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#1 NikkiandEm

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Posted 18 February 2014 - 09:01 PM

Hi guys.  Did you miss me?  It's really been a while.

Here's a little something I've been musing with.  I need opinions.  I'll probably end up deleting it or something.

 

chapter one

 

I think I died yesterday.  I’m not sure anymore.  

Look, it happened so fast.  I was running, and then I was panting, and then I was falling, and then everything hurt, and then––and then everything was black.  I don’t even know what I was running from.  I don’t even know how it started.  Everything was okay, and then everything wasn’t, and then everything was black.  Everything was black.

It was a peaceful black, too.  Nothing hurt anymore.  I’m not a girl who favors dark colors, either.  But I did not want to see the light that interrupted that black little peace I’d tripped into.  I did not want to be conscious, at the hospital, in a crinkly little patient frock that must’ve just accented my man shoulders.  I did not want to wake up.

“We have to watch her closely now, Gwyneth.  We need to––”

“Oh hush!  It’s not her fault this happened, Sebastian!”  Her voice is wracked with loud, gross sounding sniffles.  She, Gwyneth, is crying.  As usual.

It’s my parents, from behind that flimsy sheet that must be separating me from all the other patients.  I wonder if they think it’s soundproof, or if they just assume I’m still too passed out to listen in on their conversation.

“I know, I know, dear.”

“Do not call me that again, Sebastian.  You walked out on this family.  If you’re thinking this accident is going to make everything just like it used to be, don’t hold your breath.”  

“I know, Gwyneth.”  He sounds stern.  “I’m trying to make this about Sylvia, not you and I.  You know how she felt about the separation.”

I would roll my eyes if they didn’t feel so heavy in their sockets.  I become incredibly conscious of the fact that I have no mascara on.

My father continues.  “There just has to be some sort of evidence of something that could’ve provoked this.”

“The police are taking care of it.  Sylvia hasn’t done a thing.”

“Gwyneth, we need to think realistically.  Whoever did this couldn’t have just picked her out of a crowd and decided to go and attack her––”

“Well why couldn’t they?  She’s young.  She’s beautiful.  She’s in a wealthy family––our wealthy family.  Whoever attacked her must’ve wanted her to suffer for being privileged.  Oh, you know how people are, Sebastian.  I told you, Sylvia hasn’t done a thing.”

“Maybe she hasn’t, but I think you need to be watching her more closely.  You need to be giving her more attention, or else she could fall into the wrong crowd.”

“Are you trying to tell me that I’m not paying enough attention to my daughter?  You’re the one who left us!  You’re the one who should be paying more attention to her!”

A nurse approaches them, and scolds them quite sternly, about yelling around a comatose person, and what it does to the brain, and blah blah blah.  She tells them to quiet down, and then informs them that yes, the gunshot wounds will heal soon, and that yes, it would indeed leave a few nasty-looking scars on my chest and stomach.

It’s that last bit that makes my mother howl in tears; how it’ll alter my once sought after, perfect body.  If this all didn’t happen to me just yesterday, I might’ve joined her.

In addition to being a rich kid in upstate New York, I’m a  model.  For swimsuits.  You can see the reason for such a reaction.

After the sobs die down, I hear more footsteps, then another voice, younger and light.  She tells the other nurse to escort my parents to the food court.  Says I’ll be having a check up, and that it would be better if Gwyneth and Sebastian weren’t there to ask questions, which is something they’d been doing every time the doctors came near me.

After much protest and extensive inquiry, the two leave with the nurse, grumbling all the way until they’re out of my earshot.

Someone, the new nurse, pulls my sheet aside.  My eyes, closed originally, snap open.

“Look at you,” she remarks.  “Awake already.”

The newer, brighter light from out in the hall makes it hard to see.  I squint until the blurry silhouette of a girl turns into an actual person.  And when she comes into full view, a part of me wishes she was still blurry.

She has dreadlocks of both brown and blonde, pulled half-up-half-down style with a silver studded hair clip.  Her face is immaculate.  Her hands grip a clipboard, and I notice they lack the gloves every other nurse has had walking into my room.  Her scrubs are two sizes too big, and sag in unusual places.  As if she . . .

. . . As if she doesn’t work here at all.

The girl looks down at her clipboard.  “Sylvia Brinker.  Says right here you’ve been shot in the chest four times. . .yesterday.”  She gives me a weary look, and I can see the ghost of a  smirk hiding right beneath it.

“What’re you all smug about?” I ask.  “There’s nothing to smile about right now.  I just got shot.  Like, yesterday.

“Oh, I don’t know, Sylvia Brinker,” she says.  “It’s just that, to me, it seems pretty remarkable that you’re functioning so well the day after getting shot four times in the chest.  No complications, no pain killers.  Nothing.  Do you find that odd?”

“Brinkers heal fast,” I reply, shrugging.

She chuckles.  “I’m not doubting you have ties to your incredibly dimwitted family, Sylvia Brinker.  I’m just doubting that you healed completely, all by yourself.”

“Well, of course I didn’t heal all by myself.”  I gesture to the many blinking contraptions surrounding my bed.  “The doctors did it the work.  All I had to do was lie around and look pretty enough to go to drastic measures to save.”

She narrows her eyes.  “Yes, I am surely not doubting you’re a Brinker.”

“Why does that even matter?”

“It’s all that matters, Sylvia Brinker.”

I give her a look, ignoring the chills ricocheting down my spine.  “Okay, what’s your deal?  Charity, isn’t it?  Do you need me to pay for your college tuition or something?”

“I’m already getting an education.”

“Well then why are you being weird?”  I grip the edges of my hospital bed.  “Can’t you just give me some medication or whatever and go on with your day?  I’ll leave an extra tip for you and everything.”

“Do you want medication, Sylvia Brinker?”

“Isn’t that why you’re here?  Don’t you, like, work here, or something?”

She narrows her eyes at me.  “Do you really think I work here?  Come on, Brinker.  You may be air headed, but I know you’re smarter than that.  What do you think about me?”

“I think you want my money.”  I cross my arms over my chest.  “I think that you must have escaped from the psychiatric ward.  I think that you need a shower.”

“What else do you think?  The genuine thought.  Not the snarky comments.”

I hesitate, but say it.  “I think that a friend of yours must’ve been the one who tried to kill me yesterday.”

“Friend is a loose term” she says.  “Oh, you’re correct, by the way.”

“Are you doing to kill me now, then?”

She raises a dark eyebrow at me. “You’re taking this oddly well for a Brinker.  Shouldn’t you, I don’t know, be screaming?  Thrashing?  I mean, I know the man who tried to kill you yesterday.  And I’m here.  Right in your room.”

I hold her gaze without so much as a quiver of my lip.  I’ve been raised better than that.  I don’t thrash, or scream, or act rashly.

“If watching my father has taught me anything,” I say, “it’s that when someone points a gun at you, they’re bluffing.”

“Well, Rhodes certainly wasn’t bluffing when he pointed his gun at you, now was he?”

I swallow hard.  crap.

She grins, almost triumphantly.  “My name is Harlow Billings.  I have more money than you’ll ever acquire in your entire life.”

“Then why would you try to kill me?”

“Oh, I’m afraid that’s not my question to answer, sweet.  I don’t want you dead, per se.  It’s actually Rhodes who wants you dead.”

“Well, who’s Rhodes?”

“Malcolm Rhodes.  He’s new to the whole…”  The sentence fades.  I realize that Harlow doesn’t want to share whatever it is with me.

I roll my eyes.  “Come on, really?”

“Really what?”

“Look,” I say.  “If you think that keeping me in the dark is doing to make me more scared than telling me what’s going on, you’re wrong.”

Harlow shakes her head, but slowly it turns into a nod.  She takes her phone from her pocket and dials a number.

“Is this DH?”

There’s a muffled reply: Yes, how may I help you?

“It’s Billings.  Operation is a go.  You know who I need to reach.”

She doesn’t break her gaze on me, not even once, as she listens to the person speaking on the other line.

“Can you pass the phone to Rhodes, dear?”

I hear a faint shuffling noise coming from the phone.  And then, a voice.

Harlow’s lips curve up, almost poisonously.

“Rhodes?  Yes, you can come in now.”

I feel my cheeks begin to pale.  Quickly, I pinch them, again and again, trying to bring the color back to them.  Harlow laughs at the sight.

“Nervous, Sylvia Brinker?”

“Of course not,” I say.  “We’re in a hospital.  All I have to do is scream, and there’ll be a whole team of medical staff running in to see what’s the matter.”

Harlow just shrugs, like she knows something that I don’t.  It makes me want to slap her in the face.  “You probably won’t be screaming when Rhodes shows up, anyway,” she says.  “A Brinker like you, no, you won’t be screaming.”

I put my hands on my hips from where I sit.  “What’s that supposed to mean?”

The sheet curtains rustle, and a tall, muscular boy steps in.  He’s got a buzzcut of blonde hair, and eyes larger than saucers––big, dark, and most likely full of readable emotion.  Looking at him, I put together what Harlow was saying.  He’s not hideous.  He doesn’t look untidy, nor unkept.  He’s not someone I would be running from, especially when he’s wearing this really nice dark gray pullover that happens to accentuate his muscles and also bring out the sensitive darkness of his eyes . . .

Oh, crap.  Are all Brinkers like this, as Harlow claimed?

He grins, and his teeth are pearly and straight.

“My name is Rhodes,” he introduces.  “Malcolm Rhodes.  And you must be the girl I shot yesterday, right?”

I squint at him.  “I have a name.”

He looks surprised.  He glances over at Harlow, eyes questioning.

“She’s a wealthy little *%^##, and thinks she’s invincible,” Harlow explains.  “In other words, you picked the right girl to try to kill, and you should’ve done the job when you had the opportunity.”

“Yeah, but that’s coming from the girl who put streaks in her dreadlocks.”

“You shut your mouth,” Harlow snaps.

Rhodes ignores our quarrel, and speaks right over the two of us.

“So you have a name?” he asks loudly.  He scratches his head, as if he’s considering the thought of it.  “So the ‘wealthy *%^##’ has a name, and she’d like me to call her by it?”

“Yes,” I answer.

“And what may that name be?”

“Sylvia,” I say.

“Sylvia,” he repeats.  “And I trust you’re a Brinker?”

“Yes.”

Rhodes smiles.  “Well that’s magnificent, Sylvia Brinker.  It’d be a ruddy shame if I attempted to murder the wrong girl.”

I have to give myself a little shake to get the following question out of me.  It was easier to ask Harlow; she was harmless.  But Rhodes?  He already tried once.

“Are you going to kill me now?”

“Kill you?”  Rhodes shakes his head.  “No, I’m not looking to kill you at the moment.  Excuse my dark side coming in yesterday––I get carried away sometimes.  Got a little angry, tried to take it out on you.  It’s nothing personal, dear.  And it’s a good think you’re not dead, too, because you’re exactly what I need right now.”

“Excuse me?” I ask.  

