Original Works

Chapter 68: Rumour Has It

clubhouse68

He’d never been this bored in his life. If only he could slip away, he would. All for the sake of show, he sat in the corner attempting to look like he cared. Unfortunately, he was failing at it – acting wasn’t his forte. When the detectives finally called for a break, Richard heaved a sigh and excused himself. He lied about needing to use the washroom, just like Gabriel did ten minutes before him, and exited to the lounge on the second floor.

Richard thought the day wouldn’t get anymore interesting, especially after the Skypeak debacle. But he was wrong. While he filled himself a coned-paper cup of water, the nearby lift dinged. And out from the lift came Matthias and Guinevere.

“What are-”

“Matthias! My man!” Gabriel interrupted.

Richard wouldn’t have known of Gabriel’s presence if not for his false enthusiasm.

“Had a good chit-chat with Guinevere?” Gabriel asked.

“Not that it’s any of your business,” Guinevere snapped.

“I have good ears.”

“I’m sure you do.” Then turning to Richard, Guinevere asked, “Can we talk?”

When Richard didn’t respond, Guinevere walked over and looped her arm around his elbow. She locked him in tightly and pulled him down a hallway.

“What are you doing here?” Richard asked.

“I’m here to save Wayne.”

It was unintentional, but he chuckled.

“I have a plan. A good one. But I need your help,” Guinevere added.

“I don’t like the sound of that. Is that why Matthias is here too?”

“To be honest, it’s Matthias’ plan.”

“Oh, sounds like it’s going to be wonderful.”

“It isn’t. But it’ll work.”

“Reliable as he always is, my good friend Matty.”

Guinevere wasted no time and went straight to what she and Matthias had decided on. The few seconds after she was done, Richard thought she was joking. But when she stared him down, waiting for his response, he knew she was serious.

Repeating the plan in his head, Richard was surprised Guinevere was actually for it. He had nothing to lose, but she did. If she was willing to put her life on the line, it shouldn’t be difficult for him to sacrifice his millionaire lifestyle. After all, it was a very fickle one.

“Alright. I’ll tell the truth,” Richard said.

“You will?” Guinevere’s eyes grew wide, not so much in surprise but fear.

“Matthias is a good lawyer,” Richard assured.

“I know. Shall we then?”

“Ladies first.”

Telling the truth, on that very night, was one of the easiest decisions Richard had ever made. The thought of losing his title and his money was scary, but starting anew was all the more possible if he cut the Lees out of his life. No more parties, no more cars, and no more lazing around, didn’t sound too bad in the light of freedom.

When Richard finally returned to his hotel room, after three hours of confession, three minutes of verbal threats from his father, and three seconds of his mother’s hateful glare, he knew he did the right thing. And for the first time in a long time, he slept without a worry in the world.

The following day, Richard awoke at the cue of his unfed stomach. As he booted up his phone, a stream of messages and missed-call notifications sent his phone buzzing for a good five minutes. Most came from his family, so-called friends, and news outlets. Word had somehow gone out, even before the police could confirm anything. Buried in the pile of information fishing, there was also a message from both Jodie and Zach.

As Richard was about to give Jodie a call, Zach’s caller ID appeared on the screen.

“Good afternoon, Zach,” Richard answered.

“Thank you for picking up. I can’t reach Matthias or Guinevere, and Jodie knows nothing either.”

“Well, to be honest, I don’t know much.”

“I read the news. Did you really tell them everything?”

“Yup. Gave them DNA samples too.”

“So this is it, then.”

“I guess so. You’re in the clear. Go out and celebrate, man.”

“I… I’m not sure about that.”

“They have nothing on you. Unless Wilhelm Group starts making things up, you’re safe.”

“That’s comforting.”

“They wouldn’t have the time.”

“Right. Should we all meet tonight? At the school?”

“You can ask the rest.”

“How about you?”

Richard wondered how much word had gotten out, and if it was even wise to leave the hotel room. A horde of reporters was probably waiting in the lobby as they spoke.

“I’ll get back to you.”

“Alright. By the way, you might want to Google yourself.”

“That should be fun.”

After he ended the call, Richard did as Zach suggested. He looked himself up and found hundreds of gossip sites covering the same news over and over again. Some added their own extreme speculations, while others only used his name as click-bait. But as much as they were ruining his reputation, all he did was laugh.

By the time he was done reading, his stomach had given up growling. Deciding it was time to respond to some of the messages, he recalled wanting to give Jodie a call. And as though the universe was playing match-up, Jodie sent a message a second before he hit dial.

‘Let’s meet tonight. I’ll come over.’

If anyone read the conspicuous message, the Lee scandal would be long forgotten.

‘I need your help to pass some information to the detectives,’ another message popped in.

Richard thought about asking what it was about, but then decided it might be better to hear it from her in person. Still, he contemplated. Zach’s need for a secret meeting to put everyone on the same page felt important. Which should he agree to? Richard had to choose.

Next Chapter >
(For the chapter list, visit here.)

____________________________________________________________________________________________

The Clubhouse © 2014 – 2016 by Jeyna Grace.
All rights reserved. No part of the series may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording, or otherwise, without prior written permission from Jeyna Grace.

Original Works

Chapter 67: Coming Clean

clubhouse67

“Why isn’t he picking up?” Guinevere muttered to herself. She had officially left five missed calls.

Was Matthias ignoring her? Did he decide to bail at the last minute? It had been an hour since she’d arrived at the police headquarters, and Matthias had yet to make an appearance. He couldn’t possibly be stuck in traffic. So what was taking him so long?

As she was about to redial Matthias’ number, a familiar car drove past the foyer toward the outdoor carpark. Bracing the chilly night air, Guinevere exited the warm indoors to greet the guest of honour.

“I called you-”

“One too many times,” Matthias interjected.

“Sorry. I was just… worried.”

“Sure. Where are they holding Wayne?”

“I don’t know. None of the police officers would tell me anything.”

“Not surprising.”

As the pair entered the oddly quiet building, Guinevere expected Matthias to flash his card at the reception and demand for answers. But when he gestured her to the waiting area, she frowned and asked, “What’s the plan?”

