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.”
What have I gotten myself into? Amber wondered as she stared at her reflection. In the full-length mirror that hung from the crimson white walls of the dressing room stood a stranger. Is that me? She gaped, peering into the mirror and raised her right hand, waving it slightly. The redhead in the mirror waved back. She could not believe her eyes. Standing in front of her was a beautiful, elegant and sexy looking woman. She blinked, feeling a little like Cinderella. Except Cinderella had never been auctioned off dressed like this, she thought wryly before her reflection tugged at her attention once more. Her eyelashes had been curled up to bring focus to her emerald eyes and while her face had largely been kept to a bare minimum, it was clean and glowy with only a faint red tint to her lips. Her neck looked extra slender, and it was all due to the silken black kimono with gold butterflies that parted suggestively at her shoulde
Fabian Williams was furious. And rightly so. What the hell is she doing?! He had started the day with a blast - his company had successfully acquired the Silverware, a company from New York specializing in virtual reality systems. He even declined the offer to celebrate the victory with Elon Musk just so he could come to the La Fire Club to see her! Elon Musk! He had turned down the great Elon Musk just to find out that Amber Banks was auctioning herself off! Damn it! Has she gone mad?! Fabian stood in a darkened lounge lit with low lights on the first floor of the La Fire Club. The lounge was big as it was spacious, with plush armchairs sprawled around and scantily clad women serving drinks in sheer lacy kimonos. A few men were here, some of whom Fabian knew and some he did not bother to get to know. These men were here for one thing and one thing only. Sex. Fabian himself had been here before, he had even ‘purchased’ a few
Her fate was sealed. A man had offered six million for her body. Had it been a dream, she probably would have woken up laughing. Except that this was real. This was a living nightmare. Amber looked up from the maroon carpeted floor where she stood, shielding her emerald eyes from the glare of the spotlight with her hand only to see an enormous blackened mirror greeting her from the first floor. She quickly looked over at Cecil, biting her lips in anxiety. She could feel her heart beating furiously and it felt like it would burst from her chest at any given moment now. Please let it be Fabian Williams…she willed, ignoring the deafening cheers and applause that came from the all-around sound system. The room’s speaker system was connected to the lounge above and while she could not see any of the bidders, she could hear their every cheer and jeer. She did not like their voices, they all sounded like hyenas creeping in on their prey. Madam Cecil
Fabian Williams stood stoically in front of the door of the waiting room as Cecil chatted non stop. He was not listening to her, she could have been talking about the end times for all he knew, all he cared was taking Amber Banks away from the club. He had to make sure that she was safe.But will she be safe from me? he had to wonder. Two months was not a long time, neither was it a short one. He contemplated whether to put her up in a hotel room or to have her stay at his place.Or you could just send her home, his inner angel with a little halo on its head suggested, flapping its feathery wings. No one would know and you’d be doing her a favour.What?! And let that SIX MILLION go to waste? his little devil complete with horns a tail screamed, shaking its pitchfork in the air. She signed the bloody contract! She belongs to you now! Bring her home and shake her up in bed! Set her world on fire and *poof*, Fabian me
Anson leaned back against the wall where he was sitting, allowing the sheer curtains to flap at his dark auburn hair. Out the window, the moon shone bright like a big ball of night light. This was his favourite spot growing up, he would sit here to read and finish his homework while Amber helped out at the bakery downstairs. It was his go-to place whenever he felt scared and alone.But tonight, this spot provided him with no comfort and the soft touch of the curtains which he used to love gave him no solace. Tonight, he felt only fear, disappointment and anger. Fear of imprisonment, disappointment for not being able to prove his own innocence and anger for not being able to stop Liam Smith from blackmailing his sister.He tucked his face between his knees, hugging himself. He couldn’t just let his sister risk her life trying to steal some blueprint. What if she got caught? What if both of them ended up in prison? He had to do something!Anson did not tell
Fabian almost laughed.Just what is she trying to do? The redhead had the silliest smile on her face, it was amusingly goofy. She looked like she was trying to pull off a constipated Kardashian look.Still, with his outstretched arm, he pulled Amber out of the car seat and at that moment, he looked down at her feet and saw her torn sneakers - one of her toes sticking out. He’d witness women wearing torn jeans, they were a fashion statement, but torn sneakers? That was a first.She must really be strapped for cash, he thought, making a mental note to get her a new set of footwear in the morning.“Come,” he threw the backpack back at her and she caught it with her hands as though it was a football. He motioned for her to follow him to his front door and as she did, he pressed the button on his car remote – the front lawn parted to reveal an underground hangar.Amber jumped slightly in surprise and bumped into his back at the sight of the
She stared into his espresso brown eyes, holding onto his burning gaze for a second before her attention turned towards his mouth. They were very sensual, and for the first time in Amber Banks’ twenty-one years of life, a little seed of desire bloomed within her.Get a grip, Amber Banks! You’re here for the blueprint!Amber hastily pulled her hand away and took a few steps back, forcing an awkward laugh, “Uh…yeah...I do.” Her only attire in the backpack was the kimono and she sure as heck wouldn’t want him to see her in that. No, that would not be a wise thing to wear. She decided to sleep in her t-shirt and jeans.Fabian did not buy her lie this time and a little smile played on his lips. Funny how she never noticed it but he had dimples. She’d always love dimples.Stop it! Think straight!“Wait here,” he demanded, not that she had anywhere else to go, and walked off to the o
Fabian opened his eyes to the sound of his phone ringing, yet again. He didn’t even have to look at the caller ID to know who it was. Doesn’t she ever give up? he cursed under his breath, pulling the comforter over his head The phone kept ringing until Fabian surrendered to the incessant blaring of his ring tone. Maybe he should just bar her calls from now on. “What is it?” he growled into his phone. The reply was curt and formal, with a cold undertone, “There were guests at our residence last night to celebrate your father’s birthday. I told them you were under the weather. I’d appreciate it if you went along with the story.” Unwell my foot, I was at the club. He ended the call without answering her. It was the second morning after his father’s birthday. The reporters who attended theparty would have a field day if they knew just where he was last night. He could see it now, the headlines screaming ‘INS