I receive no answer.  Instead, he asks Harlow, “Is she healed yet?”

“Remarkably so, yes.”

“Perfect,” says Rhodes.  “I need her tonight, anyway.”

“Oh, no.  I’m not going anywhere,” I say.

“If I say you’re going with me, you are,” Rhodes says.

“And if I say I’m not going, I’m not.”

He crosses his arms over his chest.  I see disbelief in his eyes.  “You are truly a different kind of woman, aren’t you?”

“Well, why is a brave woman never considered regular?”

“You look like more of the damsel in distress type to me.”

“Well, you’re wrong.”

He doesn’t reply any further, and moves towards the machines around my bed.  He presses a few buttons, switches a few notches––turns everything right off.

“Hey,” I interject.  “You know, I actually need those things––”

“You healed yourself already, Sylvia Brinker,” Harlow says.

“I still don’t understand what you even mean.”

“That can be explained later,” says Rhodes.

“Too bad there’s never going to be a later,” I say.  “Because I’m staying right here.  In this hospital.  Until they let me go.”

He laughs a little.  “Oh, no.  You’re going with me.  You’re going with me right now, Brinker.”

“I am not.”

Rhodes rests his elbow on one of my armrests, leaning over towards me at a proximity way too close for a murderer and his intended victim.

“What if I told you I had a pretty little dress for you to wear?” he asks.

“I have enough at home.”

“I’d be bringing you to a very important party, where very important people would be paying attention to you.”

“That already happens to me, like, everyday.”

I can hear Harlow seething at my attitude.

“You’re going to get to eat expensive foods and drive in expensive cars, and you’ll be staying in a very large hotel room.”

“I could do that in a weekend,” I say.  “Any weekend.”

Rhodes frowns.  “What can I give you that you don’t already have, Brinker?”

“I have everything in the world, Malcolm Rhodes,” I say.  “You could try all you want, but you wouldn’t be able to give me anything I already have.  I don’t need you at all.  I don’t need your little tricks that’ll probably end up in you trying to suffocate me or something.  Go find another girl, a more gullible one, to try and kill.”

“I only need a Brinker.”

“Well you’re not getting one.”

He stares at me for one more moment before he presses his hand on my mouth.  I reach up to slap him away, but he presses his elbow down on my chest, blocking my reach.  I try to yelp, but his palm mutes it.

“I need a little help, Har,” he says.

Her dainty, clammy hand replaces Rhodes’.  All too easily, he scoops me up out of my hospital bed and into his arms.  I try to resist, but they’re both too strong.  I can barely move in Rhodes’ grip.

It annoys me how easily they kidnap me. 


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#2 DayDreamer95

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Posted 18 February 2014 - 11:57 PM

:) I have missed you more than you could imagine! :)

Now! This story....
Is amazing!
I can't wait to read more. You give it duh detail that I'm in love with it from the first time I read the first sentence! Pure genius and beautiful! :)
Much love babe! :) hope you post more! :)

Alex
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#3 NikkiandEm

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Posted 19 February 2014 - 01:37 AM

:) I have missed you more than you could imagine! :)

Now! This story....
Is amazing!
I can't wait to read more. You give it duh detail that I'm in love with it from the first time I read the first sentence! Pure genius and beautiful! :)
Much love babe! :) hope you post more! :)

Alex

 

Thanks babe! I've missed you immensely.

 

I'm glad you liked the chapter! It's nothing special––I just needed to find something worth posting here.  I missed it too much!

 

Expect a new chapter tomorrow.  Yes, tomorrow.  Hold me on my word this time!


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#4 NikkiandEm

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Posted 19 February 2014 - 09:08 PM

I'm editing chapter two right now, and I might not be able to post it.

 

It's whatever.  It's not like this is a super hot topic that people are dying to read, haha. This is actually my worst-written story; I have a lot of better ones I'm developing into serious ideas.  This one, Dark Horse, is a break from all that hard work.  Since I've never really posted anything impressive on this site, I assume it's no big deal.

 

I think I might just delete this story. If it doesn't get any views or anything, I probably will. I'm super self-conscious about sharing my writing to anybody.

 

Okay then. Until later.


Edited by NikkiandEm, 19 February 2014 - 09:09 PM.

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#5 DayDreamer95

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Posted 20 February 2014 - 02:48 PM

It takes time Nikki! :)

It's a great story. The flow is amazing. I love it very much. It took me till chapter two or three to got solid readers for my new story. It's rather quiet now. But I think if you give it some time it'll be good! :)

Best one yet you have!

Love you

Alex
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#6 24moon100

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Posted 20 February 2014 - 09:10 PM

NIKKI!

 

This. Is. Freaking. Awesome. 

 

You should update, because this really is something I'll keep reading. :)

 

I would very much  like to know why Malcolm tried to kill Sylvia. That's not very nice of him. But it seems there is more to the mystery, considering she healed herself. Really interesting, plus the writing is super well done I should mention. 

 

Don't leave us with that cliffhanger for too long! :D

 

-MEG


Edited by 24moon100, 20 February 2014 - 09:10 PM.

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#7 NikkiandEm

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Posted 23 February 2014 - 02:29 AM

Okay, thank you guys for commenting on this. I've just got to get back into the swing of posting and stuff, haha.

 

Here's Chapter Two:

 

chapter two

 

“Your room is to the left.  I took it upon me to stock it up with clothes.  I have a feeling you’re going to be staying with me for a while, Sylvia Brinker.”

We’re in the hotel suite Rhodes mentioned inside the hospital.  It’s large and lavishly furnished, just like any other hotel suite I’ve ever stayed at.  The drive was long, and the blacked out windows really didn’t allow me to see where we were going.  Rhodes adamantly held me the entire car ride out here, and I’m still in his arms now.

“Are you gonna carry me in there, too?” I ask.  “Because if you’re going to, I’d really like it if you’d move your hand to my back area, where it belongs.”

He pretends like he doesn’t hear me, and keeps his hand grasping onto my side.  And carry me into my room, he does.

“There you go, Sylvia Brinker.”  Rhodes plops me down on a bed with fluffy white sheets, which, I guess, will be my bed from now on.

“I’d love it if you were more gentle with your precious cargo, Malcolm Rhodes.”

He narrows his eyes.  “Call me Rhodes.  Just Rhodes.”

“Call me Sylvia.” I mimic.  “Just Sylvia.”

“You’re my hostage,” he says firmly.  “I call you whatever I want, and you don’t object, are we clear?”

“And what if we’re not?”

He gestures to my stomach.  “I think you know very well that I’m capable of getting a few shots in you, Sylvia Brinker.”

I swallow, and force a shrug.  “I’m lucky I heal fast, right?  Why do I heal fast?”

“I’ve got a hunch.  But it’s all in development.  You go ahead and get situated in your room now.  You’ve got to get ready for the party tonight, you know.”

I groan.  “I actually have to go to a party with you?”

“Yes, you do.  No objections.”

“But could you really not get a date?  I mean, you’re not too bad looking, I’m sure it wouldn’t’ve been too hard to just––”

“I need a Brinker with me,” he explains, like I’d understand.

“What do you mean ‘a Brinker?’” I ask.  “What’s so important about my family?”

“The car will be here to pick us up in two hours,” he continues, as if I’d never asked anything.  “I trust you’ll make good use of all one hundred and twenty minutes?”

I do a fake salute.  “Why, of course I will, kidnapper.”

Rhodes looks at me for a moment, and then shakes his head.

“I don’t know even what to do with you,” he mutters.

“What do you mean?”

“You have to remember that I shot at you last night.  Why aren’t you screaming or something?  Isn’t that what a normal person would do?”

I offer another shrug.  “Haven’t you all been trying to explain to me that I’m not normal?  I mean, didn’t I heal myself, or did you and that Harlow girl do some weird surgery on me in the middle of the night or something?”

“Your blatant lack of surprise about these things is concerning me.”

“And your inability to see yourself as anything more than the guy who tried to kill me yesterday is not endearing.”

Rhodes’ eyes inform me that he’s confused.  “Well,” he says, “you have one hundred and fifteen minutes  to get ready, now.”

He leaves the room.

I turn on my side, rolling out of the bed.  I walk over to the vanity that’s up against a wall, and examine my sans makeup face.

“Ew,” I mutter.  “That needs to change, like, right now.”

I sit down at the little chair, take a good, deep breath, and pretend like I’m at my own house, getting ready for some boring event for my dad or something.  The mascara’s a little thicker, and the eyeliner is a different brand, and the eyeshadows aren’t the same colors I spend all of my parent’s money on, but I pretend it’s all mine just the same.

“You went on a shopping spree,” I whisper to my trembling hand, as it fumbles with a tube of lipstick.  “You also redid your room, and you got a new wardrobe.  You wanted a change.  Change is good.  It’s really good.  Everyone’s going to be jealous when they see your new stuff.  Dad’s gonna freak when he sees it on the credit card, but that’s okay.”

I don’t know why I decide to do this, but it helps slow down the heart of mine that hasn’t stopped racing since I woke up from my coma.  Pretending is my greatest defense mechanism.  I can fake nonchalantness to Rhodes.  I can act like I got a whole room makeover.  I can hide this terror, and replace it when normalcy.

Because here, in this room, I’m a little bit terrified.

Be your father’s daughter, I tell myself.  No fear.

 

– – –

 

One hundred and fifteen minutes slips by quickly, but I manage to get completely ready in the allotted time, with minimal breakdowns and zero escape efforts (there are no secret passageways in the closet, and the window’s been blotted shut, I checked).

By the time the car arrives, my hair’s pinned up in curls, and my eyeliner is winged, and my fake eyelashes are skillfully glued.  My dress is a knockout: a form-fitting navy blue number that reaches all the way down to my feet.  The fabric comes in thick strips that snake up my body in a way similar to that of a sleek bandage.  The neckline drops low, to the bottom of my ribs, but the dress is so tight that I don’t worry about it slipping.

I’m touching up my red lipstick when Rhodes walks in, wearing a black suit.

“Oh, wow,” he says.  “I didn’t expect you to pick that––”

“Did you expect a ballgown?  Because I’m such a little princess, right?”

“I did,” he admits.  “I bought plenty ballgowns, too.”

“Yeah, but I like form-fitting styles better.  You should buy more of those.”

He narrows his eyes.  “Planning to stay a while, are you?”

“That’s what you’re planning, Malcolm.  Of course, I can buy myself dresses like this at home if you’d let me go.”

“Not yet, Sylvia Brinker,” he says.  “And it’s Rhodes.  People call me Rhodes.”

“People usually call me Syl, but I’m sure you’re not going to do that either.”

“Well, I can’t have you calling me by my first name when we’re at the party, okay?”

I grin at him.  “You just wanna look tough in front of the girls, and make me call you Rhodes because it’s manlier, huh?”

He gestures to my dress.  “And you want to look fierce and hotter than all the girls in a dress like that, don’t you?”

“Why, is everyone wearing ballgowns?”

“They usually do, I guess.”

