An Understated Dominance
by Marina Vittori
The next morning, they met at Java Joys.
When Dustin entered the cafe, he noticed a burly man standing beside Natasha. His bulky muscles rippled under his clothes, and his knuckles were covered with calluses. This man was obviously an experienced fighter.
“Mr. Rhys, sorry to bother you. I owe you one.” Natasha walked up to Dustin.
“It’s all right, I don’t mind helping out a friend in need. Besides, they had even specified my name in the note. I have no other choice.” Dustin smiled wryly.
Edwin’s men had left a ransom note which had his name on it. He was to go with Natasha to save Ruth.
“Mr. Rhys, let me introduce you to Stephan Chapman, one of the best fighters from the Harmon family.” Natasha pointed toward the man standing in silence.
“Mr. Chapman, a pleasure to meet you.” Dustin nodded in acknowledgement.
“You’re Dustin?” Stephan sized him up. “Was it you who took Liam and Noah Asher down?”
“In a way, yes.” Dustin nodded again.
“What do you mean, in a way? Don’t give such a vague answer. Did you use some shady tricks to win against them?” Stephan stared at him suspiciously.
“Well, as long as it gets the job done.” Dustin said nonchalantly.
“As martial artists, we should win fair and square. What’s the use of winning when you have to resort to despicable tricks?” Stephan scoffed. He deemed people like Dustin, who don’t belong to any martial arts group, as inferior to him.
“That makes sense.” Dustin had no interest in arguing further.
“To be honest, I have defeated Liam and Noah in a match before this!” Stephan boasted. “Don’t be too proud of yourself even if you win against them! They are weaklings compared to me. Once we have a match, you will know that many martial artists are stronger than you!”
Hearing Stephan’s speech, Dustin was lost for words. They were practically strangers. Why was he lecturing him like a child? Who was the one looking down on the other anyway?
“Alright, now that you have made each other’s acquaintance, we will be working together after this. Once we arrive at Hummer Villa, we may need each other’s help,” Natasha cut in.
“I’m sure we won’t need to. With me around, it would be easy to take Edwin down,” Stephan said confidently.
“Mr. Chapman, it’s good to be optimistic, but it’s better not to underestimate the enemy. When will Tilda arrive?” Natasha changed the topic.
Tilda Snider was one of her aunts and was famous for her deadly strikes. She was currently the head of security for the Harmon family. Compared to Stephan, she was on a different level. In this fight against Edwin, she was the key to victory.
“Tilda is on her way. She will be arriving shortly,” Stephan answered.
“Great. Since she is on her way, let’s make a move as well”
On her command, Natasha’s car led the way as the group drove in a file toward Hummer Villa.
Hummer Villa was situated at the top of a hill which was part of the Hummers” private land. As the cars drove up the hill, Edwin’s men kept surveillance on them in the hidden shadows of the surrounding trees.
When they arrived at the villa, everyone got down and entered the back garden.
With a pair of scissors in hand, Edwin was busy arranging a vase of flowers in a gazebo. Behind him, Fletcher
Lawson and a group of muscular men were standing guard, staring daggers at them.
“Ms. Harmon, you’ve finally arrived? Have a seat,” Edwin said with a smile, pointing to a chair. He acted as if “they were here for a chat.
“Sir Hummer, I’ve heard that you are holding my sister hostage. Is that true?” Natasha sat down and asked with a poker face.
“To be honest, I only knew about your sister this morning. My men did it at their discretion, so I have reprimanded them,” Edwin continued with a charming smile.
“Is that so? Well, why don’t you let my sister go?” Natasha pressed further.
“Let her go? That would be impossible.” Edwin shook his head. “Ms. Harmon, your sister made a mess at my party, destroyed my antiques, and beat up some of my underlings. If I let her go without repercussions, my reputation in Swinton would be ruined!”
“Then what do you want in return?” Natasha’s eyes narrowed.
“It’s very simple. Repay me double for my loss.” Edwin’s smile was plastered on his face. “I’ve calculated the damage your sister caused and everything amounts to ten billion dollars. As compensation, I want you to hand over half of your business in Swinton.”
“Half of the business? Are you joking?” Natasha raised her voice.
“Ms. Harmon, you are only giving up a small part of your assets. Moreover, your business activities are mainly in Milling. You won’t be affected much by what I’m asking for,” Edwin advised.
“What if I refuse?” Natasha retorted.
“It’s only right to pay back what you owe. If you refuse, I can’t guarantee that your sister will be safe from harm.” Edwin gave her a chilling smile.
“Are you threatening me?” Natasha returned his gaze stonily.
“I’m just giving you a warning. Of course, we can resolve this dispute with a death match. However, the
entirety of our assets must be at stake,” Edwin said with a smirk.
“A death match?” Natasha mulled over his offer.
It was an unsaid rule in the business world. A death match was used to settle unresolved conflict between warring families in order to prevent unwanted death and bloodshed. There would be three rounds of battle royale in which the opposing families would send out their representatives to fight on behalf of them. There were no rules and everything was fair game.
“Challenge accepted!” Before Natasha could answer, Stephan spoke up. “Isn’t it just a fight? We will take you on! Show me some real competition!”
Edwin snickered maliciously at Stephan’s words.
This was what he had hoped would happen!
An Understated Dominance by Marina Vittori
Author: Marina Vittori
Artist: Dahlia Nicholson and Dustin Rhys
Released: July, 9, 2023
Native Language: English