Excerpt for Game of the Planners 2 by , available in its entirety at Smashwords

Manchester Current Time

Jack remained seated while he let down the piece of paper carefully into the box as he had retrieved it earlier. The memories still flashed across his mind, but not for long for him to keep dwelling on as he took note of a familiar one, carefully wrapped within the comforts of the box. He clenched his fists gently before reaching over to pick the dusty note.

He could very well tell what it was...he had written it after all.

In his hand was none other than the list containing the names of the seven people whom had wronged him. The memory never fades, and he had kept the names in his head ever since the unfortunate incident that befell him aged seven in the hands of the horrible kids and all those who he deemed as co-conspirators in the crime.

Slowly like he was holding an egg, he unwrapped the paper, lengthening it in height and falling his gaze upon the top of it. The letterings had been scribbled with black ink, and still remained fresh like he had written it yesterday. He cleared his throat as he slowly perused the content on the list with his eyes and mind. Within him, he read the names out loud without really speaking.

The list with the seven names felt heavy in his hand as he held it high enough for the light in the room to illuminate them properly.

He’d written the list aged 24, seventeen years after the incident which left him with a scarred face. It had come after he arrived in Manchester aged 21, and spending the next few years working in the coal factory, before getting acquainted with Mr. Kent and assisting him with the three major agendas he promised and becoming a Multi-millionaire with an array of five big companies underneath his supervision.

The accomplishment and assurance of stability had prompted him to list those who brought turmoil to his past and he made certain he didn’t forget a single name.

Atop the list like it should be was the curator of his scars, Thomas. Thomas deservedly warranted the position, being the boy who decided his means of getting revenge for Jack’s deed was to give him a permanent reminder. Thomas, who was three years older at the time he made the list, had become a really accomplished man. He had made a name for himself, as the owner of two big private schools, three luxury hotels in Cologne and Dusseldorf, and had become the husband of Melissa, the woman Jack could never forget.

Jack couldn’t let Thomas share the pain alone. He wanted him and everyone around to partake in the punishment he would deal, which included listing Thomas’s sister, Natalia in second place. The thirty-one years old lady would also have a taste of his vengeance. Following her on the list in third place was a place for Andy, the notable second in command to Thomas, who had succeeded in becoming a professional boxer but had been sentenced to prison for the duration of five years after accidentally killing his opponent in a boxing game.

The incident wasn’t his only undoing, after sources found his responsible for some high stake illegal gambles as well.

Sofia was forth by virtue of her relationship with Thomas right about then. She was his girlfriend and it was only befitting that she shared in his pain as Jack never really fancied her, and quite frankly couldn’t forget or forgive her indifference when her boyfriends messed up his face. He had scribbled her name down on that night while making the list with a beating heart.

Finally, he fell his gaze upon the name of the one person he was sure had he been responsible enough to let justice prevail; maybe he wouldn’t have scribbled the list in the first place. The old man was a cheat, a liar and an irresponsible fellow who in all sincerity decided to take his son’s life and well-being as top priority even though he almost killed another man’s.

Fifth on the list without an atom of doubt about him being listed there was Thomas’s father. The man whom bribed those he needed to, including top lawyers and judges, as well as Jack’s own father to help keep the heinous crime under wraps. Jack could remember seeing the group of lawyers the man hired, donning their suits with cocky smiles across their face while they defended the boy.

He remembered seeing his father collect an ample sum of money from Thomas’s father, which the man ended up blowing on bets, while ignoring the fact his own son needed money for a face surgery and possibly transplant. His inconsiderate actions only made things worse for Jack, as the months went by. He remember his face losing any feel the skin used to provide it, while all the nerves slowly died after they’d been brutally destroyed.

The pain to live with such face was something he could still recall as he penned down the man’s name as his fifth victim. The events that followed were nothing but trauma for Jack and everyone around him. When he was ten years in age, he had a little sister, whom would scream and get terrified trying to tear her eyes out with nightmares when she looks at Jack.

The horror and constant battle with being able to accommodate his horrifying look had been the reason Jack was cast away from home in the first place. His parents decided it was best they sent him far away where they wouldn’t have to look at his nauseating face ever again. With the pen in his hand, he remembers his mother’s words vividly, claiming she wanted nothing to do with him ever again.