“Well, if everyone’s wearing ballgowns,” I say, “I’m not changing.”  

He chuckles a little.  “And why is that, Sylvia Brinker?”

I do another turn in front of the wall mirror.  “I like making entrances.  I’d rather look different than everyone else.”

“I wouldn’t ask you to change, believe me,” he says.

“I wouldn’t ask me to change either.”

He escorts me out, and we get into the car.  Once again I stare at blacked out windows for a good span of minutes until we finally park, wherever we are.

Rhodes extends his arm out to me, his other hand grabbing ahold of the doorknob on his side of the car.

“Shall we go, Sylvia Brinker?” he asks me.

“Does it look like I have a choice, Malcolm?”

He grumbles something I don’t comprehend, then clutches down on my forearm with an expectedly strong grip.

“Please, just quit the whole stubborn act when we’re in there, Brinker,” he barks.  “I need to do some business in the back regarding you and some other matters, and you’re going to have to be by yourself for a while.  And Christ, keep your goddamn mouth shut when I’m not with you, okay?  I don’t want to find out you talked to anybody.  Anybody.  I have some guys stationed around who are supposed to keep an eye on you, so believe me, I’ll know if you have.  You’re there to be a decoration, not a person.”

“Oh, wow, I feel so valued right now,” I comment flatly.  “Glad I’m going to be seen as a human being with equal rights to everybody in there tonight.”

He rolls his big black eyes.  “Let’s just get inside.”

With a soft click, he opens the car door, and the first and only thing I can see is light.

Camera flashes.  Headlights.  Street lamps.  The neon glow of a sign directly front of us, that reads Dark Horse in sleek, all-caps font.  Light everywhere.  No darkness; no peaceful blackness to crawl back into.

I didn’t have a grip on Rhodes, but I do now.  He looses his grip on my forearm to allow me to clamp my shaking fingers all around his own.  At least, I’m pretty sure he loosens his grip.    I don’t remember anymore––it’s all happening so fast.

“Look forward,” Rhodes commands.

“Okay,” I whisper.  He probably doesn’t catch it.

“No one knows who you are yet.  Don’t make them think they have to.”

I nod.  “Okay, okay.”  

For a moment, he lets go of me, and immediately I feel helpless.  I hastily link my arm into his, and return to our original stance.  He doesn’t object, like I assumed he would.

We push through the crowd of people waiting to get into Dark Horse, which I’ve gathered is the club that the party’s going to be at.  I’m not sure what part of New York we’re in, or if we’re still in New York at all, because I’ve never seen the place before.  

Also, in what kind of club are people supposed to wear ballgowns?  The people standing outside are in the usual clubbing attire––short shirts, small dresses, towering heels.  Why didn’t Rhodes supply me with any of that?

I don’t get the opportunity to dwell on it any further, because the bass of whatever thumping electronic music is playing inside is already drumming agains my chest, and I feel a massive headache coming on.  I’m quickly starting to regret putting so many pins in my hair, because I know it’s going to hurt later.  It’s already beginning to hurt right now, and the night’s barely even started.

Rhodes throws a nod at one of the burly guards blocking the doors, and they step aside to let him in.  We’re immersed into complete darkness––nothing but the pulse of synths, my throbbing head, and Rhode’s arm, that has moved from holding up mine in the arm link to being completely around my waist.  I didn’t even notice it happening when we were walking.

A deep, burly voice cuts through the dance music.  “Who is it?”

“Rhodes.”  He pauses.  “Plus one.”

“And do you know the passcode, Rhodes?”  The man’s trying to act all tough when he says this, but I notice his voice when it teeters from being Herculean to almost starstruck on the last bit; on “Rhodes.”

“Brinker,” Rhodes says swiftly.

I furrow my brow, though no one can see me.  Brinker is the passcode?

“Go right on in, Mr. Rhodes.”

A different door is pushed open.  Rhodes leads me in quickly, and the newfound lightness of the room partially blinds me.  When the door clicks closed, all the electronic music comes to a abrupt halt.  It takes a moment for my vision returns, and when it does, I notice that we are definitely not in a club.

The room is large and long, like a banquet hall.  Crystal chandeliers drop from the high ceilings, giving off warm yellow light.  There’s an orchestra in the back corner, playing classical music that reminds me of the violin lessons I took when I was nine.  The area is packed with ballgowns of different pastel colors, and dozens of black suits.  It feels like something out of a history book, or in an art museum.

Rhodes leans in towards me and murmurs, “What do you think, Brinker?”

“Lofty,” I say.  “Yet stuffy.  I can already feel the lack of privacy.”

“Are you used to parties like this?”

“Not particularly.”  I nod back towards the door.  “So is that room out there a set-up?”

“Yes,” he replies.  “Usually we’d be taking the back entrance inside, but I thought you’d need to understand that this place is a secret that you can’t go around talking about.”

“So those people out there, waiting––they’re never getting inside?”

“No, they’re not,” he answers.  “Not unless they find more adequate attire, and, of course, know the passcode.”

“And why is the passcode my last name?”

“No more questions,” Rhodes says.  “You’re not supposed to be talking, remember?”

I groan, but keep my mouth shut.  He leads me straight across the room, and I ignore the confused-slash-outraged looks all of the females in the vicinity are giving me.  I don’t know if it’s for my dress, or because I’m with Rhodes.  Thinking back on the way that man in the black room’s voice changed to such an admiring tone when he found out it was him makes me think Rhodes must be something special to them.

As special as a psychotic young man who just tried to kill some teenaged girl yesterday  by shooting her four times in the torso can be, of course.

He offers a soured form of a smile to a Hispanic boy in a gaudy tweed coat.  The boy looks just about as old as Rhodes and I, perhaps a year or so younger, with acne peeking from his bowl-cut bangs, just above his eyebrow.

“Ah, I see our all-powerful, dark, sexy, mysterious Rhodes decided he wasn’t too cool to be here tonight?” he asks, grinning boyishly.

Rhodes gives his hand a shake.  “Never too cool for you, Pole.”

“Your name is Pole?” I ask.

They both look over at me, confusion and slight wonder in Pole’s face, anger and a hint of exhaustion in Rhode’s.

“I told you not to talk,” Rhodes hisses.  He goes to grab me, but Pole uses his hand to slice through the air between us.

“Simmer, Rhodes,” he says.  He does a quick examination of my my hair, my dress, my whole body head to toe, and nods.  He flicks his wrist at me.  “Don’t worry about him too much.  I always have to remind this little psychotic pile of murder and deception to simmer down, doll, you get used to it.  Now, why don’t you tell me who you are––”

“No, no.  I specifically told her––”

“Simmer.  Simmer.”

“I’m not going to simmer––”

“You let the beautiful little slice right here speak if she wants to.”

“I told you, Pole, she’s not––”

“Simmer!  God, you really put the mal in Malcolm, don’t you?”

Rhodes gives him a look.  “Quit pretending you know Spanish, Pole.  We both know the only time you’ve been to Mexico is during the Merci Bardier mission.”

“Well maybe I took up some lessons on my español.  You wouldn’t know, you’re always disappearing to do God knows what.  Let me say hola to your little friend, will you?”

Pole extends his hand towards me, and Rhodes swats it away.

“Stop it,” I say.  I take the boy’s hand and shake it.

He tosses a grin at Rhodes, triumphant.

“The name’s Pole,” he tells me.  Short for Polyphemus.  But between you and me, being named after a stupid Greek cyclops isn’t the exactly greatest decision my parents ever made.  Pole suffices.  And your name?”

“She doesn’t have one,” interrupts Rhodes.

“Bullshit,” Pole says.  To me, “Your name?”

“S––”

“If I told you, you’d try to steal her.  Farewell for tonight, Pole.”

Rhodes grabs my arm and drags me away, right into a cluster of pale pink fabric.  We don’t speak as we weave through the ballgowns, not until we reach another end of the room.

“What was that about?” I ask.

“You’re asking that?”  He rubs his forehead.  “God, girl, I told you to be quiet, and you almost went telling him who you were!”

“I was just trying to make friends!”

“I never asked you to make friends!  I asked you to be seen, not heard!”

“What’s the big deal about whether or not I can talk to people?  Why would you bring me here to this open party if I can’t talk to anybody?”

His voice drops, but looses none of its anger.  “Your name is the freaking passcode to get into this place, don’t you realize that?”

“And don’t you think they’d be impressed if they found out I was with you?”

“No, no I don’t,” he says.  “You can’t tell anyone that you’re here.  You have no idea why your family is tangled up in this, but I shot you in the chest yesterday because of it.  Do you even know what all of these people here––what they do to you?”

“You’re a big boy.  Protect me.”

“You think I’d want to protect you?”

“Well you haven’t killed me yet, have you?”  I cross my arms over my chest.  “If you really meant to kill me yesterday you would’ve slipped a poison in my water back at the hospital or something.  You wouldn’t have brought me here, dressed me up, and stocked a closet with enough clothes to last me a while.  You know goddamn well that you would protect me if anyone in this room laid a hand on me.”

He sighs.  “Okay, sure, I’m not trying to kill you anymore.  But you’re the leverage in all of this, and you can’t go revealing that to everyone––”

“Rhodes?”

It’s another suited man, this one older, with brown hair graying at the roots.  He looks concerned, glancing at him, to me, to him, to me again.

Rhodes takes a step in front of me.  “Faulkner.  It’s been a while.  The meeting’s now, isn’t it?  I’ll be right there.”

“We need you there right now,” the man, Faulkner, says.  “They sent me to fetch you.”

He takes a deep breath, and straightens his collar.  “Okay.  Give me a moment.”  He turns over to me.  “I know you’re going to talk to people.  But please, for the love of God, just make up a name if they ask for it.  If you tell them who you are, I don’t care how important you are, I’ll finish what I started yesterday night.  You understand?”

My heart pounds, but I manage to keep calm.  “No promises, Malcolm.”

He doesn’t have enough time to correct me before Faulkner grabs ahold of him and pulls him back into the crowd.


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#8 NikkiandEm

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Posted 24 February 2014 - 09:07 PM

So this chapter has some swears that I tried to make so that they wouldn't show up as a bunch of random symbols.

Tell me what you think and whatnot

 

chapter three

 

Rhodes has spent an upwards two hours in his meeting.  As I’ve waited for him to return, I’ve spewed lies to inquisitive women wondering why Rhodes chose me over them, browsed the refreshment table, and requested a song to the orchestra that they did not recognize.  My dress has gotten pretty constricting, and I’d love to just return home and peel it off right now.  Also, my shoes kill, but I think that this even might be a little too prestigious to go barefoot.

All I know is that regal-looking parties get boring incredibly quick, and though a part of me assumes Rhodes would flip out if he found out about it, I decide to go exploring elsewhere, and slip through a high wooden door in the corner of the banquet room.

I enter a posh hallway that looks like something out of a high tension political movie, with spotless crown molding on the walls and plush maroon carpeting that, when I take off my heels, my blissfully sink right into.  The doors along the walls are tall, arched, and made of dark black wood, with large handles dipped in brass––no, gold.

