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Chapter 12 : Madelyn

Chapter 12 : Madelyn
Sunday, July 18th, 2021
( 9:40 pm )

They know what I did.

They know I was standing behind those shelves, and they know I was there to witness each and every dirty detail of what happened next.

To my surprise, however, they didn’t seem to mind. Not one single bit.

Xavier called out my lie so blatantly and while I’m embarrassed about it, I’m also too exhausted to worry right now.

Thankfully, there’s only thirty minutes left, give or take a few. All I have left is to shoot the fireworks, pack my stuff, and say goodbye.

Sounds simple, right?

On a normal night it would be, but this shoot has been anything but normal.

With Xavier close behind me, and Alec, Caleb, and Hailey elsewhere, it’s fair to say my attention is a bit preoccupied and my focus is limited.

My brain physically hurts from all I’ve learned today, including the fact that I’m now employed at the most exclusive nightclub in the world.

I would never admit it to them, but their “offer” just happened to be exactly what I needed right now.

I’ve had to cut into a lot of my savings to afford my private investigator, along with the hotel fees. Now, I’m starting to run low.

I really need to find an actual place to stay, the sooner the better at this point.

I make a mental note to start looking first thing tomorrow, but right now, I just need to get today done and over with.

Since it’s now dark out, I once again had to readjust my camera settings, but that really didn’t take long.

With my camera ready and connected to my tripod, I chose to take a break and eat the large arrangement of food Xavier brought for me.

At first I thought it might have been poisoned, but the truth is that food is exactly what I needed right now. I’m seriously starving from skipping dinner.

While the food might have been at Carter’s command, it still took me by surprise that Xavier willingly delivered it.

The three of them are screwing with my head, and to be completely honest, I don’t know what to make of it.

While there are still a lot of questions I need to ask them, after our conversation, I no longer think they’re a huge threat to me.

If they wanted to kill me, they would have done it by now, and most certainly wouldn’t have wasted their time asking about my arm if they were planning on having me dead anyway.

That of course then leads to the issue of me telling them about my panic attacks.

I don’t know why I did, but something about them made me feel the need to open up. It was surprisingly easy to do so.

Even though I’m a bit nervous around them, that doesn’t change the fact that they’ve also created a need inside of me I didn’t know I had.

No matter who I’ve been with, not a single person has been able to make me feel as turned on as the way those men did. And they haven’t even done anything to me yet.

Yet? What am I even saying?

There were three of them for starters, and I doubt they see me as anything more than a liability anyways.

So why the hell did a part of me want to be in place of that woman from earlier?

Shaking my head slightly, I force my brain to clear itself of those thoughts.

I can’t think that way, they’re murderers.

Hot murderers, but still.

The one currently standing behind me was joined by the other two, but they didn’t speak.

The hairs on my skin rose at their presence, so I knew it was them as I was picking away at some of the pasta on my plate.

“What, you don’t like mushrooms?” Caleb’s voice suddenly asks from beside me, nearly giving me a heart attack.

I didn’t even hear him coming.

Looking down at the pile of vegetables pushed to the side of my plate, I wrinkle my nose in disgust, “No, I hate them.”

Caleb lets out a quiet chuckle at my reaction before saying, “Me too.”

Looking behind me, I see that Alec and Xavier have gotten caught up in speaking to some of the other guests. It’s almost amusing at how annoyed Xavier looks.

He’s definitely not a people person, but at least he’s trying to be polite. Trying being the keyword.

“Hey,” Caleb says, grabbing my attention. Looking up at him, he lets out a short sigh before continuing, “I came here to say that I’m sorry for putting you through all of this.”

Wow. That most certainly wasn’t what I’d expected him to say.

“I wish we could have met under better circumstances and while I know I cannot change the past, I want you to know that we will never put you in that position again.” He apologizes, holding eye contact so I can see that he’s being genuine.

It doesn’t make everything okay, but his words meant a lot more to me than he knew.

It was him acknowledging how scary that night had been for me, even if he was unfazed himself.

“Thank you.” I murmur, but I look at him to show that I really do appreciate it.

He looks back at me just as intensely and it causes a warm feeling spread throughout my body.

I wish we could have met under better circumstances too.

_____

The firework show couldn’t have lasted more than eight minutes.

It was my final piece of the night, and I’m so thankful for it.

A long night’s rest is well overdue, and after the long day I’ve had, I’m not too worried about being able to fall asleep.

I collapsed the legs of my tripod and carried the stand in one arm, with my camera still looped around my neck.

The party most certainly wasn’t over yet, but the couple thousand photos I’ve captured are more than enough to suffice.

At this point, I’ve packed up the majority of my things and organized them to fit in the back of my small car.

Just as my hand goes to read for the door handle, the ding of a notification draws my attention to my phone.

$5,000.00 has been deposited into your account.