The decision came easy after then. His father whose knack for betting and owing people, put him up for sale for the sum of fifteen thousand Euros to a lender in bid to clear his debt. It would be the last time he’d see his family, as a new life begun to for him immediately. Jack would find life anew, but in a more strenuous manner for a young boy his age.

His new owners at the point in time made him take care of their horses and clean the stables. It was a shitty job but he had no choice. His legs were constantly chained as they couldn’t take the risk of him escaping and making a run for it. His home was behind a stinking hors stable, while his real parents wined and dined in a comfortable environment, at least without much stink.

His bed was made of hay, stacked in a corner of the stables where he laid his head to rest every single night. He was given a bath every week like an animal would, and a bowl of porridge every day, and sometimes half loaf of bread which was dry and hard as a rock. The half loaf would get tossed at him simply because it wasn’t deemed eatable by the owner anymore and not out of the mercies his heart granted.

They saw him as nothing but a monster, and he was constantly treated like one.

The lonesome childhood memory was vivid and clear, with lonely days without friends to speak with and without tears to cry. All he had were horses neighing and chewing their hay all day, while he tended to their crap. He was there till he clocked thirteen, on which day, Mr. Klein the boss of a local newspaper came to rescue him from the horse farm and took him home. It was the first feel of goodness anyone had dealt him and it felt too good to be true at that time.

Mr. Klein assigned him the task of taking care of his horse, but with a better bed to sleep in at night, and proper meal on his table. He sent Jack back to school again and allowed him time to study with his daughter, whom Jack still recall as his first ever love till date, Melissa. From their first meet, she became his friend.

Melissa was the first friend and best he had as well as the only one.

The years rolled by and she remains in his memory still as he stared at the list in his hand in his room, which had brought with it a host of bad memories. Her sonorous and ear melting voice rang aloud in his head every time, the sound of her contagious laugh, as well as her cries when she hurt herself by falling while riding her horse, remained with him still.

Melissa and Jack passed high school together, and eventually ended up attending the same university to study law, to which effect, he would split and end his time there.

He folded away the paper slowly, while taking one last peek at the last names on it.

On it was Henry, the forty six years old teacher back then whom had refused to testify against Thomas for his wicked crime. The man denied knowing anything and it proved to be one of the defining reasons for the case. Jack was about closing the list finally when he saw the seventh number…

It was named “Unknown”. He couldn’t remember who the person was exactly at that time, but he would find out later.

Manchester...Years Ago…

The first night was the most difficult. He lay with his back against the bed and his eyes shooting into the distance ahead. The bland ceiling mirrored his thoughts, and the fan continued in its endless chase of its own tail, while Jack wallowed in thoughts. He had his mind troubled deeply, not just by anything surreal, but things of grave importance that could come to shape his future and life ultimately.

He tried closing his eyes to think, but his sense of focus was off. He wanted something concrete upon which he could lay his plans and come with a solution, but it felt even more difficult the more he thought about it. The question was simple, yet it plagued his heart badly.

“How to solve the problem of Mr. Kent’s son and his wife”, was the sentence he read across his mind over and over and again.

There seemed to be no particular answer for the question, and the suggestions on what could be done even seemed impossible to achieve. The dilemma attached with getting Robin’s documents was an almost impossible one. It included going to the university where he schooled to attain them and most definitely going through some good amount of security and scrutiny.

He needed to know more about the wife as well and that would take its own perseverance and some proper research. Jack could find no sleep through that night, and he was only convinced morning had dawned when he heard the loud crow of a persistent cock just outside his house. It was mentally draining, but equally challenging for him.

He needed a good plan else he could be staring at the end of a barrel pointed against him by himself. He could become the architect of his own undoing and that wasn’t going to become an option. He was a determined man and one who had seen too much to know he needed to grasp opportunities when they come his way.

After three sleepless nights spent on thinking and planning on what to do, Jack finally headed off to Robin’s University to carry out his research on the boy...

Germany...Same Time...Years Ago…

It was no news they have been dating or having affectionate feelings for one another. Thomas had made his move on Melissa after Jack left, asking her to become his girlfriend without a single pang of discomfort in his heart about Jack liking her. They attended the same university there in Cologne, which made things pretty awkward.