It’s just a hallway, and somehow it looks even better than the inside of the regal Castle Brinker (the snotty nickname for our Hampton's summer beach house), not to mention our actual home, the brownstone in the Upper East Side, and my parents had the best interior decorators in the world collaborate in working on it.

“They surely know how to decorate,” I mutter to myself. 

Out of pure curiosity of what could be behind it, I start towards one of the doors.  Halfway there, I decide to add a drunken stumble to my step, although I haven’t dared have one drink tonight.  I’m thinking that, say I find myself walking right into Rhode’s meeting, or perhaps something worse, pretending to be intoxicated could help diffuse possible conflict.  With Rhodes, there always seems to be conflict.

I lean back onto the door and rest a hand on the doorknob for support.  I press my ear against the rosewood, to check if anyone’s there.  Thanks to the extreme silence in the hall, I can make out a voice from inside.

“…a’course, I’ll get that order down right now.”

The voice is deep, but like Rhodes’, not totally mature.  Everyone here, it seems, is a child, treating each other with mutual adult respect.

There’s a pause, and the same voice speaks again.

“That’ll take a week.”

Another pause.  He’s on the phone.

“I know that’s later, I just gotta check the Agri to make sure it’s stocked.  Rhodes emptied my stash completely the other day.  You know how he is.  D’you want anything else?”

Rhodes.  Of course.  Just the mentioning of his name gives me both a gag reflex and a curl-up-into-a-ball-and-scream-at-the-top-of-my-lungs reflex.

Yeah, at the same time.

“Sure, I’ll get that one down too.”

A pause.  A thoughtful inhale.

“For all of that, it’s gonna be somewhere around thirteen grand.”

I raise my eyebrows.  I can blow through thirteen grand in one trip to the mall, but it’s still curious that this job of his can pay that much.  What crowd is Rhodes involved in?

“No checks.  Cash only, upfront.  Okay, good.  No problem man.  I’m sure we’ll do more business in the future, huh?”  A hum of a laugh.  “Take care.”

I assume he must hang up, because he sighs aloud, and there’s the sound of leather squeaking in the way it does when one sits down into a chair.

Maybe it’s just my prissy, egoistical, appearance-centered nature kicking in, but something tells me he’s got to be hot.  Like, that was one hot voice, and and even hotter sigh.  He has to be hot.  Hotter than Rhodes.  

I just feel it.

Without really thinking about it, I let my hand holding the knob twist, and my weight pushes the door right open.  I stumble into the room.  Thanks to my tight, constricting dress, that barely allows me to move my legs at all, I can’t catch myself, and fall flat on my face, despite my extended arms trying to brace the fall.

The boy sitting at the leather chair gets up quickly, rushing to my side.

“Whoa whoa, are you okay?” he asks.  He helps prop me up to a sitting position, then pulls me to my feet.

“I’m fine, I just tripped,” I sputter, eyes flickering up and down, from him, to the floor, again, and again.  I’m so embarrassed, for no reason at all.  I can barely look him in the eye.

A part of the reason may be, of course, this: Hell, his eyes are nice.  Green.  Olive green.  And he’s got this mess of brown hair sweeping up and over his forehead, too, like a rockstar’s.  It’s strikingly natural-looking, too––doesn’t look like there’s gel, or hairspray, or anything in it, like it does with near all the guys at my prep school.

He takes the sides of my face in his hands and steadies my gaze on his.  The simple motion sets my heart completely racing, and I have to force it to stop.

Be cool, I tell myself.  He has no power over you.  Just like Rhodes.

“What were you doing,” he asks, “wandering so far from the party?”

“Got bored,” I answer simply.  “These banquet things aren’t really my forte.”

He grins.  “They’re no one’s forte, princess.  They just make this business look a little more appealable.”

I step away from his grasp, eyes falling onto his phone.  “Business, huh?  What kind of business are you doing?”

“Oh, nothing . . . nothing a pretty little thing like you needs to be concerned with.”

“Oh no.  This isn’t going to be how this happens.”

He cocks his head to the side.  “Hmm?”

“Stop while you’re ahead, buddy, before you go all sexist on me,” I say.  “Maybe all the other girls are into that damsel-in-distress thing, but I’m not into any of that crap that’s going around out there in the banquet room.  I’m not going to deal with it, especially from you.  I’m more than just some ‘pretty thing.’ I can assure you.

He raises his eyebrows.  “Babe, this is Dark Horse.  Sexist is what thrives here.  Have you taken a good look around?  We’ve got this whole Victorian era element floating everywhere, with those dresses and the suits and the––”

“And have you taken a good look at me?  I’m having none of this, so cut the crap.”

“Wow, you’ve got some sass, babe.  That’s new and welcoming.”  He whistles, then breaks into a white-toothed grin.  “Sorry ‘bout that.”

“You’re not going to whistle at me again, you hear?”

He salutes.  “Aye aye, captain.  Whatever you ask.”

I roll my eyes.

“So.”  He shifts his weight from one foot to another.  “Does this brilliant feminist have a name to her?”

“Oh it’s nothing,” I answer.  I lift up my chin, and adjust my arms across my chest.  “Nothing a mysterious, brooding young man like you needs to be concerned with.”

This makes his grin widen.  He extends out his hand.

“I’m Harting.  Keaton Harting.”

“Are you one of those guys who only wants me to call you by your last name?”

“Call me whatever you’d like, princess.”

I give Keaton’s hand a quick shake.  “Keaton, then. I’m calling you Keaton.”

“I’ll hold you to it.”

A harsh ringing noise breaks our gazes.  Keaton glances down at his cellphone, the source of the racket, to check the caller ID.

“crap,” he murmurs.  He looks back up to me.  “Give me a moment.”

He presses the screen, then lifts it up to his face.  He starts off into a quick, hushed conversation, mentioning large words that sound strangely medical––words I can’t even begin to understand.  I stand there for a while, trying my best not to eavesdrop, to occupy myself with examining the details of the carpet, or the threading in a throw pillow, or the glossiness of the bookshelf against the back wall.  I’m doing a fine job at it until I hear one thing:

“It’s all gone to Rhodes.  That bloody Brinker mission’s got him stressed beyond measure.  I’m sure you understand that he’s my priority customer, correct?”

The hairs on the back of my neck perk up at the mention of my last name.  There it is again, Brinker.  My name, weaving its way into this entire night for no apparent reason––at least, no reason I’ve been given.

What is it that my family’s all tangled up in?

“Sorry ‘bout that,” says Keaton, setting his phone down on a lush leather couch.  “Just needed to clear things up for a clients.  Work stuff.  Nothing too glamourous.”

I go to say something witty, but what was supposed to be a thought in my slips right out of my mouth.

“You mentioned Rhodes?”

He stiffens.  “Were you listening to my conversation?”

I swallow.  “Oh, no, I wasn’t.  I wouldn’t be able to understand what you were saying even if I was an expert in whatever your career is.  I just happened to hear his name come up in the middle of it.”

“You know Rhodes?”

“Uh, doesn’t everyone?”

He looks closely at me for a moment.  “I’ve never seen you around here.”

“I’m new.”

“How’d you get in here?”

“Passcode, of course.”

“And who brought you to Dark Horse?”

I pause.  I don’t know if I’m supposed to be saying this much––I know for a fact I’m not supposed to be saying anything about knowing Rhodes to people, especially to a guy as shady as Keaton seems.

Rhodes didn’t expect me to listen to him, right?

“I, uh . . . Rhodes too me here, actually.”

“Wait, Rhodes took you?  That doesn’t make any––”  He stops, for a second, and then nods, putting something together.  Keaton runs a hand through his hair before asking me a question.  “Would you happen to be the reason he hasn’t shown up to any of these events, not to mention school, for the past two months?”

Considering I didn’t even know about how Rhodes has been skipping his social life for some unknown reason, I try respond as convincingly as possible.  “Oh, yeah,” I lie.  I cradle my chin with the fronts of my fingers, like a child actress after performing an iconic theme song for cereal or something.  “I’m the reason.”

“You’re the reason?”

“Yes, I am.”

Keaton strokes his chin, thinking about it.  “Rhodes disappears for sixty days to run off with a girl as beautiful as you are?”

“Does he not usually do things like this?”

“Never.  Rhodes is usually a strict, all-business-no-play kind of guy.”

I shrug.  “I guess not always?”

“Guess not.  I know he has the Brinker mission––” he pauses.  “You’re his . . . friend, you know about the Brinker mission, right?”

“Oh, of course.”  If only that was true.

“Is that the reason why he came back?”

“I–I guess,” I say.

“And why’d he bring you?”

“Why wouldn’t he?”

Keaton shrugs.  “I don’t know.  He ran away somewhere spend some time with you, when he could’ve just stayed, and brought you to these parties, and he could’ve gotten the whole Brinker mission done quicker.  It seems to me like he wanted to keep you to himself?  So why show you off now?”

I hesitate.  For too long.

Keaton asks another question.

“Who are you, anyway?”

“Br––” I stop myself on the sound of the r.  Dammit, I can’t say my real name!  I wrack my brain for some name, any name, to tell him.  “Rrrrrr . . . Rhodes.”

His eyes widen.  “Rhodes?”

“I, uh, yes.”

“Wait, are you telling me you’re his fiancé?”

I look down at my feet, trying to appear timid, embarrassed, almost.  “I wasn’t supposed to tell anybody yet, but––”

“Rhodes has a *#&$%%*ng fiancé?  Rhodes is getting *#&$%%*ng married?”

“I told you, I wasn’t supposed to tell anybody––”

“Holy sh*t,” Keaton murmurs.

“I know, I know.  Can you just––”

“Rhodes is turning twenty two in a couple of months.  He barely had any time to be a kid in high school, and hasn’t at all in college.  And now we’re getting close to graduation, and he’s already engaged.  I didn’t expect him to ever get married, nonetheless get married so young.”

“I don’t think it’s too young,” I say.

“Why?  How old are you?”

“I . . . I’m only eighteen.”

“Holy sh*t.  Holy sh*t, you’re a goddamn child, and you’re getting married!  You’re getting married to *#&$%%*ng Rhodes!  Holy sh*t!  Holy sh*t!”

“Keaton, can you stop swearing at me?  I get that you’re shocked, but you’ve got to calm down or something.”

In my mind, I’m kicking myself a thousand times for creating this whole scenario.  How is this going to pass under the radar?  Rhodes will find out.  He’s going to actually kill me for this one.

“Sorry, I just, I was not expecting any of this sh*t.”

“I didn’t expect any of it either, believe me.”

Keaton’s phone goes off again.  His long fingers fumble on the lock screen for a moment before he answers.

“Yeah?  Sorry, I was doing some business.  Oh, sure, put them on the line.”

There’s a bit of static, then a deeper voice.

Keaton’s eyes flicker up into mine, alert and excited.  “Oh hey, Rhodes.”

My stomach drops.