Matthias cleared his throat and Guinevere stood on tippy-toes, eagerly waiting for his grand idea. But as his lips parted, his gaze shifted toward the second floor. Whatever he wanted to say was immediately put on hold. Instinctively, Guinevere turned to look.

With elbows resting on the railing and a sly smile, Gabriel was watching them. He waved, obviously not to her, but to Matthias.

“What’s going on?” Guinevere asked.

“He wants me to work with him.”

“What? Why?”

“I don’t know. Anyway, take a seat.”

Guinevere gave Gabriel a narrow glare, before proceeding to resting her aching feet. But despite the physical relief, a discomfort lingered.

“Can he hear us?” Guinevere asked in a whisper.

Matthias shrugged and sat across her. He didn’t seem to mind sharing his plan within earshot of Gabriel and the other lounging police officers. And for a brief second, Guinevere was afraid – afraid of what he was about to say next. If only he’d asked her to prepare a bag of money, such fear wouldn’t exist at all. If only. Whatever Matthias spent one hour coming up with clearly wasn’t the kind of plan she usually concocted.

“I have to ask this first: will you do anything to help Wayne?” Matthias said.

“Yes, of course.”

“Are you sure of your answer?”

“Yes. Why wouldn’t I?”

“If only you’re certain-”

“What’s the plan?”

“The plan is to tell the truth. The whole truth, from beginning to end.”

“I… don’t…”

Did she hear him right? What he said sounded like a confession.

“You need to tell the police about your family, the wedding, and the clubhouse. You need to tell them everything you know.”

“Are you crazy? I can’t do that. I’ll be throwing my family under the bus. I’ll go to jail. And Wayne… Wayne won’t forgive me.”

“That’s the only way.”

“That’s not the only way. I called you because you don’t do ‘only way’s.”

“Aren’t you tired, Guinevere?”

“Of course, I’m tired. It’s late and I’m stuck here trying to help Wayne.”

“And why are you stuck here trying to help Wayne? The masterminds behind everything are on the second floor buying their way out of their crimes. Nothing you do, no amount you pay, can put them in prison except for telling the truth.”

“Did you hear what I just said, my family and I would go to jail. And Wayne won’t forgive me.”

“At most, your father would go to jail. You and the rest of your family can play victims. As for Wayne, he’d appreciate the truth more than you trying to see him.”

“I… ah. This is ridiculous.”

“Is it? You have a chance to end it all, right here, right now.”

Matthias wasn’t wrong. The scheming had gone on for too long, and she was tired being puppet-ed around. But could she actually tell the whole truth and nothing but the truth? Was she willing to betray her family and destroy what they’d worked so hard for?

Guinevere bit her lips and clamped her hands. Involuntarily, she shook her left leg. She imagined the whole world quieting down, eagerly waiting for her answer – expecting her to do the right thing. Yet the decision was tearing her apart. She knew what she needed to do, but she couldn’t say it.

“Matthias, what you’re asking of me… it’s…”

“It’s not something you cannot do.”

“That’s the thing, I can’t do it. At least… not alone.”

She’d finally said it. Indirectly. But she said it.

“I can’t do it alone. The police won’t believe me. It’ll be my word against the Lees. And why would the police look into the clubhouse from just my claims alone? I need someone to back me up. Someone to make me look credible, especially after I tell the truth about everything,” Guinevere added. And then she gulped.

The thought of telling the truth was terrifying, but if she could do one righteous act in her life, this was it.

“You’re right,” Matthias said.

“How about you?”

“No. I’m your lawyer. They’ll think we’re scheming something.”

“Well, then…”

There was Zach, who would benefit greatly from coming in. Whatever plans Wilhelm Group had for him would go to waste the moment he worked with the police. Then there was Richard, who would have a powerful statement against his family and access to some of the skeletons in their closet. She would have to rope either one of them in.

“It’s either Zach or Richard,” Matthias said, possibly having had the same trail of thought as she did. “Who would it be?”

Guinevere had to choose.

Next Chapter >
(For the chapter list, visit here.)

____________________________________________________________________________________________

The Clubhouse © 2014 – 2016 by Jeyna Grace.
All rights reserved. No part of the series may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording, or otherwise, without prior written permission from Jeyna Grace.

Original Works

Chapter 66: Sleepless Night

clubhouse66

He knew. He pretended not to, but he knew. And when she finally asked, he decided to tell.

“Richard and I believe your business partner, Neal, is alive,” Matthias said.

Jodie frowned. She didn’t believe him.

“Mr Lee spoke to his assistant about it. His assistant was supposedly heading to the hospital Neal is at, so I got Zach to bug him,” Matthias added.

“And why couldn’t you guys tell me this earlier? Why keep it a secret?”

“Because it isn’t confirmed.”

The reason wasn’t a good one, but he simply wanted to have all the facts ready before letting the cat out of the bag. Half-truths did no one good. Unfortunately, Jodie wasn’t buying it. His effort to seem reliable and trustworthy again, especially after he dropped Jodie’s case, had proved useless. And from her expression, at that very moment, he knew he took five steps back from his one step forward. Clearly, he went about it the wrong way.

“Right. So did you learn anything from the assistant?” Jodie asked.

“I haven’t checked the recording. I can-”

“I’ll go through it, if you don’t mind.”

“It’s still running though.”

“I have a feeling the assistant isn’t at the hospital any longer. So whatever that’s been recorded will do.”

Matthias held back a sigh and shrugged. He was curious to know if Neal was really alive, but he was in no position to ask. So he retrieved the memory card from one of the black boxes and handed it to Jodie.

“Thanks,” Jodie said. And that was all she had to say.

When Jodie shut the van door behind her, Matthias inserted a blank memory card into the same black box. If the assistant was with the Lees, Matthias only needed to listen. Deciding to eavesdrop, he flicked a few switches and brought the assistant’s bug to the main screen. It was black – there was nothing to see. But the audio bar peaked, and Matthias quickly reached for the headphones. Just as he was about to slip it on, his phone rang.

There was no name and he didn’t recognise the number. So he ignored it and pressed the headphones firmly against his ears. A second after the ringing stop, it rang again. Deciding to turn his phone off, he turned over and saw a familiar name on the screen.