Months had gone by, and Melissa had fallen pretty much for the dashing man who made her feel special. Jack’s absence had brought with it a rise in the time Melissa spends with Thomas, as they grew in desire for one another, and ultimately decided upon taking things a notch. It was Thomas’s will and idea, and she agreed with him without a muster of decline.

The night was set for a cold Friday. She had on her favorite blue gown, while he donned a nicely fitted black suit for the occasion. She harbored her nervousness within until they reached the door.

‘What if they don’t like me?” she turned to him to ask with her face showing just how terrified she was.

Thomas lit in face with an assuring smile of his own. He felt her face with his warm hand and leaned over to kiss her cherry lips.

“You need to trust me”, he said. “They’ve been waiting for you and I'm sure they would”.

His words didn’t sound entirely convincing, but she was at the door and would as well just go on right in when they come to answer it. She nodded for him to knock and he did, with the calm voice of an elderly woman responding on the other side. The door swung open slowly and before her stood a lady with brown hair and a quite prominent physique showing she kept herself fit even though she had grey hair.

“Tommy...“, she greeted, hugging her son before casting Melissa a look.

Melissa gulped some worries down her throat before watching the elderly woman smile brightly.

“Come in here you. Tommy has told us a lot about you and quite frankly wouldn’t shut up”, she smiled, hugging Melissa.

Melissa felt her chest get lighter, but she had his father to meet next and she still remained skeptical. They walked into the large living room which bore beautiful portraits on the walls, with one catching sculpture of a Roman goddess in the corner of the living room just by the television.

“Let me get your father”, Thomas’s mother excused herself before disappearing into the inner room.

Thomas turned to his girlfriend with an “I told you so” expression across his face.

“All right, I believe you now”, she managed to chuckle as he led her to the couch to sit.

The tempting allure of blueberry pancake being made in the kitchen came seeping through. They were to have dinner, and it felt good already.

Seated around the large table were the intending father and mother-in-law to Melissa, as she kept her head down shyly and continued eating her meal. Thomas had asked her over for dinner at his parents’ in bid to introduce her to them and get things running smoothly as it ought to. They were both welcomed with open arms by his parents who were people of influence and wealth.

She didn’t care much about that, since she equally came from a stable background boasting riches and comfort as well as connections Thomas’s parents can only come to dream of. She loved the man and wanted nothing else but to share everything she had with him. They were obviously young, but it still wasn’t a criterion to hide from how they truly felt.

‘So Melissa, my son tells me you studied law”, his father engaged her in a chatty conversation.

Melissa let down her fork from the spaghetti she was taking to respectfully answer the man.

“Yes I did”, she simply replied.

“He also tells me how fond he is of you and the plans for the future”, the man crackled with laughter.

She knew the reason they were there for, or at least she thought she did. It was for her parents to see firsthand the woman their son intends to get married to. It was the necessary step to take their relationship further and she hoped to do the same with her parents after their dinner with his. Thomas simple chuckled where he sat, before sneaking his hand towards hers and locking them together.

“Isn't she beautiful mom?” he asked.

“She’s even more beautiful than you said she was”, his mother replied.

Her words of flattery set Melissa blushing as she commenced on her meal. They spent the next half an hour discussing about life in general before Thomas got up and headed for the kitchen. His father soon followed while the ladies were left alone discussing. It felt refreshing for Melissa that his parents liked her and it made her more comfortable.

“You’re right, she is stunning”, his father patted him on the back.

Thomas winked at the man as he took a bottle of beer from the fridge and rested his back against it.

“Her father is wealthy and quite influential”, he told his dad who listened.

“Does she know anything about the other woman?” his father asked after ascertaining the ladies were still at the dining table.

“No, she doesn’t, but we need to wrap thing up fast with Melissa and her father”, Thomas sounded in haste. “I need the man if my company is going to get the massive support it needs to grow into what I want it to”.

His father understood his words pretty well. The man walked away, leaving Thomas to finish his beer. He knew within her he was just using her, but he could care less. He had his ambitions and that was all that mattered. He’d figured out her powerful and quite influential father would only be of use if they became a family.

And, a family is exactly what he was going for with Melissa for the sole purpose he just shared with his father.

Manchester...Years Ago...

...from Julia’s diary...

