Original Works

Chapter 56: Whose Eyes, Whose Ears

clubhouse56

Jodie was the earliest. She sat in the silence thinking about life in prison. How horrid could it be? After days of discussing with Wayne’s recommended lawyer while trying to run a now scandalous publishing house, she found herself oscillating between accepting her fate and fighting for justice. Perhaps it was better to escape the world behind bars. It seemed less stressful.

When she began her imagination of prison food, she heard a series of click clocks. The moment it stopped, there was Guinevere taking a seat across her. They were told to meet in the clubhouse restaurant at 9a.m. Guinevere arriving a minute before the designated time was unusual.

“You’re early,” Jodie said.

“Well, I wanted to get this over with.”

“Whom did you vote for?”

“You.”

“Why?” Jodie asked, failing to hide the horror in her voice.

Of all people, why did Guinevere have to vote for her? She didn’t want to be team captain. And the only reason she showed up was the possibility of discovering something new during the shareholder’s dinner. Being team captain would make it impossible to snoop around.

“Why not? You make a good leader.”

“Thank you. I’m so glad you think so.”

Guinevere shrugged as Matthias and Zach made an appearance. Jodie thought of asking them whom they voted for too, but was afraid they had chosen her as well. So they sat in silence until Richard came strolling in with Ms Leona a few feet behind.

“I’ve tabulated the votes,” Ms Leona said, without joining them at the table. “And surprisingly unanimous, your team captain is Jodie.”

Jodie dropped her gaze and held back a sigh. Ms Leona proceeded to briefing them about the dinner that was happening the following day, before placing four files on the table. The labels read, ‘Security’, ‘Food’, ‘Guests’, and ‘Agenda’.

“The team captain will assign each of you a task. Do it to the best of your ability. As you know, all eyes will be watching,” Ms Leona said. She then turned on her heel and stalked off in a hurry.

“Dibs on security,” Richard immediately said.

“I don’t mind handling the food. I rather not see anyone at the dinner,” Guinevere stated.

“I’m fine with anything,” Zach muttered.

When Matthias didn’t voice his preference, everyone turned to him. He responded to the attention by unfolding a paper napkin and scribbling three words: Let’s meet tonight.

He then pushed the napkin toward Guinevere and offered her the pen. She wrote ‘okay’ and forward the napkin to Zach. He added the alphabet ‘K’, before sliding the napkin to Richard who scribbled ‘Ok’.

Just before it was Jodie’s turn to reply, she nodded and said, ‘Richard can do security, Guinevere the food, Zach the agenda, and Matthias the guests.”

“Great!” Richard snatched his file and flipped it open. He was the only one excited about the event, as the rest sluggishly got to their feet and excused themselves one by one. Jodie left Richard last, returning to her thoughts of orange jumpsuits.

On most Saturdays, Jodie would be in the gym or at the clubhouse taking some time off work. That Saturday, she was at home waiting for night to arrive. There was nothing she needed to do and nothing she wanted to do. So she stared blankly at the television until her stomach signalled dinner time.

Without bothering to change, she headed to a roadside stall for a quick meal before making her way to the abandoned institution. She parked her car at the same spot she did the last time, before strolling toward the haunting school grounds. It was no longer as hair raising of an experience, as she had left her mood to be adventurous at home.

After three flights of steps up the soulless building, Jodie entered the classroom where they had met previously. There, she found the other four.

“We were about to call you,” Zach said.

“Sorry. So-”

“So, we all agree that we’ll use the dinner to scour for information, right? Guinevere interrupted.

“Of course. I’ve contacted a friend of mine who’ll help us,” Richard said.

“What friend?” Matthias asked with an eyebrow raised.

“A friend. He’ll bring his team to set the clubhouse up. Then during dinnertime, we’ll have eyes and ears on every table.”

“That’s a good idea,” Guinevere stated.

“I’m not too sure about that,” Matthias replied.

“Why not?” Zach asked.

