Alice was not happy that she was asked to go clubbing in the lair of the enemy. But where Edward went, she was sure to follow. And there were less profile places to debut her new Stella McCartney, so Alice supposed she was also going for herself.
Oh, and who was she kidding? She loved Ferdinand’s clubs –her favourite being their current destination, Hasa Nina– even if the head of the organisation was constantly clashing with Mason Pty Ltd, but that was the brass’ problem.
Hasa wasn’t outwardly exclusive, but the formidable layout, chic design and the people that frequented the places told you if you were out of place or not. Much subtler than Lot 61, in her opinion. Or less subtle – since the place was filled with sharp suits and shiny guns.
Edward Mason, heir apparent of Mason, tapped around on his phone as they were driven, looking severely displeased.
“Not looking very fly, bi guy,” she told him, reapplying her lippy for the second time. The car went over a pothole just as she pulled the lipstick away from her face and she clicked her tongue at the near-miss.
A short booming laugh came from the front seat. “Told you to warn me yourself!” the large man stuffed behind the wheel shot back.
Edward curled his lip and shook his head. “We’re meeting Maria,” he replied, his tone clipped.
Now it was Alice’s turn to frown. Maria Ramirez was the darling only child of Ferdinand and oversaw nearly all their clubs on the west side of the city for the past two years. Alice herself had only been managing Sixth Sense’s décor for eight months! It was her idea to add a third story for business, and it had been booming. But with Edward running it, she knew they’d soon prove to their father how capable they were and then their reach could extend.
She already had plans for one of the Mason hostels – a whole new basement, fitting with secret lead-lined side panels for easy storage if a raid were to happen. If you told her as a 12-year-old foster that she’d soon be adopted into one of the most influential families on this side of the coast’s underbelly, she probably would have believed you. Alice always knew she was destined for power and money, and she never was given the easy way to earn it.
So, she made it the hard way – able to glean the tide of the stock markets like she had a presentiment, learning the ropes from Anthony Mason himself. She had a head for business, something her foster father had only encouraged and now she hadn’t seen her bank account dip below six figures for three years. Not bad for twenty-two.
“She wants to talk shop and gloat over how many of her father’s clubs she’s running into the ground,” Edward added wryly. Alice giggled – sure, Maria was on top of her game now, but Alice knew long-term she was not gonna make it.
With that thought she was hardly going to waste her time with her now – Maria had barely acknowledged Alice, and they all knew the woman only saw Edward as the legitimate heir and business rival. It meant Alice was snubbed and safe in equal measure. But all she was banking on was a free drink card and a good night dancing. Really, her largest concern was how Edward was wrinkling his Armani jacket crossing his arms the way he was.
They pulled up to the club and went through the VIP section – Maria wasn’t into the droll idea of power play and didn’t let them wait, the bouncer ushered them in and handed Alice her night of free drinking.
Alice made it to the bar easily, Edward behind her and ordered them two whiskys, stronger than her usual sugary pomegranate concoctions. It wasn’t from her wallet, after all. She downed hers easily when they arrive, but under Edward’s strict glare she coughed delicately. Her big brother was a little over-protective and kept closer tabs on her than their own father. He didn’t like how easily she was handling her alcohol.
“Oh,” she said mildly, “burns.” With wide-eyes and a pout, she knows he’ll let her off the hook. Instead, his gaze snapped over to the other side of the bar and he sneered. Alice followed his look, but she couldn’t see anyone that interesting. Edward was a bit of an eccentric elitist, though, so she doubted there’s actually anything important his disgust was directed at.
Instead, he drops a firm kiss on her forehead, murmuring “Don’t take anyone home” before he stepped away, now looking upwards.
She spotted the dark beauty waiting at the entrance to the top level of the club, and Alice only spared Edward a kiss on the cheek and Maria a polite nod before ordering a refill as Edward left. She never talked with competitors, their father thought it was beneath her – Alice liked designing and money and he wasn’t one to distract her from her pursuits.
All that sly handling was on Edward. He was hardly a people-person – but he had the nose of a bloodhound, or a tabloid journalist. He was great at digging up a bare spec of dirt and knew exactly how to find people’s weakest defences.
She knew someone qA looking very intently at her and she also knew she might just disregard Edward’s last comment to her. She spotted her across the bar, and Alice has an idea she might have been the one Edward was glaring at.