$6,200.00 has been deposited into your account.

What is this?

I know this is the money for tonight’s shoot, but there’s clearly been a mistake on Carter and Jules’ part.

I quoted them at just over $6,000 in total, so why did I receive nearly double?

Placing my camera on the driver’s seat of my car, I toss the tripod in beside it before locking the door.

I planned to say goodbye anyways, so I’ll just mention the mistake then.

Walking out of the parking lot and back over to the main crowd, I spot Carter almost instantly.

When he sees me, he raises his hand to gesture me over to him and I do so.

“Hey, I hope you’re feeling better.” He says, referring to my ′dizziness′ earlier.

Playing along with Alec’s lie, I tell him that I’m feeling back to normal.

“Thanks for the plate of food by the way. You didn’t have to do that.” I thank him, remembering that he sent Xavier to feed me earlier.

“I’m sorry?” He asks in confusion.

“You gave Xavier food to give me to help with my head earlier?” I remind him, but my words only cause a look of surprise to appear on his face, before it goes back to a neutral expression.

While he tried to cover for his friend’s hard-ass personality, I now know the food came from Xavier himself.

Who would’ve thought?

“Never mind,” I say, moving on from the topic. “Anyway, I’m all packed up and about to head out, but there was an issue with the money transfer for tonight’s work. I just wanted to let you know.”

“Oh?” He says in surprise. “Sorry, but it actually wasn’t us who paid you. Two of my close friends are splitting the payment with each other as a wedding gift.”

That’s something I would have known if we’d had more than two days to organize this thing.

“If you don’t mind me asking, what was the problem?” Carter questions.

“I just received $5,000 more than what I’d quoted you, with no indication of whom I should be returning it to.” I explain and he gives me a knowing look that I don’t understand.

“Ah, don’t worry about that. You’ve done an impeccable job tonight, especially considering how last minute everything was.”

“Thank you, but—”

“No, buts,” He cuts me off. “You did great, and I promise that amount doesn’t even come close to making a dent in their wallets.”

Would it be unprofessional to ask for the names of who he’s talking about?

“Also, my friends very rarely make mistakes, so the additional money was most likely intentional.” He finishes, dismissing my reluctancy.

Carter didn’t give me another chance to protest when a group of his family members swept in and tried to steal his attention away.

“Sorry dear, but do you mind if we borrow him for a bit.” A kind lady asks me.

“Of course,” I smile at her before turning to Carter. “I hope you have a great rest of your night.” I tell him.

“Thank you, you as well.” He quickly responds before he’s ushered away by his family.

I’m left on my own in confusion as to who would give me that much extra money and not have a second thought about it.

At this point, I’m too tired and too drained to overthink it. This entire night has been insane, and I think the only cure to calm my racing mind is sleep.

It doesn’t take me long to relocate my car and hop into the front driver’s seat.

Shutting my eyes tight, I let out a long breath, releasing the majority of my tension along with it.

What a fucking night.

Today has quite literally been a roller coaster ride and I honestly don’t know what to make of it.

I didn’t ask Alec nearly enough questions to ease my whirling brain, but I’m not sure if it would have made a difference anyways.

I’m sure I’ll think about it more tomorrow, but right now, I just want to be in the comfort of a bed.

Sliding my key into the ignition, I turn it, bracing myself for the ugly noise it’s about to make. But instead, absolutely nothing happens.

You’ve got to be kidding me.

Typically my car at least makes some sort of depressing noise the first few times before it starts, but all I hear now is silence.

No, no, no, no, no.

“Start, you piece of shit.” I mumble, trying to get it running once again.

Nothing happens.

“Fuck!” I say, slamming my hand against the wheel in frustration.

I really need to invest in a better car.

Resting my head against the steering wheel, I take a deep breath, trying to calm myself down.

It has been one of the longest days of my life, and this is the last thing I need right now.

Groaning in utter annoyance, my heart nearly leaps out of my chest at the sound of a knock coming from against my window.

Jolting my head up, I’m startled to see Caleb’s handsome face leaning down and looking at me with a lopsided grin.

I would roll my window down, but I can’t since the stupid thing won’t start.

He moves back as I open my car door and step out.

“Hey.” I say, looking down at my feet in absolute embarrassment.

I can’t believe this is happening right now. The world couldn’t have just let me go home in peace?

“Hey,” He responds, eyeing the piece of junk behind me. “Car troubles?”

“Apparently so.” I sigh. “It just won’t start, and I’m almost positive the battery died.”

“Hm.” He hums, still looking at my car.

What is he doing here anyways? I doubt the party will be over for at least another two hours at a minimum.

“Come with me. We’ll drive you home.” Caleb says, and by we, I’m guessing he means Xavier and Alec too.

“No, it’s fine. I’m just going to grab a taxi and figure this out tomorrow.” I insist.

