Thirty minutes later…
“This restaurant has been in the Rodrigues family for generations, and now, one Alpha will have an opportunity to purchase this fine establishment. Ladies and gentlemen, The Chan Chan’s has always been more then just a place to eat, but a place for everyone to come together, relax, enjoy in house brews of the Rodrigues taphouse and homeland, and to enjoy the occasional city-wide parley.”
I glanced around the restaurant as the auctioneer continued his introduction speech among the crowd that were already seated at their tables. This was my first time coming to this place, and I was surprised how much the starting price was. Twelve million was steep even for this part of town, but it was obviously apparent we weren’t paying for the building, but the location.
There was dimmed lighting, with only some windows that let it subtle hints of day light. The ambiance was dark, romantic, Spanish, with candle center pieces on each table. Large booths ran the perimeter of the restaurant. It wasn’t as big as my club but cozy enough to keep people close. Yuri informed me after hours some of the tables are removed near the center of the room to allow guests to freely mingle and dance to live performances. It was a restaurant by day, club by night.
I heard about this place long ago but was always too poor to afford one of their outrageous cocktail prices. I glanced down at the menu that was set in front of me.
$189 - Rodrigues Margarita
“What the hell is this? Is this made out of gold?” I joked to myself as I watched the rest of the expensive prices down the menu. No wonder only Alphas roamed this place, no one would be able to afford to come here.
I peered back up at the auctioneer that was handling a small tablet in his hand, “Anyone looking to participate in the auction, will be handed out a small tablet to submit their own bids.”
Yuri passed me the tablet, then I looked up to see Marcus, already with one in his hand.
As soon as we locked eyes, he smiled and waved. I immediately looked back down, pretending I didn’t see him.
“You ready Alpha?” Yuri asked.
I smiled as I ran my finger tips across the tablet screen, “I’m willing to go as high as it takes.”
“43 Million, going once.” The short stalky auctioneer was surrounded by large bodyguards, with a small tablet in hand, and a portable screen standing almost at the same height as him next to his table.
I typed my new bid on my tablet, $44 000 000, then enter.
The auctioneer turned his attention to my direction as my name quickly climbed over Marcus’s on the screen beside him, “44 Million - Alpha Hunter.”
Marcus and I had outbid every Alpha in the entire auction. We have been going strong since thirty million as all the other Alphas in the room drank away their sorrows. Some were even betting on who would actually win the auction based on the Beta’s running around floating wads of cash in their hands.
“44 Million, are we stopping there?” The auctioneer announced.
There was a brief second of silence, then the auctioneer looked to Marcus sitting at the corner booth in the back. Simultaneously, his name climbed over mine on the screen.
“Alpha Marcus - 45 Million.”
I quickly typed in my new bid, $46 000 000, but nothing appeared on my screen, and the submit button, frozen in place. I tapped submit again, but just like before, it was frozen.
“Going once…” The auctioneer peered in my direction; I’m sure waiting for me to put up another bid.
My heart was racing as I stared at the frozen screen, “Yuri what’s wrong? I can’t do anything.” I was full of panic mode as I continued to tap my finger onto the tablet screen, and thankfully, before I realized, it was functioning again. “Never mind, I got it.”
“Quickly Alpha, you still have time,” Yuri muttered under her breath.
I hovered over the numbers on my keyboard realizing my initial bid was erased, and surprisingly, I had a moment of hesitation.
What was the new bid again?
“Twice…” The auctioneer announced in the background.
My heart was beating fast. I was anxious, and time was of the essence.
Why was I nervous? Was I really cracking under the pressure right now?
“Right… 46 million…” I muttered to myself and typed in the number.
But just before I could tap submit, the auctioneer suddenly shouted out, “SOLD to Alpha Marcus!”
There was an immediate eruption of applause from the entire restaurant.
“45 million! This is ground-breaking! Alpha Marcus is the new proud owner of Chan Chan’s. Please, enjoy your time here, dance to your hearts desire, and don’t forget to tip your servers!”
I leaned over to Yuri, “Did I just – Lose?”
I couldn’t believe it. For once, my pockets matched theirs, yet I still lost. I had so much to gain, and now, today was a complete failure.
“You said it was working again Alpha!” Yuri took the tablet in her hand and began analyzing the screen.
Marcus stood up shaking everyone’s hand around him, taking a brief moment to glance in my direction, smiling like he won the god damn Olympics. I clenched my jaw tightly and let out a low subtle growl that I only I could hear. My hands were shaking in rage.
Pissed wasn’t the right word.
Should I be pissed at Marcus, or myself for hesitating? I took a second to think about that number because I was flustered.
Why did I hesitate?
How could I make this mistake!?
This was too easy for him. He must have something to my tablet for it to freeze the way it did.
