Chapter 26: Esora's Arts
Unravel Him Playlist on Spotify.
Song; (Zack Hemsy- Nice to meet me [Instrumental])
Having a significant other that had the same interest and hobbies as you had their perks.
For starters if I had a guy who has no idea what I do when the sun goes down, it would never work out, given he wasn’t part of it.
Meanwhile, if you do have someone that had... same traits and background as you do... well it wouldn’t be that difficult to understand.
“Oh, baby let me hear you,” I purred, letting my head hang out the window and my hand glaze the outside exterior of the door.
The black Porsche 911 GT3 is a dream.
It’s more then a dream.
It can’t be compared to anything else.
Accept for the La Ferrari maybe.
“Hands off the merchandise.” Thomas glares at me from the rear view mirror.
I poke my tongue out at him and continued running my hand back and forth, not caring that he was speeding along the traffic.
Mason, who sits in the passenger seat shoots me an amused look. “Maybe I should have gotten you a car for you’re birthday.”
“That would have been the best present.” I mournfully tells him, not caring that it was too much of a birthday present in the first place.
He laughs out loud and shakes his head.
The corner of Thomas’s eyes, glance over at Mason before his fingers tightened over the wheel. “Stop drooling all over the car, Ginger.”
“It’s a nice car.” I declared, not caring as I go to caress the leather seats. "Such softness..."
He cleaned the car up since I was last in here.
I expected to see remnants of blood but there was none of it.
He takes in a deep breath. “It’s just a car.”
“Shush, don’t say that!” Throwing myself to the seat belts, I hug them to my chest. “He doesn’t mean it, don’t worry baby.”
“Alright that’s it.” Thomas unbuckles his belt and whilst still driving, tries to maneuver himself so he could reach for me.
“Woah, woah, Thomas, what the heck!” Mason screeches, reaching for the wheel as the car, miraculously, doesn’t hit anything. “Sit down!”
The heir of Graymoore reluctantly does so, not before giving me a dark expression.
The car goes back to silence with Mason heaving against his seat, one hand on his temple as he gazes at the both of us like we were the world’s most dangerous snakes.
I scooted forward, peeping my head in between the seats so my salacious smile doesn’t go unnoticed by a certain someone.
His gaze is to the road and his fingers have turned white.
I rest my head against his seat, making my hair tickle his ear.
“You gonna buckle you’re seat belt?”
“No.” His answer is curt, mad.
You want to play it that way?
"Well, that won't do. Safety first, Moore."
Rising, I inched myself forward and twisted my body so I was half sitting and half standing.
In doing so, I'm able to reach for the seat belt by his side.
The minute my fingers brush over his arm, Thomas inhales sharply and shuts his eyes before furiously blinking them open.
I fluttered my eyelashes and pulled the belt over, well aware of my hair partially blocking his view and my chest digging into his shoulder.
Will he fall for it?
Twisting my head, I clicked the lock in place and prepared to retreat when I'm stopped as Thomas cranes his neck and kisses the skin directly beneath my ear.
The electricity zaps alive.
Twisting and coiling.
It's tantalizingly unbearable as desire pools down below.
I gaze at him, lost for words before I'm pulled into his lap, my legs dangling at the backseat and we're kissing.
I can feel him.
Over a car.
I tilt my head and the action went deeper, harder, his tongue barely giving me a chance to breath.
He bites down on my lip and I retch my eyes open, practically com busting at the sight of his oceanic eyes which glowed euphorically brighter.
Fuck, it's erotic. Hot.
I’m reminded as he does this, that he owns and earns everything that I am, just as he is to me.
“Oh come on,” Mason lets out an exasperated scoff from somewhere behind me. “Can’t you wait until we don’t crash and burn?”
Thomas feathers his fingers down my cheek before clasping my lower lip and tugging as he finally lets go.
His eyes are dark, devoid of anything but what he feels for me.
I lean back and prodded my lower lip, feeling it sting against my touch.
“Mmm... that enough for you?”
He made a point to shake his head. “Barely.”
I don’t know if it’s him, or the car, or the fact that I want to fuck him but there’s something about what we’re doing that turns me on so much.
My train of thought is interrupted by a shrill ringing coming from my phone. I took it out and frowned at the name before answering.
“Everything’s settled!” David announces having sounded as though he won the lottery. “You don’t have to worry about it anymore, the changes you want will be done by midnight.”
“So as long as my cash doesn’t disappear, I’m trusting you.” I mocked, running a finger through my hair.
“I thought we agree that you’d have more faith in you’re Guardian?” He scoffs, the tone of his voice, exasperated.
I released a chuckle, shaking my head in return. “Alright old man, thank you for doing this.”
“As soon as you’re 21, I expect a compensation.”
“Thomas will handle it.”
