“Oh, and Meg—I’d be careful about letting people you know Brandon Hastings.” His voice was quiet. “There are some folks around here that knew him quite well, and let’s just say that if they knew you were well acquainted with him, you could find your time here fairly contentious.”
I walked through the door without responding or looking back. My heart was beating rapidly, and all I wanted to do was run away and never come back. I didn’t like Greyson and I didn’t like this club. If I were honest, my curiosity was piqued about the club and the job, but a part of me didn’t really want to know. My entire body was screaming at me to run like wildfire. But I didn’t. I needed to find out what Brandon’s involvement with the club had been. I needed to find out the truth for Katie before she fully committed to him. Every fiber of my being told me that Greyson Twining was bad news, and I was now worried that Brandon Hastings was even worse.
I sat there for a few seconds before I started growing angry. I jumped up and went back into his office. Greyson looked up at me with a surprised frown, and I could see from his expression that he was angry.
“What are you doing in here?” His words were dismissive and he looked toward the open door. “I told you to go and wait outside.”
“I know what you said.” I glared at him and walked towards his desk. “I just wanted to tell you that I don’t expect you to violate my space again. I don’t want you touching me or kissing me or doing anything to me. Do you understand?” The words spewed out of my mouth in a hurry and I stared at him anxiously, expecting him to be angry. I was surprised to see his eyes glittering and his lips twitching. “Do you understand?” I asked again, glaring at him.
“I understand.” He nodded. I stood there tensely, waiting for the ball to drop and for Greyson to stand up and push me against the wall and put me in my place. I was tingling, waiting in sweet anticipation for him to try to overpower me. I could picture myself slapping him and pushing him away.
“Anything else?” He held his pen in the air and stared at me expectantly.
“No.” I shook my head, disappointed that I wasn’t going to get the showdown that I wanted.
“Okay, then you can go back out and wait for Patsy.” His voice was dismissive, and I felt even worse than I had before. I turned around slowly and walked back to the door, feeling like an idiot.
“Oh, and Meg.” His voice was deceptively soft behind me. I paused to listen but didn’t turn back around to face him. “I’m going to honor your wishes. The next time my lips meet yours will be because you begged me to kiss you. It will be because you couldn’t go another second without the feel of my hands caressing your body.” He paused for a second, and I remained where I was, standing to see if he was going to say anything else. “And when you beg me to take you, hard and fast, I won’t say no. In fact, I’ll pound you so hard that you’ll wonder where your body ends and mine begins.”
I swallowed hard, and it took everything in me to not turn around and face him. I waited for a few more seconds, but silence filled the air. I quickly exited the room and closed the door behind me. I leaned back and closed my eyes, but all I could see in my mind was Greyson. Tall, dominant, elusive Greyson. It was at that moment that I knew I was in trouble.
"What's your name?" Her voice was disinterested as she looked me over.
"Meg." I tried smiling at her.
"Starla." She flipped her long, raven-black hair and opened a door.
"Nice to meet you, Starla."
"No, you're going to go by Starla. Meg's too plain, too girl-next-door. Men don't want a Meg. You're Starla from now on."
"Oh." I paused and debated whether or not I should say something. I was still annoyed and frustrated at Greyson's dismissal, and I didn't appreciate her condescending tone.
"And if you're sticking with blond, you should think about tanning. You look washed out. If you want to stick with the pale look, I suggest you go strawberry red. And then maybe you can keep Meg."
"I'm a natural blonde."
"Sure, doll." She ushered me into the small, dark room. "This is your room. You'll be sharing it with the other new girl. She's not here yet."
"Yeah, sharing. This is a trial period. If Greyson likes you, you'll get your own room. For now, you get to choose a bunk."
"I don't need a room, I have my own apartment." I looked around the room distastefully.
"Then why are you here?"
"For a job." I sighed and looked away from her gaze. I felt out of place and even more uncomfortable than before. "I needed a job."
"And the club is the first place you thought to look?"
"I thought it would be easy money to bartend and allow me to look for another law position in the daytime."
"I'm a lawyer."
"Oh, fancy-schmancy." She laughed bitterly. "Now you're just one of the girls, Starla."
"I'm Meg," I whispered, but I don't think she heard me. "Does the training start tomorrow?"
"Training?" she frowned.
"I don't have much experience bartending."
"I wouldn't worry about that!" She burst out laughing and looked me over. "It seems to me you have the requisite skills for the job." She stared at my scantily-covered br**sts and nodded. "I guess all your lawyer skills are going to come in handy."
"What does that mean?" My voice rose.
"What?" Her eyes narrowed and she looked at me in surprise.
"Your comment means what?" I gave her a sharp look. "Look, I don't know you and you don't know me, so I'm going to assume that you're not being a bitch on purpose. Maybe you just had a bad day?" I took a deep breath and was about to continue when I watched the expression on her face change.
"You're not as pathetic as you look, are you?" She smiled, and I could see a new respect in her eyes.
"I don't look—"
"No need to get riled up, Starla," she laughed. "Day one hasn't even started yet."
"I'm not riled up," I shot back, annoyed.
"I'm surprised Greyson chose you. He usually prefers the submissive girls."
"I'm not submissive."
"No, you're not." She looked at me consideringly. "I'm not even sure why you're here."
"I told you why I'm here. I needed a job."
"Yeah, yeah." Her eyes grew cloudy, and I could tell she was thinking. "I know why you came. I just don't know why Greyson let you stay."
"What do you mean?" I frowned, my heart pounding. Talking about Greyson was heating me up even more.