I headed over to his booth, leaving Yuri to speak to the auctioneer. Already by the looks of their conversation she was arguing an endless battle. There was no way anything could be undone now.
I slowly walked over, glaring at him as he smiled and started to sign paperwork with a couple of men wearing black suits, who I could only assume were his lawyers.
I stood at his table and crossed my arms, anxiously tapping my foot as I waited for him to finish signing the documents.
I was breathing fast, and slowly everyone around me stepped away.
The last lawyer to remain at the table gathered up his papers and left in quick pace. Marcus calmy took his drink and leaned back, allowing his arms to fall against the backrest, revealing his large, tattooed arms.
“Quite an auction, eh?” He took another glass and filled it with a clear liquid. “Tequila? Best in the city, straight from Rodrigues homeland.”
“What did you do?” I growled.
He smiled as he placed his drink down on the table, “What on earth are you talking about? I won fair and square.”
“My tablet glitched out.”
His eyes widened as he took another sip, “Did you tell someone? They can have a look at it and if it deems to be broken, then I guess we’ll have to redo the auction.”
I looked back over to Yuri who was still arguing with the auction staff, “It was frozen… Its – Its working now.”
“Shame…” He took another sip then pushed an already filled drink to my side of the table.
I took the cup and downed it without another thought. Marcus let out a smirk as he downed the rest of his.
“You look tense, why don’t you sit down?” He extended his arm at the end of his empty booth.
“No, I’m fine thanks…” Just as I finished speaking, a blonde waitress brought two steaming cups to the table.
“Here you go Alpha, tea as requested.” She stood back, discreetly admiring Marcus. She stood with her chest out, trying her best to push her breasts through her white blouse to catch his attention, but not too much surprise, his eyes never left me.
“Thanks.” He took a cup and inhaled the steam, “Took some time to get used to the smell, but I’m beginning to like it.”
“What is that?” I knew the smell, but it was impossible.
“Xanos and I are manufacturing it, trying to get out the drug trade. Do you know Volt overdoses has increased by 68% in the past year? It’s a new goal for us to lower it, and besides, this tea is a hot seller at Elysium methadone clinics, counters the side effects of drug addiction.”
I narrowed my eyes on the cup, “Where did you get that?”
He smirked as he continued inhaling the steam, “Took us an entire year to sprout the crop. Didn’t yield much either, but Xanos’s new Beta has good insight on the process.”
“New Beta?” I narrowed my eyes on him, then to the empty spot in the booth. I took a deep breath in, repeating the same words in my head to keep calm.
You can do this Hunter.
I sat in the booth, only a couple feet from Marcus. My mind was on fire as I settled in the leather cushion of the seat. I could feel his eyes, and his heat, emanating from his body.
“Tea will help with that…” He pushed the cup to me as he watched a small sweat pellet fall from my forehead.
I pulled in front of me, “How do you know about this?”
“I was going to ask you the same thing.”
I looked down at the steaming liquid. It reminded me of the first time trying the tea with Alpha Hiro. The smell, the colour, and the small pieces of leaves floating at the bottom of the cup. I couldn’t believe it.
“It only helps so much with the pull.” He took another sip and placed the cup on the table. “And it doesn’t change the way I feel about you, but at least my beast is calmer from taking it.”
“You were only ever attracted to me because of my father, and our pull…” I took a large gulp and scanned the room. By now the music was louder, and some of the restaurant patrons were beginning to get up from their tables to dance in the small space in the center of the room.
“I don’t need a mating pull to know what I want. You can choose to assume that, but as I said before, it will never change the way I look at you.”
I took a sip of the hot liquid, “So, does Xanos drink this too?”
He scoffed and looked down at the tea still swimming in his cup, “He doesn’t want to, but he does...”
“Where’s Troy then? You said he wasn’t dead.”
“Right to the point then…” He cleared his throat, “Do you know what the most important advice anyone has ever given me?”
I remained silent and continued drinking the tea. Watching him talk as he leaned back into the booth was turning my mind to mush. My entire body yearned for Marcus, nothing was working, not my deep breathing, or the meditation.
Only the tea helped calm my raging heart.
“Your father, Alpha Kane taught us, that everything had a price, no matter what it was.”
“So what do you want then? You want something in return for information on my brother? How pathetic.”
Marcus chuckled lightly as he reached for the bottle of tequila sitting next to his empty teacup, “Now who said I wanted anything in return for that?”
“What’s your angle then? You have this club now, yet you tell me you’re getting out of the drug trade. Are you holding this place over my head?”
“It’s a transportation route. I don’t need to be in the drug trade to utilize this for things other then Volt.”
He started to pour tequila into his glass, smirking like the smart ass he was, but two could play that game.
I let out a small smile and pushed my glass towards him for a refill, “I remember when I first arrived to Japan, seeing fields among fields of that very crop used for this tea, growing within weeks of the seeds going into the ground. Hiro's little secret that he kept from you.”
