frowned, “I beg your pardon?”
Leila attempted a more confident approach, “This is a members’ exclusive bar, Señor. If you are not a member here, you must pay the entry fee…”
“For fuck’s sake,” Chase muttered under his breath. Alex watched from the corner of her eye as he lowered the concealed gun bundled up in his towel and began fishing in his pocket for his wallet. As soon as the weapon was no longer directed at her, she moved quickly, giving the man a firm shove. Surprise registered in his features as he wobbled on one leg, trying to keep his balance. But gravity won out, and he toppled backward, landing with a heavy splash into the pool.
“Stay here and stall him.” Alex instructed Leila, moving swiftly toward the door to the inner bar. A chorus of squeals and laughter erupted behind them, as the drunken girls in the pool perked up over a fully clothed man joining them. “He doesn’t know you’re with me,” she continued to speak through her body microphone.
“I thought you said to be subtle in unexpected circumstances,” Leila mocked in her ear.
“I make the rules, I can break them.” She plucked a coat that was hanging near the reception desk before making a swift dash into the kitchen. She rushed through the steam-filled room, receiving a few stunned looks from the kitchen staff, and heard Leila dealing with a furious Chase by the pool.
“Let me through!” He roared.
“Señor, I can’t allow you in there until you’ve dried off. Please wait for someone to fetch you a towel -uh!” Despite her height, Leila was a waif of a girl and was hardly able to stop the man from entering the bar.
Alex quickly wrapped the coat around her and pushed through the back door and into a narrow alleyway, which was scarce aside from a few garbage bins.
“I’m following him through the bar,” Leila whispered. “Stay away from the front entrance and you’ll be fine.”
“It’s not Chase I’m concerned about,” she said as she hurried down the alleyway, keeping to the side walls. “His men are here somewhere and my bet is that they’re stationed around each of the exits.”
Just as the sentence left her mouth, she found herself colliding straight into rus escort a wall of muscle. A large, burly man with messy dark hair and a familiar menacing grin grabbed a hold of her.
“Your bet is right,” he said with a smirk.
She gasped as he pinned her against the wall, a frown crumpling his forehead.
“Who are you talking to?” His hands examined her body; and she was thankful for his decency to not hover over her curves any more than what was necessary. His fingers found the thin cord of the microphone leading from her waist to her cleavage and he examined it briefly. “Hmm…” he pondered, and then pressed a damp cloth firmly against her mouth. A strong chemical smell hit her nostrils. She struggled in his grasp, avoiding inhaling until the lack of air forced her to breathe in…
Gabe’s phone buzzed against his upper thigh as he strolled through the hotel reception. He pulled it from his jeans pocket and placed it against his ear.
“Have you found the room?” Spencer asked.
“I’m headed there now. Do you have the girl?”
“She’s sleeping in the back of the van.”
Gabe groaned, “Tell me you didn’t give her another concussion?”
“Relax, I used a sedative.” Gabe breathed a sigh of relief. He wasn’t in the mood to deal with Chase’s temper today. Even though Alex had stolen from him, he knew Chase was still sweet on her. He could threaten all he liked, but Gabe would be surprised if his friend even laid a finger on her once he had his blasted necklace back. “I’m just waiting for Chase to get here and then we’re headed back to the apartment.”
Gabe frowned. “He’s not with you?”
“Nope, he decided to go swimming, in his clothes and all.”
“Swimming?” Gabe stifled a laugh. “I won’t ask. I’ll meet you back there; I’m going to sweep the room, though I really doubt she would have left it there.”
“Keep an eye out, she isn’t working alone.”
“On it.” Gabe shoved his phone back into his pocket and touched a hand to the gun at the belt of his jeans. A partner? It made sense. She couldn’t have been pulling jobs for this long without an accomplice. A boyfriend perhaps, or maybe she did have a brother all along. He hoped it was the latter, given Chase’s infatuation with the woman. A boyfriend might not fare so well.
Despite the months they’d wasted tracking her down, Gabe had to admire Alex. She’d fooled all three of them that night at the manor, playing the innocent seductress. They’d played right into her hand, taking her to the very place she needed to be to gain access to Chase’s safe. What’s worse is that none of them had even recognised her as one of his staff members. It wasn’t until they’d ran the personnel profiles after her disappearance that they’d found her in the system under the name Anna James, sporting a messy blonde bob with oversized spectacles that suitably hid her natural beauty.
Gabe slowed as he reached room 47. The door was unlocked and he gently pushed it open and slipped inside, examining his surroundings.
It wasn’t the most expensive room in the hotel, and significantly less impressive than the mansion they’d last found her in, but it was no pauper’s suite. The king-sized bed was freshly made, and the tabletops bare, with little evidence of residence aside from a large suitcase lying open in the middle of the bedroom floor with various items stuffed messily into it. Was she packing?
The bathroom door flew open and Gabe’s hand again went to his gun, but he paused as his eyes met two warm brown ones which widened in shock at his presence. The maid was a vision; prominent cheekbones with red pouty lips that were now shaped in a perfect “o”. She dropped a bag of toiletries at her feet, make up and accessories scattering across the floor.
His eyes trailed down the length of her, taking in the black and white uniform that fit snugly against every curve of her body, and her long toned legs that seemed to go on for days. If he wasn’t on a job, he definitely would have made a move on this one.
“Oh! I’m so sorry, Señor!” Her voice trembled. “I’m almost finished the housekeeping.” Her accent had more of a twang to it than the other locals and he wondered if she was from a different region of Spain. He watched as she hurriedly collected the scattered items and placed them back into the toiletry bag.
“You can come back later,” he glanced at her name badge, “Sofia.”
She looked about the room nervously. “It will only take me two minutes, Señor…”
He crossed the room slowly, until he stood only a breath away from her. She was almost as tall as him, but she had the advantage of a pair of high stilettos. He held a fifty euro note out to her. “I said come back later, love.”
The woman nodded nervously and took the note from him. She shuffled quickly towards the door, her walk slightly awkward in the heels. Why she would wear the damned things to a job like this was beyond him. Then, suddenly his mind whirred. An accomplice.
“Wait!” He roared. The girl froze in the doorway and turned back to face him, her expression blank. She couldn’t be. Could she? She looked to be in her early twenties, too young to be leading a life of crime. But then, Alex hadn’t fit the usual suspect profile either.
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