He came to pick me from my house. I could see the man waiting outside impatiently while I tried to make myself ready. Jack glanced at his watch impatiently, waiting for me. Being my assistant wasn’t rosy at times when he had to wait on me, but he needed my help, which was the reason for the organized dinner.

He chose my favorite, which is Thai food just by the corner a few blocks from the office. The reservations had been made for 8.p.m, but it was half an hour past already and I still hadn't shown up. He had a whole lot more to worry about than my lateness though. He still hadn't figured out the best ways to go about the dilemma he had in hand. Being my assistant wasn’t something he saw himself living the rest of his life as. Had it not being because he didn’t finish law school, he obviously wouldn’t have been my assistant.

The requirement had stated he would remain an assistant for the next two years and it meant working under me through the duration before he’d be set free of his shackles. He bent his head before raising it up to look at the door. I came rushing out through it with the swerve and swagger I constantly upheld my beautiful physique with.

He waved me over.

“You look beautiful tonight”, he whispered shyly.

I blushed red in my cheeks as he spoke and tucked my hand into his.

“You look dashing yourself and wanting to make a woman steal you”, I teased.

The walk was long, but it was beautiful.

“I was almost thinking I’d eat alone tonight”, he joked. “It feels perfect having you with me though”.

His confessions hit me right and well to the heart. It sounded sincere and it melted away my soul.

We arrived at the restaurant after chattering away. Our table was in the corner of the restaurant where we had a good view of the surrounding and the street without hinder. The spot was perfect for the both of us to discuss discreetly without external intrusions. I walked over; looking tall from the heels I donned and smelling nice from the lavender perfume I wore.

“You chose my favorite spot”, I smiled at him while he helped me with my seat like a gentleman.

“I was considering another less fancy hotel”, he joked, while trying to tease me about being late.

He couldn’t be mad at me. It wasn’t something he could, seeing the position he was in and aside the fact we have grown pretty close and fond of one another over time working together. He simply accepted my apology with a nod. I didn’t expect many words from him either.

“You said you needed my help with something”, I grinned.

Jack waved at the waitress to hand us the menu. Meals at the Thai restaurant aren’t cheap, but he chose it either ways. Living life as someone who deserves it rather than suffering himself had been the motto for a while. His past had been filled with so much turmoil and pain he didn’t see himself reliving such again. He would enjoy life and with it the pleasures it brings.

“Bring the best wine you have and your special order”, he spoke in brief without collecting the menu from the waitress.

I trailed the waitress with my eyes before taking my focus back to him.

“What is it Jack? I can tell you’re struggling with something”, I spoke insightfully.

Jack cleared his throat. He meant to speak and he would try his best to do it as little as possible. I understood him too well and it wouldn’t be a problem.

“I'm stuck with Mr. Kent’s deals”, he said.

His words rang how worried he was. I could read the sadness dancing on his lips as he spoke. I did not want that. I never wanted to see him down or in a horrible state. Our work together had made me grow pretty fond of him as well as caring towards him. We’ve shared so much together to the point he told me about his revenge and those who had hurt him.

It was the one reason I hoped to stick with him as best as I could. I hoped once he achieved better after completing the deal he promised Mr. Kent, those things would automatically sort themselves out and he would be stable and accomplished enough to forget about some petty revenge.

“I might be able to help you with that”, I smiled. I laid down some proper advice for him and stated things he had neglected. He listened attentively, feeling wowed by my level of reasoning but not entirely surprised. He obviously trusts me intelligent and my work shows that every day. The hour passed without us really realizing it while we took timely sips from our wine and ate to our fill.

The night was well spent and it further strengthened our bond.

I duly pointed out the need for him to complete his task, which bordered around him taking power from Kent and becoming his own man in Manchester. The deal would obviously bring him a new life and recognition around Manchester, and I secretly thought it to be a good avenue for him to forget his nonsense about revenge… I was wrong in the end.

All I harbored in thoughts was the possibility of a wonderful life together after he becomes the best man he can be through my guidance. The deal was the one thing standing in the way of that realization and I was there to help him scale through. He had his own ideas too, with his burning eyes filled with thoughts and ideas, which he laid out to me through the dinner.

Staring into his eyes that night made me realize I wanted the man. I wanted him deeply from there into the future when we could be together forever. I could taste the reality coming nearer as I hoped to become his woman and he my man. I envisaged the future where we will have babies and every day after work, I would be able to go home and have dinner with the man and our children.

