How Did I Provoke Him?

    Standing under the awning in front of the trendy wine bar where she played the piano Merri Winslow waited for the bus. She tightened the red scarf around her neck and put her hands in the pockets of her white cashmere coat. Brrr…it is freezing cold.  She glanced at the rain pouring down and the sky filled with dark clouds. Inwardly complaining as the chilly wind hit her face, she cursed her brother. The forecast never mentioned rain! I wouldn’t have let that stinky brat borrow my car! 

    Merri pushed up the wide coat sleeve and anxiously looked at her watch and frowned, shouldn’t the bus be here by now? I hope I didn’t miss the last one.

  Four intimidating looking men followed by a tall handsome man wearing a black trench coat  exited the bar. Merri recognized them from earlier and quickly stepped to the side to let them pass. According to the bartender the aloof looking man was a friend of the owner and had a rotten personality. One of the servers accidentally spilled wine on him, his bodyguard broke her hand and the owner fired her immediately. 

  Trying to minimize her presence she stood as far away as possible with her head lowered staring at her feet. The man noticed her cowering to the side and sneered, timid as a mouse. Alexi Baranov had the urge to bully her because he didn’t like the feelings that were stirred up listening to her play the piano. I bet the pitiful little woman looks beautiful when she cries.

     Impulsively he stood in front of Merri and she could see his long shadow looming over her. Frightened by his terrifying aura, she was quivering. What is he going to do? 

   Alexi didn’t say anything, he just stood there staring at Merri with a piercing gaze waiting for her to look up. 

   Nervously clutching the sides of her coat she finally succumbed to the suffocating atmosphere and raised her head. She met his unfathomable pitch black eyes and shivered. He looked like a beast ready to devour its prey. Unnerved by his strangely intense gaze she fluttered her eyelashes and in a small soft voice asked, “Is there something?”

  Alexi’s voice was hoarse and low from drinking, “You are the piano player right?”


    His thin lips curled up into a malicious smile, “You are fired.’

  Merri eyes widened in disbelief and in a pitiful voice stammered, “Wha..what? You can’t do that.”

    “Can.” He was enjoying watching her face pale and her eyes flickering, obviously unwilling to accept his words but too timid to raise her voice.

     She bit her lower lip knowing the man was the owner’s friend and cruel. He probably can randomly fire any employee. Tears started to form and her amber colored eyes were covered wit a layer of mist, I really need this job. The pay and tips are excellent and the Competition is next month. 

   He saw her long black eyelashes glimmering with crystal teardrops and her watery eyes and his eyes had a devilish gleam. I was right, the tiny woman looks like a fragile porcelain doll that could be broken by a mere touch. Wanting to see her beautiful face covered in tears he taunted Merri, “Nothing to say? Don’t you want to know why?”

   Merri saw the bus coming and suddenly sprinted into the downpour. I don’t want to engage with you any longer than I have to. You are a psycho! I think you want me to beg you or something from that disgusting smirk on your face.

   “…” Alexi motioned to his bodyguard and the man caught Merri by the arm before she could step onto the bus. “The Boss wasn’t done.”

   She opened her mouth to protest but was so stunned nothing came out. The bodyguard dragged her back to Alexi.

    He lit a cigarette and blew the smoke towards her face. “You didn’t answer me.”

    Merri coughed from the smoke and really wondered how she provoked this lunatic. It took all of her courage to face him but she didn’t want her pride stepped on any longer. She swept the wet hair off her face and straightened her back. Although she had a naturally soft voice she tried to sound fierce. “What does it matter…what is done is done. I don’t need to know why. You don’t appear to be a man who waffles in his decision making. Can I go now?” Oh my God! Now I need to get a cab and I am jobless!

   Alexi had a rare smile on his face as he strode towards the sidewalk. One of the bodyguards held an umbrella over his head as he lazily walked to a Black Maybach.  He inhaled the cigarette and blew out a thin stream of smoke. So easy to bully… like a small white rabbit

Merri watched him leave and shook her head. What a crazy man! She walked back into the wine bar to call a taxi and have a glass of wine. 

  The bartender saw Merri sit at the end of the bar and walked over to her. “I thought you left.”

 Putting her elbows on the bar she rested her chin on her palms. She wrinkled her delicate eyebrows, “Danny, you know the man earlier…the Boss’ friend…well, I must have offended him somehow…anyway he said.. No I am not going to drag Danny into this mess.  “ Forget it…it doesn’t matter. Could I have a glass of Chardonnay? I missed the bus and need to call a cab.”

  “I can give you a ride home. I get off in an hour if you don’t mind waiting.”

  “Really? That would be great!”

  Danny poured Merri a glass of white wine. He wanted to ask what happened but another customer called him over. After he walked away she took out her phone. I might as well not waste time and put in some applications while I am waiting.

  Alexi Baranov sat in the backseat of the Maybach and his body was heating up. He took off his suit coat and loosened his tie. He growled, “Turn off the heater, it is like a fucking oven in here.”

  The driver turned off the heater and looked in the rear view mirror. He didn’t feel hot at all, as a matter of fact he had been considering turning the heater up a notch. When he saw Alexi’s flushed face he said, “Boss, should you go to the hospital? You don’t look so good.”

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