Natalia stood, red-faced, before Talbot Randalls. Never before had a boy ever turned her down flat, let alone said what he said. Both embarrassed and incensed, she struggled to find the words to say in reply. He had called her a child. A child!
No one was supposed to be able to call her that. At least no one other than her own family. Boys just didn’t call her that. They often called her other things, like immature, but never a child.
But Talbot had called her an immature child. He had told her, to her face, that she was still a little girl and that she was not mature enough for him. Not mature enough for him?!? Who was he but a pawn in her game to make Tobias French jealous enough to lay claim to her? Nothing. But Talbot had embarrassed her in front of the whole school. He had called her immature in front of all the girls. Most of all, he had called her a child in front of all the boys.
Even worse was the fact that he was walking away from her. Don’t you walk away!!!” What had been intended to be a cold quote, spoken normal, had burst from her at a screeching yell.
Talbot shrugged and continued walking, ignoring her outburst. She had simply asked the wrong boy for the wrong thing. Talbot didn’t have time to play her games. And that was all she was playing. Games.
Shasta saw it all. Natalia’s misguided attempt to throw herself at Talbot. Talbot’s rejection. She couldn’t help but smile.
She couldn’t help but feel bad for her sister, but she knew that Natalia would have to suffer rejection from more than one boy before she learned that boys were not toys. They weren’t pawns to be pitted against one another. Nor were they objects.
They were boys. They were people, just like Nattie. They had feelings. They felt emotion.
But Natalia didn’t see things that way. Boys were pawns. Hearts were toys meant to be played with. Love was a fleeting thing that she could never truly grasp. It was always just beyond her reach, waiting. Taunting.
She hungered for it. Desired it. Lusted after it. Hunted for it.
All without realizing what it really was. She thought of it as a touch. Or as something that she felt, like sweat upon skin. Or maybe something that she could taste.
Tobias had mistaken. Calvin Harmes was more powerful than he’d thought. Annette’s father had more money than they let on. In fact, Calvin was rich enough to buy French Industries out from under Toby’s father.
And Toby had made the mistake of touching Annette inappropriately. To make it worse, he had been caught in the middle of attempting to rape her. Things weren’t boding well for him at the moment. He couldn’t explain away what he had been doing.
As a result, he could not use his misdeed as leverage. He was in a bad spot. If his father learned of this, he would never allow him to leave the house again. If Joey learned of it…Toby shivered at the thought of what awaited him if Joey ever found out about this.
Did Joey have a daughter? Toby smiled at the thought. Perhaps he could get even with the big Italian through his wife or daughter. It was an idea.
He caught himself. No. That would not be smart. That would be committing suicide.
To keep the whole thing quiet, Toby had made a promise to stay away from Annette. He promised to keep his distance from all the girls in the school. But he had not made any promises not to burglarize, vandalize, steal, or any of the other activities he found thrilling. He had only promised to stop his sexual deviance.
He would be sure to distance himself from that part of his life. He didn’t want to be turned in. He would even steer clear of Annette’s family. That meant that he would leave her little sister and brother alone. He had no choice.
He could wait a few years to return to his life of using girls for what he wanted. It wasn’t important for him to continue in those activities for no. Sure, he would miss the fun of it all. But he couldn’t afford to be sent away just yet.
He smiled. He would save it all for Natalia. He would keep his sexual frustrations pent up until he could act upon them with her. Yes. That would be the perfect time.
Toffer was in pain. Joey and his companion had put him through hell. For the first time, he knew what beatings were all about. He now knew what he had put Toby through.
At least there were no broken ribs. The cuts and the bruises would heal. The other pains would vanish. The nightmares would last a lifetime.
He’d had to convince them that he had no idea where the missing files were, even though he did. The government had them, but he couldn’t tell Joey that. The mobster would definitely kill him if he found out, even though Toffer had not been the one that had turned them over.
There were things in some of those files that he hadn’t ever wanted anyone else to know. Crimes he had committed when he thought himself invulnerable. Now, the whole country knew. And even worse, the IRS knew that he had swindled them.
It was only a matter of time before he was called before a judge on all counts. The irony was that he actually looked forward to it. It would get him out from under Joey’s thumb. Even Alcatraz was beginning to look better than where he was at the moment.
He would laugh if it didn’t hurt so much. Sad how far he had sunk. strange what he would look forward to just to get away from his mob overlord. He closed his eyes.