Gasoline

"We are at war. We need only the best. And sometimes the best come from the worst of us."

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1. PROLOGUE

“They’re dangerous, sir.”


“The state doesn’t care if they’re dangerous or not. And frankly, neither do I.”


In the top floor of the high-rise block, dark-suited business men and women surrounded an oval table. A girl toward the end of the table dabbed nervously at her forehead; she had a date in half an hour, but the way the meeting was going, she’d have to blow him off. Again.


Sun beginning to dip in the sky, boss Henry Reid turned away from the city facing wall and scowled at his colleagues. “I don’t care if you’re scared. Our country has asked for a solution and we have it. If anybody has a problem with that—well, to be honest, I really don’t give a damn if you do.”


“Sir?” Reid’s receptionist popped her head into the meeting room. “There’s...somebody who wants to see you.”


“So? Can’t you see I’m in a meeting? Tell them I’m busy!”


The receptionist pulled a face and said, in a firm tone she usually reserved for her rowdy grandchildren, “I’m sorry, Mr Reid, but this is an important client.


Reid stood up straighter. Everyone round the table watched him, all conversation stopped. He bounced a ringed finger against files splayed across the glass table before clearing his throat.


“This meeting will be resumed tomorrow at ten sharp. Be on time or don’t bother coming.”


People gathered up their things and muttered to one another as they pushed through the glass doors. Reid leaned against the window, his free hand rubbing at his pinched forehead. Important client. That could only mean one of the Royals. His last important client that wasn’t a member of the Royal family had been some self-assured American rock-star who’d ended up killing himself in the bathtub of a back-alley hotel anyway.


Please don’t let it be Richard, he silently pleaded. I don’t have the strength to face him.


Although the royal family didn’t hold as much power as they perhaps once did, they still held a significant amount of respect from the public. The presence of the king, for sure, still made a large percentage of the population bow their heads. Reid couldn’t tell if that was from respect or fear, though.


There was a polite knock at the frosted glass door. Stomach twisting, Reid turned, smoothing out his designer shirt and calling, “Come in.”


The door opened and Reid barely restrained his sigh of relief.


Queen Aislin stepped through the door, followed quickly by her eldest son. The woman smiled at Reid and he felt ease spread through his body. Unlike her cold and unfeeling husband, Aislin was a beautiful human being. Caring about nothing more than her children and prize-winning gardens, the people of Britain definitely bowed their heads out of respect for the gentle Queen.
Reid was slightly taken back by the son. On TV, he hadn’t looked this...big. Shoulders broad enough to boast of a natural swimmer, the boy looked like a bodybuilder. Although Aislin wasn’t a particularly small woman, her eldest son practically dwarfed her.


Aislin extended a hand toward the boss. “Henry Reid,” she beamed. “A pleasure, yet again.”


Attempting to ignore the several bodyguards that slithered into the room after the mother and son, Reid said, “All mine, your Majesty, undoubtedly. Please, sit down,” he said, pulling out a chair.


The prince held out a hand, grinning wide in a way that could only be described as boyish. His brawny nature and the fact he practically oozed masculinity proved he was his father’s son. Despite the ten year age gap, his hand eclipsed Reid’s when they shook hands.


“I don’t believe we’ve had the pleasure of meeting before,” he announced, grinning. “I am Casimir.” Although his educated language didn’t suit his eighteen year old enthusiasm, his oafish actions did. He thumped down unceremoniously in the chair beside his mother. Aislin rolled her eyes as the legs of the chair groaned.


Nervously straightening his tie, Reid pushed his own seat back and sat down. “What can I do for you?”


“My husband has...made me aware that Canmore Industries is the company in charge of our issue.” Aislin shifted uncomfortably.


Reid nodded. “Yes, we were chosen for our speed, dependability and quality.”


Elegantly tucking a strand of blonde hair behind her ear, Aislin continued, “I do not doubt it. However, I have travelled here today to discuss...” She lost her track and swallowed hard, eyes welling slightly.


Casimir leaned forward, his brutishness fading for a moment as he comforted his mother. She squeezed his hand tightly, but the concern didn’t leave his eyes.


“I apologise,” the Queen coughed, clearing her throat. “As I was saying, I have travelled here today to discuss your plans concerning the crisis.”


“I’ve sent the blueprints to your advisors,” Reid frowned. “You didn’t have to travel all the way here, my lady.”


A soft smile twitched at her lips. “Ah, well, Casimir wanted to see the inner workings of London. Plus I do not approve of the way my husband’s advisors discuss matters. They are rather unsympathetic about the whole situation.”


The situation. Reid hardly remembered that people called it that.


“Well the evolution of the problem is only getting faster. We had other, better plans in place which would cause less damage, but this seemed to be the only plan which could counteract the speed.” He pushed a file toward the Royals. Flipping it open, he ran his finger down the list of names on the contents page. “All of these people are within confined solitary units to minimise their risk to the public. Canmore Industries created their cells and from that, we gained something of a claim over the inhabitants.”


He let the Queen flick through the file. Casimir read over her shoulder, and Reid caught the exact moment they landed on His section. Aislin’s teeth went to nibble at her lip, but her son sighed and changed the page.


“You do not need this right now, Mother,” he whispered in her ear.


“I know. I just haven’t—I haven’t seen a picture of him in so long.”


I need a drink after this, Reid thought wearily. The meeting beforehand had gone on for three long hours; he really didn’t need the future king and his mother crying over the Lost Prince. Sneakily, he checked his watch underneath the table. Nearly seven o’clock. Great.


Sliding the file back to him, Aislin nodded tightly. “Good. This...This is a promising plan of action. I firmly believe my husband placed his trust in the correct company.”


The praise washed over Reid like an ice cool bath. He smiled tiredly and said, “Glad to hear it, ma’m. Is there anything else you’d like me to go over?”


She shook her tightly pinned head and said, “No, thank you. All I needed was that. Just to see...how things were going.”
Everyone in the room knew that wasn’t really what she wanted to see.


Standing again, he shook hands with both of them again. The black-dressed bodyguards shifted in closer. Aislin let one of them slip her coat back over her arms before saying, “I sincerely hope this will work, Henry. I am sure nobody knows more than you and I khow desperately in need we are of a saviour at this point.”


“Certainly.” She had no idea.


Casimir didn’t look phased by the talk. He allowed a bodyguard to open the door for him and said, “Thank you, Mr Reid, this was all rather enlightening.” Then, the blonde giant was gone.


Just before Aislin turned to leave, she fixed Reid with a pleading look. Her blue eyes filled with an emotion Reid could only describe as pained regret.


“Save him.”


The whisper was nearly inaudible.


She nodded as she spoke, her voice breaking and her eyes threatening tears. “Save him, Reid. No matter what happens. I need my baby boy. I need him home.”


“Of course. I’ll try my hardest to keep him safe, my Queen.”


But both of them knew that her boy was no safer than any of the others he’d been locked up with for most of his life.


Because no matter what, he’d always be a freak. 

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