His eyes narrowed to me as he poured the glass full, “Weeks?”
“Sometimes less then that, but of course, it’s a complicated process that only a select few in the village learned to master, one including myself.”
I latched onto the bottle still in his hand and we both locked eyes for a moment. The tea was working, there were no sparks, but there was still something deep down inside me that wanted more.
He released the bottle immediately and his expression lit up. “And what would the cost be for information such as that Alpha Hunter?”
I took a light sip straight from the bottle and kept my eyes on him, “What do you think?” I licked my lips clean from the tequila residue and placed the bottle firmly back onto the table.
Marcus was looking uncomfortable and started to adjust himself in his seat. He leaned in forward over the table and took a much larger swig from the bottle, “We have a lot to discuss then….”
“Indeed we do.”
“Perhaps more to discuss at dinner, with my brother of course.”
“Don’t get a head of yourself. I’m not that easy.”
He meekly smiled and raised his eyebrows, “Didn’t look like it last I looked up over my balcony…”
I slammed my hand hard onto the table, “Now that, is none of your fucking business.”
“Well, maybe you shouldn’t be walking around constantly naked, unless it was on purpose of course, I don’t mind the view,” he teased.
I let out a low growl and clenched my hand tightly onto the table, “I lost control the other night. A mistake.”
“I did once upon a time…” He took a sip of his tequila and peeked over to my neck.
I placed my hand on the mark and grazed my fingertips across it.
“So who was it then? I couldn’t get a good look from the angle I was standing at.”
I downed the rest of the tea and placed the empty cup on the table, “Like I said, none of your business.”
“I’m not surprised how it went down at the club, but to be honest, I’m taken back by your choice in sexual partners. Alpha James’s date?” He scoffed and took another sip of Tequila, like just mentioning what happened boiled his blood. “Might want to get tested for diseases.”
“I thought you didn’t know who it was,” I gritted between my teeth.
“Call it a hunch.”
I twitched my head to the side and watched Yuri still arguing with the auctioneer, “I’m single, and I don’t owe you shit, especially an explanation.”
“Tell that to my brother...”
“What is all of this to you, just small chat? I come here to hopefully acquire a piece of property and you’re here playing games.”
“You could have sent Yuri alone, but you chose to come here. You don’t have to lie to me.” He finished the rest of his drink and slammed it hard on the table.
“You could have sent Christian alone, but here you are,” I snapped back.
“I told you outside, I was hoping to run into you. I never lied.”
I remained silent as I played with my empty glass. “I never said you lied…”
There was a brief moment of silence. I had my eyes on the table, too scared to look up to him. I was worried I was going to do something impulsive, or something I would possibly regret, but of course, I enjoyed to walk across a dangerous tightrope. I felt alive sitting here in this booth, not knowing what was going to happen, or if he was going to do something unexpected.
I finally turned my head up to look at him, and his eyes were not dark as I would expect. They had a more golden-brown glimmer that I’ve never noticed before.
I crossed my arms across my chest, “Why are you looking at me like that?”
“I can’t look at you any other way.”
“Just stop it, I had enough failure for one day, I refuse to fall into your trap of charm.”
“If today is such a failure, then dance with me, take a load off.” Quicker than I could reply, Marcus was out of the booth, heading towards the middle of the room where crowds of people were dancing.
He cut me off and smiled, “Why don’t you let loose then Alpha Hunter? Don’t you at least deserve to live freely one of the rulers of this city?” He winked and turned towards the center of the room.
The Spanish music got louder, like the entire establishment was working up to this moment.
“You got to be kidding me… No way…” I poured another drink as I watched him swerve in a out among the sea of people.
“Suit yourself.” He pulled aggressively on the same blonde waitress that was previously serving him. She gasped as he pulled her into his body, but her eyes quickly lit up once she realized it was Marcus wanting to dance.
The way he was moving was close, and sensual, like the music playing throughout the restaurant.
“Bitch…” I down the drink and leaned back into the booth.
It felt like the entire restaurant was enjoying themselves but me.
Marcus smiled into the waitress’s eyes as she latched her arm around his neck. He tightened his grasp around her body and abruptly dipped her. The smile on this woman was making my blood boil. I could basically hear her heart beating from across the room.
“Another one miss?” A young man, possibly the same age as me, held a fresh bottle in his hand. He was wearing all black, tight enough to see his muscular build. He looked Hispanic; dark black hair, sun-kissed skin, dark brown eyes, thick eyebrows, chiseled face, and a sexy Spanish accent.
He was perfect.
I got to my feet and put out my hand, “Dance with me?”
He looked shocked at my abrupt request and looked around to see if this was a sick prank, “But I….?”
“Come.” I latched onto his hand and pulled him towards the dance floor.