She was handsome, in an overtly sensual way. No curvvy figure, but the kind of scrappy lithe build that comes from street fighting and a childhood of poverty. Foster homes had taught Alice that much. Her eyes were sky blue, that kind of blue that inspired crusty old men to write poetry on the innocence of white women. Her face isn’t the same angular, sex-kitten look Alice's bestie Rosalie had either, but she didn’t have the glowing, moon-face beauty their father’s secretary, Esme, did. Her nose had been broken just a little crooked and her mouth looked like it ate a lot of pussy.
Alice brought her drink to her lips coyly. “You probably don’t get off unless she drags her nails down your back,” she muttered into the glass. Downing it, she pushes away from the bar and goes off to dance.
She made a friend easily; a small black woman with big bouncy blue curls, and they dance a little together, finding a rhythm that complimented both each other and the music.
“Come get some drinks off boys with me,” her new friend, Charlotte, whispered in her ear. Alice giggled, tucking the free drink card into her bra and nodding. Charlotte led them back to the bar, and Alice stopped at the good-looking woman from before. Charlotte caught her eye and winked.
Alice feeled almost annoyed – obviously, Charlotte had been sent to fetch her, but she was a little too flattered to be very sullen about it. Charlotte walked right up to the sleek, tall woman and slid her ass across the woman’s thighs, settling on the man next to her, and gave Alice an encouraging nod to do the same.
Shrugging to herself, Alice pressed up against her, and smiles. She doesn’t smile back but tapped the counter twice and has a drink pushed into her hand. Alice pursed her lips, but kept the corners of her mouth lifted – she knew that signal. It was how Ferdinand’s cronies got served in his clubs. Which meant she was one of Maria’s goons. For the life of her Alice couldn’t place her face, but her gut told her she wasn’t new.
Alice saw her hand tighten on the glass to lift it but slid her pink-polished fingers around the woman’s thick wrist before she could bring it to her own lips. Alice plucked the drink from her hand and downed it herself, not letting go of her wrist and ignoring the other hand coming up to rest on the counter on the other side of her, trapping her in. She felt like sitting with a cutie, though, so she only bounces a little on her thigh, which forced her legs apart, so Alice could check her out.
Thankfully, she seems properly equipped – a pack-and-play if the impossibly-hard bulge she was sitting on told her anything. It seemed to be the size Alice preferred, and her dress-maker sense could measure it out pretty well, though the woman’s skinny jeans helped. Lightly, she wondered just how straight girls did it – not being able to pick out exactly what size she wanted. Alice was much too precious to put up with that.
“You wanna come to mine?” Alice asked up at her, but the woman shook her head. It made Alice extremely miffed – she just denied what would have been a serious honour. “What, Maria tells you who to fuck?” she snapped, slightly annoyed. Alice was sort of short, but like, definitely cute enough for some gang-banger. Cute enough for anyone, really, she didn’t overestimate people’s worth.
The woman laughed a little at Alice’s words, and shrugged with one shoulder, “Only if it’s her. But I’m working right now. See, Maria has a guest and I’m supposed to keep his little sister out of trouble,” she explained with a wink. Alice is slightly taken aback by the accent. How did some Southern good old girl make it so far up North? Alice felt a tingle in her chest. She always did have a weakness for them – she was from Biloxi, once upon a time.
She didn’t actually care though, she was much too preoccupied by the idea of being babysat.
Alice flicked her slightly in the face by feigning arranging her almost non-existent fringe. The woman flinched slightly at being scratched under the eye, but otherwise doesn’t move. “Fine, I’ll ask her myself,” Alice said curtly. Only three-to-four people were allowed to tell her what to do, and even than she rarely listened.
Alice hopped off her lap and headed to the second floor, her grip still on the woman’s wrist. She slunk after her, in that casual manner that implies she’d be into Alice biting her a little.
Suddenly the woman stopped and pulled her back a little. Alice goes with her but isn’t happy. If she had to ask permission from her little keeper, she could at least pick up the pace!
But she frowned and looked over to the front entrance. Following her gaze, Alice spotted two large men moving through the crowd. Carefully plain shirts, leather jackets, bluejeans. Alice couldn’t see their big black boots – but she knew they were wearing them. Cops never had good timing, nor was the ‘undercover’ outfit very subtle.
Alice was then pulled up, into the woman’s chest and her shoulder jammed against qhat Alice assumed for a second was a pullet-proof vest, until she realized it was the woman’s chest binder. Alice gasped as she immediately started sucking on her neck. It’s nice enough, but short-lived, as the woman backed off and headed upstairs without her.
Not keen on being questioned in the dinky police station that always smelt like pee, Alice skipped out and walked down a few blocks for Emmett to pick her up. She knew Edward will get here soon, hopefully with a little information on her new target.
