(The Other Side of the Coin...)

Darrian Halden was used to getting his way. He had no qualms about hurting those that got in his way or prevented him from getting what he wanted. He was in a particularly bad mood, walking with his bodyguard Tony in Central Park. He noticed a boy sitting with a school backpack on a bench and drawing. Normally a kid wouldn't attract the man's attention but he passed behind the boy and saw what he was sketching. Darrian gasped bringing an alert glance from Tony. He held up a hand and pointed.

Everyday, Darrian showed up in the park to watch the boy from afar. He was amazed at the talent the boy had and his apparent charm with the ladies. The kid was still awkward but he had natural good looks that seemed to make people trust and like him. The female ice cream vendor often passed and winked at the boy, giving him a free cone since he was always sketching and had sketched her in the past. Halden saw an opportunity here. This boy had possibilities and Halden could see himself mentoring this boy into the art business.

He was ready to approached the boy after a good month of surveillance when he found the one catch, the boy's mother. She was always near him at some point, Halden noticing the boy never went a day without calling on a local payphone to someone. Now he knew who that had been. Well, he could handle the mother if it came to that.

Darrian introduced himself to the boy once he had his plan in place. The boy was shy but receptive becoming more distant with his mother around him. He threw his charm at her and once he found she was single, it was even easier to draw her in. It took a few months but he had her hook line and sinker. Angela Garner was in love. Darrian busied himself with charming her with gifts and romance while cultivating a fatherly relationship with the son. Nick was a smart kid and he learned fast, his artistic abilities amazing once Darrian had him make copies of original pieces as an exercise. It was hard to tell the fake from the real one. Halden was pleased. He had a friend with a gallery give the boy a show. What better way to make the boy and mother trust and believe in him.

It had been a good year since they'd met in the park and it was time for Halden to start the boy on his future schooling. He couldn't do that while Angela was in the scene. Besides, she had fallen so much in love with him he knew she expected some kind of "proposal" and he was not prepared to marry her. He only wanted the boy as his protégé' and future partner in crime. Darrian waited till the day of the show when he knew Nick would be distracted to set his plans in motion. The show of course was a success but Angela was intent on attending. He had Tony go and meet her at the theatre.

Tony sat outside in the cold, staring out the window till he saw her. Angela Garner saw a cab across the street and made a run for it. Tony was ready, revving up the car and taking off. There was a nauseating crunch as the car hit her and she rolled off the hood and into the street. He took off immediately unafraid of being caught with the windows tinted black, the car stolen and the plates missing. Darrian had planned it all perfectly. Tony phoned him once he knew the boy's exhibit would have been near finished and the car had been abandoned.

"It's done. How's he doing?" Tony's voice was cold and emotionless with only a slight hint of interest.

"Considerably better than planned. The boy attracted some honest interest from some parties I never expected. I think we found our diamond in the rough." Darrian's voice was falsely sad; Tony knew he was pretending to hear bad news.

"See you soon, boss." Tony hung up the phone and took a cab back to the exhibit.

()()()

The day of the funeral was a bother Darrian had wished to be done with but he had to make the boy happy and keep up his "loving guardian" stance. It was lucky the boy and his mother had no other close family that would miss them. Darrian took guardianship of Nicholaus Garner and changed his name once the adoption went through. Nick was 15.

Halden meant to ply the boy with a fancy burial for his mother but the boy refused. Nick requested a simple plot with a small statue of an angel. Darrian agreed partially cause it was cheaper and just to keep up his pretense. The boy seemed happy and if he was happy he would be more likely to follow the man's lead. It would be a long road but the boy would be an easy means to an end. No need to hire a forger if he had one eager to please him. It was an easy education in how to forge making it a game for Nick who was eager to keep his mind off his mother's death and fascinated by the life Halden led. Darrian taught him about wines, foods and took him to the Europe often. They went to all the best parties and events and had passes to all the museums and other cultural events. Nick was his... or so he thought.

"I can't let you tell the stockholders about this discrepancy, Roger. It would ruin both of us. Think of your family.. my son." Darrian tried to sound reasonable but the man was adamant.

"They have to know, my family understands what it means to be honest. I have to do this, Darrian." Roger Cawson crossed his arms over his chest, his position unmoving. Darrian smiled.

"If that's what you believe, Roger but I can't have a partner who won't stand by me." He pulled out a gun and shot, the silencer quieting the report to a soft pop. Cawson gawked, face wide eyed till he fell back and hit the floor. Darrian walked over, gun smoking in his hand and smiled.

"Sorry, Roger. No hard feelings?" Darrian grinned his expression turning to a slight hint of alarm when he heard a loud crash from outside. He walked over to the study door and opened it up, peering into the hallway. He saw Tony standing at the end of the hallway and someone crashed into him. It was Nick. Darrian felt a sense of disappointment realizing the boy was no longer his. Nick backed away from him fearfully.

"Tony... take Nick to his room." He no longer played the loving guardian, father or friend. He had no need to and he was relieved to show his real side. It had taken a lot of his energy to play "nice" with the boy but now he could just be rid of him. It would be a shame to lose such a valuable asset and he had invested so much but there would be others. This was only a minor setback in his plans. He watched the boy, as Tony dragged him away, gaze at him with shock and obvious disappointment. He stared at the boy coolly as he turned and walked back into the study. His men were already entering to remove the body of his ex-partner. There would be others.

(The End)