Business as Usual
by Laura Bryannan

The man in the Armani suit stepped out of the limo, and the movement caught his eye as if an arrow had flown past.

The bike messenger wove and dodged the traffic at amazing speed, risking his life in ways the businessmen found intriguing. He admired expertise in any form. Hopping the curb, the biker jumped off his ride while still in motion. They were both headed into the same gleaming tower of steel.

This particular businessman thought life was worth risking. He was a killer. In his world of finance, it was kill or be killed, and he was one of the elite. No one looking at the immaculately dressed man would have guessed as much, except perhaps for the hair and jewlery. He was the best at what he did, so no one hassled him about either.

He allowed the messenger to beat him into the line going through security, and stepped in behind. Perhaps a little too close. Clothed in black jeans, two wife beaters and an unzipped gray hoodie, the messenger's body radiated heat and its own clean scent...the guy was alive. He had been too, not so long ago.

The messenger turned to face the man practically breathing down his neck, frankly eyeing him from head to toe, not trying to hide his distain. The owner of his own successful business, he lived the life of a free agent and had no interest in those who slaved for others, no matter how...different this particular salaryman appeared to be. He stared the guy down until it was time to present his credentials to security.

"Package for Ryu Mugen-san," said the bike messenger. The guard checked his ID and nodded.

"Takeda Delivery...okay, you're good. Penthouse, 95th floor. First elevator bank on the left, then follow the signs."

The businessman chuckled. The messenger had been clearly unimpressed at their first meeting, but he found himself suddenly grateful for his company's private express elevator, and sprinted to it. He wanted to make the second impression count.


The messenger tried to contain his excitement. Okinawa Development had its corporate fingers in many pies. If he could land an account here it would mean a lot of business for his company. When he saw where the delivery was headed, he'd decided to make the run himself to pitch the deal.

Handing the package to the receptionist, he asked to see the managing partner.

"One moment please," she replied, picking up the phone. He'd expected to have to cajole his way in, so her response surprised him. Soon an older woman walked around the corner.

"Follow me, sir." The suite took up the entire floor of the high rise, so they walked for almost a minute before she knocked on a door.

Corner office, he noted. Good. Someone important. But when he stepped inside, his heart sank. It was the guy...from outside. The lame punky hair, the blue marble earrings. He looked way too young to be sitting in a corner office of Okinawa Development.

"You!" he exclaimed. "You're the managing partner?!"

The businessman snorted. "This ain't no law firm. We don't have a managing partner. You wanna talk to the office manager?"

"I don't understand. I asked to see the managing partner and your secretary brought me to you."

"She brought you cuz I told her to."

Alarm registered on the messenger's face for a moment. "Why would you do that?"

"Have dinner with me," the businessman demanded. "You want an account with us, right? You can tell your boss you landed it. Score you some points."

The messenger bristled. He desired an account with this company more than anything, but not if it meant kissing this one's ass. Goodbye Okinawa Development, he sighed inwardly.

"My boss doesn't expect me to suck up to little boys playing in their daddy's suit," he said, calmly. "I'll be going now. Thank you for your time." He turned on his heel and headed toward the door.

And suddenly found his way blocked. The guy had been behind his massive mahogany desk, and yet here he was standing in front of the door, smirking.

"Uh, what was that about daddy's suit?" he asked, razor-wire in his voice.


Had he misread the guy? He couldn't have! When his secretary told him Messenger Boy asked for the managing partner, he knew he'd win—the guy obviously wanted to pitch a contract with the firm—so the insult was unexpected, but he enjoyed surprises.

"Get out of my way," said the bike messenger, his eyes narrowing dangerously.

"Not till you tell my why you're shooting yourself in the foot. I'm curious."

"I'm not shooting myself in the foot."

"You came in here to land a contract with us, and something made you change your mind. What was it?"


The businessman laughed, surprised again. "Man, you must really have your boss in your pocket with that attitude." He opened the door and reluctantly stepped aside.

The messenger gave him a terse nod and strode past as the businessman watched. Damn, the guy was as hot going as he was coming!

Wandering back to his desk, he picked up the phone. "Li-san, that guy left his card up front, right? Could you go get it, or tell Yoko-san to bring it back here? And put a call into Security while you're at it. What can we find out about him?"

A few minutes later, his secretary brought him Messenger Boy's business card. It read

Takeda Delivery

Takeda Jin

His first thought was, Nah, couldn't be! Although it would explain the snotty attitude.

Knowing what it was like to be dismissed because of his age—he was the youngest partner in the firm, and his success caused much consternation among the established power players—he didn't want to be guilty of the same prejudice. Maybe Messenger Boy was a big shot in his own little world, after all.

The businessman leaned back and stretched, then put his feet up on his desk, trying to imagine what the guy would look like with his glasses off and his hair down.

to be continued