I've only met Calder once in person, but that was enough. It was at the Frazer Center's Arts & Hearts fundraiser, a black tie dinner we host every Valentine's Day in our gallery space. The affair is our most formal event of the year, and in addition to raising a good chunk of money, it's our chance to honor our biggest donors and supporters. Wentworth Cunningham attended the event every year, but last February—about five months before he died—he brought his son Calder along as well.
I’ll admit it: I was excited to meet the infamous heir to the Cunningham fortune. I mean, you can’t even pop through the supermarket checkout line without spotting him on one of the tabloids—usually on some Italian beach with the latest “it” girl. I was curious. I couldn’t help it.
Calder was, at first glance, everything I expected. There seems to be one in every “old money” family: the son with the good looks and bad behavior to spare. He definitely lived up to his photos. Some would call him the epitome of tall, dark, and handsome. In another life, if he hadn't been born into insane amounts of money—or if he decided that partying and womanizing weren't enough of a career for him—he might have made his own millions as a model.
He's the kind of guy who expects his looks and his money to get him out of anything. He’s also the kind of guy who looks down his nose at events thrown by small arts organizations.
Calder spent the entire evening of Arts & Hearts looking bored out of his mind and sipping aloofly at his wine.
I’d hoped to never see him again.
But I'm not about to let him get away this time. This time I'm going to make him take responsibility for his actions, even if the rest of the world won't.
I bow my head against the wind and march up his driveway. The massive live oaks overhead don't do much to block the rain, but the discomfort from the wetness seeping down my back only fuels my anger and determination.
The voice cuts through the storm, and my head jerks up. I glance around, and it takes me a moment to spot the figure through the rain.
It’s a man—tall, broad-shouldered, dressed in dark clothes. A security guard.
And he’s coming at me. Fast.
I panic. Yes, it was only a few minutes ago that I was trying to catch the attention of the security team, but now that some guy’s charging at me through the rain, my fight or flight response kicks in. I bolt.
I run off the driveway and between two of the trees, cutting across the grass in what I hope is the direction of the house. One of my flats slips off my foot, but I keep going, my toes gripping the mud as I sprint. There are lights up ahead—house lights, I hope. I need to get to Calder.
I don't dare look over my shoulder, but the security guard is gaining. His footsteps slap against the wet ground, and they're getting louder.
I have to outrun him.
My other shoe falls off my slick foot. I almost slip. I can just make out the house ahead of me now, a dark shape against the dark sky. I’m so close. Just a little farther—
The guard slams into me, pushing me down to the ground with him on top of me. The air whooshes out of me as I hit the mud, but I recover quickly. I twist beneath his weight, trying to fight my way out of his grasp.
“Let go of me!” I say, swinging my elbow at him.
I hit him in the gut. He grunts, and his grip loosens on my waist. I try to wriggle away, but he grabs me by the knees.
“Let go!” I say again. I kick at him.
He tries to catch my ankle. “Ms.—oof—Frazer.”
I manage to get one leg loose. His grip on the other one is too strong. He flips me over so that I'm on my back, and he lunges forward, catching each of my arms before I can swing at him again. He's straddling me, pinning me down, and struggle as I might I can't get free.
“Get off of me,” I say.
His breathing is heavy from the exertion. He leans down closer to me.
“And why should I do that, Ms. Frazer?” he says. “You're trespassing on my property.”
I freeze. The rain is still coming down hard, but I shake the wet strands of hair from my face and blink up at the man on top of me. In the hazy light from behind us I can just barely make out the features of his face, but a jolt of recognition pulses through me.
My heart stops. This isn't some random security guard. It's the man of the house himself, the asshole who's ruining my life.
And he's on top of me.
“Get off,” I repeat, wriggling. But in a position like this the movement is unintentionally sexual. I stop, but not before Calder also notices the intimate implications of our situation. He gives a chuckle deep in his throat then leans closer so I can hear his low voice over the rain.
“And why should I let you go,” he says into my ear, “when you've already caused me so much trouble?”
The warmth of his breath sends prickles across my skin. I try to wrench my wrists out of his grasp.
“I can't believe you would hold a woman down,” I say, “when she clearly—”
“Woman?” he breathes into my ear. “I don't see a woman. I see a trespasser. Tell me, do you make a habit of breaking onto private property, or did I just get lucky?”
“You know exactly why I'm here, Mr. Cunnin—”
“And you know I have every right to call the police right now and have you arrested.”