“Well, Ms Leona said we’re being watched. And it is extremely suspicious for Richard to still be around, especially after his mother told him to leave,” Matthias said, gesturing to Richard. “In case you forgot, your brother is the new head of Wilhelm Group.”

“And that’s why I’ll do security. I’ll be in the shadows,” Richard assured.

“Let me do security,” Matthias said. “I’ll handle your friends.”

“And how is taking care of the guests any less discreet?”

“I suggest you don’t show tomorrow.”

“And miss out on the fun?”

“Well, this isn’t about fun, Richard,” Guinevere snapped. “None of this is fun.”

“Whoa, just so you know, you’re not the only victim here,” Richard replied.

“Why don’t you tell me what makes you a victim?” Guinevere challenged.

“My life being a lie? Do you think I’d sit around and let the Lee’s pretend I don’t exist?”

“Oh you’re such whiner.”

“Both of you are,” Jodie finally spoke. It was frustrating to see how the two most privileged individuals in their group threw a pity party around themselves. “Of all the victims in this room, you two have the least to worry about it.”

“Whatever,” Guinevere muttered.

“Look, I’m the man for this job. I’ve done it before. And I’m not going to sit out on it,” Richard stated.

“If you aren’t, then take up the guests task. It’s far from discreet but you won’t draw suspicion. Use your presence as a distraction. That will help,” Matthias replied.

Richard said nothing and turned to Jodie. Matthias did the same, while Guinevere sulked and Zach watched. Matthias made a good point. Richard would draw attention no matter what position he’s in. But in the case of letting Matthias take over, could he be trusted? 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 46: A ‘Special’ Task

clubhouse46

It was the oddest business card Zach had ever been handed. There was only a logo along with the address. He triple-checked with Matthias if it was correct, but was still not convinced after. Zach didn’t want to go to the wrong place, especially when Matthias requested him to make the trip on Saturday morning. Even though his job did not require him to work on the weekends, he knew he would eventually have to.

“It’ll be a quick drop, I hope you don’t mind,” Matthias said.

Matthias arrived at Zach’s house at close to 12a.m. It seemed like an urgent matter and Zach wondered why Matthias could not do it himself. Unfortunately, that was not the kind of question one would ask their boss.

“Sure,” Zach replied.

“I’ll leave the car with you. You can take it to Skypeak tomorrow,” Matthias said.

“OK.”

“Thanks.”

Matthias patted him on the shoulder before entering the taxi that was waiting for him. After the taxi drove out of sight, Zach groaned. He weighed the heavy brown envelope in his hand but was too tired to speculate its contents. Pulling himself to bed, he hoped there wouldn’t be an early call time tomorrow. Did it even matter if he showed up at the clubhouse on time? Zach’s eyelids shut before he had an answer.

The next morning, he received a call from Ms Leona. Right before he could start the engine of the sedan, she was ringing for attention. Zach hesitated for a moment, before deciding to answer it out of courtesy.

“Good morning,” he greeted.

“Good morning. You’re up early. I’m surprised,” Ms Leona said.

“Yea. What time do I have to be at Skypeak?” he asked.

“Dinner time.”

“OK. I’ll be there then,” Zach said, and heaved a silent sigh.

But before he could hang up, Ms Leona added, “I’d like to meet with you earlier, Zach. Will that be alright?”

“What for?” Zach did not hide the suspicion in his voice.

“Something special. I’ll tell you when I see you. What time is good?”

He wasn’t surprise. Zach was the ‘special’ one after all. He was the most important pawn. Unfortunately, he did not know what his job was.

“After lunch, I guess.”

“Great. How about 3pm at the east lounge?”

“Sure.”

“I’ll see you then.” Ms Leona ended the call before he could say another word.

Aside from leaving him a time and place to meet, she left him worried as well. Zach had previously contemplated on dropping out of the challenge entirely. When he told Matthias, he was reminded of the contract he signed. The only way to escape was to first discover the plan of his captors. It shouldn’t be too hard with all the gossipy wives at Skypeak, but somehow it was.