Briefly leaving the assistant’s left jacket pocket, Matthias answered, “What’s happening?”

“Hello Matthias.”

“Gabriel?”

“It seems you and my brother get along fairly well, seeing as you answered his call and not mine.”

Matthias thought of asking for Richard, but quickly decided against it.

“I don’t have your number in my phone,” Matthias said.

“Even after I gave you my business card?”

There was no point lying then. He didn’t verbally turn down Gabriel’s offer, but he’d already made up his mind being at Skypeak that day.

“Yes. Why? Do you need me for something?”

“Of course, why else would I be calling? So, what do you say about representing my family in this mess?”

“I’d rather not be involved.”

“Really? I thought we could help each other out. You know, clean each other’s messes.”

“I don’t have messes.” As soon as those words left his lips, he regretted it. “I clean messes, not make them,” Matthias promptly added.

“So I’ve heard. I’ve also heard that sometimes the cleaner gets blamed for the missing ring.”

“Are you threatening me?”

“Why do you say that? I’m just looking for an opportunity for us to work together.”

“I don’t work with undeveloped minds. Teenagers especially.”

Gabriel laughed. And then through the line, Matthias heard Richard.

“What’re you doing with my phone?” Richard asked.

“Talking to your friend,” Gabriel answered. “Matthias, I’ll send you the address. Swing by as fast as you can.”

Before Matthias could decline, the line clicked dead. Shortly after, a message beeped in with GPS coordinates. In disbelief, Matthias chuckled. Gabriel’s gameplay was something Matthias had never encountered – perhaps heavily influenced by his age. Proceeding to turn his phone off, another unexpected call came through. This time, it was Guinevere.

Grunting, Matthias was about to shut Guinevere down when she burst into a frenzy of words.

“I need you, Matthias. I don’t trust my family’s lawyers. Please follow me to the station. I need to see Wayne.”

“What makes you think I can help?”

“You know your way around the law. I’m sure you can get me a few minutes with Wayne. Please, Matthias. I know it’s late-”

“Yes, it’s late. Lets do this tomorrow.”

“I can’t wait till tomorrow. What if something happens to Wayne while the Lees are being questioned?”

“He can take care of himself.”

“Just help me, please?”

Matthias sighed and made a mental note to never date a woman like Guinevere. He was sure Wayne didn’t want to see her. But Guinevere wasn’t going to give up without a fight. Still, Matthias couldn’t simply agree to her request. If he did, he’d have to appear before Gabriel, only to show he wasn’t siding with him. Or perhaps he should go and represent the Lees, just to see if he could find out more. He’d also save Wayne from Guinevere’s pestering. Either way, he wasn’t sleeping that night. Matthias had to choose.

Next Chapter >
(For the chapter list, visit here.)

____________________________________________________________________________________________

The Clubhouse © 2014 – 2016 by Jeyna Grace.
All rights reserved. No part of the series may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording, or otherwise, without prior written permission from Jeyna Grace.

Original Works

Chapter 65: Betting On The Truth

clubhouse65

“What did he say?”

Jodie strode over to Guinevere, who was sitting by the poolside staring blankly at the deep blue. It took her awhile to find her, and by then, Jodie knew Wayne had long gone.

“Nothing,” Guinevere replied.

“He didn’t say anything at all?”

“He wouldn’t answer my questions.”

“Well, at least we know he’s fine.”

“He didn’t mention anything to you?”

“No. And I don’t expect him to tell me anything unless I’m involved.”

Guinevere looked up at Jodie. Her thoughtful expression replaced with apprehension.

“I don’t know what you’re talking about.”

“I wasn’t implying anything.”

“I wasn’t either.”

It was true. Jodie wasn’t implying anything, but Guinevere’s sudden defensive response reminded her of the thing she didn’t know about.

“Are you sure? Because-“

“We should check in with Matthias,” Guinevere interrupted. And without another word, she stalked off.

When Jodie and Guinevere arrived at the van, Zach and Matthias were already scrutinizing the footage. They played back the ballroom scene for the two of them and narrated as the seconds ticked by. Jodie had witnessed the fiasco in person. Yet somehow, the scene played out differently from a different angle.

Mrs Lee was seated beside Mr Lee, oblivious to what was about to happen next. She reached for her wineglass and took a sip when the ballroom doors swung open. In came the detectives followed by Wayne and the clubhouse security. Instantaneously, everyone rose to their feet and began their murmurs. Mr Lee demanded an explanation, and the detectives waved their warrant. They reached for Mrs Lee, but she flung her arms in defence. For a few seconds, the detectives and security tussled. Then the detectives took a step back and warned them about resisting arrest. The Lees had no choice and Mrs Lee unhappily gestured for the detectives to take the lead. As she stalked out of the ballroom, so did her entourage.

At the second replay, which Guinevere requested, Jodie watched where Wayne had been. He stood behind and away from the commotion. The detectives paid little attention to him. And that was a good sign. He wasn’t going to lose his position and he wasn’t going to prison. At least Jodie had one less thing to worry about.

“This is all Wayne’s doing,” Matthias deduced.

Guinevere shifted uneasily on her stool.

“Matthias is right. He’s fine. You’re fine,” Jodie said.

“It’s not over yet. Zach is still a target,” Matthias replied.

“Did any of you manage to call Richard?” Zach asked.

Guinevere was the first to retrieve her phone to make the call. A few seconds later, she shook her head.

“It’d be great if kept us updated,” Zach said.

“It’d be great if I wasn’t left out of the loop,” Jodie added.

Before anyone could naively ask what she meant, Guinevere abruptly stood and bumped her head into the top of the van. Cursing under her breath, she shuffled past Jodie to the exit.

“You alright?” Zach asked.

“It’s late and I’m tired. I’ll talk to you guys tomorrow,” Guinevere replied, as she hastily hopped off the van.

“We’re all tired. We should call it a night,” Matthias said.

Zach nodded and excused himself. He left as quickly as Guinevere did. Unfortunately for him, he’d have to sprint to get away from Jodie. That is if Jodie wanted to confront him again. It was at least a twenty-minute walk to the nearest bus stop.