"Nothing." She shook her head, and this time she looked me over again carefully. "I just hope he knows what he's doing."
"Will he be there tomorrow?" I tried to ask casually, but my ears were perked up, eagerly waiting for her answer.
"Greyson?" She gave me a look. "Not at all. Greyson has nothing to do with the girls. I doubt you'll see him again for the rest of the week."
"Oh, okay." I felt a surge of disappointment at her words. I tried to tell myself that it was due to the fact that I wasn't going to be able to get much information about Brandon without seeing him. My body was calling me a liar though.
"Just relax and wait for the next girl." She walked to the door and stopped before she left. "By the way, I'm Raven. I'll be helping you this week."
"I thought you were Patsy?" I frowned and she laughed.
"Do you think men prefer an exotic dark-haired beauty called Raven or a mousy brunette called Patsy?" She raised an eyebrow at me and then walked out of the room, leaving me standing there wondering what the hell I had gotten myself into.
I was surprised by Patsy’s appearance. While she was beautiful, she was older than I thought she would be. She had to have been in her late thirties, though she hid it well. I wanted to call after her and ask her more questions, but for some reason I didn’t trust that the answers she would provide would be true.
A few hours later, the door opened slowly and my breath caught as I waited to see who was going to walk thought the door. My heart skipped a beat and my fingers quickly smoothed down my hair as I waited for Greyson to walk through the door.
"Hello," a young voice squeaked and I looked up in surprise and disappointment.
"I'm Nancy." She walked into the room and I was able to see her properly now. I frowned as I stared at her. If I thought Patsy had looked too old to be working here, then Nancy looked too young. She couldn’t have been older than eighteen.
“Meg,” I said and smiled at her warmly. “Or, I guess, Starla now.”
“Meg or Starla?” She gave me a wry smile.
“That’s the name Patsy said I should use.” I shrugged.
“Oh, she told me to use Pippi.” The girl smiled. “There’s no way in hell I’m telling anyone my name is Pippi.”
“That’s how I feel about Starla.” I laughed and she joined in. She looked different when she laughed. I studied her face again to see who my new roommate was going to be. She reminded me of Katie, in a way, from back when we had started college. Her long brown hair shone like silk and her big brown eyes were open and wide, showing all of her emotions. In this very moment, I knew that she was excited, scared, and slightly worried. She felt the exact same way I did, and that gave me comfort. “So did you just get a job here as well?” I asked, wanting to continue the conversation. Instinctively, I trusted Nancy, and I wanted to find out what she knew.
“Yeah.” She nodded and she looked away from me. “I did.”
“Not happy about it?” I jumped off of the bed and walked over to her.
“No, I’m very happy. I wanted this job.” She looked up at me. “I needed this job.”
“Can I ask you something?” I bit my lip, and she nodded apprehensively. “Do you know what this job is, exactly? I’m not really sure and no one will tell me.”
“Oh.” Her eyes looked at me in shock, and I could tell that she was surprised by my question. “You don’t know?”
“No,” I sighed. “I applied for a job as a bartender and I’m not sure that what I’m going to be doing is bartending. I know, I know. I should have run out of here as soon as I sensed something was up, but my best friend’s boyfriend—well, ex-boyfriend—told me not to take it and I just found out that he may be involved with the club somehow and...” My voice trailed off as I realized how much I was babbling. “Sorry, I didn’t mean to overwhelm you. I guess I needed to get that off of my chest.”
“My sister disappeared.” Nancy’s voice was soft, and I could see unshed tears in her eyes. I froze at her words and stared at her. “My sister got a job here about ten years ago. She was really excited. My parents and I didn’t really know what was going on. But she never came back.”
“What do you mean she never came back?” My mind went into lawyer overload. I’d always enjoyed criminal law in law school, and part of me had always wanted to be a detective.
“I’m not really sure what happened.” She shook her head. “I was only nine when my sister left. My parents were upset with Maria. They wanted her to go to college, but instead she started working at some private club and started dating some older man. We never really got to meet him, but I saw her with him once.” Her eyes glazed over. “Then she just disappeared. I thought my parents had disowned her, but my dad passed away last year and my mother told me that they never knew what happened to her.”
“I know. I can’t believe my dad never tried to find her.” Tears started falling from Nancy’s eyes and raced each other down her face. “So I’ve decided to try and find her. And this is where I start. This is my only clue.” She bit her lower lip, and I could see her fingers trembling as she gestured around the room. “She got a job here, and I’m pretty sure the guy she was dating was from the club.”
“I don’t know.” She shrugged. “He could have worked here as well.”
“I guess you’ll know him when you see him.”
“I don’t know.” She shook her head. “I only saw the back of him.”
“And to answer your question, I have absolutely no idea what our jobs will entail.”
“I’m a bit scared.”
“So am I.” Her face was white. “So am I.”
The sunrise woke me up early the next morning. I lay in the top bunk listening to Nancy snoring and stared through the window. The sky was a light orange, and I could see the gardens through the glass. I ran my hands through my hair and thought about Katie and Brandon, wondering how they were getting on.
Katie had been my best friend for a long time, and I had witnessed how Brandon had torn her apart when he had dumped her in college. I had felt helpless in comforting her and slightly envious that Katie had already experienced a great love, whereas I had barely experienced a soggy kiss.
Men and I never seemed to mesh. The men I liked never really liked me, and the men I didn’t like loved me in droves. I’d had a couple of relationships with suitable men, but I’d always found them to be a bit boring. I was boring, so I didn’t want to date boring men. I wanted a man who was handsome and sexy and dangerous. A man who could make me melt with a glance. A man like Greyson.