Original Works

Chapter 71: A Clean Slate

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He wasn’t ignoring anyone on purpose. He was simply too busy to entertain those he thought weren’t important. Matthias decided to return Zach’s calls once the workload lessened, but after countless went unanswered, he gave in to the ring that particular midnight.

“You picked up,” Zach said.

“I’ve been busy.”

“Don’t worry about it. I need your help with something.”

Matthias contemplated excusing himself. But he ended up feeling obligated and listened to the need instead. When Zach was done explaining, Matthias said, “Give me fifteen minutes. I’ll call you back.”

Fifteen minutes was all he needed. His company acquired insurance from the same agency and had access to their online portal. A boot of the hacking software he’d invested in a year ago would do the trick. And a minute short of fifteen, Matthias had what Zach needed.

“The case number is 763340. Call me if you need anything else,” Matthias said.

“That’s all I need. Thank you.”

With a click, Matthias had done his last deed for Jodie. There was no way he could make up for selling her out, but at least he did what he could to help. With no more rings from Zach, Matthias woke the next morning to a text from Guinevere. And when he tuned in to the morning news, another case was solved.

Neal Cortez was found alive, though unconscious, in the Wilhelm Group owned hospital. The case against Jodie was dropped, and his own case against the Lees had just been made easier. Matthias was certain he could put mama and papa Lee behind bars. Though unfortunately, there was nothing to pin Gabriel to, to lock him up along with his parents. The sly youth would take over what is left of the company, and if he were wise enough to save it in the midst of hostile shareholders, he’d rule the new empire. But Matthias couldn’t be bothered with what happened after. He wanted to move on. If anything, he’d made a good impression with the press in his fight for Guinevere and Wayne’s freedom. That was enough for him to leave his old company, and perhaps leave the country altogether.

A month after the settlement of Guinevere’s case, Matthias handed in his resignation. He then paid Zach his last paycheque, and put in a good word for him with an old college friend. He also signed a blank cheque for his sister to hand to his parents on one of her visits home. No, he still found no reason to reconcile with them. And being unable to sever ties, his only option was to get away. Perhaps one day, in the future, there would be a story to tell about his dark past. But for now, it would remain untold.

As Matthias’ life began to quiet down, he finally resolved on leaving the country. With multiple job offers, he started his search for the soonest flight out of town. But the day he decided to book his ticket, he received an odd proposition for him to stay. Richard had called for brunch, and after what they’d been through, Matthias agreed to the free meal.

“So, what do you say?” Richard asked.

“I don’t know what to say.”

“We’ll make a great team.”

“I kind of doubt that.”

Richard laughed. “We’ve changed, both you and I,” he added.

“I’m still the same. You, maybe.”

“Ah, yes. I had a lot of growing up to do. And I think, now that I’ve matured-”

“You over credit yourself, Richard.”

Now that I’ve matured, starting fresh would do us both good. I’ve gotten talented people on board. And with the world, just waiting to see what I’m about to do next, it’ll-”

“You’ve matured all right.” Matthias chuckled.

“Thank you for acknowledging that. The point is, my brand will sell. So are you in or out?”

“Let me think about it.”

“Take all the time you need, Matty.”

Joining Richard’s company was a shift in the direction Matthias initially aimed for. The creative industry wasn’t his ideal career path. But the change might be for the better. After all, the politics wouldn’t involve as much manipulation, blackmailing, or framing, as in the business world. He wouldn’t cross paths with familiar faces, who could use his past against him too. Perhaps Richard was right. Perhaps he had changed after all, seeing as he was done with dirty work. Replaying the accounts of when he betrayed people for the benefit of his past company, he inevitably reminded himself of Jodie.

Matthias had not spoken to Jodie since his last assist. She seemed to be doing well on her own, as the world moved past the claims of murder. If Matthias were to stay, he could hope they’d bump into each other and he could make amends. Despite living in a large city, the five had brushed shoulders one too many times. And seeing Jodie on the streets wouldn’t be a first. However, if he left the country as he initially planned, there would be little chances of admitting what he did. And seeing as he’d wanted a clean slate, telling Jodie the truth was a great start. Still, it all boiled down to his decision to stay or leave. Should he remain in the city to start over, or should he leave to a new place for a new beginning? 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 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

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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 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 54: Mastermind Unmasked

clubhouse54

“Fancy choice for a time like this,” Matthias said.

Richard called him to his presidential suite mid week. At first, Matthias thought he’d heard the location wrong, but it didn’t take him long to figure out what had happened.

“Curious, aren’t you?” Richard asked, as he ushered Matthias in.

“No, not really.”