Turning to Matthias, Jodie asked, “We have footage of the main foyer, right?”

“Yes, why?”

“Can I have a look?”

Matthias shrugged and pulled up the said footage while the shareholder dinner was in session. Either he was playing dumb or his brain was too tired to decipher Jodie’s intentions. Which was hard to believe.

“Rewind it to an hour before the dinner,” Jodie said.

“Why?”

“I need to check on something.”

Oddly, Matthias did as he was told. He rewound past Zach’s encounter with Mr Lee’s assistant and only stopped when Jodie told him to. He was obviously not going to confess without being asked.

“Do you mind?” Jodie asked, gesturing at the controls.

“Sure. What do you intend to find?”

“I don’t know.”

As the footage rolled, Jodie slowed it down to when Zach bumped into Mr Lee’s assistant. Zooming in to where the two made contact, Jodie spotted Zach’s hand brushing past the assistant’s pocket. Unfortunately, the camera wasn’t at an angle to capture the act clearly.

“What are you looking for?” Matthias asked.

Jodie turned to Matthias and smirked. To think she even had a drop of slyness in her blood was laughable. At least now she knew. Trusting Matthias was impossible, but there wasn’t much of a choice to begin with. The only thing she could do was hope he’s a good person.

“Nothing,” Jodie said. “I’m calling it a night. Thanks.”

“Sure. Goodnight.”

Exiting the van, Jodie glanced at her watch. Zach left ten minutes ago, and Jodie could still catch him before he got on the bus. Would he cave and tell her what she needed to know? Or should she turn around and ask Matthias for an answer? Matthias might lie but he might also see no reason to if asked. Jodie had to choose.

Next Chapter >
(For the chapter list, visit here.)

____________________________________________________________________________________________

The Clubhouse © 2014 – 2016 by Jeyna Grace.
All rights reserved. No part of the series may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording, or otherwise, without prior written permission from Jeyna Grace.

Original Works

Chapter 64: A New Tide

clubhouse64

“Richard’s in-charge,” Guinevere announced.

“What?”

“You shouldn’t have followed me.”

Before he had an appropriate response, Guinevere hurried out the exit leading to the ballroom. Jodie didn’t stick around either. She gave him a shrug and went after Guinevere. Grunting, Richard took a quick look around, and as though they’d not heard anything, the staff carried on with their chopping and dicing, ignoring him altogether.

“Well, I guess you guys don’t need me then,” Richard said.

It seemed they’d rather not have him around. And honestly, he didn’t mind their cold shoulders either. Turning on his heel, as he was ready to ditch the task he didn’t sign up for, a sudden ruckus rose from the ballroom. Some of the kitchen staff shuffled to the door for a look. When the yells reached an un-ignorable decibel, all of them cluttered by the doorway. Curious, Richard joined them too. Unfortunately, no ordering and demanding cleared a path for him.

Dying to know what the commotion was about, he decided to go the other way around. Exiting the kitchen, he jogged past the whitewashed walls and quickly arrived at the fork leading to the carpeted hallway. There, he ran into Guinevere again. This time however, she wasn’t alone.

Guinevere strode past him, dragging a man with her. They were in a heated conversation, with the man making obvious attempts to get away. Richard watched as he briefly contemplated on what to do next. But the decision wasn’t difficult that night. While the couple bickered, Richard heard the shuffling of footsteps by the hallway. Those footsteps were accompanied by the self-glorified claims of the woman he still called ‘mother’.

“You will regret this. I know people in high places,” she said.

“You have the right to remain silent. You should consider exercising it,” a man replied.

“I have the right to have you fired,” she retorted. “And let go of me, I can walk on my own.”

Looking toward the hallway, he saw a group of men leading his mother to the foyer. He figured they were the ones Guinevere saw earlier. Richard was now, without a doubt, certain they weren’t on the guest list. As he strode to the fringe of the hallway, intending to follow after the clean-shaven detectives, his route was blocked off by men in black suits. Like a procession, the escorts marched after his mother in attempts to prove she was indeed a powerful woman. And to no surprise, they weren’t alone.

There was another group of suited men tailing behind them. These men were part of his father’s entourage. They swept along like an ocean current, forcing Richard to remain rooted. While he waited for them to past, he caught a glimpse of his father and Gabriel. And just as they drifted by, something he least expected happened. The men halted. Followed by a moment of silence. A moment long enough for Richard to wonder if time had actually stopped.

“Am I invited?” Richard asked.

His father remained tight-lipped, while Gabriel turned to him.

“Unfortunately, yes. Try to keep up,” Gabriel said. As though his words were a cue, the procession continued.

“Well, isn’t this fun.” Richard slipped into the group and slowly fell behind. He didn’t want to be part of the escort, nor did he want to walk beside his father. So he followed from the back, as they entered the foyer and exited the clubhouse.

Outside the building was a train of black, tinted sedans. The chauffeur held the first car’s back door open, and his father swiftly entered. As Gabriel took a step after his father, he gestured to Richard and said, “Get in the front.”

Richard chuckled. Being ordered around by Gabriel wasn’t something he could get used to. Even if they weren’t blood related, Richard was still much older. Having decided to decline the offer and move to another car instead, Richard found his plan stumped when Jodie called after him.

Jodie shuffled down the steps, and without bothering to catch her breath, she asked, “Did you – did you see Wayne?”

“Wayne?”

“Guinevere’s fiancé.”

“Oh, that guy? Well-”

“We don’t have all day,” Gabriel interrupted. “Who is this?”

Did Gabriel not know who Jodie was? Richard wasn’t buying it. “Everyone knows who this is,” Richard replied.

“Right. But not everyone should,” Gabriel stated, before slipping into the car.

As the chauffeur closed the door, Richard imagined Gabriel and his father watching – waiting to see his next move. What Gabriel said made sense, if one was playing their game.

“Do you know where he is?” Jodie asked.

Richard was sure they could hear him from inside the car. Even if they couldn’t, the men standing around him weren’t deaf. Was it a good idea to be friendly with Jodie at a time like this? Should he just brush her off? Yes, he did see Wayne. But the odds of him still being cornered by Guinevere were low.

“You know who I’m talking about, right?” Jodie shifted uneasily. He knew, that she knew, he was contemplating.