“I can get fired,” he insisted.
“Don’t worry I know the owner of this place, he won’t mind.” I peeked over to Marcus still dancing his sexy Tango moves with the blonde waitress.
As I started to move, I felt the young man’s hands gently fall onto my waist.
I looked up to him, “That’s the spirit.” I touched his hands and guided them further down my leg. “Teach me to Tango?”
“If I’m going to be honest…” He pulled me tighter and lightly smiled, “I would be a fool to turn down a dance with you.” He led me forward, then back, easing me into the movements. I peeked over to Marcus who caught view of us, then he started to dance closer towards us.
I refocused my attention on Spanish waiter, “What’s your name?”
“Thanks Fernando, to be honest, I have no idea what I’m doing, and I’m trying to make your new boss jealous.” I put on a fake smile to Marcus and his face immediately grew frustrated. He started to pull the girl in tighter, his hand travelling down her leg as he neared us.
“I got the gist of the situation, but I just hope this doesn’t cost me my job.”
“This is just a game.” My feet moved with his, patterning to the music. It was trickly at first, but I was getting the hang of it. “Don’t worry, even if he fires you,” He dipped me almost to the floor and held me midair. “I’ll hire you.”
A playful smile came from the corner of his mouth as he peeked up to Marcus, who was now dancing no more then six feet away. “Deal.” He quickly spun me around, and we continued our tempo to the music, but this time, his hands slid down my thighs as he led me closer to Marcus. “I teach Tango classes. This is more then doable.” He spun me around again and did a lighter dip, enough to graze the back of the waitress Marcus was dancing with. I could hear a grunt come from Marcus as the waitress slightly went off balance.
A small crowd began to form around Fernando and me. He was making me look good, and at the same time, I had no idea what the hell I was doing.
I could see the agitation in Marcus’s face. He was tensing up like a prune as he watched us get closer. It was obvious Fernando was getting under his skin, and I could hear the light growl every time he passed him on the dance floor.
Fernando did a large dip, allowing my back to fall freely into his arm. He held me midair for a moment, watching my chest fall with gravity, but that’s when from the corner of my eye, Marcus approached us, with the waitress no where to be seen.
He snatched aggressively onto Fernando’s arm holding me up, “Hope your strong enough to not let go, HUMAN.”
His face dropped as he looked back to Marcus.
Just before things escalated, I tugged on Fernando’s arm, giving him an affirmative nod to let me go. I couldn’t allow Marcus to get too heated. Fernando did nothing wrong but give me a dance at my request.
Marcus replaced Fernando, and quickly latched his hand onto my lower back.
“So, will you kill him too?” I looked back to Fernando who was already heading through the kitchen doors.
He spun me around, turning my back to his. “Am I that monstrous to you?” He whispered in my ear.
He spun me back out and we were facing each other again. I placed my hand around the back of his neck, “I have trust issues.”
“You and I both.”
“Did someone bite you without your permission?”
Marcus face narrowed, and he immediately pulled me in tightly, with both of our faces mere centimetres away, “Did someone live a double life without me knowing it? Yes, but I forgive them.”
“So do you think the tea is working then?” I squeezed his outer thigh for a moment and brought my hands back onto his torso.
He breathed in heavily as he gave a little head twitch, “I’ll drink that tea like water, but it will never work with you.”
“It works…” My face came in closer to his as I whispered, “It always works.”
“Are you sure?” He pulled a strand of hand from my face as he hovered closer to my lips.
I sighed lightly, and my body instantly turned weak to his soft touch, “Yes…” I gasped as his hand trailed down my back, “It has to work.”
His lips were hovering in closer with each breath we took. Time was going in slow motion.
My legs turned to Jell-O.
My arms tingled.
He was so close, I could taste him, but it was as far as he was coming.
“Those sparks you have, when we are this close...” He whispered softly in my ear, “Isn’t from the pull….” He firmly planted a piece of paper in my hand, leaving me alone with only the reminiscence of his scent slowly wafting away.
He was gone faster then I could unfold the paper.
I paced my head back around the restaurant to find him, but I soon realized he left.
Yuri was looking back at me wide eyed, “What is it?” She silently mouthed in my direction.
I raised my eyebrows and hurried back to the booth.
“I’m not sure…” I opened up the piece of paper as I took a seat beside her. At first I had no idea what it was, there were lots of words, but some key words caught my attention.
I hovered my finger at the bottom, and there it was.
My name typed into the ownership transfer for the Chan Chan’s, then a blank spot for the signature.
At the side of the paper, there was familiar writing:
Dinner to celebrate?
I gave the paper to Yuri, and moments later, she gasped and placed her hand over her mouth. “Did he just give you Chan Chan’s for a dinner date?”
“Crazy bastard…” My eyes lit up as I watched his empty booth, “I guess he did.”