Deciding to think about Skypeak later, he typed the address on the business card into the GPS and began following its lead. It was not a long journey, but it was a questionable one. After ten minutes, he was directed into a narrow alley that led him off road. He was amazed to find a hidden forest in the city, but became more hesitant to continue on. Five minutes into habitat of trees, he pulled the handbrake and reached for the envelope.

Zach held it in his hands and contemplated opening it. After what felt like an hour of thinking, he decided not to. It was sealed tight and it would be obvious if he had torn it open. Shaking his head, he stepped on the gas. Shortly after, he drove into an open area where a wooden cabin stood, isolated from the world.

Smoke rose from the chimney, indicating someone was home. Getting out of the car, he strode to the front door and gave it a knock. A second later, the door opened and a man stepped into the doorway.

“Are you lost?” the man asked.

“No. I was told to give this to you,” Zach said, handing the envelope over.

The man took it and tore it open. He pulled out the thick stack of paper and flipped through the first few pages. Then, he smiled.

“Thank you. Tell Matthias his sister says ‘hello’,” the man said.

The way the man said it felt odd, but Zach merely nodded his head. The man remained standing at the doorway, as Zach hurried to the car and drove off. Once Zach made it back to the main road, he sent Matthias a text. Matthias’ no reply was the least of his worries. He now had to meet with Ms Leona and face her special ‘something’.

Arriving at the clubhouse, Zach handed the car to the valet. It felt good being able to do that, but the feeling only lasted awhile. The east lounge was a short walk from the foyer and he soon found Ms Leona.

“Busy morning?” Ms Leona asked.

“Not really,” Zach replied.

“Don’t worry. This week’s challenge only starts tomorrow.”

“Ah, I see.”

“But for this week’s challenge, I need your help.”

Zach held his tongue as he watched Ms Leona place five cards before him. Each card had an image: a knife, a ball, a dumbbell, a baby, and a towel. He gave each image a good look before asking, “What are these for?”

“I need you to tell me which card to give which contestant.”

“Why me?” Zach asked.

“Why not you?”

Her question was the answer – there was an audience that wanted more action from him. Zach imagined cameras zooming in on him right then.

“Fine,” Zach replied.

Zach decided to match the cards to the first name that came to mind. Knife for Matthias, dumbbell for Jodie, ball for himself, and then he paused.

“Ball?” Ms Leona asked surprised.

“I play sports,” Zach simply stated.

“I see.”

Her interruption caused him to ponder, not on his own pick but on whom the baby card should go to next. Neither Richard nor Guinevere came to mind at the sight of the baby. They both fitted the towel card more. Will it matter whom he gave it to? Whether it did or not, Zach 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 36: Be My Guest

clubhouse36

Shutting his eyes, Richard emptied his mind. He wanted to escape reality and forget about life. The silence was inviting him to do so, but unfortunately, it only lasted for a while. Richard heard Zach taking a seat on the pool chair beside his, and his presence was hard to ignore. Without having to be told, he knew Zach didn’t like him very much, but he decided it was better to pretend naïve.

“Hey,” Richard greeted, opening an eye as he took a glance at Zach.

“Hey,” Zach replied.

“What’s up?”

“Nothing much. You?”

“Nothing much either.”

Richard wanted to keep the small talk going, but he noticed how Zach shifted uncomfortably from side to side.

“You… have something to tell me?” Richard prompted.

Zach did not seem to like being confronted, but he spoke his mind anyway. “I heard Jodie is helping you with something,” he stated.

“Oh, she told you?”

“No, not really. Guinevere got me involved, somehow.”

“Guinevere? I didn’t ask Guinevere for help,” Richard said.

How was Guinevere involved? Richard was not very keen to know. How much information Zach knew? That was more important Richard was not fond of people knowing about his personal problems. It was already uncomfortable having Matthias, Jodie, and Guinevere aware of his current one.

“Well, yea, I didn’t want to be a part of it either.”

“That’s between you and her,” Richard said with a chuckle. The conversation was not getting friendlier, but it wasn’t ending either.

