A numbing icy wave washed over Amber upon hearing Liam’s words. They repulsed her.

“What do you mean?” she asked, taking a cautious step back, bumping into the door from where they had entered earlier and shredding her palms with her clenched fingernails. Anson instinctively stepped in front of his sister, shielding her tiny frame with his own. His body language practically screamed, ‘Stay away from my sister!’.

At this, Liam began to laugh as if Amber had just asked the funniest question. He laughed so hard he had to hold his sides and the siblings stood silently watching him rocking back and forth in his swivel chair, waiting for him to catch his breath.

She took his laughter as a sign of him not lusting after her body; which in a way came as a huge relief. Even Anson started to relax a little.

Perhaps Liam Smith wanted something menial, like a week of housekeeping perhaps? It was a naïve thought, but for a moment Amber truly thought all would be well and that she and her brother would be able to head to the police station with the crucial piece of evidence to clear his name.

Liam’s hysterical laughter seemed to carry on forever but when he finally calmed down and spoke, he took her freedom, away.

“What I want from you is a small token of obedience.”

Amber took a deep breath, holding it like it was her slipping hope, knowing she would have to let go of it soon. Deep down, she knew that the ‘small token of obedience’ would be anything but small.

“I want you to get a blueprint for me.”

A blueprint? Wasn’t that one of those technical drawings that designers used to build a machine of sorts? A look of confusion appeared on her brother’s face as well.

“I want you to get it from Fabian Williams.”

Amber’s eyes widened and her jaw dropped slightly. At last, she finally understood what Liam Smith wanted. She had seen the two men arguing about a blueprint from the night before. Something about a VX2. She had no idea what it was but seeing how Liam Smith was blackmailing them, it was probably an important blueprint.

“You want me to steal from him!”

Liam Smith had been laughing like a jolly man up to this point but upon hearing her words, a sudden shift emerged in his friendly demeanour. The smile dropped from his face and his gaze turned deadly as his eyes bored into hers, “I want you to take back what belongs to me.”

His words were bitter and dripping with venom and they hit her like a cold wrath. Suddenly, Amber became very afraid of this man, he seemed capable of great evil. This was the side of Liam Smith that only a few had witnessed, one of them being Fabian Williams. The was a side that Liam Smith had kept hidden away from the world.

Then just as suddenly, his demeanour turned a hundred and eighty degrees and once again he donned his jolly façade, flashing his pearly whites at them Amber spotted a piece of spinach stuck in between his front teeth, “It’s either the blueprint or jail time for Anson. You have five minutes to decide.”

The siblings turned to each other, and a minute passed by them in silence. Amber could see both the hope and fear in her brother’s young eyes. Hope to be proven innocent, and fear for his sister.

I cannot lose him.

3 minutes lefts.

All her life she had been working towards a better life for her brother and if they did not grab this chance now, then all would be lost. Who would believe in a man who had his handprints on a murder weapon? Even though Anson had no criminal records, it was only a matter of time before the police tracked him down with whatever forensic science the police force had.

2 minutes left.

She would die for her brother if she had to.

Slowly, Amber let go of her brother’s hand and nodded at him even as he shook his head furiously - a thousand unspoken words exchanged between them.

Liam turned his back towards the sibling to look out of his window, trailing his fingers up and down the blinds, counting down the time.

1 minute left.

Amber gingerly stepped forward towards Liam’s plain wooden desk as her brother’s head dropped in shame. Every step she took felt like a death trap.

Time was up.

“I’ll do it.”


It was close to nine and Amber was back at the La Fire Club. Contrary to last night’s excitement, tonight, the place was filled with tension. Vincent Rodriguez, the tattooed man with the thick gold chain, was found dead not far away from the club in an abandoned alleyway.

A few members of the police force had dropped by earlier before the club opened but word had it that they could not find the murderer. While prints were found on the murder weapon, the biometric scannings failed to match the prints to any suspects. They had cordoned the back alley for a ballistic and DNA analysis, hoping to be able to close the case as soon as possible. Rumours started to spread like a wildfire, but one thing rang true. Vincent Rodriguez had offended way too many people. It seemed that everyone wanted him dead.

Hearing this, Amber felt a surge of relief. This would buy her time to do Liam Smith’s bidding. But on the other hand, she felt guilty for keeping mum. Just who killed Vincent Rodriguez?

She shook her head as she made her way to the back of the dressing room. She had to stay focused. Fabian Williams was coming tonight and this would be her only chance.

Liam Smith had given her one month to get the blueprint.

“He keeps it in a safe in his house. I want you to take a picture of it and send it back to me. Then the video will be yours.”

One month. That was more than enough time. She planned to get a copy of the blueprint within a week. Surely it wouldn’t be that hard to access his safe? All she had to do was enter his house, get his password, drug him and take a picture of the blueprint.

Easy peasy, lemon squeezy. That was her mantra. Her mother used to say it to her as a child whenever she needed some confidence.

She spotted Madam Cecil sitting at one of the brightly lit vanity tables. Bulbs of light surrounded the tall rectangular mirror, highlighting the worry on Madam Cecil’s face. She was massaging her temples with both hands. Around her, the hostesses were putting on their make up in silence. The place was so quiet one could hear a pin drop.

“Cecil?” Amber called out softly, touching the woman’s bare shoulder with her hands. It was cold and clammy. At her name, Madam Cecil whirled around and gave Amber a tired smile. The woman had bags under her eyes - the police must have been tough on her.

“Yes, Amber darling?”

Amber sucked in her breath, willing herself to speak. She blinked awkwardly and looked down, shuffling at her feet. Her sneakers were worn out and her right toe was poking out from it.

“Speak darling…we don’t have all evening,” Madam Cecil frowned, getting a little impatient.

“I….I’d like to auction myself.”

The woman’s eyes shot wide open and in an instant, her frown turned into a big and cat-like smile. From the corner of the room, Lola’s head shot up from her books. A few others turned to look at her in amazement.

It’s now or never.

“But on one condition,” she whispered, willing herself not to cry. She was going against her own principles. She would not cry, she could not cry.

Madam Cecil stood up and flung her arms around Amber, her perfume holding Amber’s nose ransom. She had to pry the older woman’s arms away from her just to breathe.

“Of course darling! With that faced and body of yours, we could fetch up to a million!” she twirled Amber around like a little girl before shouting out to one of the hostesses.

“Bree! Get Amber the auction dress! The crowd’s going to go wild tonight!”

She turned her attention back to Amber, “Now tell me what you wish for? A car? A raise?”

Amber gulped, her heart felt like it was about to leap out of her chest and she realized that her lips were trembling, “I need Fabian Williams to win the bid.”

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