I go to my closet and put on a black knee-length skirt, a long-sleeved lilac lace top, and my knee-high boots with four-inch heels. I know I’m going to a club, and if it’s a place where Chris has intimate connections, I’m not showing up in ratty jeans and a T-shirt.
I rush to the sink and grab my purse, planning to ix my face in the back of the taxi, the taxi that I should have already called for. I can’t drive; I don’t know where I’m going. I’ll pay the taxi driver to wait while I go inside and get Amber.
I call a taxi, then I try Amber again. No answer. When I think of the marks on her arms, I can’t help but worry she’s being punished.
I head for the door, but pause. I don’t like to do stupid things, and I fear that’s exactly what I’m about to do. I have to add a little smart to the mix.
I go to the nightstand where I’ve left the journal I started, and scribble a note. Gone to pick up Amber at some club. She was crying and scared. I took a taxi. I add the address and leave it on the pillow.
There’s no reason why anyone should see this. Rey isn’t going to call or come by again. Chris is putting the kids to bed and staying at the museum. I’ll be home long before he’d see the note.
Acid burns in my throat the instant the cab pulls up to the address Amber gave me. It’s next door to Isabel’s restaurant. This is just too coincidental to sit well, and I know there’s a connection. Whatever this club is, Isabel is a part of it, maybe even owns it.
I pay the taxi driver, and ofer him a hefty tip for waiting for me to return. Before getting out, though, I try to dial Amber again.
She doesn’t answer.
I text, I’m outside in a taxi. Please come out.
I wait. No reply.
I picture Chris being beaten in Mark’s club, and remember the pain I’ve seen in Amber’s eyes. If Tristan is like Isabel, Amber needs saving.
Decision made, I slide my purse cross-body and shove open the door. I am going to keep on this path, even though it’s probably foolish.
I head toward the large steel double gates marked with the address I seek. Cold air lifts my long hair, and I wish I’d brought my coat. Even more, I wish I were back in the taxi.
Passing the gates, I ind a long walkway to another white stone building and see another couple walking in the same direction as I am. I let them move ahead of me, and I study them, hoping that doing so might tell me about where I am headed.
The man is in jeans. The woman is in a leather skirt. This tells me very little, but I guess I should be happy they aren’t in head-to-toe leather and chains. I cling to whatever I can ind in the hope that I’m not about to go into the unfamiliar land of full-on BDSM action without Chris by my side.
With a lot of trepidation, I follow the couple to the large wooden door and wait as the woman hits a buzzer. The door opens and a man in a suit waves the couple inside.
I step forward, intending to follow the couple inside, but the man holds up a hand and says something in French.
“English?” I ask hopefully.
“Couple only,” he replies.
Couples only? That’s strange. “I’m here to pick up Amber.”
Someone says something to the man from behind. The doorman glances at me and waves me forward. “Welcome, mademoiselle.”
I draw a breath and walk past him into the small, dimly lit room, much like the one at Isabel’s restaurant. Too much like it for comfort. It feels like this is her doing, and I wonder about the absence of the loud music I’d heard on the phone with Amber.
A coat check area is to my right, and the lady who manages it steps in front of me and points at my purse. “You must leave it here,” she says in heavily accented English.
“No.” I cling to my purse. “No, I—”
“It’s the rules,” she says sharply.
I reach for my phone to take it with me and she shakes her head. “No phones. They have cameras.”
My heart sinks and I hesitate, thinking of Amber and hearing her sobs on the phone in my head. I stuf my phone in my purse and give both up. The woman rewards me with a ticket stub that I stuf in my boot.
I walk down a long, narrow hall, and the hazy bedroom lighting is really creeping me out. I’m about to reach what looks like a much larger room when Amber rounds the corner, dressed in a tank top and a red leather skirt that barely clears her hips. With her arms exposed, I see the fresh welts on them.
“Sara.” She rushes toward me, and I gape at the low neck-line of her dress, which leaves all but her ni**les exposed, before she hugs me. “Thank you for trying to help me.” She steps back. “I convinced Tristan we’re entertaining you, so he won’t take me to the chamber. He told the doorman not to let me leave. We have to sneak out.”
I shake my head. “Let’s just walk out right now.”
The sound of several people behind me makes me turn, and I ind a couple staring at me with such lusty expressions, I feel like a starving man’s dinner. I can’t let them by without body contact, and I quickly turn to Amber, who grabs my hand and tugs me forward. This is so not going well.
She leads me down a set of stairs and pushes through a door, where music blasts around us. I blink into the smoky room to ind a bar to my left and a dance loor beyond it, with a lot of skin in every direction I look. This place is crawling with skimpily clad women, with men and women draped all over them.
Against walls, by the bar, on the dance loor, and in seats around it. But no sex. Just lots of wishing for sex, I think.