Carter Reed

Page 7


“AJ Martins.”
I didn’t blink. I didn’t stutter. My brother’s name was spoken with respect.
One of his hands came to the back of his neck as he stared again, long and hard. He rotated his head around before his hand fell abruptly back to his side. “I can’t believe I’m doing this.” But then he took out a radio and pressed the button. “Rogers, you still there?”
He let go of the button.
“Yeah. What’s up?”
He shook his head, but he pressed it again. “Can you get a message to the boss for me?”
“What about?”
He cursed under his breath, rolling his eyes. “Can you ask him if he knows the sister of AJ Martins? I’ve got her on the street; she keeps asking to see the boss. She’s been here all night.”
“I’ll radio him right now. Hold on.”
The next two minutes were the longest in my life. I held my breath as I felt the bouncer’s eyes on me. He never looked away and at one point muttered, “This could be my job, you know, honey. I could get canned for even asking him this question. He doesn’t mess around.”
I swallowed. I knew exactly who Carter really was.
Then the sound of static came over the radio before Rogers’ voice replaced it with, “Boss said to bring her in and set her up in the penthouse. He’s coming in quick for this one.”
Relief flooded me, so much that a whimper came out of my mouth and I almost dropped to the street. My knees hadn’t stopped knocking since the bouncer first radioed his colleague.
“Hey, easy there.” He caught my arm as I started to fall and pulled me upright. All the disbelief and sarcasm was gone. He was the epitome of professional now and before I had a chance to thank him, he was leading me inside Octave.
The last time I’d been in there everything had been dark. My college roommate dared me. Her boyfriend was a bouncer so he snuck us inside. I’d been scared to go, but Rosalie told me that she was wet between her legs at the idea of that nightclub. When we had gotten inside, I understood what all the rage was about. There were flashing lights, but the rest of the club was completely dark. As we went through all the hallways and mazes, circling the real dance floor, there were hidden corners around every bend. More than once we would touch couples in the throes before we even knew they were there.
Once we got to the dance floor, we never left. Hypnotic beats sounded from the walls, floors, ceilings, everywhere. And since the club was so large, Rosalie and I stayed attached to the hip, but it had been worth the one night of risk. I’d never done drugs, but as we danced the entire night, I felt like I had.
A shiver of anticipation went through me as I remembered the rest of the night, but instead of the darkness from then, the club was flooded in light now. A few bartenders remained behind their counters as they were drying off their glasses and a few waitresses were huddled in another corner with a wad of cash between them. As the bouncer led me down a back hallway, a few girls whisked by us going the other way. Their hair still looked styled, and heavy make-up covered their faces. They wore the same uniform, a piece of black string that crossed all over their body. A larger piece of black cloth covered their br**sts, but one girl let it hang free. Her br**sts bounced as she hurried down the hallway, but all of them had a cold glint on their faces.
The bouncer murmured under his breath, “They’re the dancers. They like to head home as soon as they’ve finished with the private boxes.”
I didn’t know what he meant, but nodded as if I did.
We went through a bunch of hallways, then up some stairs. When we entered a tunnel, I grabbed his arm. “Where are we going?”
The sound of traffic beneath was loud so he leaned close and kept me going. He yelled over the sound, “Boss owns the hotel behind the club. He said to take you to the penthouse so we’re going to the hotel. You’ll wait up there until he can get into town.”
Into town? Carter wasn’t even in town?
We neared the end of the tunnel and he pushed open a heavy door. As it slammed shut behind us, everything was suddenly quiet. Too quiet. Red plush carpet lined a hallway that had gold trimmings on the doors. There was even gold on the doorknobs. I tried to remember what hotel was connected to the back of Octave but couldn’t. It looked expensive.
The bouncer took me to the elevators. A man was inside, wearing a grey uniform. No words were exchanged, but he pressed a button at the top. Then we waited. We went up ten floors before the doors slid open to expose a hallway with a bench and one door to the side. The man from the elevator halted the doors before he walked past us. He opened the room for us and returned to the elevator. The doors slid closed, but the bouncer didn’t move from the hallway.
I looked at him in question. What was he doing?
He gestured to the room. “You’re supposed to go inside.”
“What about you?”
He indicated the wall. “I wait until you leave.”
And then I went inside to wait for Carter Reed.
I walked into the penthouse with my heart pounding, my chest tight, and my hands ice cold. They should’ve been sweating. I felt like I was having a heart attack.
I drew in a deep breath. Was this what I really wanted to do? Carter Reed was a killer. He was connected to the mob. I never knew how important he was to the Mauricio Family, but I knew he was powerful. AJ had always known that Carter would be someone. He boasted about it to me. He would tell me that Carter was going places, that he had the smarts to make a name for himself. Well, he had—a big name.
The place was huge, but none of the lights were on. For some reason, I didn’t have the urge to search for a light switch. Through the glass patio doors, the moonlight shone inside and highlighted some couches that were in a circle, set below the rest of the penthouse in a middle valley. A fireplace was beside one of the couches. I doubted it was a real one, certainly looked like one, but I didn’t know how that was possible in a hotel. I stepped down the two steps and curled into a ball on one of the couches. Then I hugged a pillow to my chest and waited.
My heart was still pounding. It hadn’t slowed down in days.
I didn’t know how long I waited. It felt like hours, it could’ve been minutes. My phone was with me. I could’ve checked the time, but I was reluctant to turn it on. After Ben’s last message, I had turned it on and off at random moments, but it had remained off since the guard took me inside Octave. For some reason, I enjoyed the silence. Though I was scared and my pulse was still skyrocketing, I drew in another shuddering breath and felt something else. Sheltered. I felt safe, holed away in some glitzy penthouse. It was a relief to be away from what happened and what I had done.