“Right, of course.”

“So, what did she tell you?”

“Nothing. I was hoping you would.”

“Ah, curious, aren’t you? It’s just a family matter. No big deal. It’ll all be over soon,” Richard said.

“How is Jodie helping you with this?”

“Is somebody jealous?” Richard teased. He smirked and saw the opportunity to change the topic. He was not going to reveal any more – that was all he was sharing.

“I’m not.”

“You know why we’re different?”

“It’s obvious, isn’t it?”

Richard smiled and nodded. He then said, “You’re an open book, Zach. I like to keep my covers shut. You wear your emotions on your sleeve-”

“And you hide yours behind a mask,” Zach finished his sentence for him.

“Sad, but true,” Richard acknowledged with a smile.

He was not going to deny it. There were better words to use than the ones Zach had chosen, but there was no need to lie to himself when it was a fact. Hoping to end the conversation there, Richard silently sighed in relief when Ms Leona entered the pool area with Jodie and Guinevere.

Seeing Jodie, Richard had the urge to pull her aside and ask if she had retrieved the information he needed. But with Zach’s curious eyes watching, he decided to do it later. As Ms Leona waved them over, Richard casually got up and gestured for Zach to come along.

“Good afternoon,” Ms Leona greeted. “Today’s task is rather simple. There will be a private pool party tonight, and all of you will be waiting on the guests.”

“Do I know these guests?” Richard asked.

He was not worried about the task; he was worried if he knew the people at the party. If they were family friends, and a sinking feeling was telling him so, how was he going to respond to their questions and remarks? They probably knew he was part of the five bidding for Skypeak, but they would be more than happy to forget that fact.

“Maybe you do, but you shouldn’t worry about that tonight. Just focus on making sure everyone is happy,” Ms Leona replied.

Easy for you to say, you don’t know what it’s like, Richard thought.

“Now, if you would follow me,” Ms Leona added, turning on her heels. “You’ll need to change into your uniforms.”

“I hope they look much better than the last one,” Guinevere said.

Ms Leona did not respond as she strode alongside the pool area before turning into a hallway, leading to the kitchen. She began briefing them on the courses served and by the time she was done, they were in a staff lounge.

The staff lounge looked similar to the one he had been in before. This time however, the headwaiter was waiting for them with a stack of neatly folded uniforms in his arms. Ms Leona immediately gestured to him, and the waiter handed them the black and white clothing.

“What do you think of the uniform?” Ms Leona asked, turning to Guinevere.

Giving a thin smile, Guinevere said, “Acceptable.”

“That’s good to hear. But before you get changed, you will need to make a decision. You can choose which team to be on. Either the food or the beverage,” Ms Leona said.

“Food,” Guinevere immediately responded. “I can’t imagine getting red wine on this outfit.”

“Food for me too,” Matthias said.

“I guess I’ll go with beverage,” Jodie made her pick.

“Beverage,” Zach simply said.

Did it make a difference which team he chose to be on? Richard could not imagine himself waiting on anyone, so either team did not matter. It all came down to the people on the team.

Would it better for him to work with Guinevere and Matthias, or Jodie and Zach? Was it appropriate to hide behind Guinevere in the midst of familiar faces, or was it the right place and time to ask Jodie about his request. 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 35: An Outsider Again

clubhouse35

Blue number twenty-one halted at the bus stop. Knowing he had to wait a while before another blue twenty-one would arrive, he said, “My bus is here. See you tomorrow.”

He really wanted to go home. Working for Matthias was harder than working in his ex-company. The pay was more, but so was the work. Still, Zach was not in a position to complain. Hoping to catch the bus, Zach was ready to break into a jog when Guinevere grabbed his wrist.

“Wait,” she said.

Zach wanted to insist, but the bus was quick to decide he was not worth the wait.

“Looks like you need to catch the next one,” Guinevere simply said.

Heaving a silent sigh, the question of what Guinevere wanted was at the tip of his tongue. But before he could voice it, he spotted Wayne heading toward them.

