\ 22:31 Chiedra at work | unlimitedi.net
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A long, rolling laugh erupted from the handsome, dark-haired man seated only a few feet in front of her, at a small table near the back of the dark, crowded club.  Shifting her weight slightly from one foot to the other, Chiedra stood with her back to the wall, looking out over the table and into the crowd.  Her eyes scanned the people milling about continuously as she watched for any trouble that might come her way.  Ricky Chiang was an important young man, particularly to his father, Tommy, and as such his safety was important as well. 

The Chiangs pretty much ran things in Chinatown nowadays, and as such, the family had an enemy or two who might at any time come crawling out of the woodwork.  That was the exact reason Tommy was paying Chiedra so much to stand in the background of this soiree dressed in skintight black leather and just watch.  She was Mr. Chiang’s insurance policy that his spoiled little prince would come home safe and sound after yet another evening of drunken debauchery.  Chiedra had been guarding the heir apparent to the Obsidian Blades dynasty for almost three months now.  In that time, she’d watched him pickling his liver on a nightly basis and shopping for the STD of the month as well, but she’d yet to see any real danger. 

As far as Chiedra was concerned, Tommy Chiang thought a little too highly of the value of both his spoiled, arrogant first born son, and as an extension of that, of himself.  But who was she to question or judge? Chiang’s money was just the way she liked it, large and timely.  As long as he kept paying her, she’d keep wasting her time and talent standing behind this blowhard while he wasted daddy’s ill-begotten gains on booze, drugs, and women.  Funny, actually, that.  Ricky was spending the family wealth on the very things that had generated it to begin with. 

Chiedra’s waist length black hair was tied up in a tight knot at the top of her head.  The glamour spell attached to the silver charm bracelet she wore made her skin appear as a warm chocolate brown, and tinted her eyes to a similar shade.  Her tattoos were invisible in this guise, as well.  For tonight’s launch party, she’d dressed in skin tight leather, a catsuit with low-heeled black leather boots adorned with matte silver buckles.  Similar buckles and zippers decorated her clothes.  She felt the overall effect was just dominatrix enough to blend in, while still allowing her the freedom to move should things get hairy. 

Chiedra’s attention was drawn to her charge when he reached out and hooked an arm around her leather clad waist, sidling a little too close to her body for comfort.  She sneered down at him as he winked lasciviously at his tablemates.  “She’s here to guard my body, right, boys,” he said.  “You really need to get a little closer to do the job right, Chiedra.”

“I’m good right where I am, Mr. Chiang,” Chiedra’s voice was low and smoky.  She felt the eyes of all the psychophants at the table as they watched Ricky run his hand up and down the side of her body.  Chiedra barely restrained the urge to throw the creep across the room.  “Being mauled wasn’t in the job description as your father explained it to me.”

The pointed reminder about who really paid the bills was meant to subtly put Ricky back in his place.  Chiedra didn’t want to alienate the kid.  His father’s money was good, and he was just overindulged enough to make her life difficult.  On the other hand, Chiedra did have a real job to do, and while she was distracted by Ricky taking liberties, that job wasn’t getting done.  The other men at the table chortled at Chiedra’s put-down.  Chiedra saw Ricky’s eyes narrow as he looked at them, and the hand on her waist tightened painfully.  She rolled her eyes inwardly, even as she was carefully extracting herself from Ricky’s inappropriate embrace.  *Tactfully,* she thought before she spoke again, her anger simmering just beneath the surface.  *This job will be enough to pay for that consultation with Brisbane.  He may actually have the power to make something happen this time.*

“I’m sorry, Ricky,” she said, in a simpering tone.  “I just want to keep you safe.  No one wants anything bad to happen.  And you’re so distracting, I can’t keep my mind on the job.  Couldn’t you sit back down with your friends and enjoy the party, please?”

Ricky smirked at the other men.  He deliberately rubbed his body against hers as his hand caressed her ass.  Chiedra seethed silently, while maintaining an appropriate look of chagrin.  “Maybe next time, sweetheart,” Ricky replied.  He slid back into his seat, beckoning for a passing waiter to stop for another round of drinks.  Chiedra leaned back against the wall, trying to make herself as inconspicuous as possible, not only to avoid being noticed by potential hitmen, but also to avoid any more amorous attention from the asshole she’d been hired to protect.   

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