“Yeah, I did hear about it.  You finally resurrected.  And, with company.”

I snap my eyes shut.  Oh,  God.  Here we go.

Rhodes asks him a question I can’t hear.

“I’m in my office, of course.”

More grumbling from the other line.

“Okay, see you then.”

Keaton presses a button, and slips his cellphone into his back pocket.

“What did he want?” I ask.

“He wants to meet me,” he answers.  “He’s coming down here right now.”

I grip a bookshelf.  “Oh, then I really should get going before he arrives.  Don’t want to intrude on any of that business you guys have––”

“Oh no, Mrs. Rhodes,” Keaton says.  “You stay right here.  I’d love to see how you and your fiancé interact.”

“I’m supposed to stay in the banquet hall,” I tell him.  “If I’m not in there––”

The door swings open to reveal a tall man in a familiar suit.

Rhodes.

“Harting, I’m stopping by for––”

He meets me gaze, and his eyes widen.

“You.  I told you––”

“It’s great to see you too, honey” I voice, quick and loud.

Rhodes pauses to give me a look.  His cheeks are ruddy with anger, his eyes shining with confusion and murder.  He glances back at Keaton, and asks, “How the *#&$%% did she find herself in this part of Dark Horse?”

“She just wandered in, that’s all.  It was getting awfully stuffy inside the party.  Everyone’s a snob in there anyway, am I right?”

He narrows his eyes.  “Did she tell you anything she’s not supposed to?”

“Well . . .”  Keaton hesitates.  “Look, Rhodes, I think there’s a hell of a lot we’ve missed since you’ve been gone, and––”

“Did she tell you something, Harting?”

“Look, it’s not a big deal––”

“I told you to stay quiet!” he roars.  “I told you to stay inside the banquet hall, and you go blabbing to people in their offices!”

“Please,” I start, “I can explain this––”

He starts towards me, eyes afire and fists clenched.  My stomach drops, and a breath catches in my throat.  I stumble back into the bookshelf I was leaning against.

“Hey man, calm down.”  It’s Keaton, taking a step forward, towards me.  He gets in between Rhodes and I, arms lifted like he’s about to be arrested.  “I know you’re stressed out about your whole Brinker mission, but that’s no reason to take it out on your fiancé.”

“No, Harting, you don’t understand––”  He stops.  I watch his muscles tense from beneath his suit coat.  “My fiancé?”

“That’s all she told me,” Keaton promises.  “If there’s anything else she could’ve told me, I don’t know about it.”

I close my eyes, so that if Rhodes wants to look at me, I won’t be able to see it.  I can only imagine what he’s going to do to me now that I’ve done this.

“That’s what she . . . told you?”

“Yes.  That’s it.  Look, man, I’m not going to tell anybody––”

“Can you shut up?”

“Okay, yeah, sure, Rhodes, whatever you––”

“Shut the *#&$%% up.”

There’s a stretch of deafening silence that seems to last for a thousand years.  The only four things I can hear are the muffled shouts from the banquet hall, Keaton’s shoes tapping nervously on the hardwood floor, the quick beating of my heart, and Rhodes, breathing in and out, steady and furious, composed and homicidal.

I keep my eyes shut.

Rhodes voice is the first to break the silence.

“Serena?  You can open your eyes.”

I do so, and give him a questioning look: Serena?

He blinks slowly: Go with it.

I give a quick, inconspicuous nod.

He reaches his arm out towards me.  “Come here.”

“Okay.”  I walk over to his side.  He rests his arm around my shoulder.

Rhodes turns his attention towards Keaton.

“My apologies for almost losing my temper.  You are quite right; the Brinker mission is getting me stressed out.  That’s why I came in here, of course.  I’ll stop by later for business.”

“It’s fine, Rhodes,” Keaton says.

“And I am sorry about Serena over here barging into your office, topman.”

“What does ‘topman’ mean?” I ask.

“Just a term we use to refer to our business partners, respectfully,” explains Keaton.  To Rhodes, he says, “And don’t worry about it.  I don’t mind her company at all.  Don’t lose any sleep about be knowing of your whole engagement or anything.  I’m not going to tell anybody.  I would never do that to you––”

“Oh, no, I think it would be best if you told people,” Rhodes says.

I glance up at him, questioning.  He looks down at me.  His tell-tale black eyes shine with a mischievous glint.

“You think so?” Keaton asks.

“Yeah,” he insists.  “I’ve been gone for so long, people ought to know why.  Faulkner told me that things are getting tense because of the Brinker mission.”

“They are.”

“So don’t you think that the right thing to loosen a bunch of young, privileged aristocrats is a good, old-fashioned wedding?”

My mouth drops open.  Rhodes squeezes my shoulder.  A bit too rough.

Keaton’s eyes widen.  “A wedding?”

“Yeah, a wedding.  It’ll be just the thing to get all this off everyone’s mind.  And while Serena can be over here planning the wedding, picking out dresses, putting it all together, we can work on the Brinker mission without everyone breathing over us.”

I want to scream at him so much that my throat burns with the anticipation.  No, there will be no wedding between you and I.

Between a killer and a victim.

No.

“That’s clever, Rhodes.”

“Of course it’s clever,” he says.  “I thought of it.”

Keaton nods over at me.  “And what does the lady think of this?”

Rhodes meets me gaze with the same Go with it look from before, only this time there’s that hint of killer.  I’m reminded that I am the hostage.  I have to do this, or I risk being shot at again, and maybe this time I won’t heal as quickly.

“Well, I got engaged to you, didn’t I?”  I force on a bashful smile, but I can taste bile in my mouth.  “I think this is perfect.”

Rhodes grins.  “Good, then it’s settled.”

“When’ll the wedding happen?” asks Keaton.

“About a month from now, I suppose.  Shouldn’t waste any time.”

“And where will it be?”

“Dark Horse, topman.  Where else?”


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#9 DayDreamer95

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Posted 25 February 2014 - 11:42 PM

Addicted!

Did I just buy a book from the store, because THIS.IS.PERFECT.

I cannot stop reading!

The flow of the chapters!

The sentences are so delicately descriptive.

I wish I could ever write as wonderful and glorious as you!

Simply take my breath away!

This is so going to be published AND be a best seller!

And probably be a movie, and if so totally playing Brinker.

:) Well I think you can see I'm proud and amazed by by your effortless writing!

Much love
Cat~♥
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#10 Meg_Rulz

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Posted 26 February 2014 - 02:29 AM

You're right, Alex!

I just read the first chapter and the mystery is killing me!

 

Gotta continue reading the second chapter!

 

Love

Poorvi


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#11 Meg_Rulz

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Posted 26 February 2014 - 02:50 AM

oh my god! This story is friggin awesome! height of perfection.

 

Seriously, as Alex said, this should be made into a movie!


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#12 NikkiandEm

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Posted 26 February 2014 - 07:26 PM

Addicted!

Did I just buy a book from the store, because THIS.IS.PERFECT.

I cannot stop reading!

The flow of the chapters!

The sentences are so delicately descriptive.

I wish I could ever write as wonderful and glorious as you!

Simply take my breath away!

This is so going to be published AND be a best seller!

And probably be a movie, and if so totally playing Brinker.

:) Well I think you can see I'm proud and amazed by by your effortless writing!

Much love
Cat~♥

 

ahhhh thank you so much cat!

 

i have a couple of other stories i focus more on, so to hear that this one isn't absolute rubbish means a whole lot!

 

you're the best!

 

and yes, you can certainly play sylvia brinker ! :D


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#13 NikkiandEm

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Posted 26 February 2014 - 07:32 PM

oh my god! This story is friggin awesome! height of perfection.

 

Seriously, as Alex said, this should be made into a movie!

 

 

You're right, Alex!

I just read the first chapter and the mystery is killing me!

 

Gotta continue reading the second chapter!

 

Love

Poorvi

 

thank you SOOOOO much!

 

i'm writing chapter four right now. expect it maybe by friday or the weekend!


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#14 NikkiandEm

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Posted 03 March 2014 - 11:15 PM

Okay this chapter is taking a while because before, I had those three chapters already written, and all I had to do was read over them and then post them whenever I felt like it.  But I haven't finished chapter four yet!

 

I'll be done soon.

 

I mean, thank you to the two people patiently waiting.

 

this story is such a hit woooo party

 

but seriously its fine :D


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#15 DayDreamer95

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Posted 03 March 2014 - 11:30 PM

Take your time:)

I just can't wait! :)

And Hell yeah it's a woo-hoo party! :D

;)
Alex♥
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#16 NikkiandEm

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Posted 03 March 2014 - 11:45 PM

OKAY. HOPEFULLY THIS MAKES SENSE AT ALL BECAUSE I'M POSTING WITHOUT READING OVER.

 

 

chapter four

 

I wake to the sound of my bedroom door clicking closed.  There’s a lingering smell of spice and vanilla soap wafting in the air, as if Rhodes was just in here, and the very thought of it sets an icy current down my spine.  What business does he have walking into my room while I’m sleeping?  He probably mused with the idea of suffocating me with the pillows.

“What a fiancé,” I mutter.

I prop myself up onto my elbows.  There’s a cup of coffee on the nightstand, with a slip of paper attached:

 

When you wake, we have to talk about this “engagement.”

There’s a lot we have to understand about each other if this is going to happen.

–R

 

I roll my eyes.  Is he really taking this so seriously that he believes that we’re actually going to get married?  When I look back down at the paper, there’s one last bit of his nearly illegible scrawl:

 

P.S: I didn’t know if you liked coffee, but I made you some.

 

“Why, I do like coffee,” I tell the note.  “Thanks for offering.”  I take a quick gulp without thinking to find that Rhodes didn’t put any cream in it, which makes it really bitter.  Gaging, I set the cup back down, grumbling, “That has to change if I’m staying here.”

While I’m getting ready (musing with the foreign new makeup and forcing down sips of black coffee) I notice the wardrobe door is slightly ajar––and I’m the kind of person who’s rich enough to realize that if you don’t close all your doors, people will take it as an invitation to browse whatever’s inside.  When I open it up, I realize Rhode’s purpose for snooping around my bedroom while I was sleeping:

He restocked the closet.

Gone are the puffy ballgowns; gone are the long, gross skirts of various hues of pastel.  In their place are form-fitting dresses, much like mine from yesterday, as well as all sorts of casual wear that look like something a punk-rock groupie would adorn herself in.

Pasted on the mahogany of the inner-door is another little note, in that same penmanship from the coffee on my dresser:

 

This is not what the people I know dress like. 

But we’re both tough people.  And, now, we’re a public couple.

May as well dress the part, huh?

–R

 

I can’t help but grin.  Rhodes wants tough?  I’ll show him what tough looks like.

I pull out a pair of black leather shorts, two laced-up ankle boots, a short black crop top, and throw them on.  Though I’ve already finished my makeup, I sit back down at the vanity.  I drag my bare index finger across my eyelid, smudging the once picture-perfect eyeliner.  And then I get out the pallet of black eyeshadows, and the ruby red lipstick.