Seconds turned to minutes. And the longer he thought about his decision, the more questionable it became. Richard had to choose.

Next Chapter >
(For the chapter list, visit here.)

____________________________________________________________________________________________

The Clubhouse © 2014 – 2016 by Jeyna Grace.
All rights reserved. No part of the series may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording, or otherwise, without prior written permission from Jeyna Grace.

Original Works

Chapter 63: Uninvited Guests

clubhouse63

She said nothing as she accompanied Zach to the loading bay. Once they’d arrived, Matthias gestured Zach into the van while she returned to her job. She gave the list of courses and dishes a run through. And by the time she was done, she had a paper cut and the guests were already gathered in the ballroom.

“We can start serving the appetizers,” Guinevere said.

The kitchen began its scrambling. Seconds later, the service staff entered the ballroom with hors d’oeuvres. In and out they went, refilling their trays, as the chatter of the rich and powerful rushed through the swinging doors. Guinevere was tempted to take a peek, but before she could even get close to the exit, her name would be hollered. Once all the guests had settled down, she gave up.

While a welcoming speech went on in a distance, the grills were fired up and a mixture of smells quickly filled the air around her. It made her stomach growl, but only for a while. Time was non-existent in the kitchen and soon she was calling for the entrées to be served.

Who knew running a dinner service would be this hectic. She always thought reality shows were scripted and she never forgave a slow service. After that night, she still wouldn’t forgive a slow service. However, she did decide to extend her grace period – that was kind enough of her.

After the guests were done with their entrées, there was another speech. By then, Guinevere had lost all interest in the entire agenda. She simply couldn’t wait for the night to end. Knowing there was going to be more speeches and the introduction of the new heir of Wilhelm Group during the main course, she called for a break. To her surprise, no one took her seriously but herself. But that didn’t matter.

Guinevere excused herself to the hallway outside the kitchen, and briefly contemplated on checking in with Matthias. It wasn’t about seeing if he was doing his job, it was simply hoping he’d discovered something new. Why would she put herself through hell if there was no reward? Fingers crossed, she made her way to the loading bay. Seeing as there was enough time, she took a casual stroll. But just as she walked past a connecting hallway, she saw someone that made the seconds rush by.

“Wayne?” Guinevere hurried after the figure. As she stepped onto the carpeted hallway, she was greeted by the back of black coats. There were seven of them and one silhouette was undoubtedly her fiancé.

Guinevere thought of calling his name, but two questions held her back: who were the other six men and why were they headed for the ballroom? If she wasn’t mistaken, there weren’t a group of six men on the guest list. Jogging back to the kitchen, to get a better look from the other side of the ballroom door, Guinevere ran into Richard.

“Whoa, what’s the hurry?” Richard asked.

“Is there a group of six on the guest list?”

“No. Why?”

“I saw a group.”

“Well, they could be here for, I don’t know, a game of golf?”

“No, I don’t…”

Guinevere couldn’t expect Richard to understand where she was coming from. And the more she spoke to him, the more time she wasted.

“Nevermind,” Guinevere replied.

But knowing Richard, he wasn’t going to leave the conversation hanging. He tailed her like a curious cat as she brisk walked to the kitchen.

“What’s so special about the group?” Richard asked.

“Forget it,” Guinevere said.

“Come on, if they’re suspicious, I can inform Matthias.”

“Matthias, that’s right.” Guinevere halted in her steps. Maybe she should visit the van – the cameras would’ve caught the faces of the men.

“That’s what I’m saying,” Richard replied.

“Whatever you’re saying isn’t important right now,” someone else joined their conversation. Jodie had exited the kitchen into the hallway where they were standing. It seems they’d both developed a habit of barging into each other’s conversations.

“What’s the problem?” Guinevere asked.

“A complaint from a guest. Your service staff served her steak when she requested for salad.”

“We’ll just replace her dish. How’s that a problem?”

“It isn’t… for the common men.”

Despite the sting, there was no comeback for Jodie’s remark. Even Richard said nothing and simply shrugged. Guinevere would’ve attempted to justify the pettiness, but on that day, she couldn’t be bothered. She needed to find Wayne.

“So you’re just going to stand there?” Jodie asked.

“I need one of you to cover for me,” Guinevere replied. “Please, just help me handle this.”

“That’s cowardly,” Jodie said.

“No, that’s not why. Just help me hold off the guest for a while. I’ll be right back.”

Neither of them lifted their hands to volunteer. So Guinevere reached for their arms and dragged them into the kitchen. The shock at her sudden brashness left both Jodie and Richard speechless. Guinevere was surprised by her own actions too, but chose not to respond. Her plan was to call out one of their names among the kitchen staff – announce the new person in charge – and leave the scene. As irresponsible as it would seem, she had no time to explain. The simple plan needed immediate execution and Guinevere had to choose.

 

Next Chapter >
(For the chapter list, visit here.)

____________________________________________________________________________________________

The Clubhouse © 2014 – 2016 by Jeyna Grace.
All rights reserved. No part of the series may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording, or otherwise, without prior written permission from Jeyna Grace.

Original Works

Chapter 62: Secrets & Lies

clubhouse62

“I have a job for you.”

“Oh, now?”

It was the weekend. Didn’t Matthias promise not to bother him on the weekends – let alone this important weekend?

“Sorry, I don’t mean a job. More of like a task for today,” Matthias corrected himself.

“Like a task for today’s challenge or a task for work?”

“For today’s challenge.”

“Right. What do you need me to do?”

They’d met at the Japanese garden again. The sky was in an evening shade of orange, and the bustling for the shareholder’s dinner could be heard over the trickling stream. Whatever task it was, Zach didn’t have much time. In a couple of hours, guests would be rolling in in their fancy cars and suits, and he had to be sure the ballroom was ready for them.

“I need you to slip this…” Matthias paused, passing a small, black listening device to Zach. “Into this man’s jacket,” Matthias continued, showing Zach a picture as he did.

“He looks familiar.”

“He’s Mr Lee’s assistant. He might be leaving Skypeak soon, so you’ve got to hurry. I’ll tell you where he is once I get back to the van.”