Edward did not like talking on behalf of his father. But he was the only one Daddy Dearest trusted to do it, so here he was, sipping scotch older than his grandfather and smiling into the jaws of a panther. Or whatever large predator ate the heads of its victims first, so to speak.
Praying Mantis – or maybe a cougar? Too easy.
But what Maria was offering as an apology for the recent turf scuffle over drug territory was interesting. After he’d found some of her dealers in Sky land, Edward had not been kind. It was too easy to tip off a few authorities to some of her more personal dealings, and when she’d realised he wasn’t someone she wanted angry at her, he’d almost been too glad to meet her for a little chat.
Conflict took up so much time. But her peace offering was a bit of a low-ball.
“You want to buy me a whore?”
He would have snorted if he were the type to do so. If he wanted someone to play with, there were plenty closer to home. Freelancers, of course. He didn’t get off on the abused homeless or junkies or the like. They were more likely to owe him money he’d rather get instead.
Maria laughs lightly, her perfectly curled brown hair sliding over her bare shoulders. “Not at all, just a boy with a little debt to me,” she explained airily. Though Edward thought it was illogical to try to be casual while wearing a genuine mink coat. “You can have it all.”
“Why would I want his debt?” Edward asked, still unimpressed. Pressing poor people for money they didn’t have was just bullying, really. And usually he loved bullying, but only dirty cops and corrupt politicians. Mostly because he liked getting payed.
“You’ll want him,” Maria assured him and led him towards the giant glass wall of a window. Because of course she looked down on her peons through a giant window. “Down there.”
The boy’s gorgeous. Rounded shoulders, legs for days, meeting a beautiful swell of an ass that even his shitty Walmart jeans couldn’t hide. Beyond beautiful and in an effortlessly cheerful kind of way that Edward always enjoyed. He liked happy, slutty brats he could spoil – not the meek or bitchy kind, the kind that laughed easily and were also sexy as hell. The boy seemed to fit perfectly.
“… Done a little research on me, have you?” he asked, feigning lightness – he was actually very perturbed and would be looking into this later. Maria only smiled. The door opened, and a filthy young woman walked in, though she might be older than Edward a bit. She looked like she might frequently live in a trashcan and Edward frowned in distaste. It was the woman he saw looking at his little sister in that transfixed, yet intent way that he knew would lead to trouble from one of them.
Disgusting. Edward knew she was working for Maria. It was more than likely Maria scraped her off her red bottom’s and didn’t wash her hands straight away.
The woman walked to Maria and leaned down, whispering in her ear, before glancing at Edward and grinning. It was not a nice expression by any means, but Edward watched as she went and began to search for something out the window. Edward saw the moment the woman spotted his sister and fights off an eye roll. Oh, the trouble was going to be coming from the tiny princess this time. Though that was par for the course. Stealing one of Maria’s men from under her nose would require a bit of skill and a lot of Alice’s usual determination.
“Do we have a compromise?” Maria purred. Edward felt his phone buzz, but he didn’t need to check it. Alice was no doubt alerting him to the police presence slowly agitating Maria’s patrons and slinking their way up here. He didn’t need to be trapped in her shit.
“… Of course.”
Edward accepted the pen and signed for the man’s debt. Interestingly, it seemed that his bills were all medical; some paraplegic man under his name. Shame, if this great nation gave him the freedom of healthcare he’d be in little to no illegal debt at all. “Now if you’ll excuse yourself, you have some of the city’s finest to speak with,” he pointed out, grinning as he sweeps himself to his feet.
The presence of the police doesn’t surprise her. She only plastered on a smile and gave him a finger-wiggle as he made his leave.
Before he walked, he handed his card to the woman his sister would no doubt be researching on right now.
The woman looked at Edward with disinterest and his card even more so. Edward felt a flash of irritation – the woman was taller than him by a precious inch. “I don’t do dudes.”
Edward was deeply offended that he was spoken to in such a manner by a woman in such dire need of Frebeeze-ing. But smirks anyway, mostly because he could tell it was at least a little bit of a lie, even if Edward wasn’t her type – and vice-versa.
“You’ll want to read the back,” Edward told her. It was a dual print card; Alice thought it was cute if their information was all accessible in one. That made the woman grin though, and she grabbed at the thin white paper eagerly. It gave Edward a little vicious stab of pleasure; he’d be very glad to see this woman broken and desperate to be wrapped around his sister’s little finger. After she’d taken a bath, or several, of course.
Maybe some de-lousing too.