“Damn it,” Preston muttered as he checked his email. “I knew I should have ignored that company but hell I never thought he’d be the one I'd have to deal with.”

Leaning back in his chair he started at the ceiling. ‘At least he doesn’t know it’s me’, he thought. ‘So, do I bite the bullet and work with him, ignore him, or just say I’m too busy to take on more business right now?

It suddenly occurred to him that he could at least ignore the request for a face to face meeting. There was no way for any of his potential clients to know exactly where his was based. He could easily claim to be anywhere in the world. That solved that problem. The fact that he had decided from the beginning to use a pseudonym when contacting companies worked in his favor now. He had done that because even after more than two months of no one but Tabitha knowing his whereabouts he was still afraid that the man who had attacked him might find him.

And he had absolutely no idea who that man was. Every instinct said it had to be Fulton’s enforcer Trace and the odds were that it was. But as he’d thought about it, and he had over and over, especially in the days immediately following the attack, something didn’t ring quite true. Fulton was a businessman. Why destroy a valuable piece of what he considered merchandise when a beating and possibly a broken bone or two would have gotten his message across that he wasn’t going to let him go. Fear of it happening again was a great motivator in forcing a defecting employee to come back and behave. Turning him into something as grotesque as he was now made him useless to Fulton.

What had been done to him smacked more of hatred than punishment. And he had no clue who could detest or fear him so much that they’d go to the lengths they had to make him suffer. It wasn’t gay bashing, of that he was certain. He remembered walking into his apartment and a voice saying ‘It’s about time’ or something to that effect and then nothing but pain as he was grabbed from behind. His assailant slashed his face from temple to chin and before he could fight back or scream for help a sharp blow to the side of his head had knocked him out. The next thing he remembered was waking up in the hospital.

Shaking himself out of the memories of that night, Preston re-read the email from the one man he had ever truly cared for. The man he could never see again.

But ,’ he thought, ‘at least I can work with him on this. God knows his company needs my help.

With that in mind he began to compose an answer to Cary’s email.

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