Zach knew why he was chosen for the side mission. He was unimportant, and perfect to go unnoticed. However, why it needed to be done was a mystery – if the assistant was leaving Skypeak, there really was no need to bug him.

“You’re not telling me something,” Zach said.

“What do you mean?”

Matthias was a natural liar. Everything about him, at that moment, portrayed genuine confusion. But after having worked for him, Zach had developed a sixth sense for when things smelled a little fishy.

“The assistant is leaving Skypeak, so why do we need to bug him unless something else is happening outside of Skypeak.”

“Ah, well, it has something to do with Jodie’s case.”

“You’re off her case.”

“Well, yea. But Richard overheard something that might be Jodie’s get out of jail card. Where the assistant is heading might confirm our suspicion.”

“And what suspicion is that?”

“We really don’t have time. Plant the bug first and I’ll tell you later.”

Matthias gave Zach a hasty pat on the shoulder before jogging off. Grunting to himself, Zach returned to the clubhouse foyer. He wondered if he should do as he was told. After all, that was what he was good at. When he heard Matthias over his earpiece, he decided to just go with it.

“You’re in a great location. The assistant will be down shortly. A little bump will do the trick.”

“Easy for you to say.”

“His lift is arriving.”

There was a click in his earpiece. Then, the lift went ding. Zach turned and strode in its direction. Once the assistant was in sight, he stopped and pretended to reach for his phone. A millisecond after the man brushed past him, Zach jerked his hand out of his pocket, elbowing the assistant in the arm.

The intentional jab sent the assistant stumbling off course. Zach reached for him, dropped the hearing device into the man’s jacket, and asked, “I’m sorry. Are you alright?”

“Yes, I’m fine,” the assistant replied. He gave Zach a look, as though he’d recognised him, before excusing himself.

Zach watched as the assistant exited the foyer and hopped into a tinted, black sedan. Why he was leaving without Mr Lee made Zach all the more curious.

“Did you do it?” Matthias asked.

“Yea.”

“Great. Come to the van and I’ll fill you in.”

Trying to look like he wasn’t just talking to himself, Zach casually slipped down a hallway. Then wondering if the information was worth the hurry, he took a shortcut and ran right into Jodie.

“Oh, sorry.”

“What was that?” Jodie asked.

“Sorry, I really didn’t see you.”

“No, I mean, you elbowed that man on purpose,” Jodie stated, so confidently as though she was the mastermind behind it.

“I… well… it was that obvious?” Zach asked. He wasn’t sure if he should say anything. He wasn’t sure if he should even mention he was doing it for her.

“From where I’m standing, yes,” Jodie replied. “What are you up to?”

“I’m not sure…”

“We have enough secrets as it is. If it concerns any one of us, I should know.”

Jodie was right. Secrets, lies, and deception made the foundation of this game. Setting up more secrets in the attempts of revealing the truth didn’t seem logical. Zach was about to tell Jodie everything, when he heard his name being hollered down the hallway. The familiar sing-song voice and clicking of the heels made both him and Jodie sigh in unison.

“I need your help, Zach. Can you lend me a hand?” Guinevere asked, as she joined them.

“I’ll be with you shortly, I just-”

“Matthias is by the kitchen too,” Guinevere interrupted. “He said he has something to tell you?”

Guinevere gave him an overly friendly, never-before-seen grin, which only meant she was there to rescue him.

“Tell him what?” Jodie asked.

Guinevere simply shrugged in response.

Zach had a choice then: he could either follow Guinevere and learn of the secret first, or he could tell Jodie what he was up to. Either way, the clock was ticking and time was of the essence. Zach had to choose.

Next Chapter >
(For the chapter list, visit here.)

____________________________________________________________________________________________

The Clubhouse © 2014 – 2016 by Jeyna Grace.
All rights reserved. No part of the series may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording, or otherwise, without prior written permission from Jeyna Grace.

Original Works

Chapter 61: Follow or Furrow

clubhouse61

Redemption. Self-redemption of a crime only he knew he committed – Matthias saw it as that.

“What do you mean?” Matthias asked. He needed to be sure he wasn’t assuming wrongly.

“I mean he’s not dead. That is if we’re talking about the same Cortezs, which I have a gut feeling we are.”

“Let’s not go with gut feelings.”

Matthias pulled out his phone and did a quick Internet search. It wasn’t difficult finding the faces involved in the most gossiped about case. In fact, it only took Google 0.95 seconds to compile about 108,000,000 results, with the first one being a family picture of the Cortezs themselves.

It was a fairly recent picture, dating right before Neal Cortez supposedly died. The dashing young man stood between his father and mother with a wide smile on his face. His mother – whom he got most of his features from – beamed at him, while his father proudly wrapped his arm around his shoulder. They were a seemingly happy family, and perhaps they truly were. After all the research Matthias did for Jodie’s case, the Cortezs were low-key people and barely made the news. He was genuinely surprised when their accusations caused such a buzz, but now it all made sense.

Turning the screen toward Richard, Matthias said, “Confirm your gut feeling.”

“I didn’t see them. How am I…” Richard started off. But then he leaned in for a closer look and his eyes widened again. “They were just here. They were having a luncheon with my parents and Guinevere’s parents a while ago.”

“They weren’t on the guest list for tonight though.”

“I think we should tell Jodie.”

“No. Not yet. Let’s try to find out more. You could have heard your father wrong.”

“Of course, my ears are always deceiving me.” Richard’s sarcasm came with a false grin.

“No offense, but I’m just playing it safe. I’ll try to find out more and keep you updated.”

“We can all trust Matthias to get the job done.”

“Hey, you told me, remember? I didn’t force it out of you.”

Richard shrugged and waved him off. “Have fun playing detective.”

Playing detective wasn’t fun. But having done it one too many times, Matthias was good at it. It was part of his day job to begin with. Aside from it being his forte, he also wanted to atone for his sin of secretly betraying Jodie. He hated being puppet-ed by Wilhelm Group and for once, he wasn’t going to be the devil’s advocate. The only problem now was not being able to be on the field itself.