It was meant to be perfect and it was all I could think of.

We got through with dinner, and he walked me out of the restaurant. His silence had always been something I admired about him. He gave the listening ears any lady wants and I provided him with companionship as best as I can. His soft hands slid into mine as we took the walk on the clod night. I leaned my head towards his shoulder, and he wrapped his other arm around me in shelter.

My heart raced loudly and I wished he could hear how it beats for him.

“Will you come home with me for the night?” he asked in a romantic voice. “I happen to have whisky”.

I couldn’t refuse. We headed to his place underneath the beautiful moonlight and night. I spent the night with him drinking and jollying away.

“I need you to promise me something”, I asked him with my wine glass in hand.

“What?” he asked.

“After this deal falls through, no more vengeance”, I asked.

It sounded difficult for him, but he agreed with a nod.

“I promise”, he assured me before pouring me some more wine.

The night grew older and we found ourselves in bed making out romantically till we fell asleep. It was late into the night when I woke up to the screaming noise from Jack. He was having a nightmare, and his face was hurting like hell. He groped his with his hands and sweat rolled down his body. I managed to calm him down and set him back to sleep after some minutes, but I remained awake through the night.

I could tell the man’s pain was too much for him to bear and he couldn’t stick with his promise. The pain from the injury was severe during cold nights like that one in particular, and worse all through winter. He had gotten a new face lift with medications from the surgeon, but they still weren’t enough to mask the horror he felt within him.

“They must pay”, he muttered that night before falling back to sleep.

I believed him more than I did when he assured me he would keep off any vengeance mission. He just was too scared to do so. I watched him sleep, while wiping the blood dripping from his face and nose through the night. It was a norm for the man… it was what he was dealt every night because of them…

I had barely slept through the night, but I made certain I was awake before him. I quietly went about doing the dishes while the tired man slept, before preparing a nice meal and doing some of his laundry for him. It was the least I could do for the man and it felt good doing it either ways.

I exited his room by closing the door behind me slowly, but not before taking a good look at the man I shared both a wonderful and scary night with. It was my first time seeing for myself the terror he had to go through, and all I could do was pity him. He would have some proper meal when he woke up and that gladdened my heart.

I left without saying goodbye to Jack…

Manchester...Days after Dinner

Jack had gathered enough information about Robin and his confidence about solving the problems at hand looked good. He sat in his chair in the depth of the night, staring at the bulk of informative materials he had been able to gather about the guy. It was quite a lot to go through, but with a cup of coffee, it was easier.

He figured out the hatred the boy had for his father would have to be subdued somehow, and judging from personal experience, it wasn’t going to be easy. Jack stared blankly at the paper containing Robin’s likes and interests in his hand, with wonders on what to do screeching through his mind. He needed a way out and fast as time ticked past.

The solution to counter his hate would have to come from something strong enough to negate it. In such cases it would have to be love, but there was no love lost between the pair and it was no use barking up that tree. The hatred accumulated all through the years wasn’t going to make it easy. He needed another approach entirely.

He tossed aside the sheet of paper in his hand to pick another. The information he sought was right before him and he didn’t know. On the sheet before him was the statement telling how much of an active member Robin is at the Animal Welfare and Protection Association. According to the information, Robin was well fond of organizing rallies during the festive periods in Spain when bulls are brutally killed during festivals.

The organization he was involved in simply wasn’t for profit, which meant they regularly needed willing sponsors to come invest in and with them. It wasn’t easy getting sponsors, which was a quirk they had to deal with on a regular basis. The boy had a disdain for the abusers and it was the perfect means through which Jack hoped to warm his way into his life.

He kicked his feet together in a slight show of being joyed, without really letting out much emotion. It was the first move that looked solid and he would approach Robin in bid to support his team while temporarily keeping his personal interests at heart and hidden until the time presented itself.

Without further ado, Jack booked a ticket to Madrid, where Robin and his team will hold the biggest rally of the year to protest against the mischievous killings of the bulls in the capital of Spain. Robin was sure to be there leading the rally as always. The man’s willingness to help the animals was the perfect opportunity for Jack.

He wouldn’t miss such an opportunity for anything in the world. He headed for Spain late the following day.

...end part 2...

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