My life had changed a lot in the past seven years.
No longer the young, foolish man I used to be, I’d found a new life in a new country, on a new continent. There was finally the chance of moving on, of getting over the deaths of most of my family. I busied myself with any task I could get my hands on, and I created a new name for myself, one that meant control and power.
I was at the top of the food chain. I ran my own business, dealt with numbers so big most people could only dream of such riches. I was successful, yet I remained unsated. For as long as I could remember, I’d felt the deep emptiness within me like a bottomless well.
Only once had the feeling left me. Only once had I been blessed by the pleasant, serene beauty of being utterly and completely fulfilled.
Her name was Ginger. She was younger than me, much too pretty, and way too smart for her own good.
I had tried to keep her forever. I’d tethered her to me, trying to force her to stay. But our happiness didn"t last long, and soon enough, she left me to pursue bigger things.
I shouldn’t have been surprised. She was a bright, shining star in my universe, and she deserved so much better than what I could offer her.
At the time, I was a broken man in love with a woman who would never want me back. I didn’t realize what I had in stunning, shy little Ginger. I was too young and too fucking stupid, and I let the opportunity of a lifetime slip between my fingers.
I tried to find her plenty of times, but she’d disappeared without a trace. Not even Kain, my half-brother, could help me. She had disappeared into the wild and the world had swallowed her up, leaving me empty-handed.
Now, seven years later, I was bitter and angry because I’d let Ginger go. I had been stubborn, convincing myself she wasn’t the one, telling myself I could live without her"but they were all lies I’d told myself so I could get over her.
Look how that turned out, I thought bitterly as I stood from my chair, pacing the room back and forth.
There were so many responsibilities on my shoulders, so much weight I had to carry every day, yet my mind still refused to let go of the simplest thing I had ever known: the pleasure of holding Ginger in my arms, holding her close and feeling her body tremble when it came in touch with mine.
I looked toward the voice, my hands forming fists at my sides as I saw the girl before me.
“Yes"” I asked, trying to keep my voice patient and polite.
But it was fucking hard, especially with Astor around.
I’d had her before. Too many times to count.
Days turned into weeks turned into months, and being without Ginger had made me a bitter old man. Not even a year after she left me, after everything we’d been through together, my hair went gray. I watched strand by strand turn into icy silver locks, but I refused to chop it all off. Instead, I grew a beard to match the silver hair. I knew what I looked like now. I looked like a sad old guy pining after a lost love he would never have back. Sometimes, the knowledge of that was too much to handle, the nights too lonely, my bed too cold.
On one of those nights, I’d run into Astor.
New in town, innocent, but with a sharp tongue and more than ready to take care of herself, Astor was a beauty I had attempted to resist for a very long time. I’d employed her instead.
I’d always had a fucking weak spot for helpless little girls like her. She was too young to be on her own, but she had nobody else, so I gave her a few odd jobs and a fake title, and she grew attached like I should have known she would.
She followed me around everywhere, but soon enough, it also became abundantly clear that she was a valuable asset to my business. I couldn’t let her go, so I let her climb into my bed every so often, put her fingers on my cock, battling the feelings of guilt when I wished her to be Ginger instead.
Astor grew resentful of me, but she didn’t hate me enough to walk away. She followed me everywhere I went, and I put up with it because she was a vital part of my business.
As I raised my eyes to hers, I noticed her gaze wasn"t filled with longing and contempt like it usually was. Instead, she was all business, giving me a quick nod to signify that the men had arrived.
I left my room in peace, following Astor to the meeting room where everything had been set up an hour earlier. The Japanese were already waiting, three men in stiff-looking designer suits with somber expressions. They bowed when I walked in, and I repeated the motion, sitting in front of them.