"Oh, God. I'm here, Lissa," I rushed to explain through labored breaths as I finally reached the table, quickly becoming seated.
"I am so sorry I'm late, babe." I quickly apologized as I hung my purse on the back of my chair.
"Oh yes. How good of you to finally join me," she deadpanned. "I have only been waiting here for an hour. Really, it's not that long of a wait."
I gave her an apologetic smile. "I got held up. I had an unexpected visitor drop by right as I was heading out."
Her eyes squinted. "Surprise visitor? By whom?"
Frowning, I replied, "My father."
The hardened expression on her face quickly softened. "Your father? Really?" she straightened in her chair. "Damn, Soph. What in the hell did he want?"
I grabbed my purse and pulled out the gold-colored engraved invitation inside of it. "Oh, just to drop by and give me this," I bitterly replied as I handed it to her.
Her eyes moved over the invitation, and slowly she began shaking her head. "Your high school reunion," she barely said.
Her hand quickly found mine as it rested on top of the table. "Throw it in the trash, Soph." she frowned. "The past is just that. You've come such a long way from that time of your life. You have finally been able to move past it."
I gave her hand an appreciative squeeze. "I know, Lissa. I know I am no longer that idiotic girl I used to be."
She scowled. "You weren't an idiot, Soph. Naive, yes, but never an idiot. " Her eyes glazed over. "Please, Sophie. Don't let yourself go back there. Don't let your head go back to that monster."
It's been ten years and still, I flinch whenever I speak or even think about that dark time in my life. A time that should have been a beautiful and memorable moment for me, but instead, it left me with an invisible and painful scar that I will now have to carry around for the rest of my life.
After I left the place I grew up in, I prayed for so many years to forget what had happened to me. Forget about that awful night in my life that changed me into the mess of the woman I am today. Unfortunately, it seems my parents wish to keep me in the past.
They used to call me after I left for college, begging for me to come home. I couldn't do it because I knew if I did, it would have shattered whatever little part remaining that kept me sane.
Once I finished college, I moved further away from my parent's and soon their phone calls lessened as well as their pleads for me to come back home. I even made sure I never told them anything about me or my new life.
When my father stood on the other side of my door this evening, I was completely shocked. I've never given them my address because I didn't want to see them and I didn't want the wrong person finding out where I was.
"How did he find you?" Melissa asked right after the waitress left with our drink order.
Scoffing, "apparently, he and my mother hired a private detective."
I grabbed the complimentary glass of water and gulped half of it down. "He practically begged me to come home. Even tried to bribe me to help him save face for "our" family's sake. I ripped the check he wrote before I tossed it in his face, and told him to leave. I also told l him to never come back right before I slammed the door in his face."
My father has always worried about his reputation. Always worried what a bunch of old rich assholes he called friends at the country club would think of him. I refuse to go back there. He and those assholes can choke on air for all I care. I will not simply pretend and go on as if nothing ever happened to me.
"Good for you," Melissa smiled, squeezing my hand again.
"So, enough of my heavy shit, yeah." I smiled back at her.
She nodded her head just as the waitress brought our drinks to us.
"Give us a few more minutes Carol," Melissa told the waitress. "We haven't decided on what we want yet."
The waitress named Carol gave her a soft smile and then left us to decide.
"So, what did you need to talk to me about?" I asked.
She grabbed her purse and pulled out a piece of paper. "This," she smirked, handing it to me.
My brows dipped as I scanned the purple neon-colored flyer.
"Wonderland?" I asked confused. "What's Wonderland?"
As I stepped out of my BMW, I felt the mid springs chilly air against my face. I buttoned up my jacket as a subtle shiver sent a trail of goosebumps down my arms.
It won't be long before it starts to warm up. The cold during the winter here in New York is frankly the only thing I loathed about living in this beautiful city.
"It won't take long," Tommy said as he walked up beside me.
"It better not," I warned. "I have to be at work in," I flicked my wrist and immediately scoffed as I read the time on the watch my father left me. "Four fucking hours."
Placing his hand on the back of my shoulder, he gave it a stern squeeze. "I'm sorry about this," he said, giving me an apologetic frown.
"Let's get this over with," I brushed off his hand and began walking towards the entrance of the building.
I've got to give a lot of fucking credit to the people who created the club. I've not even been inside yet, but as I'm approaching the front entrance, those bright purple and baby blue neon lights that glowed so beautifully were extremely erotic and alluring.
The owners chose to use the "Alice in Wonderland" theme. As I peered high above the doors, I saw the recognizable bright and devilish smile from the chasire cat, and beside it was a huge bright purple neon sign that read, "Wonderland," and right under, "come and fall into the rabbit hole with us—Don't worry, we're all mad here.."
"It's amazing, isn't it?" Tommy said under his breath, wearing a small smirk as we both walked towards the large and muscular doorman.