“I was handed a truckload of money.”

“I think I know from whom,” Matthias said, taking a quick look around. There was a wide glass window overlooking the night-lit city, and he strode toward it.

“Want to know how much?”

“No. I’m just glad you’re no longer sleeping on my couch.”

Richard chuckled and handed Matthias a glass of whiskey. “Thanks for the hospitality.”

“Don’t mention it. What did you want to tell me?”

“I learned something new about Wilhelm Group. I thought you might be able to find out more with my intel.”

“You think too highly of me, but I’ll try.”

If Matthias was being honest, he’d been thinking about discontinuing the clubhouse challenge since last weekend. The only reason why he hadn’t back out was because he didn’t want the rest to think he was abandoning ship.

“Well, you’re the man with the contacts. Anyway, I was told that Gabriel is the new owner of Wilhelm Group.”

Matthias turned to Richard, with eyebrows narrowed.

“Surprise, aren’t you? It would’ve been me if Gabriel wasn’t born,” Richard added.

You seem to have more contacts than me, Richard. But I’ll see what I can do.”

After Matthias thanked Richard for the drink, he excused himself and headed home. Despite not wanting to delve in the whole scandal, he found himself researching on the infamous Gabriel Lee. There was little information about him, but not a single picture. By sunrise, Matthias decided to have a little chat with his boss.

Clocking-in 10-minutes before the rest, Matthias headed straight to his boss’ office. It was part of his daily routine. That day, he decided to survey his boss’ condition first, before bringing up Gabriel. But upon his arrival, Matthias found only one person in the office – the very person he did not want to see.

“Good morning,” the man greeted. It was the same man that threatened him to get Jodie’s case files.

“It’s nice seeing you again,” Matthias simply replied.

“Vice versa. I have a message for you.”

“What message?”

“My boss wants to meet with you.”

“He does? Well, tell him I’m busy.”

“He has an offer for you. One I’m sure you’d like,” the man insisted.

Then without waiting for Matthias’ reply, he handed him a card with an address and time scribbled on it – it wasn’t an obscure location, but the jogging path by the city river.

“Don’t be late,” the man added, before strolling out.

Matthias’ first instinct was to call his sister. When she told him she was fine, he heaved a sigh of relief. Knowing that he wasn’t being threatened again, he wondered about the motive behind the meet. It was at a public place and right during the evening rush – it was pretty safe. Since there was nothing to lose, he decided to go and ask questions.

By the time evening rolled around, Matthias excused himself earlier with no questions asked. He reached the car park before the working class started on their commute home, and found the jogging path before the designated time. The card itself did not specify where they were to meet, so he took a stroll – crossing paths with mothers and their children, young couples, and evening joggers. When he finally reached the wide bridge arcing over the river, he spotted a young man in a suit, leaning against the handrail. Matthias somehow knew that was the person he was to meet.

Walking up to the young man, Matthias pulled out the card he was given and handed it to him. The young man smiled as he took it. Up close, he didn’t look a day over twenty, which was quite a surprise.

“How did you know it was me?” he asked.

“We’re the only two people out of place,” Matthias replied.

“And that’s why I like you. You’re very observant.”

“Who are you and what do you want?”

“My name is Gabriel. And I want you to work for me.”

Matthias stared blankly at the introduction, failing to formulate a reply. Just the night before, he’d learned who Gabriel was. And to meet him the next day, let alone be offered a job, felt unreal.

“You’ve heard of me, I assume,” Gabriel said.

“I have, from Richard.”

“Ah, then he must have told you about Skypeak too. And the unbeatable challenge.”

“He has,” Matthias lied without a second thought.

“I’m guessing, you’ve considered quitting the challenge. Am I right?”

He had only just met Gabriel and he was starting to dislike him. The way the boy was able to predict his moves made Matthias extremely uneasy.

“Quit it, Matthias, and then come work with me. If you think that’s betraying your friends, it’s not like you’ve never done it before.”

Holding back whatever reply he had, Matthias turned to look down the river.

“Think about it. I don’t hurt my own.”

Leaving him with what sounded like a threat, Matthias watched as Gabriel strolled down the bridge. When Gabriel was no longer in sight, Matthias sighed and pushed himself away from the handrail. He was ready to head home and think over Gabriel’s offer, when he heard someone clearing their throat behind him.

Looking over his shoulder, he saw Guinevere standing with her arms crossed. Matthias unconsciously held his breath. She was in her jogging attire, and had seemingly stood there long enough to have caught her breath.

“Who was that?” Guinevere asked calmly. “And what did he mean by betraying your friends?”