His company was part of Wilhelm Group. Wilhelm Group threatened him. And then Wilhelm Group offered him a job. Matthias hated to admit it, but Wilhelm Group probably knew everything about him and was keeping an eye on his next move. It was impossible for him to snoop around under such tight surveillance, no matter how careful he was. He needed somebody else to do the job for him and he only had two options. But before he even considered them, he needed to make a quick check.

Matthias made a beeline to the delivery truck, interiorly remodeled as a surveillance room. He got the hired men to rewind the footage captured by their planted bugs to see if the Cortezs had left the clubhouse. As he’d expected, they exited the building right after lunch. Then scanning the cameras for Mr Lee, Matthias found the man on the golf course. He hadn’t left Skypeak yet. However, his assistant seemed to be bustling about and Matthias had an inkling he wouldn’t be hanging around for much longer.

“Watch this man. If it looks as though he’s about to leave, let me know.”

He then excused himself from the humid truck to gather his thoughts. The fact that Matthias didn’t have much time to concoct a plan made it harder to think of one. There was so much to consider, so much room for error, so much…

“So much for gathering information.”

“Huh?” The growing colossal mess in his head crumbled under the intrusion.

“Aren’t you supposed to be our eyes and ears?” Guinevere asked with brows narrowed.

“It’s hot in there,” Matthias replied. “I just came out for a breather.”

Guinevere chuckled. “Relax, I’m not chastising you. I haven’t managed to get any information either. There was this couple though.”

“The Cortezs.”

“You know who I’m talking about?”

“Yea. Do you think you can get your parents to talk about them?”

Suddenly, he had an idea.

“I don’t know. They’ve been secretive about a lot of things. Who are the Cortezs anyway?”

Matthias decided to fill Guinevere in on what Richard had discovered. Perhaps it wasn’t the best idea, but Guinevere wasn’t going to do anything without knowing.

“Well, it’ll be a first – sticking my neck out for Jodie,” Guinevere said. “But I have a better idea. And I’m not saying this because I don’t want to help her.”

“What?”

“Send Zach to follow Mr Lee’s assistant. If Neal Cortez is alive and awake, they’ll be checking up on him soon.”

“I thought about that. But following someone while we’re all being watched is too risky.”

“Then bug him.”

Suddenly, there was more than one idea. But neither him nor Guinevere, neither Richard nor Jodie, would be suitable candidates to approach the assistant without raising suspicion. Zach was the only option. Zach could plant the bug, or Guinevere could source information from her parents. Which plan would most likely succeed? Matthias had to choose.

Next Chapter >
(For the chapter list, visit here.)

____________________________________________________________________________________________

The Clubhouse © 2014 – 2016 by Jeyna Grace.
All rights reserved. No part of the series may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording, or otherwise, without prior written permission from Jeyna Grace.

Original Works

Chapter 60: A Father-Son Moment

clubhouse60

“Medium-rare, just how you like it.”

Neither of them had seen him coming. And the expression on their faces, the moment they recognised his voice, was oddly satisfying.

“Am I wrong?”

His father responded to the question with a grunt, while his mother fidgeted in her seat. Richard was tempted to apologise for making an appearance, in front of the two oblivious couples, but then decided to keep the truth as a trump card.

“If you don’t like it, I can return it to the kitchen,” Richard offered. Turning to Guinevere’s parents, he added, “I’m just trying to be less of a disappointment.”

Guinevere’s parents didn’t respond, and their silence quickly grew awkward. It went on for a few seconds before his father grunted again and started his meal. That was Richard’s cue to leave. He knew he would be hearing from his father soon. Ten minutes after his departure, his phone rang.

The voice on the other end belonged to his father’s assistant. He spoke in the same distant manner, telling Richard to be at the private bar in an hour. Apparently, his father wanted to talk and Richard was more than happy to oblige. At a quarter past three, Richard headed for the private bar on the third floor. There, he found his father on an armchair with a glass of whiskey in his hand.

“Finally, a father-son chat,” Richard said.

“It is you who have been avoiding me.”

Those words were unfortunately true. Richard was promised a conversation at home, after their encounter at the airport. But since then, he never returned home. He avoided the whitewashed mansion in fear of reality. Now having finally accepted it, it was easier to navigate its unpredictable waters.

“So you sent mother to buy me off?”

“I let her do what she thought was right.”

“But she failed. So what are you going to do now?”

“What do you want, Richard?”

“I don’t know, you tell me?”

“I’m not going to play childish games.”

“I’m sorry. I didn’t know my life was a childish game.”

“If you don’t know what you want boy, what do you plan to do then?”

“You tell me.”

“Come home.”

“Are you serious? I thought I was disowned.”

“We can change that. Come home and help your brother at the firm. He’ll have more responsibilities once he takes over Greengrass, and he could use your help.”

It seems the shareholders meeting was going to be more than just food and annual reports. The prince was officially ascending the throne and only God knows what would happen after he does.

“That’s what’s happening tonight?”

“Yes.

“You do know I can ruin it by revealing my true identity. Is this the best you can offer?”

“What more do you want? Your inheritance?” his father calmly asked. The man never once raised his voice. He was scarily placid. Richard could only imagine the mechanics in his brain, churning out evil plots to get rid of him.

“No. It wouldn’t look good if you went back on your word, would it? Tell you what, I’ll be the disappointment of a son you’ve always wanted, if you do something for me in return.”

“And what is that?”

“I want to know everything. All your plans. I want to be part of your schemes and I want to reap the benefits.”

When his father responded with a laugh, Richard realised how stupid he sounded.

“That’s not going to happen,” his father replied. “If I don’t have confidence in Gabriel, why would I have confidence in you? So, let’s make this simple. You think about my offer and you let me know your decision. You might not have anything to lose, Richard, but once you denounce this family’s name, this family won’t be here to protect you any longer.”

The final statement sounded like a threat. No, it was a threat. If Richard decided to sink the ship, he would have to go down with it. Was he ready for that?

His father didn’t wait for his response and rose to his feet. Richard remained seated as he watched the man stalk to the door. But just before his father left the room, his assistant hurried to his side.

“He’s awake. Should I inform the Cortezs?” the assistant whispered.

“I can hear you,” Richard stated.

