Any second now, Mr. Gene Morgan thought as distinguished gentlemen sipped martinis from gold-encrusted glasses.
Grand gestures were expected of the billionaire, and he relished in living up to his reputation.
Sun reflected off the polished cherry wood rail of his yacht as he leaned over, peering into the crystalline Caribbean waters.
La Negrita, they called the yacht. She was a thing of beauty, the white prow slicing through the calm sea with grace.
Long shadows loomed over the blue water.
The salty air was fresh and sweet. Morgan inhaled a long, contented breath as he looked over the horizon.
Not a good day to die.
Scratching the grey whiskers of his beard, he rolled up the sleeves of his hand stitched button-down shirt, revealing his mocha-colored skin.
He’d hoped that the man wasn’t dead already. That would put a damper on his schedule.
“Shut the engines off, will you?” Morgan asked his yacht’s captain over the earpiece that hung over his lobe.
Air bubbled at the water’s surface, a carbonating flow. A smile curved on the gentleman’s face.
Morgan took the spectacles off his face, wiping them with the end of his shirt.
“3 … 2 … 1 … and …”
Bursting out of the ocean and gasping for breath, the well-built and ruggedly handsome man ripped off his snorkeling gear with a splash.
“What the—?!” Harrison said. Water sprayed from his body as he thrashed about.
“Well, good afternoon, Harrison Quaid,” said Morgan with a little chuckle. It was an entrance fitting for the infamous bounty hunter.
“Mr. Morgan?” asked Harrison, looking up with a squint into the sun. Still coughing up salt water, the man’s face was crimson-red with anger.
“In the flesh,” said Morgan, handing his empty martini glass to a gorgeous redhead in a bikini holding a sterling silver tray.
“Where is my fishing boat?” asked Harrison. His head snapped around, searching the endless waters for any sign of it.
“Oh, is that what that was? We had a little… accident. Don’t worry, we’ll get you a new one,” Morgan said, nonchalantly.
He enjoyed pushing people’s buttons, especially when he knew what buttons to push.
“You going to help me up there or what?” Harrison asked, paddling over to the yacht with reluctance, his jaw clenched.
Knowing Harrison’s temperament, Morgan thought that maybe this wasn’t such a good idea. At least not until he’d calmed down.
Morgan spoke into his earpiece. “Let him on board.”
A rope ladder loosened on the side of the boat, extending into the water where Harrison could grab ahold of it.
Harrison climbed on board, hoisting himself up, rippling bicep after bicep, hand-over-hand.
Morgan had to admit, the man was a work of art. A modern day Adonis, as if sculpted by the gods themselves.
The billionaire enjoyed all that life had to offer. Beautiful women, beautiful men—whatever got his rocks off.
As Harrison clambered to the deck, he shook the water from his body. Two oversized guards appeared at Morgan’s side.
They were gorillas of men, built sturdy and tall, sporting only rough jeans and tight black t-shirts that defined the contours of their build.
This didn’t deter Harrison from tossing off his flippers and stomping towards the old man with narrowed eyes.
“You almost killed me!” said Harrison. The bodyguards stepped forward, blocking him until Morgan motioned for them to relax.
“Thirsty?” Morgan asked, offering a fresh martini from the tray.
“I almost got made into a smoothie by those propellers of yours and you offer me booze like it’s nothing?”
“Oval vodka, actually. Nearly seven thousand dollars for a single bottle. It’s hardly booze,” Morgan said, taking a sip himself. How he loved a dirty martini.
“I don’t give a hoot if it’s—”
Morgan cut him off, raising a hand. “Pardon me, but all’s well that ends well. I’m certainly delighted to see you weren’t made into a smoothie.”
Harrison groaned. “Thanks for the apology.”
“My pleasure. It would’ve taken weeks to clean up that mess. Anyway, I’m glad you came aboard. Now we can have our chat,” Morgan said.
Sitting back into a mink-covered pool deck chair, Morgan took another sip from his glass.
“Chat? How did you find me?” Harrison asked, his tone as rough and calloused as a dog’s bark.
Harrison glanced over at the bodyguards, then back to Morgan. He had no doubt that the man could take his two guards out if he wanted to.
Martial arts training, street fighting, Harrison could take a punch. Morgan should have commissioned more.