“You know what, I had enough of both those boys for a lifetime.” He hangs up and I burst out laughing as I catch Thomas’s expression from the corner of my eye.
“What was that about?”
“David’s been helping me with some of my funding.” I explained, trying to keep a straight face. “He’s my Guardian after all and he wants things to be as smooth as possible so my future doesn’t abruptly disappear.”
“That sounds...” Mason trails off, offended. “Not like Mr Cain at all.”
“Since when was he so close to you?” Thomas demanded, sounding sarcastic. “All we hear from him, is; nag, nag and more nagging.”
“You see that’s the difference,” I winked at both of them. “I’m likable.”
“Are you sure this is the place?” Mason glances at Thomas and I admit, even I had my doubts.
Thomas shoots both of us a heated glare which probably meant he took offense to our lack of belief in him.
“I followed you’re instructions,” The heir of Graymoore pointed at the slick black card Mason held. “Don’t blame me if you think we ended up somewhere else.”
This made Mason hold the card higher up in front of him.
I watch the duo with growing exasperation and then back at the building in front of us.
By all means it wasn’t bad or anything. In fact it was probably the most cleanest looking block in the entire street.
Through the windows, I could see sketches of drawings and arts all hung up against the walls and pillars.
Golden chandeliers, brightened the entire building giving it sophistication I didn’t know possible.
If you peeped a little closer you could even see several staff members walking around, all conversing with one another and their customers in bright smiles.
The lit up cursive gold-like name is displayed at the very top.
We were here.
No denying it.
Then again most of Uppertown is usually like this.
Fancy and big.
“You can’t expect every underground plot to be in a dark alleyway somewhere with loud bass and drugs do you?” I stated, bored over the fact that these two think we weren’t at the right place.
“I guess?” Mason scratches his head, gaze narrowed into confusion. “So what’s the plan? We go in and make a move?”
“No, that’s a stupid idea.” I hissed at him, turning my body aside so he could see the glare in my face.
Even though we were opposite the building and under a dimly lit post, I can’t help but scan my eyes up and down the street in fear of being found out.
If all our assumptions about Travis had been right we had to be careful.
“If Travis is in there he’ll run the moment he sees something is amidst.”
“We don’t want to cause any other trouble either.” Thomas supports, clearly analyzing the situation. “Judging from what I see this place is pretty high end. One wrong move and we could be getting involved in something neither of us like.”
“Okay then we stick to the shadows.” Mason iterates slowly before a frown overtook his senses. “Why do I feel like this place is familiar? Like I’ve seen it before?”
“You’re not wrong.” Again, Thomas is all talk but no explanation.
However when I look at him I realized, he too, is unsure.
“Doesn’t matter,” I shake my head. “I’m getting in there, whether you like it or not.”
Thomas lets out an exaggerated sigh before folding his arms over his chest. “No one’s disagreeing with you. But we’re not walking in there unless we have a proper plan-”
“Here’s the plan, Mason, give me the card. The both of you wait out here while I go in. If what we say is true, I’ll call. If not then I’ll just walk right out.”
“You expect us to wait out here?” Mason looks offended. He stuck his hands into his pockets and lets out irritated scoff.
“Of the people on this street who is A; the heir to a billion dollar company and B; the heir to a... billion dollar company?”
Both boys snapped their mouths back so fast that for a moment I was afraid, teeth broke.
“Look,” Leaning closer, I lowered my voice. “All I’m saying is that there’s no harm in me going alone. If both of you follow, you’ll get recognized, then, we’ll get in trouble.”
There was no point arguing with my logic. It made the most sense after all.
Although Mason looked like he wanted to complain more, Thomas continues staring at me with that unreadable expression.
I held my gaze and did not waver.
If he knew me like he said he did...
Then there would be no question here.
Trust me like how you did back in the Hospital.
So many factors could go wrong, bad or good it didn’t matter.
What did matter, is if he saw me as Rose or Vanessa.
The girl he loved that died or the girl he’s with now?
The ultimate dilemma of what Thomas would do in situations like this still remains a mystery.
Would he trust me to make my own decisions or would he take control?
Finally, after what seemed like hours, he plucks the card from Mason’s fingers before holding it out to me, all the while not breaking eye contact.
I glance down at the card and released a sigh as I go to pocket it.
His fingers tightened over it for a millisecond and I pause, unsure of his next step.
A warming resolve flooded his expression as he speaks. “Be careful.”
I nodded and did not reply, but the shine in my eyes is all he needs to know what I’m feeling.
For trusting me.
For not believing I was Rose.
For letting me do things my way.
Pulling out the same pair of glasses from earlier this afternoon out of my sling bag, I paired it with another colored scarf before tying my hair up into a high pony tail.
“I’ll be back before you know it.”
I darted forwards towards the building afraid that if I looked back Thomas would know what my true intentions were.