Oh, I’ll show him tough.

 

– – –

 

He’s sitting at what’s supposed to be the dinner table of this hotel suite, with a newspaper in his hands, humming to himself, pages crinkling as he turns them.  Clad in a pair of slightly ripped jeans and a Nirvana t-shirt, he looks like he could grab a guitar and get on a stage at any given moment.  Me, being an avid fan of whatever my parents detest (and they strongly detest the immaturity of rock bands), he looks like someone I’d paste pictures of all along my bedroom walls.  Annoyingly, I actually have to remind myself that Rhodes is the very guy who tried to kill me two days ago in order to get my angry feeling towards him back.

“I want coffee creamer,” I say.

He looks up from his newspaper.  “Oh, g’morning Serena.  Sleep well?”

“I actually didn’t, thanks,” I reply.  “And my name is not Serena.”

“It is now,” Rhodes says.  “Now that you’ve taken it upon yourself to be introduced as my fiancé, you’re Serena.  In fact, we need to talk about that.  Sit.”

I sit down at the seat across his.

“So,” he starts, “to begin this, I really need some clarification from you, because you started this whole ordeal in the first place.”

“Okay,” I say.  “What do you want me to clarify?”

“Well, I need you to explain this to me: What the hell possessed you to tell Harting that you were my fiancé?”

“Oh, you mean Keaton?”

“I’m sure he’d like to be called by his last name.”

“He actually said I could call him whatever I’d like, so I’m calling him Keaton, just like I’m calling you Malcolm.”

Rhodes rolls his eyes.  “This is absolutely redundant for the conversation.  Just tell me why you told him what you did.”

“Well, he asked me who I was, and how I knew about you, and––”

“Hold up––how did he find out you knew about me?”

I bite my lip.  “Well . . .”  It fades off.  I give him the same innocent shrug that gets me out of failed tests and missing projects at school.  Maybe it’ll work on him?

Rhodes just narrows his eyes.  “You told him you came here with me, didn’t you?”

“I didn’t know what else to say.”

“So you said exactly what I told you not to say.  Typical Brinker move.  Anyway, go on with your explanation.”

“Okay,” I say.  “Well, he wanted to know if I was the reason you were gone for so long, and since I didn’t know you’d been gone, and I assumed that you’d want to keep whatever the reason a secret, I told him that yes, I was the reason.

“So when he asked who I was, I went to say Brinker, because all you damn people introduce yourselves with your last names, and I got all confused, so I kind of used the R consonant to form Rhodes, because it was the first name that came to my head.  I could’ve been your cousin or something, but Keaton assumed it meant I was getting married to you, so yeah.  There’s that.”

He takes a moment to consider it, then nods.  “Okay.  And now you’re aware that we’re going to be throwing an extravagant wedding, correct?”

“Yeah, why are we doing that, again?”

“Distraction,” he replies.

“Oh yeah, now I remember,” I say.  “You want to distract everyone from the––” I make air quotes with my fingers, “––Brinker mission.  What is that mission, exactly?”

“Nothing you need to know about just yet.”

“Oh come on.  I am a Brinker.  Don’t I deserve to know about my own mission?”

He gives me a stern look.  “It’s not a good mission.  I shot you for it.”

I hold a swallow, and clap my hands together.  “And now we’re getting married!  Funny how plans change so fast, huh?”

This gets another eye roll from Rhodes.  He pushes his chair back from the dinner table and stands.  I do the same, and as I do, he examines my outfit.

“I see you found your new clothes,” he says.

I nod to his ensemble.  “I see you did too.  A rocker couple, we are, huh?”

“It’s the only thing I assumed you’d agree with.  All the girls I know wear preppy clothes, with their collars folded neatly, and their socks up to their knees.  I knew you wouldn’t want to be whatever they were.  And if I tried to make us sleek and elegant, I feared you wouldn’t go along with it.”

“Aw, we do know each other, Malcolm,” I coo.  I bat my lashes at him.  “It looks like we really are meant to be, doesn’t it?”

Rhodes just shakes his head, turning away from me before I can see his smile break onto his face.  He starts towards the door, the rubber of his new-looking black Vans squeaking on the rosewood floors.

“Come on, Serena,” he calls.  “We’ve got places to be.”

“Not even going to offer me breakfast or anything?”

“I got you coffee.”

“Did you hear me when I walked in?  I need creamer.”

 

– – –

 

We travel in the same big car with the blacked-out windows.  I try to tell Rhodes that this is absolutely redundant, and that I don’t need to not be able to see where we are anymore, because even if I tried to leave he’d probably still find me, but he insists it’s needed.  I also attempt to ask where we’re going, but he won’t budge.  I’m left to examine seams on my leather seat until the SUV finally parks wherever we’re supposed to be.

As Rhodes grabs ahold of the doorknob, I kick my legs up into the air and wave them out towards him.

“What?” he asks.

“You gonna carry me or what?”

“Excuse me?”

I give him a look.  “You know, because you’ve carried me just about everywhere.  Aren’t I a helpless Victorian lady who can’t move her dainty feet.”

“Well if it’s what you want . . .”

He reaches out towards me.  I swing my body to the other side of the car.

“Actually not what I want,” I say.  “I was just joking; we’re the punk couple for a reason, and that reason is that I’m not a helpless Victorian lady.”

“Thought so.”

Rhodes opens the door, and sunlight pours into the car interior.  He grabs my hand before I can protest, and pulls me out of the SUV with a firm grip on me.

“You don’t have to hold onto me, you know,” I say.  “I’m not gonna run away, if that’s what you’re thinking.”

“Please,” he scoffs.  “I need to keep you on a leash, Brinker.”

I drop my voice into a mock-superstitious tone.  “Oooo, Malcolm, be careful where you say that name.  You don’t want any of these people to figure out that it’s me.”  I gesture to the inconspicuous tourists on the sidewalk.  We’ve been dropped off at a New York borough that anyone could identify: Chinatown.

He starts down the street, me in tow.  “I highly doubt,” he says, “that these people care about who you are.  You give yourself too much credit.”

“No, you give me too much credit,” I say.  “I mean, you made your little passcode my name. . . why, Malcolm, if I didn’t know any better, I’d call you a stalker.”

“That’s exactly what I am,” he murmurs.  “But I’m more formally known in my business as a private investigator.”

“So wait, is that what you do?”

“Yes,” he confirms.   “I’ve taken you out here to this part of New York to explain to you exactly what my job is.”

“Why out here in Chinatown?”

“Because it’s fairly far away from the Upper East Side, where your family is, and fairly far away as well from Dark Horse, the hub of my community.”

“Where is that, anyway?”

“A part of New York you’d probably never visit.”

“What part?”

He doesn’t reply.  He pulls me by the wrist into a restaurant with a big golden sign that reads Oriental Garden.

“Why are we going in here?” I ask.

“Because you slept in late,” he says, “and it’s about lunchtime.  I hear this place has the best dim some in all of Chinatown.”

“And are you a secret lover of dim some, or . . . ?”

“I thought maybe you’d want to sit down while I explain to you everything?”

“Only if you explain everything,” I demand.  “The Brinker mission, why I can heal myself quickly.  Everything.”

He bites his lip.  “I’ll explain as well as I can, okay?”

“Let’s get a table, then.”

He speaks to the woman at the front desk.  I listen in as his voice, animated and foreign, says how much he’d love to try the dim some, and how beautiful they’ve decorated the place, and how great her hair looks in that ponytail.  I think she must be a little charmed by him, regardless of his inadequate attire for the semi-nice restaurant, because she can’t stop grinning as she grabs two menus and leads us to a little table in the corner of the room.

“You want dim some, correct?” she asks with a giggle when we’ve seated.

“Yes,” Rhodes replies.  “That, and two glasses of the best wine you have.”

“I’m eighteen,” I mutter.

“Two glasses.”

The woman is too busy blushing as she writes down our order to even think about carding us.  The drinks get brought out quicker than we’re able to start our conversation.

I push the glass at him.  “I don’t want this.”

“I bought it for you,” he says.

“And you can have it.”

He stares at me for a moment, then follows my notion, and pushes his glass towards the center of the table.

“I don’t want that either, to be honest,” he says.  “I’m not much of a day-drinker.”

“I wouldn’t want you explaining all this drunk, either,” I say.

“You’re right.”  He inhales.  “Okay, so, I should start, I suppose?”

“Shoot.”

With an exhale, he begins.

For a whole hour, and three orders of dim sum––which turn out to be pretty good dumplings, though I pretend not to be impressed––Rhodes explains to me.  He talks about his job as a private investigator, and how he’s constantly being hired to watch, follow, and usually kill a certain subject.  He glazes around the subject of the Brinker mission, but I begin to gather that he was hired to follow my whole family.  By who, he won’t tell me.  For what reason, he won’t clarify either.  He seems uneasy when he talks about it.

“Your family has made such a dark mark on the earth,” he says, “that not even the death of you, your siblings, or your parents would be able to fully erase it.”

“But I don’t even know what we’ve done,” I remind him.  “Why would you have to kill me if I didn’t have any part in it?”

He narrows his eyes.  “Are you saying you’d rather live out your life having lost your parents for what you’d believe to be no reason at all, than die with them and reunite in whatever hell Brinkers are destined for?”

To which I respond, “I don’t get along with my parents.  And you said yourself that  Brinkers are selfish, didn’t you?”

When I ask again what my parents have done to get somebody to pay him to follow and try to kill us, he refuses to embellish any further.

Rhodes admits to me that he has no exact idea how I healed myself so quickly.  I ask him if this means vampires are real and that we’re entering some weird supernatural realm, and he tells me he has no idea.

“With a family like yours, I wouldn’t be surprised if you were a bloodsucker,” he says with a chuckle.

“And what about Dark Horse?” I ask.  “What’s the whole deal with that?”

“What do you mean?”

“Why do you guys meet there?  You’re all, like, 21.  Is it a cult or something, that strives to return the world to a Victorian era where woman wore long dresses and weren’t equal and men were constantly brooding in their little mansions?  How did a place like that even come to happen, and how did you become a part of it?”

“I wouldn’t call it a cult,” he says.  “I’d call it a group of super-intelligent, incredibly wealthy, orphaned young adults seeking a society where they can pretend like they’re kings and queens because they can pay for private investigators and can get people killed, and can believe their drug addictions make them more mature than everybody else.  That’s what it is, Serena.”

“Wait.  Drug addictions?”

“Surely you realized it when you spent your time with Harting?”

I furrow my brow.  “What?”

“He’s the dealer, darling.”

It all becomes clear.  Why what Keaton was selling costs so much.  Why he said his business wasn’t glamorous, or anything I had to know about.  Why Rhodes would need it if he were stressed . . .

“And you buy them?” I ask.

Rhodes focuses his attention on turning over a dumpling with his fork.  “I did a whole lot in the past, but it didn’t mesh completely well with my business.  Couldn’t track somebody down while subdued, right?”

