Original Works

Chapter 72: The Apple And It’s Tree

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Life went on. For those in the Wilhelm Group scheme, their ship sailed into a storm that nearly brought the company to its knees. Lawsuits after lawsuits, it seemed never ending for the global multi-industry giant. Fortunately for Richard, he wasn’t a part of it. In fact, he reaped a massive cheque from suing the group, the law firm, and the Lees. It was easy money for the unexpected victim.

After Matthias surprisingly agreed to work with Richard, Richard launched his first fashion line. From a rich heir to an orphan, his story made him a celebrity. The day his first boutique opened its doors, hundreds queued around the block, with reporters snapping pictures for their favourable articles. In reality, what people assumed to be a ‘riches to rags to riches’ story was truthfully and simply ‘riches to riches’. Yet no one read between the lines of those biased, and occasionally paid, interviews.

It would seem Richard’s story ended on a high note, unlike the rest of the clubhouse contestants. There was no lost of status, fame, or wealth – only time and perhaps, the truth. For him, time wasted in court wasn’t time wasted at all. But the truth that surfaced during each session weren’t full truths. And the more he realised they were empty shells, the more he found himself questioning his identity.

Everything his lawyer brought to the table was an assumption. What happened to his birth mother? Was there foul play in her death? Where was his biological father? Was he dead or alive? And all attempts to find the answers were futile. Leaving the courthouse with millions in his bank account was great, but no amount of green notes could buy the answers he wanted. After realising how his lost of self held him back, he decided to move on and start over. And that was how his fashion empire began.

A year after the Lees made the headlines of every newspaper in the country, Richard received a call from Guinevere. They didn’t bother keeping in touch, but they did occasionally say hello at galas and showcases. To actually see Guinevere’s caller ID on screen washed a wave of nostalgia up his shore.

“Inviting me to an event, are you?” Richard answered.

“Now that wouldn’t be surprising. But, I’m calling because of something else,” Guinevere said.

“What’s that something else?”

“My brother-in-law has taken over my father’s company, and while clearing old files, he found something you might be interested in.”

Richard made a conscious effort not to be involved in any subsidiary of Wilhelm group. So, he didn’t see how any old file would interest him.

“Are you planning to sell information on my competitors?” Richard joked.

“No. I have information about your father. Your birth father.”

“Wait… what? How?”

“When he worked for your other – the Lees – he was given insurance under the company. There is a family contact with a country code of another… country.”

That was new information. The records of his father and mother in the Lees possession had mysteriously gone missing during the trial. The few local contacts related to his father couldn’t be reached. And there wasn’t a single international contact on the list. It could very much be a dead end, but it was new nevertheless.

“I can send you this document, if you’d like to look into it,” Guinevere added.

For the first time, in the opportunity to find himself, Richard contemplated.

“Give me a minute. I’ll call you back.”

He wasn’t sure if he wanted to know. Aside from the fact that he didn’t have the time to go on a wild goose chase, he was afraid of what he might find. Should he try again? Was it worth it?

Just last week, he was invited to an internationally acclaimed fashion event. He could use the lack of time as an excuse to drop the idea. But as his thumb hovered over the dial, he recalled Matthias telling him about Zach. Zach had found a place in a private investigation agency. After all the spying and snooping during their Skypeak days, it seems the man discovered his forte. If Richard really wanted to find his father, he could hire Zach to get the job done. Unfortunately, it was a much tougher decision than he thought it would be.

The thought of completely tossing the opportunity lingered at the back of his mind. Perhaps it was better to ask Guinevere to burn the file. Perhaps not knowing who abandoned him – who sold him off as a puppet – was a smarter decision. What would he say to the man who left him with the wolves? How could he even face him, if he was still alive? And what if he was dead – would that make Richard feel any better?

Still, he promised Guinevere he would call her back. And if there was one good thing Mrs Lee taught him, it was to never keep a lady waiting. Dialing Guinevere’s number, 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 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 70: No Coincidences

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“Are you sure it’s here?” Zach asked.

“That’s what Richard said.”

It was close to 1a.m – the city quieting after its bustling day. At the wheel of Richard’s car, Zach accelerated toward the lowest basement carpark. He thought it strange the access to the eleventh floor was in such a remote location. But he’d experience enough to not rule out the possibility either.