“That’s a waste of money and time. Grab what you need and we’ll go now.”

“Caleb, you don’t have—”

“We were about to head out anyway. And the hotel is on the way to the club, so it’s really no big deal.”

I want to protest again, but then my mind goes back to our conversation earlier when he apologized, and Xavier brought me food on his own accord.

I’m scared of what they’re capable of, but I’m no longer scared that they’d hurt me.

One ride wouldn’t hurt anyone. At least I hope not.

Grabbing the keys and locking the door behind me, I take one last glance over to make sure none of my equipment is visible through the window.

It would take me months to save up for new ones if they happened to get stolen.

Turning to Caleb, I see that he’s patiently waiting for me to leave with him, no doubt happy that I am.

I really hope I don’t regret this.

Holding out his arm for me, I wrap mine around his as the two of us walk in the opposite direction of my useless vehicle.

I have to ignore the way his touch makes me feel as we do so.

It couldn’t have taken us more than three minutes to get to their ride and I’m not surprised to find that it reeked of money, just like every other part of them.

The roof of their car is down, showing Xavier in the driver’s seat. Based on his usual angry expression, I can tell he’s already back to his cranky self.

Alec is next to him and a bright smile appears on his face at the sight of me. “Hey, princess. You want a ride?” He grins, and I can’t help but give a small one back in return.

Answering his question for me, Caleb opens the door and gestures for me to move onto one of the back seats.

I end up seated behind Alec and diagonal to Xavier. It didn’t take long for the third to move in beside me.

“Let’s get out of here.” Caleb says with enthusiasm, patting Xavier’s seat from behind.

Unsurprisingly, the car starts up on the first try, loud music instantly sounding from the stereo.

Looking into the rear view mirror, Xavier’s brown eyes meet mine, a devilish glint appearing in them.

“Buckle up, sweetheart.” Is his only warning, before spinning around, and speeding out of the parking lot.

The loud sound of the engine completely drowns out the conversation of others coming from behind us, as I scramble to do my seat belt.

Psycho, I think to myself.

Alec lets out a loud laugh as the music fills the air and the wind disturbs the perfect curls in his hair.

It was weird seeing this more relaxed side of them, but I enjoyed a break from their overwhelming intensity, even if it was in the form of moving at speeds that would surely result in our death if we hit something.

The roads were almost completely empty with the exception of the odd car passing by.

Xavier seemed to have taken this as an indication that he could drive at whatever speed he desired because of it.

I can’t bring myself to look at how much over the limit we were driving at, so instead, I enjoy the feeling of my heart racing and the cool wind against my skin.

Through the mirror, I can see Xavier’s expression remains completely neutral, but he doesn’t seem to look angry anymore.

Thank God for that.

When I glance over at Caleb, I find that he’s watching me and only then do I realize he’s looking at the grin plastered on my face.

I hadn’t even realized that I’d let my guard down slightly until now.

I can’t let myself feel relaxed around them, I remind myself. They’re too dangerous.

So why is it that I can’t find it in myself to feel threatened by their presence anymore?

Under pressure, my eyes drop from his and back down to that ridiculous watch he wears around his wrist.

I’m reminded of how much money they have, as well as how much power they seize.

It’s only then, that something clicks with me.

I’ve been wondering since I’d spoken to Carter about the strangers who would be foolish enough to pay me nearly double of my asking price without getting anything in return.

The answer is so clear, I nearly slap myself in the face for being so clueless.

“Take it back.” I demand, my voice loud enough so that it carries to the front of the car.

“Take what back?” Alec shouts at me over the music.

“The extra five thousand dollars you paid me for tonight.”

“Oh, that?” Alec says innocently. “Nah, I don’t think we will.”

Just when I thought I could relax, they proved themselves to be as arrogant as I pegged them as.

“I don’t want your fucking hush money.” I insist, angry that they thought my silence could be bought.

I’ve lived perfectly happily for years in a place comparable to a dump. Money can make things easier, but it will never be a long-term solution.

Not for me at least.

“It’s not hush money; you earned it. If you transfer it back we’ll only pay you double in return.” Caleb says, striking down that plan.

I go to raise my voice, but Xavier chooses at that moment to turn up the music impossibly louder, effectively drowning out my protests.

You know what, fuck them.

If they think I’m just some helpless pet that’s going to simply roll over to their commands, then they have another thing coming.

I’ve already thought up a perfect plan to give it back without them even noticing it.

For now though, I hold back my comments and instead allow myself to enjoy the adrenaline rushing through my veins at the lethal speed this car is moving.

This is the most alive I’ve felt in months, even if it is alongside these three infuriating, dangerous men.

I can’t help but find myself slightly disappointed at how short lived it was when the music was turned down and the car came to a halt in front of my temporary home.

My heart still racing, I go to unbuckle my seat belt and by the time I turn around, Xavier already has my door open for me.