“Uh . . . sure?” I offer.

“I only buy them when I’m stressed now.”

The way he says it is so casual that it frightens me.  How normal is buying drugs in his twisted world?  He talks about it like it’s gum, or fast food, or cigarettes.

“Keaton mentioned on the phone,” I say, “that all of his, uh, supplies just went to you.  Did you just buy some?  What about the whole Brinker mission thing?”

“I only buy them when I’m stressed,” he repeats.  “You make me stressed.”

I lean back into my chair with disbelief.  “You’re trying to tell me that you’re going to do drugs in order to deal with me?”

“You better not stress me out, huh?”

“You can’t put that all on me.  You can’t make that your release, either,” I tell him.  “I have some friends who do drugs, and it’s not good at all.  They can’t just stop and start again whenever they feel like it.”

“Well, I can,” Rhodes says simply.

“You could die, you know––”

“Isn’t that what you’re hoping for?  Don’t you want me to die, so you can go back to your miserable little life?”

I pause to look at him.  “I said it once, and I’ll say it again: Your inability to see yourself as anything more than the guy who tried to kill me is not endearing.”

“And your inability to realize your opinion is never going to shake mine is sad.”

“Don’t start something,” I say.  “Don’t start something in the middle of Oriental Garden.”

“You’re the one who asked the question,” he says.

“But Malcolm––”

“Look.”  He sets his fork down and locks his readable eyes on mine.  “I appreciate your deep concern for my wellbeing, but no thanks.  It’s not like you’re going to be doing any drugs when you’re with me.  Now, do you have any other questions?”

I tell him no, no I don’t.  He pays for the meal, and then makes the girl at the front desk so sad that he’s leaving that she throws handfuls of fortune cookies at us––“More good luck, so you’ll come back,” she told him––as we walk out.

And on our way back to the hotel, Rhodes demands to the driver that we make a stop.  He runs out of the SUV, leaving me inside with the doors all locked.  It takes a whole hour before he finally gets back in, wiping sweat off his forehead.

“Line was long,” he explains.  He sets a grocery bag on my lap.

“What is this?” I ask.

“Take a look.”

I do, and I have to laugh out loud.

Coffee creamer.


Edited by NikkiandEm, 03 March 2014 - 11:49 PM.

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#17 bubba97

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Posted 04 March 2014 - 03:38 PM

Nikki, oh my god. 

 

 

This is really good. Like really really good. I love it. I love it so much. I'm so curious about it. 

 

I haven't read chapter four yet but I probably will later tonight. 

 

 

Now Nikki, let me just say I love Sylvia/Serena/Brinker, whatever I should call her.

 

I'm not sure about neither Keaton nor Rhodes yet, but I like how she is with them. She is definitely a strong character.

 

 

The first chapter was simply perfect. It wasn't too long, it wasn't too short and it explained everything we needed to know very efficiently. 

 

Now honestly, I would have enjoyed hearing a bit more of Sylvia's thoughts, specifically during the time she was held captive at the hotel. But that is the only thing I have to reproach. 

 

This is great, Nikki. I'm really intrigued.

 

And I hope Serena/Sylvia/Brinker kicks all their *#&$%%ing sexist asses :).

 

 

Please don't stop this. I really love it.

 

-Alexandra


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#18 NikkiandEm

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Posted 06 March 2014 - 06:46 PM

Nikki, oh my god. 

 

 

This is really good. Like really really good. I love it. I love it so much. I'm so curious about it. 

 

I haven't read chapter four yet but I probably will later tonight. 

 

 

Now Nikki, let me just say I love Sylvia/Serena/Brinker, whatever I should call her.

 

I'm not sure about neither Keaton nor Rhodes yet, but I like how she is with them. She is definitely a strong character.

 

 

The first chapter was simply perfect. It wasn't too long, it wasn't too short and it explained everything we needed to know very efficiently. 

 

Now honestly, I would have enjoyed hearing a bit more of Sylvia's thoughts, specifically during the time she was held captive at the hotel. But that is the only thing I have to reproach. 

 

This is great, Nikki. I'm really intrigued.

 

And I hope Serena/Sylvia/Brinker kicks all their *#&$%%ing sexist asses :).

 

 

Please don't stop this. I really love it.

 

-Alexandra

 

ALEX

IM SO HAPPY YOU'RE HERE AND READING IT.

I LITERALLY HAD A HEART ATTACK WHEN I SAW YOUR USERNAME ON THIS TOPIC.

 

Thank you SOO MUCH for the feedback! I'm really bad at creating believable thoughts within internal monologue, so I'm definitely going to try to take a shot at it with Sylvia/Serena/Brinker :D

 

Thank you thank you thank youuuu for reading it!

 

I missed you so much, and I'm so glad you're here.


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#19 DayDreamer95

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Posted 06 March 2014 - 06:56 PM

You
Updated
without
Telling
me?!?

Fantastic update, I love Brinker and Rhodes

They are cuties!

Tell me everything that is going to happen

Suspense is killing me.

I love this
I love you Mrs. Jenning
Update and tell me!

Alex♥
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#20 solique

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Posted 11 March 2014 - 07:03 PM

new reader, i love it. complex and fascinating. just the right amount of allure and charm, too. keen for a new update

x
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#21 NikkiandEm

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Posted 16 March 2014 - 07:14 PM

new reader, i love it. complex and fascinating. just the right amount of allure and charm, too. keen for a new update

x

 

thank you so much! i've been taking a while to update but it's coming soon!


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#22 bubba97

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Posted 19 March 2014 - 03:53 PM

IM SO HAPPY OH MY GOD. 

 

I MISSED YOU TOOO! I really want us to bring this site back, it's been so long

 

 

Okay so, I dont even know how to write a comment anymore this is so weird. 

 

Rhodes is kind of growing on me now that he has a backstory. I really like how you kind of broke the whole illusion, it felt very real, very honest. 

 

I don't want Rhodes to grow on meeeee he tried to kill the protagonistttttt

 

 

Now I didn't even think about the whole drug dealing business, I thought this was gonna be like a creepy sect, that's gonna be like super dark and sci-fi but now it's just on a completely different scale. This is set in our world if I'm not mistaken and that's so cool. 

 

I really wonder how the protagonist (i'm just gonna call her the protagonist now, its much shorter) recovered so quickly. 

 

I also like the whole punk couple thing.

 

 

Nikki you haven't updated yet, like I'm really upset about this. 

 

Start writing. Now.

 

But seriously this is really really good, like I really like it. It flows, its gorgeous to read, and its really mysterious. 

 

The characters are different and contrasted and there are a lot of ways this could from here.

 

I really want to know more about the entire world of dark horse and Rhodes and all of it.

 

 

Please update :D

 

-Alexandra


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#23 NikkiandEm

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Posted 23 March 2014 - 10:43 PM

IM SO HAPPY OH MY GOD. 

 

I MISSED YOU TOOO! I really want us to bring this site back, it's been so long

 

 

Okay so, I dont even know how to write a comment anymore this is so weird. 

 

Rhodes is kind of growing on me now that he has a backstory. I really like how you kind of broke the whole illusion, it felt very real, very honest. 

 

I don't want Rhodes to grow on meeeee he tried to kill the protagonistttttt

 

 

Now I didn't even think about the whole drug dealing business, I thought this was gonna be like a creepy sect, that's gonna be like super dark and sci-fi but now it's just on a completely different scale. This is set in our world if I'm not mistaken and that's so cool. 

 

I really wonder how the protagonist (i'm just gonna call her the protagonist now, its much shorter) recovered so quickly. 

 

I also like the whole punk couple thing.

 

 

Nikki you haven't updated yet, like I'm really upset about this. 

 

Start writing. Now.

 

But seriously this is really really good, like I really like it. It flows, its gorgeous to read, and its really mysterious. 

 

The characters are different and contrasted and there are a lot of ways this could from here.

 

I really want to know more about the entire world of dark horse and Rhodes and all of it.

 

 

Please update :D

 

-Alexandra

 

thank you SOOOO MUCH ALEX

 

I'm going to update this as soon as possible. sometime this week FOR SURE


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#24 sancia

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Posted 24 March 2014 - 12:14 PM

WOW! Nikki this is amazingly well written (which doesn't surprise me at all because it's your writing) and I'm so in love with all of the characters. Flawless. Perfect. Extremely addicting.

 

-Sammie


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#25 NikkiandEm

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Posted 25 March 2014 - 05:07 PM

okay ugh this one is awful but i needed to post something so here you go:

 

chapter five

“Happier this morning, I presume?”

I look up at Rhodes from my coffee cup as he walks into the little (if you can even call it little) kitchenette (if you can even call it a kitchenette) area of our penthouse suite.  He looks like he hasn’t gotten much sleep.

I tilt my mug in his direction.  “Well, I’ve got my creamer now, so that’s the plus of the morning.  I’m just about as happy as a kidnapped girl can be.”

Rhodes rolls his eyes, taking a seat at the head of the table, just about as far away as he can get from me.  There’s a selection in the complementary fruit bowl in the middle, set out by the hotel staff when they heard the Malcolm Rhodes was going to be their guest, and from it he picks out the reddest apple of the bunch and crunches into it.

“Sleep well?” he asks, mouth full.

“You expect me to sleep when when a murderer’s in the same hotel room?”

“Well, I didn’t sleep well either, if it makes you feel any better.”

“Why?” I ask playfully.  “Scared I’m gonna murder you too?”

“You know, with a girl like you, Brinker,” he says, “I wouldn’t be surprised in the least.”

“Great to know I’m no longer the damsel in distress to you,” I tell him.  “That’s progress for the guy whose druggy friends would like rather live in an eternal Victorian age than ever care to modernize themselves.”

“Everyday I’m learning.”

I grin down into my mug.  I feel his eyes on me as I stare off towards the side of the room that leads to his bedroom, taking the final, lukewarm sip of coffee.  Rhodes just crunches on his apple and watches, not saying a word.  There’s a stretch of awkward silence that, for once, isn’t too awkward; we both kind of invite it, since we’ve got too big of headaches to start up with the banter right now.

When he’s finished with his apple, Rhodes suggests we start to get ready for a rousing brunch at Dark Horse.

“Oh no,” I say.  “I’m not going there at this hour of the morning.”

“It’s just about eleven, Brinker.”

“Well, still.  That’s not going to happen today.”

He chuckles.  “Yeah, like you get a say in what we do.”

“Well, I said we were engaged,” I point out.  “Isn’t that, by definition, me getting a say in what we do?”

“And now that leads to our soon-to-be highly anticipated wedding, which needs to be planned, hence, the brunch.”  He grins wide.  “Good job getting your say.”

“Okay, well, I don’t want to go,” I state flatly.

“Oh come on.  The most important people in my business are going to be there.  They’re just about as snobby as you are.  You’d fit right in.”

I narrow my eyes.  “Tell them the bride’s not going.  Tell them she’s with child and got morning sickness or something.”