Once parked in a random lot amidst a handful of cars, Zach exited and strolled over to the passenger seat. With blinking cameras watching their every move, the acting began. Zach ushered Jodie out of the car, before looking for the grey elevator. Richard said it was at the right corner of the floor, almost obscure. But there was no need to look for it, as it would open on its own. And, he was right.

Just as Zach glanced past the foyer of the main elevators, a wall parted at the far corner. Orange light streamed into the basement, and he pointed to it. “Over there.”

Jodie spotted it too and took the lead. In a long cloak and big, round shades, Jodie was unrecognizable. Contrary, Zach wasn’t in such a thick disguise. And perhaps that was why she needed his help – no one would do a double take even in his minimum makeover.

As they entered the elevator, the doors shut on their own. There were no buttons, not even an open or close, but there was a camera. Once the elevator began its ascent, it only took a few seconds to reach its designated floor. And when the doors reopened, a nurse strode over to greet them.

“Welcome. Kindly follow me for registration,” the nurse said.

“I don’t want to register,” Jodie replied.

“Rest assured, we only need a few details of which we will not store after your visitation.” The nurse smiled as she gestured at the main counter.

The eleventh floor lobby was alike a 5-star hotel. One wouldn’t be called naïve for thinking otherwise. A crystal chandelier hung above the waiting area, the floor glistened from daily polishing, nurses attended to every guest with tablets, and a bar stood offering free drinks.

As Jodie began to fill the simple form, Zach thought through their plan. Richard had handed him a pendrive capable of stealing information off a nurse’s tablet. All Zach needed to do was pluck it into an unattended device and the records of patients staying on the eleventh floor would be theirs. Being that all the names would be aliases, they’d have to look for the one that described Neal’s condition the most. Once they found the correct room, they must forward the information to Richard for him to send it to the detective. But before all that, they needed a distraction.

“Where’s the washroom?” Jodie asked, after submitting the paperwork.

“This way,” the nurse said.

The pair followed the nurse, turning down a corner from the foyer toward the washrooms. They weren’t far from the midnight crowd, but the distance would buy them enough time. Crossing gazes, they executed Plan A: a fake faint.

Jodie collapsed to the floor and began mumbling about feeling light-headed. The nurse propped Jodie against the wall, placed her tablet down, and pulled out a mini torchlight.

“Can you follow the light for me?” the nurse asked.

“Light?” Jodie questioned in convincing bewilderment.

Crouching beside them, Zach swiftly slid the tablet to his side. Then as discreetly as possibly, he plugged the pendrive and waited. It was the longest wait in the shortest amount of time. When Jodie pretended to lose consciousness, the nurse told Zach to stay while she went to get help. With the tablet out of the nurse’s sight, she forgot to take it with her. A minute later, the nurse returned with a gurney and a few others. Zach instantly unplugged the pendrive and stood out of their way. It was now up to him to decipher the records.

As Jodie was wheeled away, Zach excused himself to the washroom. Safely inside a cubicle, he transferred the data to his phone and began scanning through them. Both Zach and Jodie knew nothing about Neal’s condition. Aside from the fact Neal was supposedly brain dead, there were no other information to help him with his search. The records had more than one comatose patient, and thinking of the number of rooms he had to search without getting caught was perturbing.

“Why did I agree to this?” Zach muttered under his breath. “We could have all met at the school first to talk things out.”

In the midst of ‘what if’s, Zach spotted a similarity between the patient files: all the patients liaised with the same insurance company – Guinevere’s father’s company. Was that a coincidence? No, there were no coincidences in regards to Wilhelm Group. But, there was hope.

Zach could get Guinevere to check the company files to see which belonged to Neal Cortez. However, they were pressed for time. If Guinevere wasn’t home, the trip back together with the search time, would take too long. So the only other option was Matthias. Matthias was good with a keyboard, and if he knew what to look for, he could obtain the information quicker than Guinevere. Even though neither of them would answer his call, Zach had to try. But before he did, he needed 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

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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 61: Follow or Furrow

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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 57: Who’s Watching Who?

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Matthias hated last minute jobs. The fact that he had to set up the ballroom, backstage, and main hallway, with expensively obtained micro-cams the morning of the dinner, caused unnecessary stress. But he never once regretted taking over security. If they were going to uncover anything, he was going to be the one to do so – not so much for his ego, but to find a way to return to his old predictable life.

