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"Oh, come on, you ve got to be joking!" Tyler groaned when the smoke-grey Jaguar in front of him slowed and braked yet again instead of just passing the orange light. "Why does this always happen when I m in a fucking hurry?" he grumbled, drumming his fingers on the steering wheel as he counted to ten. Then twenty. Thirty. The light changed but the Jaguar remained glued to the asphalt and cowered on the road like a beautiful but lazy cat.
"Hel-lo!" Tyler shouted, but nothing happened. Except that the light changed back to red after a short period. "Fuck!"
Tyler thumped the steering wheel and watched the other car. Its driver must have been busy checking stock exchange rates instead of paying attention to the traffic. But then again, with a car like this, the driver was in all probability not the owner but rather some poor soul who had to ferry an overpaid, underworked business executive around. The light went green again and still the Jaguar remained in place.
At last, the driver s door opened and a slim figure hopped out.
"Damn, how sick can you get?" Tyler muttered. A chauffeur in uniform was one thing, but this one was wearing a uniform made of black leather.
The man went around the car, opened the bonnet and disappeared behind it. Seconds later, he turned up again and walked to the rear of the car where he seemed to be talking to whoever sat in the backseat.
"Oh, for fuck s sake!" Tyler unclipped his belt, then got out of the car and slammed the door shut, just to vent some of his frustration. Staring at the Jaguar, he shouted, "I don t care what your problem is, but could you just remove that pile of scrap so I can get past? I ve somewhere to be and I haven t got all day to get there."
Startled, the driver glanced in Tyler s direction but not quite at him. He was younger than Tyler had assumed him to be at first sight. He must have been in his early twenties, but skinny and fine-boned and not Tyler s type. Plus, his nervy fidgetiness was rather annoying, as was the fact that he didn t give an answer. Ignoring Tyler, he shifted his attention back to his passenger. Just as Tyler was about to turn around and leave the irritating thing alone, the back door of the car was opened and the mysterious second man emerged.
Tyler froze mid-motion. The driver had been of little interest to him, but the passenger had his entire attention in an instant. Tall and with the kind of posture that suggested a greater physical power than his refined, somewhat snobbish exterior led one to believe, he was right up Tyler s alley. He was also probably older than him by a few years and quite handsome in a distinguished way. The clothes he wore must have cost more than Tyler earned in a month.
"Sugar daddy," Tyler whispered to himself.
"I apologise for the inconvenience," the man called out to him. "I m afraid the car refuses to start and my driver has no idea why that is." His voice was kind and pleasant but instead of sounding apologetic, there was a decisive tone to it, as if its owner was used to giving orders and being obeyed without question. Tyler liked it. He went to the Jaguar and held out his hand to the stranger without even thinking about it.
"Tyler Kane. Any clues as to what s wrong with it?"
"Francis Hollister," the other man replied as he gave Tyler s hand a dry, firm squeeze. "And no. The engine just died when we stopped and won t start again."
"Got enough petrol?"
"I hope so." Francis glanced at his leather-clad driver with a faint smile on his face and Tyler, too, turned to the boy. "Well, have you?"
He got a wordless, weak nod in reply.
"Okay. Good. Was there anything unusual with it?"
Not meeting his eyes, the boy didn t answer.
"Hi there, anyone at home?" Tyler enquired, letting sarcasm seep into his voice. "I m talking to you. You re the driver, you must have noticed something. Besides, if that s your job, you should have some idea about cars. So?"
Still, the young man ignored him and Tyler s anger flared up again.
"Is there something wrong with you? I m talking to you. Are you deaf?"
"No, he s not deaf." Francis took a step closer to him, blocking the chauffeur with his body. "And I d appreciate it if you didn t shout at him."
"Well, what s the matter with him? Can t he speak for himself?" Tyler asked.
"Not right now, no."
"Why s that? Cat got his tongue?"
"He s ordered to silence," Francis said.
"He s what?"
"Ordered to silence."
Francis didn t bat an eyelid as he said, "Because I wanted to."