Rarely was Matthias in such a situation. He was always careful not to let his guard down. That day, felt like a set up to have him exposed. At that very moment, Matthias could only do one of two things: come clean or lie. He could tell her what was going on, or he could simply shrug it off and drop out of the clubhouse challenge – never to see her again. There weren’t any other options, and Matthias had to choose.

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

____________________________________________________________________________________________

The Clubhouse © 2014 – 2015 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 41: Open To Suggestions

clubhouse41

It wasn’t something he could store and look back. The information that he acquired was now a memory. Jodie gave him just enough time to read the snapshot of Wayne’s journal before she deleted it. It was barely half a page and there wasn’t much to digest – it was pretty straightforward.

Richard’s father changed his will to include Gabriel and to remove Richard from it. His father also transferred ten percent of the company’s shares to his brother. Should his father die, Gabriel and his mother would be in power of the law firm. With Richard’s measly three percent, he could attend shareholder meetings but hold no seat. It was safe to say he was done for.

After learning about his possible future, he had no idea what to do. He found himself seated on a park bench till the day ended its shift. The strangers around him were a blur, as the world continued to rotate without him. It was only at the sight of the very two people he hated that brought him back to earth.

Across the city park was the up-class shopping district. Exiting their family’s regular tailor shop, his mother stopped outside and adjusted Gabriel’s new suit. Richard watched as she beamed proudly and said what he assumed to be praises. It seemed his brother was being prepared to make an official appearance. Why else would he need such an attire?

The sight of the pair left a horrid taste in his mouth. He hated his mother for leaving him for his brother. He hated his brother for suddenly appearing and stealing his birth right. He hated that the two had a relationship he never got to experience.

Richard wanted to confront them just then, but he hesitated. He had a lot of questions he wanted to demand an answer for, but he didn’t know where to start. He needed suggestions. He needed a plan. Richard thought that if he knew what his father had done, he could finally move forward. Unfortunately, he remained lost. So instead of heading home, he returned to Matthias’ place.

It was a good thing Matthias wasn’t asleep yet. Richard knew he wouldn’t be too happy if he woke him up. The moment Matthias pulled the door open, he asked, “So, what did Jodie tell you?”

“She didn’t tell me, she showed me… the end of the world,” Richard replied.

“Did you lose your inheritance?”

“Yes. It’s not black and white, but I’ve been disowned,” Richard answered and let himself in.

“What do you plan on doing?”

“I don’t know. But don’t worry, I won’t stay here forever.” He managed a chuckle as he slumped onto the sofa.

“Want a suggestion?” Matthias offered.

“Sure.”

“Go home. And I’m not saying this because I want you out of here, I mean, I do, but it is also the best way to get answers.”

Richard didn’t know what to say. Was he going to admit that he was afraid? His family did not seem to care that he had not returned for days. Will they still welcome him?

“Think about it,” Matthias said, before retreating to his bedroom.

Alone again, Richard continued with his staring. His eyes were wide open, but his mind was blank. It was as though he was sleeping and awake at the same time. When the sun rose the next morning, he thought he was dreaming.

“You’re up early,” Matthias said, as he excited his bedroom. When Richard didn’t respond, he asked, “Did you even sleep?”

“I’m not sure,” Richard muttered.

“Have you thought about what I said?”

Richard shrugged in reply.

Matthias nodded and added, “When Zach arrives, send him to my room.”

“Sure.”

He had no idea what time it was and how many minutes ticked by before the doorbell rang. Dragging his feet to the door, he allowed Zach in and gestured to Matthias’ room. But just as Zach was heading toward it, Richard asked, “What would you do if your brother, that you never knew existed, came into your life and took everything from you?”

Zach turned to Richard and narrowed his eyebrows. It was a reaction he had expected. His question seemed a bit weird, especially when Zach knew nothing. Still, he wanted a second opinion. And maybe because of the way he worded his question, he received a different suggestion.

“What would you do?” Richard prompted, when Zach remained silent.

“I would talk to my brother.”

“Why?”

“Because without him, I would still have everything,” Zach answered.

“Thanks.”

“Is this the thing Jodie was helping you with?”

“Still curious, are you?” Richard managed a smirk.

“Never mind.”

“Thanks for the suggestion.”

“You’re welcome.”

Richard waved him to Matthias’ door before returning to the sofa. He now had two suggestions. Was it smarter to go with Matthias’ plan and return home? Should he ask his father to clear things up first? Or was it better to meet up with his brother instead? Will Gabriel be better at telling the truth? Richard had to choose.