“How did I find you after ten years of looking? It’s amazing how influential a billionaire can be.” Morgan smiled.
Harrison crossed his arms, pulling them tight against his stiff chest. “What the hell do you want?”
“I thought I might ask you a favor, actually,” said Morgan, motioning towards one of the beautiful women to bring him his white-gold plated case.
“You’re going to ask me for a favor?” Harrison asked, raising his eyebrows incredulously.
“Is that what you say to an old friend?” asked Morgan, miffed at the man’s coarse tone. He wasn’t used to people speaking to him in such a manner.
“Friend is a stretch, don’t you think?” asked Harrison, cocking an eyebrow.
“Harrison, I’m hurt,” said Morgan with feigned sensitivity. He refilled his glass, taking another long sip of his martini before puckering his lips.
Harrison clenched his fist. “I can do a lot more than just hurt feelings, Morgan.”
“So violent,” Morgan said, lowering his glass and turning his gaze towards Harrison.
“You hired a hitman to kill me,” said Harrison, raising his voice. The bodyguards bristled and shuffled, ready to leap into action.
Morgan wagged a finger at Harrison “Let bygones be bygones. Tell you what, you do me this favor and I’ll call off the hitman. We’ll call it even.”
“You really know how to drive a hard bargain, don’t you Morgan?” Harrison said dryly.
The bounty had been weighing heavily on Harrison’s shoulders, the thought ever present. It couldn’t be easily dismissed.
“Take a seat, relax. Have a refreshment, an hor d’oeuvre, a pretty girl,” said Morgan, gesturing towards the redhead with a smile.
Morgan winked at her, and the girl giggled. Harrison rolled his eyes.
The handsome man frowned, combing fingers through his damp dark hair. “No.”
“Pretty guy?” Morgan asked, arching an eyebrow. Maybe the man’s palate had expanded.
Harrison shook his head. “As tempting as that sounds, no thanks,” he said sarcastically.
Morgan reached for the briefcase sitting next to his chair. “What a shame. Let’s get down to business then.”
“Business? The only business I want with you is my fist through your nose or a bullet through your head,” Harrison said.
Morgan sighed. “Temper, Temper. You see, I thought you might say that, so I brought a few incentives.”
Morgan fiddled with the combination lock on his brief case. Opening it, he dug inside. The file had to be there somewhere.
“Incentives?” asked Harrison, trying to peer over the lid of the briefcase, unable to hide his curiosity.
“My client, whom I oversee investments for—” Morgan said.
Harrison cut him off. “And by client, you mean the Vatican again?”
“Now Harrison, you know I can’t discuss my clients. But yes,” said Morgan, chuckling.
Harrison narrowed his eyes at him. “If the world had any idea the type of investments your clients made in war machinery, narcotics, and—“
“Must we be so judgmental? We all have a past,” he said.
Harrison knew exactly what he meant by that.
Morgan motioned for the redhead to leave, watching her curvaceous behind as she did so.
“As I was saying, my client had a few items… taken from them recently and well, I got to thinking, who on God’s green earth would I call who could find a pimple on an elephant’s back? And I thought, Harrison. Harrison Quaid.”
“Lucky me,” said Harrison. “Aren’t there any other bounty hunters out there you could go to?”
“Perhaps, but no one’s as good as you. You’re the best in the world. You’ve kept off the grid for over ten years and ten steps ahead of my best hit men. If you weren’t qualified, I don’t know who would be,” Morgan said.
His voice contained a mixture of annoyance and begrudging admiration. It would pain him to have to rescind the bounty on Harrison’s head.
Harrison frowned again. “Laying it on a little thick, don’t you think?”
“Take a look at this. I think you might find it … fascinating,” said Morgan, handing him a manila envelope.
Harrison slid his finger through the opening, pulling out the contents and eyeing Morgan with suspicion.
His eyes cast down at the file as he muttered, “What could be so important that you came down this many miles away to hunt me down just to…”
The young man’s face froze and turned pale, just as Morgan thought he would.
Gazing at the paper for a few long moments, Harrison looked up at Morgan in complete disbelief.
Double checking, triple checking, his mouth hung open.
The billionaire arched an eyebrow. “You were saying?”