Out of the five, Matthias was the least affected by the strings of Wilhelm Group. Sure, there was the time where they blackmailed him. But there was no lawsuit, no family ties, and he wasn’t a scapegoat to any devious crime. Picking up his bags and leaving was easy. Unfortunately, he hated the idea of starting over. So to save him the trouble of running away or working with the enemy, he planned on exposing them. And in such a task, he knew he would do a better job than Richard.

“Matthias, you should get going,” Jodie said.

The five of them assembled at Skypeak’s foyer that morning – Jodie had just ended her briefing on the agenda. The shareholders will start rolling in at 7pm, before the welcoming speech at 8pm. The kitchen had begun their preparation for dinner scheduled to start at 8.30pm, and the decorations were being set up as they spoke. The only thing left to do was to set their eyes and ears in place.

“I’ll need help,” Matthias stated.

“Zach and Richard can oversee the ballroom. Why don’t you make a round backstage to see if everything is in order?” Jodie replied.

“Sounds like a plan,” Zach said.

Nodding, Matthias gestured to Richard and Zach while slipping them each a small black pouch. Then he made his way to the open space behind the ballroom, where excess chairs and decorations were stored. There were two security personnel making their rounds in that area. So Matthias gave them the task of informing the rest of the team about a briefing in an hour’s time. Their immediate absence freed him to put all cameras in place. And when he was done, he made a call.

Richard’s ‘friends’ were a hired team of professionals. They’d planted themselves among the staff, and had set up station in a delivery truck at the loading bay. Calling them confirmed every camera was live, but calling them didn’t mean his task was done. There was still one important location free from their intrusion, and it was the hallway leading to the grand event.

That carpeted walkway was decorated with expensive China, indisputable renaissance paintings, crystal chandeliers, and imported velvet couches. It was perfect for bugging, except for the many red, blinking eyes that watched from above. Pretending to lend Guinevere a hand, Matthias slipped into the kitchen where he met one of the hired men acting as a waiter.

“We can mess with the cameras for a few minutes, but the security team would know. You’ll need to take all eyes off the screen before we do so,” the man whispered.

“I have a meeting with the team in half an hour.”

“Can you handle them all?”

“I don’t think so.”

“Then take someone with you,” the man said, before dropping something into Matthias’ pocket.

Once out of the kitchen, Matthias headed to the washroom where he slipped on the given earpiece. He then texted the four to meet in the Japanese garden. It was the safest place, as it was outside the four walls of the main building. And within minutes, everyone had gathered by the trickling stream.

“I’ll make this quick. I need help setting up the hallway outside the ballroom. We can get it done quickly if all hands are on deck.”

“Sure,” everyone replied.

“The hallway cameras will go out for a while, giving us some time to get the job done. But in those minutes, we can’t have the security team watching. So, I need one of you to follow me and be a distraction.”

“I’d volunteer, but it would be suspicious, wouldn’t it?” Richard remarked, clearly still upset he was pushed to guest duty.

“Doesn’t makes sense for me to follow you,” Jodie stated. “I’ll set up the hallway.”

“How about I do it? I can buy time briefing the agenda,” Zach said.

“No offense Zach, but I think I should be the one. I can visit the security team with drinks and snacks,” Guinevere suggested. “As you can see, I’m wearing red today.”

“It’s certainly difficult to not see you, even if we wanted to… not see you,” Richard stated.

“Exactly.”

“But wouldn’t it be strange for you to show up without reason?” Jodie pointed out.

“No. I’m just being thoughtful. Those men have a long day ahead, and they could use a boost in morale.”

“That’s very nice of you.”

Guinevere took the sarcastic remark with a smile and nodded. “Yes, it is. So, is it me or Zach?”

Being easy on the eyes was an advantage, but having no real intention wasn’t. It would’ve been convenient if Guinevere was in-charge of the agenda from the start. Unfortunately, she wasn’t. Still, maybe she was a better distraction than Zach.

“You don’t know what they’re like. They might not buy your… red dress,” Zach stated.

“Red dresses always work, Zach,” Guinevere replied confidently.

Matthias had watched the way the security in Skypeak work, and Zach’s statement made sense. They took their job very seriously – too seriously for that matter. Bringing Guinevere might not help at all, but it was hard to tell. Either way, the meeting was in fifteen minutes and 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 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.