Love Meets You part 2

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2.

* Clover *

Someone hummed a Katy Perry song about fireworks and Clover wondered what sort of messed up dream she was having. Pain in her right wrist made the hope of dreaming dissipate when she tried to sit before opening her eyes.

“Oh, careful,” a woman whispered.

She gaped like a crazy person, looking everywhere but absorbing nothing until a quiet giggle came from beside her. She shifted, realizing she laid on a bed and a petite redhead stared at her as if she were taking in a science experiment.

Not just any red-haired girl. Was she the same woman flirting with Mason last night? Was it still the same day? What in the hell happened, and why did she keep waking up in different locations?

“Where am I?” Clover gasped with a thick, clumsy tongue, “W-who are you?”

“My name is Reese,” She grinned so big it looked comical or would have been if Clover thought anything about this situation funny, “I’ve been instructed to speak to you before they take off the handcuffs.”

Clover’s head snapped upward, seeing her wrist cuffed to the wall. She whimpered, scurrying up against the rough brick surface, relieving some pressure on her aching arm, “Where am I? Is this a joke? Where’s Brad?”

Reese stood, twirling in a light blue dress which fanned out at her movements, “Who’s Brad? It doesn’t matter. He’s not important anymore. The only man you should care for is Sir.”

Clover swallowed the thickness coating the inside of her mouth, “Water? Please? What’s going on?”

“Oops, I forgot!” She trilled, rushing into a small room and coming back with a paper cup filled with liquid goodness, “I realize this seems a little silly, but if you refuse to accept the rules Sir will be very unhappy and trust me, Clover, we don’t need Sir angry.”

“Oh, really?” she scoffed, wrapping her free hand around the cup.

“Females are born submissive, but society has made us jaded and defensive, unable to recognize man’s inherent obligation to protect us from ourselves. He’ll return you to your sweet nature. Behave and there’s nothing Sir won’t do for you.”

What the fuck? Somebody drank too much kool-aid.

Clover gulped the cool water until able to scream, “I want out of here right fucking now! I don’t know who you are, but you better release me and run as far away from me as you can before I knock you out! Help! Help me!”

Reese stepped towards the doorway, worrying her bottom lip while shaking her head in distress, “You have to stop yelling! You can’t do that!”

She glared at the wisp of stupidity in front of her, “Fuck off!”

Reese wrung her hands, “Sir wants you joyful. We’ll all be happy if you do what they say. Things will turn worse if you don’t calm down.”

She fumed and screamed at the top of her lungs for someone to help her. Whoever this unstable girl kept calling Sir could kiss her ass. Had they kidnapped Mason as well?

“Where’s Mason?” she demanded, “Did you drug and hurt him too?”

“Mason’s a horrible man!” Reese glared for the first time, losing the sweet and innocent act, “He’s the one who hurts people.”

Suddenly the door Clover had hoped would bring help opened, and a tall stranger with a light-colored man-bun and beard stormed in, “Leave, Reese. She can rot in here if this is how she wants to behave.”

“What?” Clover’s jaw dropped, “Why are you doing this to me? Let me go, asshole!”

Reese clutched her hands under her chin, frightened as the vile man ignored her. “Is Sir mad? I tried! Does he know I advised her to be nice?”

The hipster didn’t spare her a glance as he took hold of Reese, leaving with a slam of the door which looked heavy and thick with a slot at the bottom. An audible click signaled it locked from the outside.

Clover lost her shit.

She screamed at first, demanding they let her go. When her throat became rough and hoarse, she clawed at the ring bolted into the bricks. She broke every nail and rubbed her skin raw around the metal cuff. She tossed the mattress looking for a weapon, but of course, there was none.

“Calm down,” she chastised herself, resting against the wall, feeling achy and sticky.

The overhead light shut off without warning, making her scream more profanity until she laid there shaking and unable to do nothing more. She had yet to cry. In her lifetime, she could count on her bloody fingers the number of times she’d wept.

Alone in pitch darkness, the silence surrounded her like a tomb. She screwed her eyes shut so tightly she might as well have been trying to blind herself.I’m in a B-rated scary movie, she thought, and a burst of maniacal laughter flowed from her parched lips into the eerie quiet.

After taking deep breaths, her mind rove over the moments which brought her to this fucked up place, with a crazy lady spouting shit about a man who wanted her to be sweet. That girl turned into anything but saccharine once she dumped the fake persona.

Okay… she left work. Walked into Patches, saw Mason flirting with Reese, (what an asshole), talked to Bentley, and drank her favorite shot... then… Reese kissed her boyfriend. She told herself to forget that part and concentrate on what happened afterward. She had no memory of much else besides speaking to Brad and men grabbing her from his apartment.

Poor Brad! What did they do to him?

She sat up so fast the cuff’s chaffing caused her to shriek in pain. Damn, she’d really done a number on it. Bentley. It must have been Bentley who messed with her drink. He’d watched her closely, she realized, ordering for her and acting as if Mason lusted after Reese. She knew Mason wouldn’t hurt her by kissing another woman since she picked the bar. It was those stupid Plastics and Reese’s fault she hesitated to join Mason that night. Was he okay? He told her she was in danger, and all signs pointed to his friend. Why did she react in jealousy instead of confronting him? Ugh, Mason should have kicked Bentley out of his office the second he walked in.