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

____________________________________________________________________________________________

The Clubhouse © 2014 – 2015 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 29: Mummy’s Home

clubhouse29

He already knew it. When his phone rang, the airport was in sight.

“What’s up?” Richard answered.

“I thought you’d like to know that your father is coming back tonight.”

“Oh, he is?” Richard did not want Guinevere to feel like she provided information he already knew. He might need her help later on.

“Yes, and he’s bringing your brother along.”

“I see.”

“You don’t sound surprise.”

“I am. I’m just… in shock,” Richard lied.

When Matthias refused to help him that Saturday, he thought his only chance to uncover his father’s secret was gone. Fortunately, his intel needed the money he offered and was willing to wait. Not going to forfeit the task, Richard completed the clubhouse mission and secured the information in time. Even though it only confirmed that his father was returning with his brother, Gabriel.

“That’s expected. You should get there,” Guinevere replied.

“Thanks, I will,” Richard said.

“You’re welcome.”

The moment Richard ended the call, he pulled into the basement parking of the airport. He drove himself that night, because he didn’t want anyone to know what he was doing. He realised that weekend that there was no one he could trust. Not even his chauffeur.

When Richard finally made his way into the airport lobby, he decided to place himself strategically at a café near the main exit. After grabbing a cup of coffee, he headed to a table with the best view and took a seat. Based on the information he had, his father was touching down around 10 p.m. He didn’t have to wait long, but he still had ample of time.

Watching people as his mind juggled on what to do after his father’s return, he saw Jodie and a girl heading toward the café. The girl was dragging a roller bag. So Jodie was either picking her up or sending her off.

Once the two had bought their drinks and strolled out, Richard decided to get another cup for himself. Right after he made the fresh purchase, he turned around and found Jodie standing behind him.

Richard knew she saw him, but she did not say anything. Instead, she walked past him and told the cashier they gave her the wrong drink.

“Hello to you too,” Richard greeted.

Jodie chuckled and shook her head, while the baristas corrected their mistake.

“That’s one way to greet someone,” Richard added.

“You’re not someone. You’re no one,” Jodie snapped.

“Whoa, what did I do?”

Finally turning to face him, Jodie gave him a don’t-you-dare look. Completely clueless, he responded with a shrug.

“Aren’t you something?” Jodie asked sarcastically.

“I’m no one but I’m some thing?”

Jodie heaved a sigh. Ignoring him, she retrieved her drink from the apologetic barista before stalking out of the café. Still confuse, Richard quickly followed.

“Wait up. What did I do wrong?”

“Seriously?” Jodie asked, as she stopped in her tracks.

“Seriously. What did I do?”

Jodie turned around and gave him a glare. “I’m being sued because of you. Don’t pretend you don’t know.”

Richard found it extremely unfair that she blamed him for the actions of his client, but he knew better than to plead his case with that fact.

“Look, I had no idea who that client was. And my father is the one who chooses the cases we take.”

“Right. And you didn’t know anything about it when he left you in charge?”

I did, Richard thought. Though it was unfair to think he had to tell Jodie about it. The two barely knew each other to begin with. If it were anyone else, he would have given up reasoning. But for some strange reason, he wanted to make it right with her.

“Why do you think Matthias had a head start on your case?” Richard asked.

Jodie did not answer.

“Matthias wouldn’t have known if I didn’t tell him,” Richard added.

The anger in Jodie’s eyes slowly receded and Richard took a step closer toward her.

“I’m not the bad guy here, OK?”

He noticed Jodie hesitate, and then she said, “Sorry. It’s hard to think straight these days.”

“All forgiven,” Richard said with a smirk.

Richard wanted to ask who the girl was, but before he could, a moving crowd caught the corner of his eye. Taking a look, he recognised a face in the group of new arrival. Jodie noticed the group too, and he heard her say, “Wayne?”

“Look who’s home,” Richard whispered to himself.

His father was walking beside his assistant and Guinevere’s fiancée was leading the way. Behind his father was a young man around his late teens and next to him was a woman. The woman looked familiar and the moment Richard realised who she was, he froze.

“You know them?” Jodie asked.

How could he not? The woman who left him alone with his unloving father – the woman he called ‘mother’ as a child – had finally returned. Richard had so many questions and as the group drew closer to the exit, he was tempted to stand his ground. They would certainly see him if he did.

“Richard?” Jodie called.

The seconds ticked down in his head. Ten, nine, eight… like a bomb about to explode. Was he ready to face the truth or was it too soon to deal with it? He could stay rooted or he could use Jodie as a shield to hide himself. Richard had to choose.

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

____________________________________________________________________________________________

The Clubhouse © 2014 – 2015 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.