Bodyguard

First: http://www.lynthornealder.com/2017/12/03/negotiation/

Previous: http://www.lynthornealder.com/2018/01/18/purchased/

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“I want my daughter safe.  I want her safe no matter what.”

Leander was not the sort of guy to shiver, but something about his employer’s – Owner’s – words made him want to.  He studied the man’s face.  “You’re serious.”

“Deathly serious.  You are not my life insurance, because I’m not that vain, and because I’m old enough to look after myself.  But you’re my insurance for her.  Understand?”

“Yes, sir.  Crystal clear.  Keep your daughter alive despite herself.  Even when the shit hits the fan.”

“You don’t seem bothered.”

“Sir, bodyguards don’t do bothered.  Bothered means your client freaks out.  Freaked out client is harder to keep alive.”

“Bodyguards, in my experience, do actually have emotions.  After all, you’re a person.”

“With all due respect, sir, no.  The collar you are going to put around my neck says that I’m a thing.”

“Hrumph.  Are you always this hard-headed?”

“I didn’t end up in a work camp turning big rocks into little ones because of my cheerful personality, sir.”  He thought he ought to feel guilty, but there wasn’t a whole lot of emotion pressing at him yet.  “So.  I don’t freak out.  When I do freak out, it’s on my own time.  Since I don’t have enough of my own time to waste on things like freaking out – assuming I have any of my own time, I guess -”

“Even in the work camps you got six hours to sleep, didn’t you?”

“Right.  Like I said, assuming I get time to myself, I don’t want to waste it freaking out.  So I don’t.  Anyway. Keeping one man’s daughter alive when the shit hits the fan is pretty… hunh.  Not easy, but nothing to be surprised by.  And you’re not the first person to tell me things were gonna go to shit, anyway.”

“You talk like this in front of everyone?”

“I talk like I’m told to talk, sir.  So far, you haven’t told me what you want me to talk like.  So I talk like myself.”

“And if I told you to talk pretty?”

“I’m sure I could manage to speak in a pleasing manner if I put my mind to it.”  He grimaced.  “I sound like I’m faking it for the first week, but after that I settle in pretty good.  I mean, come on.  Bodyguard.  I have to know what fork to use.”

“But you’re not a bodyguard by trade.”

“No.  I’m not.  But at one point I wanted to be.”  Damnit, why had he said that.  “Thing is, most people see me and just think thug, which isn’t what they want.  Bouncer, sure.  Hired muscle, sure.  But not bodyguard.”

“Mm.  There’s more to you than you’re telling me.”

“No disrespect, sir, but of course there is.  You don’t know me, you don’t need to know me.  You know that I have things I won’t do if I have a choice.  You know I saved a kitten and broke a guy’s nose.  And right now, that’s all I’m comfortable with you knowing.”

“You,” his owner said with clear amusement, “would have made a horrible sex slave.”

“Yeah.”  Leander wasn’t smiling. “Yeah.  Unless what someone wanted was someone they could break apart.  Some people like that.  And me.  Me, with chains and orders.  And more orders.  You know.  I might have managed to kill them, or I might have…”

He trailed off.  For a long moment, his new owner was silent. “I’m Cadfael MacDiarmad.”  He held his hand out to Leander.  “Pleased to meet you.”

Leander considered the hand for a heartbeat before taking it and shaking it – firmly, not bone-gripping, a grip that was returned by Mr. Mac Diarmad.  “Pleased to meet you, Sir.  They call me Leander.”

He wasn’t sure exactly what had happened, but something had, that much he knew.

Next: http://www.lynthornealder.com/2018/02/15/negotiation-2/


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