“I am not telling people you are pregnant.  You’re freaking eighteen.”

“Oh, whatever.  It would explain why you’ve been gone for so long, right?”

“Look,” he says.  “You’re coming with me, whether you like it or not.”

“I’d rather go to hell than go to brunch at that place.”

“Oh, trust me, Brinker,” he tells me, “I know a whole lot of people who’d like to see you and your entire family go to hell.  Unfortunately, Dark Horse’ll just have to suffice for now while you’re alive.”

“Gee thanks, fiancé,” I say, toneless and sarcastic.  “You really do know how to flatter a girl like me.”

“Why don’t you go and get ready for our little wedding-planning brunch, and we’ll see if I’m the mood to flatter you, actually.  Sounds like a deal?”

“Do I get to wear the punk rocker clothing you got me?” I ask.  “Or do I have to wear some gross dress that someone definitely once died in?”

“If I say you can’t, will it even make a difference?”

 

– – –

 

Rhodes and I receive discerning looks from just about everybody as we strut into the quaint little Dark Horse dining hall.  They’re all clad in their finest Sunday best.  For the men it’s glittering cuff-links, suits with big fat ties, and old-man shoes polished to perfection.  The women have got their hair pinned up conservatively, in colonial-looking dresses that hit the ankles and kitten heels with frilly socks underneath.  It’s as much orthodox fashion as necessary to make me want to turn to the nearest wastebasket and throw up my morning coffee.

The two of us, on the other hand, look informal enough to make the guard out front mistaken us for one of the partiers who loiter Dark Horse all night long.  I’m in a ripped black tank top, and Rhodes looks like he did yesterday––with the dark jeans, the Vans, and a vintage-looking concert t-shirt.  Today, it’s The 1975.  In the car I told him I was a fan of The 1975, and he shook his head and said “A Brinker like you thinks it’s cool to like a band like that––I’d be surprised if you knew more than one song.”  A couple minutes later I realized he’s right, which annoyed me greatly.

Somehow, in spite of our violently casual outfits, the some twenty importants of Dark Horse treat us with the utmost respect.  We’re so late that the food’s already been served, but if anyone’s annoyed, they don’t show it to us.

When we walk in, everybody stands to greet Rhodes, likely because he is the Malcolm Rhodes everyone makes a big deal about.  Just about every man in the room tries to help pull back my chair for me, likely because I am the girl that the Malcolm Rhodes decided to bring with him.

He gets head of the table, which is––obviously––reserved for him, and I have the chair adjacent.  The girl beside me, looking just miserable in her modest, high-necked dress, gets a great view of my legs as I sit down.  She’s quick to comment on me wearing pants.

“Oh, wow,” she says.  “We usually wear dresses at Dark Horse.”

I shrug.  “You know, I thought about wearing a dress, but then I thought to myself: Why not pants?  So I wore pants instead.”

“I’m sorry, but we’re actually not permitted to wear pants.”

“Really?  Because I got in just fine in these.”

“Just because you came here with someone special doesn’t mean you can get away with breaking the dress code.”

“Why?” I ask.  “Do you wish you were here with Rhodes?”

“I don’t care if you’re with Rhodes,” she says (unconvincingly).  “You still shouldn’t be able to get privileges that none of the rest of us get to have.”

“Well get used to it, babe, because I’m gonna be here a while.”

She opens her mouth to say something else, but the boy seated next to her––who turns out to be Pole, from a couple nights ago––pipes up before she can speak.

“Well, I’m sure I can speak for the rest of the men in the room when I say it: I happen to like your pants a helluva lot,” he declares.

“Why, thank you.”  I give my hair a toss, and stroke the leather hugging my legs with a good dash of sensuality.  “Rhodes likes my pants too.”

“It’s true, Luster; I do.”

We all look over at Rhodes.  He throws me a wink.

“But you know,” I say chiefly, “he doesn’t like them on me.”

“What do you mean?” the girl––Luster, I assume––asks.

“I mean he likes these pants better somewhere else than he likes them on me.”  I nod to Rhodes, who looks just as confused as the girl.  “Right, dear?”

Luster rolls her murky grey eyes over to Rhodes.  “What is she even talking about?” she asks him, voice dropping to an admiring croon.  “Where do you like them?”

“I think you should let her do the talking,” he says.

Luster lets out a sigh, and turns back to me with reluctance.  She crosses her arms over her chest.  “Well?”

“The floor by his bed,” I purr.  “That’s where he likes them.”

Luster’s face turns bright red.  Rhodes laughs out lough.  Whoever else listening in on our conversation––which is just about everyone at the table––erupts into gossipy whispers. 

“That’s just about enough for now,” says the man at the other head of the table.  He’s the oldest person here––the only one with gray hair, wrinkles on his face, or the slightest impression that he’s over twenty-five.

“You sure about that, Faulkner?” Rhodes asks, the hum of a chuckle in his voice.

“I’m positive.”

“I’m pretty sure you of all the people gathered her, would like the details, now wouldn’t you, old man?”

He gives him a look.  “No, I would not.  Look at you: I haven’t heard you joke around since before you joined the business––back when your parents worked here.”

“You haven’t seen me in a while,” Rhodes points out.

“And we’d like to know why,” interjects a boy a couple of seats away from me.  I lean over to look, and it’s Keaton.  Keaton, the drug dealer.  For some reason I didn’t think he’d be at this brunch.

“Good morning, Keaton,” I say.

His grin widens.  “Serena, always a pleasure.”

“Enough greetings,” snaps Faulkner.  “We got that all done while you two were busy being late to the meeting you scheduled.”

“Whoa,” I mutter.  “Simmer down.”

This receives a quick pat on the arm from Pole, who has to reach over a non-cooperating Luster to get to me.  I give him a quick smile in reply.

Faulkner doesn’t seem to have heard it.  He continues, “Now, get on with it, boy.”

“Okay, sure.  “Rhodes clears his throat.  “Well, like it has been mentioned, and like you have all probably noticed, I’ve been gone from Dark Horse, plus New York as a whole, for quite a long while now.  And like you may have all also noticed, I have a visitor with me.”  He looks down at me, and forces a loving smile on his face.  I plaster on a matching one, and grab his hand for good measure.  He gives it a squeeze as he continues.  “A couple months into my unannounced break, I visited Chicago.  It’s enough of a city that I found comfort in it.  I was stopping there to clear my mind.  You know how taxing the Brinker mission is.  Anyway, I met her just about the moment I stepped off my jet, and we hit it off instantly.  Despite the informal clothing she brings, I do believe you’re all going to like her.”

I lean in towards Luster a mutter, “Because he’s gonna make you like me.”

“This, my topmen,” he says, “is Serena.”

“So she does have a name!” Pole exclaims.

“I do!” I say.

“I’m sorry for holding out on you the other night.”

“Don’t sweat it, bro.  First day back’s always excused.  And what about a last name?  I trust she has that too?”

He swallows, as if nervous to continue.  His acting skills are convincing.  “Yeah, she has one of those too.  It’s––well, it’s––Serena…Serena Rhodes.”

A rustle of murmurs and gasps spread across the table as the name sinks in.

“You mean she’s your fiancé?” Faulkner asks.

Rhodes nods.  “We’re getting married.”

“When?”

“Hopefully as soon as possible.  Serena and I think a month is all that’ll be needed for preparation.”

“A month?”  The girl in the seat next to mine chuckles.  “How do you think you’re going to be able to prepare everything that goes into a wedding in only one month?”

“Uh, easily?” Rhodes offers.

“Easily, huh?  What about invitations?  And the food catering?  Is the dress going to be custom made?  If it is, how do you expect it to be made in such little time?  And what about the bridesmaids and the groomsmen?  What are they going to wear?  What’s the wedding color scheme?  How long a notice do you think the florists are going to need to make the flower arrangements for table centerpieces?”

“Wow.”  I let out a whistle.  “I didn’t think about any of that crap.  Do you think you could be my maid of honor?”

She rolls her eyes at me.  “Where’s it even going to be, Rhodes?”

“I’d like the wedding to be here, at Dark Horse,” he answers.  “I trust the employees here know exactly what to do.”

“And what about the Brinker mission?” Faulkner asks.  “You are our best private, and you just finally came back after months off the job.  How are you going to manage planning a wedding while you are working?”

“I can handle the Brinker mission,” he says, “and Serena can handle all the wedding preparation.”  He nods to the girl next to me.  “Also, I’m pretty sure Miss Luster over here wouldn’t mind helping my fiancé out a little––would you?”

She narrows her eyes.  “Why to have to help this trainwreck out?”

“Hey, I’m right here,” I say.

“What did I ever do to you, Rhodes?”

“Isaac mission,” he responds, as if it explains everything.

She turns red again.

 

– – –

 

We’re in the tinted-window car, on the way back to the hotel.  The radio’s went static a couple minutes ago, so the driver turned it off all together.  After a couple painfully awkward minutes exclusively dedicated to the sound of the seats squeaking under our constant shifting, I decide to fill the silence with talk.

“Well, that was a sufficiently awful brunch,” I say.

Rhodes chuckles.  “Everything’s awful at Dark Horse.”

“I can see why you ran away from it for a while.”  I take a dramatic gasp.  “That place is beyond suffocating.”

He nods, leaning back into his seat.  This calls for another squeak from the leather.  “I think we accomplished everything that needed to be accomplished, though.”

“Everything, and then some,” I say.  “I got me a bridesmaid.”

“Luster.”  He wipes his forehead.  “Now she is suffocating.”

“She wants you so bad, too.”

“I’m well aware.”

“Were you two ever together?” I ask.  “She looked not only like she wanted you, but also that she wanted you back.”

He gives me a look.  “No, we weren’t.  I’ve never dated anyone from Dark Horse.  I’ve always thought of relationships as too distracting for a job like mine.  I told her that.”

“That might explain why she’s so pissed at me,” I say.  “You broke your philosophy.  I’m sure my little innuendo didn’t help out either.”

Rhodes’ eyes glint mischievously.  “Yeah, I don’t think it helped.”

“So.”  I point to the SUV door.  “Where are you taking me next?”

“Back to the hotel,” he says.  “You know, so you can put those pants where I apparently like them.”

I laugh.  “Yeah, you wish.”


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#26 DayDreamer95

DayDreamer95

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Posted 25 March 2014 - 06:02 PM

Fantastic! This flows beautifully! I love Rhodes!

 

This is a wonderful story! 

 

You're so wonderful! The intricate details to give you the perfect picture of the scenery. The poetic speech. This is so amazing, I wish that I could write as lovely as you are.

 

:)

I love it!

 

Post an UPDATE

SOON! 

 

Or like I'll show up at HARVARD and be like "DO YOU KNOW NIKKI? I'M HERE TO READ MORE FROM HER STORY!"

 

YES! I will do that!

 

Being a crazy person! 

 

:)

 

Love you more than anyone!

 

Sincerely,

Mrs Rhodes  :icon_biggrin: ;)  :wub:  :heartbeat:  :m:  :love7: 


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