Original Works

Chapter 74: Descending After A Climb

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She hit reply. Then tossing her invite into the bin, she typed, ‘Sure.’

Jodie had received the beige envelope too. But despite the surprise, she decided to go. Guinevere had proven to be more than a gold-digger when she stood for the truth. And the least Jodie could do was acknowledge that. Knowing Zach made good company, she agreed as his plus one. Honestly, it was a relief when he asked – she preferred seeing a familiar face than none. Little did she expect, there were more than one.

After Jodie’s case with the Cortezs resolved, she spent most of her time in the office. Due to the scandal, her company took a financial hit. Stabilising it required arduous hours of work. There were never-ending meetings with investors, partners, and staff. She had little to no life outside those concrete walls. And the almost non-existing friend’s list shortened even further.

Mentally visioning the list, Jodie realised the only person she still met was Zach. Wayne hadn’t responded to her text message two months ago. Neal was on life support. And Piper… well, Piper’s life only made her envious. Piper didn’t run a publishing empire, and had the time to travel the world. Those pictures on social media, garnering thousands of ‘likes’, tempted Jodie to take a sabbatical.

“That’s a good idea,” Piper said, during her phone call from the ruins of Machu Picchu. “We can see the world together.”

“That sounds fun, but I can’t just pick up and leave. The company needs me.”

“The company needs you?”

“There are still-”

“Jodie, I know you. The company doesn’t need you. You need the company.”

“Well, I do need to survive.”

“Oh, please. You have more than enough.”

“Not for the rest of my life.”

“Your company will still be there when you get back.”

“That all depends.”

“Even if it isn’t, you can always start another. Perhaps it’s even better to do so without Neal involved. Bless his soul.”

“Too soon, Piper.”

“We’ve grieved him. His parents are only dragging it out for money. By the way, do you have the contact of that lawyer friend of yours?”

“Which lawyer friend?”

“The one that helped with your case?”

The call ended with Jodie giving in to Piper’s request for Matthias’ phone number. She also promised to ‘seriously, seriously, seriously consider the sabbatical’, as how Piper worded it. Despite the denial, Jodie knew Piper was right. She needed the company. She needed how it made her feel – powerful and influential. Nothing was holding her back, except for the fear of losing the glory that came with the crown. But how long could she keep it up? Jodie opted to rethink that life decision after the party, which arrived sooner than she’d like it to.

“Do you think she invited Richard and Matthias?” Zach asked, as he rang the doorbell.

“She might have.”

As Zach parted his lips to add to his thought, the door swung open. Instantly, the melody of a classical piece, accompanied by a pastel yellow beam, escaped the white-walled bungalow. And there, standing by the doorway, was Guinevere in her favourite colour – red.

“I’m so glad you two made it,” Guinevere said.

“You have a neat house,” Zach replied.

Guinevere chuckled. “You’ve not changed a bit, Zachary.”

“Actually, it has always been just Zach,” Zach corrected.

“Zachary sounds better. Come on in.” Guinevere stepped back to make way. “Oh, Richard and Matthias are here too. You should go over and say ‘hi’.” Guinevere pointed to the staircase where the pair were chatting.

“You go ahead,” Jodie prompted. “I’ll be right over.”

The moment Zach left, Jodie turned to Guinevere with a smirk. “You’ve not changed either.”

“Well, I have. A little. But yes, I’m pretty much the same.”

“I’m surprised you invited me.”

“I’m surprised you showed up. And, as Zach’s plus one.”

“Why? We’re friends.”

“Of course. Was I implying something else?”

“I’m glad we’re on the same page.”

“For once. But honestly, I’m glad you’re here.”

“Really?”

“Yes. I’d like us to be friends. I know I didn’t make a great first impression, but I’m not as horrible as you think I am. If you must know, I really did have feelings for Wayne.”

“Did you invite him tonight?”

“I dropped the letter at his office myself.”

“But he’s not coming?”

“I didn’t hear from him. So, no. But that’s fine. I understand.”

“He’s just busy.”

Guinevere nodded with a thin smile. “Now if you don’t mind, I need to make sure the kitchen is ready.”

“Sure.” Jodie waved Guinevere off, before retrieving her phone.

Whether they could be friends, Jodie didn’t know. But seeing how Guinevere was making an effort, she thought she should do the same too. Despite it being out of character, she considered giving Wayne a call. Perhaps she could convince him to show up. Still, Jodie hesitated. Helping Guinevere meant stepping down from her ivory tower – the self-made empire that defined who she was. And in that consideration, she noticed its uncanny resemblance to her outside world. The simple act of calling Wayne wasn’t going to change her life, but it could affect the way she approached it moving forward. With Wayne’s contact at her fingertips, she had to decide. Jodie had to choose.

 

Final 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 33: Too Quick To Answer

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For the first time in her life, she was not going to clock in to work. That Monday, she decided that her company could run itself. Jodie had to prepare for the worst after all. If things go badly with her case, what she had built would not crumble in her absence. But taking the day off was not just for the sake of testing her company’s independence, it was also to get Piper ready.