Yet another nice gesture from this dark man that makes me question just how truly evil he is.

“Thanks.” I say, stepping out of the convertible and onto the concrete beside him.

I don’t get a response though.

Instead, I watch as Caleb tries to follow my path looking at Xavier with mock love eyes.

“Awe, what a gentlemen.” Caleb teases, referring to my open door.

In turn, Xavier narrows his eyes and waits until Caleb is just about to step out, before slamming it, merely seconds away from crushing his foot.

“Damn, you were doing so good too.” Alec teases as he too gets out.

“What are you doing?” I ask at the sight of them all moving in behind me.

“What kind of people would we be if we didn’t walk you to your door?” Caleb jokes as he sneaks up and tries to snatch the car keys from Xavier’s pocket.

He however is much too sharp and seemed to predict his movements before Caleb even thought of them.

Dodging him, Xavier swiftly moves in beside me, placing a hand on my back to direct me into the building.

“Careful sweetheart, you never know what dark things may be lurking at this time of night.” Xavier mutters into my ear, responding to my question earlier.

“Darker than you?” I taunt.

I understand their motives for killing that man, and I know I’m not completely innocent in his death, but that doesn’t change what happened.

The most unsettling thing about it is how Xavier didn’t blink twice when pulling that trigger.

That night most certainly wasn’t his first time killing and I haven’t forgotten it either.

“No. There’s only one thing in this world darker than me, and you will never have to worry about meeting him.”

“What’s your point then?”

“To be smart.” He says, warning to be heard in his tone. “And very, very careful.”

Is this some pathetic attempt at trying to scare me?

What they fail to understand is that I’m not scared of them hurting me; my fear is from something else that even I can’t pinpoint.

I’m sick of their mind games though, without a doubt this being another.

We’re getting close to the hotel doors when an idea pops up in my head.

It’s harmless but effective in proving my point.

Leaning into his touch, I press my hip against Xavier’s large body as we walk.

I feel him tense in surprise, but he keeps his stoic expression and his gaze forward.

Secretly slipping my hand behind me, I move into the pocket crushed between our bodies, the same one holding the keys to his car.

One of the first things my dad taught me growing up was how to pickpocket.

The whole point of my hip placement was so that he would get used to the pressure of it. Once I found my target item, I could grab it without him even feeling it slip away.

Alec is walking behind me, and I’m almost certain he knows what I’m doing. If he does, he doesn’t comment on it.

Making contact with the silver ring of the keys, I swiftly grab them, clasping it in my hand to muffle the rattle of them.

The entire time, Xavier keeps moving forward so that we’re almost at the sliding doors.

Looking up at him, he shows absolutely no indication of knowing what I’ve done.

He underestimated me, and it causes a prideful feeling to spread through my body.

I have every intention of giving them back, but still.

The second the automatic doors slide open, I take advantage of the noise to move and place the keys in Caleb’s hand.

Just as I thought I’d succeeded, my heart skips a beat as Xavier reaches out at the last minute, causing them to fall back into his grip.

Oh fuck.

Before I even had a moment to process, Xavier moved, swiftly grabbing me and slamming my body up against the brick wall.

The look he was giving me was a message as clear as day: I fucked up.

Tilting my head, I meet the cold, dark eyes of Xavier Alcaraz.

His right hand wraps around my throat and I notice a swirl of a tattoo poking out of his sleeve. Cuts and scars line his knuckles.

I try to look at Alec and Caleb for help, but Xavier’s finger keeps my gaze pinned to him.

The grasp of his hand slowly tightens around my throat, seeming to have a direct link to my nether regions.

Down girl. Now is not the time.

My legs press tightly together at his touch and the increasing ache between my thighs only grows as he leans in closer.

For a moment, I think he might just kiss me.

His lips rest only millimetres away from mine and it would only take one small movement to close the gap between us.

“You’re playing a very dangerous game, sweetheart.” He warns, his voice low.

I don’t say anything, and he doesn’t move, no doubt enjoying the feeling of his hand on my neck just as much as I am.

His eyes flicker down to my lips before moving back up to meet my eyes.

I wonder if he can see my desire in them?

The slight constriction to my airways causes my head to feel a bit lighter, only adding to the desire coursing through my veins right now.

This is bad. Very very bad.

Just when I think he’s about to move in, a small smile appears on his face, before a quiet chuckle falls from his lips.

It’s one of amusement though. No, It’s chilling and cruel and evil.

At this moment, I decided that I hate him.

I hate everything about Xavier Alcaraz.

He’s everything I’m not, and I hate it.

Releasing his grip on my neck, he turns and leaves without a second glance, leaving me a panting mess against the foyer wall.

I only catch a brief look of Alec and Caleb following him out before they too disappear into the shadows.


- End of Chapter 12 -

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