Walking in the grand building, I held in my breath and took a scan across the floor.
Loud chatter and mixed conversations colluded the air in front of me where several staff members conversed with their clients.
All of them looked clean, simple, sophisticated.
Much to neat for a name card that we found at the back of someone’s wall.
Then again appearances can be deceiving.
“Hi, welcome, do you have an appointment?” The young lady at the counter asked the older woman in front of me.
She had dark ebony skin with braided hair.
Friendly, from what I can tell.
“Yes I have an appointment with... Sarah?” The older woman replied, frowning for a bit.
“Ah, you’ll find her back there near seats 12 and 13.” She gestures to the upper landing of the building and the older woman nods, clearly appeased with the service.
When it was my turn, I wrap my hands around myself and let out a shaky exhale so it would seem like I was shy.
The tag on the dark skinned girl lit up against the light.
“Hi, welcome to Esora’s Arts do you have an appointment?” She politely asked, her dark eyes soft.
I shake my head. “No... not necessarily... my friend recommended this place to me. Said it was a good place to get inspiration?”
I was on a whim here but I could only hope she bite the bait.
Sintia throws her head back and laughs. “You’re not the first person who said that. Admit tingly, the building is pretty gracious isn’t it? The owner decorated the place all by herself.”
“Oh wow, did that meant she painted all these?” As a point, I gestured to several art work all hung up on walls and strings.
Somehow it was placed in a way where it didn’t look too messy or tidy either.
“There are other artists in the building.” Sintia has an admiring glaze on her face just talking about it. “The owner’s rather picky when it comes to choosing people who work for her but then again isn’t everyone?”
It was progress but I still wasn’t getting anywhere near to finding Travis.
“My friend Hailey told me about a guy who works here? Says he’s pretty good...”
“You can give me his name and I’ll check the database to see if he’s free tonight.” Sintia typed something on the computer as she awaited my answer.
When she does this, the shirt below her shoulder lowered down, revealing a black mark.
Swirls and four tips jousting out.
Exactly like the dagger.
It felt as though my heart was about to beat out of its chest.
He had to be.
Taking the card gently out of my pocket, I held it to my side and forced my resolve to remain calm.
It was make it or break it.
“Travis. Hailey told me his name was Travis.”
Immediately, Sintia ceased typing.
Her dark eyes continued to stare at the computer, frozen in a state-like manner.
It was only minutes later when she slowly turns her gaze over to me, no longer friendly.
“I’m sorry, I’m afraid we don’t have that name under our database.” The fact that there was a hard glint in her eye tells me she was lying.
“Oh, was I wrong then?” Placing the card over the counter, I remained unsure with her, just so she could continue believing I was nothing more but helpless.
Sintia’s dark eyes stared at the black card in astonished anger before quickly swiping it off the desk. “You’re not supposed to come from the front.”
“Where else was I supposed to go...?” I gave out a timid shrug. “Some guy shows up, gives me a card and didn’t say any other instructions.”
Sintia bites her lip from where she stood and quickly gathered her things before rushing out from the counter.
“Please, follow me Ms...?”
“Decker. It’s Decker.”
“Decker,” She spat the name, all friendliness gone. “Follow me.”
When she proceeded to make her away across the landing, I dutifully followed silently thanking myself for my great improvisation.
One fuck up and that would be it.
The deeper and deeper we moved into the building the more I see Esora’s Arts isn’t just about well... art.
It’s in a literal sense, physical art.
We passed rows and rows of clients and busy staff members who all either did hair grooming, facials, manicures, hell, even tattoos.
This isn’t some backwater nonsensical building for the rich, it was a foundation for highly sophisticated people.
I can’t help but grow suspicious from the many friendly smiles that surrounded me.
Was all that real?
Sintia slowed to a stop behind shelves filled with dye and moved a lock off the corner.
There was a subtle creak and a door opens up, revealing an array of stairs moving downwards.
“Downstairs now and close the door behind you.” Sintia moves first and I stared at her retreating back, finding warning bells flash in my brain for what I’m about to find out.
If what I saw earlier on was the upstairs... then what was the downstairs?
Something tells me I'm about to find out.
After all, Travis is involved with Aitenev.
The name itself had made Marlen throw a fit.
Shouldn’t I be wary as well?
“Ms Decker,” She stops, just by the first flight of stairs, her voice ringing in finality. “If you could follow me, now.”
No backing out now.
Shaking my head I followed after Sintia, making sure the door closed as we descended lower and lower, far away from anyone’s reach.
“Can you please tell me where we’re going?” I ask, faking fear once we’re on the second flight of stairs.
“Mr Main will debrief you soon, don’t waste anymore of my time.”
If it wasn’t for the fact that she said his name, I would’ve broke character right there and then.