Jodie woke up pretty late that morning. It was a rare occasion for someone like her. When Piper knocked on her door around lunchtime, she decided she had enough of lazing around. Piper had gotten a lot of things done in the hours Jodie wasted, including preparing lunch.

“You don’t have to do this,” Jodie said. “You’re my guest.”

“And that’s why I have to. You know me. I hate freeloading,” Piper replied with a smile.

“You’re not. Let me-”

“No. Let me. Just relax while I’m here. You have enough on your plate already,” Piper interrupted as she placed two plates of stir-fried noodles on the dining table.

“Yes, definitely enough for lunch,” Jodie replied with a chuckle.

Piper smiled and took her seat. When she gestured Jodie to follow suit, she said, “I still can’t believe Neal’s parents. I remember meeting them once and thinking they were such a nice couple.”

“Trust me, I sometimes wonder if they’re the same people.”

Piper nodded. “Never mind about them for now. I’m curious about something else.” She placed her chopsticks down and asked, “Who’s that guy at the airport?”

Jodie smiled and shook her head. There was nothing to hide from Piper, so she said, “One of my competitors from the clubhouse competition.”

“Oh, you guys close?”

“You’ll be surprise. Suddenly, all five of us are best friends.”

Piper raised an eyebrow and Jodie added, “I’m joking. Our lives just seem to cross paths after we started the whole clubhouse thing.”

“How’s that going? The clubhouse competition.”

Jodie shrugged. She did not know how it was going. Was she doing well? Is she in good standing because she completed all her tasks? How was she being judged? Jodie had no idea and the conversation she had with Matthias on day one came to mind. Yes, it certainly felt like someone was playing with them. And just when she decided to share that thought, the doorbell rang.

“Must be Matthias,” Jodie said.

“Oh, good. I’ll clear up,” Piper replied.

“No, just leave it,” Jodie responded, even though she knew Piper wouldn’t listen.

Hurrying to the front door, Jodie took one quick look around her living room to make sure it was organized. Finding nothing to put in order, she welcomed her guest… Or should she say, guests.

“Hey,” Jodie greeted, and then immediately, she asked, “what are you doing here?”

“Wanted to see where you live,” Richard answered with a grin.

Jodie turned to Matthias and he answered on cue, “I couldn’t leave him at home. I don’t trust him with my things. Sorry.”

“Don’t worry, I won’t cause any trouble,” Richard added.

Reluctantly, Jodie pulled the door wider and gestured for the two to enter. When they did, Piper exited the kitchen. She first had a wide smile on her face, but shortly after, she gave Jodie a questioning look.

“Oh hey, remember me?” Richard asked.

Piper nodded her head.

“How can she forget?” Jodie asked on her behalf.

“I made quite an impression, eh?”

“I’m sure you did,” Matthias stated, before heading up to Piper and shaking her hand. After introducing himself to her, the two headed to the sofa.

“You want anything to drink?” Jodie asked.

“Water is fine,” Matthias answered.

“I’ll get it,” Piper said as she jumped to her feet.

“No. Sit. He needs to brief you on my case, ” Jodie immediately responded.

She did not wait for Piper to argue as she headed to the kitchen. Least expecting to be followed by anyone, she almost had a heart attack when she found Richard quietly standing by the kitchen door.

“What?” Jodie asked.

“You didn’t ask me what I wanted,” Richard answered.

Jodie sighed. “What do you want to drink?”

“Water is fine.”

Nodding, she retrieved three glasses. While filling them up, she saw Richard walking toward her from the corner of her eye.

“I need to ask you something,” Richard said, stopping at the kitchen counter.

“Go on.”

“I need a favour.”

“What kind of favour?”

Jodie did not like beating around the bush, so if he needed something, she rather he told her. Whether or not she said yes, that was another question altogether.

“I need your help to get some info for me. You see, your friend Wayne-”

“You want to know what Wayne is doing for your family?”

“Well, more of like, what my family needs him to do. I’m stuck in limbo right now, and I need info to help me take the next step. If you know what I mean.”

She knew what he meant. But was she going to do it? Wayne was never going to hand over confidential information to her, but she did know where he kept them. Not knowing why, she found herself agreeing. Perhaps it was because she felt completely useless at the moment, and helping Richard would mean otherwise. Or perhaps she just wanted to even the score.

“OK,” Jodie said.

“Wow, I thought I would have a hard time convincing you.”

“You’re in luck today.”

“Thanks, I owe you one,” Richard said, as he picked up the glasses on the table.

“No, we’re even,” Jodie corrected.

“Oh, that’s right, I almost forgot.” Richard gave her a smile and a wink, before heading out.

Rolling her eyes, Jodie remained rooted to the spot. She grunted at the thought of what she had to do, before wondering why she agreed to do it in the first place. What was she thinking? It was too late to change her answer.

Knowing that Richard’s request was not going to be easy, she pulled out her phone ready to call for help. It was either Zach or Guinevere – Zach because she trusted him, Guinevere because she could be of better assistance. Jodie 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.