The following has been written purely in English to permit those of non-French speaking origin to read this novel. A French version of the novel may be written in the distant future.
The temperature was close to freezing around the St. Lawrence Estate, which lay in the outskirts of Saint Lazare, Quèbec. The sun was only beginning to rise over the tree lines of the countryside, yet to bathe the estate property in heat.
It was only the beginning of Spring, and the Maple trees that lined the lane leading from the main gate to the estate mansion were yet to grow stubs. A Willow tree was centered in the yard in front of the large mansion, kept several hundred feet away to prevent its roots from growing into the architecture. It was surrounded by a thick stone ring to seperate it from the lane and yard.
As Willows were known for seeking water, growing their roots to incredible lengths, the Lawrence family had long ago decided to feed their septic system underneath the tree, which had caused it to grow almost a third larger than it naturally would have.
Fresh water was supplied by the municipality of Saint-Lazare, but rainwater could be extracted, desalinated and neutralized to be used as water as well. Power was also supplied to the estate by the municipality, however a large generator existed in the warehouse-sized basement that could power the estate for several days under the regular power usage.
Surrounding the estate was a large cement wall approximately fifteen feet high and three and a half feet thick. Not many knew about it, but the wall had a interior skeleton component of 13" titanium-steel encased in the cement. The main gate was a large 6" thick titanium-steel panel which would slide down into the ground to open. When it closed, it locked in place to prevent it from being rammed down by any moderate method of force.
Cameras were hidden in looming watch towers which lay at regular positions overlooking the wall.
A dark red Volvo S80 drove up the short path to the gate from the road St. Angelique. As it came to a stop at the gate, a tall man in the watchtower authorized on the controls for the gate to open, and the magnetic bolts and ports disengaged. The Volvo slowly drove at cruise speed down the smooth stone lane toward the large mansion.
Along the way, the twenty year old female occupant in the backseat who had been playing on her IPhone looked up and stared at the cannon-mounted armoured personnel carrier parked in an opening on the grassy field within the enclosed property. Several personnel were repairing the one of several privately owned and modified military vehicles bought by the family to protect their estate.
The others were stored in a large garage building which linked to the lane from a side path. The second floor of this building was a well furnished and maintained baracks for the thirty-seven security personnel of the estate. Additional to these security personnel, there were five bodyguards who slept in rooms in the mansion near to their charges.
The Volvo approached the circular yard with the willow looming in the center. As it skirted around, they parked infront of the staircase leading to the front door where two young adults in their early twenties waited. One was 23 year old Michael, the eldest of the Lawrence boys, his banged blonde hair glimmering in the fresh light of the sun. The second man was 22 year old William, the middle brother, who was several inches shorter than his 5,11" brother.
Two women, maybe early 30s both in black suits and armed with 9mm pistols, approached the car and helped the occupants with their things. These two women were the twins, Elizabeth and Victoria. They were Michael and William's bodyguards.
The young lady, Amanda, watched as her father closed the ignition and walked out of the car, while her mother was helped out by Elizabeth. She saw Victoria open the trunk and watched her emerge on the side of the car carrying luggage. Elizabeth spotted that Amanda was not moving and opened the back door.
"Sorry Hun, he is upstairs. You will have to go see him yourself. Come on." Elizabeth said, nodding toward the mansion.
Amanda formed a small smile and walked out. As she exited she fixed her school uniform, which was a blue tartan pleated skirt which reached several inches above her kneecaps and had a silver plaid. A white blouse lay underneath her thin silver long-sleeved sweater and black polyester vest which was marked with a herald. She wore dark navy blue nylon leggings and custom fitted loafers.
The uniform complimented her fine and long chocolate brown hair and bright hazel eyes.
Victoria and the two boys had already entered the mansion by now with Amanda's parents. Elizabeth held the door open for Sarah and then closed it behind them, heading to the dining hall where the heads of the family had likely prescided themselves.
Elizabeth watched as Amanda ran up the grand staircase and began her short journey to the fourth floor. By now the sun was begining to softly lick into the mansion, and soon the automated lights would shut off, replaced by the daylight. Elizabeth continued down the hall toward the dining hall, surprised when she spotted François, Nicholas' bodyguard, talking with the two remaining bodyguards, Frederick and Rebecca. They were the bodyguards of James and Alice Lawrence, the two heads of the Lawrence household.
She walked by them, making a short statement to François. "Your charge is not alone." she said, chuckling. This resulted in François lifting an eyebrow, looking a bit confused. He then rolled his eyes and sighed. "He'll be fine, I worry more about Miss McNeil." he said back to her.
Upstairs, in a large furnished bedroom on the fourth floor was twenty year old Nicholas Lawrence, the youngest of the Lawrence heirs. He was standing on the balcony outside his room, looking at the semi-circular sun, which he made care not to look directly at for too long. He did this just about every single morning he could. After a few minutes he turned around stood near his bed, waiting for the inevitable guest he knew was on her way. He had seen them come down the lane, and so he knew she would look for him.
