Chapter 19 - Drowning
“Mmph, urgh!” Josh finally came to after heaving and coughing out some water a few times. He had no energy left in his body. His consciousness was hazy as if he had just come back from the dead. As he huffed and puffed, he turned around to find Chase still at the same spot—as if he had never intended to chase him.
Josh sighed and spat out a jagged breath. He could finally speak only after a few more coughing fits. “What do you think you’re doing? Are you mad?”
Chase didn’t seem affected at all by Josh’s aggressive outcry. In fact, he smiled. “You touched my body without permission.”
“…!” Josh had to clench his teeth to prevent a tsunami of profanities from escaping his mouth. Unable to do anything with his right fist, he swung it in the air before shouting back a moment later, “I thought you were drowning—dying!”
Despite Josh’s protest, Chase remained brazen. “I never asked you to save me.”
This time, Josh didn’t hold back. Rage filled him to the brim as he howled, “Then why the f*ck did you hire bodyguards? You should’ve just died on your own, you f*cking nutjob!”
Chase was still calm, despite Josh’s explosion of rage. Sweeping back his dripping hair that had slid onto his face with his long fingers, Chase laughed briefly like usual—much too calmly. “It’s not so easy to die, thanks to pricks like you who ruin the chance.”
“Oh, like me, the one you hired precisely so that I could ruin the chance?”
At that moment, Chase’s faze froze over like a mask. However, Josh couldn’t care less about that right now. He punched the tree beside him hard. “If you want to die, die where nobody can see you so that you succeed for sure! Motherf*cking son of a b*tch!”
Josh once again yelled out “F*ck!” before immediately turning around and storming off. His shoes must have come off underwater, as he could feel the grass under his wet socks. No sound came from behind him. He didn’t care about what kind of face Chase was making, nor what kind of insane act he was pulling.
Josh gritted his teeth and continued walking. He wished he could walk all the way to the other side of the Earth.
* * *
“What did I say about not crossing him and saving yourself?” cried Mark as soon as he laid eyes on Josh, who was still drenched.
Isaac asked worriedly, “Are you okay? Are you hurt anywhere?”
Josh simply nodded in response. He had drunk so much water, his innards were turning upside down. Just as he puked out some more water mixed with stomach acid, Isaac quickly placed a trash can under his chin.
“Thanks,” Josh squeaked in gratitude, wiping away at his mouth with the back of his hand.
Isaac, his face still dark, murmured, “It’s fine.”
Seth, who had been silently watching Josh roughly dry his hair with the towel that Isaac had fetched from somewhere, spoke up. “Was there a term in the contract that allowed for violence against the bodyguards? I don’t remember seeing anything like that.”
Others aside, Seth was the kind of person to have examined the contract down to every word. Everyone stared with hopeful eyes.
Mark replied, “It says that any accidents that happen to us on the job are our responsibility.”
“Hah,” exclaimed Seth. Did this count as an “accident” as well? There was no way for Josh to know, but Chase Miller’s lawyer could certainly squirm out of it with all kinds of wordplay.
They should never have signed the contract.
As the same thought filled everyone’s heads, Henry entered the room. “What the hell did you do to end up like that again?” Nobody said anything to him as he clicked his tongue. Henry smirked and flopped loosely onto a chair. “Gotta take care of your own body, you know. There has to be a reason for getting paid this much.”
This time, everyone’s eyes shifted to Henry. He oddly seemed to be in a good mood. Isaac asked quietly, “You won some money?”
Henry smiled widely and took out multiple 100-dollar notes from his back pocket. “The cards were surely in my favor today.”
“Ahem,” Mark cleared his throat. When he had gotten everyone’s attention, he began, “This is important. About C’s schedule…”
Everyone fell silent, feeling the seriousness in the air. Mark looked around at his teammates and continued, “He’s going to be out next week.”
“Out?” Seth asked back.
Mark rubbed between his eyebrows as if he were getting a headache. “Yes. It’s not a sudden schedule—it had been planned for a while. Gotta go get his costumes for the upcoming movie shoot.”
Josh vaguely recalled hearing some things about it. The movie had an insane budget, and the novel on which the movie was based was an old series with a huge fanbase. Chase, who was expected to take on the role of the protagonist at first, ended up being cast as the antihero—the antagonist of the series.
“We’ll have to take extra care in bodyguarding him, then…” Seth muttered blankly. Everyone could relate. There were many protection systems installed in the mansion—security cameras, per se—but once they were outside, the bodyguards quite literally had to cover the entire area with their bare bodies.
The biggest problem was Chase Miller himself. Having witnessed his countless moments of insanity, the entire team felt chills running down their spines.
“In fact, there had been an incident not too long ago,” said Mark, looking quite troubled. “The perpetrator was someone from a religious organization with hostile ideologies toward Extreme Alphas. Keith Pittman was the victim of that terror.
“The, er, CEO of P Entertainment?” asked Seth. Pittman was the CEO of the production company in charge of producing the movie that Chase would be acting in. He was also an Extreme Alpha, and he was the very person who made Chase play the antihero rather than the hero, which had been the initial assumption.
Mark nodded. “So the word about C being threatened isn’t just a bluff. Moreover, I heard that some fans got into the broadcasting company building where C was at last time. Heard it was mayhem.”
“Um… should we try using the Scrum framework?” Isaac suggested unconfidently.
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