Clover curled into a ball, her wrist hanging in the air. The dark became unnerving. She focused on her breathing until her body relaxed. Figuring out who was behind this weird kidnapping made her able to focus. Mason would question Bentley when she didn’t answer the phone or show up at work unless the asshole did something to him. She prayed Mason was safe, although she sensed as Reese warned, her situation would only become worse.


* Mason *

Mason frowned at Adley Rosen as the devious woman grinned at him while placing a coffee he never asked for on his desk. It was Monday and Clover hadn’t answered her phone Sunday afternoon when he’d rang her, nor did she come to work. Adley took it as a sign to plant herself at reception and the weirdness continued when he found out it had been in the works for over a week.

When he phoned HR, the woman said someone filed paperwork to replace Clover within the staff, and Adley was at the top of the list, according to HIS request. He saw red then and now as he stared at the conniving bitch yammering on about how she planned to update his appointment system; he grew even more livid.

“Question,” he sat back, not hiding his annoyance, “do you have any idea why HR believes I want to get rid of Miss McBride?”

Her eyes widened, “No?”

“Really?”

“I’m only trying to help Mr. Thistle. I assumed when Clover was a no show this morning, the rumors were true. She was awfully nervous on Friday.”

Mason stood, buttoning his jacket, “After today you’ll return to your original position because Miss McBride will be back.”

Adley sputtered excuses as he left and headed to the elevator. He rode down to Peter’s offices, not waiting for anyone to announce his sudden appearance. Peter looked up from his cluttered standing desk where he was messing with a SENSES prototype.

“You’re pissed,” his friend observed, taking off his glasses, “Who do we need to fire?”

Mason ran a hand through his hair, “My office is a nightmare right now. Someone’s falsifying paperwork and I don’t know if I can prove it.”

“That’s serious,” Peter walked over to a leather chair along the wall next to a stack of files and sat. “Why can’t you?”

“Clover didn’t come in and HR claims I requested a replacement,” Mason tapped his phone against his thigh, “Apparently, I chose Adley Rosen. That woman is the last person I’d pick.”

“Yeah, she’s always coming down here to visit Mila, asking if I need anything,” Peter scowled, “It’s obvious it was her but what did Clover say?”

“I haven’t seen or talked to her since I left work Friday. I’m checking her place next, but I wanted to report some shady shit’s happening around here. You should talk to Mila.”

“These women are so backbiting. Mila’s a great PA but will fire her ass in a second if she messed with Clover. I’ll look into it and call you.”

He nodded, turning to leave, “Thanks, Peter.”

When Mason arrived in the almost vacant parking lot of Clover’s building he didn’t see her vehicle. He knocked on her door for a good five minutes, then called her phone when he returned to sit in his car.

Where could she be, and why would she ignore his calls? A sick sensation settled in his stomach. He thought their relationship was amazing until the night at the bar. Closing his eyes, he realized Clover might have seen Reese hit on him. Stupid! He never saw her after leaving work. The entire weekend had been a blur of meetings with Peter and investors. He texted her hello on Sunday to alleviate some guilt, figuring she was as busy as him when she didn’t respond.

He pulled up Bentley’s number, but the call went straight to voicemail. Something was going on and it felt ominous. Clover’s a responsible person and wouldn’t just up and leave her job even if pissed at him. She behaved like a professional after he’d been a dick. He shook his head at the foolishness of his actions.

He wandered around the building before locating the manager’s office, smiling at the older woman manning the place. The apartments were affordable and not in the best part of the city but, the lady boasted, they were choosy with residents, keeping the area safe. Mason let the chick deliver her spiel before saying Clover was his girlfriend and grew concerned when he couldn’t reach her.

“I have a key, but I’m not letting you inside,” she frowned, “Clover’s been a model tenant for several years. Maybe she’s on vacation.”

He held his impatience in check, “The thing is, I’m also her employer. We haven’t seen or heard from her in days. Can you enter her apartment to make sure there’s nothing out of the ordinary?”

She sighed before opening a drawer. Withdrawing a large key ring set, she asked, “What’s your name again?”

He followed her upstairs, “Mason Thistle. I appreciate this.”

“Oh, my goodness!” A deep red colored her cheeks as she came to where he lingered in the doorway, “I recognize you now! My husband and I attended your charity event last month to preserve Gillian’s stone sculptures at our local library. Knowing someone of your standing looks out for our city’s culture makes me proud.”

He nodded in self-depreciation, acknowledging her praise, “You’re very kind. I hate to rush you, but…”

She waved a flustered hand in front of her face, “Yes, yes! You still can’t come in. Rules are rules!”

He stood outside of Clover’s apartment, itching to investigate her space. Were clothes missing from the closet? She had too many plants to up and disappear without a house sitter. He recalled she had a best friend, but blanked on the name. The woman remained inside for a mere two minutes before re-locking the door declaring everything looked fine.

“Any signs she left on a trip?” he prodded for details.

“No, I’m sorry. The kitchen’s clean and the bed made.” she gasped when he scowled and stormed down the metal stairs to the parking lot.

Mason paced for a while before rushing to his car to call a man he hoped to never require the services of again. With Clover, he found himself acting irrationally, but she meant too much to him to fear the past biting him in the ass.

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