His thoughts were confirmed as heard soft footsteps outside, quiet and stealthy. He decided if Amanda was going to play things that way, he was going to beat her at it, so he pressed the button for the shutters on the balcony doors to close and bath the room in darkness. He then hid in his vanity bathroom.
As Amanda slowly opened the door, she realized the room was dark and quiet, and so assumed that for once in her life she had actually caught Nicholas asleep. So she closed the door behind her and snuck over to the bed, turning her IPhone light on and panning the bed, but found nothing. Confused she went to the other side of the bed, which was facing the balcony, and looked to see if he had fallen.
She now had his back to her, and because he could see her light he had enough reference to sneak up behind her. When he got right behind her, the scent of lavender filled his nose. He quickly snatched her arms, swiftly pulling them back and locking them behind her back with one arm and placing his other hand over her mouth, muffling her scream of surprise. Her IPhone fell light up on the floor, and so the light was projected dimly around.
Amanda struggled and tried to scream through Nicholas' hand, kicking and squirming against her assailant to try and break free. Nicholas began feeling tears and decided the game was over, so he cooed her to calm. After only the first coo, she stopped screaming and just sobbed. He slowly spun her around, letting go of her arms and mouth. She embraced his mid-section with one arm and gave him a hard slap on the chest, which made him yelp. She wrapped the arm around his back and pressed her face into his shirt and sobbed.
"Never fucking scare me like that again!" she said in-between sobs, lightly muffled by his shirt. Nicholas hugged her tight and rested his head on hers. "I'm sorry Ame. But you started it by trying to sneak up on me thinking I was asleep. Besides it was harmless fun." he said using his pet name for her, chuckling. He could feel his shirt getting damp and so he helped Amanda to the bed and sat her down, reaching for a tissue. As he did so, Amanda deflected his arm off her shoulder and locked his arm in hers and pulled him on to the bed, both of them falling on their backs.
He immediately sat up and looked at her, dumbfounded. "What was that for?" he asked, knowing full well the answer he would get.
"For being a jerk." she replied, turning her head from her resting position to look at him. She then sat up and brushed her hair to the front, a perfect non-verbal message to him of what she wanted. He got the message, as much as he did not understand how it might be relevant. He began massaging the back of her neck and then her shoulders, his gentle touch soothed her but given the circumstances she was not going to let him know that. Instead she gave him the false impression that he was only adequate.
Unfortunately her plan backfired when he found her sweet spot and she slowly fell limp into his chest. He kept massaging her neck to break the tension he could still feel, and then he noticed that she was becoming more and more limp, likely falling asleep.
He softly whispered her name, but got no response. So he slowly laid on his back, letting her limp form rest on top of him. After a few minutes she adjusted and her head slowly slide, causing her to jolt awake. Her immediate sensation was that she way laying down on something, then it occurred to her what that something was.
"Nic, what are you doing?" she asked. It took him a moment to reply, as he grabbed the remote resting not far from reach and commanded the balcony window shutters to open several degrees to allow some light in.
"I am just letting you relax. You know I wouldn't take advantage of you Amanda." he said, and turned to look at her, but in his position could only see the top of her head. Then he noticed her reach to her breast with one hand and behind her neck with the other. He felt her hand behind ehr neck, which was brushing against his chest, working with something. "I know..." she said softly.
After several moments she extracted something from under her vest. The object was a silver Celtic cross with a diamond embedded in the center. She always carried this object with her because the cross was a disguise for a panic beacon which by placing pressure on the diamond would send a signal to the beacon's reciever carried by a bodyguard. This scenario would result in that said bodyguard bursting in and incapacitating the threat.
She kissed the cross and gave it to Nicholas. She always gave him the cross as a sign of her trust. Given the fact they had grown up together since they were both around six, he was just about the most trusted person in her life, with the exception of her parents.
Her bodyguard had actually been at the Lawrence Estate since the day before. She had announced their visit to the Lawrence family for a business meeting between James, Amanda's father Guy McNeil and their associates in Ireland.
The bodyguard was from a Roman Catholic family in Ireland. She had been the daughter of a rival mob boss of Guy's, but had been young enough to be taken in by the McNeil family. Unfortunately Guy retired his criminal assets after he bought shares in the Ubisoft Corporation and made millions just with his small percentage. This girl was only two years younger than Amanda, taken in when the McNeil heir was five years old.
Nicholas took her tribute and tossed it into the pillows on the other side of the bed. Amanda turned her head so her cheek was rested on Nicholas' chest and she quickly fell asleep to the gentle rythm of him stroking her forehead. He was rather comfortable, regardless of her having her now limp weight on him.
There was a knock at the door, and a male voice emerged from the otherside.
"Come you two, it is time for morning meal." he said.
Amanda groaned and Nicholas helped her up and they both grudgingly got up from the bed.