Darkness seeped away as a hint of light replaced it slowly. Alice had finally regained her consciousness. She blinked away the weight over her eyes. Squinting her eyes in an effort to focus on the things before her. She saw a round ceiling lamp. A spider was busy weaving its web beside the light.
Where is this?
She struggled to sit up. A brief observation of her surroundings had revealed that this was a windowless basement. She was placed atop a bed with nothing to clothe her body.
There was no one else inside the basement except for her. The overwhelming silence was suffocating. Alice willed herself to jog through the events prior to her unconsciousness. Yet, she could not figure out why a bunch of hired extras would want to attack her. Based on James’s plan, she should be at the best hotel in Las Vegas in the company of her beloved James with some champagne and a night of pleasure. Subsequently, James would bring her along to England the very next day and turn her into the next Bond girl. So why on earth was she stuck in a lonely basement in her birthday suit?
Two minutes later, Alice got off the bed with wobbly steps. No matter how hard she tried, the door just didn’t seem to budge. The door was made of 304 stainless steel and was locked from the outside. There was no way she could open it.
“Let me out! Let me out!” Alice screamed and screamed and screamed.
She heard a set of approaching footsteps. Then, a feminine voice rang out, “Pipe it down or I’ll let a few snakes loose into the basement.”
Inexplicably, the mention of snakes immediately had Alice hover a protective arm over her genitals. Her initially flushed face quickly went pale.
“Good girl. Stay quiet and you’ll be spared from harm. If you continue to make a ruckus or try to escape, I can guarantee that I’m more than capable of turning you into seven hundred individual pieces with an electric saw.” The woman’s voice was cold and merciless.
“Who… Who are you?” Alice’s voice shook. “Why am I here?”
“Why do you think you’re here?”
“I… I don’t know.” Alice was suddenly reminded of something. “Where’s James? Where’s my James?”
“Your James? Haha…” The woman behind the door chortled. “He’s probably raising a ransom amount for you. You can be certain that he’s a good man if he really spends a fortune to rescue you.”
“He’s willing to pay my ransom?”
“That would have to depend on how much he loves you.”
“I’ve only met him two days ago. You’ve got the wrong person.”
“We all can see that the man is deeply infatuated with you. He’s most probably going to pay the ransom. Now you wait and maybe pray.” The woman left the door, her footsteps increasingly distant.
Alice remained at the door for a beat before dragging her heavy limbs to the bed sluggishly. She fell onto the mattress heavily. Her round buttocks and tiny waist were littered with traces of a wild night with James.
She was gorgeous but there was only one distracted spider there to appreciate her beauty.
Meanwhile, on a desert span in the outskirts of Las Vegas. A rude awakening brought by an unwelcomed splash of water had jolted Thompson awake. His coughs were violent as he choked on some water.
When Thompson had finally stabilized his breathing, he saw someone. A familiar face that fuelled his entire being with hatred and fear.
The man standing before him was none other than James who had brought him this nightmare.
Realizing that it was indeed James, Thompson roared and lunged at him.
Xia Lei did not move away. He calmly waited till Thompson came closer to stomp him away.
Thompson’s body was sent flying away for a few metres before making contact with the sandy ground loudly. Despite the soft substrate, this stomp had made Thompson see stars.
Xia Lei paced over to Thompson.
Thompson began to crawl backwards all while shaking in fear. “Honestly, who are you?”
Xia Lei paused a few footsteps away from Thompson, a gorgeous curvature adorning his lips. “I’m an angel sent from above to rescue you. You can say that I’m your guardian angel.”
Thompson was about to spit out blood.
This darned bastard had dragged him to a living hell and yet was ballsy enough to call himself his guardian angel!
Xia Lei paced over to a stationary Ford pickup truck and flipped the cargo cover open.
Thompson’s eyes went wide. The cargo was filled to the brim with stacks of green dollar bills! From the looks of it, there was at least fifty million USD in cash! Under the burning sun, those bills certainly looked like they were glowing.
Xia Lei slapped the fat stack of cash and brought out a piece of IOU from his pocket. He paraded it in front of Thompson’s face. “God has instructed me to shut off a door for you and open another window up. Your future is now in my hands. You’ll be salvaged if you do as I say. To be surrounded constantly by pretty young ladies, a luxurious yacht that will bring you around the globe and enough money to purchase a private island in the Pacific Ocean to build your mini kingdom. Isn’t that everything you’ve hoped for?”
“You… Who the fuck are you?” After all, Thompson was no idiot. His first response after Xia Lei’s ridiculous declaration and request was to think that he was a spy. Everything that happened was nothing more than a ploy since the very beginning.
“I believe I made it clear. I am your guardian angel.”
“Bullshit!” Thompson struggled to stand with good effort. The man seemed to have regained some dignity, even his tone had firmed up. “Tell me, are you working for China or Russia? Or are you Iranian?”