Unfortunately, I had to swallow my actions.
We finally reached a red door with a giant poster obscuring half of it.
The watercolor painting is odd, fairy-like, with streaks of ice blue and white snow.
Two identical high shoes situated themselves in a criss-cross manner at the very center with blue water color ribbons elongating out.
Why did it looked familiar?
Sintia taps her foot impatiently and knocks on the door three times.
There’s a distant clanging before a metal plate is slid out from between the door.
A pair of dark eyes appeared through the minuscule crack.
“Who is she?”
“One of Travis’s lost girls. She came from the front.”
“That would be bad for business.” He muttered in agreement, and I could feel him glare.
“At least she didn’t wear anything skimpy. The clients would all freak if they found out what we’re doing here.” Sintia lets out a relieved sigh and fanned herself before putting a hand to her hip. “Wanna open the door now, Jack? I don’t have all day.”
Jack scoffed before closing the metal plate and unlocking the door, revealing a burly sized man with an unshaven face.
I recognized Sintia’s mark on his wrist, just beyond the folded sleeves.
“Go in,” Sintia shoves me inside and I gritted my teeth, not wanting to lash out now.
“Jack bring her to Travis for me and settle this. If that asshole wants her then you know what to do.”
“Of course,” He grabs hold of my arm and shuts the door close before twisting me around harshly.
I take in the new room I’m in that is filled with crates and packages.
All of them are labelled and ready to be shipped.
“Keep moving, I don’t have time for this.”
Before I could react, Jack is now pulling me through the masses not caring that his long steps are much too big for me to catch up.
It was another few more minutes later when a prominent smell began to burn in the air.
Sweet and spicy.
I inhaled it, commiting the smell to heart.
We reach another corridor splitting four ways.
It was an exact mirror image of the floor plan upstairs, except instead of it being bright and beautiful, it was dark and grim.
There’s a subtle rhythmic thumping of bass beneath my feet as rows and rows of doors greeted me, all different colors and marked with numbers.
The once silent air is filled with cloud-like fog and fluorescent neon lights.
“What is this place?” I asked, hoping the steely edge of my voice is mistaken as fear.
“Somewhere you’ll be working if Travis accepts you.” He grunted in reply as we headed to the left direction.
I’m about to ask again by what he meant when I stop myself just in time.
The door, colored blue, plated 16, in front of us is slammed open and a young girl, ran out, fear in her face as another much older male chased after her holding onto his pants.
Jack immediately ceased the girl in a death grip as she trashed around, tears streaming down her face.
“Let me go! Let me go, please!” Her loose t-shirt is torn in several places and I could see marks on her thighs where the shorts did nothing to hide.
“I thought you’re boss said the services here are reputable!?” The older male demanded at Jack, spit flying everywhere from his mouth.
“My apologies Mr Sanders, I’ll make sure another girl is sent to you’re room.” Jack bows his head.
“I want them young!” He clumsily reaches for the door before slamming it shut, the thud echoing along the long corridor of horrors.
That’s when a sinking feeling began to grow in the pit of my stomach.
Almost every door we pass is locked and occupied.
The girl beside me... tainted in bruises...
Did I.... just walk into a prostitution Ring?
“You should’ve just done what he asked.” Jack growls at the girl he held by her forearm.
She blinks back tears and mutters a few shaky words. “He was hurting me.”
“You signed up for it when you joined us.”
Jack pushed us both along and I held my breath despite feeling like my brain was going to explode with all the new information I’m taking in.
I watched her from the corner of my eye.
Long platinum blond hair and pale pearl-like skin...
She was much younger then I was even though the make up disfigured that.
Even so... you always know.
It was supposed to be simple.
Get in, find Travis, get out, then forget any of this ever happened.
Even though Thomas and Mason unexpectedly showed up tonight that still hadn’t put a stop to anything.
One thing is for sure.
They were right, Travis got involved with something.
Something very, very illegal.
We slowed to stop in front of a grey door without plated numbers.
Jack knocks twice before opening it and sticking his head in.
There was a thud before an angered voice spoke out. “What do you want now, I’m busy.”
“One of you’re girls found her way from the front. She must have gotten lost and I found this-” He pulls the runaway girl in view of the room. “-running out of her room. Mr Sander wants a new one.”
“Shit,” He curses, voice heavy in frustration. “Fine, just get him a 13 year old this time.”
“Right away Sir,” He pushes the girl in first, before I’m dealt the same action and forced to enter.
Immediately, my eyes rehash upon the moldy walls and cracked ceiling.
It was dark with only a swinging orange light bulb hanging at the very front and center of the room.
A desk and chair are the only things that looked oddly new in the so-called office.
But that wasn’t what surprised me.
It was the man, with his arms crossed, smoking a cigarette that stood at the front space that did.
I found him.