“No,” his father replied. Then turning to Richard, he added, “It doesn’t matter. You can add this to your collection of useless facts.”

The father he once pretended to be loving and kind gave him a smirk. And when the back of his cashmere suit disappeared out the door, Richard had lost the game. For a while, he actually thought he had the upper hand. Staring at the floor, wondering what he should do next, Richard didn’t realise Matthias had entered the bar until he spoke.

“I heard everything,” Matthias stated.

“What? Wait, you were eavesdropping?”

“You’re wearing the earpiece I gave you. It’s not my fault you didn’t take it out.”

“So you heard everything?”

“Pretty much. What’s your plan?

“I don’t know. What would you do?”

Matthias shrugged. Then deciding to expand his knowledge on the newfound fact, and to briefly take his mind off the daunting decision, Richard asked, “Have you heard of the Cortezs?”

“I only know of one family with that name.”

“Who are they?”

“They’re the ones running the trial against Jodie.”

“The couple of the dead partner?”

“Yes.”

Did Richard hear him right? Yes, he did. At the revelation, his jaw hung open and his eyes grew wide in shock. Unfortunately for his father, the new fact wasn’t useless after all.

“Why? What do you know?”

“You didn’t hear?”

“No. Tell me.”

Richard wasn’t sure if he should disclose it. He wasn’t even sure if giving Matthias the information would be of any help. Perhaps Richard should tell Jodie himself and be the hero of the day. Or perhaps he should play it safe and just let Matthias deal with it. Richard had to choose.

Next Chapter >
(For the chapter list, visit here.)

____________________________________________________________________________________________

The Clubhouse © 2014 – 2016 by Jeyna Grace.
All rights reserved. No part of the series may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording, or otherwise, without prior written permission from Jeyna Grace.

Original Works

Chapter 58: In Pairs

clubhouse58

Twenty screens were stacked against the wall of the security room. Every five seconds, they flicked to a different angle. As though a robbery was rumoured to occur, ten pairs of eyes watched them fervently. When Zach saw what they were up against, he lost most of his confidence.

“Can I have your attention?” Matthias asked.

Matthias was in the lead as they entered through the steel door. But who went first didn’t matter. Neither of their presence stirred a positive response. In fact, the men looked annoyed at having to attend the impromptu meeting.

“Zach here will brief on the agenda,” Matthias said.

With a lack of response, Matthias began rounding up the men – particularly those tasked to stare at the screens – and grouped them in the centre of the room. They seemed reluctant, but they obliged.

“It’ll only take a while,” Zach said.

When Zach heard a few grunts, he began.

With his file in hand, he kept his gaze on the text and tried his best to not look suspicious. He read off it, adding unnecessary details to prolong the session. While doing so, he took quick glances at the screens. But being that there were twenty of them, he didn’t know where to look. So by the time he was done with the briefing, he wasn’t even sure if Jodie, Richard, and Guinevere had successfully completed their task. It was only after he and Matthias had left the room, did he receive confirmation.

“Thanks. It went well,” Matthias stated.

“It did? I didn’t see-”

“That’s the point.”

“Right, of course.”

“I’ll let you know if anything comes up.”

Matthias then excused himself and Zach had to take his word for it.

It was already noon when they’d completed the mini mission.There were a few more hours to make sure everything was set, and Zach didn’t want to dilly dally with his remaining tasks. As he headed to the ballroom to check on the decorations, he passed the foyer and spotted a familiar looking pair.

Having read through all the files Jodie furnished him, he knew almost immediately who the couple was. The Italian-suited man and the diamond-adorned woman were the Lees. The man was to give a speech that night, and the woman had requested a special kind of water during the dinner. They were also Richard’s ex-parents – if there was such a term to begin with.

As the couple strode toward the restaurant, the front desk manager hurried to their side. But before she could offer her services, she was shooed away. Apparently, they didn’t like having an escort, which was surprising to see in Skypeak, let alone from such people.

Shortly after the important pair disappeared, another pair walked in. This pair however, Zach didn’t recognize. Once again, the front desk manager attempted at her job. And once again, she was excused. Curious as to what was going on, Zach headed to the front desk itself.

“Is there a meeting or something?” Zach asked the other staff on duty.

“I’m not sure,” the man replied, flipping through a logbook.

Before Zach could probe any further, another couple entered the foyer. Unlike the couple before them, he’d seen this pair before. But because they weren’t on the agenda for the shareholder’s dinner, he wasn’t sure how he knew them.

“Who’re they?” Zach asked.

The man looked up from the book and said, “The Dae’hans.”

“Who?”

“The Dae’hans of Dae’han Insurance.”

“Guinevere’s parents?”

“Yes. Ms Guinevere’s parents.”

Zach was amazed at the man’s visual memory, but it wasn’t the time to be giving praises. When the front desk manager returned to her spot behind the counter – after being rejected for the third time – Zach excused himself but lingered around. He wanted to see if there were more couples arriving. But after ten minutes, it was confirmed the three pairs were having a private luncheon.

With nothing more to witness, Zach began his stroll to the ballroom. Every step he took, curiosity nibbled at him. When he neared the double door, he halted in his steps and curiousity won. Zach wondered if he should inform Guinevere and Richard about their parents’ early arrival. It seemed strange only three couples were meeting. It was even stranger they were ‘related’ to two contestants.

Before the clubhouse challenge, Zach would’ve minded his own business and ignored what he saw. After all, he didn’t care what others were up to, as it didn’t concern him. Now that he was being set up, he couldn’t close an eye. If possible, he wanted to stir up trouble too. Perhaps then, he could unravel the truth. The question was, who would make a bigger fuss to the secret meeting?

Since Guinevere was in the kitchen, she’d be on to them immediately. But would she make a scene? With the one that caused her engagement in sight, she just might. Richard on the other hand, was a natural at getting attention. Simply showing up, without having to utter a word, would be enough. Zach was planning to tell them both, but who should be the first to know? He had to choose.

Next Chapter >
(For the chapter list, visit here.)

____________________________________________________________________________________________

The Clubhouse © 2014 – 2016 by Jeyna Grace.
All rights reserved. No part of the series may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording, or otherwise, without prior written permission from Jeyna Grace.