I shook my head, turning my attention towards the large man in black.
"What's up to Brian," Tommy greeted the man we approached.
His hardened face slightly relaxed, giving Tommy a faint smile, and then pushed the door open for us.
"Well well well." He chuckled. "I just received the call from Mrs. Heart informing me that you were on your way."
I cut my eyes at Tommy. How in the fuck does he know the goddamn owner, Rayleigh Heart, the wife of the most Notorious, Damien Heart.
I'm not a Goddamn idiot. I knew who owned this establishment. Rumors about them swirl around the city, accusations of their corrupt family. I've even heard that their criminal dealings go all the way to one of the most dangerous Mexican cartels in Mexico for Christ's sake.
To be honest, those rumors are what have kept me from joining Tommy when he comes here to play. Yes, I have those same needs and dark urges as many who come here have. But, I own and run all of my father's family businesses now. I have a reputation to uphold. If any of my clients were to hear just the smallest word about my taboo lifestyle, trust me, it wouldn't go over so well with those judgmental pompous pricks.
as we entered the building, Tommy pointed to the door on the side. "Wait in there while I go find Caleb."
My brows dipped. "What's in there?"
"It's for guests without membership," he chuckled.
I shook my head and headed for the room he pointed at. "Tick tock fuck head. You have five minutes before I leave both of your asses."
Upon entering, I paused at the doorway to access the room. A large black u-shaped sofa stretched around the room.
I looked up and saw a long Blue neon light that spanned around the room.
"Not much to see," I mumbled as I became seated on the sofa.
"No, not really." I suddenly heard.
Jerking my head in surprise, my eyes landed on a beautiful and striking woman.
"It's where we bring new guests," she said.
My eyes widened, immediately recognizing who she is.
"It's where we illustrate everything that is Wonderland." she continued explaining as she slowly walked towards me.
"Mrs. Heart," I stumbled out, quickly standing as I reached for her hand.
I lifted her soft and delicate hand to my lips and brushed a soft kiss against her creamy skin. "Brad Robertson." I introduced myself.
Damn, she's an extremely beautiful woman. I carefully discerned her exquisite features, first noticing her soft honey-colored hair that lay over one shoulder. My eyes then discreetly traveled along the curves of her body. She wore a tight white dress covered in small crystal-like rhinestones, the material fitting her body perfectly.
"I know who you are, Mr. Robertson," she softly laughed.
My eyes quickly met her breathtaking brown ones. "You do?" I asked with meshed brows.
She became seated on the opposite side of the sofa and gave me a knowing smile. "Of course I do. Your cousin Tommy has told us so much about you,"
I frowned. "He has, has he," I tucked my hands into my pockets, now getting an eerie feeling in my gut.
She snapped her fingers and a man in a suit opened the door. "Noah, be a dear and grab a bottle of Jamenson and something fruity for myself,"
The man dipped his head and quickly vanished back out of the room.
Looking back at her, I tilted my head. "What is this?"
She softly patted the sofa cushion. "Have a seat, Mr. Robertson."
I chose to sit on the far end away from her, my eerie feeling only getting stronger. Something isn't right here.
What does this gorgeous woman want with me? And, how in the hell did she know who I was?
"You look nervous. Why?" she asked, brushing a strand of her soft hair behind her ear.
"I'm actually confused more than nervous, Mrs.Heart." I half lied.
Hearing a soft knock I watched as the same man who she called Noah stepped back inside, placing a tray down onto the glossy black table.
"Thank you, Noah. That will be all," she informed him, grabbing the cocktail glass filled with a red mixed drink.
She pulled the glass close to her lips and said, "I brought you here to offer you a proposition, Mr. Robertson. One that could make you a very rich man."
My brows pulled together. "Brought me here?" I questioned.
"Yes, I had Tommy bring you to me."
My jaw ticked. I will kill him. "No offense Mrs. Heart, but I don't see what it is you think you could offer me that I would want."
"And why not? I've never heard anyone ever turning down an abundance of money, have you?"
"When it's dirty money, yes. I know who and what it is your husband does. And I for one don't feel it's in my best interest to align myself with criminals."
"My husband will soon come to you, Mr. Robertson. He will ask you to help him and our family. I have only done you a kindness by speaking with you first."
I swallowed as I stared into her eyes and felt her warning in her icy stare.
"Have a drink, Mr. Robertson," she gestured to the crystal bottle of Jameson on the black glossy table. "please, enjoy my generosity," she then stood to her full height, giving me a breath-taking smile. "Because if it were my husband that was here in this room with you right now, I am almost certain you wouldn't be enjoying yourself."
She walked to the door but paused before opening it. "I see something in you. Something that tells me you won't let my husband down. My husband loves your cousin. And it was because of him that I cane to you first." she softly said.
Taking a deep breath, she glances over her shoulder at me. "Goodnight, Mr. Robertson."