“Gwen? What’s the matter?” Wayne called out.

“Finally! Zach here is really busy. It’s hard getting him, you know,” Guinevere replied.

Having no clue what was going on, Zach gave Guinevere a questioning look.

“Hi, I’m Wayne. Zach, is it?” Wayne immediately stretched his hand out for a shake.

Playing along, Zach took the handshake and answered, “Yes, I’m…”

He had no idea how to finish his sentence. What was he to say?

“He’s going to be in-charge of the food at our wedding. The chef we have now is giving me some problems. You don’t mind, do you?” Guinevere quickly said.

Completely bewildered, he was not sure on how to respond. It was obvious Guinevere was making up a story. For whatever reason, he didn’t want to be a part of it. Unfortunately, there was no way he could escape.

“I don’t mind. Is that all?” Wayne said.

“Hold on. I need to make a call,” Guinevere replied and walked away.

Where was she going? It seemed like she wanted to drag it out. Zach was certainly not up for it. He wanted to stop playing pretend.

“So, you’re a chef?” Wayne asked.

“Well,” Zach paused and took a quick glance at Guinevere. She was not lying when she said she needed to make a call. “I like food.”

Wayne nodded with a chuckle. “If you need to confirm anything, just do so with Gwen. I’m fine with whatever you put on my plate.”

“Yea, sure. I’ll do that.”

“Great. I’m actually meeting a friend, so I’ll excuse myself.”

“OK. It was nice meeting you.”

“You too,” Wayne said with a smile. He did not wait for Guinevere to get off the phone as he headed back toward the building.

When Guinevere finally ended the call, she turned to Zach with a wide grin.

“What was that all about?” Zach immediately asked.

“Oh, nothing. I’ll handle the food thing. You can just show up and take credit for it.”

“I don’t want to do that,” Zach stated.

“Just play along. If not for me, do it for Jodie.”

“What does Jodie have to do with this?”

“She’s helping Richard, I’m helping them. It’s complicated.”

No matter how complicated the situation was, he wanted to know. The three of them being tangled sounded improbable.

“Tell me,” Zach said, challenging what he thought to be fiction.

“Nah. It’s very messy. By the way, do you like Jodie? You’re always doing things for her,” Guinevere tactlessly changed the topic.

“What?”

For a brief second, Zach forgot the main reason why he was still talking to her. Her question was so unexpected that it caught him off guard.

“Please, it’s so obvious,” Guinevere added.

“Stop.”

“I knew it. You do!”

“What? No,” Zach immediately replied.

“You’re blushing,” Guinevere teased.

“I’ll pretend tonight did not happen. Goodbye,” Zach said and stalked off.

He was not going to put up with her any longer. He wanted to go home and sleep it off. Unfortunately for him, it was almost impossible to forget Guinevere’s words. If he was being completely honest, he was actually not sure how he felt. The uncertainty was enough to keep him awake.

The following morning, Zach received a text message from Ms Leona. She told him to be at the poolside after lunch. As he made his way to Skypeak, he took his mind off last night’s incident and wondered what the next task would be. When he finally arrived at the poolside, he spotted Richard lounging on a pool chair and Matthias taking shade under a large umbrella.

“It looks like the ladies are late today,” Richard said, when he saw Zach.

Having spotted a notice about the pool being closed for the day, it was no surprise that he found no other clubhouse member in sight.

“It’s very unlike Jodie to be late,” Richard added.

“Wow, you sure do know her well,” Matthias said.

“We’re best friends now. You know that.”

Matthias chuckled and shook his head. He then walked to the opposite side of the pool and took a seat. Zach could not help but dwell on the exchange between the two of them. It seemed as though they knew something he didn’t. In fact, he felt like the only one being left out. What did the four know that suddenly made them friends?

Curious, Zach wanted to find out. He was not usually a busybody, but Jodie was seemingly involved it in. Perhaps Guinevere was right. But whatever the truth was, he wanted to be up to date first. Since neither of the ladies were present, it was either Richard or Matthias. And Zach 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.