“Have you seen a Russian spy this good-looking? Have you encountered any Chinese spy that is more than willing to give you an entire car of cash? Have you seen an Iranian spy who would feast on pork chops?” The mockery was ever-present in Xia Lei’s speech.
“If you’re not a spy, what are you supposed to be?” Thompson narrowed his gaze. “Why did you design this elaborated trap? What do you want from me?”
“My identity is not important. What is important is that I have the power to save you,” said Xia Lei like it was a matter of fact.
Thompson’s gaze swam back to the stacks of cash in the back of the pickup truck, then to the IOU strip in Xia Lei’s grip. Hesitation overwhelmed his heart and his eyes were growing hot with greed and lust.
If a person who had just made it out of hell had found out that he was still very much alive, his courage would definitely become several times greater than before. That was what Thompson was feeling that very moment. While he remained unsure of Xia Lei’s intentions, he was already itching for the money.
Thompson's reluctance didn’t last long. “What do you want me to do?”
Xia Lei answered, “Simple things that will go under the radar. All you need to do is bear with it for ten hours and I can promise you that your life will be vastly different after that.”
“What if I say no?” Thompson was the kind of man who did not believe in anything free.
Xia Lei chuckled at that. “If you reject my offer, this IOU will be returned to the loan sharks. They’ll kill your daughter and your grandson. You, on the other hand, will be subjected to a life sentence for killing Alice. I heard a white ass is a hit in the prison. I suggest that you remember to bring along more Vaseline. They’d definitely want to have their way with you.”
“Fuck you!” Thompson lunged towards Xia Lei like an aggravated beast.
One second later, he was thrown away again. This time, his fall was harder.
Xia Lei regarded him coldly. “Those loan sharks can be pretty inhumane. It’s not hard to imagine what will become of your daughter. You should think this through. I have fifty million dollars in my car. This sum is enough to allow early retirement so you can enjoy life longer. Rejecting me is no big deal. I’ll just go search for my next target if that happens. But on your part, this is a once in a lifetime chance. Missing this might place you in the deepest parts of hell.”
Thompson’s mind was in a frenzied state. The dilemma was real. One voice was telling him to say yes and the other one was telling him to say no. The merging of the voices had made it difficult to settle on a decision.
Xia Lei slammed the cover down and began walking to the driver’s seat. Just as he cracked the door open, Thompson finally spoke.
“Wait!” Thompson clambered up, fist coming up to wipe at the blood on his lips. “Tell me, just what exactly do you want me to do for you?”
Xia Lei spared him a glance. “It’s simple, really. Work for me.”
“Work for you?” Thompson was dumb-founded. “What do you mean?”
Xia Lei explained, “You’re a brigadier general of the American Army. You’re in charge of security work in Area 51 and you hold high authority power. I’m sure you’re aware of Project Shepherd.”
“So you’re after Project Shepherd!”
“Did that surprise you?” Xia Lei’s eyes were cold and calculative. “Between me going after the project or going after your daughter, which would you prefer?”
“Project Shepherd currently holds the highest confidentiality level in the whole of America. The request you’re asking of me is very dangerous. A slight mishap will land us both in grave danger. I hope you’ve thought this through.” The edge in Thompson’s tone was gone.
Xia Lei said, “As long as you follow my instructions down to the letter, we’ll be fine. I’ll get what I want and you’ll get fifty million dollars to start anew. We won’t keep in contact after this is over. It’s just a mere ten-hour long partnership. What is there fear about?”
Thompson went deadly silent. Xia Lei made it sound so easy but the veteran soldier knew that treason was a crime punishable by death in this country. He couldn’t help but hesitate.
Xia Lei raised an eyebrow. “Mister Thompson, do you remember what I said last night on the table? There are often times when a little gambling spirit is needed in life. If you don’t dare to gamble, do you know how awful your life would turn out to be? Think of your daughter and grandchild. Think of prison. Why are you still hesitating?”
Thompson gnawed his lip. “Fine! I’m in! What’s the plan?”
“You’ll find out soon. But before we begin, you need to prove your loyalty to me.” Xia Lei crossed his arms.
Thompson’s gaze was steely. “I have nothing left. How do you want me to prove my loyalty?”
Xia Lei uttered, “I’m not the only one interested in Project Shepherd. There’s this Japanese woman that is equally interested. Help me invite her over. If you can accomplish that, I’ll consider that as a display of loyalty and I’ll give you your IOU.”
“What about the fifty million dollars?” Thompson was rather cautious.
Xia Lei replied, “You’ll receive the full amount after the deal is completed.”
“No. I want half of it when I invite that person out!” Thompson frowned.
Xia Lei smiled at him. “Money is a small issue for me. Since you’re so eager for it, I’ll pay you half when you get that done.” Pausing for a moment, he stretched his arms open. “Now, come over and give your guardian angel a hug!”
Just as they embraced, Qian Jun clicked the camera shutter from a nearby sand dune.
Things were progressing smoothly according to Xia Lei’s plan.Previous Chapter Next Chapter
have a nice day!